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There is a phrase that appears 3 times in this passage that always catches my attention whenever I read it. It is found in verses 24, 26, and 28… “God gave them over.” It sort of sounds like man had gotten so bad that God just threw up His arms in frustration and gave up on them. But what does it really mean?
According to the last passage, God has made it abundantly clear that He is plainly visible to anyone who will simply open their eyes. He is not a God to be so easily dismissed when He is right there in front of them. The point of the passage this week is that when men persistently abandon God, God will abandon them. He removes His divine protection from them and allows them the freedom to suffer the consequences of their own choices. They become more vulnerable to the destructive ambitions of the evil one but also suffer the destruction that their own sin works in and through them.
This abandonment by God is not an eternal abandonment. As long as sinful men are alive God provides opportunity for salvation. The gospel will always be Good News whether they want to hear it or not. Anytime someone turns from their sin, however blatant it may be, in genuine repentance and faith God welcomes them back and rejoices that another lost one has come home.
We only have to look around us to see that people are not concerned about their sin but only about the pain and unpleasant consequences that sin brings. Someone has said that sin would have fewer takers if the consequences were immediate. So God allows men to go deeper and deeper into sin in order to drive them to despair and to show them their need of Him. Even His abandonment has a redemptive quality to it. His ultimate aim is to heal and restore and save.
But make no mistake, as much as we like to talk about the great great love of God, there is also the great great wrath of God. And God will punish sin – either at the cross on behalf of the repentant saint or in hell eternally on behalf of the unrepentant sinner.
Next Week: Romans 2:1-16
Memory Verses: Romans 8:1-5