Life in Sin

“They have… given themselves up to sensuality…” (Ephesians 4:19)

Bible Reading: Ephesians 4:19

In our last devotional, we noted that human evil stems from the wilful rejection of what God has made known of himself and his will. Because of this, God gives people up to “dishonourable passions” and “debased minds” (Romans 1:26, 28). The resulting lifestyle is marked by lust and impurity rather than wisdom and love.

This is the point Paul makes in the verse before us (Ephesians 4:19). Refusing to acknowledge God, the Gentiles (effectively, all unbelievers) “have become callous and have given themselves up to sensuality, greedy to practice every kind of impurity.”      

What a tragic commentary this is on human existence. The “callousness” that Paul speaks of is an insensitivity that comes from repeatedly denying the truth. Eventually, both reason and conscience become hardened and unfeeling and cease to guide our conduct. In their place is a deliberate abandonment “to sensuality,” that is, to practices and things that gratify the senses such as wealth, pleasure, sex and so on.

But there is more. As is well known, these cravings are not easily satisfied. Once indulged, they have a desire for more. Here Paul speaks of this as being “greedy to practice every kind of impurity.” Not only is there a hunger for more of the familiar, but for new thrills that will satisfy the restlessness of passion.

The character of these desires is here spoken of as being “impure.” That is, it is not in the ordinary and proper satisfaction of desire that our rebellious hearts seek, but perversions of these – things which are inherently corrupt and damaging (see Romans 1:24-27). Peter lists among such activities “drunkenness, orgies, drinking parties, and lawless idolatry” (1 Peter 4:3).

Little wonder that Paul insists that God’s new people, the followers of Christ, are no longer to walk in these ways. For, as he writes to the Colossian Christians, “on account of these things the wrath of God is coming” (Colossians 3:6). And again, to the Corinthians, he issues this warning: “Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practise homosexuality… will inherit the kingdom of God” (1 Corinthians 6: 9, 10).

When we stop and think about it, we cannot but see how tragic it is when we exchange the noble kind of life God intended us for – a life of fellowship and cooperative activity with him ruling the earth – for an existence of slavery to defiling passions. There is no place for any of us to be arrogant when it comes to this, for we are all guilty of having turned aside from God’s ways, and are always liable to continue to do so.

How vital it is, then, to be renewing our minds constantly with God’s truth and let that transform us from the inside out. Thank God that it is possible by his grace to escape from a life in the grip of sinful passions (2 Peter 1:4).  

Closing Thoughts:

  • Are you conscious of powerful desires wanting to lead you out of the way of Christ?
  • Will we ever be free from these here on earth?

–  Andrew Young