In Romans 1:28-32 is verse 32 saying that the people that were given over to a debased mind know they are deserving of death?

28 Furthermore, since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, He gave them up to a depraved mind, to do what ought not to be done. 29 They have become filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed, and depravity. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, and malice. They are gossips, 30 slanderers, God-haters, insolent, arrogant, and boastful. They invent new forms of evil; they disobey their parents. 31 They are senseless, faithless, heartless, merciless.

32 Although they know God’s righteous decree that those who do such things are worthy of death, they not only continue to do these things, but also approve of those who practice them.

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    The text itself answers this question Who knowing the judgment of God, that they which commit such things are worthy of death, not only do the same, but have pleasure in them that do them..
    – Nigel J
    Nov 30, 2022 at 9:06
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    Yeah you are right Nigel J, thanks for the help! I just wanted to make sure that was the case because my uncle is a Calvinists and he believes that vessels of wrath can’t know the law of God. Without God changing their hearts.
    – Joshua
    Dec 2, 2022 at 3:19

3 Answers 3


The whole section here in the Apostle Paul's letter to Christians in Rome is showing God's point of view. This is how those people are viewed by God. Needless to say, those people acting in such a manner described would likely deny that to any fellow human putting those points to them. But that's not to say that they don't know, within themselves, that they deserve the judgment of God!

Most people who act in the way described demonstrate that their attitudes and thinking harden the more they engage in such activities. This is what happens when God "gives them over" to do what they desire to do. They may begin by excusing their behaviour, if challenged, trying to minimise the seriousness of it. Yet, if they continue to ignore their conscience, they reach the point spoken of in 1 Timothy 4:2, where their conscience has become 'seared', as with a branding iron. It becomes so hardened by continued wanton behaviour that what might have troubled them years ago is now just a laughing matter. Consider this Old Testament warning:

"Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter! Woe to them that are wise in their own eyes, and prudent in their own sight! Woe to the that are mighty to drink wine, and men of strength to mingle strong drink: which justify the wicked for reward, and take away the righteousness of the righteous from him!

Therefore as the fire devoureth the stubble, and the flame consumeth the chaff, so their root shall be as rottenness, and their blossom shall go up as dust: because they have cast away the law of the Lord of hosts, and despised the word of the Holy One of Israel." Isaiah 5:20-24 [bold emphasis mine]

Yes, people intrinsically know that certain things should never be done because they are evil. However, if people rationalise such things as being 'understandable' in given circumstances, or not evil at all if there is consent, or strong drink grips them rather than reverence for God's ways, or if some even deny God exists, then the outcome in Romans 1:18-32 will be worked out. Their excuses, their rationalisations, and even their denial of God cannot hide the reality that humanity knows certain things to be evil and deserving of judgment.

But remember what Isaiah pointed out - that the result of such ungodly thinking is calling evil good, and good evil. Corruption sets in. Paul explains that "as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient", unrighteousness being their hallmark (vss. 28-28). There comes a point when they are "given over" but prior to that, they know the righteous judgment of God. Yet once they are "given over", they will deny that, being wise in their own conceits, and full of pride at either their independence from the law, or in succeeding at having the law changed to suit them.

"He that perverts truth shall soon be incapable of knowing the true from the false. If you persist in wearing glasses that distort, everything will be distorted to you." - Charles Haddon Spurgeon

So, yes, verse 32 is saying that the people that were given over to a debased mind know they are deserving of death. Just don't expect them to ever admit that to you.

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    @Rajesh Thanks for the edits! Here's a quote from Baptist preacher Charles Spurgeon I just came across: "He that perverts truth shall soon be incapable of knowing the true from the false. If you persist in wearing glasses that distort, everything will be distorted to you." Wish I'd seen that in time to put into my answer. I expect you will appreciate it.
    – Anne
    Dec 3, 2022 at 17:41
  • Yes, I do appreciate it. It's an excellent quote. You could always edit your answer to put it in. Also, you're welcome for the edits. Have a good day Anne.
    – Rajesh
    Dec 5, 2022 at 0:21

A priest who will succumb to his erotic urges, moreover, use his priestly status to satisfy them with women of his parish, yes, such a priest will be “given” as it were to a debased mind, that is to say, the tyrannical rule of demonic powers. And such a priest will know definitely that for such guys as himself judgment is ready, but out of weakness of his will and the strengthened sinfulness in him, he is unable to overcome himself. But there is a road of repentance even for him, for God, horrible in His mercifulness and all-forgiving, wills even such to be saved.


The simplest answer is from earlier in the same chapter of Rom 1, verses 18-21 -

18 The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of men who suppress the truth by their wickedness. 19 For what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. 20 For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood from His workmanship, so that men are without excuse. 21 For although they knew God, they neither glorified Him as God nor gave thanks to Him, but they became futile in their thinking and darkened in their foolish hearts.

Therefore, the short answer to the OP's question appears to "YES" - such people are really aware of their condition as the above quote and V32 makes abundantly clear. Ellicott makes this just as clear about V32 -

They show that it is no mere momentary yielding to the force of temptation or of passion, but a radical perversion of conscience and reason, by the fact that they not only practise such things themselves, but in cold blood commend and applaud those who practise them.

Benson add something further:

Here the word signifies the law of God written on men’s hearts, called by philosophers the law of nature, and by civilians, the law of nations. For the Greeks could know no other law of God, being destitute of revelation; that they which commit such things are worthy of death — God hath written on the hearts of men not only his law, but the sanction of his law. For the fear of punishment is inseparable from the consciousness of guilt. Further, that the heathen knew that the persons guilty of the crimes mentioned here by the apostle merited death, is evident from the laws which they enacted for punishing such persons with death.

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