Now that you are a Christian Christ calls you to live like Him!
How do you do that? By not just learning about Christ, but actually learning Christ!
The first half of Paul’s letter to the Ephesians are primarily doctrinal in content. In the first three chapters of the book Paul has carefully taught who believers are in Christ and what God the Father has done for us through Christ.
As believers we are in Christ, which means we are new people, we are a new creation, we have been given a new nature. Therefore our lives should be a reflection of who we are.
By Whose Authority?
As Paul begins to address the subject of how the lifestyle of the Christian should be drastically different from the lifestyle of those who are not in Christ he begins by establishing that what he is about to say are not merely his own words, thoughts or opinions. If they are not his words then whose words are they? They are the words of Christ!
Notice how Paul opens verse 17
So this I say, and affirm together with the Lord…
The word affirm means to summon as a witness.
In other words Paul is saying “This is what Christ says and I’m here, I’m writing as a witness for Christ, I’m writing as a witness from Christ. I’m not speaking for myself, I’m not speaking on my own authority. The authority that I speak with is the authority of Christ.” This is the responsibility of every pastor, to not speak own their own, to not speak with their own authority, but to speak for Christ! The responsibility of the pastor is to help his hearers understand that when the Word of God is being properly taught, literally Christ is speaking to them.
WHAT DOES CHRIST SAY TO US?
Christ says that “you should no longer walk as the Gentiles walk…” The word walk in this context means our behavior, our lifestyle. It refers to the way that you conduct yourself.
Paul clearly spells out the wrong way to live now that we are Christians. He does this by pointing to a group of people and says here is how they live, make sure you don’t live that way. He points to the Gentiles and says don’t walk, don’t live the way that they do.
Paul is using the term Gentiles in a very broad sense. In this context he is not referring to a particular race of people, rather he is referring to all those who don’t know Christ, those who are not in Christ.
THE WICKED CITY OF EPHESUS
The city of Ephesus was home to the pagan temple of the false goddess of Diana. Without going into a lot of detail the worship of Diana was lascivious, vile and full of sexual perversion. Even secular historians recognize the city of Ephesus as a city full of evil and unrestrained wickedness. This was the society, this was the culture that these new believers in Christ found themselves in. They were totally surrounded by godlessness.
A DANGER TO BE AWARE OF
When you and I are surrounded by sin, it’s easier than we think to adopt the ways, the lifestyle of the world around us. Therefore we must constantly be on guard to make sure that we aren’t being influenced by the ways of the world rather than the Word of God.
WHERE DOES IT ALL BEGIN?
What I found interesting is the way that Paul begins to address this subject of lifestyle. Many, if not most would begin to address the lifestyle of a Christian by pinpointing specific actions. Like my pastor was fond of saying “Don’t drink, smoke, cuss or chew or run with those who do!” Specific actions do need to be addressed and Paul will, but he begins by addressing the mind. Why? Because the way you think determines how you act!
The Christian life is both cognitive and experiential. It is both thinking and feeling. It is both thought and actions. Most Christians unfortunately have the wrong focus. The focus is not on their minds, not on their intellect rather they choose to focus on their feelings.
WHAT IS THE CONDITION OF THE UNSAVED MIND?
Paul describes the mind of the unsaved as “futile”. He says that the Gentiles walk in the “futility” of their minds. Futility refers to that which never succeeds, that which never produces the right response. It is a synonym for empty.
Spiritually speaking the futile mind can never come to the right conclusion about spiritual matters. That’s why so many people pursue that is trivial, that’s why they are so selfish, that’s why they are focused on themselves. That’s why they are continually searching for some kind of meaning, for some kind of purpose in life.
NOT JUST FUTILE BUT DARKENED
In verse 18 Paul continues his description of the walk, the lifestyle of the Gentile mind. Not only do they have futile minds, Paul says that they are “darkened in their understanding” – again another reference to the mind.
The word darkened means “to obscure, to be blind”. What is it that they are blind too? What has been obscured from their minds?
They are blind to spiritual truth. They don’t they can’t comprehend spiritual truth. They don’t they can’t comprehend their own spiritual condition. They can’t they don’t comprehend the truth about God. Therefore their total outlook on life is wrong. We would say that they can’t think straight. They are spiritually and mentally confused.
Paul goes on to say they are “excluded from the life of God.” What does it mean to be excluded? It means to be shut out from “one’s fellowship and intimacy”. The unsaved are shut out of, they are shut off from the life of God. They are physically alive, but spiritually dead.
WHY IS ALL THIS TRUE?
Why are the Gentiles, why are the unsaved darkened in their understanding? Why are they alienated from the life of God? Why are they ignorant? Paul answers that with the phrase “due to their hardness of heart”. The man or woman apart from God is hard, they are calloused, they are unfeeling. These are all terms that highlights the spiritual death that characterizes all of mankind apart from Christ.
One of the effects of ongoing sin is the increasing hardness of heart. We often say of some people they are “set in their ways” – meaning they are entrenched in the way they think, they are dug in in their actions. We say “you can’t teach an old dog new tricks”. That’s the danger of unrepentant sin. It hardens the heart, it makes us calloused, it makes us unfeeling.
Paul says they “have given themselves over to sensuality for the practice of every kind of impurity with greediness”. In other words they have lost all restraint, anything goes. It becomes their business to indulge in every kind of sin. Sin is big business in our world today.
This is the walk, this is the lifestyle of the natural man, of the unsaved man. They have no understanding, they have no knowledge of who God truly is. Because they are ignorant of who God is, because their understanding is darkened, they are alienated from the life of God and have totally given them themselves over to sin.
In part two we’ll look what Paul told the believes at Ephesus how they can live as Christ wants them to live. You can listen to parts one and two by listening to the podcast below.
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