Study Notes

Ephesians 4:17-19


Paul began chapter four by saying that we need to walk in a manner worthy of our calling. Remember, that means to weigh the same as. We need to make sure our Christian walk is the same weight as our Christian profession. Without that, he said, we will not have unity in the church. Now, verse 17 begins with the statement,

Eph. 4:17 This I say therefore...

In other words, "Because you will not have unity until you walk in a manner worthy of the calling, I'm giving you the following exhortation..."

4:17-19 Affirm Together With The Lord

It's not just Paul, but the Lord Himself, saying, "Hey church, walk worthy." One thing to keep in mind when reading the Bible is that you don't get to discount the writings of people you don't like. There are people who say, "I don't read the book of Revelation, because John was old and probably just having psychotic delusions. I don't read James because I think he was a legalist. I don't like Paul because he was a male chauvinist and an intolerant homophobic."

The fact is, when you reject those writings, you're rejecting God.

2Pet. 1:20-21 But know this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture is {a matter} of one's own interpretation, for no prophecy was ever made by an act of human will, but men moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God.

God has established the entire Bible, line upon line, precept upon precept (Isa. 28:10-13). The whole counsel of God (Acts 20:27) is to be believed and received. Paul is reminding us here, "Hey, it's not just me, it's the Lord speaking, and I'm just agreeing."

The Gentiles' Walk

What was God saying? That we aren't to walk as the Gentiles walk. In Paul's day, the majority of mankind had completely rejected God's way. They had pursued various passions, all of which we see prominent in Americans today.

Futility Of Mind

He says that they walked in the futility of their mind. The word "futility" there means "anything that is inappropriate, anything that is perverse, depraved, or devoid of truth." The Bible says that man's false religion (Acts 14:15; Titus 3:9; 1Pet 1:18) and man's wisdom (1Cor. 3:20) are futile, because they are twisted, rejecting God's Word, His will, and His way.

Darkened In Their Understanding

When someone gives their mind over to futility, their understanding is darkened. The cartoon symbol for understanding is a lightbulb appearing over someone's head. "Bing! The light just went on! Now I get it!" When a person lets their mind focus on the inappropriate and perverse things of this world, the light bulb never comes on. Things just get darker and darker, and they never understand the life that God wants for them. They just don't know it.


This is where their ignorance comes from. It's not that Muslims or Buddhists are dumb. It's not that evolutionary scientists aren't smart. It is that their pursuit of futility darkens their understanding, which causes them to become full of ignorance. Interestingly, the word ignorance is "AG-noy-ah," from which we get our word "agnostic." It means to have a lack of knowledge. There are people who say, "I am an agnostic, I have no knowledge of God's existence."

Excluded From The Life Of God

When a person's understanding is darkened, having lost all knowledge of God, they end up being excluded from the life of God. But Jesus desires the opposite for you. He said,

John 10:10 "The thief comes only to steal, and kill, and destroy; I came that they might have life, and might have {it} abundantly."

Jesus wants you to have an abundant life with Him, not to be excluded from it. But it has to be on His terms, not yours. We have to hear what He says, and what His plan is. If we reject that, we shouldn't expect any kind of abundant life.

Hardness Of Heart

The scary thing about rejecting God's plan is that the result is hardness of heart. You see, the Bible says that hearts are hardened when God's commands are rejected. Pharaoh heard God's command through Moses, and when he rejected it, his heart was hardened.

Even believers' hearts can be hardened when they hear the Word of God and don't do it, or don't believe it. Hard hearts grieve Jesus (Mark 3:5), so when believers let their hearts be hardened, Jesus reproaches them for it (Mark 16:14). That's why we are warned,

Hebr. 3:7-8 Therefore, just as the Holy Spirit says, "TODAY IF YOU HEAR HIS VOICE, DO NOT HARDEN YOUR HEARTS..."

Callousness And Sensuality - Impurity With Greediness

When hearts are hardened, they become callous. That word means, "separated from the ability to feel, cease to feel pain or grief, apathetic."

God created us to be feeling. To feel the warmth of love in friendship and marital intimacy, as well as to feel bad about doing wrong. But when a heart is hardened against God, the ability to feel becomes less and less. A person, desiring to feel something, will begin to do extreme things to feel. They give...

Eph. 4:19 ...themselves over to sensuality, for the practice of every kind of impurity with greediness.

Sensuality: "unbridled lust and excess." Doing things that are impure, and doing it with "greediness," which is literally, "a greedy desire to have more."

When a person hardens their heart against God, they diminish and extinguish the ability to feel. Thus, many begin to go to excess to try and feel something, anything. That's why so many people in our society are looking for satisfaction through drugs, through promiscuous sex, even extreme sports and reality television - because of their need to feel. It is why serial killers commit such sick and twisted crimes, and why so many things seem to be crossing the line in this generation - it takes more and more to get a reaction, to make our society feel anything.

Today, if you find yourself going to more extreme ends just to feel, it is time to turn to Jesus Christ, who will soften your heart, open your eyes, and give you the abundant life that you're missing.

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