My Fitness

Sunday, December 10, 2017

does god give up on people

Recently I was asked about Romans 1:24, 26, 28 where Paul writes, "God gave them up." The asker said that they see how, "God gives them over to their own idolatry and wickedness. The longer they are without Him, the worse their heart condition gets. Without the Holy Spirit this heart condition will lead to spiritual death." Their question was, "is this a complete abandonment? Is He forever done with them or is there still a chance for mercy?"

I was thrilled to answer this for them. I told my husband via text that searching the Scriptures is fun for me and that more than anything in life I feel the most alive when searching the Scriptures. I feel like I hear the voice of the Holy Spirit.

My response:
I agree with what you have found and the natural question that stems from that, “Can they ever be saved if God has abandoned them?”

The Bible Project guys hint at the idea that is shared by Albert Mohler that these verses are speaking to humanity as a whole when sin entered the world in Genesis 3. If this is Paul’s intention, then certainly yes, we can be saved post fall since all sin happened post-fall.

On a slight side-note and desire for clarity, our sins do not lead us to spiritual death. We are all already spiritually dead. Ephesians 2:5 says that we were all dead in our sins. Adam’s sin lead to spiritual death that we all now begin physical life as spiritually dead. Without the Holy Spirit we are still spiritually dead. The act of salvation includes the indwelling of the Spirit and once he is with you he will not leave you (Romans 8:35). If a person appears to be saved and then appears to be unregenerate, he was either never saved and only had the appearance of holiness or he will be brought again to repentance. Therefore I would revise, if I may be permitted by the reader, that the final conclusion of, “Without the Holy Spirit this heart condition will lead to spiritual death,” to “Without the Holy Spirit’s intervention this heart condition will lead to a continued and irrevocable spiritual death,” which is what I suspect was the intended meaning of the question.

I see a couple of concerns behind the question though. Without knowing the heart of the one asking, I say usually the reason for asking is either because they know someone who seems too far gone for saving grace or they themselves have some desire and want to know, “how far is too far? Will God completely abandon me or can I go have fun and come back?” And a final common reason is the concern that one is currently too far gone despite a desire to repent.

For the first instance, I refer to the many gospel passages where Jesus says, “WHOEVER believes” will be saved (Mark 16:16, John 3:15, 16, 18, John 6:47 and more). In Romans 6:23, we see that confession and belief are needed and that no amount of sin is too much to be covered. For by grace we have been saved through faith (Ephesians 2:8) even if by human accounts that sin is great. The sermon on the mount (Matthew 5) lists many sins that start in the heart and the intention of that sermon is to show that from great to little all sin separates us from God. Further into Romans, in chapter 3, Paul addresses people’s faithlessness by asking if that nullifies the faithfulness of God, “By no means!” he says in verse 4. There is still hope that these faithless people will be saved. God is not condemning them, as John 3:17 says, they are already condemned, but through Jesus whoever believes will not perish.

This includes even you if you think you’ve gone too far. There is no amount of sin that the blood of Jesus cannot wash clean. You are included in “whoever” and the fact that you desire to return to God indicates his Spirit is at work within you.

For the people being addressed in the original question, they were given over to their desires but for what purpose?  If such acts are done within the Body of Believers, 1 Corinthians 5:5, says that by the destruction of the flesh his spirit might be saved. This is encouraging, then, that when we see people willfully turning from God and God allows them to fall, it is for the hope of repentance. We should pray for them and attempt to draw them back to God as the Spirit directs.

For the second concern, if you or someone you know is desiring to walk the line and make a deathbed confession, or foolishly think that “once saved always saved” means you can now behave anyway you wish, maybe they want to “see what the world has to offer”, I’d refer them to John 7:38, that says those who believe “out of his heart will flow rivers of living water” and in no way can a desire to turn from God and follow sin willfully be considered “living water”. John 12:46 says he will not remain in darkness, and all sin is in darkness. First John 4:16, says that he will abide in love; God is love and in Him is no sin. Second Peter 2:20f speaks to people who have heard and known the word and turned from it. It says it would be better for him to never have known the gospel in the first place. Matthew 24:12-13 speaks to people whose love grows cold but the one who endures to the end will be saved. The desire to sin and forsake God reveals a reprobate mind, not a sanctified one.

It is important to note that this willfully leaving the gospel and embracing their sinful flesh is different from making mistakes or having a moment of weakness or stumbling that leads to contrition.

I want to emphasize that God never turns anyone away who desires a relationship with him. As said previously, WHOEVER desires to come to the Father will be received. There is no sin too dirty for God. From the beginning all sin was too unholy to allow us near him. His cure for us was sending Jesus who died for all sinners and all their sin. Every sin that you commit has been committed after the penalty had been paid. God wants a faithful heart, a contrite heart, a repentant heart, and a humble heart. Christ came to save sinners (1 Timothy 1:15) and it is the tactic of the enemy to deceive God’s chosen into thinking otherwise. Those who are well have no need of a physician, Jesus said. (Matthew 9:12) If you are a sinner, Christ came for you.

And finally, check out these quotes from some of my favorites on sanctification that may be helpful.