Thoughts on the Epistle to the Romans (25)

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Therefore God also gave them up to uncleanness, in the lusts of their hearts, to dishonour their bodies among themselves.

Romans 1, 24.

God gave the heathens who rejected His divine revelation and turned to idolatry over to “uncleanness”. Verses 26 and 28 also show that those who revolt against Him are abandoned to their sinful lusts and their consequences. Does that not make God partly responsible for the immortal conduct of such people? By no means! The “lusts of their hearts” were already present when God gave them up to uncleanness. Ephesians 4,19 underlines the personal responsibility of the heathen nations: they gave themselves over to “lewdness, to work all uncleanness with greediness.”

God is not the cause of their sinful lusts, but He does allow what has long since been breeding in men’s hearts to come to light and fruition. If mankind refuses to revere the true God, but dishonours Him and turns away from Him to idols, God leaves him to himself and the lusts of his heart. Then it becomes clear how man dishonours and defiles himself and his fellowmen.

It is a dreadful judgment, when God simply lets people go without intervening in His sovereignty to hinder moral depravity! And is not this very means of divine judgment visible today even among lands formerly marked out as Christian countries? 

The gospel is, however, still “the power of God to salvation” (Romans 1, 16). It can free people from the entanglement of sin. The shocking picture in these verses should make it clear to all how urgent it is to turn to God for salvation in Jesus Christ.