Wherefore God also gave them up to uncleanness through the lusts of their own hearts, to dishonour their own bodies between themselves:
This verse is remarkable in what it says, so I have included several translations to give you a real opportunity to meditate on it:
Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their [own] hearts to sexual impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves [abandoning them to the degrading power of sin], (AMP)
Therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another. (NIV)
So God abandoned them to do whatever shameful things their hearts desired. As a result, they did vile and degrading things with each other’s bodies. (NLT)
This word “gave them up”, translated as abandoned in the NLT, is the Greek word paradidomi. It is the same word used for Judas when he betrayed Christ (Matthew 10.4). However, it is not always used in the context of betrayal or abandoning.
It can be used to committing a trust to someone – for example in Matthew 25.20, it is used about giving money to someone to look after. In Acts 15.26 it is used to describe people committing and risking their lives for Christ. In 1 Cor. 13.3 it is used for giving up your life as a martyr.
It is even used for revelation knowledge. Paul in 1 Cor. 11.23 talking about communion says that what the Lord has delivered to me, I deliver to you. It is the same word. In Jude 3, Jude tells us that faith has been delivered to us.
So what is the context of this word which as we shall see as we read through Romans 1 is used three times in the next 5 verses. It is vital we understand what this word means to understand this verse and indeed this entire passage.
The word, looking at several classical Greek dictionaries, means to give up or let go of what you have been entrusted to look after. It can therefore mean betrayal, or it can mean a sacrifice. Now, has God betrayed us like Judas to Jesus or is God making a supreme sacrifice of love by giving us up?
I am sure it does not take a theologian to know that the nature of God is love (1 John 4.9) and that God, who cannot lie (Hebrews 6.8), could NEVER betray His creation.
So God is actually making a sacrifice here. He is doing the most loving thing that can be done.
Remember the context of this verse. In the previous two verses we find that we are talking about people who have stepped away from a living relationship with God and turned to idolatry.
As soon as someone turns to idolatry, God hands them over. He passes them on to someone else. He should be looking after every human on the planet, but when they willfully reject Him and turn to a false god, He passes them on. He gives them up.
And what does God give them up to? Uncleanness.
This is the start of the downward spiral of EVERY nation, EVERY community, EVERY individual, EVERY Christian that rejects God and creates a false god.
The first step is uncleanness.
Now, God gives you up out of love and sacrifice. God could come and visit you in ALL HIS GLORY and MAJESTY. You would fall at His feet and beg for His mercy and love. But God is not a bully who shows off His strength every chance He has. If you want to leave, He will NOT lock you in and imprison you. God never misuses the fact He is God. He always operates in love. God makes the most powerful sacrifice of all: He gives up His happiness in walking with you and sacrifices it so you can have free will and decide to ignore God and create a false god.
But, as soon as you are outside of God’s hand, uncleanness grabs hold of you. Uncleanness is the Greek word akatharsia and means impure motives. Have you noticed as soon as you try and do things apart from God’s will, God’s plan and God’s leading your motives go all over the place? You start to question yourself, you start to do things out of arrogance, to prove a point. You lose the security of knowing God is your source and your joy and your place of acceptance, so you start pushing about making people accept you, forcing people to like you, criticising people who succeed.
But then uncleanness develops and leads to dishonouring your body. Now yes this includes sexual immorality such as fornication, masterbation and homosexuality. And one of the things that happens as soon as you create false gods is sexual immorality. You lose the perspective that sex is for marriage, and marriage is for life.
Every false religion on the earth leads to sexual immorality. Whether it is a Muslim blowing himself up for 72 virgins, or a practiser of Wicca involved in a skyclad (naked) ritual, every false religion will lead to sexual immorality. This is a Scripture principle and cannot be denied.
If you are living an unclean life, you can try and fight it but you will fail. You will fail again and again. You might weep and repent each time, but you will not succeed in living clean. Because your problem is not uncleanness – uncleaness is the fruit.
Remember this truth: your problem is NEVER the fruit, it is ALWAYS the seed. If you don’t like the fruit, change seed.
Your problem is stepping away from God. Failing to glorify God, failing to thank Him for the things He has done for you, failing to control your imagination, and failing to fill yourself with the Word.
If you watch TV with adultery and “scenes of a sexual nature” you are filling yourself with the wrong seed, you are committing idolatry and you will end up in uncleanness. Fighting that harvest after sowing the wrong seed is nearly impossible.
You need to change your seed! Spend your time thanking God, glorifying God, and imagining your life of victory and meditating in the Word. Then change will be effortless. And fun!
If God has let you go and you are aware that uncleanness has grabbed you realize this: God let you go because YOU wanted to be let go. Want to be back with God and He will set you free, pour His love in your heart, rejoice over you with singing and enable you to live pure and clean in this world.
Glory and freedom,