Welcome to EBible Fellowship’s Bible study in the book of Romans. Tonight is study #46 of Romans 1, and we are reading Romans 1:24-28:
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;
I will stop reading there. We have been going along in Romans 1. You know, the language in this chapter is unrelenting in the terrible things God is saying about mankind, the creature He had made in His own image.
And now we come to Romans 1:24:
Wherefore God also gave them up to uncleanness through the lusts of their own hearts, to dishonour their own bodies between themselves:
The phrase “God gave them up” is found three times in these verses, and it is very significant. The Greek word translated as “gave them up” is Strong’s #3860. It is used 121 times in the New Testament, so that is fairly often, and it is translated as “deliver,” “delivered,” or “delivered up,” 53 of the 121 times; and it is translated as “betray” or “betrayed,” 40 times. So in over 90 cases, this word is translated as “delivered” or “betrayed.” And think about the idea of “betrayal,” because in many of the 40 instances where it is translated as “betrayed,” it has to do with Judah betraying the Lord Jesus. What was the betrayal? Judas made a deal with the Jewish authorities to deliver Him up. He would tell them where Christ would be, a good location where there would not be too many people around, where he would deliver Christ to them. So, really, when we read the word “betray,” it gives the same idea of being “delivered up,” as we read, “God also gave them up,” or He “delivered them up” to uncleanness, and so forth.
Let us look at some of the places where this same Greek word is found. For example, we read in Matthew 4:12:
Now when Jesus had heard that John was cast into prison, he departed into Galilee;
The whole phrase, “cast into prison” is this same Greek word. So we can see he was “delivered up,” and to be “delivered up” involved being turned over to authorities for legal reasons, like people that would go to prison. Jesus was delivered up to the Jews or delivered to Pilot. But let us see exactly how this word is used. It says in Matthew 5:25:
Agree with thine adversary quickly, whiles thou art in the way with him; lest at any time the adversary deliver thee to the judge, and the judge deliver thee to the officer, and thou be cast into prison.
Twice we see our word, translated here as “deliver thee,” and it relates to the legal system, being delivered to the judge, or delivered to prison. And that is very common with this word. We will stay in Matthew for the next few verses, but it says in Matthew 18:34:
And his lord was wroth, and delivered him to the tormentors, till he should pay all that was due unto him.
Again, it very much has to do with legality.
In Matthew 20, we will find the same Greek word translated as “betrayed” and “deliver.” It says in Matthew 20:17-19:
And Jesus going up to Jerusalem took the twelve disciples apart in the way, and said unto them, Behold, we go up to Jerusalem; and the Son of man shall be betrayed unto the chief priests and unto the scribes, and they shall condemn him to death, And shall deliver him to the Gentiles to mock, and to scourge, and to crucify him: and the third day he shall rise again.
First, He was betrayed and delivered to the chief priests and scribes, and they condemned Him. Then he was delivered to the Gentiles, who would also condemn Him and then crucify Him. Again, it has everything to do with the courts or legal system.
It says in Matthew 27:2:
And when they had bound him, they led him away, and delivered him to Pontius Pilate the governor.
Then it says in Matthew 27:26:
Then released he Barabbas unto them: and when he had scourged Jesus, he delivered him to be crucified.
Barabbas was released. Barabbas was not delivered. That is sometimes how we think of the word “deliver,” in the sense of deliverance from Egypt, but that is not the sense of meaning for this word. This word is used in the sense of being delivered up for the reason of judgment – being delivered up to the judge or the tormenters, or being delivered into prison as a penalty. That is the idea of this word.
In Acts 7, it is translated as “gave them up.” It says in Acts 7:37-42:
This is that Moses, which said unto the children of Israel, A prophet shall the Lord your God raise up unto you of your brethren, like unto me; him shall ye hear. This is he, that was in the church in the wilderness with the angel which spake to him in the mount Sina, and with our fathers: who received the lively oracles to give unto us: To whom our fathers would not obey, but thrust him from them, and in their hearts turned back again into Egypt, Saying unto Aaron, Make us gods to go before us: for as for this Moses, which brought us out of the land of Egypt, we wot not what is become of him. And they made a calf in those days, and offered sacrifice unto the idol, and rejoiced in the works of their own hands. Then God turned, and gave them up to worship the host of heaven; as it is written in the book of the prophets, O ye house of Israel, have ye offered to me slain beasts and sacrifices by the space of forty years in the wilderness?
We will stop there. God saw their idolatry, and God “gave them up” to worship the host of heaven. And we can certainly see the relationship to God’s judgment on the corporate church when He came to visit and found the same situation (in the churches). Remember, in Revelation 2 in the address to the church at Thyatira, the Lord found a few things against them, as it says in Revelation 2:20:
… because thou sufferest that woman Jezebel, which calleth herself a prophetess, to teach and to seduce my servants to commit fornication, and to eat things sacrificed unto idols.
Then God judged them and cast them into “a bed of…great tribulation.” So God’s judgment on the churches was also to give them up to Satan and to lies and falsehoods, and to worship practically everything under the sun. That is what the churches ended up doing as they went after their insane gospels and doctrines.
So “giving up” a people to worship false gods is giving them up to sin, but it is also judging them at the same time, and that is one thing for us to keep in mind: God is giving man up to terrible sin, as described in Romans 1, like the sin of homosexuality, and a long list of other sins. It is the time of the end when the Holy Spirit’s hand of restraint is being lifted, more and more, off the hearts of men, and now they are doing what comes naturally to the desperately wicked heart. They are running after their sins, thinking, “This is wonderful!” They can freely chase their sinful pleasures and indulge them. And, yet, it brings ruin. It brings terrible destruction to the world and to society, where there is all kinds of damage as a result. This is the time when iniquity is abounding in the earth.
We are still looking at this Greek word translated as “gave up,” so let us go to Romans 8:32:
He that spared not his own Son, but for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things?
He “delivered him up.” Again, Christ was delivered up, and for what reason? It was to satisfy the Law’s demand, so it was an official act of God, and an official judgment upon the Son. That is the idea with this word.
Again, when you look up the word, Strong’s #3860, you will find numerous verses where Christ was being delivered up for judgment, and there are some other places where this word is found, but, overwhelmingly, it has to do with official judgment. But we will look at just one more verse, in Jude 1:3:
Beloved, when I gave all diligence to write unto you of the common salvation, it was needful for me to write unto you, and exhort you that ye should earnestly contend for the faith which was once unto the saints.
You see, when you search a word like this out, it greatly helps in our understanding of verses like Jude 3, because there are those that completely misread this, and they think “the faith” is the faith of the fathers, the Reformed faith, or the church traditions, or they think it is the delivering of the Bible. But none of those qualify for a couple of reasons. They were never “once delivered,” but they were delivered repeatedly, from generation to generation over the course of the church age, for example. That would be the delivering of the “traditions.” And even since the Reformation, it has been hundreds of years, so that, too, has been repeatedly delivered or handed down.
So this word is typically not used in the sense of delivering or giving something to someone in a positive way. “The faith which was once delivered unto the saints,” sounds so good: “Oh, the saints received the faith. It has been delivered to them.” But what did we see in all the Scripture references here? It had to do with Christ being delivered to the Jewish authorities; Christ betrayed and delivered to Pilot; Christ delivered to be crucified; being delivered to tormenters; being delivered to the judge, and so forth. Therefore, it has absolutely nothing to do with handing down something positive regarding instruction of the faith. It has absolutely nothing to do with that, so what could it mean? Well, we know the Lord Jesus Christ Himself is “the faith.” We are saved by the faith of Jesus Christ, and not by the works of the Law. We are justified by the faith of Christ.
So if the faith was “once delivered,” how many times was Jesus, the faith, delivered for the sins of His people? It was once at the foundation of the world when He made payment for sin. And once, in time, He was delivered in order to perform a demonstration of the thing He had done (His atoning work) at the foundation of the world. Then we see that the “faith delivered” is exactly like Christ being delivered to Pilot. It is saying the identical thing, only it is referring to Jesus through the language of “the faith.” Then it all fits, and we can see why it is “once delivered,” and we can see why this word “delivered” is used – it has to do with the legal judgment of God upon the Lord Jesus Christ who was bearing the sins of His people at the foundation of the world, and then making that fact manifest when He went to the cross in 33 A. D.
As we go back to Romans 1 after searching out this word, we now realize that this is not an incidental thing that God is referring to in Romans 1:24:
Wherefore God also gave them up…
He delivered them up for judgment. He delivered mankind up to judgment, and given the terrible nature of the sins listed here, we see it has to do with the people of the world. Yes – the churches were “delivered up” to greater sin as well, to worship the hosts of heaven. But, primarily, they were delivered up to doctrinal blindness, doctrinal errors and lying gospels. But, here, God is specifically referring to the things listed in Romans 1:26:
: for even their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature:
By the way, in verse 24, where it says, “Wherefore God also gave them up to uncleanness through the lusts of their own hearts, to dishonour their own bodies between themselves,” the word “dishonour” is Strong’s #818, and I would pronounce the Greek word as “at-im-ad’-zo.” And in verse 26, where it says, “For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections,” the word “vile” is Strong’s #819, and I would pronounce that as “at-ee-mee’-ah.” So they are very closely related, and they mean similar things. The word “dishonour” is translated as “shamefully,” like being “entreated shamefully,” in a couple of Christ’s parables where it said they beat the servants and treated them shamefully. In Acts 5:41, the disciples were also mistreated and suffered shame for the name of Christ, and the English “suffer shame” is a translation of Strong’s #818 that is translated as “dishonour.” It says in John 8:48-49:
Then answered the Jews, and said unto him, Say we not well that thou art a Samaritan, and hast a devil? Jesus answered, I have not a devil; but I honour my Father, and ye do dishonour me.
That word is the same word, and we can see that they really did dishonour Christ. Here is God, Holy God, and God in the flesh, standing there in front of them, and He had proven Himself by mighty and miraculous works. He had spoken well and done well, and He had done no sin of any kind, and they said He had a devil. What an awful display of dishonour. Can you imagine? As a matter of fact, nothing could be more dishonoring, and that helps us to understand the nature of this word. It is extremely dishonoring, and in our verse, “God also gave them up to uncleanness through the lusts of their own hearts, to dishonour their own bodies between themselves.” They were given up to dishonor, to suffer shame, and to entreat shamefully their own bodies between themselves. And there is not a hint of anything positive, good, or beneficial. They are doing hurt to their own selves.
And you know, that is the nature of the sinner. He is his own worst enemy. We read in 2Timothy 2, where God says, in 2Timothy 2:24-25:
And the servant of the Lord must not strive; but be gentle unto all men, apt to teach, patient, In meekness instructing ; if God peradventure will give them repentance to the acknowledging of the truth;
Man is in opposition to his own self. He is dishonoring his own body through his actions, and through his lustful, sinful desires. He is bringing suffering and shame to his own body as he goes after things that he thinks are attractive or desirable and something that he wants. He thinks it will bring him pleasure. And, yet, God is telling us the facts. He is laying it out for us. This is something that should not be.
So the word “dishonour” is the Greek word “atimazō,” (at-im-ad’-zo). And in verse 26, where it says, “For this cause God gave them up unto affections,” and it is the word “atimia,” (at-ee-mee’-ah). Again, they are very similar, but this is a word that is translated more often as “dishonour.” For example, it is the same word used in Romans 9:21:
Hath not the potter power over the clay, of the same lump to make one vessel unto honour, and another unto dishonour?
This refers to God’s creation of all human beings. And His salvation program is what turns vessels that are marred into “vessels of honour,” as He has redeemed us, cleansed us, and washed away all the iniquities and filthiness that we have ever done. And men have done a lot of filthy things in thought, word, and deed, to themselves as well as to others. They have violated their own bodies. They have violated the glorious fact that they are creatures made in the image of Holy God, the holy, pure, and perfect God. God made man “good,” but man has just sunk into the pit and depths of iniquity, and he has ruined his reputation and ruined the image he was made in, and he has violated it in a dishonoring way to God and to himself.
So this is the point God is making, and now it is the time of the end. It is the time of the official judgment of mankind, the time we are presently living in, and God has lifted His hand of restraint. And as He does so, He is “giving up” mankind and delivering him to the Judge. And as Cain said, “My punishment is greater than I can bear.” And the word “punishment” is the word sin: “My sin is greater than I can bear.” And this is what is pressing down upon mankind today. It is man’s own iniquity and his own lusts. It is his own evil deeds, primarily. that are destroying him.