THE BELIEVER IS TO WALK DIFFERENTLY FROM THE GENTILES
THE BELIEVER IS NOT TO WALK AFTER THE GENTILES, THAT IS, AFTER UNGODLY MEN (v. 17-19). Believers are to pattern their walk after the Word of God, rather than worldly men. To walk not as other Gentiles walk is essentially to not live like the world. Though the term ‘gentile’ certainly has primarily an ethnic connotation—one not a Jew, it also on occasions has a more spiritual sense. It is one who is in the world and unsaved. In so many words, Paul admonished his readers to not be conformed to this world. He then proceeds to enumerate a lengthy list of ways in which the unsaved Gentiles walk. Notice several traits in the lives of unbelievers that we should shun.
1. Unbelievers walk in the vanity of their minds - vs. 17.
The word translated as "vanity" is of note. It has the sense, ‘devoid of truth and appropriateness’ as well as ‘perversity.’ The Apostle thus describes the utter depravity of the human mind. It has been so twisted by sin that it is capable of any evil. Though the world may so live, God’s people are enjoined the opposite.
2. Unbelievers walk having their understanding darkened -- vs. 18.
Paul further describes the clouded condition of the sinful human heart as “having the understanding darkened.” The natural mind has been morally darkened by sin. Again, the greater truth is to not so walk.
3. Unbelievers walk alienated from the life of God - vs. 18.
Furthermore, the unsaved Gentile world has been “alienated from the life of God through the ignorance that is in them.” Because of the spiritual ignorance which prevails, those in the world are separated from that quickening life of regeneration as noted in chapter two.
4. Unbelievers are past feeling; that is, they reach a point where they no longer have feelings for God and His standard of morality - vs. 19.
To be past feeling means to become callous, insensible, hardened. The more a person walks without God, the more callous a person becomes to God. The more a person walks in sin, the more callous his conscience becomes to righteousness. Sin becomes more and more acceptable. The person's conscience no longer bothers him. He reaches a point of being past feeling. The believer is not to return to sin. He is not to walk as other men walk—in sin, becoming callous and insensitive to God.
5. Unbelievers give themselves over to lasciviousness - vs. 19.
The word translated "lasciviousness" has the sense of ‘unbridled lust.’ It connotes all forms of sexual depravity, wantonness, licentiousness, and sexual shamelessness.
6. Finally, unbelievers give themselves over to work all uncleanness with greediness - vs. 19.
The word "uncleanness" means to be dirty and filthy; to be infested with every kind of unclean, immoral, dirty, and polluted behavior. It is the most immoral behavior imaginable. It is unbridled lust turned loose. 1 Thessalonians 4:7 states, "For God hath not called us unto uncleanness, but unto holiness." The word "greediness" means avarice, coveting, craving, grasping, desiring to have more and more; hoarding all one can get and still craving more. It is being enslaved and held in bondage by the things of this earth: for example, food, drink, and a host of fleshly sins and self-centered behavior. Believers are not to walk in such a life. They are not to walk as other men walk.
Tomorrow our focus will be upon verses 20-24. May we determine not to walk as people of the world, but as those who know Christ and His commands.
QUESTIONS TO PONDER
1. What draws a Christian to walk like a Gentile (the way of the world)?
2. How does a heart become hardened?
3. What thoughts come to your mind when you hear the word "vanity"?
4. What happens when Christians walk like unbelievers? Who is affected?
Your Friend and HIS,