Summary: We are called of God and because of that calling we walk differently than the rest of the world.
This morning we talked about God’s expectation for us to WALK WORTHY OF OUR CALLING. Through the writings of Paul to the church at Ephesus we are given a glimpse of how part of that calling is walking in unity with our brothers and sisters in Christ; and the exercise of our gifts. We also saw how God gives everyone of us a measure of grace in order to keep unity.
Essentially Paul has talked to us about our attitude toward God, the church and leadership. Now Paul moves to the practical. He is showing us that our attitude on the inside (spirit) will become evident in our daily walk with God (flesh).
Let’s pray and then get into the Scriptures to see how God not only wants us to walk worthy but to walk differently.
Not As the Gentiles…
Ephesians 4:17 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, and they are full of greed.
(LOOK AT VERSE 19 THEN COME BACK TO 17 & 18) Remember Paul is writing to both Jews and Gentiles who have been converted to Christianity. Both groups had emerged from an Ephesian culture that obviously promoted “impurity” and “greed.”
• Impurity (v.19) does not only speak to a life of sexual excess (sensuality) but a lifestyle of extravagance and excess. The Ephesian’s were living beyond their means (in today’s world it would be people spending more than they earn). It seems this has lead them to become “greedy.”
• Greed is not just about wanting money but an attitude of wanting what everyone else has – even when you cannot afford it! The Ephesian’s were people of EXTREMES to the place that material gain and wealth had become an IDOL to be worshipped and a SYMBOL of success.
The reason they had given themselves over to these things began with major mistake…look at Verse 17 & 18. Paul describes the process that leads to a life of excess and lust…
• Futile in their thinking – not stupid (actually quite smart), rather, their thinking did not include God and so in the end it was worthless. This is why Paul says the Gentiles were “darkened in their understanding and separated from the life of God…” They deny the existence of God by excluding Him from their everyday life. The result is a hardness of heart (vv. 17b-18).
o The real problem here is that humankind HAS TO WORSHIP something. So, when God is excluded from their thoughts (and life) they are naturally compelled to find something to worship. Usually human beings will find some form of pleasure to worship (sex) – or worship something that can provide them pleasure (money). This leads too…
• Losing all sensitivity (to no longer feel pain or grief / become callous)…they no longer felt the pull of God on their lives. Theologians often talk of “common” or “prevenient” grace. This is the grace of God that works on all human beings that brings them to salvation. I believe Paul is saying these folks had rejected God for so long they had become callous/hard hearted to the point they could no longer feel God’s pull toward salvation.
Illustration: Today we see a world that has done everything it can to put God out of its mind and life. This is a reaction to God’s graceful action in the world. I know that sounds strange but the corrupt/sinful nature of humanity is strange. In the end, God has allowed us the opportunity to choose our reaction to His grace.
(TRANSITION) After Paul tells us how those outside of Christ are behaving he calls us to different life that will witness to the power of Christ to redeem people just like he has been describing. Let’s look at…
Ephesians 4:20 That, however, is not the way of life you learned 21 when you heard about Christ and were taught in him in accordance with the truth that is in Jesus. 22 You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; 23 to be made new in the attitude of your minds; 24 and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.
If you have given your life to Christ then you have been given a new outlook, a new life, a new way of relating, and new way of looking at money. Notice Paul uses the words “learned” and “taught.”