The Not-So-Great Exchange


How many times do we hear or attempt to use the excuse “I didn’t know”? In Romans, Paul makes it clear that when it comes to knowing and honoring God, we are “without excuse” (1:20), because the divine nature and eternal power of God are self evident in all creation. Yet, sometimes we simply choose to be blind, exchanging God’s way for what appears to be so good in the world. We have all done it and it leads to dire consequences.

  • What gets most of your attention in life? Why? What does it say about you and your relationship to God?


21 For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. 22 Claiming to be wise, they became fools, 23 and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things.

24 Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves, 25 because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen.

English Standard Version, copyright 2001 by Crossway Bibles. Used by permission. All rights reserved.


  1. What are the consequences of not honoring God or thanking God for the good we see in the world?
  2. What are ways that men and women have exchanged the glory of God for images of men and animals (vs. 23)? What are some of the ways we do that in modern America?
  3. How does the glorification of the created over the creator naturally lead to lust and impurity?
  4. Give two examples of ways you are tempted to honor, trust, or pursue the physical world over your pursuit and trust of God.


Paul described the way the ancient world literally exchanged the worship of the self-evident creator for the worship of created things. Glorification of the physical world led to insatiable lusts and greater impurity. Our modern idolatry is no better. We are just as tempted to exchange our trust in the goodness and power of God for the fleeting sense of control we get from our wealth, power, status, popularity, comfort, and health. We are obsessed with it all, and idolatry leads to immorality in every life in every generation. Remember, when we make the physical world our primary object of attention, we are “exchanging the truth about God for a lie” (vs. 25). Don’t live a lie today.

  • Confess areas of your life where you are preoccupied by the physical world (trust in or desire for money, power, fame, etc.). Ask God to forgive you and give you a fresh start today.
  • Thank God that he remains loving, good, and full of grace even in the face or our folly and sin.