Moral Controversies That Have No Right to Exist

Sexual sins: the Divine “giving over” to sins, especially sexual sins.

The lead chapter of this topic opened with Rom 1.18-32 and Rom 2.4-8 (the divine “giving over”), the main point being that our current culture works tirelessly to dismiss sexual sins by treating them as common and therefore primarily “one’s own personal business”.

The Bible teaches otherwise; it is very specific when enumerating sexual sins.

I noted in the lead chapter that the Divine “giving over” is indicated by the Greek verb παραδίδωμι [G3860, to give into the hands or power of another]. A particularly illustrative use is in Rom 4.25:

Rom 4.25
[The Lord Christ] who was delivered over [παραδίδωμι] because of our transgressions, and was raised because of our justification.

The LORD Christ was delivered (handed) over [παραδίδωμι] for judgment and execution; there was no reprieve, no delay, no mercy. He suffered the full wrath of God for the sin of His elect.

Likewise, the sinner delivered over (Rom 1.24,26,Rom 1.28) will receive no reprieve and no mercy. There is no escape, no going back once the sinner has been “given over”.

This means that the divine “giving over” has real, permanent and terrifying consequences. To be “given over” means that an individual’s sins have caught up with them in this life to the degree that they are both unable and unwilling to repent; they can only make their already doomed and damnable situation worse. In the language of Romans chapter 2, they are “storing up wrath” toward the “day of wrath and revelation”. (Rom 2.5-8)

There is no longer any possible escape of condemning judgment; such a person’s prospect to receive eternal punishment is 100%. Their only expectation is eternal doom in the Lake of Fire (the Outer Darkness) because the παραδίδωμι (the "giving over") is permanent.

Let’s review how the lost sinner came into this miserable state, and thereby demonstrate how this increased judgment manifests as an increase in sexual sins.

Rom 1.18-23
For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, because that which is known about God is evident within them; for God made it evident to them. For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse. For even though they knew God, they did not honor Him as God or give thanks, but they became futile in their speculations, and their foolish heart was darkened. Professing to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the incorruptible God for an image in the form of corruptible man and of birds and four-footed animals and crawling creatures.

There have been times when the wrath of God has been temporarily withheld. Note the example from the time of Noah:

Gen 6.5-7
Then the Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great on the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. The Lord was sorry that He had made man on the earth, and He was grieved in His heart. The Lord said, “I will blot out man whom I have created from the face of the land, from man to animals to creeping things and to birds of the sky; for I am sorry that I have made them.”

The LORD’s wrath waited for a century while Noah built the ark. In the meantime, you may be sure that the wickedness of mankind in the days or Noah continued to grow; it could not do otherwise because that is the nature of lost mankind.

1 Pet 3.20
… when the patience of God kept waiting in the days of Noah, during the construction of the ark, in which a few, that is, eight persons, were brought safely through the water.

[Rom 6 – 7 is a good section to review concerning the time before the revelation of the Law and how it was that the LORD “overlooked” sin, as it is stated there.]

Now, fast forward to the days following the immensely important pivot point of human history: the resurrection of the Lord Christ.

Once the death and resurrection of the Lord Christ had been accomplished, the period for the LORD’s “overlooking” of sin for judgment and wrath ended:

Act 17.30-31
Therefore having overlooked the times of ignorance, God is now declaring to men that all people everywhere should repent, because He has fixed a day in which He will judge the world in righteousness through a Man whom He has appointed, having furnished proof to all men by raising Him from the dead.

The resurrection of the Lord Christ was the turning point: mankind is now fully culpable to the Law of God. There are no exceptions in our day to this Divine rule, nor will there ever be any exceptions in the future!

It is at this point that the unconditional culpability of mankind to sin that Rom 1.18-32 comes into focus.

Who are these who are coming under the revealed wrath of God? It is those who fit the biblical definition of obstinance and rebellion:

Rom 1.18-19
For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, because that which is known about God is evident within them; for God made it evident to them.

They suppressed the truth of God which had been gloriously revealed to them! It isn’t that they were ignorant of the truth and were caught by surprise; no, not by any means! They were given the truth (remember, it was “made evident within them”) and chose – through truly unforgivable wickedness – to suppress it!

They are those who not only ignored the Law of God, they suppressed the truth.

What was the nature of the truth these wicked people suppressed? It was nothing less than the “invisible attributes, power and divine nature” (v20) of the LORD Himself! They were given extraordinary privilege and then showed it contempt! They could no longer honor the LORD in any way. (v21)

At this point they were not only under divine judgment, to their deepest core (their heart and intellect) they were divinely and permanently changed into darkened fools who “changed the glory of God into an image of corruptible man”. (vv22-23).

We now come to the purpose of this chapter: besides the terrible consequences noted above, these who were “given over” were cursed with a life-consuming and life-long predilection for serious sexual lust, along with all sorts of degrading and deviant sexual behaviors. The human being created in the image of God had been converted essentially into “immoral beasts” incapable of moral self-control!

Note the threefold and progressive “giving over” in vv. 24, 26 and 28:

24 Therefore God gave them over in the lusts of their hearts to impurity …
26 For this reason God gave them over to degrading passions…
28God gave them over to a depraved mind, to do those things which are not proper …

In each of these paragraphs there is a clear indication of sexual sins in increasing scope, self-degradation and deviance.

Think about this for moment: the more a man or woman fights against the LORD, His glory and wonders of His creation, the more they suppress and ignore His word and works to impugn His glory, the more such persons risk being given over to sexual sins (in particular) and other sins (in general) – which in turn increase their culpability and ultimate judgment and punishment on the Day!

Yes, the paragraph beginning in v28 broadens the scope of sins to which that wretched person is given over, but the warning begins with the depraved mind!

Stated another way: if you observe a man or woman obsessed with sexual lust and behaviors, if you observe a person with a depraved mind and absolutely devoted to sinful behavior of all types, then you may be sure that that person has been divinely given over to his/her sin.

But, the giving over does not always result in visible behavior; it may be buried in the recesses of a person’s mind:

Mat 5.27-28
“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery’; but I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart.

Mat 15.19
For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, slanders.

Jam 1.14
But each one is tempted when he is carried away and enticed by his own lust.

Mat 15.19 above makes it clear (in concert with a host of other texts!) that a person’s heart from birth is dark and dead in sins. In principle, any person is capable of committing any sin, regardless of how hideous it might be. However, the divine giving over enables those (usually/mostly?) suppressed sinful desires to surface and intensifies them into action.

[cf., Jer 17.9; Eph 2.1,Eph 2.5; 1 Cor 2.14; Rom 8.5-8; Jud 1.17-19; Mat 15.18-20; 2 Cor 4.3-6; Rom 3.9-19]