Does God ever abandon people? If necessary, yes. Now before you demand that I turn in my saint light card, let’s take a look at the Apostle Paul’s teaching about God’s response to people who don’t worship him as he is or, at the very least, thank him. It is found in Romans 1:21 and 24: “Yes, they knew God, but they wouldn’t worship him as God or even give him thanks. And they began to think up foolish ideas of what God was like . . . So God abandoned them to do whatever shameful things their hearts desired . . .”
For some people that’s an open invitation to party time. But if that verse doesn’t strike you as a harsh response, think about the implications. It means indulging debase passions to the point of enslavement to those passions. Who, in their right mind, would want to give more control to their sex addiction, or their eating disorder, or their insobriety, or their cat-hoarding? (My personal demon.)
What’s the solution? Worship God for who he is, not what we want him to be. Also, be thankful to God for all he has done. A grateful heart can stimulate the grace of God to action. And it is God’s grace that protects us from ourselves and holds our demons at bay.
Some in our culture reject God and religion in the name of personal freedom. They are like hedonists and bohemians. It’s ironic, in a tragic way, that ultimately they will not get the freedom they desire. Here is what Romans 1:29-31 says are the outcomes when God abandons people to their debase desires:
“Their lives became full of every kind of wickedness, sin, greed, hate, envy, murder, quarreling, deception, malicious behavior, and gossip. They are backstabbers, haters of God, insolent, proud, and boastful. They invent new ways of sinning, and they disobey their parents. They refuse to understand, break their promises, are heartless, and have no mercy.”
Well, that’s definitely not the high-society bunch . . . or maybe it is. It sounds like something out of the Lord of the Flies. Here’s my point: We can’t take God’s grace for granted and it is his grace that not only forgives but also assists us in defeating chronic sins in our lives. To that end, it is very important to reject the temptation to reinvent God.