On Good Authority

With the Lord’s authority I say this: Live no longer as the Gentiles do, for they are hopelessly confused. 18 Their minds are full of darkness; they wander far from the life God gives because they have closed their minds and hardened their hearts against him. 19 They have no sense of shame. They live for lustful pleasure and eagerly practice every kind of impurity.

20 But that isn’t what you learned about Christ. 21 Since you have heard about Jesus and have learned the truth that comes from him, 22 throw off your old sinful nature and your former way of life, which is corrupted by lust and deception. 23 Instead, let the Spirit renew your thoughts and attitudes. 24 Put on your new nature, created to be like God—truly righteous and holy.

25 So stop telling lies. Let us tell our neighbors the truth, for we are all parts of the same body. 26 And “don’t sin by letting anger control you.” Don’t let the sun go down while you are still angry, 27 for anger gives a foothold to the devil. – Ephesians 4:17-27 [NLT]

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Taken in the Wonders Of Wildlife National Museum & Aquarium | Springfield, MO | October 2019

I couldn’t believe my ears. The man – a member of the church I was serving at the time – sat in my office. It was mid-morning, and he was matter-of-fact in his speech and demeanor. “I’m leaving my wife and moving to [another town]. I know it’s wrong, but I’m going to do it.” I was so stunned I didn’t know what to say. How do you respond to someone so brazen? Whatever he wanted from me, I’m still not sure. I certainly couldn’t give him permission. Nor could I stop him.

Paul speaks to the Ephesian Church and says, “With the Lord’s authority I say this: Live no longer as the Gentiles do, for they are hopelessly confused.” To my mind, “confused” is putting it mildly. The ESV has, “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.” 

Futility of mind or hopelessly confused: our way of life as followers of Jesus is to be nothing like that. There ought to be a difference. We must not go along with the rest of the world. We must not ignore God’s ways of faith, truth, and love.

Closed minds, and darkened hearts show up in many ways. An attitude of superiority and a haughty outlook toward others can often be seen by those who reject God’s ways. They may offer as nodding condescension toward people who believe God is Creator and one to whom we must give an account. They might make fun of those who refuse to go along with the so-called fun or excesses of the holiday season.

But they are hopelessly-confused. They are functioning with futile minds. Let’s be different. Let’s not be afraid to stand out. Let’s not be intimidated when others try to undercut our faithful obedience. We have it on good authority that God’s ways are true, good, and worth standing for.

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