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Sermon #4121

The Emptiness of the Christless Life

A Sermon on Ephesians 4:17-19


Ephesians 4:17-19 ESV KJV
Now this I say and testify in the Lord, that you must no longer walk as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their minds. They are darkened in their understanding, alienated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, due to their hardness of …

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Sermon Description

There have been many great moral teachers and philosophies throughout the ages, but in the end, they are all insufficient to make people truly moral and transform society. In this sermon on emptiness from Ephesians 4:17–19 titled “The Emptiness of the Christless Life,” Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones explains that this is because morality (as it is commonly understood) and godliness are often in conflict with one another. Morality (as found in Scripture) is not simply a list of what one should and should not do, but it is a way of living in light of who God is and who He has revealed Himself to be. It is strictly revelation and not speculative. The modern world presents morality as the path of least resistance, relying wholly on the fallen reason of humanity. As Dr. Lloyd-Jones warns, this is why the world is unable to provide a meaningful answer to the deepest and most important questions in life. Morality and the nature of human life are only understood in light of God’s revelation as found in His word to humanity. That is where one can see who they are and what they must do to be saved.

Sermon Breakdown

  1. The apostle Paul addresses the Ephesians in a solemn manner to call attention to an important matter. He says “this I say therefore and testify in the Lord”.
  2. By saying “testify in the Lord”, Paul means he is speaking with the authority of an apostle and the matter is divinely authenticated.
  3. Paul is testifying that the Ephesians must no longer walk as the Gentiles do. The word “walk” refers to the whole of one’s life, inward and outward.
  4. The Ephesians were once Gentiles themselves, so Paul is saying they must no longer live like the other Gentiles who have not become Christians.
  5. Paul describes the way the other Gentiles live as “in the vanity of their mind”. This means their life is empty, futile, aimless, and pointless.
  6. The “mind” here refers to the whole soul - intellect, affections, conscience, will. It refers to their entire outlook on life and way of living.
  7. Paul goes on to describe the cause of this vain life in verse 18 and the consequences in verse 19. But here he makes a general statement about their condition.
  8. This description applies not just to the pagan world then but also to the modern world today without Christ. Life without Christ will always be empty and vain.
  9. The philosophers and intellects of the ancient world did not lead to any real understanding or satisfaction. Their views on religion, history, death, and morality were utterly futile.
  10. The apostle John says the only victory over this vain world is through faith in Christ. Faith opens our eyes to the emptiness of the world.
  11. We must be thankful God has shone into our hearts and given us understanding.

The Book of Ephesians

Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones

Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones (1899-1981) was a Welsh evangelical minister who preached and taught in the Reformed tradition. His principal ministry was at Westminster Chapel, in central London, from 1939-1968, where he delivered multi-year expositions on books of the bible such as Romans, Ephesians and the Gospel of John. In addition to the MLJ Trust’s collection of 1,600 of these sermons in audio format, most of these great sermon series are available in book form (including a 14 volume collection of the Romans sermons), as are other series such as "Spiritual Depression", "Studies in the Sermon on the Mount" and "Great Biblical Doctrines". He is considered by many evangelical leaders today to be an authority on biblical truth and the sufficiency of Scripture.