Summary: When man's rebellion against God grows strong, he determines to go his own way. God will allow man to have his own way but turns him over to the results of following his own way.
ROMANS 1: 24-28 (32)
EXCHANGED FOR TRUTH / THE TRUTH EXCHANGE
As God put a homing device in migratory birds so that they know to fly to warmer weather when the temperature gets too cold, so He has put within man the homing device so that they should fly to Him away from evil. But God also put within mankind a free will so that he could stop himself from traveling God's implanted route. And man has used his free will and chosen to follow his own way instead of God's way.
When man's rebellion against God grows strong, he determines to go his own way. Man's freedom though is not without responsibility. We are held responsible by God for choosing to follow our own way. God will allow man to have his own way but turns him over to the results of following his own way (CIT). When man antagonistically abandons God, God eventually will abandon man to his fallen nature and the resulting consequences.
This passage repeatedly states [three more times] that "God gave them over." So let's use them for our outline. "God gave them over:"
I. 1:24-25 - TO DISHONORING THEIR BODIES.
II. 1:26-27 - TO DEGRADING THEIR PASSIONS.
III. 1:28-32 - TO DEPRAVING THEIR MINDS.
The result leaving the One True God and following false gods or making your own gods is shown starting in verse 24. "For this reason [therefore] God gave them over in the lusts [cravings] of their hearts to impurity [refuse] that their bodies be dishonored [degraded] among them."
"Therefore" refers back to the preceding reason given in verses 18-23. Men choose to ignore or suppress the knowledge of God within themselves and within creation. Since men refuse to worship the Creator God they worship the creature. Since they willfully rebelled against the clear knowledge of God, He gave them over to their desires. "God gave them over" to be controlled by the things they preferred to serve in place of serving Him.
Mankind had already defiantly deserted God so now God stops hindering them and lets them have their own self-determination which leads to self-destruction, which is the price man pays for demanding moral freedom. Because man abandoned God, God abandoned man to the consequences of rejecting God. The punishment for sin is simply letting you have or go your own way. Sin carries is its own recompense.
Like an UNTENDED GARDEN, when man is left to himself the bad always chokes out the good, because that is the inclination of his fallen nature. Man has no capacity in himself to restrain the weeds of his sinfulness or to cultivate the good produce of righteousness. Man's natural development is not upward but downward. He does not evolve but devolve. Mankind is not ascending to God but descending from God. Humanity has continued a downward spiral of depravity throughout history, getting worse and worse, and when the restraints of the Holy Spirit are removed during the final Tribulation period, all hell will break loose on earth as evil reaches its ultimate stage (see 2 Thess. 2: 3-9; Rev. 9:1-11).
When man stubbornly continues in his rebellion against the knowledge of God, God let's go of man. But even God's divine relinquishment is of a merciful nature. He allows the effects of sin to smite people that they might turn to Him and be healed. Alcoholics Anonymous is governed by a similar teaching. They teach that an alcoholic will recover from addiction only by being allowed to experience the unmitigated consequences of it.
["God gave them over to their lusts," in their desires, their cravings. Aristotle defined µ as a reaching out after pleasure. Stoics defined it as a reaching out after pleasure which defies all reason. Clement of Alexandria called it an unreasonable reaching for that which will gratify itself. µ is the passionate desire for forbidden pleasure.]
These cravings for forbidden pleasure are of the heart (mind, will, and emotions) for inside the heart is where dishonoring first takes place. What is allowed freedom in the heart will eventually control the mind and body. Aren't you glad God has not given you over to your lustful cravings?
"That (a completed result) their bodies be dishonored among them." They put an incorrect evaluation of the sacredness, dignity, and purity of the physical body and thus used it in a way which degraded it. Christianity came not only to redeem man's soul from sin but also their physical bodies. You can not separate spiritual morality from physical morality. A false image of God leads to a false understanding of sex. Illicit sex degrades people. Sex in marriage, as God intended, ennobles them.
We move now to the fate of forsaking God, [from the glorious opportunity God gave man to the consequences of pursuing man's fallen moral reasonings.] Humanity exchanged the authentic for the counterfeit and as a consequence God gave them over to what they so perversely desired as we see in verse 25. "For they exchanged the truth of God for (with) a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever (into the ages) Amen. "