Tuesday, August 2, 2011

My Futile Heart

Ephesians 4:17-21

"This I say therefore, 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. But you did not learn Christ in this way, if indeed you have heard him and have been taught in him, just as truth is in Jesus"

I am often stricken by the futility of life. The little things that are so meaningless.

These futilities are trifle things that bog us down and keep us in chains to this earth. I mean, have you ever gone through a day, or a week, or a month...or maybe even a YEAR without praising God (or even thinking of Him for that matter) for the things he does in your life? Have you stopped and pondered that God could literally stop your heart from its constant rhythm? Yes, friends you would cease to be on this earth and return to dust and life would move forward without you! It's not all about us and our "things" friends. I know we have jobs, and children, and bills, and "status quo" to keep up with but really.... they return to dust too!

I get frustrated at myself for forgetting the how mighty God is. My creator moves mountains ... He spoke Mt. Everest into existence ... He creates the cool breeze that calms our souls at dusk ... the ocean and its mighty waves....He molds the baby in its mothers womb and holds it with his gentle hands ... He carries loved ones home to be with Him in heaven and rejoices in their company with His angels. People, God is not futile....his love is deep and wide.

The fact is, He does care about the small stuff, but that's because He loves His creation and all of it's intricacies. If we continue to allow our hearts to be filled with the "things" of this life, we will leave no space for God's wonders. We take away His power and replace it with our weak and unstable desires. We desire things that are not real. To become people that (our society says) are beautiful and popular. These people that society has manufactured do not desire to be refined. They crumble at the struggles of life and have no firm foundation to stand on when trouble creeps in.

Let God in. Let him rule your heart and help you process life through His eyes. He has offered you a life free from the bondage and chains of sin. All He asks is that you accept Him and the work of His Son on the cross. He payed it all, even for those futile sins.

Here's some more insight on our futile hearts based off of Ephesians 4:17-21. This was written by John Piper and I believe it explains why we are so numb to the beauty and power of Christ in our lives sometimes.

Six Levels of Evil in the Heart (sound bad huh)?!

1. Hardness

First, the deepest problem is hardness (v. 18 at the end): "due to their hardness of heart." My deepest problem in life is that apart from the free and sovereign grace of God my heart is hardened against God. I am like a stone toward all that is spiritual. It does not move me, attract me, delight me. This is a far deeper problem than ignorance. It is the cause of ignorance, and the guilt of ignorance.

Do you see this in the last two phrases of verse 18? "The ignorance that is in them, due to their hardness of heart." The hardness is deeper than ignorance. And therefore my ignorance of spiritual things is not innocent. It is evil. It is blameworthy, because it comes not from lack of truth or evidence, but from a deep hardness in my heart against God. That is the first and deepest problem that the surgeon shows me about myself and why my life is so futile.

2. Darkness

Second, there is in me a deep darkness that swallows up my understanding, and keeps me from seeing the glory of the gospel or the excellency of Christ (v. 18 at the very beginning): "they are darkened in their understanding." Notice 5:8: "Once you were darkness, but now you are light in the Lord; walk as children of the light." Before the Lord shined in my heart, I was darkness (2 Corinthians 4:4–6). There was no light in me. And Jesus said in John 3:20 that I would not come to the light because I hated the light. And this is true whether I am a college professor or an illiterate native.

3. Deep Ignorance

Third, the result of this darkness is a deep ignorance of reality (v. 18): "alienated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them." I say it is a DEEP ignorance, for there is a superficial knowledge in the darkened mind of man. Apart from spiritual light I can know ten thousand things, but I can't know the true meaning of anything—not one thing. Because to know the meaning of a thing is to know why it exists. But Colossians 1:16 says, "All things were created through Christ and for Christ." So until I know in my heart that every molecule in this universe exists for the sake of Jesus Christ, I don't know the final meaning of anything. I misunderstand everything, until the darkness of my mind is taken away.

4. Licentiousness

Fourth, the hardness and darkness and ignorance of my heart results in licentiousness. Verse 19: "They have become callous [which is the same as 'hard'] and have given themselves up to licentiousness." The sense of the passage seems to be that when a person is ignorant of the true meaning of things, and the true values of life as God sees them, that person will make his goal in life something other than God. It may be the gratification of his body in sex or drink or drugs or food. Or it may be the gratification of his ego with more refined intellectual and cultural pursuits. Anything but God, and everything apart from God. The heart that is hard and dark and ignorant of God will also be a licentious and covetous heart.

5. Uncleanness

Fifth, inevitably the hardness and darkness and ignorance and licentiousness spill over into practices of uncleanness. Notice how verse 19 ends: "greedy to practice every kind of uncleanness." Literally, their covetousness drives them to pursue practices that in God's eyes are impure.

So we have finally reached the level of outward behavior, or what verse 17 calls "walking" or "living"—"don't walk as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their minds." In other words, Escape from futility! Live a different way. Walk a different path.

But now that we have read the surgeon's report in verses 17, 18, and 19, we know that the disease is massive. The cancer of hardness and darkness and ignorance and licentiousness has spread everywhere. And we will never be healed, we will never escape from futility by means of a psychological quick fix or a superficial, up-beat seminar on how to change our attitude. That's man's way, not God's way.

6. Alienated from the Life of God

God has a way. But that leads to the sixth level of evil in my disease that I haven't mentioned yet. Verse 18 says I am "alienated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in me, due to my hardness of heart." Hardness and darkness and ignorance and licentiousness and the practice of uncleanness cut me off from the one thing that could save me—the "life of God," and leave me dead (2:1, 5).

Lets repair our hearts today:)

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