Now we are getting to some exciting parts of Ephesians. Anyone who has read my books or even my writings, knows that there are parts of these passages that just thrill my soul. Why, you may ask? Because it speaks so deeply as to the person I was before I came to know Christ. And I only know Him intimately because I read the Bible daily and there, He guides me, He shows me how much He loves me and that, in itself, keeps me going towards the final goal.
Christ Jesus has given each one of us grace, something we don’t deserve but get anyway, and has given each of us a gift. That is why He also created us with a special purpose in mind. We aren’t here to take from others as much as we are here to give to ourselves, to give that gift given to us away.
MacArthur points out that “Christ possessed the authority and sovereignty to assign the spiritual gifts to those He has called into service in His church.” (p1808)
With those gifts, we have a new understanding as we read the Word.
Once we make that decision to turn from our sin, being pulled by the Holy Spirit to change our walk, we start on a new road. But never forget what we have been through as worldly people. Ephesians 4:17-19 are a constant reminder of what the world is like and what we been saved from.
“So I tell you this, and insist on it in the Lord, that you must no longer live as Gentiles do, in the futility of their thinking. They are darkened in their understanding and separated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them due to the hardening of their hearts. Having lost all sensitivity, they have given themselves over to sensuality so as to indulge in every kind of impurity, with a continual lust for more.” (NIV)
When we look at verse 17, we see that unbelievers are “intellectually unproductive. As far as spiritual and moral issues are concerned, their rational processes are distorted and inadequate, inevitably failing to produce godly understanding or moral living. Their life is empty, vain, and without meaning.” (MacArthur, p 1810)
Do you recognize it? That’s the way we once were! But as we go on to verse 18, which reminds me so much of Exodus 5 through 11, where Pharaoh hardens his heart towards God, we see that it’s still happening today!! It is an “ignorance” in them “Due to the hardening of their hearts.”
I guess we aren’t so more intelligent, or more modern and further advanced after all! An unbeliever is separated from God, living in the darkness of this world being blinded morally. It started with Adam and Eve and it continues.
As we move on to verse 19, we can better understand how they have “lost all sensitivity, they have given themselves over to sensuality so as to indulge in every kind of impurity…”. Unbelievers are depraved in their behavior (see Romans 1:28) and they willingly gravitate towards immorality. It’s almost like they can’t help themselves and they can’t without Christ’s direction.
And finally, the ending of verse 19, “with a continual lust for more.” The NKJV says, “To work all uncleanness with greediness.” MacArthur points out, “Impurity is inseparable from greediness, which is a form of idolatry (Eph 5:5; Col 3:5).” Lust, uncleanness with greediness, equal idolatry. When you have an idol, you can’t live without it, you must have it.
Without these next verses, it would seem there is no hope but indeed, there is hope! As we continue to read verse 20, “You, however, did not come to know Christ that way.” Although many may not reach this height of depravity, we are only where we are by the grace of God. Our former ways of life were not good, no matter how bad or good we think we are, “You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.”
Our hope is in Christ alone! God calls us to a new life in Christ. I pray that each of us will not look to these verses and be prideful but rather, to be humble in spirit and know that the only way we are walking this new path is because God has called us and through His Word, is teaching us a new path of righteousness each day.