This I say therefore, and testify in the Lord, that you from now on walk not as other Gentiles walk, in the vanity of their mind,
The apostle warns the saints of Ephesus not to walk in the ways of paganism. These ways are vividly described.
I. THE HEATHEN WALK IN THE VANITY OF THEIR MIND. This vanity has its intellectual and its moral side.
1. Intellectually, it represents the waste of speculative power upon questions of the profoundest importance, ending usually in pantheism, atheism, or polytheism. The pagan intellect groped in vain amidst the darkness for light upon duty, upon providence, upon the future life of man. The heathen became vain in their imaginations.
2. Morally, the heathen walked in a vain show, looked for happiness in riches, honors, and power, and pursued foolish or wicked courses in the effort to attain these objects of desire. The end of such a walk must always be disappointing.
II. EXPLANATION OF THIS VAIN LIFE. It is twofold.
1. It arises out of intellectual obscuration. "Having the understanding darkened." Not that the natural genius of the heathen was obscured, for the world must always admire the classics of Greece and Rome; but there was all but utter extinction of spiritual light in the heathen mind. There was no saving knowledge. The god of this world had blinded their minds, and their growing apostasy entailed a judicial blindness which issued in utter darkness.
2. It arises out of moral estrangement from God, "being alienated from the life of God." There could be no light in the mind, because there was no life in the heart. The life of God is not his own life, but the life he lives in his people, which is manifest in their faith and holiness; but the heathen were estranged from that life, so as to have no liking for it and no inclination to it, but rather a love for the life of sin.
(1) This moral estrangement is caused by "the ignorance that is in them;" for where men are ignorant of God, they have no desire after him, no faith in him, no communion with him, no living according to his will.
(2) And this ignorance, in turn, springs out of "the hardness of their hearts." The callous heart was proof against all impression from without, and thus kept the mind uninformed or apathetic, till heart and mind were both buried in the gloom of hopeless paganism.
III. ULTIMATE RESULTS OF THIS VAIN LIFE. "Who being past feeling, have given themselves over unto lasciviousness to work all uncleanness with greediness." When the hardness of the heart has followed close upon the steps of the darkened mind, conscience loses its power; it becomes seared as with a hot iron; the sense of sin is lost; the fear of guilt dies out; and now the way is open to measureless moral disorder. The sinner plunges into all forms of impurity, with the spirit of covetousness, as if he could never be satisfied with sinning, but sought ever new enormities of lawless desire. This is, in brief, the tremendous picture of heathenism given by an inspired apostle. - T.C.
Parallel VersesKJV: This I say therefore, and testify in the Lord, that ye henceforth walk not as other Gentiles walk, in the vanity of their mind,