Therefore God gave them over in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, so that their bodies would be dishonored among them (Romans 1:24).

For God is not unjust so as to forget your work and the love which you have shown toward His name, in having ministered and in still ministering to the saints (Hebrews 6:10).

One of many things that amazes me about people is this: People who should find comfort in God are scared to death of Him, and people who should be scared to death of Him ignore Him altogether.

Consider the two statements above. The first, “God gave them over,” is repeated three times in Romans 1. Paul said people must not place confidence in wrong things. People easily placed confidence in “who they were” rather than “how they behaved.” People placed confidence in their heritage instead of their behavior—“I am a Jew,” or “I am a Roman.”

Paul said no matter “who you are,” heritage does not guarantee relationship with God. Many Romans resented the presence of “foreign gods” in Rome. They felt superior in their gods. They were confident that people who worshipped foreign gods worshipped things inferior to the Roman gods.

Paul declared Romans could not vindicate themselves just by saying, “We are Romans.” Comparing the Creator God to things that die or to things human in origin insult the Creator God.

To stress the seriousness of making God’s creation a god, Paul said God abandoned such people. People belonging to the living God behave like people who belong to the living God. The result of abandoning God, for a creature, is being abandoned by God.

However, in the second statement, the Hebrews statement, God does not abandon those in Christ who struggle. God remembers godly behavior, even if His child is in the midst of difficult times. The issue in Christ always is our rejecting God, not God rejecting us.

The godless person living a godless lifestyle will be abandoned to himself or herself. The struggling person in Christ will never be abandoned by God. In one situation there is divine wrath. In the other situation, there is comfort in the midst of struggle.

If you are in Christ, you will struggle. Never take your struggles as evidence you are no longer in Christ. Take them for what they are—the opposition of Satan. Then take great comfort in the fact that you are in Christ. Behave like a person who belongs to God. Let the way you act reflect the fact that you belong to God. Take comfort in His compassion for you. He who let His son die for you is not about to abandon you to His enemy. God’s wrath is for those who defy Him, not for those who belong to Him.

David Chadwell

West-Ark Church of Christ, Fort Smith, AR
Bulletin Article, 11 October 2007

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