Humans were full– like a clogged-up artery. God looked and saw that it was not good. If humans did not choose to pursue proactive life-change a spiritual stroke or an eternal heart-attack was imminent. And yet even in their decaying condition, as time passed humans reveled in their self-content and self-image and self-ishness. Rather than opting to pursue after God and live in God’s ways, humans opted to continue filling the rumblings of their bellies… obstructing the yearnings of their souls.
In essence, humans have played with fire… and therefore have produced its consequence. The fact that wrath is withheld for a time (a patient, long, historical time) is evidence of God’s desire for all people to have the opportunity to change their pursuits. But when humans perpetually chose against what was good and true, eventually God handed them over (παρέδωκεν) to their decisions.
The consequence of riding a motorcycle without a helmet while drunk is eventual death and destruction. It will happen… whether or not we are able to predict the time, manner or implications of the consequence. Some humans have called this karma. Some humans have called it what-goes-around-comes-around. Some humans have called this cause-and-effect. All humans seem to inherently understand that stupid behavior necessarily results in devastating consequence. If there is slander, for instance, we understand that there will be broken relationships, distrust, animosity, bitterness, pain, divisiveness, or even all of these things at once. Or if a crime is committed, we anticipate that the perpatrator will be arrested and then handed over to proper authorities for judgment. In fact, this is a process we all agree is proper… and essential to the function of life.
So Paul forces us to ask: Is there anyone who can avoid the eventuality of consequence? Is there anyone innocent of the list in Romans 1:24-32?
God handed people over to their lusts and impurities because: they dishonored their bodies, they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and they worshipped and served the creature rather than the Creator.
God handed people over to their dishonorable passions because: women exchanged natural relations for unnatural ones, men likewise gave up natural relations with women and were consumed with passion for one another – committing shameless acts with men.
God handed people over to their base mind and improper conduct because: they were filled with all manner of wickedness, evil, covetousness, malice; they were full of envy, strife, deceit, malignity; they are gossips, slanderers, haters of God, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, foolish, faithless, heartless, and ruthless.
Our Response: In our selfish pride, we can tend to focus on those sins in the list that others commit… and fail to own up to our own. This is the plank-in-our-own-eye blindness that "Christians" have exercised so regularly in our society. A sick, selfish, sinful lot we Christians can be sometimes. We must become conscious, however, that God will hand us over to the consequence of the sins we have committed/are-committing/will-commit. So today I am asking God to reveal to me which sins are mine (undoubtedly a majority at least). For instance, if strife is mine, I only need to imagine the eventual consequence that my strife creates. Or if envy is mine, I need only to imagine the eventual consequence that my envy creates. Wrath is eventual… and it is necessary. The consequence that God has been patiently withholding against my sins will eventually be unleashed. I am guilty… and God’s wrath is in the process of being revealed.
Romans 1:24-32 (NLT)
24 So God abandoned them to do whatever shameful things their hearts desired. As a result, they did vile and degrading things with each other’s bodies. 25 They traded the truth about God for a lie. So they worshiped and served the things God created instead of the Creator himself, who is worthy of eternal praise! Amen. 26 That is why God abandoned them to their shameful desires. Even the women turned against the natural way to have sex and instead indulged in sex with each other. 27 And the men, instead of having normal sexual relations with women, burned with lust for each other. Men did shameful things with other men, and as a result of this sin, they suffered within themselves the penalty they deserved.
28 Since they thought it foolish to acknowledge God, he abandoned them to their foolish thinking and let them do things that should never be done. 29 Their lives became full of every kind of wickedness, sin, greed, hate, envy, murder, quarreling, deception, malicious behavior, and gossip. 30 They are backstabbers, haters of God, insolent, proud, and boastful. They invent new ways of sinning, and they disobey their parents. 31 They refuse to understand, break their promises, are heartless, and have no mercy. 32 They know God’s justice requires that those who do these things deserve to die, yet they do them anyway. Worse yet, they encourage others to do them, too.