Romans 1:21-25


Romans 1:21  dioti  BECAUSE       gnonteV  ton  HAVING KNOWN       qeon GOD        
NOT       wV  AS             qeon  GOD           edoxasan  THE GLORIFIED HIM                 h  OR

          eucaristhsan  WERE THANKFUL          all  BUT           emataiwqhsan  BECAME VAIN           en  IN          toiV  THEIR       dialogismoiV    autwn REASONINGS               kai  AND          eskotisqh   h  WAS DARKENED THE                                                     asunetoV   WITHOUT UNDERSTANDING    autwn  OF THEM             kardia  HEART


Man fails to act on this knowledge.

Man’s correct response to the revelation of God is:

1)     Glorify him as God

2)     Thank him for being who he is and doing what he does


“Became Vain” the same word is used to describe the worthlessness of idols.

The word means, “to render futile, worthless”


The knowledge they received about God did not lead them to glorify him nor give thanks to him.

They refused to recognize him (although they knew him) for who he was.


This then led to a corrupting of this information which produced idolatry.


“Heart” is a broad word in the NT referring to

·        Thinking

·        Emotions

·        Will

·        Intellect

·        Attitude

·        Reasoning




Romans 1:22     faskonteV  PROFESSING      einai  TO BE         sofoi WISE            emwranqhsan   THEY BECAME FOOLS


This is a comparison of:

·        Wisdom and Foolishness

·        Reality and Illusion



Romans 1:23         kai  AND          hllaxan   CHANGED      thn  THE   doxan  GLORY          tou  OF THE   afqartou  INCORRUPTIBLE     qeou   GOD      en  INTO       omoiwmati  A LIKENESS     eikonoV  OF AN IMAGE        fqartou  OF CORRUPTIBLE            anqrwpou  MAN       kai  AND        peteinwn OF BIRDS   kai  AND      tetrapodwn  QUADRUPEDS            kai   AND     erpetwn  CREEPING THINGS


Herodotus says that the earliest Persians had no pagan temples or idols

First century Varro says Romans had no animal or human images of a god    during the first 170 years from the founding of Rome

Second century historian Lucian, says the same in “Syrian Goddess”

Christian historian in the 300’s said that “the oldest peoples had no idols.”


The descent from mortal man to creeping things.

Nebuchadnezzar in Dan. 5:23 (rebuke) and 2:38 (golden image)

Caesar cult in early church pitted Christ vs. Caesar


Drop from man to worship of the animal kingdom.


Failure to have a reverent response to the revelation of God leads people to   reject the glory of God (truth, wisdom, reality, stability, eternity) for images or idols made to look like lies, foolishness, imaginations, and   fading, momentary glory of creation.


Psalm 106:19,20, “At Horeb they made a calf and worshiped an idol cast  from metal. 

They exchanged their Glory for an image of a bull, which eats grass.  They forgot the

 God who saved them, who had done great things in Egypt.”


Jeremiah 2:11, “Has a nation ever changed its gods?  (Yet they are not gods at all.)  But my people have

exchanged their Glory for worthless idols. Be appalled at this, O heavens, and shudder with great horror,’         

declares the Lord.  ‘My people have committed two sins; They have   forsaken me, the spring of living

water, and have dug their own cisterns, broken cisterns that cannot hold water.’”


Today we have humanism that teaches the pursuit of happiness is our purpose: money, power, pleasure, etc all become idols



Romans 1:24  dio  WHEREFORE  kai   ALSO paredwken   GAVE UP autouV    o  THEM  qeoV   GOD  en  IN  taiV  THE  epiqumiaiV  DESIRES  twn  OF  kardiwn   autwn  THEIR HEARTS  eiV  TO  akaqarsian   UNCLEANNESS  tou  TO atimazesqai    ta  BE DISHONOURED  swmata    autwn  THEIR BODIES  en  BETWEEN eautoiV  THEMSELVES


Romans 1:24  dio  WHEREFORE  kai   ALSO  paredwken GAVE UP autouV    o  THEM  qeoV   GOD  en  IN  taiV  THE  epiqumiaiV  DESIRES  twn  OF  kardiwn    autwn  THEIR HEARTS  eiV  TO  akaqarsian   UNCLEANNESS  tou  TO atimazesqai    ta  BE DISHONOURED  swmata    autwn   THEIR BODIES  en  BETWEEN eautoiV  THEMSELVES


“Therefore” since they have done that God hands them over to that thinking and those values.

God hands them over to a false reality.  This seems so real that they consume themselves with it only to be destroyed in the end.


False worship, false religion and cults are judgment for rejecting the true revelation.


Immorality here is different than in 1:26,27.

Here it is a reference to cultic prostitution in idol and pagan temple worship

Next it is a reference to immoralllity in ordinary life


God’s handing them over is simply a response to what they had already done themselves as in Ephesians 4:19,

“Having lost all sensitivity, they have given themselves over to sensuality so as to indulge in every kind of impurity, with a continual       lust for more.”


1)     Reaction Distraction

2)     Frantic Search for Happiness

3)     Boomerang Stage

4)     5) 6)   Black out of the Heart,   Emotional Revolt of the Soul, Divine Detachment

7) Scar Tissue

8) Self Detactment


God lets go of the boat and the current pulls it away, but with a push.

It is like a judge handing over a prisoner he has just sentenced.

This judgment can be destructive or disciplinary, depending how they respond.


The Eight Stages of Reversionism (or, backsliding)


Ephesians 4:17-19   “So I tell you this, and insist on it in the Lord, that you must no longer (1)live as the Gentiles do,   (2)in the futility of their thinking.  They are (3)darkened in their understanding and   (6)separated from the life of God  because of (5)the ignorance that is in them  due to (4)the hardening of their hearts.  (7)Having lost all sensitivity,   (8)they have given themselves over to sensuality so as to indulge in every kind of impurity, with a continual lust for more.”


(1) Reaction/Distraction Stage (“. . .live as the Gentiles do. . .)

Gentiles unbelievers cannot focus on God during good or bad   times.

The carnal believer faces impact in their life from circumstances   that surface as a distraction (good or bad).

Impact- When something happens in life that causes you to   spiritually flinch or look away from God.  Like a bird   hitting the windshield of a car, circumstances hit your  view of God

Reaction- When you respond like a Gentile during circumstances   and look away from the windshield.

Distraction- While you look away your focus is placed on some  thing else.  At this point you continue because you are   either ignorant of doctrine or arrogant towards doctrine.

(2) Frantic Search for Happiness  (“. . .in the   futility of their  thinking. . .”

“Futility” is the Greek word mataiothi or “mataiotati” is the  word for emptiness, futility, worthlessness. 

New Testament uses it to refer to:

  Presumption of human thought

  Pagan Idolatry

  A deceitful way of life

The idea of emptiness in their thinking gives the impression of

a vacuum in their soul that will implode and suck in the  first thing they see after the impact of life in stage one.

This stage is very deceitful because everything seems peaceful

and happy.  All ideas and actions are quickly justified     and engaged in. 

It is a period of great freedom and unhindered burdens, similar to  the experience of a person falling through the air after  leaving the top of a ten story building.  At least, a great  sense of freedom and control for the first nine floors   down.  Hitting the ground is the beginning of stage  three


(3) Boomerang Stage (“. . .darkened in their   understanding. . .”)

Frustration results from decisions made during stage two.

Adversity will increase forcing you to make a decision to return   or continue into stage four.

This is the most common place for a believer to try to recover.  But, they must have been taught how to recover and how to main  tain or else they will never return to God’s perfect plan.

Attitudes of people in Boomerang Stage:

They want to try one more attempt at happiness without returning to God

They want to solve the problem without God due to their guilt.

They become angry at God and enter a more conscious rebellion.


(Stages 4, 5, 6 overlap but connect like a chain.)

 (4) Black Out of the Heart  (“. . .the hardening of their  hearts. . .”

The heart, or soul, is distorted, disengaged, or blacked out by the  old sin nature.

When the heart is dysfunctional the emotions are left unrestrained  and in control.

This leads quickly into stage five, Emotional Revolt


(5) Emotional Revolt of the Soul (“. . .the ignorance  that is in them. . .”)

Emotional revolt creates psychotic behavior

Emotions swing believer back and forth

Personality is fractured and the believer swings through a wide  range of personalities during a daily routine: happy,   cheerful, apathy, self pity, crabby, miserable.

Romans 7:24, “wretched man” is a psychological term


(6) Divine Detachment (“. . .separated from the life of   God. . .”)

Failure to recover during stage five causes God to hand them over to themselves, their old sin nature.


Believer in Fellowship. . . . . . . Controlled by Holy Spirit

Believer in Stages 1 & 2. . . . . .Controlled by Self

Believer in Stages 3-5. . . . . . . .Out of Control

Believer in Stages 6-8. . . . . . . .Controlled by a very distorted self

Example of Divine Detachment is Romans 1:24

Confession becomes a thing of the past

Life here is lived in Satan’s Domain

False doctrine replaces truth

Norms and standards fall

Light in soul becomes darkness; answers can not be seen

Result is scar tissue on the soul or a callused conscience.


(7) Scar Tissue on the Soul (“. . .Having lost all   sensitivity. . .”)

Just like scar tissue builds up on wounds and makes the skin ugly  to the sight & insensitive to the touch, so the soul   becomes ugly during human fellowship and

insensitive to the Holy Spirit

 The believer begins to hurt those around them and cannot 

  fulfill Eph. 4:32, “Be kind & compassionate one to  another.”

With no sensitivity for right and wrong a whole new world

opens up to them.  They can allow themselves to do things they could not do before.


(8) Self Detachment (“. . .they have given themselves  over to sensuality. . .”)

God detaches them at stage six.  Here they detach themselves to   their old sin nature

They live in greediness with no satisfaction

They become out cast

They rebel against everything listed below:

  Mankind-they use people

  Natural order



  Sexual boundaries

  Norms and standards

  The Lord Jesus Christ

This is the end of the line for them,

  “They are brute beast, creatures of instinct, born only to  be caught (put on exhibit as a source of testing to   believers) and destroyed (die the sin unto death).”  2 Peter 2:12

One of two things happens with them:

  a)  They die the sin unto death (1 Corinthians 5:5;   1 John 5:16)

b) Live on earth as a source of testing for other   believers, very similar to Satan’s purpose

 IMPORTANT   NOTE:  If a person still has a desire to return to God they have not reached stage eight.  They are at an earlier stage that does have a way out.  Please see “Spiritual Recovery” from James 4:6-10.