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Darlene

Ephesians 4:17-19

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Holy Father,

 

Last night when I was laying in bed talking with You, all of a sudden something hit me...I was thinking about Your Word, and the power contained therein...thinking about what an honor it is, to walk into Your presence, whenever we want, through Your Word.

 

Up until recently, it was a book that I've always known is important, and knew I should read, and on occasion, would. There were also many, many times I would avoid reading it because I didn't want to know, didn't want to see...I wanted to live in my 'lala land', oblivious to it all...

 

Now, I crave it. Now I want more, more, more. I've even had thoughts of doing the rest of the Ephesians study, and saving them in Word, to copy and paste online as the days go by, but I'm not. There is just too much fullness, too much that needs to rest and sink in, that I'd be short circuiting myself by trying to do it all in one days.

 

Anyway Father, I love Your Word. I'm in awe at thinking how opening the bible is an act of walking into Your presence. You reside there, I sense it, I know it...Your words are alive so I ask Father God, that You would transplant those words, that knowledge, that understanding from the pages of my bible, into my heart, and grow them Lord.

 

 

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;

 

Calvin writes, "This I say therefore. That government which Christ has appointed for the edification of his church has now been considered. He next inquires what fruits the doctrine of the gospel ought to yield in the lives of Christians; or, if you prefer it, he begins to explain minutely the nature of that edification by which doctrine ought to be followed.

 

That ye henceforth walk not in vanity. He first exhorts them to renounce the vanity of unbelievers, arguing from its inconsistency with their present views. That those who have been taught in the school of Christ, and enlightened by the doctrine of salvation, should follow vanity, and in no respect differ from those unbelieving and blind nations on whom no light of truth has ever shone, would be singularly foolish. On this ground he very properly calls upon them to demonstrate, by their life, that they had gained some advantage by becoming the disciples of Christ. To impart to his exhortation the greater earnestness, he beseeches them by the name of God, — this I say and testify in the Lord, — reminding them, that, if they despised this instruction, they must one day give an account.

 

As other Gentiles walk. He means those who had not yet been converted to Christ. But, at the same time, he reminds the Ephesians how necessary it was that they should repent, since by nature they resembled lost and condemned men. The miserable and shocking condition of other nations is held out as the motive to a change of disposition. He asserts that believers differ from unbelievers; and points out, as we shall see, the causes of this difference. With regard to the former, he accuses their mind of vanity: and let us remember, that he speaks generally of all who have not been renewed by the Spirit of Christ.

 

In the vanity of their mind. Now, the mind holds the highest rank in the human constitution, is the seat of reason, presides over the will, and restrains sinful desires; so that our theologians of the Sorbonne are in the habit of calling her the Queen. But, Paul makes the mind to consist of nothing else than vanity; and, as if he had not expressed his meaning strongly enough, he gives no better title to her daughter, the understanding. Such is my interpretation of the word διανοία; for, though it signifies the thought, yet, as it is in the singular number, it refers to the thinking faculty. Plato, about the close of his Sixth Book on a Republic, assigns to διανοία an intermediate place between νόησις and πίστις but his observations are so entirely confined to geometrical subjects, as not to admit of application to this passage. Having formerly asserted that men see nothing, Paul now adds, that they are blind in reasoning, even on the most important subjects.

 

Let men now go and be proud of free-will, whose guidance is here marked by so deep disgrace. But experience, we shall be told, is openly at variance with this opinion; for men are not so blind as to be incapable of seeing anything, nor so vain as to be incapable of forming any judgment. I answer, with respect to the kingdom of God, and all that relates to the spiritual life, the light of human reason differs little from darkness; for, before it has pointed out the road, it is extinguished; and its power of perception is little else than blindness, for ere it has reached the fruit, it is gone. The true principles held by the human mind resemble sparks; but these are choked by the depravity of our nature, before they have been applied to their proper use. All men know, for instance, that there is a God, and that it is our duty to worship him; but such is the power of sin and ignorance, that from this confused knowledge we pass all at once to an idol, and worship it in the place of God. And even in the worship of God, it leads to great errors, particularly in the first table of the law.

 

As to the second objection, our judgment does indeed agree with the law of God in regard to the mere outward actions; but sinful desire, which is the source of everything evil, escapes our notice. Besides, Paul does not speak merely of the natural blindness which we brought with us from the womb, but refers also to a still grosser blindness, by which, as we shall afterwards see, God punishes former transgressions. We conclude with observing, that the reason and understanding which men naturally possess, make them in the sight of God without excuse; but, so long as they allow themselves to live according to their natural disposition, they can only wander, and fall, and stumble in their purposes and actions. Hence it appears in what estimation and value false worship must appear in the sight of God, when it proceeds from the gulf of vanity and the maze of ignorance."

 

Henry states, "The apostle having gone through his exhortation to mutual love, unity, and concord, in the foregoing verses, there follows in these an exhortation to Christian purity and holiness of heart and life, and that both more general (v. 17-24) and in several particular instances, v. 25-32. This is solemnly introduced: "This I say therefore, and testify in the Lord; that is, seeing the matter is as above described, seeing you are members of Christ's body and partakers of such gifts, this I urge upon your consciences, and bear witness to as your duty in the Lord's name, and by virtue of the authority I have derived from him." Consider,

 

I. The more general exhortation to purity and holiness of heart and life.

 

1. It begins thus, "That you henceforth walk not as other Gentiles walk—that for the time to come you do not live, and behave yourselves, as ignorant and unconverted heathens do, who are wholly guided by an understanding employed about vain things, their idols and their worldly possessions, things which are no way profitable to their souls, and which will deceive their expectations." Converted Gentiles must not live as unconverted Gentiles do. Though they live among them, they must not live like them."

 

Clarke states, " Walk not as other Gentiles walk] Ye are called to holiness by the Gospel, the other Gentiles have no such calling; walk not as they walk.

 

In this and the two following verses the apostle gives a most awful account of the conduct of the heathens who were without the knowledge of the true God. I shall note the particulars.

 

1. They walked in the vanity of their mind, en mataiothti tou noov autwn? In the foolishness of their mind; want of genuine wisdom is that to which the apostle refers, and it was through this that the Gentiles became addicted to every species of idolatry; and they fondly imagined that they could obtain help from gods which were the work of their own hands! Here their foolishness was manifested."

 

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:

 

Calvin writes, "Being alienated from the life of God. The life of God may either mean what is accounted life in the sight of God, as in that passage,

 

“they loved the praise of men more than the praise of God,”

(John 12:43,)

 

or, that life which God bestows on his elect by the Spirit of regeneration. In both cases the meaning is the same. Our ordinary life, as men, is nothing more than an empty image of life, not only because it quickly passes, but also because, while we live, our souls, not keeping close to God, are dead. There are three kinds of life in this world. The first is animal life, which consists only of motion and the bodily senses, and which we have in common with the brutes; the second is human life, which we have as the children of Adam; and the third is that supernatural life, which believers alone obtain. And all of them are from God, so that each of them may be called the life of God. As to the first, Paul, in his sermon at Athens, says, (Acts 17:28,) “In him we live, and move, and have our being;” and the Psalmist says,

 

“Send forth thy Spirit, and they shall be created; and thou wilt renew the face of the earth.” (Psalm 104:30.)

 

Of the second Job says,

 

“Thou hast granted me life, and thy visitation hath preserved my spirit.” (Job 10:12.)

 

But the regeneration of believers is here called, by way of eminence, the life of God, because then does God truly live in us, and we enjoy his life, when he governs us by his Spirit. Of this life all men who are not new creatures in Christ are declared by Paul to be destitute. So long, then, as we remain in the flesh, that is, in ourselves, how wretched must be our condition! We may now form a judgment of all the moral virtues, as they are called; for what sort of actions will that life produce which, Paul affirms, is not the life of God? Before anything good can begin to proceed from us, we must first be renewed by the grace of Christ. This will be the commencement of a true, and, as the phrase is, a vital life.

 

On account of the ignorance that is in them. We ought to attend to the reason which is here assigned; for, as the knowledge of God is the true life of the soul, so, on the contrary, ignorance is the death of it. And lest we should adopt the opinion of philosophers, that ignorance, which leads us into mistakes, is only an incidental evil, Paul shews that it has its root in the blindness of their heart, by which he intimates that it dwells in their very nature. The first blindness, therefore, which covers the minds of men, is the punishment of original sin; because Adam, after his revolt, was deprived of the true light of God, in the absence of which there is nothing but fearful darkness."

 

Henry writes, "The apostle takes occasion to describe the wickedness of the Gentile world, out of which regenerate Christians were snatched as brands out of the burning. [1.] Their understandings were darkened, v. 18. They were void of all saving knowledge; yea, ignorant of many things concerning God which the light of nature might have taught them. They sat in darkness, and they loved it rather than light: and by their ignorance they were alienated from the life of God. They were estranged from, and had a dislike and aversion to, a life of holiness, which is not only that way of life which God requires and approves, and by which we live to him, but which resembles God himself, in his purity, righteousness, truth, and goodness. Their wilful ignorance was the cause of their estrangement from this life of God, which begins in light and knowledge. Gross and affected ignorance is destructive to religion and godliness. And what was the cause of their being thus ignorant? It was because of the blindness or the hardness of their heart. It was not because God did not make himself known to them by his works, but because they would not admit the instructive rays of the divine light. They were ignorant because they would be so. Their ignorance proceeded from their obstinacy and the hardness of their hearts, their resisting the light and rejecting all the means of illumination and knowledge."

 

Talk about nailing it on the head.

 

Father God, yes, this is how I have been, yes, I've been obstinant, my heart has been hard, I've been ignorant by choice...and yet, You are faithful. You no more took one look at me and said "fine! if that's what you want", but instead said over and over and over again, "Darlene, come to Me, I am the life, I am the fullness, I am the completeness your soul starves for..."

 

So now, I sit here, allowing You to remove these blinds that have been over my eyes, I'm starting to see although everything is still so blurry. My heart wants to burst from the center of my chest and fly away with You.

 

I've been feeling like a child, finding myself in Your presence, saying to myself, "oh my gosh, I didn't know...I never knew...I can never go back..." Crying out to You Lord, saying, "don't let me go, give me more, accelerate this process, this maturation, I need it NOWNOWNOW". My soul was wasting away and I ran around this world trying to fill it with anything I thought might help and yet intuitively I knew it wasn't working. I'd hear Your voice and think, "noooooooooooooooooooooo, I don't want to be this 'preconceived idea in my head of how You'd make me be'..." It scared me and I ran with all my might from the very thing I've been begging You now, to give me...

 

I need to know You, I need to be close to You, I need to be in Your holy presence. I need to know how to love You, I need to have all this stupid stuff in my head that is driving me crazy, and have it birthed with Your mighty force into my heart...

 

Nononononononononononoooooooooooooooo...I can't live the ways of my past anymore, I need more and more and more of You. To some, this may sound a little maniacle, but Lord, You know how my heart is pressing towards You, needing You, wanting You, and I just can't say that it's not.

 

So, Lord, I want to remind You of a promise You've given in Your Word. I want to claim that promise for me, and for all of us, because You promised.

 

In Exodus 33 Moses had a conversation with You, and You made him promises and promises to Your people. I'm Your child, I belong to You, so Father, I ask and take this promise You gave all those years ago...

 

In part, it is Written, "You have said, 'I know you by name and you have found favor with me.' 13 If you are pleased with me, teach me your ways so I may know you and continue to find favor with you. Remember that this nation is your people."

14 The LORD replied, "My Presence will go with you, and I will give you rest."

 

15 Then Moses said to him, "If your Presence does not go with us, do not send us up from here. 16 How will anyone know that you are pleased with me and with your people unless you go with us? What else will distinguish me and your people from all the other people on the face of the earth?"

 

17 And the LORD said to Moses, "I will do the very thing you have asked, because I am pleased with you and I know you by name."

 

18 Then Moses said, "Now show me your glory."

 

19 And the LORD said, "I will cause all my goodness to pass in front of you, and I will proclaim my name, the LORD, in your presence. I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion."

 

Oh, Father God let us be in Your presence. Let Your Spirit continue to woo our hearts and draw us nearer to You. I don't understand very much Lord, but the one thing I do know is that right now, I just need to be close to You...You will teach the rest, You will instruct, You will reveal, and I am at peace with that, but Lord, if You are not with us, then none of it matters. So I thank You and praise You cause I do sense Your presence. Don't ever let us pull away Father, hold us close. I cannot trust myself, but I can trust You, with me.

 

Your Word was true for Moses and the House of Israel, and it's true for me, and us, as Your Gentile children, whom You have now called, and given provision for this relationship with you, through Jesus.

 

Clark comments, "2. Having the understanding darkened] This is the second instance alleged by the apostle of the degradation of the Gentiles. Having no means of knowledge, the heart, naturally dark, became more and more so by means of habitual transgression; every thing in the Gentile system having an immediate tendency to blind the eyes and darken the whole soul.

 

3. Being alienated from the life of God] The original design of God was to live in man; and the life of God in the soul of man was that by which God intended to make man happy, and without which true happiness was never found by any human spirit: from this through the ignorance that was in them, dia thn agnoian thn ousan, through the substantial or continually existing ignorance, which there was nothing to instruct, nothing to enlighten; for the most accurate writings of their best philosophers left them entirely ignorant of the real nature of God. And if they had no correct knowledge of the true God they could have no religion; and if no religion, no morality. Their moral state became so wretched that they are represented as abhorring every thing spiritual and pure, for this is the import of the word aphllotriwmenoi (which we translate alienated) in some of the best Greek writers. They abhorred every thing that had a tendency to lay any restraint on their vicious passions and inclinations.

 

4. Blindness of their heart] dia thn pwrwsin? Because of the callousness of their hearts. Callous signifies a thickening of the outward skin of any particular part, especially on the hands and feet, by repeated exercise or use, through which such parts are rendered insensible. This may be metaphorically applied to the conscience of a sinner, which is rendered stupid and insensible by repeated acts of iniquity."

 

Thank You for showing me Lord, where I have been, and why.

 

19. Who, being past feeling, have given themselves over unto lasciviousness, to work all uncleanness with greediness.

 

Calvin writes, "Who being past feeling. The account which had been given of natural depravity is followed by a description of the worst of all evils, brought upon men by their own sinful conduct. Having destroyed the sensibilities of the heart, and allayed the stings of remorse, they abandon themselves to all manner of iniquity. We are by nature corrupt and prone to evil; nay, we are wholly inclined to evil. Those who are destitute of the Spirit of Christ give loose reins to self-indulgence, till fresh offenses, producing others in constant succession, bring down upon them the wrath of God. The voice of God, proclaimed by an accusing conscience, still continues to be heard; but, instead of producing its proper effects, appears rather to harden them against all admonition. On account of such obstinacy, they deserve to be altogether forsaken by God.

 

The usual symptom of their having been thus forsaken is — the insensibility to pain, which is here described — being past feeling. Unmoved by the approaching judgment of God, whom they offend, they go on at their ease, and fearlessly indulge without restraint in the pleasures of sin. No shame is felt, no regard to character is maintained. The gnawing of a guilty conscience, tormented by the dread of the Divine judgment, may be compared to the porch of hell; but such hardened security as this — is a whirlpool which swallows up and destroys. As Solomon says,

 

“When the wicked is come to the deep, he despiseth it.”

(Proverbs 18:3.)

 

Most properly, therefore, does Paul exhibit that dreadful example of Divine vengeance, in which men forsaken by God — having laid conscience to sleep, and destroyed all fear of the Divine judgment, — in a word, being past feeling, — surrender themselves with brutal violence to all wickedness. This is not universally the case. Many even of the reprobate are restrained by God, whose infinite goodness prevents the absolute confusion in which the world would otherwise be involved. The consequence is, that such open lust, such unrestrained intemperance, does not appear in all. It is enough that the lives of some present such a mirror, fitted to awaken our alarm lest anything similar should happen to ourselves.

 

Lasciviousness (ἀσελγείᾳ) appears to me to denote that wantonness with which the flesh indulges in intemperance and licentiousness, when not restrained by the Spirit of God. Uncleanness is put for scandalous enormities of every description. It is added, with greediness. The Greek word πλεονεξία, which is so translated, often signifies covetousness, (Luke 12:15; 2 Peter 2:14,) and is so explained by some in this passage; but I cannot adopt that view. Depraved and wicked desires being insatiable, Paul represents them as attended and followed by greediness, which is the contrary of moderation."

 

Henry writes, "Their consciences were debauched and seared: Who being past feeling, v. 19. They had no sense of their sin, nor of the misery and danger of their case by means of it; whereupon they gave themselves over unto lasciviousness. They indulged themselves in their filthy lusts; and, yielding themselves up to the dominion of these, they became the slaves and drudges of sin and the devil, working all uncleanness with greediness. They made it their common practice to commit all sorts of uncleanness, and even the most unnatural and monstrous sins, and that with insatiable desires. Observe, When men's consciences are once seared, there are no bounds to their sins. When they set their hearts upon the gratification of their lusts, what can be expected but the most abominable sensuality and lewdness, and that their horrid enormities will abound? This was the character of the Gentiles;"

 

And finally, Clarke's comments reveal, "5. Who being past feeling] oitinev aphlghkotev. The verb apalgein signifies, 1. To throw off all sense of shame, and to be utterly devoid of pain, for committing unrighteous acts. 2. To be desperate, having neither hope nor desire of reformation; in a word, to be without remorse, and to be utterly regardless of conduct, character, or final blessedness.

 

Instead of aphlghkotev, several excellent MSS. and versions have aphlpikotev, being without hope; that is, persons who, from their manner of life in this world, could not possibly hope for blessedness in the world to come, and who might feel it their interest to deny the resurrection of the body, and even the immortality of the soul.

 

6. Have given themselves over unto lasciviousness] Lasciviousness, aselgeia, is here personified; and the Gentiles in question are represented as having delivered themselves over to her jurisdiction. This is a trite picture of the Gentile world: uncleanness, lechery, and debauchery of every kind, flourished among them without limit or restraint. Almost all their gods and goddesses were of this character.

 

7. To work all uncleanness with greediness.] This is a complete finish of the most abandoned character; to do an unclean act is bad, to labour in it is worse, to labour in all uncleanness is worse still; but to do all this in every case to the utmost extent, en pleonexia, with a desire exceeding time, place, opportunity, and strength, is worst of all, and leaves nothing more profligate or more abandoned to be described or imagined; just as Ovid paints the drunken Silenus, whose wantonness survives his strength and keeps alive his desires, though old age has destroyed the power of gratification:-Te quoque, inextinctae Silene libidinis, urunt: Nequitia est, quae te non sinit esse senem.

 

Fast., lib. i. v. 413.

 

Thee also, O Silenus, of inextinguishable lust, they inflame; Thou art old in every thing except in lust.

 

Such was the state of the Gentiles before they were blessed with the light of the Gospel; and such is the state of those nations who have not yet received the Gospel; and such is the state of multitudes of those in Christian countries who refuse to receive the Gospel, endeavour to decry it, and to take refuge in the falsities of infidelity against the testimony of eternal truth."

 

Holy Father,

 

This has been where I've lived, on and over these many years. From total and wreckless abandon into the things that are displeasing to You, to running back towards You because somewhere deep inside, I knew. I knew, and later learned, with a depth I cannot describe, that the wages of sin, truly is death.

 

It's true...my rebellion really does deserve the righteous wrath of the Holy One. I spit at the Cross in my selfish desires. I, of course, would like to write of these things less offensibly, I don't like seeing the truth of who I was. It hurts, it makes me sad, it's embarassing. But how can I ever understand the fullness of You, the fullness of what Christ did for me on Calvary, if I'm not honest of where my self will LEFT me.

 

In return for my rebellion, my sin, my running away from You, You in turn wrapped Your Holy Arms around me with love and tenderness...You started to show me that there really is a way, so I peeked out from the hole I had dug and caught glimpses of You. Those glimpses started taking my breath away, they started grabbing onto my heart and compelling me. Those glimpses of Your glory and power are what strengthened me and carried me to where I sit today. Craving more of You, refusing for anything less. Wanting the whole package or wanting none of it...it HAS to be one way or the other and You have chosen this moment, this time in my life, to reveal all that I've always been so blind to.

 

I don't know what I'm doing with all this, I'm just talking to You honestly from my heart. I trust You to sort it all out and to teach me what all of this means, what You are doing, with me, and us.

 

Open our eyes Lord, remove those callouses from our hearts, let the most tender and vulnerable places inside connect and rest against Your purity, Your goodness, Your love, all that is meaningful, all that You meant for us, all that You gave us in Jesus.

 

Let the single minded focus that I exerted trying to block You out continue to become the single minded focus of blocking everything out, BUT You.

 

In Jesus Name,

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Wonderful study!

 

Quote:
“they loved the praise of men more than the praise of God,”

(John 12:43,)

 

This wraps it all up for me...how the sin of idolatry can poison our souls to the truth that is in Christ. Until we recognize that and let go of our focus on created beings rather than the Creator, even good intentions can lead us astray.

 

This takes it even further...

 

Quote:
Henry writes, "The apostle takes occasion to describe the wickedness of the Gentile world, out of which regenerate Christians were snatched as brands out of the burning. [1.] Their understandings were darkened, v. 18. They were void of all saving knowledge; yea, ignorant of many things concerning God which the light of nature might have taught them. They sat in darkness, and they loved it rather than light: and by their ignorance they were alienated from the life of God. They were estranged from, and had a dislike and aversion to, a life of holiness, which is not only that way of life which God requires and approves, and by which we live to him, but which resembles God himself, in his purity, righteousness, truth, and goodness. Their wilful ignorance was the cause of their estrangement from this life of God, which begins in light and knowledge. Gross and affected ignorance is destructive to religion and godliness. And what was the cause of their being thus ignorant? It was because of the blindness or the hardness of their heart. It was not because God did not make himself known to them by his works, but because they would not admit the instructive rays of the divine light. They were ignorant because they would be so. Their ignorance proceeded from their obstinacy and the hardness of their hearts, their resisting the light and rejecting all the means of illumination and knowledge."

 

Talk about nailing it on the head.

 

Again, the result of not having Christ as the center of one's life.

 

Thanks so much for this study, Darlene. You've blessed my day with it...

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That part about the calluses developing out of continued use jabbed me. Lord God, never let us forget who You are.

 

Another scripture that came to mind is John 3:19

 

'This is the judgment, that the Light has come into the world, and men loved the darkness rather than the Light, and does not come to the Light for fear that his deeds will be exposed.'

 

Thank you so much for this powerful testimony of the Living God. Is 66:2 says 'But to this one I will look, To him who is humble and contrite of spirit and who trembles at my word'.

 

I think He means it.

 

Father God, We simply stand together before You in agreement with Darlene's prayers and the wonderful work you are doing in her life. We thank You now for the fruit that will surely come from Your great work by Your hand. Amen.

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