‘So I tell you this, and insist on it in the Lord, that you must no longer live as the gentiles do, in the futility of their thinking.’
This suggests that the life of God in us is not automatic. If it is, then there will be no need to enjoin Christians to STOP living as the gentiles do. By the way gentiles as used here or heathens as some other translations used refers to those who do not know God, unbelievers if you like, those who are not born again, who do not know Christ. And the admonition is deliberately designed to achieve a distinction between the life of the child of God and the one who is not. One implication of this scripture is that one could have been a member of the church at Ephesus and still live as the gentiles do. That is cringe worthy, but true. If the gentiles see such a person, they can recognize their lifestyle in him. The only difference they can see between them and he is that he belongs to a ‘sect’, the church.
So the Holy Spirit is speaking through the apostle, and He is saying that we should stop living like the gentiles do. He is actually insisting on the matter. It means that it is a serious matter. The experience of being born again means that you have lost your membership as a gentile. It follows that you must stop conducting your life as they do.
But the key issue here is that the conduct of the gentiles is sponsored by something-it is sponsored by their kind of thinking. …in the futility of their thinking. They live in their thinking, and conduct their businesses there. That wouldn’t have been a problem, except that their thinking is corrupt, it is futile. And being that the thinking is corrupt, it follows that the conduct is corrupt and hence the lifestyle is corrupt, and it feeds into a corrupt worldview. It is a vicious cycle. And this goes on to form entire cultures and traditions that people will spend their entire lives defending.
More often than not we do not understand the far reaching effects of the patterns of thinking we entertain in our lives. Some even try to separate their actions from their thinking, defending it as; ‘it is not actually the way I feel about this’. Truth is that conscious thoughts feed into subconscious mind and the subconscious dictates your lifestyle and habit. The Bible says, as he thinks in his heart, so is he. You cannot separate the man from his thinking. They are one and the same. Do you want to change a lifestyle? An attitude? A character? Then change your thinking. This is why we have to be deliberately think about what we think. Think about what you think. Anytime you are gripped by a thought, take time to scrutinize that thought because it will appear in your life somewhere later as a conduct or attitude.
Vs. 18 of the passage above in the amplified version of the Bible says; their moral understanding is darkened and their reasoning is beclouded… the darkness of the evil world we live in has blinded their eyes from receiving the light of God’s word, and since the word of God is absent in their lives, their reasoning is beclouded. The need to study the word of God is underemphasized everywhere. We mostly do not know that Holy Scriptures is designed to open our minds and enlighten our thoughts so that we can think like God. We read it perfunctorily and lazily as though to fulfil all righteousness. But the original idea is to eat it, digest it fully until it forms the basis for our every thought. That way you become more like God. Book of Romans says to renew your minds so that your life will be transformed. There is no transformation in life; attitude or conduct that is workable if the mindset that sponsors it is not first addressed. If we are born again, but have minds that are not renewed-still thinking like gentiles do-we will continue to walk like the gentiles do, and have the kind of results the gentiles have.
SCRIPTURE REFERENCES: Ephesians 4:17-18; Proverbs 23:7; Romans 12:1-2