“God gave them up” Romans 1:26
It’s in our nature to give up when things get too hard. Our weakness shows through. God, on the other hand, personifies long-suffering. His incredible patience is a central part of his eternal nature. In short, He doesn’t give up easily.
Humans tend to give up when they lose hope. You reach a plateau on your way to losing 50 pounds (about 25 pounds in) and can’t move past it no matter how little you eat or how much you work out. What do you do? Most of the time, we give up.
I tried for a year to market an inspirational romance novel I wrote (this was more than a decade ago). I researched the best markets and sent the manuscript out – in the mail. I invested money and waited to hear the good news. A few rejections later, I gave up.
I give up. You give up. But God? What could move his merciful and compassionate nature to throw his hands up in the air, claiming, “I give up”?
The sixth book in the New Testament, Romans is actually one of many letters penned by the Apostle Paul. Unlike the other letters, this missive went to a group of people Paul had never met. He planned to meet them very soon.
Of course, this meeting didn’t happen in the way either party might have expected. Paul was under house arrest, unable to come to the church gathering.
Paul explains in the beginning of this letter his desire to preach the gospel to them. In verse 18, he switches to a somewhat negative tone. He begins to list things happening in Rome that God doesn’t like.
If you know anything about the Roman Empire, you realize morality dipped to quite an ugly low point before it fell. That fall was still four hundred years in the future when Paul wrote his letter, but morality had already begun its decline.
What Convinced God to Give up
In this passage, Paul explains that God gave up two times. The final straw happened in verse 28 when “even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind.”
It seems like a three strikes and you’re out sort of situation. Let’s take a closer look at the two instances when our introductory phrase is used.
“When they knew God, they glorified him not as God…but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened” (Romans 1:21).
Strike One: Forget God. In the case of the Romans, they also embraced idol worship (verse 23).
The result: God gave them up “to uncleanness through the lusts of their own hearts” (v. 25). If people want to forget God or turn to false gods, God allows it. He is a God who desires followers who freely choose to worship him.
“Who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator” (Romans 1:25)
Strike Two: Worship Creation. This is a rampant movement and it started in Rome with a plethora of deities based on sea, air, earth, produce and so forth.
The result: God gave them up “unto vile affections: for even their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature: and likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another” (v. 26-27). Again, God allows people to choose their sexual preferences, but clearly such a choice is contrary to the natural laws He established at creation.
A Look in the Mirror
These two strikes against the Romans are in evidence in America (and the rest of the world) today.
Forget God. They take prayer out of school and the Ten Commandments out of courthouses. Atheists have the right to have Nativity scenes removed from public property because it offends them.
If God hasn’t already been forgotten, people are doing their best to forget him.
Worship Creation. Save the whales and stop pollution are outcries that stem from the idea that the planet is important. When marches on Earth Day are welcomed and silent gatherings for prayer are disbanded, the created planet is getting more worship than the One who made it.
Is God letting go of his hope in America? Will we be given over to a reprobate mind? Has the majority reached this third strike already?
What a wretched moment when God says, “I give up.”
In Noah’s day, a worldwide flood followed. In Moses’ day, a nation of firstborn perished and an entire army met destruction. In Jeremiah’s day, the last remnant of Israelites (from Judah and Benjamin) fell captive to the Babylonian empire, and watched their beloved capital city be destroyed.
In Rome, Paul warned that mankind’s own selfish nature would push God away. If people kept ignoring Him, God would gave them up to a reprobate mind. In other words, they would be beyond redemption.
Let’s pray that God won’t give up on our nation. Look to our own lives. Does an honest inventory reveal the same self-centered nature in you as God saw in First Century Rome?
Such a sad day when God gives up. Don’t let it happen to you.
Up Next: The Sower of the Parable