Yesterday a friend of mine posted (paraphrased): “Folks please learn WHO you are in Christ Jesus, and learn HOW to take that authority!! Jesus has already won the battle … we just need to learn to utilize that VICTORY!!! Satan is counting on your ignorance!” This summer we studied Ephesians but today I want to speak about a portion of it.
Paul lays bare the moral misery of life without the saving grace of God. He mentions six layers of corruption that, apart from the saving work of Christ, make us utterly unacceptable to God and without hope.
- First, he says in verse 18 that our root problem is hardness of heart.
- Second, this hardness against God darkens the understanding (v. 18).
- Third, the result of this darkness is a gross ignorance of reality (v. 18)—even if I have three doctoral degrees and know 10,000 facts, I am ignorant if I do not know the divine meaning or the purpose of those facts, and how they relate to the great things of eternity.
- Fourth, being ignorant of the true value of things in relation to God and eternity, I yield naturally to covetousness and licentiousness (v. 19), that is, my desires go after the wrong things, or after all things in the wrong way. None of my desires has a proper relation to God, and so they are all ruined.
- This leads, in the fifth place, to a life of futility (v. 17). Nothing of any eternal significance is accomplished. Life is one big ash heap of wasted weeks and years. There is no service to the King of Ages, and so it is all meaningless in the end—like a man who works hard planting trees and landscaped flower gardens in a new housing project and then watches them get bulldozed because he was just doing his own thing and never consulted the master plan for where they belonged. There is only futility in the end without relating all you do to God.
- The sixth layer of our corruption, and the one that seals our hopelessness without some mighty work of salvation, is mentioned in verse 18, namely, that we are alienated from the life of God. Our hardness and darkness and ignorance and licentiousness and futile behavior are the marks and motions of living dead men—like Jesus said, “Let the dead bury their dead!” (Luke 9:60). And like Paul said of self-indulgent widows: “She is dead even while she lives” (1 Timothy 5:6). Alienated from the life of God. Dead in trespasses and sins (Ephesians 2:1), “having no hope and without God in the world” (2:12).
Everyone of us is in that condition until the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ breaks in and melts the hardness, and dispels the darkness, and unites us to the life of God and makes us new creatures through faith in Christ.
So Paul says, “No longer live in the futility of your mind!” Life need not be—must not be—futile any more. Then he gives the reason why we can no longer live like the Gentiles in futility: “But that is not the way you learned Christ!—assuming that you have heard about Him and were taught in Him, as the truth is in Jesus” (Eph. 4:20-21).
Before you can escape from all the hardness and darkness and futility of the old life, you have to hear the voice of Jesus and in response to His voice enter His school to be taught by Him as a trusted master. His voice is the power that breaks through all the hardness and darkness and ignorance and wakens you from the hopelessness of death.
Once you hear the quickening voice of Jesus, you must, as Paul says, be taught in Him as the truth is in Jesus. You must gladly and heartily enroll in the school of Christ. Christians who have been awakened by the voice of Jesus, have been given a new eternal life within and who are now in the school of Christ waiting and eager to be taught how to live, no longer like the Gentiles in the futility of their minds (v. 17) but like new creatures whose lives are full of meaning and hope and joy. We are ready to get off of Ignorance Blvd, and begin our new life in the knowledge of our Savior. Tomorrow we will talk about what that life looks like.