Ephesians 4:17-19 "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
There is a tendency to want to try to categorize the above
"other Gentiles" as being either disobedient children of God or as being
non-elect aliens. I am convinced, however, that the purpose of the
above statement is not to categorize the "other Gentiles" but to show to
us the reasons for the wicked lifestyle of those who do not attempt to
be the disciples of Christ.
We ask ourselves, "How do other Gentiles walk?" They walk
"in the vanity of their mind." Thus, they live their lives according to
the emptiness or depravity of their own natural minds. They go about
trying to fulfill the desires of the flesh and of the mind. This is
their chief goal in life. As a result their works are the works of the
flesh: Gal. 5:19 "Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are
these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, 20 Idolatry,
witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions,
heresies, 21 Envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like:
of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past,
that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God."
Next, we ask ourselves, "Why do the other Gentiles walk in
the vanity of their minds?" "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." Their understanding of the life of God is darkened because
of the ignorance that is in them. They are ignorant because of the
blindness (hardness) of their heart. Both the unregenerate and the
disobedient regenerate share a hard heart. The unregenerate have only a
hard heart and care not for the things of God. The disobedient
regenerate have turned their back on the service of God and thus have
hardened their own hearts to the true worship and service of God. In
either case because of the blindness (hardness) of their heart they are
ignorant of the life of God and the blessings of discipleship.
They have given themselves over to a reprobate mind:
1. Rom 1:28 "And even as they did not like to
retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind,
to do those things which are not convenient;"
2. 2 Tim 3:8 "Now as Jannes and Jambres
withstood Moses, so do these also resist the truth: men of corrupt
minds, reprobate concerning the faith."
3. Titus 1:16 "They profess that they know God;
but in works they deny him, being abominable, and disobedient, and unto
every good work reprobate."
"Who being past feeling have given themselves over unto
lasciviousness, to work all uncleanness with greediness." The heart is
the seat of emotions or feelings. These who are walking after a
reprobate mind are past feeling for the things of God and have given
themselves over unto lasciviousness to work all uncleanness with
greediness. The world is full of lasciviousness, uncleanness and
greediness. This is the general course of this world and most of the
occupants of this world. However, this is not to be the walk of the
disciple of the Lord. We will deal with this in our next passage of
4:20-24 "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."
Our walk is to be patterned after the greatest example of
all: "But ye have not so learned Christ." What we have learned about
Christ is to be the example for our walk. There are many examples that
a person may take to pattern the way he lives his life: his father, his
mother, his brother or sister, one of his teachers, etc. All of these
examples may have some good things that we would do well to emulate.
However, none of those examples are perfect, but we have a perfect
example and that is Christ. His walk was perfect and a perfect example
for us to pattern our walk of life after.
"If so be that ye have heard him, and have been taught by
him, as the truth is in Jesus." There is a direct way that we have been
taught by Jesus as he wrote his laws in our hearts and put them in our
minds. As touching brother love, we have no need that any man teach us
for we ourselves have been taught of God to love one another. Yet much
of what we know has come through the preaching of the gospel and through
the study of God's words. Even here we had to have the leadership of
the Spirit that we might understand spiritually what we were being
taught. As the scriptures teach us, "He shall guide you into all
truth." So Jesus teaches us directly and he teaches us through the
preached word, and he teaches us through the leadership of the Spirit in
our readings and experiences.
"That ye put off concerning the former conversation the old
man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts." The old man
and the former conversation or lifestyle is what we have if we do
nothing. The old man and the former conversation must be put off. It
takes an effort on our part to break the old habits and to change the
manner of our lives. If we do nothing we will not change. We must make
an effort to change. Of course we cannot do this by ourselves. We need
the leadership and help of the Holy Spirit if we are going to make the
necessary changes in our lives that we may lead a life that is pleasing
and honoring to God. To this end we should be in constant prayer.
"And be renewed in the spirit of your mind." If we did not
have the spirit of the mind in the new man, we could not be renewed in
the spirit of our mind. The new birth was necessary before action could
occur. Now that we have been born of the Spirit, we should be renewed
in the spirit of our mind. There is a scripture in the book of
Proverbs: Prov. 23:7 "For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he." In
order for our actions to be changed, a change in our mind must first
take place. In the spirit of our mind, we begin to make the change that
will result in the change of our actions and manner of behavior.
"And that ye put on the new man, which after God is created
in righteousness and true holiness." We possess the new man as a result
of the spiritual birth. However, we must take action if we are to have
our behavior after the new man. The new man must be put on if we are to
walk uprightly. When we were born of God by spiritual creation, we
possessed a nature that is created in righteousness and true holiness.
We are to put on this nature in the activities of our life if we are to
live godly lives to the praise, honor, and glory of God. Paul begins to
describe what we are to do in order to put off the old man and put on
the new man in the next several verses of scripture.
4:25-32 "Wherefore putting away lying, speak every man
truth with his neighbour: for we are members one of another. 26 Be ye
angry, and sin not: let not the sun go down upon your wrath: 27 Neither
give place to the devil. 28 Let him that stole steal no more: but rather
let him labour, working with his hands the thing which is good, that he
may have to give to him that needeth. 29 Let no corrupt communication
proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of
edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers. 30 And grieve not
the holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of
redemption. 31 Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour,
and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice: 32 And be ye
kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God
for Christ's sake hath forgiven you."
In most of the above passage, we see something of the old
man being put off and then something of the new man being put on. For
instance, we are to put away lying. In its place we are to speak every
man truth with his neighbor. As members of the body of Christ, we are
to behave ourselves in a fashion befitting that membership. Another
example of this is in verse 28 "Let him that stole steal no more: but
rather let him labour, working with his hands the thing which is good,
that he may have to give to him that needeth." Stealing is to take
something from someone else without their consent. In the place of
stealing we are to work with our hands the thing which is good… Every
one of us should do an honest days work for an honest days wages. But,
our work should go behind just satisfying our own personal needs and the
needs of our family. Our work should also be such that we labor so that
we can also give to him that is in need. We are to work that we may
give to someone that cannot provide for his or her own basic needs.
A third example of putting off and putting on something in
its place is found in verse 29: "Let no corrupt communication proceed
out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that
it may minister grace unto the hearers." We are to put off corrupt,
foul, and destructive speaking out of our mouths. In the place, we are
to speak that which is good, that which edifies others, and that which
ministers grace unto the hearers.
"Be ye angry, and sin not: let not the sun go down upon your
wrath." Anger is a common emotion of the flesh. If anger is held
within us or is acted out by us, then the consequences are that our
wrath will bring us into a state of spiritual darkness in our lives.
While we can come out of this spiritual darkness, it is not a place that
we want to dwell. That is why we need to put away anger once it arises
"Neither give place to the devil." Giving place to the
temptations of the devil will invariably cause to decline into a
lifestyle of sin. We are to resist the devil and the scriptures tell us
that he will flee from us.
"And grieve not the holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are
sealed unto the day of redemption." We are eternally sealed by the Holy
Spirit of God until the day of redemption or the resurrection. While we
cannot break that seal, yet in our daily living we can grieve the holy
Spirit of God by the way that we live. The following are examples of
those who grieved the holy Spirit of God:
1. Gen 6:6 "And it repented the LORD that he
had made man on the earth, and it grieved him at his heart."
2. Psa 95:10 "Forty years long was I grieved
with this generation, and said, It is a people that do err in their
heart, and they have not known my ways:"
3. Psa 78:40 "How oft did they provoke him in
the wilderness, and grieve him in the desert!"
4. Mark 3:5 "And when he had looked round about
on them with anger, being grieved for the hardness of their hearts, he saith unto the man, Stretch forth thine hand. And he stretched it out:
and his hand was restored whole as the other."
5. Heb 3:10 "Wherefore I was grieved with that
generation, and said, They do alway err in their heart; and they have
not known my ways."
6. Heb 3:17 "But with whom was he grieved forty
years? was it not with them that had sinned, whose carcases fell in the
In the above, we see that God was grieved for the wicked
thoughts and actions of men; for the hardness of men's hearts; and for
the unbelief of his people. When we dwell with continual wicked
thoughts in our minds and hearts; and when we carry out sinful practices
in our lives; and when we harden our hearts against the word of God; and
when we abide with unbelief in our hearts of the word of God, then we
are grieving the holy Spirit of God. May God help us not to grieve the
holy Spirit of God.
"Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and
evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice." These are the
type of things that grieve the Holy Spirit of God. In their place, we
are to "And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one
another, even as God for Christ's sake hath forgiven you."