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Summary: Put away the old manner of life

Ephesians 4:17-24

John Shearhart

May 30, 2010


This morning we’re back in the book of Ephesians to continue through chapter four. The subject of our text today deals with believers turning away from their old lustful manner of life, leaving the world behind, so that they might pursue the righteousness and holiness of God in truth.

It’s expected within Christianity that the convert will change from his old ways—he’ll have a change of focus, a change of heart, a change of mind, a change of priority, and a change of passion.

We were at one time dead in our trespasses and sins and under the influence of Satan and the world (2:1), but now we are raised up with Christ for His good works through us (2:4-10). We are unified by our faith and each believer is being fitted into a temple as the dwelling place of God (2:21-22) as we mature and grow into Christ who is the head of the body.

And now we come to…

Ephesians 4:17-24

1. The way things used to be (:17-19)

So this I say, and affirm together with the Lord,

Another word for “affirm” is “insist.” Paul insists with the Lord’s agreement that we listen to his words.

Those who believe that their faith is an individual matter and that the church has no business poking their noses into people’s personal lives have to contend with this verse. We aren’t the morality police, but at the same time what a believer does has the potential to affect the entire group. Because of this we guard ourselves against those who willfully practice sin and rebellion. We insist with Paul and with the Lord that our members heed the Lord’s commands.

And what is the command here?

that you walk no longer just as the Gentiles also walk,

A “walk” is a way of life. We must do all we can to prevent all sin, but to walk in it is unacceptable.

If we say that we have fellowship with Him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth; 7but if we walk in the Light as He Himself is in the Light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin. (I John 1:6-7)

Notice that Paul tells them to walk “no longer.” Every one of us walked at one time or another according to the way of the Gentile.

Finally, note that Paul tells the believers not to walk as the Gentiles walk. Why does he use this word? Why not “Jews?” Why not “the ungodly?”

We’ve been studying Romans in the evenings, and we’ve seen that the Gentiles are those who willfully exchanged the known truth of God for a blatant lie and worshiped and served the created things rather than the Creator. They, as a result, were given over to every kind of depravity to do that which ought not to be done; they’re so wicked that that they actually invent new ways to be evil and run to ungodliness (Rom. 1:18-32).

Ephesians four reveals the mindset behind this walk—the Gentiles walk…

in the futility of their mind, 18being 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;

There are several words here that explain the state of the lost man. First, the Gentile walks in the futility of his mind. Futile means useless or pointless. The striving of the lost man is futile! It holds no eternal value whatsoever and it does nothing to save him. All the philosophical mumbo-jumbo in the world doesn’t add an ounce of value to a man’s mind apart from Christ. Even the so-called great minds like Plato, Aristotle, Socrates, Kierkegaard, and all the others are useless on their own.


Because they are darkened in their understanding! It is their mind which is futile and their understanding that is darkened. They don’t even have a clue about the truth; they don’t even have a clue about the reality of their own nature! They’re like a man who’s lost and doesn’t even know it; he’s not only on the wrong street, he’s in the wrong state; he’s on the wrong continent; he’s on the wrong planet!

In Him was life, and the life was the Light of men. 5The Light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it. (John 1:4-5)

And look at the result: they are “excluded from the life of God.”

And this is because of the ignorance that’s within them and because of the hardness of their heart. Now these two statements go together and need to be read that way. It might look contradictory to see that Romans says they deliberately suppressed the knowledge of God (Rom. 1:18-19), but Ephesians says they are ignorant. How can both be true?

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