1:21 when they knew God. Romans 1:21-28 describes the awful descent of the ancient world from their ancestral knowledge of the true God, as received from Father Noah, down into evolutionary pantheism and its accompanying polytheism (Romans 1:21-25) and then into the gross immorality and wickedness that inevitably eventually follows such apostasy.
1:22 became fools. Those who deny the God of creation are fools (Psalm 14:1) and “without a defense” (see notes on Romans 1:20). Yet they come to such a foolish decision in the foolish belief that they are scientific in trying to explain the infinitely complex, majestic, beautiful creation without a Creator. The ancient pagans did this, with immeasurably tragic results in the history of the human race. Modern evangelicals, compromising with evolutionism and increasingly flirting with New Age pantheism, feminism and occultism, are in serious danger of starting down that same slippery slope. Compare II Timothy 3:1-13.
1:25 creature more than the Creator. “Creature” is the same word in the Greek as “creation.” The ancient pagans originally knew the true God but in only a few generations after the Flood, under the leadership of Nimrod (Genesis 10:8-11; 11:1-9), they rebelled against Him and proceeded to worship the forces and systems of nature instead of the God who had created all these things, assuming either that the cosmos had always existed or else that it had somehow evolved itself from primordial chaos. These natural phenomena became personified as various gods and goddesses, of whom images began to be erected and for whom temples and shrines began to be built. Many of these also were associated with the host of heaven, both the stars and the spirits that presumably occupy the stars and planets controlling human lives via the “science” of astrology. These “spirits,” of course, are actually the demons or fallen angels under the authority of Satan, who is ultimately the malevolent being behind this entire complex of idolatry, astrology, spiritism and evolutionary pantheism.
1:26 vile affections. The descent into evolutionary paganism is always soon followed by gross immorality, specifically including sexual perversion, such as described in Romans 1:26-29. Ancient Sodom was so notorious for homosexuality that its practice has long been known as sodomy (see Genesis 13:13; 19:4-9). The practice became so widespread in ancient Greece that it was considered normal and even desirable. Other examples are abundant and, of course, it is quickly becoming accepted—even encouraged—here in America. Not surprisingly, this was preceded by widespread return to evolutionism in science and education.
1:28 did not like to retain. The basic reason for all evolutionary religion, from atheism and humanism to ancient Babylonian paganism to modern New Age pantheism is that men and women did not like to believe in the God of creation. Therefore, they diligently sought to find some form of evolutionary explanation for the world with which they could be more comfortable.
1:28 gave them over. Note the sad sequence of events: (1) because of their deliberate repudiation of God, God “gave them up to uncleanness” (Romans 1:24); (2) Because they worshipped and served the creation more than the Creator, God “gave them up unto vile affections” (Romans 1:26); (3) because they did not want even to know anything about God, God “gave them over to a reprobate mind” (Romans 1:28). Long ago, God said: “My Spirit shall not always strive with man” (Genesis 6:3).