Ephesians 4:17-24
Think Right

17 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 greediness. 20 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.

The building up of God’s people in love is not just by knowing who we are and where we have been placed in the body of Christ. It involves practical holiness that connects doctrine and life. This is what Paul taught those who came from a very ungodly past and were then positionally seated with Christ in heavenly places. Teaching affects our thoughts. Thoughts affect our faith. Faith affects our living. Our living affects our teaching. Nothing is more lifeless than theory that is not practiced and nothing is more living than the practice of true theory. The practical aspects of holiness in the common things of life: business, home-life and even in pleasure, make true Christianity uniquely attractive to many because it is real. Reality and happiness in every part of life is what most people want.

In order to teach the principles of this new life in Christ, the Ephesians were reminded of the negative side of life and the darkness from which they had been brought. Those who are not believers in Christ are still in the same condition today. There is a godless walk that people are drawn to because of their sinful nature. All unsaved people have the same problem in one way or another. When the mind is blinded, life is aimless and futile. Emptiness is always looking for some way to fill the vacuum when there is no purpose for living. A person knows when there is no real progress in life and we are essentially fruitless. Some wealthy people give money out of their fullness in an effort to produce meaning in life. But that is really just passing on what has been gotten from other people. Fruitfulness is only real when it comes from within us.

Blindness of mind makes a person incapable of understanding spiritual things. When a person rejects the knowledge of God, then everything around is basically an illusion in which we are no more than an accident of some kind of fate. The principle of sin working in a person leads them to go their own way like a lost sheep. Ignorance of God is a choice people make. There is a God-consciousness within every person that has to be deliberately rejected. Those who are ungodly are “like chaff” driven away with a loss of sense, of the knowledge of God by their own choice because they are willfully ignorant.

When not only the intelligence is blinded but also the heart is blinded, people become hard-hearted. They have rejected the light of creation that testifies of God. Their own conscience becomes hard, and when once they felt guilty over what they have done and what they have become, they are now shameless. They overcome the pain of wrong-doing, and accept what once they knew was wrong, as simply “the facts of life.” Because there is no longer a sense of guilt and pain over ungodly practices, they go further down into the paths of “lasciviousness” – sordid behavior. Immoral, depraved practices produce an appetite for those things that are wrong. People find themselves addicted to sexual immorality, pornography and indecent behavior. Indecency continued in, leads to all uncleanness in which people make a business of immoral activity. They seek their pleasure there. Their minds become focused on those things that are wrong. Then they find themselves hooked on evil and perversions that are insatiable. They are never satisfied and their appetite for that which is forbidden is never filled.

In that condition they are judicially condemned by God and in themselves are without hope. That is who the Ephesians believers were before they were saved. Paul wanted them to understand the dangers of thinking like they once did and why it was important for them to understand what they had been brought into . There is no reason to glory in the evils of our past life. It may only attract in our children and other people who are not saved, a desire to do the same things themselves. Our judicial position as believers is not back there in the darkness. “Ye have not so learned Christ.”

What a difference there is between those who are lost, and our Lord Jesus Christ. This is not learning about Christ. This is learning Him as in a personal relationship with one who is alive with whom we share life. All who know the Lord Jesus Christ, know Him to be holy, harmless, undefiled and separate from sinners. We have come to know Him by faith. By the fact of our new nature we want to be like Him and find our joy and purpose of life in Him. By the Word of God we want to follow Him because we know where He leads us is right and blessed. This happens to us when we are taught by Him through the Word of God. We are not left without guidance and understanding as to what life is intended to be when we walk worthy when we worthy of “the calling wherewith ye are called.” Our walk should “be in the light as He is in the light.” So we have been taught by Him.

Now we are to walk in Him. That means our manner of life has changed from what it was in the past. When we were saved by God’s grace, the old man with its nature was put off like a complete set of clothes, and a new change of clothes put on. The past goes with all the garbage and evil that was associated with it in thought, and word, and deed. We need to reckon it dead as God does. However, there is a practical sense in which this must take place. The old way has to be put off completely but that is not enough. Otherwise we are vulnerable to anything that comes along. It is not only off with the old, but it is also put on the new.

This begins with being made new in our minds. “As a man thinketh in his heart, so is he.” “Bring every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ.” Our minds need to be constantly guarded in order to be truly changed from immorality to holiness. When the mind is changed, the actions are changed. The deception of the old is still with us, so we have to deliberately feed our minds and hearts with those things that feed the new man who is clothed in righteousness and holiness. Those things have to be put on by our choice and practiced constantly by our walk.

It is a solid fact that we have been made a new person in Christ. That makes us acceptable by a holy God who intends us to be holy because He is holy. We are created new to be like God. The “new creation” is not to be wishful thinking but an actual fact. When we were made new, the power of a changed mind and changed actions were a spiritual reality. The fact and reality are intended to be one and the same in the lives of God’s people. This new man is how God intends His testimony to be seen by an ungodly world. He still loves sinners but not their sin. He still wants “all men to be saved, and come to the knowledge of the truth.” That truth is that we have been created new to demonstrate Christ to the on-looking world of men and angels.

It was not possible in the past to live as God intended.
The ways of the ungodly world, and grace can not be blended.
Emptiness of mind and darkness of understanding;
Willful ignorance and appetites so demanding
Keeps one who is past feeling, from being attracted by grace,
Until the Spirit of God brought light into that place
Where sin with its chains and unfilled evil demands,
Left nothing left of meaning to meet the needs of man.

Something changed that dark picture, or rather – Someone.
Into the darkness came the glad news of God the Son.
The Christ appointed by God through the Gospel, came near.
Everyone was welcomed who had an ear to hear
That God was in Christ reconciling us to Him.
There is “a way back to God, from the dark paths of sin.”
None need despair, the door is open to all –
Who come in repentance and on the Savior call.

We’ve heard Him through His Word given to us.
We’ve been taught before by Him, He deserves our trust.
We’ve learned from Him when converted, the past is gone.
We’ve received the truth, the saving work is done.
Now the mind is enlightened, we know what is right.
Now in the new man, we walk with Him in light.
Now created new in Christ, life just now begins.
Now in righteousness and holiness, we live in Him.

“Father, for bringing us into this new life that can be lived with purpose and for Thee, I give Thee thanks, in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, Amen.”

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