And even as they refused to have God in their knowledge, God gave them up unto a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not fitting;Romans 1:28 ASV
WHEN GOD GIVES UP ON PEOPLE
Paul affirmed that for just reasons God gave up on some people; but that was hardly a new concept.
The psalmist noted that, My people hearkened not to my voice; and Israel would none of me. So I let them go after the stubbornness of their heart, that they might walk in their own counsels (Psalms 81:11,12).
The martyr Stephen likewise said, “But God turned and gave them up to serve the host of heaven” (Acts 7:42).
The affections of people are corrupted (Romans 1:26), and they reach a state of loving darkness rather than the light (John 3:20).
Also, there is finally an adverse, punitive change effected in people, that being the action that God himself takes against the incorrigibly wicked. For example,
Because they received not the love of the truth that they might be saved; and for this cause, God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie: that they all might be damned who believed not the truth but had pleasure in unrighteousness (2 Thessalonians 2:8-12 KJV).
Thus, the ruin that ensues when God gives man up is fourfold: physical, moral, intellectual, and physical.
The specific sins revealed in scripture as causing God to give man up are:
(1) sinning against the light (Romans 1:21);
(2) refusing to give God thanks (Romans 1:21);
(3) vain imaginations (Romans 1:21-22); and
(4) worshipping and serving the creature rather than the Creator (Romans 1:25); but perhaps these specifics are but facets of a greater sin encompassing all these things, namely, that of the deification of humanity.
In these times, people are still deifying humanity in a thousand ways, traveling old forbidden roads to ruin, as witnessed by the widespread neglect of religion and the worship of God, and the increasing secularization of the total life of the people.
Wherever people exalt self, wherever people’s words are preferred and heeded, rather than God’s word, wherever images that are “like” people are bowed down to and consecrated, and wherever may be accepted the foolish notion that the solution of man’s problems lies within man – there the creature is worshipped and served more than the Creator.
The step-by-step progression of the spiritual condition of them that turn away from God is outlined in the three short paragraphs in this part of Paul’s letter, each of them beginning with the statement that God gave them up.
What happens to the worship of God under conditions prevailing after God has given man up?
(1) There is the conscious neglect of God’s worship, coupled with ingratitude and failure to give God thanks for all his mercies. As a consequence of this, the mind itself is darkened (Romans 1:21).
(2) Next, idolatry ensues with the worship of things more and more abased, first, images of people, then worship of birds, beasts, and finally creeping things – all of this accompanied by sensuality.
(3) God gives them up to the sensuality they have preferred, with the resultant immorality.
(4) God gives them up even further to the progressive erosion of the very principle of morality, leading to perversion and depravity of both sexes.
(5) Finally, God gives them up to complete and irreversible reprobacy of mind, leading to conditions in people that deserve the sentence of death to be executed upon them (Romans 1:28-32).
All of the horrors of Gentile paganism began with neglect of the worship of God and the omission of thanksgiving due to the Father, and this surely suggests that such sins are not merely “faults,” but are radical and determinative.
Failure to observe such an important duty will cut all the roots which nourish the flowers of every truth and virtue.