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. 18 They are darkened in their understanding, alienated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, due to their hardness of heart. 19 They have become callous and have given themselves up to sensuality, greedy to practice every kind of impurity.” (Ephesians 4:17–19 (ESV)
The Apostle Paul encouraged the Ephesian believers to no longer live the way they used to live. To do so is living with a futile mindset that is not befitting of a regenerated believer in Christ.
Paul then goes on to more fully describe the fallen world, and the spiritual condition of unbelievers, as being one of alienation from God due to their inward ignorance and hardened heart.
Thirdly, the apostle states that the fallen world of the unconverted are callous, sensual and greedy. This is a spiritual condition for which they are personally responsible.
To be callous (ἀπαλγέω; apalgeo) means to lose the feeling of shame for one’s thinking and behavior. They have lost all sense of embarrassment or humiliation for their sinfulness.
Sensuality (ἀσέλγεια; aselgeia) refers to extreme immorality or licentious behavior. Licentiousness is a word hardly used any longer. It means to be sexually reckless, decadent, and depraved. Note that the unconverted actively give themselves up to this type of behavior and lifestyle.
Greediness, or to be greedy (πλεονεξία; pleonexia), means to be covetous and exploitive of other people. It is taking advantage of others (2 Cor. 9:5; 2 Peter 2:3, 14). The unconverted become so filled with greed that they practice (ἐργασία; ergasia) or engage in every kind of impurity (ἀκαθαρσία; akatharsia) or immorality.
Nineteenth century theologian Charles Hodge wrote, “Men in their folly think that morality may be preserved without religion and even that morality is religion; but reason, experience and Scripture all prove that if men do not love and fear God they give themselves up to vice in some form and commonly either to uncleanliness or avarice.”
Soli deo Gloria!