The Spiral of Degradation (Part 3)
In part three of our discussion on the Spiral of Degradation, Ken Larkin dives into the last steps of the Spiral. If you haven't already read part one or part two of this discussion you can check them out by clicking the links below. (from Podcast Episode #493 - Babylon: When Satan Rules the Hearts of Men)
Nate: I want to start this part of our discussion discussing the sixth step of the Spiral of Degradation, which is being given over to a depraved mind. What does depraved mean?
Ken: Well, it's interesting. I like the King James version, because it says reprobate. And from what I understand, the Greek word for reprobate has the idea of being tested and found wanting. So, your character is being tested and you're without character. It’s like worthless silver. You’ve tried to refine it and there's nothing inherently good in it. You've basically shown yourself to be a man or a woman without character where you just give over to a lifestyle of sin and you don't even care anymore. And one of the problems of the depraved mind is that it has the idea of your conscience being hardened. It's not just the idea that you're given over and you love your sin. You can no longer distinguish between what is right and what is wrong. You begin losing your sensitivity to what’s right and wrong is. You could use the analogy of the human nervous system when you hurt yourself. I can get a small paper cut and it hurts a lot, because my nerves are very sensitive to pain to protect me from further pain. So, in a sense that protection in your conscience is gone at this point and you’ve lost that sensitivity. You're no longer convicted over your sin and you no longer feel pain or remorse. It's like there's something in you that becomes dead inside.
It's very scary because you're to the point where you're in darkness, you love darkness, and you don't even realize how far down the spiral you've gone. And some people get to the point where they are militant in their sin. Where they exalt and love their depravity. And I don't even know how else to say it, but one begins to actually celebrate it and expects everyone else to join in. A person that has gone this far will begin to associate with other people that are like-minded, whose minds are also depraved. They choose to surround themselves with those who have the same lifestyle and preferences as far as how they give over to their sin. The Bible says at the end of Romans 1 that these people have come out of a knowledge of God. So, they know the judgment of God. They know that He has pronounced a judgment on these sins and that people who committed them are worthy of death. But a person gets to the point where they might still have an idea of that, but they not only love these things, at this point, they celebrate them and approve of others who do so. For example, someone who watches pornography is actually watching someone sin and enjoying it. That's exactly what he's talking about here in Romans 1. Where you're actually given over to a lifestyle and you love the people that are like minded and do and approve of what you're doing.
Nate: Yeah. And I think then you can kind of see how that leads to the last step of the spiral, which is to be filled with all unrighteousness. Once you get to the point where you can't distinguish between good and evil, and you're celebrating evil, then every stop has been pulled out. Then it's just a matter of time before you really reach the place of being filled with all unrighteousness. What's happening in this step?
Ken: First of all, I would say it's a scary place to be in. Of course only God knows where you cross a line where there's no return. But I would say this, it reminds me of Genesis 6, where it says that every intent and thought of man's heart was only evil continually. This is to the point where you're totally given over in your heart and your mind to sin. Your conscience isn't convicting you and you don't have any qualms about it. You have just totally given over to sin.
And I think the scary part there is that while it is progressive in nature, you get to the point where you are totally depraved and you don't even realize it because you've exchanged the truth for a lie. At that point you've embraced the lie and you actually believe the lie that this is the ultimate fulfillment and that there is nothing wrong with it. Even if you do believe in God at some level, you may still tell yourself, “Well God made me this way, so it can't be wrong if it feels so right.” You can justify it in a million ways, but you get to the point where you can't even distinguish good or evil and you actually love the evil. You’ve embraced it and your whole life is centered around it.
Nate: I do want to end with just a little bit of hope or maybe just a way of sharing that we're not victims and we can come up and out of the Spiral of Degradation no matter where we find ourselves. Some people who are listening may be pretty far down the spiral. They may know what it's like to be given over to the lust of the flesh or given over to degrading passions. What would you say as a counselor to somebody who's in that condition?
<pull-quote>He came to deliver us, and Jesus can do that for anyone that is willing to cry out to Him and ask for help.<pull-quote><tweet-link>TweetThis<tweet-link>
Ken: Well, I would say you're a perfect candidate for salvation, because really that spiral describes every single human being. We all might have been at different levels down that spiral, but we've all sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. But the hope is that Jesus came to save us from our sins. He came to set the captives free. He came to deliver us, and Jesus can do that for anyone that is willing to cry out to Him and ask for help. I like to look at Ezekiel 36 as a reference point when thinking about the issue of the corruption of sin. In Ezekiel 36, beginning in verse 25, the Lord says, “I will Sprinkle clean water upon you and you will be clean, I will cleanse you from all your filthiness and from all your idols” (NKJV). So, God can cleanse us. God can remake us inside. God can give us a pure heart. And then He even goes on and says, I'll give you a new heart and a new spirit. I'll take out the heart of stone and I'll give you a heart of flesh. I'll put my spirit in you. So there's hope for anyone in that sense. I would say if you care, you haven't gone too far. That might be a blanket statement, but the reality is if you've really gone down that spiral, you're not anywhere near walking with God. But if you are crying out to God I believe God put that cry in your heart because God is the one that pursues us. And then our hope is that Jesus is the Good Shepherd and He's willing to leave the 99 to find that one and bring them back to Himself through repentance and faith in Christ.
Nate: It sounds like one of the cruxes of this whole issue is how bad do you want to be free. If you're willing to just tolerate this and let it be in your life then the fact is you're not just standing still, you are moving further and further away from God. But if you really care and if you're really crying out and you are willing to get to the place where you're not going to tolerate this anymore, then you must fight for freedom until you get it. And you need to realize that God knows how to get us up and out of the Spiral of Degradation.