Summary: A challenge to keep a pure mind in a sinful world.
(defined and adapted from Dietrich Bonhoeffer)
a). Cheap grace is the deadly enemy of our Church. We are fighting today for costly grace.
b). Cheap grace means grace as a doctrine, a principle, a system. It means forgiveness of sins proclaimed as a general truth, the love of God taught as the Christian "conception" of God.
c). Cheap grace means the justification of sin without the justification of the sinner. Grace alone does everything they say, and so everything can remain as it was before. "All for sin could not atone." Well, then, let the Christian live like the rest of the world, let him model himself on the world’s standards in every sphere of life, and not presumptuously aspire to live a different life under grace from his old life under sin. d). Cheap grace is the preaching of forgiveness without requiring repentance, baptism without church discipline, Communion without confession, absolution without personal confession.
e). Cheap grace is ultimately belief without obedience, hearing without doing, intellectual assent without life commitment.
f). Cheap grace says you don’t have to be concerned about purity, holiness, and obedience—Jesus already did all that so that you don’t have to. Absolutely not! He did all that, empowered by the Holy Spirit, so that His life could live again through us. God’s grace has everything to do with our position in Him, our relationship with Him, our salvation in and through Him, our standing before Him, and our identity as new creations in Him.
g). Cheap grace operates not in those things, but in the deceitful workings of a person’s behavior. Cheap grace can never accomplish what God’s grace can. Cheap grace allows you to justify your behavior; God’s grace justifies your person.
h). Cheap grace will center its focus and attention on the "things" of God, and not God Himself. It will focus on "behavior" instead of relationship. It concentrates on a "life-style" instead of a life of obedience. The grace we bestow on ourselves is ultimately self-centered no matter how "Godly" it may appear. So when someone says that grace is just a license to sin, that is correct assessment of cheap grace.
i). Cheap grace is grace that does not require death, that is death to the flesh and the self-life.
This is the problem facing the Ephesians and the problem facing the church today. Let me quote from Bonhoeffer again: “Cheap grace says you don’t have to be concerned about purity, holiness, and obedience…” but the Bible makes it clear that God’’s will for us is a life of purity. How can we do this? Let’s look at the passage before us and see what Paul says is the Pathway to Purity.
“Pathway to Purity”
Ephesians 4:17 This I say therefore, and testify in the Lord, that ye henceforth walk not as other Gentiles walk, in the vanity of their mind,
18 Having the understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God through the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart:
19 Who being past feeling have given themselves over unto lasciviousness, to work all uncleanness with greediness.
20 But ye have not so learned Christ;
21 If so be that ye have heard him, and have been taught by him, as the truth is in Jesus:
22 That ye put off concerning the former conversation the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts;
23 And be renewed in the spirit of your mind;
24 And that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness.
I. The Condition of the Unbelieving Mind
a. Paul’s exhortation – “…testify in the Lord…” Paul’s authority for what he was about to teach came from the Lord. Those who teach and preach that believers ought to live pure lives can do so based on the authority of Scripture!
b. Paul’s examination – verses 17b-19
1. Powerful thinking – Here he speaks of the vanity of the mind as the source of the problem. The way one thinks affects the whole personality and action. Vanity suggests “worthlessness, emptiness, ineffectual thinking.
2. Problematic thinking – A darkened mind cannot perceive truth therefore the unbelieving mind is literally “in the dark” so to speak and the sense of moral distinction is blurred! They cannot discern between right and wrong behavior.
3. Perverted thinking – Paul uses a series of clauses to illustrate his point. He speaks of “alienation” or estrangement from the “life of God”, their “ignorance” which refers to the ignorance of not experiencing God, “blindness” of heart refers to the fact that their hearts are non-responsive, insensitive and obstinate, “past feeling” means having lost feeling and being calloused to the pangs of conscious and given over to sin. The particular sins that men have given themselves over to are “lasciviousness” which refers to debauchery, indecency and unrestrained indulgence. This further leads to “uncleanness,” any kind of moral impurity, “covetousness,” the desire to have more, in other words greed for immoral experience! The point that Paul makes in all this that his readers must make a clean break with this way of life.