Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened. Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools, and changed the glory of the uncorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and four footed beasts, and creeping things. Wherefore God also gave them up to uncleanness through the lusts of their own hearts, to dishonor their own bodies between themselves: Who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed forever.
— Romans 1:21-25
Martin Luther said Romans is really a chief part of the New Testament and the purest gospel. It is worthy not only that every Christian should know it word for word by heart; but also, that they should occupy themselves with it every day, as the daily bread of their soul. The more we study the epistle of Romans, the more precious it becomes and the better it tastes.
Paul’s greatest work is placed first among his 13 epistles in the New Testament. While the four gospels present the words and work of Jesus Christ, Romans explores the significance of his sacrificial death.
In Romans 1:21-25, we find a profound account of the process by which human nature becomes corrupt, and runs its downward career of unbelief, vice and sensuality. We see these words in the world we live in today. Paul uses words such as "vain" to have no value, "imagination" the ability to form a mental image in one’s mind and "professing" to declare oneself skilled, knowledgeable or an expert.
All humanity can recognize the "natural revelations," that is God’s energy and power, by observing the glories of his creation. Therefore, the rejection of God cannot be excused for even the heaven declares the glory of God: "The firmament shows the creations of His hands" (Psalms 19:1).
The affirmation of the text that, "when man knew God, he glorified him not as God," applies to the Gentiles and the Jews. The invisible things of God, even his eternal power and godhead, are clearly seen from the creation of the world down to the present moment.
The greatest charge that will rest against mankind will be, "when they knew God, they glorified him not as God."
Harper is pastor of Emmanuel New Covenant Ministry and a member of the United Ministerial Alliance.