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.Ephesians 4:17
In the opening verses of the fourth chapter of Ephesians, the apostle has been dealing with the nature of the church and the part each Christian has to play in its operation and growth. But now, with verse 17, he turns to the Christian in relationship to an unbelieving world. Though this account was written almost two thousand years ago, it is impossible to read this thoughtfully without seeing that the world today is exactly the same, and the Christian's reaction to it must be exactly the same.
You [Christians] must no longer live as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their thinking. Paul is saying,
The place to start in living as a Christian is to recognize you must think differently than the world does. He does not start with actions. He starts with the thought-life, with the mind, and he declares that the world's thinking is empty. This is the vital appeal that he makes to Christians,
You must not think like the worldling does, you must not adopt the world's philosophy of living or follow the world's systems of value. Why?
Because the worldling, he says,
lives in futility, emptiness of mind.
The word futility means
void of purpose or appropriateness, or pointless. If this is true, you can see why there is such a fundamental cleavage between Christianity and the world and why the Lord Jesus drew a distinct line of demarcation between the world and the Christian in the areas of thinking, direction, and destiny. This is why the Scriptures tell us that a Christian cannot love the world and the Father at the same time (1 John 2:15). There is a fundamental difference between the two. This is why
friendship with the world, in the words of James,
is enmity with God (James 4:4 RSV).
Fallen people pride themselves on their ability to reason. We consider this the highest function of humanity and take great pride in the human ability to ferret out knowledge and to put various items of knowledge together to produce practical gadgets. We point with pride to the technological perfection of our modern developments, to the skill with which science has harnessed the forces of nature and made them the servants of humanity. Humans exalt their reason, but in the eyes of God human reasoning is empty and vain.
But see how the apostle brings Christians face to face with the fundamental issue? Either God is right or the world is right. It cannot be both. Christians must choose on which basis they are going to live their lives. Those who choose to follow Christ must be willing to change their thinking. When you become a Christian, this is the first issue you face. You must be willing to have your whole fundamental outlook on life drastically altered. Christianity is not merely a change in outward actions or a bit higher moral or ethical level. Christianity is a revolutionary change of government that results in a radical change in behavior.
Lord, change my thinking, because growth and change begin there. Teach me to think not in accord with my own human instincts but with the truth as it is revealed in Your Word.
The world prides itself on its growing knowledge apart from God. Since human reasoning apart from God is empty & vain, do we need to change our outlook on life?