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Sunday, February 21, 2016 pm                                 Ephesians Index

STUDIES IN EPHESIANS (26)

You Have Not So Leaned in Christ
Ephesians 4:17-24

 

In our study of Ephesians, the past few months we have addressed the unity that needs to be present within the body of Christ.  We have noted how leaders within the body are provided to ground us in the word of God – the foundation of our unity (we must be united in what His word teaches).    Having emphasized this, Paul now begins to make practical application concerning how we will conduct ourselves toward one another and the world. 

 I.                     No longer walking as the world (17-19)

a.       In Ephesians 4:1, Paul began that section by challenging these brethren to “walk worthy of your calling with which you were called”.  Having emphasized this, Paul now begins to make practical application by describing this walk. 
Bear in mind, this WALK is reference to our manner of life.  It is NOT just something we do when we come together as the church, it is who we are.  What we do is simply an indicator of our character. 

b.       You should no longer walk as the rest of the Gentiles

                                                   i.      The Gentiles was a reference to the worldly. 
Note “the rest” meaning that Paul is speaking to an audience with Gentiles present (as we have noted, this congregation was probably a mixture of Jews and Gentiles).  I think of passages like 1 Corinthians 6:11 which in describing various sinful conduct says, “And such WERE some of you.”

                                                 ii.      The quality of the worldly is then described:

1.       In the futility of their minds, their understanding darkened – this is where ungodliness begins – in the mind.  They have a mindset that rejects God and His word.  Romans 1:18-25 (esp. vs. 21 – “futile in their thoughts). 
1 Peter 1:18 speaks of their aimless conduct from the traditions of their fathers.    Perhaps this is why they are without hope as noted earlier (cf. Eph. 2:1-3, 12).

2.       Being alienated from the life of God – again consider that they were without hope in that previous state.  Romans 6:23 – the wages of sin is death. 
Isa. 59:1-2 your sins have separated you from God.  Spiritually, our sins separate us from Him.  But the worldly are foreigners not only in sin, but the way they live their lives – godless – without accountability to the divine Father.  They have no hope beyond this life.

3.       Because of the ignorance in them – this is one reason why they are alienated from God.  They don’t know Him or His word!  NOTE that this ignorance is not because knowledge is lacking, but they CHOOSE to reject it or not search for it. 
In Acts 17:30-31 we are warned that God does not overlook ignorance anymore, but will judge all by His Son. 
IN Acts 3:17 Peter noted that it was in ignorance that they had crucified the Prince of life.

4.       Because of the blindness of their hearts – a second reason they were alienated from God.  And this points again to their complicity in being ignorant.  They were blind to the truth – John 3:19-21 – men love darkness lest their evil deeds be exposed. 
Isaiah 6:9-10 is quoted in Matthew 13:14-15 where Jesus explained why He spoke in parables – the hearts of the people were dull, their ears hard of hearing and their eyes closed.
In Matthew 15:14 – Jesus called the Pharisees blind leaders of the blind.  He called them “blind guides” and “blind” in Matthew 23:16, 17, 24-26.
Like the world in our text, they did not want to see the truth. 
Today is no different as most choose to remain in darkness rather than letting the light of God’s word lead them.   In spite of all the problems we are facing as a nation (and throughout the world) – men are looking for solutions to instill integrity in the multitudes, but they fall short because they REFUSE to look to a higher source that holds them accountable!  Thus they establish laws and concepts that fall short – because it doesn’t matter how many laws you have – if people are not held accountable, they will not follow them.

5.       They are past feeling – this describes one that doesn’t care about God.  Typically, that is an attitude that is taught or developed in environments where God is attacked – mocked and ridiculed, or where He is absent from one’s life or society. 
People are ignorant as to who God is so how can they know Him?  (That is why it is our task to teach them).
Far too many look at this broken world and in bitterness they blame and reject God – rather than seeing Him as the solution.
The ungodliness of this world produces this type of attitude – 2 Tim. 3:1-5 describes many qualities that are “past feeling”.   I sometime describe this as “the list of selfishness”.
In time, if we continue to reject God our conscience will be seared (1 Tim. 4:2).

6.       Having given themselves over to lewdness (or licentiousness) – the idea of lewdness is sinful abandon.   It describes one whose behavior is unrestrained.  We typically relate it to sexual abandon.  We are living in a society that is morally bankrupt, including from a sensual standpoint – examples of this include immodest dress, nudity in entertainment and media, pornography, immoral activities such as modern dancing, wanton fornication and adultery, rejection of God’s marriage covenant both in the form of divorce and unscriptural unions (including homosexuality). 
Mark 7:22 says that lewdness comes from the heart along with other sins.
Romans 13:13, “Let us walk properly, as in the day, not in revelry and drunkenness, not in lewdness and lust, not in strife and envy.”

1 Peter 4:3 tells us we have spent enough of our lifetime in these types of behaviors.   Galatians 5:19 includes it in the works of the flesh. 

7.       To work uncleanness – this is a word that means filth or immorality.  That is certainly a produce of lewd conduct. It is also where a society will go that is past feeling for God, living in blindness, ignorance and an understanding that is darkened.    Romans 1:24 uses the word to describe those God “gave up” to dishonor their bodies among themselves
Later in Ephesians 5:3 Paul will clearly say, “But fornication and all uncleanness or covetousness, let it not even be named among you, as is fitting for saints;

8.       With greediness – another product of a godless nation or society.   The idea here is covetousness and is thus translated in many places (Rom. 1:29, Luke 12:15, Eph. 5:3, Col. 3:5 which calls it idolatry, etc.)  Greed is a product that is opposite of the servant’ heart we are to possess. 
How often does greed and covetousness keep open from obeying God?  Think of the rich, young ruler (Matthew 19:16-26); the parable of the rich, fool – (Luke 12:13-21) and the warnings to Timothy about desiring to be rich (1 Tim. 6:6-10).

                                                iii.      NOTE: When these qualities are present, we will NOT treat each other like brethren!  We will not achieve the unity addressed earlier in this chapter. 

 II.                   Walking in Christ (20-24)

a.       The opposite of this worldly behavior is what we find in our Lord Jesus Christ.  In vs. 20-24, Paul describes some things we find in Christ.   We mention them here for the sake of completeness of this text, but we will more fully develop these points in our next lesson.

b.       You have not so learned Christ –  In Him we do NOT learn to behave as the world.  We behave differently.  And that is something that is LEARNED in Him.  It is something we have HEARD and been TAUGHT, because “the truth is in Jesus”! 
(How many today seem to twist scripture to permit such behaviors?)

c.        When we are in Christ

                                                   i.      You put off, concerning your former conduct, the old man which grows corrupt according to deceitful lusts – Col. 3:5-9, Matt. 6:24.  I also think of 1 Cor. 6:9-11 – such WERE some of you!

                                                 ii.      You are renewed in the spirit of your mind – a new mindset we are continually reminded of.  Romans 12:1-2, Colossians 3:1-2

                                                iii.      You put on the new man who was created according to God, in true righteousness and holiness – Col. 3:10-11.

 

The best way for us to get along as brethren and achieve the unity that our Lord desires (John 17:20-21) and we need as brethren (Ephesians 4:1-3) is if we will ALL put to death the old man that we have described in this lesson.  We are reminded of what Jesus taught His disciples in John 13:34-35, “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.  That is the best way for us to make our society around us, and the world, a better place – one person at a time, by being the church of Christ we find in scripture!