The Futility of Our Modern Ephesus

I found another interesting random Bible verse generator right here.  It’s probably not truly “random”, but I know the real deal, while being more comprehensive, might also be less helpful in the construction of a blog post.  Let’s go!

Eph 4:17

Now this I say and testify in the Lord, that you must no longer walk as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their minds.

Paul starts out the phrase with “Now this I say” as to refer to the preceding verses which talk about the unity of the Body of Christ being the under-girding truth beneath this verse.   But he also says that it’s not merely him saying it, but that it’s coming from God.  Paul’s mission is not merely to offer advice but to “testify in the Lord.”

If Scripture (or anything for that matter) was built essentially on the power of men speaking truth into each other’s lives, men would be the highest form of wisdom in the universe and thus be acting as gods.  But this is not the case.  James 1:17 tells us that “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights.”

James also points out that of the Giver, “there is no variation or shadow due to change.”  So we are truly blessed because our God is always good.  Believers build their lives on the unshakable rock (Matt 7:24) and have no reason to question the future love of our Father.  But if our hope was in the shallow aim of men as gods, we don’t have a prayer!

So Paul makes the claim that we are to be unified by the Holy Spirit and because he is speaking on behalf of God, the Ephesian Christians are not to, “walk as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their minds.”  Now what Paul is talking can necessarily mean any number of things.

Consider Romans 8:7-8

For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God’s law; indeed, it cannot. Those who are in the flesh cannot please God.

So the will of the unbeliever is entirely bent away from God and can only constantly sin.  This is a terrifying notion.  But let’s narrow the focus down to sexuality because it’s probably the most profaned of God’s gifts to us both in Paul’s time and in ours.  In the ancient world there were temples where you could “worship” with prostitutes and our day is not too far off.

We are not merely fixated on sex, we are willing to destroy others for the unbridled pursuit of a nebulous “sexual fulfillment.”  It would also seem that sexual sin is the primary demon behind today’s all too common broken homes, shattered marriages, and the hardening of the upcoming generation.

Instead, we are told to not live like them.   We are to be in the world, but not of it (John 17:15-16).  Consider what Jesus said about sex in Matt 19:4-6:

He answered, “Have you not read that he who created them from the beginning made them male and female, and said, ‘Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’? So they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate.”

This is a terribly high calling and very unpopular in the world’s eyes.  One man and one woman for life.  This is the only way that God’s Word speaks about sex and the world has put forth numerous deviations.  Are we to batter the world because they disagree and look to the wisdom of men as gods?  No, we are to speak over them with grace (Col 4:5-6).  But we also cannot change or amend what God said about sex.  If we do, we are encouraging them into slavery.  Jesus said in John 8:34:

Jesus answered them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who practices sin is a slave to sin.

Why would we do that?  And for ourselves as believers, why would we want to be enslaved again?  God loves us and wants the best for us.  He is perfectly wise and His commands are a delight to be stored in our hearts.  How different would our lives be if we just lived by that?

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