When a Christian’s understanding of who they truly are in Christ is darkened or limited through legalism or lack of correct teaching, their natural tendency of going through this life is to act like the rest of the world. Self, becoming first over others; rules becoming more important than relationship; and desire to have what the things of this world has over the spiritual things what God wants them to have.
Ephesians 4:17-19, 17, 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, 18 having their understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God, because of the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart; 19 who, being past feeling, have given themselves over to lewdness, to work all uncleanness with greediness.
These verses only make sense when you understand what a Gentile is from the Jewish perspective. In the body of Christ even those who are born Jewish, but have not accepted Jesus as their Lord and savior are as Gentiles; the uncircumcised in the heart. In the Old Testament the children of Israel were the ones chosen by God to receive the Law of Moses. It was through the tribe of Judah that their messiah, ours as well, was to be born which is Jesus. To the Jew everyone else in the world was considered a Gentile, a person without God or even access to God. Those who were not born of the children of Israel were left on their own, searching for the God hole in their hearts, but had no understanding who He was or how to look for Him. Every human has this emptiness inside which is why people, as a whole, are looking for something bigger than themselves to believe in. There are hundreds of gods worshiped in one form or another around the world, and consequently each has its own set of rules on how to worship. Walking by faith in what Jesus has done instead of a set of rules and walking in love, not only for each other but for everyone, are the two primary differences between Christianity and the rest of the religions in the world. Making up your own rules, living by situational ethics, and humanism is the futility of the mind that Paul is speaking of. We now know the truth, or at least have access to it. By building ourselves up in the Lord where we are no longer tossed to and fro by every wind and doctrine. Christians should no longer try to ascend to God in their mind or their actions which is useless. (Romans 8:7, “Because the carnal mind is enmity against God; for it is not subject to the law of God, nor indeed can be”.) A person cannot think or reason or work their way into heaven, much less into a right standing with God. Ezekiel 33:13 and Romans 3:10 assure us that there is no one righteous, not one. There is only one way to become righteous and have salvation. (Romans 10:8-10)
Why do people in the world act like they do, living only for the moment and desires of their fleeting thoughts and wants; because their conscience has been seared by the blindness of their heart. We all lived for ourselves before coming to Jesus, but once we become born again we should purpose to walk in a Christ like manor. Satan started a lie and much of the church has believed it in one form or another that we must first clean ourselves up before we can come to God. John 3:16 is the final answer to that lie. In the story of the prodigal son found in Luke chapter 15, when the father saw the son coming from afar, he ran to his son, fell on his neck and received him back. The father then put his ring and coat on his son as a sign of restoration from losing all of his inheritance from prodigal living. This is the picture of God’s love for all people. As soon as we turn toward Him and begin our journey home, He runs to us and restores us. It is God that will clean us up; all we need to do is be willing to make the small changes as He reviles them to us. We must understand that the blood of Jesus paid for all of our sins past, present, and future. Jesus is forever making intercession for us in heaven at the right hand of God. Put your hope in God and He will lift you up. (James 4:10)
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