Friday, 16 September 2016
This I say, therefore, and testify in the Lord, that you should no longer walk as the rest of the Gentiles walk, in the futility of their mind, Ephesians 4:17
In verses 4:1-3, Paul began a practical application for our Christian walk. That was then laid aside for the next 13 verses as he moved into a doctrinal analysis of the unity of the various parts which make up the church. With that complete, he now reverts back to his practical application of what our spiritual walk should entail.
“This I say, therefore” is stated as a summary thought concerning that doctrinal analysis of the previous 13 verses. The structure is:
- Walk this way (verses 1-3)
- Message of unity of the various parts (verses 4-16)
- Based upon verses 4-16, you now know the reason that you should walk this way.
To bolster his proclamation, he next says, “and testify in the Lord.” He is speaking as the Apostle to the Gentiles with the authority of the Lord Jesus. He is “in the Lord” in a unique position which allows him to speak with authority concerning these now-saved Gentile believers. All of this is for the practical application of their life-walk based upon the inserted comments in verses 4-16. Those words were given to show them that they were not aliens to the covenant, but they are included in it; they were not outside the house of God, but they are a part of it; they are not servants within the family of God, but are rather sons through adoption.
Paul notes to them that because of this unity, “you should no longer walk as the rest of the Gentiles walk.” They had been accepted into the family of God; they were now a part of the living temple of God; and they were members of the covenant community with full rights and benefits to be derived from this standing. Their Christian life was to be a pilgrimage and a journey in this world. Thus, they should not be like the other Gentiles who were outside of what God is doing in the church. The others walk “in the futility of their mind.”
This “futility” will be explained in the next two verses. It is also what Paul wrote in the first chapter of his letter to the Romans, starting with Romans 1:18. He also writes about it elsewhere in his epistles. The Greek word which is translated as “futility” indicates a type of aimlessness because there is no final purpose or meaningful end. The walk of the Gentiles is a walk of nonsense because it is that of a transitory existence which ends without any hope. Paul is saying to them that in Christ, this is no longer the case.
Life application: What is a vain existence? Choose any Hollywood idol. They are handsome or beautiful; they are rich and famous; they have everything that could be desired from a worldly standpoint; and yet they have no end purpose and thus no hope. They marry and divorce with alacrity. They drink heavily and often turn to homosexuality or some other perversion, trying to fill a void which can never be filled apart from Christ. In Christ, we have our void filled. The things of this world no longer seem pleasing, and our walk is directed anew to the eternal. How marvelous it is to know that there is more than just a temporary walk of futility, ending in oblivion..
Marvelous, majestic, wonderful God – thank You for the hope we possess in Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.