(Vs. 21) Paul testifies here that God has given to men the means of knowing there is a God; for the world does not exist by chance, nor could it sustain itself. His ETERNITY is evident, for He is the maker of all things. His POWER upholds all things and continues their existence. His WISDOM arranged things in their proper order. His GOODNESS is evident, for there is no other cause but Himself for the creation and preservation of the earth. His JUSTICE punishes the guilty.
Though men had such a knowledge of God, they neither thought nor spoke honorably of Him. They did not glorify Him as God, nor honor Him as the Creator, nor worship Him as the Lord and governor of the universe.
They were not thankful for the knowledge they had nor for their mercies. They forsook the truth of God and turned to the vanity of their own reason and foolish imaginations. Their foolish minds and hearts, when turned away from God, could only plunge headlong into the darkness of error, delusions, and unrighteousness (Isa. 55:8-9; Prov. 14:12; Rom. 8:7). Men who will not have God to reign over them will have darkness and death to reign in them.
(Vs. 22) The so-called learned men among the Gentiles first called themselves wise men; then, to cover their vanity and pride, they called themselves philosophers. But, notwithstanding all their arrogance and claims to be lovers of wisdom, THEY BECAME FOOLS; for there is no true wisdom, knowledge, nor understanding apart from our Lord (I Cor. 3:18-20; Prov. 2:6; I Cor. 1:19-20). A man's greatest mistake is to seek wisdom in his own thoughts and understanding and to try to draw God down to the level of his own low condition, rather than to humbly look to God for a revelation of Himself (Matt. 11:25-27; Matt. 13: 10-13, 16).
(Vs. 23) Having imagined such a god as they could comprehend according to their carnal reasoning and natural understanding, they were very far from any knowledge of the true and living God (John 17:3; I John 5:20). God is incorruptible, immortal, and invisible, and thus is opposed to all corruptible creatures and things (I Tim. 1:17; Col. 1:14-15). He has a glory essential to Him which cannot be changed or represented by a person, picture, or image called by His name. The heathen say, "We know God is in the heavens; and this picture, statue, or person is not God but His image." This is still idolatry, for it is a high indignity to God to form so gross an idea of His majesty as to dare to represent Him by any image of Him (John 4:24; Heb. 1:1-3; Exo. 20:4-5). Let us do away with all religious relics, images, pictures, crosses, and representations of the living Godwhich is idolatry. Man's degeneration led him down from images of men and birds (to represent God) to beasts and even snakes!
(Vs. 24) We see in the rest of this chapter where idolatry leads. When men refuse the true knowledge of God and follow their imaginations and the pollution of their minds and hearts, they sink lower and lower into the darkest and vilest sorts of evil.
"God gave them up" is a phrase that appears three times in the next few verses. That is, GOD WITHDREW HIS PROVIDENTIAL RESTRAINTS and left them to the pollution of their nature. The HEART of man is the source of all wickedness! The lusts that dwell there are many and tend to uncleanness of one sort or another (Jer. 17:9; Matt. 15:19-20). When God leaves a man alone, there is no level too low for him.
(Vs. 25) They were given over to idolatry. Religious honor and worship cannot be given to an idol or a creature without taking it away from the living God.
(Vs. 26-27) Because of their idolatrous practices, God left them to dishonor their own bodies and natures through homosexuality and perversion, both among men and women.
(Vs. 28) God gave them over to minds so void of Judgment that they justify and approve of their evil. Their understanding is so reprobate that they call evil good and good evil (II Thess. 2:10-12).
(Vs. 29-31) So far were these people from having a righteousness to justify them before God that they were filled with all unrighteousness. A large list is given of the vilest sins being committed by them.
(Vs. 32) All of this evil is aggravated by their knowledge of the will of God (through the light of nature), that these things are contrary to it, and that they are deserving of deathyet they did them and took pleasure in those who committed them.