In John Stott’s break down of the structure of ‘Ephesians’, he says that God gives people new life, bringing them into a new society in which they have new standards. The section dealing with these ‘new standards’ starts here at chapter four verse seventeen and goes through to chapter five verse twenty.
When you are in Christ you are supposed to live differently (17), and along with the apostolic insistence about this, we are going to see that there is also a divine infilling (Ephesians 5:18) to make it possible. The Christian life begins with repentance which is an ‘about turn’. The word to repent literally means to change your mind. It’s a change of mind leading to a change of behaviour. It is a fact that ‘’futility of thinking’’ lies behind all pre-Christian conduct, and the Bible always connects the dots between the way we think and the way we behave. As we think in our hearts, so are we! That is why you have to repent in order to live the life God is calling you to.
It is imperative to live a new life once you are in Christ. Paul’s language is strong. But his insistence is not his own, but Christ’s: ‘’…I …insist on it in the Lord…’’ The new standards are set by Christ. Indeed they are shaped by who Jesus is. We are intended to be a reflection of Him (20, 21) The call to Christian discipleship is not on a ‘take it or leave it’ basis. We are under orders to live differently. Jesus Christ is ‘’Lord’’ (17).
So before someone becomes a Christian they are ‘’separated from the life of God’’ (18). This is at the heart of being spiritually ‘’dead’’ (2:1); it is to be cut off from God. Someone in that state has a problem with their ‘’thinking’’ (18) and ‘’understanding’’ (18). They are ignorant regarding the most important matters. And not only do they have blind minds, but they also have hard hearts (18b). Most of all this is hardness towards God, but it often shows itself in hard-heartedness towards people. But the loss of ‘’sensitivity’’ is particularly God-ward in direction, and shows itself in doing things that displease Him (19) and wanting to do ‘’more’’ of them.
It’s been said that the last words of (19) could be engraved on the tomb of every materialist: ‘’…with a continual lust for more.’’ Materialism is like drinking sea (salt) water; the more you have, the more you want!
When God raises you from death with Christ, He makes it possible for you to live in a way that is totally different (2:10), and He ‘insists’ that you do.
Prayer: Thank you Lord for setting me free from that old, futile, sin-dominated way of thinking and living.