SENSUALITY AND GREED
So I tell you this, and insist on I in the Lord, that you must no longer live as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their thinking. They are darkened in their understanding and separated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them due to the hardening of their hearts. Having lost all sensitivity, they have given themselves over to sensuality so as to indulge in every kind of impurity, and they are full of greed (Eph. 4: 17-19).
Paul used two words to sum up the lifestyle of the pagan Gentiles – sensuality and greed. The same description is applicable and apt for the godless world in which we live today. The human heart has not changed. Every generation, from the fall of Adam, lives for sin and self. Every society under the sun is in chaos and disarray for the same reasons – sensuality and greed.
As the unique and supreme creation of God – not some superior ape that has evolved from our monkey “cousins” – made in His image to reflect His glory, God has given us one overriding instruction which encapsulates everything we are to be.
Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength (Deut. 6:5).
However, another master claims our allegiance. He tricked the first pair into believing his word over the word of their Creator and introduced them to a new trend – disobedience and rebellion in the place of loving obedience and submission to their Maker. They became lovers of self, not lovers of God. Sensual pleasures and greedy selfishness dominates the human race.
By the way, I was amused to read, in a glossy woman’s magazine, the latest diagnosis for marital disharmony which used to be the outcome of selfishness. It is now called “post-romantic stress disorder”! Trust the psychiatrists to come up with a neat way for people to dodge responsibility and for them to make money. Just imagine how much more cash will flow into their coffers while they “counsel” their clients about their post-romantic stress disorder. How much better to teach them to grow up and stop living for themselves at the expense of their spouses!
Of course, like a leopard, we cannot change our “spots”. Only the Holy Spirit can transform our hearts through the forgiveness and new life Jesus came to give us. Ezekiel prophesied that God would do a miracle in the hearts of His people to transform them from stony-hearted, selfish and disobedient idolaters to loving and submissive children of God.
For I will take you out of the nations; I will gather you from all the countries and bring you back into your own land. I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean; I will cleanse you from all your impurities and all your idols. I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit in you and move you to follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws (Ez. 36: 24-27).
God fulfilled this promise through His Son. According to Paul,
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here (2 Cor. 5: 17).
Since God has done the miracle of transformation, our responsibility is to put it into practice in our everyday lives. New hearts produce new attitudes and new behaviour. Jesus said that it is the fruit that reveals the nature of the root. If we are still living like we did before we began to follow Jesus, satisfying our sensual appetites and living only to provide for ourselves, a question hangs over the reality of our profession. Here is the test:
Therefore, brothers and sisters, we have an obligation – but it is not to the flesh, to live according to it. For if you live according to the flesh, you will die; but if, by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live. For those who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God (Rom. 8: 12-14).
If we do not produce the proof of a new heart, our profession means nothing. Paul urged his Ephesian readers to respond in faith to the transformation God had accomplished through the power of the gospel at work in them. According to him, they were no longer classified as “Gentiles” because together with the title came the expectation that they would behave like Gentiles, living sensual and greedy lives.
They had become part of a new culture and an alternative society, living under the title of “children of God”. They had stepped over from the realm of “lovers of self” to “lovers of God”, a love which replaced all other loves and changed their hearts from greed to generosity, from selfishness to selfless service because they were followers of Jesus and reflectors of His nature.
Scripture is taken from THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
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ISBN: Softcover – 978-1-4828-0512-3, eBook 978-4828-0511-6
My second book, Learning to be a Disciple – The Way of the Master (Copyright © 2015, Partridge Publishing), a companion volume to Learning to be a Son – The Way to the Father’s Heart, has been released in paperback and digital format on www.amazon.com.
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