Saturday in the Thirteenth Week of Ordinary Time

Romans 1:28-32

God Gave Them Up, Continued

And now for the third time we read those dreadful words, “God gave them up.”  We read in several places in Exodus that God hardened Pharaoh’s heart, so that he would not let the Israelites go (4:21; 7:3; 9:12; 10:1, 20, 27; 11:10; 14:4, 8).  But we also read in other places that Pharaoh hardened his own heart as well (8:15, 32; 9:34).  (Other references simply tell us that Pharaoh’s heart was hardened without telling us who was directly responsible for the hardening: 7:13, 14, 22; 8:19; 9:7, 35.)  At any rate, we may be certain that the heart God hardens is a heart already cold and bitter, a heart against the things of God and of man, a heart bent doubly in upon itself.  And so upon such hearts, such hearts that do “not see fit to acknowledge God,” God renders that terrible judgment: He gives them up.

Now I use Pharaoh as an example of what it means when God gives someone up: In short, it is a hardening of the heart which begins with man’s own turning away from God, which God then verifies by giving him up.  But what I must now hasten to add is that this condition of which Scripture speaks is universal to all people without exception.  There has never been, is not now, nor ever shall be, such a person who turns not away from God to follow his own sinful path.  Paul will illustrate this further in 3:10-18, but let us now own that we each are Pharaoh in our natural condition born with sinful natures.  It is inescapable and is our just sentence decreed at the time of our failure in the Garden.  We are indeed born sinners, but now we add to that nature our own sinful choices and actions rendering ourselves sinners both by nature and by choice.

And this is the unflattering description Paul makes of us in this passage; indeed, it seems he leaves no sin out.  And whereas he said earlier that God gives us up to impure hearts and dishonorable passions (i.e., unnatural desire of which we spoke yesterday), he now adds debased minds completing the constitution of man in each of his faculties (i.e., mind, will, affections).  The list is too long to enumerate here, and we each see ourselves some place, if not every place, mentioned therein.  (I almost find humor in “inventors of evil,” as if there were not already enough evil to go around.)  The last four words seem to sum up the whole: “foolish, faithless, heartless, ruthless.”  And thus does Paul submit unto us the truth about every man before coming to faith in Christ—man against God, given up by God, and completely without hope in this world or the next.  But do not despair; he’s building his argument for God’s gracious offer of salvation through His Son Jesus Christ.

Author: The Reformed Baptist

My name is Stephen Taylor, ordained Baptist minister of eighteen years pastoral experience with a Ph.D. in Historical Theology from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas. Better than that, I am married to a godly woman, Karla, who has been very patient with me since 1989. I have two daughters, both of whom I homeschooled for extended periods of time, who became godly young women, and who ran off and married godly young men, all of which is very proper. The oldest daughter has even seen fit to bless me with a grandson and a granddaughter, and my youngest daughter with a grandson, all three of whom are bundles of exceeding joy. As you can see, I am quite blessed. This website is dedicated to helping people grow in the wisdom and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ through the gift of writing that the Lord has given to me. It is specifically about helping His people grow in godliness, the theme you see repeated above. I write devotions with this aim and hope that they might be of some help to God’s people. Full disclosure: I am of a Reformed bent, meaning that my understanding of Scripture is primarily informed by the Reformers and their successors of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. However, as a student of church history and theology, I strive to remain true to that teaching handed down once for all unto the saints through every age of the Church. I like to think of myself as a “catholic” Christian, as the Reformers thought of themselves. At any rate, feel free to read, pray, and contact me if you wish, or correct me if need be. As you can see, I tend to follow the church year. Of course, I make no special claims about these devotions. I know very well that others have written better and plumbed the depths of God’s word with greater insight. But if my musings help someone draw closer to the Lord, well then, I have my reward. Blessings to you and may the God and Father of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ speak to you that word which He knows you especially need to hear. Grace & peace, Stephen Taylor

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