Summary: Conventional wisdom. It may truly be conventional, but it may not always be wise. In fact, we are not called to live by conventional wisdom. We are called to live by obedience to the Word of God.
Ephesians: Part 18 ~ 4:17-5:2
Change our walk~Walk our Change
17. So this I say, and affirm together with the Lord, that you walk no longer just as the Gentiles also walk, in the futility of their mind,
18. being darkened in their understanding, excluded from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, because of the hardness of their heart;
19. and they, having become callous, have given themselves over to sensuality for the practice of every kind of impurity with greediness.
20. But you did not learn Christ in this way,
21. if indeed you have heard Him and have been taught in Him, just as truth is in Jesus,
22. that, in reference to your former manner of life, you lay aside the old self, which is being corrupted in accordance with the lusts of deceit,
23. and that you be renewed in the spirit of your mind,
24. and put on the new self, which in the likeness of God has been created in righteousness and holiness of the truth.
25. Therefore, laying aside falsehood, SPEAK TRUTH EACH ONE of you WITH HIS NEIGHBOR, for we are members of one another.
26. BE ANGRY, AND yet DO NOT SIN; do not let the sun go down on your anger,
27. and do not give the devil an opportunity.
28. He who steals must steal no longer; but rather he must labor, performing with his own hands what is good, so that he will have something to share with one who has need.
29. Let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth, but only such a word as is good for edification according to the need of the moment, so that it will give grace to those who hear.
30. Do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.
31. Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice.
32. Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you.
Be Imitators of God
1. Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children;
2. and walk in love, just as Christ also loved you and gave Himself up for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God as a fragrant aroma.
Conventional wisdom is an intriguing concept. All of us are exposed to it. Normally, it comes in the form of catchy sayings. We all know many of them. “If you give him an inch . . . he'll take a mile.” “Two wrongs . . . don't make a right.” “If you lay down with the dogs . . . you'll get up with the fleas.” “God helps those . . . that help themselves.” “Cleanliness . . . is next to godliness.” “Don't get mad . . . get even.” Someone improved on that saying by changing it slightly. “Don't get even . . . get ahead.” “When in Rome . . . do as the Romans do.” And finally, there is one I particularly like. “A dog may be able to whip a skunk . . . but the fight just ain't worth it.”
This is conventional wisdom. It may truly be conventional, but it may not always be wise. In fact, we are not called to live by conventional wisdom. We are called to live by obedience to the Word of God. We must learn to evaluate everything by the wisdom found in God's Word.
Take, for example, the saying, “When in Rome, do as the Romans do.” On the surface, it sounds like a very reasonable statement. One is encouraged not to stand out too much. If you find yourself in the midst of sophisticated people, then you must act sophisticated. Blend in. If you want to be successful, then don't swim against the current. If you go with the flow, you will be liked. At least, that is the way this kind of thinking goes.
In fact, this kind of thinking is flawed in many respects. It is flawed because things do not work that way. Most truly successful people are different, and do stand out. It is also flawed because it condones a deviant lifestyle. It encourages conformity to ungodly standards.
As Christians, we are called to a lifestyle that honors God. We are not called to live like the world. As our text for today opens, Paul emphasizes that fact when he exhorts us to walk no longer just as the Gentiles also walk. He was using the word “gentile” to refer to unbelievers. In other words, we are not to live as unbelievers live. We are not to blend in with the world. Though we are in the world, we are not to do as the world does. Our lifestyle should honor God, not reflect the values of our age.