How to Live Like a Pagan - Part 4

Ephesians 4:17-19

Tom Pennington  •  May 17, 2009
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I thought that it would be appropriate this morning as we prepare our hearts for the Lord's table for us to return again to Ephesians 4 because the next passage that we're studying together really describes what God has saved us from in Christ. So, I think it's an appropriate way for us to remember our Lord's death for us even as we contemplate the sinners that we were.

There is an inseparable link between how you think and how you live. That's a sort of

self-evident truth, but why is it true? This week I was reading Francis Schaeffer, and

Francis Schaeffer reminds us that that link between how we think and how we act, our

behavior, is part of what it means to be made in the image of God.

Think for a moment about the creation of man. If you were to go back to Genesis 1, there you discover that God first thought. He said, "Let Us make man in Our image." The communication among the trinity, and the very next verse says that then He acted on that thought. God created man in His own image. So, although that creative act of making man was not a part of God's essence, that outward action, Schaeffer says, revealed two realities about God. When God acted externally to make man, He showed us number one, what He was thinking, and number two, something about who He is, something about the essence of His being. He made us in His image.

The same thing is true about us and our thinking and behaving. We begin also with the

thought with thinking, but those thoughts that are a part of our mind will ultimately

produce external, outward actions; and like with God, our actions reveal two things about

us. Our behavior, our actions reveal what we have been thinking because we think

before we act, and secondly, they reveal something about the real person that we are. Our actions put the real us on display even as God's external actions put Him on display as well.

So, it is inevitable, then, because the thinking of unbelievers is so bad and so sinful that

their behavior would be sinful as well. That's exactly what Paul describes in Ephesians

4:19. He describes the sinful lifestyle that results from the sinful thinking of unbelievers.

Now just to remind you where we are, for those of you who maybe are with us for the first time this morning, Ephesians 4 begins the second half of this great letter and the practical application of our position in Christ that we learn in the first three chapters. Verse 1 of chapter 4 says walk worthy. Walk in a way that is worthy of the position you have in Christ, and he begins to tell us how. The first way is to walk in unity, and we studied that together.

But we've come to another section that begins in 4:17 and runs all the way down through verse 32. And in this section, Paul says that we can walk worthy by walking in new life. If we're going to walk worthy of our calling, our position in Christ, then we must walk in step with the new life that we have in Christ and not walk in step anymore with the old, unregenerate self that we used to be.

Now this section verses 17 to 32 consists of two distinct parts. The first part is in verses 17 to 19 in which he says stop walking like you used to walk. Stop living like you used to live. Stop living like pagans. The second part of it is in verse 20 down through the end of the chapter, and in this part he says start walking like a Christian. Start walking like the new person you are.

We're finishing up today our look at the first section which unfolds for us how pagans live so that we can avoid that lifestyle. Let me read it for you again. Ephesians 4:17,

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, 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; and they, having become callous, have given themselves over to sensuality for the practice of every kind of impurity with greediness.

Paul here says stop living like the pagan you used to be and in these verses he gives for us several defining characteristics of exactly how it is that pagans live, of how we used to live and of how we no longer should live.

Let me briefly remind you of where we've been in our study of these three verses. So far, we've seen five characteristics of a pagan.

The first one is a worthless worldview. The end of verse 17, "… the futility of their mind."

The second characteristic of a pagan is a darkened mind, beginning in verse 18 "… darkened in their understanding."

The third characteristic that we have seen of unbelievers of pagans is a lifeless soul. Verse 18 says they are "… excluded from the life of God."

A fourth characteristic, a willful ignorance, "… because of the ignorance that is in them…." But this is not an ignorance simply because God hasn't shown them anything, God hasn't revealed Himself. This is a willful ignorance that suppresses the truth that God has made evident.

And the fifth characteristic of unbelievers or pagans that we've seen is in verse 18 at the very end of the verse, a hard heart, "… because of the hardness of their hearts.'

In our study today, we come to the sixth and final defining characteristic of how pagans live. It is a sinful lifestyle, a sinful lifestyle.

Look at verse 19. "and they having become callous have given themselves over to sensuality for the practice of every kind of impurity with greediness." Their sinful actions follow the pattern that their sinful thinking has set at the end of verse 17 and through verse 18. In verse 19, then, Paul describes the fruit of that thinking. He describes the sinful lifestyle of unbelievers, and he describes it in several ways that I want you to walk through with me this morning.

First of all, as we look at their sinful lifestyle, Paul identifies the cause, the cause of their sinful lifestyle. The ultimate cause really goes back to the end of verse 18, the hardness of their heart. That is the core problem. As we learned, a hard heart is simply a stubborn refusal to submit to God's Word or to turn in repentance toward Him. That's a hard heart. A stubborn refusal to obey God or to turn from what I know to be sin. A hard heart ruins all of life. It distorts and perverts the thinking.

In fact, if you start at this hard heart, a heart that is intentionally hard to God and His will, you can trace in this passage how a hard heart affects the rest of what goes on inside of a person. Look at verse 18. If you work backwards, really the bottom level of this sinfulness is the hardness of heart.

If you work backwards through verse 18, you see how this works. A hard heart leads to a

willful ignorance about God which in turn produces a lifeless soul. A lifeless soul produces a darkened mind which in turn produces a series of worthless worldviews. So, it is a hard heart, then, that skews all of man's thinking. And that same hard heart, that messes up the thinking, that messes up the internal workings and functions of a man, that same hard heart also terribly affects the behavior, the lifestyle.

Notice that verse 19 shows us how a hard heart eventually becomes a calloused heart. And that calloused heart causes people to give themselves over to the pursuit of the satisfaction of their appetites and desires, and the reckless pursuit to satisfy those desires leaves them willing to pursue any kind of impurity and to do it with greediness wanting more.

So, understand this. When you look at these three verses, the very core problem is at the

heart level. It is a hard heart. It is a willful, stubborn refusal to submit your will to the will of God as revealed in His Word. So, the problem with man's behavior is not his behavior. Understand this, when you look at the unbelievers in your life, the problem is not their behavior. The problem is their heart. That's where it all begins.

Jesus makes this crystal clear for us in Mark 7, a passage that I think most of us are familiar with, but I want you to look at it. Mark 7. We'll get to it, Lord willing, in a few months or so, in our study on Sunday evening. You laugh when I say that. Mark 7. You remember there was a discussion between Jesus and the Pharisees about His disciples not washing their hands before they ate. They're contaminating themselves in the minds of the Pharisees. Jesus explains that that's not true publicly, and then verse 17,

"When He left the crowd and entered the house,

His disciples questioned Him" [What did you mean by all of that?] Verse 18, "… He

said to them, "Are you so lacking in understanding also? Do you not understand that

whatever goes into the man from the outside can't defile him."

Nothing that comes in

from the outside of you is what renders you morally defiled before God because it

doesn't go into his heart, but it goes into his stomach and is eliminated. And Mark

makes the comment, "(Thus … [Jesus] declared all foods clean.)" No more clean foods and

unclean foods like in the Old Testament. Jesus did away with that, and He went on to say,

verse 20,

"That which proceeds out of the man, that is what morally defiles the man. For

from within, out of the heart of men, proceed the evil thoughts, fornications, thefts, murders, adulteries, deeds of coveting and wickedness, as well as deceit, sensuality [

This is the same word, by the way, as our word in Ephesians 4:19. It comes out of the heart], envy, slander, pride and foolishness. All these evil things proceed from within …"

out of the heart and that's what renders a man morally defiled before God. So, understand then, that the real problem is a hard heart, and the behavior flows out of that bad heart.

So, back in Ephesians 4:19 then, Paul goes on to explain that eventually that hard heart will become a calloused heart. Look at verse 19. And they, having had this hard heart, they having become calloused. The Greek word for "calloused" literally means to cease to feel pain. In secular Greek it was used both literally and metaphorically. Literally, it meant physically to be without pain or feeling. It's from this Greek word that we get the word, the English word analgesic. That describes a group of drugs that are intended to deaden pain. So, it means physically not to feel pain, but when it's used metaphorically or figuratively, it was used of being so insensitive, so hard, that you no longer felt the pain of conscience. You lose all moral sensitivity. You become insensitive to the truth. You sense no moral sense of guilt, no sense of shame. That's why some translations put it "past feeling." It's talking about not your physical feeling. It's talking about your soul. Your soul, your heart, is so hard so callous that it doesn't feel the weight of sin. It doesn't feel the weight of guilt. It doesn't feel the sting of conscience.

At first the heart is hard to God and to sin and to His Word because of a conscious act of the will. This is how a hard heart starts. The person makes a decision. I will not do that. I know that's what God says. I want to do this instead. It begins with an act of the will, but here's the tragic thing. When you constantly exercise your will, when you constantly say no to God, no to His will, no to His Word, no to the voice of conscience, when you constantly do that, eventually what began as an active act of your will becomes an unconscious response. You can so harden your heart and do it so often until your heart becomes callous. You don't feel the weight of guilt. You don't feel the sense of shame. You don't feel anything. You are past feeling.

This is like what happens in Hansen's disease or as we know it in the Scriptures, leprosy. One doctor, Doctor Allen Gillan, describes it like this. "The leprosy bascillus destroys nerve endings that carry pain signals. Therefore, patients with advanced leprosy experience a total loss of physical pain. When these people cannot sense touch or pain, they tend to injure themselves or be unaware of injury caused by some outside agent. In fact, some leprosy patients have had their fingers eaten by rats in their sleep because they were totally unaware of it happening. The lack of pain receptors could not warn them of the danger.

That's what happens when you exercise time after time a hard heart toward God and His Word and His will. Over time your pain receptors die. You have no sense of moral pain or shame. This is what sin does to the heart. It destroys a person's sensitivity to the truth. Every time you hear the truth, every time you know the truth, every time you are exposed to the truth and refuse to submit your will, refuse to turn from what you know to be sin to God in repentance, you are adding another layer of callous between your heart and the truth. It happens slowly even imperceptibly just as a callous forms on your hand or foot. But eventually your heart is so callous that it no longer feels the weight of truth, it no longer feels the sting of conscience. It becomes what Paul calls in 1 Timothy 4:2 a seared conscience, a conscience cauterized until it has no feeling.

Can I just say a word of warning? This is especially a danger in the church. If you come to a church like this week in and week out, you hear the truth of God, and in your heart as you sit there, you stubbornly resist God's will as its revealed in His Word. You say no to God, you harden your heart against the truth of God, you refuse to turn in repentance toward God for whatever the sin is in your life. You are message after message, truth after truth building a callous over your heart until what began as a conscious act of your will will someday be an unconscious response where you are simply callous to the truth. You feel nothing, a seared conscience.

Paul says this is how unbelievers live. Don't live like they live. Don't let your heart become callous to the truth. Brothers and sisters, could I challenge you to cultivate a heart in your own life that is tender to the Word of God, that is tender to your own sin and the stings of conscience. Be quick to submit your will to the will of God as revealed in His Word. Be quick when your conscience afflicts you. When you are aware of sin in your life, be quick to confess it. Don't live with that in your life and develop a callous against the truth. We all sin. Don't let it stay there. Don't leave it alone. Cultivate a heart that's tender to the Word of God. Submit your will to God's will, and turn in repentance to God.

Let me just ask you a question this morning. As you sit here, is there something in your life that you know is a sin against God, that you have not dealt with, that you are enjoying too much, you're tolerating? You're thinking you can handle it. Listen, let me tell you. That will create a callous, and eventually it will become an unconscious response. Don't tolerate that sin. Be quick to turn from it to God.

Let me ask you another question. Is there some truth in the Word of God which has been eating at your conscience? You know you ought to be doing it or ought not to be doing it, and that's been needling you week in and week out, and you've said, no, no, no. I'm going to do what I want. Listen, you're developing a callous. Don't do it. Christian, cultivate a heart that's tender, tender to God's Word, tender to the voice of conscience. This is the cause of a pagan, sinful lifestyle. It's a hard heart that becomes callous over time.

Next, Paul identifies the motive behind their sinful lifestyle. Look at verse 19 again. "and

they having become callous, having given themselves over to sensuality…." When the hard heart becomes a callous heart, something terrible results. They give themselves over.

It means they stop even trying to resist. They stop fighting their corruption in any way.

Literally it says they abandon themselves. Here's how it works. First, they abandon their

own hearts to the pursuit of their sin, and then tragically Romans 1 tells us God abandons

them to their sin. You remember Romans 1. You remember what Paul says there. He says because they knew God, they didn't honor Him as God, they didn't give thanks, they became fools. "Therefore, (verse 24), God gave them over. God abandoned them to the lust of their hearts to impurity so that their bodies would be dishonored among them."

Verse 26, "For this reason God … [abandoned them] to degrading passions for their women

exchanged the natural function for that which is unnatural and … the same way also the men abandoned the natural function of the woman and burned in their desire toward one another…." Verse 28 "And just as they did not see fit to acknowledge God any longer, God abandoned them to a depraved mind to do those things which are not proper." [At first, they abandoned themselves to pursue these things, and then God, as an act of judgment, abandoned them to those things.]

Now here it says in Ephesians 4 they abandoned themselves. What does this person give himself or herself over to do? What do they abandon themselves to pursue? Notice verse 19 says, "sensuality." That's not a word we use very often, and we tend to think immediately of something with sexual overtones, and that is included in this word, but it goes much further than that. This word refers to unrestrained, outrageous moral conduct, to a lifestyle that is unrestrained by law or even general sense of morality. It goes beyond the bounds, beyond the limits. It is an unrestrained, reckless pursuit to satisfy the senses. That is why it's translated sensuality, to satisfy the appetites, the senses, with no regard for what is right.

William Barkley writes, "Bad people usually try to hide their sin, but someone with sensuality in the soul does not care how much public opinion is shocked as long as that person's personal desires are gratified. They are lost to decency and shame." In other words, this is a person who pursues sin with no ability to blush.

You remember Jeremiah confronted and rebuked the people of Israel for that. Jeremiah 6. Jeremiah 6 verse (sic) verse 15 he says. God says this to the people of Israel. "Were they ashamed because of the abomination they have done. They were not even ashamed at all. They did not even know how to blush. Therefore, they shall fall among those who fall at the time that I punish them. They shall be cast down, says the Lord." That's what this sin is. Parrell Honer, who wrote an excellent commentary on the book of Ephesians and just recently went to be with the Lord, in writing on sensuality says this is what sensuality is, how it can be defined. "It is the practice of sin without concern as to what God or people think." They give themselves over to the pursuit of the satisfaction of their senses without regard to what God or people think.

Sensuality, then, is the unrestrained indulgence in sensual pleasure, the pleasure that comes from satisfying the senses, the physical appetites. Now this is very important that you understand. When we think about that description, our mind immediately goes to the worst and grossest kinds of sin in the culture, the worst kind of people in the culture. Understand, you don't just find this reality in society's worst people. You find it in some form, Paul wants us to know, in every unbeliever even among those who are heavily involved in religion. It's important that you know that.

Sometimes Christians are naïve. You know somebody comes along and they have a robe on and they have a pious smile, we think, oh, well, maybe they're a really good person. Listen, in both the Old and the New Testaments we have many examples of how those involved in the worship of false gods have given themselves, abandoned themselves, to the sensual. I mean, after all, in both Old and New Testament in the pagan temples there were what, temple prostitutes, but you will even find this reckless pursuit among those who call themselves part of the Christian church, among false teachers and their followers who've attached themselves to some form of Christianity.

A few months ago, I read a book that documents that for more than those hundred years during the time of the reformation when the Borja family controlled the papacy and were the popes and the Vatican, the Vatican was verifiably, historically verifiably, a cesspool. There was fornication. There was adultery. There was poisoning. There were the grossest kinds of incest. There were unmitigated patterns of reckless living to satisfy the senses. And folks, that is true wherever you find false religion as well as false teachers who've attached themselves to the Christian church.

Peter makes this very clear. Turn back to 2 Peter for a moment. He uses this word to describe false teachers. Second Peter 2

But false prophets also arose among the people, [Peter writes in the Old Testament,] just as there will also be false teachers among you, [in the church, connected to the church of Jesus Christ, and they] … will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, bringing swift destruction upon themselves. Many will follow their sensuality….

[Here it is, their pursuit of the satisfaction of the senses] and because of them the way of truth will be maligned;"

Down in verse 18 of the same chapter,

… speaking out arrogant words of vanity they entice by fleshly desires, by sensuality, those who barely escape from the ones who live in error, promising freedom while they themselves are slaves of corruption; for by what a man is overcome, by this is he enslaved."

The half-brother of our Lord in Jude in his letter, Jude 4, says this," For certain persons have crept … [into] the church unnoticed, those who were long beforehand marked out for this condemnation, ungodly persons…." [Watch this, this is the key.] "… who turn the grace of our God into licentiousness…." The word "licentiousness," same Greek word as "sensuality." They turn God's grace into the pursuit of the satisfaction of their cravings, and they deny our only Master and Lord Jesus Christ. Listen, you need to understand that when you see false religion, when you see false teachers, this is how they live. When you see false religion or false teachers in Christianity, don't be fooled. Don't think for a moment that that wonderfully clean robe and that pasted smile means that they are a deeply pious person. It's impossible.

The same thing is true of your unbelieving but religious neighbors and coworkers and family. Folks, they have no unregenerate hearts, and their unregenerate hearts have no power to control their sin. So then, all unbelievers, whether religious or not, are driven by their sinful desires to satisfy their appetites, and there are some pagans who stop caring about whether anybody else knows, and they become unrestrained, reckless, in their pursuit of sin.

Just think for a moment about what's happened in our own culture in the last 30 years. I was thinking this week. You know, homosexuality, for example. It's always been a temptation. Maybe there's somebody here this morning that's tempted in that way. Listen, it's a sin like any other sin, and there's power in Jesus Christ to overcome that, but there was a time when it and other sins were considered something to be ashamed of, something not to flaunt, and yet there was a there has come a time in our culture when that's exactly what happens, to flaunt sin in the pursuit of those satisfactions and those pleasures.

I remember back when the first openly gay character showed up on a TV program called "Soap." Billy Crystal played the role, and some people thought it was funny, some accepted it as something, you know we ought to be inclusive, but there were many even in the secular culture who were outraged by it. Now the culture is filled with those who not only are not ashamed of their sin as they ought to be and all of us ought to be, but who flaunt it as if it were something wonderful and as if they were great liberating heroes. They are given over to sensuality, Paul says, to the satisfaction of their senses with reckless abandon with no regard for what's right or decent or even perceived so by God or others.

Paul says, Christians, don't live like that. Keep restraining your sin. Keep fighting your corruption. Don't give in to it. Don't give in to it and pursue it in the sort of open and reckless abandon. Listen, do you reach a time in your own life when you feel you're losing ground with the sin in your life? Listen, that's universally true. I feel that way at times. Every Christian here feels that way at times. Don't stop fighting. Don't give up. Be relentless in pursuing, killing that sin as Paul says in Colossians 3. In fact, we're going to learn here in Ephesians 4. Put those things off, and put on other behaviors in their place. Don't give in! Fight! I love what Jonathan Edwards says in one of his 70 resolutions. I love this because this is how we ought to live. Listen to what he wrote. This was when he was 18 by the way. "Resolved, never to give over nor in the least to slacken my fight with my corruptions however unsuccessful I may be." You feel unsuccessful. Don't give up. Fight! That's what Paul is saying. Don't live like the pagans who just give in and give over and abandon themselves to it. Their controlling motive is to satisfy their appetites.

How does that express itself? Let me consider with you, thirdly, the expression of their sinful lifestyle, the expression of their sinful lifestyle. Verse 19 says, "… for the practice of every kind of impurity…." "… for the practice of every king of impurity…." Here's how their sinful lifestyle expresses itself. The word "practice" here means "to pursue something as an occupation or business." It's used like we use the word "practicing medicine" or "practicing law." So here this person makes their pursuit of the satisfaction of their appetites become like their profession, like their business, like their occupation. And what is this occupation, this new job they have? Verse 19 says, "… the practice of every kind of impurity." Impurity is the word that simply means "refuse." It describes that which is dirty. Every kind of moral act that renders the soul dirty before God, they are after it. They are pursuing it because it gives them satisfaction.

In the Old Testament, you remember there were specific actions that rendered a person ceremonially unclean or dirty before God. For example, if you touched a dead body, you were ceremonially unclean. You couldn't go to the temple. You couldn't worship. In the New Testament there is nothing that renders us ceremonially unclean or dirty. There are actions, however, that render us actually or morally unclean or dirty before God, and here we're told that unbelievers recklessly pursue the satisfaction of their senses and their appetites, and they pursue it into every conceivable kind of behavior that renders them dirty before God. You could turn to Romans 1, and we won't turn there, but you remember that list of sins. God gives them over, and they pursue these things, and verse 32 says they not only do these things knowing they're wrong, they give hearty approval to those who do them. This is the sinful lifestyle of pagans. They give themselves over to pursue every conceivable sin as long as it will satisfy what they want.

Notice finally, the devotion to their lifestyle, the devotion to their lifestyle. Back in Ephesians 4:19, we've seen the cause, we've seen the motive, we've seen the expression of their sinful lifestyle, now fourthly the devotion of their sinful lifestyle. Verse 19 says they do all of this "with greediness." This describes the intensity with which pagans pursue these behaviors. They do it with greediness. They participate in these in these things with an insatiable craving for more. It's really quite an insightful description of how sin really works, isn't it?

I mean in that expression "with greediness" there two inviolable realities about your sin, and my sin, as well as their sin. If you can get these down, it'll help you a lot. Number 1, sin is never truly satisfying. Sin will never truly satisfy the human heart, and number two, sin will only create a relentless appetite for more sin and worst sin. Sin will only create a relentless appetite for more sin and worst sin. Understand this basic, unchangeable law of the human heart. Sin will not, it cannot ultimately satisfy your heart. It promises that, doesn't it? That's why we go after it. It's going to bring satisfaction, and it does bring a momentary pleasure or satisfaction, but its joys never last. You know that.

Moreover, that sin that brought some measure of satisfaction yesterday won't bring the same level of pleasure tomorrow. Sin is like illegal drugs. You know over time, the mild drug that you started in getting pleasure from doesn't bring the same level of pleasure, and so the drug addict is forced to move on to something stronger because they're seeking that same level of pleasure, and they're not getting it from the same kind of drug they did before. That's how it is with sin. Yesterday's sin won't satisfy you tomorrow.

It's like drinking salt water to keep your body hydrated. In the long run your body will use more water to eliminate the salt than water you gained from drinking it. It just makes your body thirstier for more. That's how pagans live. They live sinful lifestyles looking for satisfaction, but they're never satisfied. In fact, they just make them thirstier for more of that sin and for worse sin because yesterday's sin won't satisfy me tomorrow. It only increases their hunger and appetite. Listen, brothers and sisters, understand the vicious cycle of sin. It's the same in your life. It will not satisfy your heart. It never will, and it'll only make you thirstier for more. Don't live like that. Don't think it will like pagans do.

In 4:17-19, Paul describes how pagans live, how they lived in Corinth and how they lived in Athens and Rome and Ephesus in the first century, and he's also describing how people live today in Dallas and Chicago in Los Angeles and in New York. Don't be surprised when the unbelievers around you live like this, but stop copying them. Paul says stop living like you used to live. And that is how we used to live, isn't it? By the way, Paul isn't saying here that every unbeliever is guilty of all of these things to the same degree.

When Christ found you, for example, you may have been living the most debauched life possible. They're people in our church who share their testimony with me, and that was true of them. It's almost impossible to imagine living lower in sin than they were living. Or perhaps you were different. Perhaps because of your fear because of disease, because of fear of losing your reputation or for some other reason, maybe because of pride because you didn't want to be the lowlife those other people were, you practiced a certain measure of self-restraint. So, you might have appeared to the people around you to have been a much better person than many of the others. Listen, it doesn't matter. When you're in the Atlantic Ocean, it doesn't matter whether you're only paddling a boat a few feet from shore or whether you're sinking and drowning in the middle of the Atlantic. It's the same ocean, the same water, and you're still wet.

Verses 17-19 describe the ocean in which all of us lived to some degree before Christ found us, but thank God, He did find us, and He intervened. Folks, this would have been our biography. This would have been our epitaph if Christ had not rescued us.

Turn to 1 Peter 1 as we close our time together, 1 Peter 1. I love this passage. It's a great way to end this study because here Peter says in verse 17 of 1 Peter 1. If you're a Christian,

If you address as Father the one who impartially judges according to each one's work, conduct yourselves in fear during the time of your stay on earth. [In other words, fear God. Live in holiness as he's just said before that. Why? What would motivate you to do that? Verse 18,] knowing that you were not redeemed, [you weren't ransomed,] with perishable things like silver and gold from your futile way of life, [there's who we were,] your futile way of life inherited from your forefathers, but [you were ransomed, you were bought from the bondage of sin, from the curse of the law, from the wrath of God] with precious blood as of a lamb unblemished and spotless, the blood of Christ. For He was foreknown before the foundation of the world but has appeared in these last times for the sake of you who through Him are believers in God who raised Him from the dead and gave Him glory, so that your faith and hope are in God."

Listen folks, the reason you're not like Ephesians 4 describes is because of what Peter describes here. He redeemed you from your futile way of life, and He did it by the sacrifice of Jesus Christ. The reason you're different today is because of Christ, and it is that radical change that God brought about through Christ in our lives that we celebrate when we come to communion.

Our Father, we thank you for the blood of Christ. We thank you that because He willingly as a sacrifice poured out His life in death, we can be free. Your wrath was satisfied, and now you are our God and our Father.

Lord, help us to live like those who have been redeemed from a futile way of life. Help us to live in a way that honors the One who bought us, the One who redeemed us with His precious blood.

For it's in His name we pray. Amen.