As part of a conversation I was having recently, I quoted from the first chapter of the book of Romans. Here is what I quoted:
“Therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts… They exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator – who is forever praised. Amen.”
What’s so scary about this verse? I find it terrifying to think there could be a moment when God looks at an individualal or even a whole group of people and repeats what he said in Noah’s time: “My spirit will not contend with man forever.” The thought of an infinitely patient, loving, gracious and merciful God making the decision to stop wrestling with the souls of people and leave them to their own sin and the damage it will do to them is a horrifying meditation.
In the context of this passage there are some reasons given for the rejection of God. Romans 1:21 says, “For although they knew God, they neither glorified Him as God nor gave thanks to Him, but their thinking became futile and their hearts were darkened.”
Two simple things are stated here: first, people know God but they do not worship and glorify Him as God. Second, people know God but they do not thank Him for all He does for them. Failure to praise and failure to show gratitude are grave problems.
What are the results? Their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. Does this still go on today? Absolutely!
Here is something Sam Harris, an atheist and author, said:
“If I could wave a magic wand and get rid of either rape or religion,” Harris explains, “I would not hesitate to get rid of religion.”
Do you hear what this man said?!? Given a choice between removing rape from the world and removing religion he would remove religion and leave rape. He actually believes rape is a natural part of human life and, while not to be defended or encouraged, should not be eliminated. Yet he would eliminate religion. The futility of this thinking is amazing! No other force in all of the history of the world has been so beneficial as religion for the welfare and advancement of humanity. Christianity in particular stands head and shoulders above every other religion for the way in which its message has motivated countless men and women to selflessly serve other people.
When people begin to throw away the idea of God then consequences follow. Thinking becomes all muddled up. Not only does thinking become confused but the very heart of humanity gets shrouded in darkness. Moral and ethical boundaries become so blurry they simply cease to function. Rape – never before acceptable in any way – can be talked about and written about as if it is natural and no one minds.
Of course, God knows. He even moved Paul to write the next verse, which makes me chuckle a little bit because it is so apt:
“Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools.”
Everyone today claims wisdom in some way or another. Self-help books are written in the thousands by the next expert of eating, excitement or enhancement. Yet are we wiser?
No, we are not any wiser. An increase in collective wisdom would result in a decrease in the number of boneheaded decisions which get made.
Anyone watching the politicians lately? I rest my case. There has been no net decrease in boneheaded decision because there has been no increase in wisdom. Instead, people have worked very hard to reject God and God has given them over to their foolish ways.
Specifically, and with this the Bible’s prophetic credentials could not be more clear, people are given over to sexual impurity and the degrading of their bodies with one another. Just watch any aspect of pop culture for long and you will observe the constant increase in overt sexualisation. This is degrading and humiliating and the damage it is doing to our kids is beyond calculation. About 1900 years ago God moved a man to write these words down and they ring loud and clear even today.
What is so scary about this? Romans 1:32 says, “Although they knew God’s righteous decree that those who do these things deserve death, they not only continue to do these very things but also approve of those who practice them.”
The scary thing is there could be a time when God looks at someone and says, “I will not wrestle with you any longer. Go, do what you like and embrace your doom.” How scary is it to think of God giving up on you?
I must insert a little addendum before I rest my fingers and get lunch.
To be sure, there is always a way back for the sinner through the Cross of Christ. no one will have become so sinful they cannot be forgiven by God. The blood Jesus shed on His Cross can be applied to anyone who repents and turns to God. So while God might give people over to their lusts, He is also listening always for the cries of broken and contrite hearts. He will never turn these people away when they cry out to Him.