Summary: Who we are meant to be as shown by the book of Ephesians.
Living As Life-Givers
Series: Becoming Who We Are (Engaging Ephesians)
Brad Bailey - February 23, 2014
Many of us have been watching the Olympics. Along with the remarkable skills... there have bee some special moments that transcend the competition.
• First Winter Olympic athlete from Peru...racing in a long distance cross country skiing race... injured just days before the event....end last...but the gold medalist waited 30 minutes after he finished to congratulate him.
• When a Russian cro
ss country skier broke his ski, he is seen hobbling along the long course determined to finish on the dangling ski...and over the hill pops a man with a ski...who fastens it on. It turns out it was the ski coach of the Canadians who said he couldn't watch without helping.
It's a reminded that competition left to itself...is only about beating another... nothing more than taking until nothing is there....verses sharing in something that is there. 
As we continue in our series in Ephesians...Becoming Who We Are... we have been engaging how the Apostle Paul declares who we truly are and now how we should therefore live..
We were "dead"...now rescued; ewe were "outside" of life with God...now you belong to a new people / humanity.
So build that new humanity.
> What does that mean? That is where Paul picks up in Ephesians 4:17-5:2
What Is Operating In This World
So I tell you this, and insist on it in the Lord, that you must no longer live as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their thinking. 18 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. 19 Having lost all sensitivity, they have given themselves over to sensuality so as to indulge in every kind of impurity, and they are full of greed.
Paul begins by bringing before us what is operating in this world.
When he tells us not to lives as the Gentiles do...he's not referring to all those who are not ethnically Jewish....but those who had not known what it is to be called out by God.
It was that calling out that defined the alternatives. 
There are two spheres out of which we can live...one is not operating in relationship to God...darkened in thought and heart.
Such a distinction may seem unfair. I look at lots of lives and see goodness and I hear good thought. So in what way are such minds and hearts darkened?
> The distinction is that of what is the center around which all revolves. When the orbit is not God....everything is off.
Isaiah 47:10 (NIV)
Your wisdom and knowledge mislead you when you say to yourself, 'I am, and there is none besides me.'
So Paul refers to a "futility of their thinking."
The Greeks were the greatest thinkers of the ancient world; the Romans learned from them. Paul says ...look...despite such learnedness....wisdom...there is a futility. 
Today...we live with the same paradox...never more enamored with our power in technology and discovery....never more perplexed at our hopelessness.
And this issue of what orbit our lives choose... in not merely a matter of mental perception...but of the heart's posture. Paul says there is a “hardening of [people’s] hearts” (v. 18). 
Separated from the life and love of God... lives have "given themselves over to sensuality so as to indulge in every kind of impurity..."
This reference to 'sensuality,' like all references to sexuality or sexual impurity, ...can sound like some prudish fear of sex...
We really need to hear the truth...that God created the sensual world...the sexual nature.
This very same Paul tells those married that they should not only enjoy sexual pleasure but that such pleasure should be mutual.
Notice: "Having lost all sensitivity... human soul...'gave themselves over...indulge...and are full of greed.' Word = unjust gain... getting what is not fair.
>What lust and greed share...is the nature to consume another....to take life from another.
Neither sex nor money are a problem. They are not consuming us...rather we are using them to consume each other.
The truth is that it's been this way ever since we have been operating apart from God.
(They proved so powerful that many who sought most to overcome them....began to call them evil in themselves. The sense of dysfunctional repression usually just leads to new indulgences.)
Less than 50 years ago ...our own country and culture declared a sexual revolution... throw off repression. But it seems the one thing we didn't count on...was our own self consuming nature.
The more our culture seems to be proud about it's freedom to indulge in all sexual desires...the more it scoffs at the idea of moral boundaries...the more our problem with consuming others flows.