Life-Study of Ephesiansby Witness Lee
Printed Copy: Available Online from Living Stream Ministry
Printed Copy: Available Online from Living Stream Ministry
In this message we shall consider 4:17-21, with special attention to verses 20 and 21, which speak of learning Christ as the truth is in Jesus.
In 4:1 Paul beseeches us to walk worthily of the calling with which we are called. The first item of a walk worthy of God’s calling is to keep the oneness, and the second is to grow up into Christ the Head. The third item is to learn Christ as the truth is in Jesus.
Verse 17 of chapter four begins a new paragraph. The first two items of a worthy walk are put together in the first paragraph in this chapter. The reason for this is that growth in Christ is intimately related to the keeping of the oneness; they cannot be separated. In verses 1 through 16 the living and the function of the Body are dealt with. Now in verses 17 through 32 the daily life is touched. Verses 17 through 24 give us the principles of our daily walk, and verses 25 through 32 give us the details.
Verse 17 says, “This therefore I say and testify in the Lord, that you no longer walk as the nations also walk, in the vanity of their mind.” This word indicates that what the apostle is about to say is not only his exhortation, but also his testimony. What he exhorts is what he lives. Because he himself lives the kind of life he intends to describe, in his teaching he gives us a testimony.
Paul’s exhortation is to “no longer walk as the nations...walk in the vanity of their mind.” The nations, the Gentiles, are the fallen people, who have become vain in their reasonings (Rom. 1:21). They walk without God in the vanity of their mind and are controlled and directed by their vain thoughts. Whatever they do according to their fallen mind is vanity; it is all without reality. The life of fallen mankind is a walk in the vanity of the mind. All the worldly people today walk in such vanity. In the eyes of God and in the eyes of the Apostle Paul, whatever the people in the world think, say, and do is nothing but vanity. None of those things is real or solid—everything is empty. As believers, we should no longer walk in the vanity of the mind. Instead, we must walk in the reality of our spirit.
According to verse 18, the nations who walk in the vanity of the mind are “darkened in their understanding.” When the mind of fallen people is filled with vanity, their understanding is darkened regarding the things of God.
The nations are also “estranged from the life of God” (v. 18). This life is the uncreated, eternal life of God, which man did not receive at the time of creation. After being created, man with the created human life was placed before the tree of life (Gen. 2:8-9) to receive the uncreated divine life. But man fell into the vanity of his mind and became darkened in his understanding. In such a fallen condition, man is not able to touch the life of God until he has his mind turned to God, until he repents and believes in the Lord Jesus to receive God’s eternal life (Acts 11:18; John 3:16).
God’s intention in His creation of man was that man would partake of the fruit of the tree of life and thereby receive the eternal life of God. But in the fall, Satan’s evil nature was injected into man. As a result, man had to be barred from the tree of life. According to Genesis 3:24, the Lord “drove out the man: and he placed at the east of the garden of Eden cherubim, and a flaming sword which turned every way, to keep the way of the tree of life.” Thus, man was estranged from the life of God. The cherubim, the flame, and the sword signify God’s glory, holiness, and righteousness. These three things kept sinful man from receiving eternal life. When the Lord Jesus died on the cross, He fulfilled all the requirements of God’s glory, holiness, and righteousness. Therefore, through the redemption of the Lord Jesus, the way has been opened for us to contact the tree of life once more. This is the reason Hebrews 10:19 says that we have “boldness for entering the Holy of Holies by the blood of Jesus.” The tree of life is in the Holy of Holies. As believers in Christ, we have been brought back to the tree of life. Now the divine life in the Holy of Holies may be our daily enjoyment. The nations, however, are still estranged from the life of God.
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