by Mike Ratliff
17 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, 18 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; 19 and they, having become callous, have given themselves over to sensuality for the practice of every kind of impurity with greediness. 20 But you did not learn Christ in this way, Ephesians 4:17-20 (NASB)
17 Τοῦτο οὖν λέγω καὶ μαρτύρομαι ἐν κυρίῳ, μηκέτι ὑμᾶς περιπατεῖν, καθὼς καὶ τὰ ἔθνη περιπατεῖ ἐν ματαιότητι τοῦ νοὸς αὐτῶν, 18 ἐσκοτωμένοι τῇ διανοίᾳ ὄντες, ἀπηλλοτριωμένοι τῆς ζωῆς τοῦ θεοῦ διὰ τὴν ἄγνοιαν τὴν οὖσαν ἐν αὐτοῖς, διὰ τὴν πώρωσιν τῆς καρδίας αὐτῶν, 19 οἵτινες ἀπηλγηκότες ἑαυτοὺς παρέδωκαν τῇ ἀσελγείᾳ εἰς ἐργασίαν ἀκαθαρσίας πάσης ἐν πλεονεξίᾳ.
20 Ὑμεῖς δὲ οὐχ οὕτως ἐμάθετε τὸν Χριστόν, Ephesians 4:17-20 (NA28)
In the passage I placed at the top of this post (Ephesians 4:17-20) there are two Greek words which we will focus on in this post. They are ματαιότητι, which is translated in the NASB as “futility” in v17 and ἄγνοιαν, which is translated as “ignorance” in v18. That mindset which looks at what we call “Orthodox Christianity” and our completely firm stance of non compromise on any of it with a jaw dropping arrogant, bullying attitude stance is what we are encountering more and more throughout the visible church because most of it has been given over to the darkness it loved more than the light of truth. Those with this mindset simply cannot comprehend God’s truth nor do they love Him or those who belong to Him and follow the Son.
Just because a person claims to be a Christian or belongs to a so-called Christian “organization” or “church” or whatever means nothing. If they περιπατεῖν, καθὼς καὶ τὰ λοιπὰ ἔθνη περιπατεῖ ἐν ματαιότητι τοῦ νοὸς αὐτῶν, “live just as also the world lives in futility of their minds” then they have proved that they are actually of the world and not of God. They are living in the ματαιότητι τοῦ νοὸς, that is, the futility of their minds. What does this mean? This word, ματαιότητι, can also be translated as “vanity.” Paul is describing people who are walking in the vanity of the mind. This a mindset which is aimless, futile, empty, fruitless, and worthless. Why? Because it is man or self centered instead of God Centered.
From where does the right knowledge of God come? It comes from a proper attitude toward God. We must first fear Him. Those I deal with who claim to be Christians, but who are “christian liberals” of one sort or another have zero fear of God They have no concept of the sovereignty of God or His absolutelness or His eternal wrath. Without these starting essentials, the truth of God will never be found. Science without God creates evolution. Philosophy without God produces existentialism, humanistic psychology, and a man centered mess that only points away from God. Religion without God spawns everything from violent fanaticism of Islam, to the worship of a rock or stick by pagans, to the works-righteousness of the seeker-sensitive paradigm. All knowledge begins with God, and that beginning is a fear of Who He is.
All the “christian liberals” I have listened to or have read display an extreme ignorance of God’s Truth. They say some of the most idiotic things meaning them them to sound Biblical. Isn’t it interesting though that we get our English word agnostic from the Greek Word ἄγνοια or agnoia, which is the lexical form of ἄγνοιαν or agnoian, which is translated here as ignorance. This ignorance is not caused by something external, but by man himself. Ancient Greek use of this word could refer to a man who lives without knowledge either because he has not heard the truth or because he has refused the truth, and that if he “had received it, it would have freed him from his ignorance of his origin.” He just closed his eyes to the truth and refused to believe what was right in front of him. The agnostic is willingly ignorant. I think all “liberal Christians” fit this very well and that would include Emergence Christianity and all followers of Brian McLaren and all flavors of that. Romans 1 says very clearly that God has revealed the truth to all, but these people are willfully ignorant. Man will do anything to suppress, hold down, and withhold God’s truth.
If you listen to some of these new Christian liberals like McLaren their whole schtick is that you and I will come to know God through letting go of all that old religious doctrine and legalism (that’s what they call obedience to God’s truth) and pursue the enlightenment of ignorance. Then they say we can be like Jesus as we simply go green, help the poor, take from the rich and give to the poor, et cetera. This social redemption is not the Gospel nor is it Biblical in any sense. Jesus and the Apostles told us to preach the Gospel and remember the poor and this we should do, but what these people are advocating is something entirely different.
So how did you learn Christ?
21 if indeed you have heard Him and have been taught in Him, just as truth is in Jesus, 22 that, in reference to your former manner of life, you lay aside the old self, which is being corrupted in accordance with the lusts of deceit, 23 and that you be renewed in the spirit of your mind, 24 and put on the new self, which in the likeness of God has been created in righteousness and holiness of the truth. Ephesians 4:21-24 (NASB)
We learn Christ by hearing the Gospel, believing the Gospel by the grace of God and from that time on, God will work in us to sanctify us to make us more and more like Christ through the purging of all in us that is of this world while transforming us more and more unto the very image of Christ, but this is not from a position of ignorance or futility or vanity, but one of knowledge and obedience as our Lord’s δοῦλος (slave).
Soli Deo Gloria!