God gave them up. . .
18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. 19 For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. 20 For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse. 21 For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. 22 Claiming to be wise, they became fools, 23 and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things.
24 Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves, 25 because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen.
26 For this reason God gave them up to dishonorable passions. For their women exchanged natural relations for those that are contrary to nature; 27 and the men likewise gave up natural relations with women and were consumed with passion for one another, men committing shameless acts with men and receiving in themselves the due penalty for their error.
28 And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a debased mind to do what ought not to be done. 29 They were filled with all manner of unrighteousness, evil, covetousness, malice. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, maliciousness. They are gossips, 30 slanderers, haters of God, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, 31 foolish, faithless, heartless, ruthless. 32 Though they know God’s decree that those who practice such things deserve to die, they not only do them but give approval to those who practice them.
The wrath of God isn’t reserved solely for the second coming of Christ, or the final judgment when those who rejected The Son will be cast into outer darkness. God’s wrath against sin is also demonstrated right now, right here, on planet earth, in our country, in your city, on your street, perhaps even in your home.
We are told the reason for God’s wrath being revealed right here, right now, is the failure to acknowledge God; the general knowledge of God that is in the heart of every man. This would apply not only to the professed atheist, but all those for whom there is a god, but whose god is not the sovereign God who created the universe and everything in it,
We are then given three ways that those that fail to acknowledge God are ‘given over’. The word translated “gave them over” or “gave them up” is a word that basically means “to give into the hands of another, to give over into one’s power, or to deliver one up to the custody of another.” In other words, God removes His restraining hand, that bit of moral conscience that we all seem to have because of that inner knowledge of God, and men are completely controlled by their own sinful natures, seemingly without any remorse or sense of conscience concerning their deeds.
Men are ‘given over’ to the impurity of their hearts, to dishonorable passions, and to debased minds. And while we tend to focus on sins of homosexuality, Paul also gives us a ‘vice list’ that covers ‘all manner of unrighteousness’ not necessarily specific to sexual sin! Paul is telling us when we at refuse to acknowledge God as He is revealed in His creation, that there exists a very slippery slope that hits bottom with God removing his restraining hand (moral conscience) from our lives and with us being ‘given over, given up, released to our sinful nature, and possibly abandoned by God.
My friend, dear reader, if that’s true, it has to be the worst possible state any living person could be in – abandoned by God, and without hope!
Our prayer this morning is that if you are reading this, God is still speaking to you and you are listening.
If you are reading this and think it nonsense – that God is not angry at your sin and even now He is not revealing His Holy wrath against it – perhaps that God doesn’t even exist, think again. You are in grave danger, and as an earlier passage in the same chapter of Romans tells us – you stand without excuse , without any reasonable defense), before the holy, perfect, and just judge of His entire universe!
“God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” John 3:16