Ephesians 4:17-21 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 heart. They have become callous and have given themselves up to sensuality, greedy to practice every kind of impurity. But that is not the way you learned Christ!— assuming that you have heard about him and were taught in him, as the truth is in Jesus,
In a sermon, “Escape From Futility,” John Piper details “six levels of evil in my own heart that stand in opposition to Christ and the work he is doing.” Then he asks:
What Is the Escape from Futility? But even though there is no man or woman or book or seminar or program that can save me from the disease and futility of my own deep depravity, God can. It IS possible not to live in futility. That’s what Paul assumes when he says in verse 17: “Now this I affirm and testify in the Lord, that you must no longer live as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their minds.” There is an escape from futility! What is it? He begins his answer in verses 20–21. The reason, he says, that you must not follow the Gentiles in futility is that, “You did not so learn Christ [then he mentions what he is assuming!], assuming that your have heard of him [literally: not 'heard OF' but 'heard': assuming you have heard him] and were taught in him, as the truth is in Jesus.” What is the escape from futility this morning? It is hearing the voice of Jesus and being taught by him (verse 21). If you have heard him and if you have been taught by him, you need not and you must not walk in futility. Jesus said, “The hour is coming, AND NOW IS, when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God, and those who hear will live” (John 5:25). No longer alienated from the life of God. Jesus Christ has spoken this morning in the truth of his Word. He has diagnosed our disease, and now he gives himself as a cure and as a teacher to everyone who hears his voice and becomes his pupil. On another occasion he said, “My sheep hear my voice and I know them and they follow me; and I give them eternal life” (John 10:16). If you hear the voice of Jesus this morning, and not just my voice, and if you follow him (like a sheep follows a shepherd), then you will no longer be alienated from the life of God. Nothing will be futile for you any more. He will make you live forever in the presence of God and every detail of your ordinary life will have meaning in him. The text ends with these great words: “The truth is in Jesus.” And Jesus said, “The truth will make you free.” Free from hardness and darkness and ignorance and licentiousness and uncleanness and alienation. The truth shall set you free from futility. And the truth is in Jesus. The door to his hospital and to his school is open this morning. And I urge you in his name, become his trusting patient and become his eager pupil.