17 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, with a continual lust for more. (NIV)
17: Now this I affirm and testify in the Lord, that you must no longer live as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their minds;
18: they are darkened in their understanding, alienated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, due to their hardness of heart;
19: they have become callous and have given themselves up to licentiousness, (RSV)
17. So this I say to you and attest to you in the Lord, do not go on living the empty-headed life that the gentiles live.
18. Intellectually they are in the dark, and they are estranged from the life of God, because of the ignorance which is the consequence of closed minds.
19. Their sense of right and wrong once dulled, they have abandoned all self-control and pursue to excess every kind of uncleanness.
Intro. (i) Summarise last wk ÎParadise Lostâ ? consequences.
Question: Why spend so much time on this aspect etc?
Reply: Another question: Would you make a money gift to Bill Gates?!
Obviously not, he has no need.
Problem: when we consider Manâs eternal destiny, think about spiritual matters, issues of life and death etc appearances are deceptive ? no apparent needs.
(ii) Illust. (ii) Illust. DAâs encounter with young millionaire some years ago, he was happy and prosperous and very successful, but I was told he was 'open' spiritually and unhappy. Met with him, had lunch in nice restaurant, talked and discussed - he told me he had no material, or spiritual needs, he had 'everything'. AND he didn't even offer to pay for his lunch! Frustrating and (as far as one could see, fruitless).
(iii) Many people we know just like that - no sense of spiritual need etc.
Difficult to see them as lost etc. Motivation to evangelise/witness blunted.
(iv)Now imagine same person, one day driving his Rolls/Cadillac towards a precipice. True he is rich, happy and secure, no sense of need, no and disaster if he is not warned in time. Assuming you have the opportunity and the means to stop him or at least to warn him of the danger could you with a clear conscience just let him drive over the brink and plunge down to his death without making any effort save him?
(v) Again answer is: Of course not. Yet spiritually speaking that is exactly what the condition of Man without God is and often we do little or nothing about it.
Read Eph.4:17-19 + Eph.2:1-3 & 11/12 As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, 2 in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. 3 All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our sinful nature and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature objects of wrath·..Therefore, remember that formerly you who are Gentiles·. 12 remember that at that time you were separate from Christ, excluded from citizenship in Israel and foreigners to the covenants of the promise, without hope and without God in the world.
(vi) NB Vocab. underlined above That is why Michael Green (1974) said at close of his talk on Evangelism in the Early Church: "It was when I realised that men without God were lost now and would be lost forever - even nice folk, even my family and friends - that I vowed I would burn up my one life in telling others of the fabulous Good News that Jesus Christ has brought to our world."
So letâs look at what Paul says here (and in other similar passages) about ÎMan without God).
I The Condition described
Four words to characterize Man without God:
1. Emptiness, 2. Hopelessness. 3. Darkness 4. Deadness.
1.Emptiness/Futility - cf Paul in Ephesians 4:17-19
But let us see what Man without God thinks of himself. Do it by direct quotes - in for a surprise perhaps.
Somerset Maugham.(writer 1874-1965)
"If one puts aside the existence of God and the possibility of survival as too doubtful to have any effect on oneâs behaviour, one has to make up oneâs mind what is the meaning and use of life. If death ends all, if I have neither to hope for good to come nor to fear evil, I must ask myself what 1 am here for, and how in these circumstances I must conduct myself. Now the answer to one of these questions is plain, but so unpalatable that most men will not face it. There is no reason for life, and life has no meaning."