18 Because God’s wrath is now being revealed from heaven against people’s ungodliness and unrighteousness. They suppress the truth by their unrighteousness, 19 because what can be known about God is shown to them, because God has shown it to them. 20 Because since the creation of the world his invisible attributes—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, because those truths are understood through what has been made. So people are without excuse. 21 Because although they knew God, they did not praise him as God or give him thanks, but they became empty in their thoughts and their senseless hearts were darkened. 22 Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools 23 and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for an image resembling mortal human beings or birds or four-footed animals or reptiles. 24 Therefore God gave them over in the desires of their hearts to impurity, to dishonor their bodies among themselves. 25 They exchanged the truth of God for a lie and worshiped and served the creation rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen.
from emptiness to impurity
God’s wrath will be ultimately revealed against the ungodly in hell, where all whose names are not in the Lamb’s book of life will be thrown to be destroyed permanently. But his wrath is presently being revealed in them by means of self-destruction. Those who refuse to accept the evidence of God’s existence and character will live for themselves, and that emptiness will inevitably result in impurity.
The Roman Christians knew what Paul was referring to. They knew about those whose selfish indulgence had degraded into the most debase kinds of bizarre self abuse. Paul’s message was that the Romans had the choice to go in either direction. They could accept the gospel and start heading toward righteousness by faith or they would go from emptiness to impurity.
LORD, give us the wisdom to flee the emptiness that leads to an impure self-destructive lifestyle. Lead us to righteous living by the truth of your gospel of grace.