03 September, 2016

Romans 1:24, 26, 28—“For this cause God ‘gave them up’ unto vile affections …”

Wherefore God also gave them up to uncleanness through the lusts of their own hearts, to dishonour their own bodies between themselves: Who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed for ever. Amen. For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections: for even their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature: And likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another; men with men working that which is unseemly, and receiving in themselves that recompence of their error which was meet. And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient (Romans 1:24-28 KJV)

This text is quoted to support the doctrine of a general operation of the Holy Spirit whereby the progress of corruption is checked in the fallen human nature. The contention is that if God “gives a man up” to sin, He must first of all be “restraining” the power of sin in man, and only after failing to restrain such, He ceases His restraint.


Prof. Herman C. Hanko

[Source: Common Grace Considered, pp. 122-123]

The meaning of [these texts] is … that God punishes sin with sin. God’s wrath is revealed in His terrible judgments upon the wicked. One of those judgments is that God pushes as it were the sinner into greater sin. Romans 1 uses the language, “gives them over.” Idolaters who change the glory of God into an image made like unto corruptible man are punished by being given over to homosexuality. History is replete with examples of this. God is, after all, sovereign. He gives the sinner over to the sin that his wicked heart craves. Sin multiplies and becomes worse. And all this takes place until the cup of iniquity is filled. But all this has nothing to do with any kind of inner restraint of sin in the hearts of the wicked.



Rev. Herman Hoeksema

[Source: The Rock Whence We Are Hewn (RFPA, 2015), p. 406]

Further, synod referred to a triplet of texts, Psalm 81:12–13; Acts 7:42; and Romans 1:24–26, 28, which teach that God gives the sinner over to all manner of evil, iniquity, and corruption. No exegesis can possibly deduce from these passages the doctrine of a general operation of the Holy Spirit whereby the progress of corruption is checked in the fallen human nature. Directly the texts teach exactly the opposite, for to give over is the very opposite of to restrain.

Nor do the texts presuppose a restraint by the Holy Spirit prior to the giving over. Romans 1 teaches very clearly that there is a constant and general manifestation of the wrath of god over all unrighteousness and ungodliness of men, who hold the truth under in unrighteousness (v. 18), and that the wrath of God against the wickedness of men becomes manifest especially in God’s giving the ungodly over into worse corruption and deeper mire of sin (vv. 24, 26, 28). The wrath of God manifested in his giving the sinner over is revealed throughout history from its very beginning, according to the chapter, for its cause is that man, knowing God, would not glorify him as God and be thankful.

Hence the chapter teaches exactly the opposite from the declaration of synod. The synod declares that there is a general operation of grace by the Holy Spirit whereby corruption is checked in the nature of man. But the first chapter of Romans teaches that there is a general operation of wrath, revealed by God from heaven, whereby man is given over from corruption into deeper corruption. Anyone may verify the truth of this explanation by following the reasoning of the apostle Paul in verses 18–32.



More to come! (DV)

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