Ephesians 4:17 – Now this I say and testify in the Lord, that you must no longer walk as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their minds. 18 They are darkened in their understanding, alienated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, due to their hardness of heart

The other day I posted about Christian people being different from the world in which they find themselves. We are a counter-culture within a culture. We live for Jesus Christ and that is very different.

Ephesians 4:17 and 18 tell us that such different living begins in the mind. As the old preacher said “You know where Jesus was crucified? At the place of the skull”. And the sanctified life of the church, separate and different from the culture where we reside, begins in the mind.

Verse 17 – you must no longer walk as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their minds – non-believers think with futility – their minds are fruitless. This doesn’t mean they are stupid or have nothing to offer the culture. It just means that ultimately all that they have produced through their thinking will accomplish nothing. They are headed nowhere. They think that money, sexual expression, career achievement, health, kindness to others, a happy family life… is what will make them more fully human, more satisfied, more complete, or make the world a better place. They think that by parading in public with the blessing of the powers that be and the ability to be open is what they are lacking. It is sad and pathetic and heart breaking. And far too many people who think they are Christian have bought into it.

Verse 18 – they are darkened in their understanding – they call right wrong and wrong right. “Ah”, they say “here is the problem. We have been suppressed. We have been forced to hide. We have been forced to lie. If we can only legalize and codify and become mainstream then all will be well. If only people would like us. If only abortion were seen as moral. If only we could teach our young people in school that they can decide for themselves who they are, what their orientation is …. the problem is unacceptance. The problem has been that we have been forced into a closet”. They think that peace can come through politics, hunger can be ended through taxation, and hatred can be overcome through legislation.

Verse 18 – the ignorance that is in them – The hardness of their hearts has made them ignorant of truth. The Gospel does not make sense. It is seen as stupid, backward, harsh, unworthy of thinking people and bought into by those who do not think.

Now, what is the solution to such thinking? Is God calling us here to make people think right? What does Paul tell the Ephesians – and us –  to do in light of the false thinking that surrounds them? What does he tell them to do in light of their culture and the pressures that it puts on them? How is the church to respond?

Well, look at Ephesians 4:20 – 5:7

It all boils down to the opening sentence of verse 17 – Don’t walk like that. Walk differently

4:1 – I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called,
4:17 – Now this I say and testify in the Lord, that you must no longer walk as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their minds.
5:2 – And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.
5:8 – for at one time you were darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light
5:15 – Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise

Note it well. The first call upon the church as it lives its life out in a godless world is not to yell at the world. It is not to get together in our little holy huddles and shake our heads and ask what in the world the world is coming to. It most certainly is not to start prognosticating about how we are in the last days. And it is not to gripe about bad laws and the lack of morality in our leaders and seek to bring Christianity back to the place of prominence that it deserves.

The world is what it has always been since the fall.

Genesis 6:5 The Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually,

And what God calls the church to do in the face of a godless world, a godless culture and a godless promotion of godlessness – is to be, by the power of God’s grace – different. And being different starts in the way we think.

Hebrews 12:1-2 – 12 Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, 2 looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.
Romans 6:11 – 11 So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus.
Philippians 4:8 – 8 Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.
I Corinthians 14:20 – 20 Brothers, do not be children in your thinking. Be infants in evil, but in your thinking be mature.
Hebrews 3:1 – Therefore, holy brothers, you who share in a heavenly calling, consider Jesus, the apostle and high priest of our confession,
Hebrews 10:24 – 24 – And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works,
Hebrews 11:26 – 26 He considered the reproach of Christ greater wealth than the treasures of Egypt, for he was looking to the reward.
Philippians 3:15 – 15 Let those of us who are mature think this way, and if in anything you think otherwise, God will reveal that also to you.
II Timothy 2:7 – 7 Think over what I say, for the Lord will give you understanding in everything.

The grace of God can even change the way we think. Are we trying to live a God pleasing life while not feeding our minds Gospel truth? Do we pray to do better, be better and then feed our heads things that will take us in the opposite direction of our prayers? When was the last time you prayed to think properly? We are commanded to love God with all our minds. What – in the world – are we feeding your mind? What entertainment feeds the way we think? What books, education, entertainment gets the job of shaping the way you think? There are simply too many thoughtless believers. There are too many believers whose thinking is no different from the culture that moulds them.

And then, after Paul has revealed that the problem with the ungodly is that their minds are twisted out of shape by sin and sinful hearts, he tells the church what we should be doing. See what verse 20 says

But that is not the way you learned Christ!

Learn Christ properly – get your head and heart right.

And then Paul gives a whole list of instructions regarding the Christian life. The solution to being swallowed up by a sinful culture – is to have our heads screwed on right by the Gospel of grace and as a result be too busy doing good, by God’s grace, for God’s glory.

Now then – if you actually made it to the very end, here is your prize. Dylan singing his “Change My Way of Thinking” written during his brief Christian period. The lyrics are different from the original but it’s still not bad.

Change my way of thinking, make myself a different set of rules
Change my way of thinking, make myself a different set of rules
Put my best foot forward, stop being influenced by fools

I’m sittin’ at the welcome table, I’m so hungry I could eat a horse
I’m sittin’ at the welcome table, I’m so hungry I could eat a horse
I’m gonna revitalize my thinking, I’m gonna let the law take its course

Jesus is calling, He’s coming back to gather up his jewels
Jesus is calling, He’s coming back to gather up his jewels
We living by the golden rule, whoever got the gold rules

The sun is shining, ain’t but one train on this track
The sun is shining, ain’t but one train on this track
I’m stepping out of the dark woods, I’m jumping on the monkey’s back

I’m all dressed up, I’m going to the county dance
I’m all dressed up, I’m going to the county dance
Every day you got to pray for guidance
Every day you got to give yourself a chance

Storms are on the ocean, storms out on the mountain, too
Storms are on the ocean, storms out on the mountain, too
Oh Lord, you know I have no friend like you

I’ll tell you something, things you never had you’ll never miss
I’ll tell you something, things you never had you’ll never miss
A brave man will kill you with a sword, a coward with a kiss

Read more: http://www.bobdylan.com/us/songs/gonna-change-my-way-thinking#ixzz2YAmIuc3P

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