Summary: What is the pattern for your life? Whom or what are you copying?
Ephesians 4:17-24 “WHAT IS YOUR PATTERN?”
“What is your pattern?” I asked one of our members this question when I was visiting her the other week. “What is your pattern?” She was knitting a blanket – lots of brilliant colors, a very complicated design. It was turning out to be a very nice looking project. “What is your pattern?” I asked her. She showed me a book that was put together by some talented artists and designers. “Here is my pattern,” she showed me. And there it was, right there in the book.
What about you? As you knit together your life, what is your pattern? No one is 100% original – everyone copies everyone else to some degree. As you make decisions in your life, as you choose the things you say and the things you do – what is your pattern? Whom or what are you copying?
I just heard the other day that many students going back to school don’t want to buy clothes for school until after school starts. Do you know why? It’s because they first want to see what everyone else is wearing. They want a pattern they can copy before they buy their clothes for school.
What is the pattern for your life? We learn from the Bible today that there is one pattern more popular than all the others, and that pattern is the world. “I will do whatever the rest of the world is doing,” most people say. “Whatever the world says, whatever the world does, whatever the world thinks, that’s how I will be.” Many people live their lives that way. It’s not too difficult to find out what the world is thinking and saying and doing. The television is a good resource. Announcers on the radio also tell you what’s going on. Your friends and relatives and coworkers that do not worship Christ are good worldly resources. If you are planning to pattern your life after the world, you are surrounded by examples.
But if you are a Christian, than the world cannot be your pattern. That is what our Scripture lesson for this morning teaches us. Look at verse 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.” The Apostle Paul wrote these words to Gentile Christians in Ephesus. They had just recently come to faith in Christ. The question for those Gentile Christians was, “Now what? Now that I am a Christian, how should I live? After what should I pattern my life?”
Don’t live like the rest of the unbelieving, Gentile world, the Apostle Paul told those Christians in Ephesus. And here’s why, verse 18: “They are darkened in their understanding and separated from the life of God.” Darkened in their understanding – the world at that time had no real concept of what was right and what was wrong, what was moral and what was immoral. They were darkened in their understanding, and the reason why is because they had no life with God. Here we are told that they were “separated from the life of God.” They had no relationship with God, no faith in him, no connection with him. Why not? Look at the second half of the verse:
“Because of the ignorance that is in them due to the hardening of their hearts.” Those unbelievers were ignorant – ignorant of God, and as a result, ignorant of right and wrong. And it was all due to the hardening of their hearts. These people had heard the Word of God. They had had opportunities to repent and to put their faith in Christ. But they refused. They rejected. They hardened their hearts against the living God, and as a result, they were darkened in their understanding of right and wrong. (Isn’t this starting to sound like our world today? It will sound even more like our world today as we get into the next verse…)
Verse 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.” Instead of having Christ as its God, the world at that time had Sensuality as its god. The culture at that time was very focused on sex. The people at that time indulged in every kind of impurity, and they continually lusted for more.
Remember, we are talking about the days of the Bible. The Roman Empire at that time had no concept of the true God. Immorality was its god. And that’s why the Apostle Paul urged those Christians in Ephesus to not pattern their lives after the immoral world that surrounded them.
Is our society today any different? Not really. We may have more technology than those people did back then. We may have more ways of seeing and hearing and reading about immorality than those people did. But our society today really isn’t any different. Our country today has lost its sensitivity to what is moral, and what is immoral. Our country today seeks to indulge in every kind of impurity, with a continual lust for more. One needs to look no further than network television to see that sex is god in America today. The fall lineup of television shows, the commercials - “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.” The Apostle Paul was writing about our world today.