Darrow Miller and Friends

We Can Rebel But We Can’t Escape the Consequences of Rebellion

“God gave them over,” Romans 1:24.

“God gave them over,” Romans 1:26.

“God gave them over,” Romans 1:28.

I have read the apostle Paul’s words hundreds of times over the years. I have studied and taught from Romans 1. But as I read Nancy Pearcey’s new book, Finding Truth, I saw these words as if for the first time.

Richard Weaver’s famous phrase, “Ideas Have Consequences,” (in his book by the same title) is one of the driving concepts behind the work of the Disciple Nations Alliance. What Weaver argues in his book is nothing new. It is a reformulation of Paul’s argument in Romans 1.

In his letter to the Romans, Paul argues that:

  • consequences of rebellion built into creationTruth is revealed through creation (Romans 1:19). God reveals truth to man internally–we are made in the image of God, and in the external world, the rest of the created order.
  • From this revelation we can know that God exists and can know something of his nature (v. 20).
  • This revelation is so clear that human beings are without excuse (v. 20b) when they deny God’s existence.
  • Even though truth is clearly revealed, human beings SUPPRESS the truth (vs. 18).
  • Rather than have an intimate relationship with their Creator, human beings would rather have a smaller god of their own making, a god they can have dominion over. So they EXCHANGED the glory of God for things that God had made. They worship things from the created order (vs. 23). We see this in pagan humanism – man as the center of the universe, and in pagan animism – the worship of nature.
  • Thinking themselves wise for denying God, they in fact are fools (vs. 22).

And what are the consequences of this foolishness? “God gave them over.” The Greek term, paradidomi, means “to hand over to or to convey something to someone, particularly a right or an authority – ‘to give over, to hand over.’”[1]

In this, God did not abandon humans as if they were nothing. Rather, he is affirming human significance. Even when humans live in rebellion against God we are not nothing. We are still “something!” God is affirming the free moral agency of humans.

As human beings we are free to rebel against God. But we are not free from the consequences of rebellion. God’s “giving us over” affirms our significance and dignity. We are not children whose misbehavior is overlooked by an indulgent divine grandfather. God will allow us to receive the consequences of rebellion, the natural fruit our ideas.

As Nancy Pearcey puts it, God allows people “to play out the negative consequences of their idolatrous choices.” Pearcey writes that this “divine strategy” is seen throughout scripture. It is as if God says, “Okay, have it your way and see for yourself how destructive it is.”

We cannot change reality. If we refuse to accept reality, we can only seek to deny it or flee from it. But, reality works! When our lives go crashing into walls that we deny or do not see, we get bruised and broken.

To flourish as human beings is to worship the living God and to wisely live within the framework of the universe that he has created.

  • Darrow Miller

[1] Louw-Nida Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament Based on Semantic Domains, 2nd Edition, Edited by J. P. Louw and E. A. Nida.  Copyright © 1988 by the United Bible Societies, New York, NY 10023. Used by permission.

See these related posts:

Creation Laws: Wisdom Sustains the Universe

Poverty: The Fruit of Neglected Wisdom

Gaining Wisdom in a World of Folly

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