by John D. Morris, Ph.D.
“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 to lasciviousness, to work all uncleanness with greediness.” (Ephesians 4:17-19)
In verses 1-3, Paul encourages believers to “walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called, With all lowliness and meekness, with longsuffering, forbearing one another in love; Endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.” This humble, patient, loving, peaceful walk contrasts sharply with the walk described in our text.
The walk of those outside Christ is characterized by “the vanity of their mind”—empty, futile thinking. The same word for “vanity” is used elsewhere for those who deny the obvious evidence for creation, who “became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened. Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools” (Romans 1:21-22). They are ignorant and blind, our text says, with darkened understanding and a blind heart. This has led them into a position of alienation from God, dead to any prompting they might receive from within or without. The result of such a mindset is a shameless, reprobate lifestyle, full of lasciviousness, uncleanness, and greediness.
Thankfully, we “have not so learned Christ” (Ephesians 4:20). We are to be “renewed in the spirit of [our] mind” (v. 23) and walk aright. “Walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us” (5:2). “Walk as children of light” (5:8). “Walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise” (5:15), “filled with the Spirit” (5:18). Our Creator promises us an inward “new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness” (4:24). JDM