Dear Br. Koshy and all,
Thanks for your posting on this subject. Apologies for not posting this earlier. What got me thinking on this subject was what I had mentioned in another thread, http://keralabrethren.net/boardkb/view.asp?id=9383&forum=General. Sadly i got news that the brother who was mentioned in the previous thread is no longer a part of the church, has changed his gender and refuses to be called by his original name. It is indeed tragic that we have to deal with these issues in our own assemblies and families.
If we take the example of this brother. He was born into this world a sinner and will stay a sinner unless God through His infinite mercy lifts him up from his sinful state. He can continue to reject glorifying Him as God, change His truth into falsehood, continue to live with his lustful thoughts.
One would not need an act of God for him to continue in this condition. But the verse says, ‘God gave them up’. This is an explicit act of God wherein He gives up man to his own uncleanness. Almost like a point of no return.
In order for God to give something up, it needs to be in His possession in the first place. God being the omnipotent, sovereign being, has everything under His control. This would also include control over sinful men from further descending into his/her sinfulness.
Does that suggest that there is a sinful condition even worse than a sinner is in already? A condition which needs God’s intervention to give him/her up to? A condition where one is ‘filled’ (Rm1:29 πληροìω) with all unrighteousness, wickedness, greed, evil to a point where it could spell destruction for people, communities, states, even countries involved?
The people of Sodom and Gomorrah had their hearts full of sin and wickedness but it not only remained constrained within themselves but burst out visibly resulting into adulterous actions and their destructive behaviours. But is man always so vile and destructive and have our socieites turned chaotic?
Even though man’s heart is “deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked”, he still possesses signs of God’s restraint on evil. For example, one’s conscience. Even though conscience depends on his/her belief systems and cannot be trusted all the time, there is still an inherent sense of right and wrong that man possesses. Man is still capable of doing ‘righteous’ deeds ( although ‘righteousness’ is subjective to what he/she believes). In the previous thread ‘appachan’ mentioned interestingly, “Even unbelievers know in their conscience that sexual activity outside of marriage is sinful”
The reason we do not see many more Sodom & Gomorrah’s in our age is because of this restraint that God has built within man. The rule of law, justice systems, civil governments, police, families, social constructs around the world are some evidences of systems that are in place that prevent mankind from descending into utter chaos.
If these restraints are taken off (and it will happen one day- 2 Thes 2:7), then we will see the true extent of evil in a man’s heart. We will really see what it is to have man ‘given over/surrendered/abandoned’ to his/her own sinfulness.
We are already seeing evidences of a degrading society all around us. The morality of mankind as we know it has taken a nosedive and God will not deal mercifully with man forever. The sign’s of God ‘giving up’ mankind becomes more and more clear day by day.
But do you know what else God ‘gave up’? It happened more than two thousand years ago. It was His beloved Son, Jesus Christ our saviour, to die on the cruel cross for our sins so that we may never have to be 'given up' to eternal damnation but to be saved and made joint heirs with Christ.
Praise the Lord!!
Rm 8:32 “He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him(gave up) up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things?”
Rm 4:25, “Who was delivered (given up)for our offences, and was raised again for our justification.”
PS: These are some thoughts that have burdened my heart for the past couple of months. I apologize if these writings have gone against any biblical doctrines and I am more than happy to be corrected.