They are darkened in their understanding, alienated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, due to their hardness of heart. They have become callous and have given themselves up to sensuality, greedy to practice every kind of impurity.
(Ephesians 4:18-19 ESV)
In the first three chapters of Paul’s letter to the Ephesians he lays out spiritual facts that are true of every believer. Then, beginning in chapter 4 and continuing through the end of the letter, he discusses practical application of these truths. Over the past couple of days Paul has been contrasting the lives of those who are God’s children and those who are not.
Yesterday we learned that the thinking of atheists and those who believe in false gods (non-believers) is futile. In today’s passage Paul explains why that is. Non-believers are futile in their thinking because of a series of decisions they have made. Through the use of the words “due to” and “because” Paul works backwards through these decisions to arrive at the root cause of their faulty thinking.
This root cause is the hardness of heart. Non-believers have hardened their heart towards God. They have held on to their innate pride to the extent that it blinds them to the truth of who they really are (ignorance that is in them). This ignorance has alienated them from God. Without being connected to God their understanding of themselves and what life is all about is darkened. All these steps culminate in the futile thinking mentioned yesterday.
Once again we see that God always appeals to our minds, not our emotions. Christianity is not a feel-good-about-me religion that is based on emotions or the power of positive thinking. In fact, it is just the opposite. The things that God tells us about ourselves in the Bible are not pleasant to hear. No one likes being told they are greedy. Or that they are selfish. Or arrogant. Or are headed for hell. But we are.
Hearing these things offends us, proving that Christianity does not appeal to man’s emotions. It appeals to our intellect. But pride – hardening of our hearts – will blind us to these truths. It is only with humility that anyone can gain true wisdom [Proverbs 11:2].
As such, non-believers give themselves over to damaging practices such as sensuality (sexual sin), greed, and other activities that are harmful, all the while thinking these are the proper things to be doing with one’s life. Despite a plethora of evidence to the contrary, our culture advocates these self-indulgent behaviors as pragmatic. Even so-called experts will espouse these behaviors in the name of healthy psychology. The world is living a lie and they don’t know it.
Christianity is about a relationship with God in which He reveals truth to us, in a loving way, such that we can make rational and beneficial choices. God is all about knowledge. If we know the truth we can live the truth. If we do not know the truth we live lies thinking they are truth. And that is futile.
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