Futility of our Thinking
I have been really blessed, of late, by listening to a sermon series by Pastor Keith Moore (Branson MO) concerning “Harden Not Your Heart.” He has such a gift for keeping things simple, which is, for someone like me, quite a blessing! 😉
Recently re-listening to the 4th message in this series, I was powerfully struck by the portraits he was able to paint – using not only the injunctions of Scripture (the do’s/do not’s), but also examples from the lives of a couple contrasting kings in the Old Testament (namely, Josiah vs. Ahab) – between Hardness of heart and Soft/Tenderheartedness. It is as basic as the contrast between pride and humility, but for whatever reason, this is just a season in my heart and spirit where I needed to receive the seed of this Word.
(You can find the links to the messages in this series by clicking HERE.)
So it was with some “tenderheartedness” that I read, again, recently, from Ephesians chapter 4:17-24:
“This I say, therefore, and testify in the Lord, that you should no longer walk as the rest of the Gentiles walk, in the futility of their mind, having their understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God, because of the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart; who, being past feeling, have given themselves over to lewdness, to work all uncleanness with greediness. But you have not so learned Christ, if indeed you have heard Him and have been taught by Him, as the truth is in Jesus: that you put off, concerning your former conduct, the old man which grows corrupt according to the deceitful lusts, and be renewed in the spirit of your mind, and that you put on the new man which was created according to God, in true righteousness and holiness.”
Just look at this list…..all of these things belonging to the FLESH, our FORMER life, and the current life of ALL those who are not born again in Christ, not walking by the Spirit of God:
- futility of their mind
- having their understanding darkened
- being alienated from the life of God
- ignorance that is in them
- blindness of their heart
- being past feeling
- given over to lewdness
- working all uncleanness with greediness
- growing corrupt according to deceitful lusts
Just reading that cuts me to the quick! Even those of us who are born again and seeking to live our life, walking as “led by the Spirit” (cf Romans 8 and Galatians 5), are characterized by some/most/all of these things at varying times. Why else would Paul need to COMMAND the church at Ephesus to NOT walk any longer like those who don’t know God!
Cuz like it or not, admit it or not, we are prone to live like practical athiests! As if God is not real, or as if our lusts are too big, or our feelings too dominant, or our “control” too weak and so we set about re-asserting it. What futility! And it is born out of no other place than our own hard hearts.
I won’t unpack this much further; I will trust the Spirit of God can speak to your hearts as he has mine just by the power of the above Word. But I will encourage you to cry out for the mercy of God to open the eyes of your heart to see where your own understanding – about God, about Christ, about his Word, about his Spirit, about the life we now live IN him, about the life we now walk WITH him – has perhaps been darkened, where your own thinking has perhaps been futile – or where, as the woman who discipled me (my spiritual “mom”) used to tell me, “your mind is agitating like a washing machine!” and getting NOwhere….
Father God, we know you are good – and our hearts are so easily deceived! We love to fixate on futile things, and indulge the lusts of our flesh, even if it’s as simple as trying to gain/usurp control of this or that thing, once again. But this is so much evidence of our own hearts being hardened! Being past feeling? Oh, God, please keep us SOFT and TENDER towards your word! So we can be sensitive! to your touch! Please keep the LIGHT of your word shining into our minds so that we are not giving ourselves over to what we once were, but instead we might walk faithfully with and ever towards YOU and your grace. Teach us to abide in your presence, and to receive with joy from your hand, and to trust, with love, your heart…..You are so good.