Why does God give people up?

God giving up with folks?

It’s common to hear people saying, “I give up”, but to read God saying, “I give up”, is scary, and frightening. I do not mean that God gives up due to his inability, but rather God gives up with certain people. As I read Romans 1, I was astonished to read how many times I read “God gives up”. In fact, that’s the common theme that runs across Romans 1.

We need to deal with it and unpack it. First of all, an omnipotent God who can do anything and everything He wants to, why does He give up? In fact that sentence itself needs to be more nuanced. If you read the OT, God gave up with Israel numerous times, and gave them over to destruction. The sense of God giving up, does show God is not going to forbearingly bends our arms to line up with his wish. He leaves it to our free will, and choice. That’s quite remarkable. As a father myself, I feel frustrated with the strong will and decision of my grown up kids who choose the other way, but as a finite father, all I could do is pray.

When folks reject him relationally

Romans 1:16-17 (ESV) 16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. 17 For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith, as it is written, “The righteous shall live by faith.”

It’s clear, in the gospel, the power of God is revealed for salvation, how? Because in the gospel, the righteousness of God is revealed! It is the righteousness of God that makes the salvation. Whose righteousness? Not yours! Not mine! It’s God’s! Essentially, one needs to be righteous in the sight of God to be saved. I mean who can? No one! That’s why gospel is such good news, because it is not your righteousness, but God’s that came through in Jesus Christ! That’s what set Martin Luther free.

Greek meaning: The word righteousness means: δικαιοσύνη (dikaiosunē) ‘righteousness’ (G1343), what is right, justice, the act of doing what is in agreement with God’s standards, the state of being in proper relationship with God.

Two things we need to highlight here: First, it has to be in agreement with God’s standards, second, it has to be in proper relationship with God. First it’s the standard, or ethics, then it’s the relationship, which is deeply personal. What sets apart this God from other gods, is the intensely personal relationship he has with us, or wants to have with us. We hear God says “we shall be his, and He is our God”. We belong to God, and he is deeply affectionate about us, even to the point of comparing in Songs about the intimate relationship with a lover and his beloved. All this are only a fore shadow of the ultimate coming and which will be fulfilled in Christ Jesus as the groom, and the church as his bride.

1 peter 2:  But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.   We are God’s special possession!

God’s wrath is a necessary result of his righteousness towards godlessness

Romans 1:18-19 (ESV) 18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. 19 For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them.

Mounce wrote that God’s wrath is a necessary result of his righteousness towards wickedness or godlessness. He calls it benign tolerance otherwise. [1]

God revealed his wrath from heaven all godlessness & unrighteousness on earth now! Who says God is passive? Who says is not involved in this world? He just sits back and watch? No!

Godlessness: ungodliness, godlessness, impiety (in thought and act)
impiety, ungodliness; dishonesty, wickedness Rom. 1:18; 11:26; 2Tim. 2:16; Tit. 2:12; Jude 15,

Unrighteousness: wickedness, evil, wrongdoing injustice, wrong; iniquity, wickedness, evil, falsehood, deceitfulness

Because folks suppressed truth by redefining God

Romans 1:22-23 (ASV) 22 Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools, 23 and changed the glory of the incorruptible God for the likeness of an image of corruptible man, and of birds, and four-footed beasts, and creeping things.

Those idolatries described here do not pretty much apply to us today literally, but what we have today is the idolatry in our minds, in actuality we created our own idols in place of God. Example: Money, career, lust, power, whatever, pleasures seem to overtake the reverence of God.

(WBC62Vol) This failure to give God his due and to receive life as God’s gift is Paul’s way of expressing the primal sin of humankind.

Result of Idolatry is giving over to Homosexuality

26 For this cause God gave them up unto vile passions: for their women changed the natural use into that which is against nature: 27 and likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another, men with men working unseemliness, and receiving in themselves that recompense of their error which was due.

Schreiner expounded clearly on the connection between homosexuality and idolatry. He wrote:

Sexual sin is the first consequence of being handed over that Paul mentions (vv24, 26-27). [2] God handed people over to sexual sin because they refused to glorify God and turned to idols. Sexual sin is a consequence, or outworking, of the rejection of God and a failure to honor God. The fundamental sin isn’t sexual but the failure to worship God. All other sins is a consequence of this one. Sexual sin, specifically homosexual relations, is the product of idolatry. [3]

Sexual sin is a consequence of refusing to glorify God and turned to idols. But clearly not all who worship the idolatry in the world are homosexuals. What about Christian homosexuals who do worship God but choose gay lifestyle, by twisting scripture to allow homosexuality. In a way, they do worship God, but if you look deep down, it is impossible to turn to homosexuality if one truly worships God in biblical way or orthodoxy way. They just don’t go together, homosexuality and true worship of God.


[1] Mounce, R. H. (1995). Romans (Vol. 27, p. 76). Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers.

[2] Thomas Schreiner, Romans, Baker Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament, p 99, Baker Academic, Grand Rapids

[3] Ibid., p 100

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