At the end of the day the Church has only herself to blame for the loss of civil elections that pertain to moral/biblical issues and candidates. Lacking in evangelistic zeal, church folks cannot expect unregenerate people to vote biblically. Those who reject the author of Scripture cannot be expected to accept the precepts of His Book. Unbelievers, then, routinely vote for the wrong things – this week’s passage will serve to explain why.
Accepting Jesus into one’s heart is the beginning of a personal relationship with God (cf. Romans 6:4, 2Corinthians 5:17, and Galatians 2:20); and the Bible says that when you possess a personal relationship with God you become indwelled by the Holy Spirit who simultaneously leads you into all truth – He illuminates your mind!
Ephesians 4:17-20 aptly underscores why illumination to God’s truth is not the case with unbelievers; it should come as no surprise that non-believers vote the way they do…. Accordingly, what most benefits every Christian public servant, in the long run, is getting others saved! Things will go better at the voting booth, and America, if we are first about evangelism!
In its closest context, Ephesians chapter 4, verses 17-20 are an exhortation to directly connect the behavior of the believer to the doctrine of the believer. That is what the segue So this I say (NASB) means at the start of the passage. The NKJV conveys that particular idea perhaps a bit more explicitly when it says, “So this I say, therefore…” signaling that what is about to be said is based on what has already been said.
In the broader context, when the Holy Spirit regenerates the believer, in reality there is an imputation of newness of life. One is “born again” in a spiritual sense. The gist of Paul’s meaning in this passage is that God has redeemed the believer (“for our citizenship is in heaven” Phil. 3:20) therefore the believer’s thinking, understanding, behavior and actions – which include voting – should be drastically different than that of someone who is unregenerated by the Holy Spirit. Even though believers remain “in the world” post salvation, they are not to live worldly lives, which includes voting for worldly things (cf. John 15:19).
What follows then, are biblical characteristics of unregenerate individuals – characteristics that should no longer be a part of the believer’s life. When you study what follows in Ephesians 4:17- 20, you will see quite easily why such individuals have difficulty casting votes for things that are so biblically explicit and simple to understand. The passage for study follows….
So this I say, and affirm together with the Lord, that you walk no longer just as the Gentiles also walk, in the futility of their mind, 18being darkened in their understanding, excluded from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, because of the hardness of their heart; 19 and they, having become callous, have given themselves over to sensuality for the practice of every kind of impurity with greediness. But you did not learn Christ in this way….
Paul’s lead-in statement, So this I say [therefore], and affirm together with the Lord, that you walk no longer just as the Gentiles also walk… uses the Greek word for walk as a metaphor to describe the ongoing lifestyle of the believer after they have been saved. The believer is commanded to walk no longer like the Gentiles ethnos. The Greek word ethnos has the idea of “other peoples in the world.” Paul is referring to pagans – in our application, those who are unregenerate and ungodly. What follow are four characteristics of “people of the world,” characteristics that should be foreign to those walking in and with a new nature, who are in Christ – in other words of similar descriptiveness, as Paul says near the close of the passage, those who have learned Christ.
As you study what follows, compare yourself to the four characteristics of the unregenerate and ask yourself if these describe you? Hopefully you have learned Christ, that is to say you have accepted Him as Lord and Savior and they are not; hopefully you are in Christ, and filled with the Holy Spirit and you are conscientious of what follows.
II. INEFFECTIVE THINKING
in the futility of their mind
The first of four descriptors of the unregenerate is keyed by Paul’s incorporation of the Greek word translated futility mataiotes. It means “vanity or emptiness” and as used contextually herein, relates to the pursuits of one’s mind, or intellect. Notice that throughout this whole passage it is the misinformed intellect that leads to the manifestation of ungodly behavior. Accordingly this passage identifies the simple fact that…
UNBELIEVERS THINK DIFFERENTLY FROM BELIEVERS
That should come as no shock to most, but it testifies to the power of regenerative, transforming faith in Christ. Knowing Christ should – and does – make a huge difference as to how one thinks! The starting point of sin according to Scripture is their mind, not their environment.1 Why? Because self informs the unbeliever’s mind, versus the indwelling Holy Spirit, which informs the believer’s mind. In essence, once saved, the believer’s epistemological source for thinking becomes captive to – actually a slave to – the Word of God! To the opposite, in essence, the non-Christian is his own authority and he reasons outward from his or her finite mind, starting with “well I think.” Such a beginning point for understanding and reasoning and subsequent behavior always leads to selfcenteredness, meaninglessness and error.
DR. “WELLITHINK” IS A FLAWED PHILOSOPHER
And even though such futility is equivalent to “vanity and striving after wind” (Eccles. 2:26) the unregenerate spend their whole life consumed by, clawing and clamoring for, the mental pursuit of wrong objectives. How sad. The believer, on the other hand, has come to know the living God of the universe, who has disclosed Himself in the Scripture! The believer’s thinking therefore is not vain or empty because it is based on and beholden to a source outside of self – a source outside of his own fallen nature – God’s infallible and inerrant revelation in the Bible – the only thing in this world left unscathed by the fall in Genesis 3, and therefore exclusive in reliability and integrity – the ultimate source of truth.
DO YOU BASE YOUR OPINIONS AND DECISIONS ON GOD’S WORD OR ARE YOU THE PREEMINENT AUTHORITY FOR ALL DETERMINATIONS?
Whereas the former displays personal wisdom, the latter is a manifestation of what this passage labels as futility. The unbeliever’s thinking, accordingly, is ineffective.
III. IGNORANT UNDERSTANDING
being darkened in their understanding, excluded from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, because of the hardness of their heart
Unbelievers are futile, ineffective in their thinking because of this second point in the passage: they both ignore agnoia and harden porosis their hearts kardia.
Porosis is a word used both then and now to identify a condition of hard formations in joints that would lead to immobilization, i.e. a paralysis, or a petrifying effect. Paul uses this word to vividly describe and picture people who continually choose to sin: as a result they become immobilized, insensitive, and paralyzed to God’s truth. This volitional direction leads to increasingly deleterious results: being darkened in their understanding of God’s ways. Their intentional ignorance of God’s truth serves to calcify their heart.
In other words they have alienated and hardened their minds from the truths that are internally evident within them. God Himself says in this regard, in Romans 1:18-20….
For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, 19 because that which is known about God is evident within them; for God made it evident to them. 20 For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse.
This passage is a twin sister to our one under study. The reason unbelievers have no life in God is because they choose to rebel against God either passively and/or aggressively. They determine to ignore and as Romans states, suppress that which He has been made evident within them. Mentally ignoring and rejecting Him continually and increasingly darkens their understanding.
By way of illustration, unbelievers become stern in their beliefs in Darwinianism, or Evolution, which in summary ignorantly believes, “Nothing times nobody equals everything.” Others, more “religious” in their outward persona, but nonetheless not repentant of personal sin nor dependent on Christ for their salvation, quote the findings of things like The Jesus Seminar which “voted out” Jesus’ deity! One leading commentator has insightfully summarized ignorant understanding this way:
The ungodly are unresponsive to truth. Just as a corpse cannot hear a conversation in the mortuary, the person who is “dead in [his] trespasses and sins” (Eph. 2:1) cannot hear or understand the things of God, no matter how loudly or clearly they may be declared or evidenced in his presence.
Paul goes on to capstone ignorant understanding by saying that it is because of the hardness of their hearts kardia. The Greek word kardia as used culturally at the time of Paul’s penning the Ephesian epistle is best translated as “minds.” As unbelievers outwardly postulate biblically antithetical ideologies, they suppress that which they know in their minds, deep down, to be evident within them, i.e. true.
Later in his first chapter to the Romans, Paul succinctly describes the ungodly as ones “professing to be wise” who in turn “became fools” (1:22). In 2Timothy 3:7 Paul gives yet another descriptive insight, stating that unrepentant sinners are “always learning and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth.”
And you wonder why certain individuals on your subcommittee don’t seem to get your biblical argumentation? Most likely it’s not because you lack articulation or communication skills, it is because they are spiritually incapable of getting it; it is because they are spiritually deaf! Don’t be offended or take it personally when they reject your biblical positions; this passage informs that we should absolutely expect it! It therefore follows….
THE GREATEST NEED OF THE UNBELIEVER IS A SPIRITUAL HEARING AID – NEW LIFE IN CHRIST!
Herein is the best way you, the Church and I can aid Public Servants of all stripes. Realize today that unbelievers – pre-salvation – come equipped with futile thinking and ignorant understanding (the first two points of this outline). It is therefore only by chance or pressure that an unregenerate lawmaker will vote right. (And pressuring lawmakers to vote biblically usually only builds resentment in their soul toward church folks and Christ).
This is the fundamental reason why our proffering of saving faith is essential to, and a prerequisite for any societal change that might be wrought through policy enactment. Your evangelism skill as a Christian lawmaker and/or a citizen is more important than your elocution of biblical policy positions – as important as that is! Please be wise to this. I hope you agree with me; because what I am saying is based on and from this week’s passage. You need to embrace what I am saying, lest you continually spin your wheels while on the Hill, or as a citizen, attempting to influence the Hill, your state capitol, or civic government in ways void of evangelizing lost souls. Therein lies the foundational reason as to why we are losing the war on culture.
What is doubly sad about the unregenerate politician is this: When public servants continue in their hardness, God will give them over and they will seal their own fate. They become forever excluded from the life of God (cf. Rom. 1:24, 26; Rev. 22:11). Learn too to identify those in this spiritual condition; as Jesus said in not so flowery language, you are “casting your pearls before swine” (cf. Mt. 7:6)
IV. INSENSITIVE BEHAVIOR
and they, having become callous have given themselves over to sensuality
As the unregenerate continually and habitually blot out the truths of God and His accompanying conviction of sin, they become callous apalgeo, which means, “to cease to feel pain.” They become increasingly insensitive. As a result they give themselves over to sensuality aselgeia. This word carries the idea of the absence of all moral restraint, especially in the area of sexual deviation. It is “unbridled self-indulgence.” Like a dying man in need of shock therapy, the callous live for something electrifying that will somehow stimulate their heartless soul: sexual deviance is often their self-medication. In the context and use of the same word, Peter describes them as people who are “daring and self-willed” (2Peter 2:10-12). Such people care not what others think; they have no sense of shame due to the fact that their conscience has been cauterized. Having become is in the Greek future tense, conveying the idea that there exists a downward progression in the lives of the unregenerate. This insightful understanding of verb tense parallels the idea in Romans that these folks have given themselves over. Further, this is commensurate with the theological idea that God’s common, restraining grace is now nowhere to be found relative to them personally. His gracious curtailment of sin, at this level of unregneracy, has now been removed.
Contradistinctively, those who are believers, now sensitized by the indwelling Holy Spirit, possess a deep sense of remorse, guilt, pain and repentance over their sin: quite the opposite of the callous! Make sure you understand this: When the Holy Spirit invades, convicts, regenerates and empowers, He also sensitizes and illuminates throughout the lifetime of the believer! Praise God! What a great gift and miracle is His sustaining and persevering gift of salvation (cf. Heb. 2:3) and sanctification!
UNREGENERATE, RECALCITRANT POLITICIANS ARE IMPERVIOUS TO THE MORAL RECTITUDE OF THEIR VOTES
In their callousness they carry not the mind of God. Beloved, this passage teaches us that such attitudes amongst your colleagues should not surprise you; instead they should implore you to a ministry of heralding the miracle of new life in Christ.
V. IMPURE PRACTICE
for the practice of every kind of impurity with greediness.
Now things get even worse in the downward spiral of unregneracy. The word for practice, ergasia carries a meaning that is profoundly significant. Paul chooses a word under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit that communicates much more than the idea of a personal repetitive ritual, although that is in view here. Ergasia refers to a business practice. The Scriptures state here that callous unbelievers are those who have stooped so low as to be characterized by making a business out of impurity! Here is but one illustration of this concept: Did you know that in America the porn industry is vastly larger than the combined total income of the motion picture and music industries – now four times larger in annual gross revenues! Making a business based on and in impurity is true not only in LA, but in DC as well….
MANY LAWMAKERS ARE BEHOLDEN TO – OR TRANSACTIONAL WITH – IMPURE FORCES THAT HAVE NOT THE BEST INTERESTS OF THE COUNTRY
Many are the unregenerate public servants with motives of impurity. They are beholden to the interests of only a sector of society at the expense of the others. Such is a broader application of the biblical meaning of the practice of every kind of impurity with greediness.
The word for greediness pleonexia is closely aligned with impurity. Both words carry the idea of “uninhibited lust for that which is wanted.” Sensuality, impurity and greediness are all identifiable manifestations of unregenerate individuals using other people – at the other’s expense – for their own selfish gain, i.e. their own fulfillment of personal wantonness which cries out from their callous soul. Such is characteristic of the end result and pattern of those who continually reject God’s voice in their heart; this is where every life is headed when one rejects Christ. You should fear for your soul if today you are suppressing Christ: this is your destiny my friend, this is what you have to look forward to.
Again, the ideas from the previous outline points of having given themselves over (#IV) and excluded from the life of God (#III) are based on personal decisions to pursue debauchery. As a result, summarily, they are now incapable of salvation, because they have become callous.
At the risk of sounding harsh and unloving, the phrase, “throw the bums out” is an appropriate biblically based response as to how believers should treat such progressively degenerate individuals who now hold or seek public office. When politicians are motivated by such base, selfish attitudes, wherein they are in transactional benefit from things impure it is obviously impossible for them to vote correctly now or in the future. They need to be removed from office; evangelism is no longer an option. Individuals who are characterized by the practice of impurity are beyond being reached by the message or messengers of salvation. Again, Jesus said in this regard “Don’t throw your pearls before swine.” (Mt. 7:6). Scripture is clear on this point; so be wise. To further underscore this drastic prescription, three times in Romans, chapter one, the Holy Spirit says through Paul, “And God gave them over….” It is your biblical responsibility to identify such and act appropriately. There are some on the Hill whom you should be witnessing to, and some whom you should not be witnessing to; rather you should be working to throw them out of office because they are beyond remedy as identified by their greedy transactional involvement with things impure. May this passage in Ephesians 4 and Romans 1 grant you such wisdom and discernment as to how you deal with others around you in positions of authority and leadership.
It is not difficult to see the downward progression and outward workings of these four horrible characteristics of unbelief: Ineffective Thinking, Ignorant Understanding, Insensitive Behavior, and Impure Practice. It begins with what one selfishly chooses to think and understand and leads to behavior and practice. These characteristics are true of every unbeliever. That not every unregenerate individual is so far along in this identified progression of sin attests to the restraining work of the Holy Spirit – or again what is referred to theologically as common grace. Common grace is a protective shield that God bestows on both the believer and unbeliever, righteous and unrighteous (cf. Matt. 5:45), and helps to curtail and offset the truly drastic realities of the fallen world in which we live.
Also, the fact that the world is not worse off than it is, is due to the preserving and illuminating influence of believers who manifest salt and light (per Matthew 5), as well as the power of the Word of God. When God’s Word is proclaimed and goes forth it never returns void (cf. Isaiah 55). Scripture is like a tiger, one does not have to defend it, one need only unleash it! (That in part is why I write indepth Bible studies every week to our nation’s leaders). Such consistent proclamation of the Word and the making of strong disciples have an effect – like nothing in comparison – to quell the progressive consequences of unbelief in the capital community and the culture as a whole. That is why in-depth, custom-applied Bible studies must be disseminated throughout the offices of Public Servants every week at all levels of government. It is so vitally important; moral erosion is sure to occur without it and moral construction is sure to occur with it,
LIKE RADIATION THAT IMPEDES THE PROGRESSION OF CANCER, THE PROCLAMATION OF THE WORD OF GOD AMAZINGLY THWARTS THE ROT AND ILLUMINES THE DARKNESS OF OTHERWISE UNBRIDLED, DEGENERATIVE UNBELIEF
America needs Bible expositors not only on the Hill, but in every state capitol, city hall and county building in the nation. Make no mistake, the separation of Church and State is intended to keep the State out of the Church, not the Church out of the State. In fact our country will soon fail if the Church does not penetrate the State in ways profound.
Lastly, Paul’s main point in Ephesians 4 is further underscored in his admonition at the conclusion of today’s passage, as he addresses the believers in Ephesus: But you did not learn Christ in this way! In other words, these progressive, sinful traits should be far from characterizing true believers in the Capitol! This rebuke has a present applicability on the Hill and to the citizenry throughout America: When some Members and citizens who are regenerate in Christ still vote incorrectly on biblically explicit issues (there can be honest disagreement with non biblically-explicit issues) they act as if they are not regenerate, as if they are callous to the perspicuous teaching and instruction of God’s Holy Word! It is a terrible thing when those who name the name of Christ, who are born again to new life, vote in ways that are uninformed by Scripture!
THE CALLOUSNESS OF AMERICAN BELIEVERS IS REVEALED BY THIS FACT: OF THE 85 MILLION EVANGELICALS IN AMERICA, ONLY 27 MILLION EVEN VOTED IN THE LAST ELECTION!
If you are saved you must mature in Christ to the degree that it affects both your inward thinking and outward actions, which most definitely should include the decision to vote and the way in which you vote on biblically explicit issues!
To do otherwise is to be a bad witness for Christ, and not worthy of your calling (cf. 2Cor. 5:20). No matter the degree of party pressure, the believer’s first allegiance is his or her obedience to their Savior and Lord.
If you are saved, then show it on the floor – and show it in the voting booth next Tuesday: courageously proclaim to others that you have learned Christ! Don’t deny the one who so graciously reached down and saved you.
1Researchers Samuel Yochelson and Stanton Samenow in their book The Criminal Personality state, “It is not the environment that turns a man into a criminal, it’s a series of choices that he makes starting at a very early age.”