4:17-19 This I say therefore, and testify in the Lord, that ye henceforth walk not as other Gentiles walk, in the vanity of their mind,
Having the understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God through the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart:
Who being past feeling have given themselves over unto lasciviousness, to work all uncleanness with greediness.
Paul’s general audience is once again addressed in verse 17 when he states, “As other Gentiles walk”. Romans 11:13 is Paul referring to himself as the apostle to the Gentiles and in this statement he magnifies his office.
He addresses through most of his epistles that we should “walk worthy” (ex. Colossians 1:10-14). This pattern is kept and he continues to address how this walk should look; particularly to the Gentiles.
It is important to note that this instruction is given “in the Lord”. This instruction is not something that Paul devised. This message is from the Lord through the apostle Paul.
Vanity of mind refers to a mind without any substance. It could be noted that faith is the substance of things hoped for and evidence of things not seen (Hebrews 11:1).
An ignorant mind has little to no faith in God.
Ignorance alienates us from God, yet in contrast, belief and the knowledge of the truth (1 Timothy 2:4) which is in Christ Jesus, brings us into the family of God. Alienation to family is a big jump on a big spectrum that is allowed by the big work of a big God.
This amazing work echos the words of our beautiful Savior in John 8:32,
“And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.”
Free from sin. Free from death. Free from the crooked and unworthy walk that humanity brandishes prior to the transforming work of Christ.
Prior to salvation, the heart is blind and works off of an autopilot. This autopilot is set to carry out fleshly desires.
Nonetheless, Christ saves us from these corrupting desires through His righteousness and grace.
This is partly what it means to be “saved from ourselves”, although there is so much that we should thank God that He saved us.
Ignorance leads to a searing of the mind; which, can be characterized as God allowing people to “have at themselves” and become corrupted. A lot of times, this is the necessary hurt that draws people to Christ and the hope he offers.
God does not inflict the hurt, but rather allows people to the sin they desperately want and desire. Often, this is a necessary condition to realizing what Christ’s Gospel really is saving us from.
“Uncleanliness with greediness” refers to the nature of sin. Greediness (selfishness) was deduced by Ralph Waldo Trine as the “root of all error, sin, and crime, and that ignorance is the basis for all selfishness”.
I know that Trine is not the Bible, yet that statement is impeccably true.
Personally, I cannot think of any sin that does not have its root in selfishness. Often, ignorance of the effects of selfishness is what rationalizes erratic and controlled sin in the mind of a person.
4:20-21 But ye have not so learned Christ;
If so be that ye have heard him, and have been taught by him, as the truth is in Jesus:
Quite simply, we learn of the character, work, and will of Christ through His Word. We learn to hear what He has said, learn what He would have us to learn, and (once again) come to the knowledge of the truth which is only found in Him and His Gospel.
Also, not all of what God has said can be found in the red letters of the Bible.
We can look to the Old Testament and that of the apostles; particularly to the apostle to the Gentiles (Us), Paul.
When Paul makes claims to receive revelation from Christ, that signifies that his message is from Christ and should be regarded as God’s word (Galatians 1:12).
This is one of the many reasons Paul was very protective against the evil adulteration that heretics were trying to add into the Gospel of Jesus Christ (Galatians 1:8-9).
4:22-24 That ye put off concerning the former conversation the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts;
And be renewed in the spirit of your mind;
And that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness.
This portion of Ephesians is not intended to be confusing; nonetheless, it is often avoided and overlooked by Christians because of the terminology.
Paul frequently used terms representing “old” and “new” self to represent the struggle between flesh (old man) and Spirit (new man).
Putting on the new man is us living in the righteousness and holiness of Christ. When we equip the new man, we are transformed by the renewing of our minds.
As we grow in Christ, we are better equipped to pop down the nose of the old man as he attempts to rear his head back up into our lives. We no longer have to gratify fleshly desires and can progressively become more astute spiritually (Galatians 5:16).