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Walking in Purity, pt. 1

Ephesians 4:17-25



This chapter begins talking about walking in unity, and now advances to walking in purity.  Walking in unity applied directly to our relationship with the church, and our fellow members.  Walking in purity applies more directly to our relationship with the lost world around us.  We are in the world but not of the world.


We have something to put off, to put on, and to put away.


vv. 22, 24, 25


Living the Christian life right does not happen by accident.  Our nature will never find the right way on its own.  That’s why we don’t have to teach kids to do wrong…they find that naturally. 


We have to make changes on purpose.  And Christians must be doers of the Word, and not hearers only.  This is why the key word in this section is 'walk', because we are translating our talk into a practical walk.  Doctrine is becoming daily practice now.


Eight times in this new section we see the words wherefore and therefore.  Because Paul is saying that we learned this doctrine, and soooooo, we act it out in this way.


We only truly believe that which we 'behave.'  In other words, only what we put into daily practice becomes a part of us.  Head knowledge does nothing for us if it doesn't lead us to change.


ill.--2 preachers argued about the best translation of the Bible.  It was the NIV vs. the KJV.  They went round and round.  An old, wise preacher chimed in which was the best translation:  "Neither...for the best translation is when you translate it into daily practice!"


Our problem isn't knowing what to do...it's doing what we know.


v. 17        'walk not as other Gentiles' = the lost world.  Saved people ought to live like saved people.  There should be a distinct difference that the world can see.  And it's not that we think we are better than them, or come across 'holier than thou', but you can't be saved from so much by such marvelous grace and it not make a difference...we are to walk worthy!


Notice that this command is made in the negative.  'Walk not...'  As believers we are supposed to be positive people.  I like to think positively...why it CAN be done, and look on the up side of things.

ill.--a man was too positive...floods came, and he was on top of his roof awaiting rescue.  A neighbor came by in a rowboat and said, "Looks like all your chickens drowned."  He said with a southern drawl, "Yes, but my ducks are fine since they can swim!  "Oh, but your corn crop will fail now."  "Yes, but they said it was gonna be a very poor one anyhow."  "Look man, the water is up over the windows of your house!"  "I know it, praise God, ‘cuz they shore did need a warshin'!"

        That's a little too positive.  And part of the gospel making a positive change in us is facing some negative challenges at times, like what to do away with, and what to give up, and what not to do!


'Walk not as the lost world...'


It all begins in the mind.

v. 17c      'walk...in the vanity of their mind'

        Wrong thinking leads to wrong living.  Every sin is preceded by a process of wicked thinking. 


Several times our passage uses the word 'mind' or 'understanding', and talks about ignorance and learning.  Get the point? 


If we want to walk differently then we must think differently. 


Vanity = futile, without direction, full of empty illusion.  Doesn't that describe our world today? 


Henry David Thoreau, "We are constantly seeking improved means to unimproved ends."


All this technology and it is killing us and our schedules.  All this transportation and yet we still bite off way more than we can chew...we can't get there on time because we're going too many places.  So many time saving techniques that we run out of time using them.


ill.--Greyhound driver drove tour group for several days without a word, then came on the intercom:  "The bad news is, I have no idea where we are...the good news is, we're making great time!"


Our world is on a treadmill to nowhere...futile, empty illusion!


v. 18a      They think and walk in darkness.  And funny thing is, they think they are enlightened, by ignoring the “archaic” teachings of God's Word and seeking after the latest philosophies of the day.  In actuality he is groping in darkness.  And so he doesn't think clearly, and can't really understand the world around him.  He is not rational nor coherent spiritually, but in his mind he is going far...but it's a road to nowhere.


Sin gives us spiritual brain damage.  That lobe of the brain is born in dysfunction.  This doesn't mean we can't think intellectually, but it DOES explain why some otherwise brilliant people can come to believe the far fetched ideas that they do.  [Hamas massacre]


3 great questions of man:  Where did I come from?  Why am I here?  Where am I going?  And if you stand on a false premise [no God] and try to answer those questions you are going to miss the boat! 


You don't come to hold to the theory of evolution by being a 'whole-brainer'.  Only a person using part of their brain could get there.  The other lobe has to be darkened...shut down, blocked off.  [By the way, Christians don't have to shut down the intellectual part of their brain to believe in God and His creation!]  Walking in the light means walking in the light of truth, all truth, even scientific truth, which is also on our side!


ill.--if I told you that a printing press exploded and the fallout landed on this shelf in the form of a dictionary...just how darkened would your thinking have to be to believe that?  What dark motives must you possess to bring yourself to WANT to believe that myth so much?


The lights are off because no one is home!


Another example:  Freedom of choice, which says, I don't want to kill my baby, but if you want to kill yours, that's ok for you.  How can otherwise bright people believe such a thing?  They are darkened.  They say, 'What about rape or incest?'

        How can someone be so concerned with a woman and her right and not the unborn baby?  How can a person get to the point of executing the baby instead of executing the rapist?  Only thru spiritual darkness!


When you reject God and His Word you are groping and grasping for truth in the dark! 


Romans 1:21-22
21 Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened.
22 Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools,


Next:  Walking in darkness leads to walking in hardness.

v. 18        'blindness' can be translated 'hardness'.  It's a description of a calloused, hard place.  Sin produces emotional hardness.


The Savior seeking sinner is softened, and they find what they are looking for.  But the sin seeking scoundrel is hardened, and nothing can crack the shell. 


You take that hardened person that comes to mind - and go back in time - there was a time when they were soft, and could cry, and their heart could be touched...but they said no to God so much that darkness led to hardness! 


Even Christians can choose to sin, and it's tough the first time, but it gets a little easier as you continue, until eventually your eyes are darkened and your heart is hardened as well.  Maybe you are playing around with some sin like a toy, and it no longer bothers you as it once did. 


ill.--a girl intends on staying pure, but makes a mistake one night, and she goes home trembling, cannot even look her parents in the eye, and promises never to do that again, but temptation comes again, and she yields again, and it's not as bad this time, and eventually, it's not bad at all.


ill.--a man takes a drink, and then the drink takes a drink, and then the drink takes the man. 


ill.--the first time you steal, it's like everyone is looking at you, and eventually, in your mind, even God can't see, or if He does, He's ok with it.


Sometimes God has to step in and do something drastic to wake us up and soften the clay.


v. 19        'being past feeling'

What if you could no longer hear the promptings of the Holy Spirit?  What if you can't hear it now?


"Preacher, I use to get so much out of your messages."

        Has my preaching worsened, or has the Word lost it's power, or is something wrong with you?


Darkness leads to hardness and concludes in lewdness.


v. 19        'lascivious' means without shame.  Having no shame.  Things that used to embarrass you do not any longer.  Some things you used to hide you now don't, or maybe even boast about them!


ill.--discuss social media and public lewdness and lack of shame.


What can we do about our world walking in darkness, hardness, and lewdness?  We can walk in purity!

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