Summary: Christians should not be living like the rest of the world.
Walk This Way, Talk This Way
Text: Ephesians 4:17-19
By: Ken McKinley
A country farmer and his son came to the city for the first time. They were amazed by almost everything they saw, but were especially awe struck by the elevator. Neither of them had ever seen one before. The boy asked his father, “What is that father?” The old man just shook his head as he continued to watch as an old lady with a cane walked into the elevator. The doors shut and a few seconds later a young, beautiful woman came walking out of the elevator. The farmer looked at his son and said, “Son, I don’t know what it is, but go get your mamma.” (Taken from a Sermon heard by Chuck Swindoll)
I think there are times in our lives when we would all like to change something about ourselves. There are at least 20 different brands of diet pills in the Woodward Wal-Mart pharmacy. Plastic surgery is a multi-million dollar industry, gym memberships are too. We live in a world that promises of change are often made, but they are rarely kept. Just watch a few TV commercials where you might hear someone promise to restore lost hair, remove unwanted pounds, hide wrinkles, and we won’t even get into some of the other things commercials promise. And so we live in a world that promises change, and many people want to change something, and they want to do it as quickly as possible. They want a magic pill that makes them whatever they want to be or do. But our desire for change isn’t just physical. We might have certain character issues that we struggle with, or financial issues, or marital issues, or even spiritual issues. Many people and I would even dare say that some within this church struggle with certain issues of faith and of living out our faith in a consistent manner.
Well if you remember; last time we talked about how God expects a change in us. He expects us to mature, to grow up. There should be progress in our Christian walk. But how do we do it? How do we get from where we are, to where we need to be?
Well; before we learn how change happens, we need to look at why it doesn’t.
Paul starts this passage with the command of the Law. He says, “You should no longer live like the rest of the world does.”
If you’ve been with us at the start of this study of Ephesians then maybe you’ll remember that the first half of the letter talks about what God has done, Paul focused a lot on God’s grace and mercy. Now in light of that, in light of the Spirit of God indwelling the people of God, here is how you are to live.
Now Paul’s command to no longer walk as the Gentiles walk assumes that we are walking as the Gentiles walk, it assumes that we do have struggles. So what is it that makes it so hard to live like Jesus? Verse 17 tells us that Gentiles walk in the futility of their minds. Paul doesn’t begin with external, outward behaviors. He doesn’t say that the problems in Ephesus have to do with the environment, or upbringing (like so many psychologists and sociologists would say today). No; he says the problem is with a persons mind. The word “mind” used here, literally encompasses the reason, the understanding, the conscience, and the affections of a person.
So what Paul is saying to us through the Holy Spirit is that the way a person thinks, what a person understands, a persons morality, and a persons desires all affect the way he or she lives (as a man thinketh, so is he).
But here’s the thing, in verse 18 he says that their understanding has been darkened. So it’s not a matter of a proper education. Education can be good but this goes beyond education. Paul says that their understanding has been darkened because they are alienated from God. For the apostle Paul it’s pretty clear that the mind that rejects God is a mind that is dark and debased.
Let’s turn to Romans 1:18-32 (read). Paul wrote this as well, and you see what he says in verse 21? He says they became futile in their thoughts. In verse 28 he says, “And even as they did not like to retain God in their KNOWLEDGE, God gave them over to a debased mind.”
In other words, if you are looking to Dr. Phill, Oprah, or Obama for change, then you’re making a huge mistake. The mind without God is in darkness. Let me give you an example from history. How many of you know who William Wilberforce was? If not there is a movie titled Amazing Grace, I think it came out in 2007 and it details Wilberforces struggle to end slavery in England. Well; one of Wilberforce’s good friends was William Pitt, the Prime Minister of England. Pitt was a highly educated man and said to be a brilliant thinker, but he was a Christian in name only. Wilberforce would attend church services every Sunday, and his pastor was a man named Richard Cecil. And in Wilberforce’s own words he said that Cecil’s preaching fed his soul and warmed his heart, and he was delighted by it, encouraged by it, and challenged by it. Every Sunday Wilberforce would invite Pitt to come to church, but the Prime Minister would refuse, but finally one Sunday he came to church and listened to Richard Cecil preach. After the service was over and Pitt and Wilberforce were leaving the church, Pitt said to Wilberforce, “You know, I have not the slightest idea what that man was talking about.” So as sharp as Pitt was, as educated as he was, he was incapable of understanding the things of God. That’s one of the reasons Wilberforce had such a struggle to end slavery in England. Because he was dealing with people whose minds were darkened and were alienated from God.