In the religious history of the world given to Paul by the Holy Spirit he lists many things that God gave men and women over to because they turned their backs on Him. One section of this list, one verse, says;
Romans 1:31 Without understanding, covenantbreakers, without natural affection, implacable, unmerciful:
What does implacable mean sandwiched as it is between without natural affection and unmerciful?
The word is only used once in the Bible but the Lexicons of Early Modern English Database online informs us that in 1611 it meant obstinate, can’t be appeased, can’t be pacified, can’t be reconciled, and cannot be pleased. Do we know someone in our personal lives, perhaps even ourselves, who is possessed of an implacable spirit?
It is sin and wickedness, not just a personality quirk. It is listed in a long line of things mankind is given over to by God for their rejection of Him. It is something we who are implacable need to repent of, not something that you who are not need to walk around on eggshells because of lest you incur our unreasonable and unrighteous wrath. Let’s read the entire history of mankind’s self-worshipping religious impulses carefully to get a better understanding of what we are talking about in context of unrighteousness.
Romans 1:16 ¶ For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek. 17 For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith: as it is written, The just shall live by faith. 18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness;
19 ¶ Because that which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God hath shewed it unto them. 20 For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse: 21 Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened. 22 Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools, 23 And changed the glory of the uncorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and fourfooted beasts, and creeping things. 24 Wherefore God also gave them up to uncleanness through the lusts of their own hearts, to dishonour their own bodies between themselves: 25 Who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed for ever. Amen. 26 For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections: for even their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature: 27 And likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another; men with men working that which is unseemly, and receiving in themselves that recompence of their error which was meet. 28 And even 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; 29 Being filled with all unrighteousness, fornication, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, debate, deceit, malignity; whisperers, 30 Backbiters, haters of God, despiteful, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents, 31 Without understanding, covenantbreakers, without natural affection, implacable, unmerciful: 32 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.
1 ¶ Therefore thou art inexcusable, O man, whosoever thou art that judgest: for wherein thou judgest another, thou condemnest thyself; for thou that judgest doest the same things.
Paul noted that someone who is implacable is worthy of death. Does that underscore the seriousness of this sin mentioned in context with murder and homosexual behavior?
An example of an implacable person in the Bible is the churlish fool, Nabal, who died of a heart attack of some kind. You can read about him in 1Samuel 25 starting in verse 2 up until his heart died and he became as a stone in 38, dying ten days later.
David did Nabal’s sheepshearers a kindness but Nabal was not only ungrateful he insulted David and would have suffered for his indiscretion had not his wife, Abigail, intervened on his behalf. His response to David’s kindness was the following.
1Samuel 25:10 And Nabal answered David’s servants, and said, Who is David? and who is the son of Jesse? there be many servants now a days that break away every man from his master.11 Shall I then take my bread, and my water, and my flesh that I have killed for my shearers, and give it unto men, whom I know not whence they be?
We can call him ungrateful, ungracious, arrogant, stupid, and even self-righteous, all symptoms of implacability.
Nebuchadnezzar shows us another side of implacability when he gives his magicians an impossible task, recorded in Daniel, chapter 2, which he knows is impossible and then commands their deaths when they cannot perform. The implacable person you know, perhaps it is you, sets up conditions that cannot be met and no reasonable person expects them to be met. You have no chance of pleasing them and they know this.
In these two examples we have clues as to what an implacable nature is like. It is ungrateful, ungracious, even arrogant, stupid, self-righteousness, and sets up conditions that it knows cannot and will not be met thereby making it impossible to please them, to gain their approval.
Some of us have had experience with a parent who would never be pleased. Nothing you could do ever satisfied them. A child living under those conditions has no foundation in what is acceptable behavior as nothing he or she can do will ever please that parent. It can become a lifetime pain in that child’s heart. It can give them a lifetime filled with anxiety and the doubting of every decision they make with a constant nagging in their hearts that nothing they ever do will ever be good enough. Or, they will just grow to hate that parent and do everything possible to avoid them.
Fundamentalist preachers often misrepresent God as in implacable parent. If you aren’t doing what that preacher wants you to do they will say you are cold towards God and need revival regardless of your relationship with God. They will call you worldly if you don’t have their convictions. They’ll say that you need to ‘get right’ with God when they have no idea of your prayer life or your time in God’s word or how you treat others.
The fact is, while we all need to draw closer to God, He loves us. We can do nothing to earn our salvation or to pay for it as we go. We’re not renting God’s love and in danger of being evicted from His kingdom for not paying. God has already performed all the parts of the drama and we are justified by what He has done not by anything we can do.
Romans 8:31 ¶ What shall we then say to these things? If God be for us, who can be against us? 32 He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things? 33 Who shall lay any thing to the charge of God’s elect? It is God that justifieth. 34 Who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us. 35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? 36 As it is written, For thy sake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter. 37 Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us. 38 For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, 39 Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Ephesians 2:8 For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: 9 Not of works, lest any man should boast.
Titus 3:5 Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost; 6 Which he shed on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Saviour;7 That being justified by his grace, we should be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life.
Now, I am certain we disappoint God at times. It is certain that we can grieve the Holy Spirit and dampen its influence in us.
Ephesians 4:30 And grieve not the holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption.
1Thessalonians 5:19 Quench not the Spirit.
And while God, who often covers our debts keeping us from the consequences of our sins we commit after becoming a Christian sometimes leaves us to have to deal with our unfaithfulness to Him. But, that doesn’t mean He isn’t joyful when we sing a hymn to Him, pray to Him, or read His word believing. God is not an implacable being. He has placated Himself for His righteous wrath at our sin and He delights in our seeking a relationship with Him. Our faith pleases God. Propitiation is the act of appeasing God for His wrath at sins against Him.
Romans 3:25 Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God;
1John 2:2 And he is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world.
1John 4:10 Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.
Hebrews 11:6 But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.
God delights in showing mercy to us.
Micah 7:18 Who is a God like unto thee, that pardoneth iniquity, and passeth by the transgression of the remnant of his heritage? he retaineth not his anger for ever, because he delighteth in mercy.
God wants to show you mercy and He wants to show you His love.
But, the person possessed of an implacable spirit only wants to show you judgment. And this, in spite of;
James 2:13 For he shall have judgment without mercy, that hath shewed no mercy; and mercy rejoiceth against judgment.
An implacable spirit is a prideful spirit. The world revolves around them. In fact, the more helpless they seem, the more victimized they act, the more egotistical they are. This is evident in an implacable person who is dominant and oppressive and demanding as it is in one who seems weak and a victim. You cannot please them so they will hurt you physically or you cannot please them so they will hurt you emotionally.
Every glance, every word, every failed action reveals your disrespect for them or an attempt to hurt them. There is no winning with the implacable person.
King Ahab sought counsel from so-called prophets in 1Kings 22. The only condition was that they say what he wanted to hear. He even demanded of a prophet to tell him the truth and then punished him for doing so because it was not what he wanted to hear. This is another trait of the implacable spirit. They only want to hear what approves of their opinion, bigotry, hatred, and prejudice. Any information to the contrary is met with anger and wrath. You can’t win with these people. They are never satisfied with your response unless it is exactly what they wanted to hear. They will demand the truth and then lash out when the truth contradicts their own fantasy.
A person might be engaged in sin or dancing recklessly close to the edge. They will ask you about what they are doing or want to do and even though you might say it is none of your business they make it your business by demanding your opinion. But, when you call them on their sin they attack you for sticking your nose in their business, judging them, or being a hypocrite. It is impossible to satisfy their perverted need for self-justification.
A consequence of an implacable spirit is the infecting of others with the same. A parent, a spouse, or an employer even for that matter, can be so unreasonable that their victim becomes so suspicious and so wary of their dealings with them that they themselves start to doubt everything that is said or done. Everything begins to have a hidden motive represent an unseen agenda. This is a grave result of being oppressed by an implacable spirit.
Now, how do you deal with this implacable, unappeasable spirit?
Some people simply ignore the implacable person. But, you can’t do that if it’s a parent or an employer and you are dependent on them. And it takes a mighty thick skin to keep being told what you are doing or saying is not good enough, never good enough, or worse an attack on their importance, their dignity, or their authority.
Remember before how I said that in Paul’s letter to the Romans, in chapter 1, that implacable was sandwiched between without natural affection and unmerciful?
A person without natural affection shows contempt for those they should love and cherish, for instance, their own family. We don’t need an explanation of what unmerciful is and I’ve spoken at length about how damaging being unmerciful can be. The implacable person is between those two, lacking in the natural care and love they should feel and being unmerciful.
Now, that we’ve laid the groundwork let’s take this airplane out of the hangar.
Are you possessed of an implacable spirit? Are you possessed by it? What does it take to please you? What do other people have to do to satisfy you that their words or behavior are not threatening, insulting, or filled with contempt?
If it is a matter of just showing decent respect and consideration for you then most people are going to fall short. For instance, I hate surprises; surprise parties, surprise visits, surprise anything. But, a lot of people love surprises. They might want to throw a party to show their affection or stop by unannounced when they are in the neighborhood. It is not meant to be insulting or demeaning or controlling or disrespectful even if it makes you feel dreadful. I don’t handle surprises well but go into fight or flight mode.
We who have an implacable spirit tend to be paranoid, ascribing mean motives to people around us. The implacable employer has contempt for his employees. The implacable mother has contempt for her children, sons and daughters in-law, and husband. The implacable father can never be pleased by any action his children or wife take, any words they say, as they all fall short of his expectations, which are always moving away from them.
The implacable pastor is always telling you that you don’t measure up and that you are a big disappointment to God.
So, the next time you feel righteously indignant because someone didn’t show you what you consider proper respect or even just decent consideration or the next time you feel your spouse didn’t show you the respect that even a roommate deserves think about it. Are your feelings truthful, the true result of a hateful and mean-spirited action by another? Or are they a consequence of your own inability to be pleased, appeased, and satisfied?
The next time your employer makes a decision that impacts you negatively was it an effort directed at making you want to quit? Or was it just something he felt was necessary based on the information he had that you didn’t and wasn’t even thinking about you when he decided it?
The next time your neighbor’s dog relieves himself in your yard was it an expression of contempt by your neighbor through his dog or was it just one of those things that really had nothing to do with you at all?
The next time a child spills a glass of milk in the living room was it them showing their rebellious spirit in defiance of you or was it simply a matter of you allowing things in your home that are a disaster waiting to happen and the child wasn’t even thinking of you or anything else, for that matter.
Examine yourself. Then, plead with God for deliverance from the sin that so easily controls you and hinders your relationship with Christ and with those around you.
If you live with a person possessed of an implacable they need your prayers. But, they do not need your acquiescence. Don’t be an enabler. Don’t encourage them in their sin. You wouldn’t encourage them to lie or commit adultery so why help them in their festering implacable spirit that leads to bitterness, envy, and contempt for others? When that implacable spirit rises up it is imperative that you stand against it.
There are many more things that can be said about the implacable spirit having to do with the sins of envy and wrath and other things that God has condemned in our lives but each of them merit a separate discussion. So, please consider this rough outline. Consider what I’ve said and ask God to deal with it in your life.