Sunday, 18 September 2016
…who, being past feeling, have given themselves over to lewdness, to work all uncleanness with greediness. Ephesians 4:19
As we analyze this verse, think of the world in which we live. Think of those who it describes and the position they hold within our society. They will be analyzed at the end in relation to the verse.
The “who” of this verse is giving a description of “the rest of the Gentiles” of verse 17 who had been alienated from God and blinded in verse 18. Paul now describes what state those actions result in. He says they, “being past feeling,” have come to a state of perversion which is the normal result of life without God. The single word, from which “being past feeling” derives, indicates the cessation of feeling pain. It is only used here in the New Testament and it is being used to express a sense of having no shame or empathy at all. The person simply ceases to care about anything morally upright.
Paul also says they “have given themselves over to lewdness.” The word translated as “have given themselves over” is used when speaking of Christ giving Himself up for the world. It is also the same word used in Romans 1:24 which speaks of God giving the reprobate up to uncleanness. When a person gives himself up to evil, then their Creator gives them over to the power of evil. It is a synergistic occurrence. There is a complete surrender on one part, and thus there is a complete letting go on the other.
This giving over is to “lewdness.” The Greek is a word which indicates “violent spite which rejects restraint and indulges in lawless insolence (wanton caprice)” HELPS Word Studies. Anything perverse and disgusting is pursued with reckless abandon. In this attitude, it becomes evident that any who do not follow their path would then be considered outside of what is now normal. Their lawlessness becomes the standard of law.
Paul next says that these people are set “to work all uncleanness with greediness.” The word for “work” here indicates a trade or a business. The immoral working of these people actually stands as their life’s work and goal. Just as a carpenter works in carpentry as his life’s means of expression, the immorality of these people stands for the very expression of who they are. It is as if they wake up in the morning and put on “uncleanness with greediness.”
The “uncleanness” stated here speaks of ritual impurity. When a person is in this state, they are unacceptable to bring offerings to God. They have become defiled and outcasts from anything sacred. It is as if they have an open and running infection, or they have been in direct contact with a corpse – the highest penalty for sin being death – and thus they are utterly defiled.
The word for “greediness” is commonly translated as “covetous.” They have and they want more. They grasp after uncleanness as if it is a treasure to be found and put on display. The NKJV says “with greediness,” but in Greek it is en (in) greediness. It is their very state of mind to act wickedly and to hunger after more wickedness.
It should be noticed in this verse that it doesn’t say they have become stupid, as if their blindness has destroyed their intellectual capacity to reason. Rather, he focuses on the moral degradation which their state leads to. This is the most dangerous place of all. They have the intellectual ability to think, but they do not use it for reason. Instead, they use it for that which is wholly perverse and which stands in opposition to God.
Having looked at the substance of the words, and having been asked to evaluate who these words describe, have any examples come to mind? It is as obvious as it could be in today’s world that those on the left, the so-called “progressives,” are being minutely described. They wantonly seek after the destruction of human life through abortion, and yet they are past feeling with regard to the murder of that life. It becomes a sensation to count the dead and then to add more to the list.
They promote every sexual vice known to man, and they force it on everyone around them. That which is wholly vile and vulgar is that which they proclaim as morally just. In so doing, they make those who follow the proper moral path to be outlaws. If their stand is argued against, they use the political and judicial process to silence their opponents.
They work their iniquity as if drinking in water, and they spew out their vile behavior in open sight of the world through movies, public displays of sensuality, and even through the use of the news media. Impurity is their state of mind and they are wholly unclean to God. And yet they continue down their path of vile behavior, being self-condemned and yet reveling in this path to perdition.
A more fitting description of those on the left could not be found anywhere in the world today, and yet Paul wrote about them over 2000 years ago. The ways and paths of man are seen at all times in those who reject God and who pursue this aberrant course of moral perversity to its logical end.
Life application: The closer you associate yourself with the “progressives” of the world, the more wicked and unclean you will become. Tying oneself into their path ultimately results in a tie which becomes harder and harder to sever. Think carefully on who you support for one reason or another, and rather look at their overall agenda. Do you stand with God? Then stand apart from those who are wholly opposed to Him.
Lord God, Your word tells us that when we are separate from You, we follow a natural course of all that which is opposed to You. Respect for human life is lost; wanton immorality increases; moral perversion becomes acceptable, and those who oppose it become the perceived “lawbreakers” of the world. Isn’t that where we are in society now? Help us to cast off these unclean and despicable leaders and to restore righteousness, before it is too late. Help us to make the right, godly, and moral stand against the perverse. Give us the intestinal fortitude to stand up and say, “No more!” to these agents of wickedness. To Your glory alone, help us to live out our days in godliness. Amen.