“The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of people, who suppress the truth by their wickedness, since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse. For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like mortal human beings and birds and animals and reptiles.” (oh my!) Therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another. They exchanged the truth about God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator—who is forever praised. Amen. Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural sexual relations for unnatural ones. In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed shameful acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their error. Furthermore, just as they did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God, so God gave them over to a depraved mind, so that they do what ought not to be done. 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, slanderers, God-haters, insolent, arrogant and boastful; they invent ways of doing evil; they disobey their parents; they have no understanding, no fidelity, no love, no mercy. Although they know God’s righteous decree that those who do such things deserve death, they not only continue to do these very things but also approve of those who practice them.”
If this isn’t a snapshot of our world and our government from 1950 to the present day, I don’t know what is. I could write volumes about all that is happening, but I want to stick to the subject and look at verse 24 – “Therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts…”
Therefore, or because they “lived according to the flesh” seeking only (the big four) pleasure, fame, wealth, and power, and worshiped idols, rather than God, and “exchanged the truth about God for a lie”… God gave them over.
Three times in verses 24–32, Paul uses the formula “God gave them over.” He writes, “God gave them over in the lusts of their hearts to impurity” (verse 24). Then, “God gave them over to dishonorable passions” (verse 26) and then again God gave them over to a debased mind to do what ought not to be done” (verse 28).
We often hear this passage taught as a warning to Rome, and other empires, that God is giving them over to their own sinfulness. Then, the application is brought to bear on the United States of America, that if we follow in the pattern of Rome’s sinful descent, God will likewise give us over in the same manner. This passage, however, is not about empires — Roman or American. This text is about humanity. The verb tense in the phrase “God gave” is past tense — this has already happened.
God has given humanity over. The apostle Paul includes everyone in the indictment as he describes the giving over of all of humanity to the sinfulness of their hearts.
We have gone down a long ways from the 1950’s! Some would say that because of these flagrant sins, America is on the brink of God’s judgment. But, Paul would argue that America is already under God’s judgment! When a society flaunts and gives approval to such sins, God has already given them over to the consequences of depraved minds and degrading passions. There is a cause and effect relationship, a “reap what you sow” effect. To be continued…