Romans 1:24 “Wherefore God also gave them up to uncleanness through the lusts of their own hearts, to dishonor their own bodies between themselves.”
The direct result of man’s rejection of the knowledge of God and the restraints He imposes on man is further corruption. God did not compel man to sin: He only removed the providential restraints, which is all that is necessary for man to plunge to the depths of sin. Wrong worship always results in wrong living. God gave them up to wrong living (Rom. 1:24), to wrong loving, (Rom. 1:26), and to wrong thinking (Rom 1:28), [Coltman]. One of the tragic consequences of rebellion is that those who desert God are deserted by Him. “The words sound to us like clods on the coffin as God
leaves men to work their own wicked will,” [Robertson]. By nature man is an unholy being. The source of the problem is his heart, (Matthew 15:19), and one of the most horrible judgments that can come upon man is for God to remove His restraints and leave man to his own wicked ways. “To dishonor... themselves” is explained in the verses that follow.
Romans 1:25 “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.”
This is another way of stating the truth of verse 23. They changed the truth about the nature of God into the lie of idolatry. Often in the Old Testament the idol is called a lie or falsehood because they are not true representations of God, (Jer. 10:14; Isa. 28:15). Often men begin to worship the true God through, or by means of, the creature, but they always end up worshipping the creature instead of the Creator. This is always the tendency of idols. “‘Whenever religious worship is offered to the creature in any manner whatever, it is forsaking God, whose will it is, not only that His creatures should serve Him; but that they should serve Him alone, on which account He calls Himself a Jealous God,” [Haldane]. This is why God forbade the use of any idols in worshipping Him, [Ex. 20:4-5]. Paul often interjects a doxology or ascription of praise to God in his writings, (Rom. 9:5; 2 Cor. 11:31; Gal. 1:5).
Romans 1:26 “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.”
Again, the cause of this sin is within man, who, being a fallen creature, as naturally desires to sin as water flows downward. He is without excuse because he is not compelled to sin. And there comes a time in the sinner’s life when God ceases to hold him back from his natural bent to sin. “Vile affections” means shameless passion and is explained in verses 26-27. This refers to homosexuality both in men and women, for which the cities of the plain were destroyed, (Gen. 18:20; 19:24-25). Most sin goes through six stages before God responds in judgment: (1) Shock at it. (2) Joking about it. (3) Curiosity about it. (4) Indulgence in it. (5) Excuses made for it. (6) Stoutly defended as right. Classical writers of old tell how this was a very common and accepted sin among the pagans. Modern attitudes toward this sin are already in the fifth or sixth stage. Has America become so idolatrous that God has given it up as He did the nations of old? Only the saved, as the salt of the earth, (Matthew 5:13), now prevent the utter corruption of the earth.
Romans 1:27 “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 recompense of their error which was meet.”
From the chief city that was destroyed for this sin, it is sometimes called sodomy. Men call this “an alternate lifestyle” but the Bible is clear that it is sin of an especially shameful nature. All sin has a natural recompense or payment in kind, and this sin is no exception. Many have tried to deny that AIDS, the disease peculiar to homosexuals, is a Divine retribution, but they are fooling only themselves. However, not all homosexuals get AIDS, but they all receive the reward of their sins “in themselves.” No one profits by any sin, but here, sin has a direct effect upon the minds of those who practice it. Warped morals make for warped characters and personalities because the mind is affected by their rebellion against God. Homosexuals can be saved, (1 Cor. 6:9-11), but not many are, and those who are, cease to commit this.
Romans 1:28 “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.”
Here is an explanation of what that recompense was. Paul engages in a play on words: “Because they reprobated the knowledge of God, God gave them over to a reprobate mind,” [Alford], or: “As they thought fit to cast out the acknowledgment of God, God gave them over to an outcast mind,” [Conybeare]. A “reprobate mind” is a mind void of right judgment. “It denotes a mind judicially blinded, so as not to discern the difference between things distinguished even by the light of nature,” [Haldane]. They did not like to retain a full knowledge of God, (so the Greek means); they had but a dim memory, and that was a caricature, [Robertson], and so God gave them over to their own desires to have an incorrect knowledge of moral and spiritual truth. “Not convenient” means not fitting or suitable to rational and moral beings. In the following verses, Paul gives examples of what he means. Sin, like cancer, is a progressive evil: it never travels alone, and it never gets better except by grace.
Romans 1:29 “Being filled with all unrighteousness, fornication, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, debate, deceit, malignity; whisperers.”
This and the following verses list twenty-one distinct sins with which men are filled, and continue to be filled, (so the tense implies), so that it is not a mere tendency to do these things. “Every heart by nature has in it the seed and spawn of all these sins,” [Matthew Henry]. It was such a state that led to the Flood, [Gen. 6:5-6]. “Unrighteousness” is a general term for injustice or iniquity as in verse 18. “Fornication” refers to any sexual intercourse with anyone other than one’s legitimate mate. It is a general term of which adultery is a more specific form. “Wickedness” is another general term for evil. “Covetousness” is literally the desire of having more, and is usually exercised without scruple as to how it is obtained, (1 Tim. 6:9-10). “Maliciousness” is inward viciousness or revengefulness of disposition. “Full of envy” is discontent and jealousy at the prosperity and well being of others. “Murder” is any form of manslaughter which is done maliciously or from selfish reasons. “Debate” is strife or argument, often involving anger. Some pastors like to debate, thinking they are thereby defending the faith, but this word is never used in a good sense in Scripture. “Deceit” is fraud or falsehood. “Malignity” is rancor, or putting the worst possible interpretation on words and conduct of others. “Whisperers” refers to gossip or the secret slander of men.
Romans 1:30 “Backbiters, haters of God, despiteful, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents.”
“Backbiters” is the public slander of others as whisperers had to do with secret slander. “Haters of God” is taken by many in a passive sense: “hated of God,” which is certainly His attitude toward all slanderers, (Ps. 15:1-3; 101:5; Prov. 8:13). But the active “haters” is also true of all unsaved people. “Despiteful” refers to insolence, insulting or abusive conduct. “Proud” refers to egotism, excessive self-esteem and conceit. “Boasters” is the vocal claim to this supposed superiority over others. “Inventors of evil things” is characteristic of fallen man, (Eccl. 7:29). Every good that man invents he turns to an evil use. “Disobedient to parents” is characteristic of all rebels. It is one of the quickest ways to shorten one’s life (Eph. 6:1-3).
Romans 1:31 “Without understanding, covenant breakers, without natural affection, implacable, unmerciful.”
The same Greek word as “foolish” in verse 21. Probably in reference to ignorance in spiritual things as in 1 Corinthians 2:14. Spiritual understanding is to be desired, (Col. 1:9). “Covenant breakers” refers to those who are not true to their contracts and commitments. Today we see this commonly in nations violating their covenants, and in the breaking of marriage covenants, as well as in business. “Without natural affection” is seen most commonly today in the desertion and destruction of children by their parents, and in the neglecting of elderly parents by their children. “Implacable” is the refusal to be reconciled to one when an offence has been committed, or holding an unyielding desire for revenge. “Unmerciful” is destitution of compassion. The last four words have been tersely translated: “senseless, faithless, heartless, pitiless,” [Green].
Romans 1:32 “Who knowing the judgment of God, that they which commit such things are worthy of death, not only do the same, but have pleasure in them that do them.”
Paul returns to the fact that these are fully accountable because of the universal witnesses of God’s existence. “Judgment” is literally “ordinance,” and “commit” has to do with the practice of these things. In the last analysis, death refers to spiritual death, but man’s spiritual conceptions often do not come up to this, but the word death always implies something fearful to any unsaved person. One’s guilt is heightened when he not only sins himself, but encourages others to do so as well. Often men encourage others to join them in sin by way of trying to justify their own sins, as if numbers would justify it, or cause God to moderate the punishment of it.
A Chinese once denied that Paul wrote this chapter, but accused a missionary of coming in among them and writing down all their sins, and then reading them before all. So up to date is this chapter. The things here set forth manifest that if a man is ever to be saved, it must be upon a different plan than by human works, for all are proven to be corrupt and rebels against God. Behold the great danger of rebelling against the knowledge of God: it leads inevitably to one being judicially blinded and falling into more and worse sin.
From Davis Huckabee