Summary: Paul is speaking about the meaning of life and the ultimate purposes of human existence
EPHESIANS # 7
We are working our way through Paul’s letter to the Ephesians. Want to know the basics of the Christian life? It’s right here in these 6 chapters.
We are blessed and beloved by our Father who extends favor to us in Christ.
We are enlightened and empowered by the Spirit.
We were dead, but we are now alive in Christ.
We are united in Christ, no longer divided as insiders and outsiders.
This plan was intentional, formed by the wisdom of God before time began.
If we are ‘in Christ,’ we have a responsibility to ‘live a life worthy’ of that calling. “Walk worthy,” another translation teaches us, reminding us that salvation is complete in Christ, but that we must work out what it means in our daily choices.
As His visible Body on Earth, we must ‘keep the unity’ of Christ - humbly, with endurance, even to the point of putting up with others who rub us wrong - for Christ’s sake! We are equipped by the Spirit to be effective, led by people called to lead. The goal is maturity, a graceful Church.
TEXT - Ephesians 4: 17-24 PB 1821
How Do I Know?
What kinds of things confuse you?
We trust the ‘experts’ and too often it is my experience that they are simply wrong.
A month ago a physician put me on an antibiotic that was suppose to clear up the problem.
About a week ago, I started to have intense pain in the tendons in my hands, which spread up my arms, and eventually into my shoulders. I thought that somehow I had hurt myself in a fall, but when it got worse, did some research. I discovered that the antibiotic I was taking had a common side effect - inflamed, painful tendons! And, if a person kept taking it, tendons could actually be weakened and rupture! I wish my doctor had made me aware of that possibility.
There is wisdom we never need to question, One from who we learn whose conclusions will never be revised after further study. We hang onto this affirmation - "Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever. Do not be carried away by all kinds of strange teachings." (Hebrews 13:8-9, NIV)
In the passage that is our text today, Paul talks about learning to live in the Truth of Christ, an unchanging truth that clears up the confusion that is so common in this changing world.
A summary of the passage is this:
If we want to live the right way, pleasing to God; we have to learn Truth and develop new patterns of thought.
Paul’s evaluation of his world may seem harsh, even loveless, at first glance.
Re-read v. 17
To help us with understanding, let’s clarify a term he uses. “Gentile” A ‘Gentile’ is and was any person who was not Jewish. But, Paul is using the word as a synonym for ‘godless’ or ‘pagan.’ He is not using the word in an cultural or racial sense, but rather in a moral sense.
Simply put, he is saying to Christians - “Stop living like you did before you became a Christian!”
He describes the mind of those who are without God’s Spirit with words that are not very complimentary.
He says that the godless are subject to –
Futility of thinking,
Hardening of their heart, and
Not a great list, is it? In sum, it describes a person who is lost and deceived, who does not even realize their predicament. They are headed for destruction and have no idea what’s ahead.
Does this mean that those who are not Christians are worthless? NOT AT ALL! This passage is not discussing whether humans have worth apart from God. They do, by the way. “God so loved the world that HE gave His Son” the Bible says. It reminds us that “while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”
Every person is valuable to God.
Nor is this passage saying that those who are not Christians never do anything of value, that they will never accomplish great things, or contribute to humanity. Of course they can and they do. I am very thankful for the advances in science and technology, some of which comes from men and women who reject the idea of a personal God or the deity of the Lord Jesus Christ! A cure for a disease is no less valuable because it was created by an atheist!
Paul is speaking about the meaning of life and the ultimate purposes of human existence. Apart from the Holy Spirit, Whom we know only through Christ, there are no answers for those questions to be found. Yes, many philosophers of our time, admit that concluding that humanity is subject to futility, that life is a kind of joke.