“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.” (Ephesians 4:17 (ESV)
Today’s text is reminiscent of Ephesians 4:1: “I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called.” Not only are believers to live in a worthy manner evidencing God’s sovereign call unto their salvation, but also to no longer live like the unbelieving world of which they once belonged.
In his personal communication to the Ephesian believers, the Apostle Paul invoked his apostolic authority when he wrote, ““Now this I say and testify in the Lord.” Paul was not just communicating to these Gentile believers in Christ on a personal level, but he was also testifying on behalf of the sovereign God of the universe. What he would go on to say carried with it the supreme authority of God. Therefore, what Paul would write was not to be ignored then, nor is it to be ignored now.
Believers in Christ are to no longer live as they once did when they were unconverted. To no longer walk (περιπατέω; peripateo) is a present, active infinitive verb. It means to no longer behave in a certain or particular way. It refers to how one perpetually conducts their life and living.
Believers in Christ are to no longer walk as the Gentiles do. The word Gentiles is a euphemism for heathen or pagan. A Christian is to live a holy life (I Peter 1:13-16; Colossians 3:1-4). The Ephesian believers, who were Gentiles (2:1–2, 11–12), were to no longer live as they once did and as their unconverted neighbors and loved ones were still living. They were to no longer be conformed to this fallen world (Romans 12:1-2).
Paul described the unconverted life as being futile of one’s thinking. Futility (ματαιότης; mataiotes) means useless and empty (Romans 1:21; 8:20; 2 Peter 2:18). Proper and healthy thinking entails receiving God’s revelation which guides people into proper conduct. People will not live correctly if they are not thinking correctly.
Dr. John MacArthur writes, “First, unbelievers are intellectually unproductive. As far as spiritual and moral issues are concerned, their rational processes are distorted and inadequate, inevitably failing to produce godly understanding or moral living. Their life is empty, vain, and without meaning (cf. Rom. 1:21–28; 1 Cor. 2:14; Col. 2:18).”
This text so applies to our world today. We witness so many unspeakable acts of violence and unrighteousness. The only way for these things to ultimately be overcome is by the truth of the Gospel and its subsequent impact in the converted sinner’s life.
Let us resolve to follow God’s direction from today’s text. In what ways has the world influenced your thinking? Ask God to give you a renewed mind through a daily of Scripture. Have a blessed day.
Soli deo Gloria!