Sins of the Heart
By: Frances Swaggart
Recently we did a study of Romans 1:29–31 on my SonLife Broadcasting program, Frances and Friends. Essentially, this passage discusses “sins of the heart,” and I was shocked by the response we received. Most of our listeners had never even heard of “sins of the heart,” but upon a newfound understanding of these sins, and much to their own surprise, many listeners stated, “I am guilty of everything you are discussing!” Isn’t that amazing?! Most had seriously never thought of these things. It seems people clearly understand sins of the flesh such as “fornication,” yet are totally unaware that there are other sins which God finds just as wicked, sins that God deems just as worthy of Hell! The Lord misses nothing; He knows our motives and thoughts much better than we know our own! There are things we do and think that are wrong, but because no one on this Earth catches us, we think we’re getting away with it. This is not so! God’s Word tells us that He searches the heart of man! He does not simply skim over the outer layer and call it a day! The Lord is All-Knowing, my friend! “Shall not God search this out? for He knows the secrets of the heart” (Ps. 44:21). As you read, you will notice that many of these sins, “the don’ts,” constitute the exact opposite of the Love of Christ and the Fruit of the Spirit, “the do’s” in the Word of God.
Proverbs 6:16-19 gives us a good example of some of these sins. It specifies seven of such sins which God hates: “These six things does the LORD hate: yes, seven are an abomination unto Him (the phrase, ‘six things, yes, seven,’ is a figure of speech arresting attention and signifying that the list is not exhaustive):A proud look (pride leads the list),a lying tongue (such always follows ‘a proud look’),and hands that shed innocent blood (this pertains to murderers; however, it also pertains to those who murder someone’s character),An heart that devises wicked imaginations (the ‘heart’ of the ‘proud’ devises ‘wicked imaginations’ because the heart has not been changed),feet that be swift in running to mischief (as pride is deceptive, this sin is, therefore, cloaked; it actually believes it is doing right),A false witness that speaks lies (the difference in the ‘lying tongue’ of Verse 17 and the ‘false witness’ of Verse 19 is that the ‘lying tongue’ will only tell the truth if it suits his advantage; otherwise, he will lie; the ‘false witness’ premeditates lies; he concocts schemes that are made up of lies, in order to carry out a perfidious evil design), and he who sows discord among brethren (individuals who ‘sow discord’ do so for the purpose of carrying out schemes).”
Unfortunately, many of these sins are the type of which most church folks are guilty. If we cannot expect an unrepentant murderer to inherit the Kingdom, we cannot expect an unrepentant slanderer to inherit the Kingdom either. In fact, due to these sins of the heart, some have greatly hurt others in the Body of Christ in order to pursue their own purposes or secure their own positions. This behavior can cause a victim of such cruelty to leave the church and/or to lose heart in the things of God altogether. You never know what other circumstances might be weighing a person down in life, and you, as a Child of God, don’t want to be responsible for being that last “straw that broke the camel’s back.” We should always be led by the Spirit in how we treat people. Love “. . . is kind . . .” (I Cor. 13:4). Jesus said, “. . . whosoever shall offend one of these little ones that believe in Me, it is better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and he were cast into the sea” (Mk. 9:42). And, on the other side of the coin, if you find yourself the one offended, you must realize that bitterness and unforgiveness are also sins, which must be taken to the Cross. Both bitterness and being the cause of bitterness (being a stumbling block) are wrong.
We will now address the sins of Romans 1:29-32, giving you the Greek word for each sin listed plus the explanation:
1. Unrighteousness: The Greek word is “adikia,” which means, “unjust, injustice, what is not comfortable with justice, what ought not to be, that which is wrong,” every vice contrary to justice and righteousness. When men reject the Righteousness of God, there is an automatic unrighteousness that comes to them.
2. Fornication: The Greek word is “Porneia” or “Poneria” and means, “unlawful sex sins of single and married people.” This is a sin of the flesh.
3. Wickedness: The Greek word is “poneria” or “athesmos” and means, “depravity, iniquity, wicked, acting of an evil nature, criminal.” For instance, the homosexuals of Sodom and Gomorrah are called “athesmoi” in II Peter 2:7.
4. Covetousness: The Greek word “pleonektes” or “pleonexia” means, “avaricious, intense lust for gain, greedy or gain.”
5. Maliciousness: The Greek word is “kakias” or “Kakia” and means, “vicious disposition and desires, rather than their exercise, not only being evil but doing evil.”
6. Full of Envy: The Greek word is “phthonos,” which means, “to pine away, the pain felt and malignity conceived at the sight of the blessings of another” or the Greek word “zeloo,” which means, “a jealousy which makes war upon the good it sees in another.”
7. Murder: The Greek word is “phonou” and means, “one who commits homicide, slaughter and also hating one another.” You can have hate in your heart against another person so strong that your heart wants to hurt them. You can murder their reputation as well as killing the body, by your vicious gossip, slander, or telling of lies. It is a federal crime to murder someone by taking their life. However, the Christian can, through a vicious attack on someone’s character, commit “murder” even though they do not harm the physical body. They, in effect, “in God’s Eyes” have killed that person.
8. Debate: The Greek word is “Eridos” or “Eris,” which means, “strife, to cause strife and discord.” It is not the same as debating for truth as is found in Acts. It means contention or wrangling.
9. Deceit: The Greek word is “apatao” or “dolos” meaning, “lying, falsity, to bait, craft, subtly, to deceive or seduce into error.”
10. Malignity: The Greek word is “kakoetheia,” meaning, “taking everything with an evil connotation and giving malicious interpretation to the actions of others, a nature which is evil and makes one suspect evil in others.” A disposition producing evil habits. It means malignity of the mind which leads its victim to put the worst construction on every action, ascribing to the best deeds the worst motives.
11. Whisperers: The Greek word is “psithuristes,” meaning, “a secret slanderer, an accuser, a backbiter, calumniators, secret detractors,” those who pretend secrecy, and carry out accusations against men, whether true or false, blasting their reputation by clandestine gossip, meaning held in or conducted with secrecy.
I will never forget as I was reading Romans 1:29-31, when I got to the word “whisperers,” I was not sure of its meaning. When I looked it up, I was shocked when I read it means to “carry out accusations against men, whether true or false.” Realizing that this even included repeating something that might be true against someone in order to spread gossip and hurt that person is “sin.” The following verse, Verse 32, says, “. . . they which commit such things are worthy of death,” and alarmingly, I realized that the whole church could fit into this category.
12. Backbiters: The Greek is “katalalia,” which means, “evil speakers, slanderers of absent men, false accuser, evil speaking, railing, defamation, accusation.”
13. Haters of God: The Greek word is “theostuges” or “echthra,” which means, “enmity, hatred, hostility, defamation, active malice, atheists, hateful to God, condemners of sacred things, despisers of providence, scorners of good.”
14. Despiteful: The Greek word is “hubristes” and means, “insolent, stormy, boisterous; abusing the characters and persons of others, scornful, hateful to use reproachfully, to treat with despite.”
15. Proud: The Greek word is “huperephanos” or “alazoneia,” which means, “to indulge in pride or self-gratification, be exalted, elated, glory in self, display or strut self before others, undue sense of superiority, unnatural self-esteem, arrogance, ostentatious, boasting.”
16. Boasters: The Greek word is “alazon,” which means, “vaunting in those things one does not possess, vain, and arrogant braggarts.”
17. Inventors of evil things: The Greek word is “epheuretes,” meaning, “to invent, to find, to devise, originators of wicked, immoral, and sinful customs, rites, and fashions; beginners of abominable religious orgies of Bacchus, the horrors of the arena, the debasing cruelties of cockpit, the degrading shows of the theatre, the gambling tables, etc.”
18. Disobedient to parents: The Greek word is “anupotaktos,” which means, “disobedient to authority, disorderly, indifferent to parents, to rule and order, irreverent.”
19. Without natural understanding: The Greek word is “agnoeo,” which means, “not to recognize or know, to be ignorant, unacquainted with, destitute of capacity for spiritual things.”
20. Covenant breakers: The Greek word is “asunthetos,” which means, “faithless, treacherous, a breaker of a covenant or agreement, not morally bound to any agreement.”
21. Without natural affection: The Greek word is “astorgos,” which means, “without family love, filled with desire for unnatural affection experiences with husband or wife or same sex partners in the homosexual and other sex sins.”
22. Implacable: The Greek word is “aspondos,” which means, “the absolutely irresponsible person who, being at war, refuses to lay aside enmity or to listen to terms of reconciliation, showing the highest pitch of an unforgiving spirit, he who cannot be placated, appeased, or pacified by God.”
23. Unmerciful: The Greek word is “aneleemon,” which means, “without compassion, without mercy, cruel, unappeasable, unforgiving, unyielding, destitute of all benevolence to the needy.”
Worthy Of Death
The phrase, “Who knowing the Judgment of God,” means that they traveled their path with eyes wide open. In other words, they thumbed their nose at the “Judgment of God,” in essence, saying, “Do your worst, and it will not stop us.” The phrase, “That they which commit such things are worthy of death,” means that they knew what God had said about such sins, but went into them despite that knowledge, in effect, daring God to kill them, etc. It should be understood that Divine Judgment is implied. Many people prefer to make up their own moral code, their own definition of what is right and what is wrong (even people in the church). This keeps even many church-goers from truly surrendering their hearts and lives to Christ; they have “pet sins” they want to hold onto while failing to realize God puts those things in the same category as something like murder! Either sin, in God’s Eyes, is enough to constitute eternal punishment and separation from Him. It doesn’t matter what we flawed human beings think is sin! It matters what God thinks is sin. His Standard is total and complete Holiness, and we all fall short of this Standard in one way or another. Perhaps we are now beginning to see this.
Lifestyles of Unrepentant Sin
It’s sad to say, we have “Christians,” not simply committing an occasional isolated sin every now and then, but living lifestyles of unrepentant sin due to sins of the heart. Sure, we may not be drunk on alcohol every night, but are we drunk on something else? Are we drunk on jealousy? Are we drunk on cruelty and creating factions within the Body? Are we drunk on pride? Shouldn’t we be drunk on the New Wine of the Holy Spirit instead? Isn’t that the lifestyle, containing the true Fruit of the Spirit and the Love of Christ, we want to live as Believers?! We can go around flaunting our “gifts of the Spirit” all day long, but where is our “fruit?” The thing is, gifts or no gifts, we cannot inherit the Kingdom of God if we choose to live a lifestyle of sin. If we are unremorseful and unashamed of these sins, we’ve got to come to the place of agreeing with God about them and repent! Paul constantly denotes in a general and comprehensive sense, the penal consequences of unatoned sin due to Divine Laws. The wages of sin is death, and as such, the guarantee is that ultimately the sentence will be carried out. “The wages of sin is death, but the Gift of God is Eternal Life through Jesus Christ our Lord” (Rom 6:23).em