25 Who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshiped and served the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed for ever. Amen.
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:
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 recompence of their error which was meet.
1901 ASV Translation:
25 for that they exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed for ever. Amen.
26 For this cause God gave them up unto vile passions: for their women changed the natural use into that which is against nature:
27 and likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another, men with men working unseemliness, and receiving in themselves that recompense of their error which was due.
There are no textual variations in verses 25-27 between the Textus Receptus and the Nestle/Aland 26.
I. We need to note the pattern of Paul's material in this section.
A. In 1:20-23 Paul makes the case that men "know" and have deliberately rejected God.
B. In 1:24-27 he states God's reaction in a doubled-up format...
1. In 1:24 he attributes man's dishonor to his body to God as reaction.
2. In 1:25 he restates 1:23.
a. The word translated "changed/exchanged" means "to replace a 'thing' with a substitute" [See Acts 6:14; Galatians 4:20; and Hebrews 1:12].
1) In 1:23 Paul used the simple word "changed".
2) In 1:25 he used the same word, but added a prefix to it for emphasis.
b. The 'thing' "exchanged" was called "the glory of the uncorruptible God" in 1:23, but Paul altered that in 1:25 by calling it "the truth of God".
c. The 'substituted thing' in 1:23 was "an image made like the corruptible", but in 1:25 he calls it "the lie".
d. In 1:23 there is no verbal statement of what man did with the exchange (it is only implied), but in 1:25 Paul pointedly says man "worshiped and served" the creation rather than the Creator.
1) In this more detailed declaration, Paul determines to contrast the object of man's worship and service with the True God: he says of Him that He "blessed forever, Amen".
2) This determined contrast focuses upon how much greater God ought to be regarded by men than the creation, of which he thinks so much.
a) The word "blessed" fundamentally means that the "blessed one" is not only regarded as extremely valuable, but is verbally touted to be extremely valuable. Man does not "bless" what he does not "seek to exalt" (the word literally meant "to speak well of" when it was coined).
b) That God is "blessed forever, Amen" means that there never has been, nor ever will be in the ages to come, any valid substitute for the glory (truth) of God in the hearts and minds of men and that this truth of no valid substitute is an "amen" truth...something that is to be embraced at the most fundamental level.
3. In 1:26-27 he restates 1:24 with greater detail.
C. In 1:28a he repeats 1:20-23.
D. In 1:28b he repeats 1:24-27.
II. We are told three times "God gave them up" [1:24; 1:26; and 1:28].
A. He "gave them up" to "uncleanness".
B. He "gave them up" to "vile passions" [this reads like an echo of "in the lusts of their hearts" in 1:24...which would make 1:26 a repetition of 1:24].
C. He "gave them up" to "a reprobate mind".
III. The Issues at Stake.
A. What is the strength of God's "giving them up"?
1. Did He turn them over to a weak dominator; or were they enslaved?
2. How much "power" do they have in that condition? Can they overturn the dominion by the power of choice and determination of will?
a. The issue here is the question of man's "cooperation" with God in the movement by man toward faith in the Gospel of salvation.
b. If the "giving up" was "to a mildly powerful slave-master", then man still has some "abilities" to move toward his own freedom.
c. But, if the "giving up" (which included turning them over to a reprobate mind) was "to a system of heart values that is vile and a mind that is reprobate", how does anyone argue that man can exercise his supposed "free will" to extricate himself from his bondage? Is the "will" of man free from the values of the heart and the thoughts of the mind?
B. What is the bottom line in the dishonoring of their bodies?
1. Are the sexual perversions the "worst" of sins, or simply the most "obvious" in the plan to expose the body to dishonor? Are sexual deviants relegated to the lowest, hottest places in Hell, or is their condition simply at the level of the undeniable (in parallel to the truths about God that are at the level of the undeniable) so that it will be indisputable that they have been "given up"?
2. Is "sex" a most fundamental "passion" that has far more clout than most acknowledge, or is it simply the hardest "passion" to disguise?
3. The bottom line is this: "sex", driven by the body's harmonal state, is more powerful than man's "will" (he is, thus, enslaved) and this results in behavior that cannot be hidden over the long haul. The behavior is not mentioned in the list of the seven things God "hates" [Proverbs 6:17-19], which would be unusual if it took the place that most "straight" people give it. Thus, it is powerful, but the actions it produces are more "dishonorable" than "abominable"; though that is not to say that they are not abominable [it is interesting as to what is "abominable" to God in the Old Testament -- eating the flesh of a peace offering (Leviticus 7:18); anyone who eats of a "creeping thing" (Leviticus 11:43); sexual perversity, including homosexuality and bestiality (Leviticus 18); burning one's children in the sacrificial fires of Molech (Deuteronomy 12:31); serving other gods, such as Belial (Deuteronomy 13:14); sacrificing any animal that is not "whole" (Deuteronomy 17:1); divination, casting spells, witchcraft; wizardry; channeling, etc. (Deuteronomy 18:9-14); cross-dressing by either male or female (Deuteronomy 22:5); using money gained by prostitution or profit by a "dog" to pay tithes (Deuteronomy 23:18); remarrying a woman from whom one was divorced after she has been remarried and subsequently divorced or widowed (Deuteronomy 24:4); doing any kind of "unrighteousness" (Deuteronomy 25:16); making idols (Deuteronomy 27:15); etc. etc.].
C. What is the only solution to being subjected to these evil passions?
1. They became the "boss" by reason of human refusal to accept the truth about the glory of God, so it stands to reason that only "conversion" will deliver anyone from those powers.
a. The "human refusal" was not "individual" (as in "each man is brought to the point of choice in a state of innocent freedom in the similitude of Adam"); it was "corporate" and it was accomplished by a man for mankind (this is Paul's argument in Romans 5).
b. This "human refusal" by one so that it impacted all is at the heart of two doctrines: the doctrine of man's sinfulness by reason of Adam's rejection of the glory of God; and the doctrine of man's salvation by reason of Christ's embrace of the glory of God. We cannot reject the doctrine of depravity by the choice of another on our behalf without also rejecting the salvation by the choice of another on our behalf.
2. Only by the Spirit of God is "good" ever accomplished by man: even John the Baptizer (the greatest man ever born of a woman according to Jesus, Himself excepted) had to be filled with that Spirit from the womb in order to do what he was appointed to do.
a. This was an extraordinary provision by God that is recorded of no other son of Adam.
b. That it was necessary is testimony to the degree to which man had been corrupted by the "choice" of Adam.
c. That in spite of it John, when faced with the purity of Christ, had to say "I am not worthy to unlatch the thongs of His sandals", reveals that even the power of the Spirit does not release man from the inroads of Adamic depravity as long as man is in this fleshly condition.
d. The awesome truth is this: man's plunge into sin was no small thing. The power of sin is so great that the only way it can be "trumped" in a final sense is for God to kill the flesh and resurrect man from death. The only final purge of the impact of Adam's sin is physical death, which separates the inner man from the power of his own body. When God turned man over to his own body as "lord", He did no small thing. And, when Christ paid the ransom so that man could be resurrected unto eternal life, He did no small thing.