A One-sided Relationship, Eph 4:17-24

When you have a one-sided relationship with the Lord, the relationship is all about you.  This is the case with many Christians.  It’s about how they feel, what they want, what they think is right, what they think is best for them.  It’s not about the life of God or his plans. They go where they want to go, they do what they want to do, they say what they want to say, they watch what they want to watch, and so forth.  They want no limitations on their lives.  They walk as other Gentiles walk, who aren’t saved.  

Paul told us in Eph 4:17-20 not to walk as the Gentiles walk.  Gentiles walk in the vanity of their mind [Eph 2:2].  People with a vain mind are empty headed.  They do what they do without thinking.  They are like the folks in Rom 1:21; they are vain in their imaginations.  People with a vain mind have little sense.  They are foolish or silly.  They are childish [Eph 4:14], demanding their own way and crying if they don’t get it.  Christians in a one-sided relationship:

Have the understanding darkened – Eph 4:18 – contrast Eph 1:18, where Paul prayed for the Ephesians to have the eyes of their understanding enlightened.  An infant doesn’t understand that a child seat is good for him and that “no” is really a good word.  They don’t understand that they can hurt themselves without restraint.  The Lord puts certain restraints on us [like separation, putting off the old man, setting our affection on things above, and so forth].  All these commands are good for us and lead to our full satisfaction in the Lord.  But a childish Christian in a one-sided relationship with the Lord will never understand this.

Are alienated from the life of God – Eph 4:18 – when you are saved, you have the life of God [1 Jn 5:12].  But when your understanding is darkened, it’s easy to become alienated from God, to become indifferent toward his life, unfriendly toward God or even hostile toward him.  You start drifting apart from God.  Certainly, in this case, you have no fellowship with God.

Are ignorant – Eph 4:18 – ignorance is a lack of knowledge or awareness.  Christians become alienated from God because they are ignorant of God.  They are unaware of his desires for and dealings in their lives.  They could know God as he reveals himself through preaching, teaching and studying the Bible.  But they are content to be ignorant, just like a child.

Are blind in their heart – Eph 4:18 – we can’t see the Lord so we must live by faith.  When our hearts are blind we lack discernment, judgment and discrimination, all of which come from the words of God and affect our hearts.  The Psalmist said, “Thy word have I hid in my heart that I might not sin against thee.”  “The entrance of thy words giveth light; it giveth understanding unto the simple.”  “Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.”  God’s words are not in the hearts of Christians in a one-sided relationship with the Lord.  Hiding God’s word in your heart takes too much effort.  You might receive it if you could be spoon fed in a high chair or bottle fed with milk.

Are past feeling – Eph 4:19 – they are like 1 Tim 4:2 having their conscience seared with a hot iron.  They don’t feel the guilt or shame over sin and they don’t feel the loss of their relationship with the Lord.  Childish Christians who are alienated from the life of God have no idea what their parents feel when they turn from God.  Likewise, they certainly don’t feel what God feels when they are alienated from him.  Grief is the feeling.  And like little children, they don’t care.  They just want what makes them feel good right now regardless how others feel about it. 

Are given over to lasciviousness – Eph 4:19 – Lasciviousness is lustfulness.  Lasciviousness tends to arouse sexual desire.  Of course, Christians whose minds are vain, whose understanding is darkened, whose hearts are blind, who are past feeling are going to give into their lusts.  Just like a child, they simply want to fulfill their basic desires, without God. 

Work all uncleanness with greediness – Eph 4:19 – they are morally impure and wicked with strong desires to fulfill their selfish lusts.  They want more and more and yet they are never satisfied.  This is a common problem with carnal desires.  People start with lust, then go on to excess, and then even to perversion.  Sometimes they die as a result of their uncleanness and greed.  If children had their way, they would eat candy all the time and never eat the things that are good for them.  Lots of Christians are like children.

Things get worse with each step when you alive in a one-sided relationship with God. 

Solomon is a perfect example of Christians in a one-sided relationship with God, who walk as other Gentiles walk.  Solomon was a chosen king and gifted by God with wisdom and knowledge [2 Chr 1:7-12].  As a king of Israel he was commanded to keep the commandments of God and he was limited in four areas.  He was limited in women, horses, gold and idolatry [Deut 17:14-20].  But he loved women, horses and gold.  He married 700 women and he had 300 concubines [1 Ki 11:1-10].  He received 666 talents of gold in one year besides that which his merchants brought him [2 Chr 9:13-14].  And he had 40,000 stalls of horses; many of which were brought out of Egypt [1 Ki 4:26, 10:26-29].  

Yet, the women didn’t please him [Ecc 7:26-28; 1 Ki 11:3].  After getting all he desired he said, “vanity of vanities; all is vanity,” [Ecc 1:2].  After accumulating all that silver and gold, he was not satisfied [Ecc 5:10].  The horses were unnecessary, too [Prov 21:31].  And to top it all off, he ended up worshipping false gods and splitting the tribes of his kingdom [1 Ki 11:11].

What God wanted for Solomon was far better than what Solomon wanted for himself.  God had already given him more than all the other kings of the earth.  

Paul said about us, “But ye have not so learned Christ.”  You must not walk as other Gentiles walk.  Your relationship with God is not all about you.  You don’t want a one-sided relationship with the Lord.  To keep from having a one-sided relationship with God, you must:

Listen to Jesus – Eph 4:21 – let Jesus teach you through the Bible and talk to you through preaching, godly counsel and prayer.  He will open you ear to his words [Prov 22:17-20] and teach you the same way he learned when he was on earth [Is 50:4].  Even children can know him and learn from him [Lk 10:21].  Jesus was twelve years old when he was about his Father’s business.

Put off the old man – Eph 4:22 – this old man is deceitful; he’s the childish, selfish one who will get you in trouble.  He’s the cry baby.  He’s the one who wants things his way and who, if he gets his way, will pull you away from the Lord.

Renew your mind – Eph 4:23 – you must develop a new way of thinking about everything in life.  You must be transformed by the renewing of your mind [Rom 12:1-2].  The Lord must teach you to think like he thinks [Is 55:8].  If your thoughts don’t line up with Phil 4:8, then you need to renew your mind and think only of those things.

Put on the new man – Eph 4:24 – the new man is created by God in righteousness and true holiness.  When you put on the new man, you begin to really enjoy your relationship with God.  This is what the Lord has for you that you can’t see in a one-sided relationship.  You begin to experience the true love, joy and peace of God which is unlike anything this world has to offer to Christians in a one-sided relationship with God.  Herein you find contentment and complete satisfaction in the Lord.