Summary: The world is in a darkness that is total and powerful. Only the true Light can dispell it. (#17 in the Unfathomable Love of Christ series)
“This I say therefore, and affirm together with the Lord, that you walk no longer just as the Gentiles also walk, in the futility of their mind, 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; and they, having become callous, have given themselves over to sensuality, for the practice of every kind of impurity with greediness.”
Paul is basing his authority to make this very strong exhortation, on the teaching he has just presented pertaining to the truth upon which we are established, and the application of that truth to mature us, and grow us into a strong body (speaking metaphorically) with Christ as our head.
We didn’t bring verse 16 into the last sermon, so let’s touch on it briefly here for the full picture, before we go on to consider this question of what ’darkness’ really is, in reference to the spiritual condition.
As I said, here in verse 15 Paul has once again established that the focus and goal of the Christian is to mature and be made more like Christ, and once again calls Christ our head.
So that leads him once more into this analogy of the body, and I know you’ve all heard sermons from these ‘body’ passages that build on that analogy and bring out all of the obvious illustrations that give us a picture of the structure and working of a unified church.
I won’t repeat all that here, but let’s just draw from verse 16 before we go on, the primary point of Paul’s; the one he’s been working toward from the beginning of this chapter.
He has admonished us to walk in a manner that is consistent with our calling as born again believers, being diligent to preserve the unity that the Holy Spirit has brought to us, and by grace taking advantage of the tools He has gifted us with for the sake of our growth and maturity and our further developing knowledge of the Son of God.
We are to allow those tools, says Paul, to build us up and equip us for service in ministry, and also to grow us up spiritually so that we do not fall prey to the crafty schemers, but also so that, knowing sound doctrine, we can order our lives by it but also speak it in love, declare it, for the sake of maintaining unity and giving truth to the lost.
He has said all these things and brought us to this point, to say that a healthy body grows! If all the parts and joints are working, and mental stability and emotional well-being are present, then the body goes forth productively and joyfully.
So as he comes to his next line of thinking in verse 17, we keep in mind that what he has taught and established in the reader’s mind concerning the unity and maturity and overall health of the church, empowers her, and every individual part, to be obedient to the coming exhortations.
“This I say therefore, and affirm together with the Lord…”
Now what does that tell us about how important these coming words are in the mind of the Apostle? “Based on these things I’ve been saying, I now say to you, and not only I, but I am confident that I have the Lord’s full support in this”