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How to Live Like a Pagan - Part 2

Tom Pennington • Ephesians 4:17-19

  • 2009-04-26 AM
  • Ephesians
  • Sermons


This week I read an article in the archives of the New York Times. The article was written in the early 1900's, and this is how it began. "The Belleview Hospital Pavilion for the Insane came to the front yesterday with another good story. Through somebody's carelessness, a young man in full possession of his mental faculties was locked up for seven hours with the forty or more insane patients in the pavilion. The victim of the error was Frank Malick, a strong young German cigar maker, 19 years old, living with his parents and several brothers and sisters on East 73rd Street." The article goes on to explain how it happened.

Basically Frank, the son's father, had had several episodes of irrational even violent behavior, and so the son, Frank, had obtained the necessary paperwork from the father's physician to have his father kept at Belleview, the hospital for the insane. The doctor, when he gave him the paperwork, told Frank, the son. He said, you take this committal order to the hospital, you give it to them, and they will process it, and they will come to your house and pick up your father, and he will be kept there at Belleview.

Well, you can see what happened. Through a series of errors, the staff mistakenly thought that Frank, the son, was really the one who was to be committed, and they ended up keeping him for a number of hours until his family missed him, began the search and discovered that he was there after they retraced his steps. The entire time the man was there, Frank kept protesting that he was fine and that it was really his father that was to be committed. They forced him to drink a liquid sedative which he said in the article after he drank it, "You know the pavilion there at the hospital didn't look that bad."

As I read that article, I was faced with this question. What would you do if you were the only completely rational person locked in a place where you were completely surrounded with insanity? Just try to imagine what it would be like to live in a place where irrationality was normal and where the people around you were so out of touch with reality that they thought you were the insane one. What I want you to see from Ephesians 4 this morning is that is exactly the world we live in as Christians. Rationality and reason have been turned on their head, and the intelligentsia of our world looks down on us as Christians as the weak minded, the foolish, even the insane.

There's a great example of this in the New Testament. Turn, as we begin our time this morning to Acts, Acts 26. You remember the story. Festus, the new governor, seated in Caesarea there in Palestine, brings King Agrippa along with him to hear Paul's case. Paul was arrested after being charged with who knows what. He appeals to Caesar. Now Festus has to send Paul to Caesar to be heard there at the highest court in the Roman empire, but he doesn't want to send him without a charge, so he says we need to discover what do we say to Caesar. What is this man accused of? And so, there's a hearing. Chapter 26:1, Agrippa says to Paul, "You are permitted to speak for yourself. Paul stretched out his hand and proceeded to make his defense."

Most of chapter 26 is Paul's defense before Agrippa, all of the dignitaries that were in that area stationed there in Palestine, and Festus the Roman governor. Notice how he ends, verse 22 of Acts 26, He says, "So, having obtained help from God, I stand to this day testifying both to small and great, stating nothing but what the prophets and Moses said was going to take place…" and here's what it was. Here's my message, verse 23, "that the Messiah was to suffer, and that by reason of His resurrection from the dead He would be the first to proclaim light both to the Jewish people and to the Gentiles.

While Paul was saying this in his defense, Festus said in a loud voice, "Paul, you are out of your mind! Your great learning is driving you mad." Festus is obviously a very intelligent man. He's risen to the very top echelons of authority in the Roman government, but in spite of his intelligence, he basically accuses the apostle Paul here of being insane, of being irrational, of being out of touch with reality.

Look at how Paul responds in verse 25. "But Paul said, 'I am not out of my mind most noble Festus, but I utter words of sober truth.'" Now, if you have the New American Standard you can see the marginal reading which gives you the literal expression Paul uses in the Greek text. Here's what he literally said. "I speak words of truth and rationality." I speak words of truth and rationality.

The Christian message, the message of Scripture is a rational message. It is a reasonable message, but to the unregenerate mind it appears to be insanity and irrationality. Festus acknowledged that Paul was incredibly intelligent and had much education, but he assessed that he was mad, crazy. Why is it that unbelievers sometimes think we have lost our minds, and why is it that before we came to Christ many of us used to look on Christians as irrational?

Well Paul explains in this paragraph that we're examining in Ephesians 4. The second half of the book of Ephesians begins with this challenge. Chapter 4:1, "… I … implore you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called." Now that doesn't mean that we are now or ever will be personally worthy of what we have received in Christ. Instead, it means that we should live in a way that is appropriate to what we have received from God by grace alone. Listen, salvation is from beginning to end a gift of God's grace. We will never be personally worthy of it. Never could we in any way earn our way into God's favor. But now that we have experienced His grace, Paul says I want you to live in a way that's appropriate to that grace you have received.

Last week we began to look at another way we can do that, another way we can walk worthy. It's found in the paragraph that begins in Ephesians 4:17 and runs all the way through the end of chapter 4. Here Paul tells us that to walk worthy of our calling we must walk in the new life that we have in Christ. Chapter 4:17-32 consists of two very distinct sections. The first section is verses 17-19, stop walking like the Gentiles walk. The second section begins in verse 20 and runs down through the end of the chapter where he says start walking in keeping with your new life. Start walking like a Christian. We're looking at the first section. Stop walking like the Gentiles walked. Let me read it to you. Verses 17-19 of Ephesians 4, Paul says,

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, 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; and they, having become calloused have given themselves over to sensuality for the practice of every kind of impurity with greediness.

Paul says in those three verses, stop living like the pagan you used to be. He uses the metaphor of walking because walking is a picture of our recurring patterns of behavior, our habits, our lifestyle. And he says no longer walk as you used to walk and as the people around you still walk. Stop following the patterns of thinking and behavior that we used to have before Christ. That is what he is saying. But what exactly does that mean? Well, in these three verses Paul as we saw last week, Paul identifies several defining characteristics of how pagans live. We're not supposed to copy this. And so he tells us what it is we're not supposed to copy, these defining characteristics of how unbelievers live, how we used to live.

Last week we saw the first of those defining characteristics. It's a worthless worldview, a worthless worldview. Unbelievers have a worthless mindset or worldview. Notice how he says at the end of verse 17 don't walk like they walk "… in the futility of their mind …" or as we saw last week better mindset or disposition or worldview or philosophy. They have a futile mindset a worthless worldview. We learned back in 2:2 that as unbelievers, we walked in lockstep with the course of the age that is the mindset of the world in which we lived.

In our culture as we saw last time that primarily means that we walked in lockstep with naturalism. The worthless worldview of naturalism that matter is all that ever is, it's all that ever was, and it's all that ever will be, matter alone. There is no supernatural. Matter is all that's ever existed. It evolved into what it is today and when you die, that's it. It's over. You're done. You're buried, and the universe marches on. That is the mindset of the age in which we live in the western world.

As I pointed out to you last week, it's so important that you understand that the various wars that you see going on, you pick up the newspaper and you see these various culture wars going on. Those are not unrelated battles. Those are the same war on various fronts. The push for evolution, for abortion, for same sex marriage, whatever else you want to throw in the mix, they are all inter-related. Connect the dots. They're not isolated culture wars with no relationship to one another. They are all the product of one worldview, and that worldview is the worldview of naturalism, and Paul says that naturalism and every other worldview, every other mindset that unbelievers hold, verse 17, it is futile. It is worthless. It is purposeless. It comes to nothing. It doesn't matter.

Today, we come to the second characteristic of all unbelievers. Not only do they hold a worthless worldview, but they have a "darkened mind," a darkened mind. Look at verse 18. "being darkened in their understanding…." "being darkened in their understanding…." What does Paul mean by their understanding? Well, this is a totally different word than the word at the end of verse 17. It's translated "understanding," but the Greek word literally means "to think something through."

This Greek word is used three different ways in the New Testament. It's used to refer to the seat of our thinking that is our mind or our intellect. It's used to refer, secondly, to a sort of inner disposition of mind or our thoughts, and thirdly, it's used of the result of all of that thinking. In other words, we could put it like this. The word translated "understanding," can refer to either the place in which we do our thinking, the mind, the results of our thinking, our thoughts, or the actual process of thinking. I think Paul here appears to have all of those concepts in mind, the mind of the intellect itself, the thoughts, and the actual process of thinking.

He is now going to tell us, he's going to diagnose our problems or particularly unregenerate man's problem at its most basic level inside the mind and no one is more well equipped to do that because Paul is writing under the inspiration of the Spirit of God and God knows and understands our minds and our thoughts and how we think. The Bible speaks with one voice on that, doesn't it? In 1 Chronicles 28:9 David tells Solomon his son, "… the Lord searches all hearts, and understands every intent of the thoughts."

Did you see the comprehensive nature of that statement? "… the Lord searches all hearts…." Not one human heart is outside of that of His purview, and He understands every intent, every single motive of every thought. It's all inclusive. God knows. God knows your thoughts as you sit here this morning. He knew every thought you had yesterday and the entire scope of your life, but the Bible goes one step further. In Psalm 139:2, it tells us that "the Lord knows our thoughts and understands them from afar" is the way the Hebrew puts it. In other words, from a distance. God knows your thoughts before you have them. God knows what you're going to think in just a moment. He knows what you're going to think tomorrow. He knows what you will think if you survive thirty years from now. He knows and understands our minds, so He is fully qualified, then, to describe our minds to diagnose the mental problem that unbelievers have.

Now notice how He describes the minds of unbelievers. He does it with a single word, "darkened," darkened. It's important that you put that word in the rest of the context of the New Testament because that is only one of twelve distinct ways that Paul describes the unregenerate mind in the New Testament. Listen to the indictment of the other eleven adjectives Paul uses in the New Testament. Here's how he describes the minds of unbelievers. Listen to these words: "debased, hardened, blinded, futile, hostile, deluded, deceived, sensuous, depraved, corrupted, and defiled." Wow, what a list. God says that is what the mind of unbelievers is like, but here in Ephesians 4:18 he uses the word "darkened." This Greek word is only used two other times in the New Testament, and those two other times it's used in the sphere of astronomy speaking of the heavenly bodies. They were darkened. It's used in the book of Revelation that way on two occasions. Understand that this word darkened here does not mean that man's mind has been slightly dimmed.

I have in my house as you may have in yours, I have several light switches that are dimmer switches. If I want to set the mood, or if I just want to kind of calm my kids down, I can turn that light dimmer down just a little bit. That's not the picture behind this word. It doesn't mean the mind of the unregenerate is slightly dimmed. The picture here is something that has been blacked out. The light is gone. It speaks of an absence of light in the process of the thinking of man. The unbeliever not only lives in darkness, but the darkness lives in him. As one commentator described it, intellectually, unbelievers are blacked out.

In the Scripture light is often used of God's revelation, God's revealing Himself and making Himself known. For example, in Matthew 4:16 describing Jesus and His ministry quotes the Old Testament. "The people who were sitting in darkness saw a great light…." What a powerful picture. Man sitting in darkness. Not only is it dark around him, he can't see, but his situation is so desperate he can't find the light, and so he sits down in desperation having given up all hope of finding the light. But God comes in Christ and turns on the light, and the light is Christ Himself. In 2 Corinthians 4:4 Paul describes the gospel as the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ. Light is revelation, God making Himself known. In other words, then, to have a dark mind is the opposite of having a mind illuminated by the reality of God's revelation.

You remember back in Ephesians 1, Paul taught us to pray and this is how he prayed himself. He said in verse 17, I want you to pray "… that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give to you a spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of Him." That He would help you to have a wise mind to comprehend His revelation, and he puts it like this in verse 18 of chapter 1. "… that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened…." That God would turn on the light inside your mind that you would get it that you would understand what God is explaining about Himself and about our world.

So, understand then, that when Paul says that the minds of unbelievers are darkened, he is saying the mind itself, the thinking process and even the resulting thoughts of unbelievers are all completely void of spiritual light. Their minds are devoid of true rationality, true reason. In Romans 1:22, Paul puts it like this, "Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools…." The Greek word for "fools" as I mentioned last time is the word from which we get the English word "moronic." Second Timothy 3:7, "always learning and [yet] never able to come to the knowledge of the truth." Folks, we live as people who are spiritually sane in the midst of a spiritual insane asylum. Do you understand that? That's what Paul wants us to see. Their minds are darkened, and there are examples of this irrationality all around us.

The views of unbelievers are exactly opposite reality as God sees it, as God describes it. Jay Adams, famous for his books on Christian counseling writes this. "Again and again in the Scriptures we are confronted with the fact that sinful human thought reverses God's thought." You ever been struck by that as a Christian? They call good evil and evil good. Something is wrong with this picture. Maybe it's evolution and how the world came to be. Maybe it's the roles of men and women in marriage.

I came across, just this last week, a couple of examples that struck me. I was reading an article in World Magazine about a public school district here in the United States that is, are you ready for this, outlawing ice cream socials. God forbid. Outlawing ice cream socials. Why? Well, because sugar is bad for our kids. Sugar is a terrible thing, and we don't want to have it in our schools. I got to thinking about that. That same public school mindset would lead them to teach our kids that it's okay for them to have premarital sex as long as they use protection. Is there something wrong with this picture? It's insane! It's irrational!

I saw an ad on television this week. Maybe you've seen it, a very heartwarming, heart moving sort of advertisement showing these animals that have been abused and asking people to step in and help rescue these animals, these dogs and cats that have been abused. Now don't misunderstand me. I think that kind of abuse is the reflection of an unregenerate heart. The Bible says in Proverbs that a righteous man cares for his animals. But as I was watching that advertisement, I was thinking, you know, here's the irony. The very people because of their naturalistic view, matter is all that is, a cat is a boy is a dog.

You know, it's all the same. They're asking us to rescue these animals, and yet those same people would turn around and argue that a woman has the right to inside her body torture her unborn child, have it ripped apart and killed. There's something wrong with this picture. It's irrational. It's a form of insanity. It is spiritual insanity, and even though the views they hold are irrational, they don't get it. They are utterly convinced of their own perspective. It's like the "Peanuts" cartoon where Lucy says, "I have never made a mistake. I thought I did once, but I was wrong."

Notice how Paul begins this description back in 4:18. He starts the description about this darkened mind with the word "being," being. This mental darkness is not occasional. It's not intermittent. It is a constant state of being. It is a constant inability to think and to reason rationally. When I was in college, I had a roommate whose grandmother developed some form of either Alzheimer's or dementia. I'm not sure which. At the time they weren't as clear on diagnosing those things. But this woman, his grandmother, became absolutely obsessed with death, and there were actually some fairly humorous stories that came out of it, humorous even to the family.

One day my friend, John was his name, he walked in, and his grandmother was lying out on the floor of the room and with her arms across her chest. And he asked her, he said, "Grandmother why are you (laying) lying in the middle of the floor?" And she said, ahh, at first, she wouldn't answer, but eventually he got the answer out of her. And she said, "It's because I'm dead." And so you know, being a nice grandson, he's trying to get his grandmother up off the floor and get her back in a chair up on the bed, and she's resisting this, and eventually she said to him, she said, "They're going to laugh at you. They're going to laugh at you." And he said, "Why are they going to laugh at me?" "Trying to raise the dead!" (laughter)

Shortly after that, on another occasion, her caregiver was out of the room for a short time, and a few minutes later there was a knock at the front door. And when the caregiver opened the door, there were men standing there from the local mortuary, and she asked if she could help them. And they said, "Yes, we're here to pick up the body of the deceased." She said, "You must have the wrong house. I didn't call you. There's no one dead here." At which time immediately the grandmother spoke up from behind her and said, "Oh yes there is. I called them. I'm dead." (laughter) The tragic part of the story was they had shown up next door first. They had gotten the wrong address, and there was a really elderly man that lived there and he said, "What, are you getting like extra points for getting them early (laughter).

Alzheimer's has its humorous moments, but obviously, for those of you who've experienced it in your families, it is a tragic disease. It affects the memory, it affects the thinking process, the thoughts of its victims. It robs them of being the person that they were. The process is no laughing matter. But understand this, what Paul is saying in Ephesians 4 is that it is as if unbelievers have a kind of advanced spiritual Alzheimer's or dementia. They have lost all touch with spiritual reality and their thinking about all spiritual reality has been badly skewed. And here's the saddest part. In its advanced stages, Alzheimer's patients apparently don't know that they have it. They think it's everyone else's problem. They are blinded by their own irrationality, and the same thing happens spiritually.

Unbelievers are completely unaware of their condition. At the very point of their greatest blindness and darkness, they boast about their understanding and their intellect and their brains. Have you heard unbelievers say things like this? I'm not going to become a Christian because, you know, I can think, and I can reason. I can understand. To be a Christian you're kind of brainwashed, and you don't think.

Jesus met people like this in His ministry. Turn to John 9. Do you remember the story in John 9 of Jesus healing the blind man? And the blind man, simply by the fact that he affirms that he was healed, gets thrown out of the synagogue. Verse 35 of John 9. When Jesus heard that they had excommunicated him, and they had put him out, "… and finding him, He said, 'Do you believe in the Son of Man?'" Now Jesus here is going to lead this man not only into physical healing but into faith in which he will experience spiritual healing. Verse 38, "And he said, 'Lord, I believe,'" after Jesus explains who He is. "'Lord, I believe.' And He worshiped Him."

And then Jesus makes this statement, apparently in the hearing of the Pharisees who were around when Jesus found this man,

… Jesus said, "For judgment I came into this world…." [And what form does that judgment take?] "… so that those who do not see may see…." [So that the spiritually blind may come to have spiritual sight and that those who think they see spiritually may become truly and permanently spiritually blind.] Those of the Pharisees who were with Him heard Him say these things and said to him, "We are not blind too, are we?" [And] Jesus said to them, "If you were blind…." [If you really understood that you were spiritually blind, then you would have forgiveness] "you would have no sin, but since" [you've concluded you have spiritual sight, you see, you think clearly,] "… your sin remains." You see there's no hope for someone who doesn't see their condition. That's the very first step.

Now that brings us to another key question. How does this mental darkness, how does it affect the human mind? What does a darkened mind produce? What does a darkened mind lead to? If you trace this throughout the Scripture as I had an opportunity to do this week, you will find that this lack of ability to think rationally, from God's perspective, produces a number of tragic results. I'm not going to list them all for you. I'm not even going to give you all of them I have in my notes. I've discovered I couldn't get through them all first hour, but let me just give you a few to consider. Here're a few of the tragic results of this inability to think, this mental darkness.

Number one, futile worldviews, futile or worthless worldviews. This is the context of this statement in Ephesians 4. In verse 17 Paul says they have futile mindsets, futile worldviews. Why? Because they are darkened in their minds in their thinking processes. The reason man arrives at these worthless worldviews is because he has a mind that is dark and expresses itself in various ways. We talked about a variety of worldviews last week. The reason man arrives at those worthless worldviews is because of a darkened process of thinking.

A second result is false religion and idolatry, false religion and idolatry. Isaiah the prophet describes this in such vivid detail in Isaiah 44, Isaiah 44. Do you remember he describes the man who goes out, the pagan who goes out, and he plants a tree, and he nurses that tree, and he brings it along until it's full grown? Then he cuts down the tree, and he takes half of the tree, and he uses it to start a fire, to make food for himself, and he takes the other half of the tree, and he makes it into a god that he worships. Here's how Isaiah puts it.

… the rest of it he makes into a god, his graven image. He falls down before it and worships; he also prays to it and says, "Deliver me, for you are my god." They do not know nor do they understand for He has smeared over their eyes so that they cannot see and their hearts so that they cannot comprehend. No one recalls, nor is there knowledge or understanding to say, "I have burned half of it in the fire and … [I] have baked bread over its coals. I roast meat and eat it. And the rest of it I've made into an abomination, and I fall down before a block of wood!" He feeds on ashes; a deceived heart has turned him aside. And he cannot deliver himself, nor say, "Is there not a lie in my right hand?"

This mental darkness enables people to become involved in false religion and idolatry. They can't see the deceitfulness of their own hearts, that they made that idol, that they have to prop it up, that they have to feed it, put food in front of it supposedly for it to eat. They are caring for their god. They have to carry it wherever it goes. They don't understand the irrationality of that. Romans 1, of course, deals with that same idea. They changed the glory of the incorruptible God into the image of things God made.

Thirdly, a third result of this darkened understand is an inability to grasp divine revelation, an inability to grasp divine revelation. In John 8, Jesus makes this very clear as He's talking to the Jewish people around Him who have not believed in Him. John 8:43, He says,

"Why do you not understand what I'm saying?" [Here's Jesus' question. Why don't you get it? Why don't you understand? Why don't you embrace it? And then Jesus answers it. Listen to His answer.] John 8:43, "It is because you cannot hear My word." [You are not able to hear My word. Why? Because] "You are of your father the devil…."

Unbelievers have no capacity to grasp divine revelation, and of course, the most famous statement of that comes in 1 Corinthians 2:14, a verse that you've probably memorized if you're a believer. "But a natural man [that is a man who is not a spiritual man who has not come to know God] does not accept [does not welcome] the things of the Spirit of God for they are foolishness to him … [for] he cannot [he does not have the ability to understand them] because they are spiritually appraised."

This helps us understand, by the way, why friends and family members that are otherwise bright and intelligent people don't get it when it comes to spiritual things. They cannot get it. Jesus says you cannot understand my words because you don't have spiritual life.

A fourth tragic result of this mental darkness is an inability even to understand the message of the gospel, an inability even to understand the message of the gospel. In 1 Corinthians 1 Paul makes this clear. Verse 18, the message of the cross is what, foolishness. The Jews hear it, and they stumble over it. The Gentiles hear, and they say that's stupid, That's moronic. That's ridiculous. Remember the response of Festus that we began with this morning. A Roman government official hears Paul defend the gospel of Jesus Christ and what does he say, your much learning has driven you crazy! You're mad! You're out of your mind! You're irrational!

By the way, this brings up the issue of evangelism. If unbelievers can't understand the gospel, what do we do? Well, think about it like this. Suppose a psychiatrist has a patient who lives in a dream world who believes that it's the doctor that's insane. Should the doctor try to enter the make-believe world of the patient and try to convince him that he's wrong? You say, no, of course not. The only thing the doctor can do is to reason with that patient from the real world, and that's what we have to do when we present the gospel. We don't enter into their world and argue from the grounds of how they perceive reality. We present the truth as Paul did with rationality, and we leave the results to God because only the Spirit of God can remove the darkness and enable a person to see who is spiritually darkened, spiritually blind.

Listen, Christian, don't get impatient with your spouse or with your children or with your parents or with some other friend or family member who are still unbelievers. Don't lose your temper with them when you try to explain the gospel to them, and they don't get it. Martin Lloyd-Jones writes,

"Do you feel like shaking them because they do not see it? If you do, it's because you still do not fully understand that the trouble with unbelievers is that their understanding is darkened. You can demonstrate the truth, you can argue and reason and put it before them to perfection, and they will see nothing in it at all, and that is simply because of this darkness of the understanding. They cannot help themselves. They cannot do it."

A fifth result of this darkened mind is a heart filled with evil motives, a heart filled with evil motives. Genesis 6:5, you remember the indictment of God before He flooded the world in the time of Noah. "… the Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great on the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually." That darkened mind leads to dark motives. And finally, it leads to a sinful lifestyle. A dark mind leads to a sinful lifestyle. In Romans 1 Paul makes this so clear. He talks about that up in verse 21. "… their foolish heart was darkened." And then he gets down to verse 28, and he says this. "… just as they did not see fit to acknowledge God any longer, God gave them over to a depraved mind to do those things which are not proper,"

And then he lists this series of sins. Those sins flow out of that dark mind. We're going to see that even in the weeks ahead. It produces a sinful lifestyle. Now that's not a complete list of the results of a darkened mind. There are others we could add, but that's all that our time will allow us this morning.

So, understand this, the thinking process of unbelievers, the thoughts that result from their thinking and their entire mind, their entire intellect, is in a state of darkness unable to comprehend spiritual reality. That's Paul's point, but step back for a moment and remember what we're doing in Ephesians 4. In context Paul is commanding us not to walk like they walk. Don't live like they live in their process of darkened thinking. Don't live like pagans in a state of spiritual darkness. Don't live without the light of revelation that brings light to the soul and allows the mind to function with true rationality.

Now as we did last week, let me ask this question. How can we as Christians be influenced by the dark minds of the people around us, the darkened thinking process of the people around us? Let me just give you a couple of things to consider. We can be influenced, number 1, by substituting human thought, human reason for divine revelation, by substituting human reason for divine revelation. You remember that's what happened in the very beginning of sin. Eve is in the garden. God had said thou shalt not eat. What did Eve do? She began to reason in her own mind. Let me think about it. Let me come to a decision. Rather than just take God's revelation, I'm going to arrive there by human reason.

And, folks, we are often tempted to do this. Listen, you live in a world that tells you black is white, and white is black. You live in a darkened world. Are you going to believe them or are you going to believe God? Are you going to believe the wisdom of men or the wisdom of God?

Let me just give you one example. The wisdom of God says I have structured the home where the man and the woman in that home, the husband and the wife, are spiritually equal before me, but I've given them differing responsibilities. I've given the man the responsibility to lead that home. That's God's wisdom. That's rationality. That's from God's perspective, but we live in an insane world.

What does the insane world tell us? Oh no, listen, marriage is fifty-fifty. Look, I'm not giving more than my part, and I have my money, and you have yours and you know on and on the list goes. Who are you going to believe? Are you going to let, as Paul says in Romans 12:2, don't let, the world push you into its mold into its way of thinking? Don't substitute human reason for divine revelation. When human reason says this, and God Word says that, you must trust what God says. Don't substitute what the world around you is saying. This is right. This is right. This is right if the Bible says no this is right. Don't be influenced by their darkened thinking. They're going to call it wrong when it comes to spiritual issues every time.

Number two, make sure that you aren't influenced by the darkened logic of the world by failing to renew your mind with the Scripture. Here in Ephesians, we're going to get to it in 4:23. He says, "… be renewed in the spirit of your mind." Listen, before you came to Christ, your mind was dark just like every other unbeliever, and the only way darkness can be expelled is how? By light. You walk into a dark room. How you going to get rid of the darkness? You can't will it out of the room. You can't push it out of the room. You can't suck it out of the room. You get rid of the darkness by turning on the light, and when the light shows up, the darkness is gone.

Before Christ your perception of reality was terribly skewed, and to whatever extent even now as a Christian your mind is not renewed by the Word of God, you are living in mental darkness. And you need to constantly be coming to the Scripture and letting the light of God's revelation chase the darkness out of your mind. You can be influenced by the world by just failing to be renewed by the Scripture because you're going to keep that same darkness you had before.

Number three, finally, wanting to be thought wise and intelligent by the world around us. You can be influenced by the dark logic of the world by wanting others in the world to think you are one of them, that you are worldly wise, that you are intelligent. You want to be accepted. Listen, everybody understands that. Everybody wants to be accepted. If you were living in the middle of an insane asylum, you would want the fellow inmates to accept you, and so you might be tempted to begin to act and express things the way they do to be accepted and liked. We face that temptation as Christians. We live in a world that is upside down rationally. It is irrational. We live in an insane, a spiritual insane, asylum, and if we're not careful, we can begin to care what the other inmates think of us.

This happened to the Corinthians. Do you remember? They were chasing after worldly wisdom, and Paul says you can't get there with worldly wisdom. You can't be thought worldly wise and be thought wise by God. The two don't go together, and so in 1 Corinthians 4, Paul says let me tell you what it's really like. Verse 10, some of the apostles now, "We are fools for Christ's sake, but [he speaks sarcastically] you are prudent [you are wise."] They wanted to be thought wise by the world. Paul says, can't happen. If you're going to be following Christ, you're going to be thought a fool just like the apostles. Folks, you got to decide. Who matters? Do the other inmates living around you in the insane asylum? Do they matter, or does your Lord matter? It's okay if they think you're foolish. It's okay if they think you're unwise. They thought that of the apostles! So, understand that unbelievers live in a state of mental darkness.

One of the last comments the great German philosopher Gerta made was this. "More light." He had spent his entire life thinking and analyzing, but when he came to the end of his dark life, he knew he hadn't arrived at the truth, and so he desperately wanted more light. Unbelievers live in spiritual darkness. Martin Lloyd-Jones tells the story from the life of William Wilberforce. You've probably heard of William Wilberforce. He's most famous for being the leading figure in the abolition of the slave trade, the Englishman largely responsible for abolishing the slave trade in the Western world. Wilberforce was a devoted true follower of Jesus Christ, and he often invited his good friend, William Pitt, the younger, one of the greatest prime ministers that England ever had, and he was unusually brilliant. He often invited William Pitt to come to his church there in London and hear his pastor, Richard Cecil.

Pitt usually made a number of excuses why he couldn't come, but one Sunday he came with Wilberforce, and that morning as Wilberforce recounts it, Richard Cecil was unusually powerful in his preaching, and Wilberforce was sitting in his pew listening to the sermon, and he was captivated by what was being said. His soul was lifted up, and he was praying for his friend, William Pitt sitting next to him, and the service finished, and they started walking out of the church. And before they even got out of the church, William Pitt turned to Wilberforce, and this is what he said. You know Wilberforce, I don't have the slightest idea what that man was talking about. He was bored. He was waiting for it to end while Wilberforce was totally captivated. What made the difference that morning? It wasn't the preacher. It was the darkness.

Maybe you're here this morning, and you just don't get it. You just don't understand. In fact, you're kind of bored with it all like Pitt was. Understand this, it's because your mind is darkened, and your only hope is to cry out to God to give you light. The only way out of the darkness is Jesus Christ. He Himself claimed that. Listen to what Jesus said. "I am the light of the world. He who follows Me will not walk in the darkness but will have the light of life."

Let's pray together.

Our Father, we thank you that You have given us light. Lord, we acknowledge that there was a time when we lived in spiritual darkness, irrational, insane from your perspective, but Father we thank you that You said let there be light in our hearts, and there was light.

Father, keep us from being influenced by the darkness around us, the dark thinking of the people in the world in which we live. Father, don't let us substitute our own reason or human reason for Your divine revelation. Help us to trust You instead. May you be true and every man a liar. Father, I pray that You would cause us to seek your Word, to study it, to read it, to renew our minds, to let the light of Your Word shine into the dark recesses of our souls. And, Father, preserve us from wanting to be thought wise by the morally foolish. Instead, Father, help us to care most what You will say on that day when we stand before You.

And, Father, I pray for the person here this morning who is still in the darkness. I pray that this morning You would open their eyes that the light would begin to shine through, and they would see their true condition, and they would cry out to You for light, the light of life found in Jesus Christ alone.

We pray it in His name and for His sake. Amen.