“You must no longer walk as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their minds. They are darkened in their understanding, alienated from the life of God” Ephesians 4:17-18
Those who don’t know Christ are alienated from the life of God. Religions, belief systems, gods…they aren’t all the same. Only in placing faith in Jesus, only in choosing to believe in Him and trust that His sacrifice on the cross and His resurrection will cover our sin, and in surrendering our life to the God of Heaven, will we know freedom and see what life was meant to be. Without Him, we are entirely unable to experience and enjoy true life.
Because without Jesus, sin still reigns. Without the Spirit’s renewal, darkness still covers our heart. We are still held captive, and we don’t even see it. We believe that life lived on our terms, doing whatever we want to do, is freedom. We are slaves to our own mindset, believing the lie that what we are pursuing will satisfy us and make us happy, when the truth is that we end up running after everything that will disappoint, let us down, and leave us with a lifetime of regret and hopelessness.
There are eternal consequences to this…because sin against an infinite, holy God incurs infinite, righteous justice. Wrath poured out because of our refusal to acknowledge Him and give due honor and glory.
But even just looking at the temporal, at life here on earth, it is better to follow Christ. In this passage in Ephesians, Paul is writing to believers. He is commanding them to not live like those who are outside the faith. Because even if our eternity is secure, even if we don’t have to worry about wrath, it doesn’t mean that our actions here don’t matter or that they don’t have consequences.
No, we are free and must live out our freedom. “For freedom Christ has set us free” (Galatians 5:1). We must live out our joy. “These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full” (John 15:11). Why would we want to do otherwise? If we allow God into every facet of our lives, He will make them everything they were meant to be. Bursting with infinite possibilities. Resplendent with the fulfillment of God’s purposes and dreams for us, which are good because they flow from His heart that is overflowing with steadfast love and faithfulness.
Our calling to “put off your old self…to be renewed in the spirit of your minds…to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness” (Ephesians 4:22-24) is not a call to a boring life where we watch from the windows as everyone else actually enjoys their existence. No, this is life. This is life abundant. This is a life of freedom and truth and hope, walking in the light of the faithfulness and truth of God. A life without fear or shame.
This is life as it was intended. Life where we aren’t held back by fear or anxiety or worry, where we freely dive in with wholehearted abandon to experience it all. Life where we aren’t restricted by the consequences of our selfish choices and sin.
God doesn’t want us to miss out on everything good that life offers. So He gives us commands to ensure our delight, in life and in Him.