Ephesians 5:15-17 ESV
15 Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, 16 making the best use of the time, because the days are evil. 17 Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is.
Today’s text is just three verses in Ephesians in which the apostle Paul encourages the believers in Ephesus to take a long and careful look at what kind of life they were living.
A very literal translation of the first few words in the text would read “Look carefully how you are walking.” Those words bring two images to my mind.
First, I see a foolish walk. That’s a walk that pays no attention to the obstacles in the path, and therefore is constantly stumbling,.
Second, the wise walk isstraight, careful, and safe.
Paul told the Ephesian believers that before they came to Christ they “… were spiritually dead because of (their) disobedience and sins. At that time (they) followed the world’s evil way; (they) obeyed the ruler of the spiritual powers in space, the spirit who now controls the people who disobey God” (2:1-2).
Their lives had been characterized by sin, conformity to the world, and lack of self-control, because Satan was in control. The world calls it walking in freedom. God calls it walking in foolishness.
Paul had warned the Ephesians not to walk as the Gentiles did, “in the futility of their minds.”
In other words, the Gentiles were following a path, but not giving any thought to where that path would lead. Their feet were moving, but their minds were not there.
When you do that, the least that can happen is that you get lost. To be lost means more than the fact that you are not yet saved. If you stay lost, something dangerous is likely to happen.
Paul said that unsaved are “darkened in their understanding.” This is true regardless of their academic status: they can be doctors or deadbeats.
Their darkened minds do not show up in an IQ test. What reveals a darkened mind is failure to consider God and his ways. That explains how a person can have a brilliant mind and still live an ungodly life. His mind is not disciplined in the right direction. It’s like a spiritual autism. The mechanics are still there, but the relationship is missing.
Paul said that unbelievers are “alienated from the life of God.” Some important connections are missing, and so the life does not work right.
We were not created to act independent of our creator. Genesis tells us that in the garden of Eden, God made regular visits with Adam and Eve. They received guidance and support from him during those visits. After they sinned, God not only banished them from the garden, he also ceased to regularly visit them. The alienation began there.
This alienation is both the cause and the result of ignorance due to hardened hearts.
Now we come to the other option. Paul was encouraging the Ephesians to walk the wise walk. He said that Christians “are his masterpiece, created in Christ Jesus for good works that God prepared long ago to be our way of life” (2:10 ISV).
The wise walk is what we were born again for. It is the first stage of our eternal inheritance – the stage we can take advantage of now. Through this walk, the church is now manifesting God’s wisdom to “…the principalities and powers in heavenly places” (3:10 KJV).
The wise walk is also the way to keep peace in the fellowship. If there is one thing that will destroy a church faster than a fire it is disunity in the fellowship. Paul encouraged the Ephesians to adopt attitudes toward each other that would maintain unity amid a diverse body. That is the secret. It is not developing a doctrine that everyone can support. It is making the unity itself the thing that the church is eager to defend.
Paul encouraged the Ephesians to walk in love as Christ loved us. The love walk that Christ walked took him from heaven to a manger in Bethlehem.
It was a walk in which he “made himself nothing” so that we could become something.
We must be willing to humble ourselves so that God can use that witness to reach someone who needs him.
The wise walk is also centered on God’s will. But in the Bible, the concept of God’s will can mean two things:
It can mean God’s divine sovereign plan. This is the will of God that is going to happen in the future. It is sure because God has planned it, and he cannot fail in any of his plans. But we usually do not know this will.
The will of God that we can know is his desire: what he wants to happen. The Bible reveals this will of God, so we can know it. More importantly, it is this will of God that we are to walk according to.
“Look carefully how you are walking” Paul tells the Ephesians. That’s our challenge as well. We need to be walking the wise walk, not the foolish walk.
Father, give us the courage to walk the wise walk, and KEEP ON walking it consistently – so that the world may know that we are following Christ. May they follow us all the way to Him.