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,
This I say therefore, and testify in the Lord, that ye henceforth walk not as other Gentiles walk, in the vanity of their mind, having the understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God through the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart: who being past feeling have given themselves over unto lasciviousness, to work all uncleanness with greediness. In these verses the Christians at Ephesus are warned against the course of life pursued by the Gentiles, whom he describes as the prey of mental delusion, benighted in intellect, unbridled in licentiousness. Our subject is - Symptoms of moral madness. What is "vanity of mind" in a scriptural sense? Not mere mental fatuity. Ματαιότης, vanity, includes moral worthlessness and corruption. Sin is folly, and sinners are justly represented as fools. It is said of the prodigal son, that "when he came to himself he began to inquire. A sinner is not himself. We learn for the first time," says Dr. Arnot, "that the man has been mad by learning that his reason is restored. It is a characteristic of the insane that they never know or confess their insanity until it has passed away: it is when he has 'come to himself' that he first discovers he has been beside himself. The two beings to whom a man living in sin is most a stranger are himself and God; when the right mind returns he becomes acquainted with both again. The first act of the prodigal, when light dawned on his darkness, was to converse with himself, and the second to return to his father." We learn from these verses that this moral madness is associated with several things.
I. WITH AN INTELLECT WITHOUT TRUE LIGHT. There are two expressions here indicating the state of a sinner's intellect. "Understanding darkened" and "ignorance that is in them." When we say that the sinner's intellect is in the dark, we mean, of course, in respect to the spiritual realities and interests of his being. He may have the light of poetic fancy and of secular intelligence - the stars of general science may beam on his horizon; but so far as moral light is concerned, he is in the dark. His eyes are blinded. Three things show this.
1. His adoption of the partial to the rejection of the complete in enjoyment. He has sensual pleasures, but these pleasures even in their highest measure constitute but an infinitesimal portion of those enjoyments for which human nature craves and for which it is organized - the pleasures of holy loves, devout meditations, sublime fellowships, and uplifting hopes and aims. Is not the man mad who chooses the partial and rejects the complete?
2. His adoption of the fleeting to the rejection of the enduring in enjoyment. The pleasures and dignities he strives after are all connected with this life, which in its longest periods is brief and its securest conditions uncertain. What is our life? "A vapor." All is flowing as a stream, all is transient as a dream. The joys and honors of immortality he practically ignores and rejects. Is not this madness?
3. His adoption of the ruinous to the rejection of the restorative in enjoyment. By the adoption of the partial and the fleeting to the rejection of the complete and permanent, he pursues a course that involves the ruin of himself, the utter loss of all good. Are not these facts sufficient to show the darkness of the sinner's mind and the dense ignorance that reigns within him?
II. WITH A SOUL WITHOUT THE TRUE GOD. "Alienated from the life of God." No soul, no creature in the world can live a moment without God. "By him we live, and move, and have our being." Yet there is a solemn sense in which moral beings can and do live aloof from him, live without him. Sinners are "without God in the world. He is not in all their thoughts." They shut him out from the whole sphere of their feelings, thoughts, and activities. Not only do they practically ignore his presence and his claims, but his very existence. They are without God. Practical atheists. Is not this moral madness?
1. Is it not moral madness to shut the eye to the greatest Object in the universe - One compared with whom the creation itself is as nothing?
2. Is it not moral madness to disregard the most absolute Master of our destiny - the one Being in whose hand our breath is; One whose very word can make for us an eternal hell or heaven?
3. Is it not moral madness to have no sympathy with the best Being in existence - the Fountain of all love, truth, and blessedness?
III. WITH A HEART WITHOUT TRUE SENSIBILITY. "Blindness [hardness] of their heart." "Past feeling." This insensibility, whilst it has been brought about by moral irrationality and ignorance, reacts, deepens the darkness of the understanding, and intensifies the folly of the soul. When the man's heart gets so hardened as to be "past feeling," he becomes utterly incapable of taking right views of spiritual things. The impure atmosphere of a corrupt and hardened heart will obscure the vision of the intellect. When the heart is "past feeling," man becomes so stupid in intellect as to be utterly incapable of seeing the beauty or feeling the force of spiritual truth.
1. To be "past feeling "is to be past the power of true improvement. Where there is no feeling there is no pain, and where there is no pain there will be no impulse for the search of a remedy. A bodily disease without pain is the most hopeless, and a moral disease without pain must prove fatal. "Past feeling." The moral heart run to "fat."
2. To be "past feeling" is to be past the power of true enjoyment. There is no pleasure without feeling.
IV. WITH A LIFE WITHOUT TRUE 'VIRTUE. "Given themselves over unto lasciviousness, to work all uncleanness with greediness." The passage includes two things.
1. A voluntary abandonment to sin. "Given themselves over unto lasciviousness," etc. Having lost spiritual intelligence, God, and sensibility, the soul abandons itself to moral corruption. It does it voluntarily. "Given themselves." They are not forced by God or the devil. What a sight! - souls made in the image of God plunging into a hideous, sunless, lifeless, lawless chaos!
2. An avaricious appetite for sin. "With greediness." The word "greediness" elsewhere means "covetousness" - a desire to have more.
1. That a clear intellect requires a dean heart.
2. That a. clean heart requires a vital connection with God. Religion is essential to a sound intellect. - D.T.
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,