Ephesians 4:17-24 (AMP)
17 So this I say and solemnly testify in [the name of] the Lord [as in His presence], that you must no longer live as the heathen (the Gentiles) do in their perverseness [in the folly, vanity, and emptiness of their souls and the futility] of their minds.
18 Their moral understanding is darkened and their reasoning is beclouded. [They are] alienated (estranged, self-banished) from the life of God [with no share in it; this is] because of the ignorance (the want of knowledge and perception, the willful blindness) that is deep-seated in them, due to their hardness of heart [to the insensitiveness of their moral nature].
Yesterday I was asked by a friend as we talked about the economy and politics: "What's wrong with this country?"
"Sin", I replied. My friend didn't want to accept that answer, rightly stating that sin has always been present, but things have never been this bad.
"O.K. Then it's the absence of God in people's lives", was my next reply. He agreed
Unfortunately I believe we have become a nation and a Christian people who more closely resemble the gentiles described in this passage. The admonition from Paul is that we "no longer live as the Gentiles". His accusation against them was that they were living from the "emptiness of their souls and the futility of their minds." I think that is a pretty good description of the church today. Paul further goes on to state that they are "estranged, self-banished from the life of God with no share in it because of their ignorance.
Paul is making the case that there were folks in the church who were living far below the potential that God intended for them. When I read about those times when God is actively moving in the hearts of a nation or group of people, there is great hope: not futility.
Paul further says that this spiritual dilemma is because of the hardness of their own hearts. It's not because of a some outside variable that we are the victims of. It is because of the hardness of our own hearts that we live beneath God's intended level of spiritual life.
Sometimes when I gain weight, I reach a point where I "just don't care" and say I'd rather be fat and happy! That's the physical equivalent of hardening my heart to the idea that there is a better way to live. But that better way takes discipline. I have to say yes to broccoli and no to Krispy Kreme and that's hard sometimes! In a physical sense, to experience God's best requires personal discipline on my part. Far more importantly, if I want to live at the level that God has for me spiritually, it takes discipline.
Paul said "Hard Hearts" was the cause. I'm not sure how to soften a hard heart, but I suppose you would soak it! Soak it in His Word! Soak it in His presence! Make Him my priority!
I am one who has allowed myself to live far beneath your provision for my life. I've allowed the cares of this world to take priority over your things, and have thus developed a hard heart. I ask your forgiveness and your help today that I could begin anew to soak my heart and allow you to soften it. I've allowed hurt and bitterness to build a wall around my heart and separate me from You and Your people. Help me to simply soak in you today. As I do, I pray you would soften my heart so that I can once again live where you called me to live. I cannot do it alone! Without your help I will fail. Please meet me where I am and take me to where You want me to be!