Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves, because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshipped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen. For this reason God gave them up to dishonorable passions. For their women exchanged natural relations for those that are contrary to nature; and the men likewise gave up natural relations with women and were consumed with passion for one another, men committing shameless acts with men and receiving in themselves the due penalty for their error. And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a debased mind to do what ought not to be done. They were filled with all manner of unrighteousness, evil, covetousness, malice. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, maliciousness. They are gossips, slanderers, haters of God, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, foolish, faithless, heartless, ruthless. Though they know God's righteous decree that those who practice such things deserve to die, they not only do them but give approval to those who practice them.
-- Romans 1:24-32, ESV
Last week we looked at the worst news first, the cancerous toll sin takes on the soul. The worst news can only be cured by the good news, the Gospel of Jesus Christ, rightly preached and fully accepted. God the Great Physician has provided this remedy by His grace through faith in the person and work of Christ.
However, in the words of the great divine Matthew Henry, "If the patient will not submit to the methods prescribed, but willfully does that which is prejudicial to him, the physician is not to be blamed." If a patient storms out of the oncologist's office, refusing any remedy for their cancer, what is the doctor to do? At first, she might reach out to the patient and urge them to come back. She might even contact family and friends, or send messengers. At some point, however, the doctor must give up.
For those who live for lust, God gives up. Lust is actually a neutral word, meaning strong desire, good or bad, depending upon the context. Here it describes a person who has allowed sin and selfishness to govern their lives, apart from the curb of God's word and the cure of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. The love their bodies and the things that bring pleasure to it rather than surrendering their bodies, minds and hearts to God. Simply love yourself more than God, and one day God will give up on you.
For those who live for degrading passion, God gives up. Passion is close to lust, but a little different. It means feelings that lead to actions, and again it is used quite negatively here. Do you remember the song, "If loving you is wrong, I don't want to be right"? How many multimillions of times have men blundered into sin, allowed their cancer to spread, because it simply felt good to them? Living in any kind of sexual sin that dishonors God is giving up on God's word, God's will, and God's way. Give up on God and He will give up on you.
For those who live in avoidance of God, neglect of His word, disregard for His church, God gives up. Depravity is another biblical word for the cancer of sin that is universal in all of our genes. Depravity can indeed lead to the litany of sins named here, but depravity is mainly an indifference and avoidance of God. One does not have to be a monster to be depraved, one only needs to be a cognizant and reasonable human being who willfully rejects the word of God and the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Enjoy life while you can, for there is no pot of gold at the end of this rainbow. And at some point unknown to you, God will give up on you.
The Gospel of Jesus Christ is the only cure for sin, its predicaments and its punishments. It requires you to die to self in order to be born again into new life with Christ. The vast majority of humans refuse, choosing rather to live for their lusts, feelings, and indifference toward God. They've given up. The sad truth, as you can see in this text, is that God has, too.
Chuck DeVane is the pastor of Lake Hamilton Baptist Church. Call him at 501-525-8339 or email [email protected].