The Christian Walk: Lesson 4 How Not to Walk cont

The Christian Walk: Lesson 4

Part 1: How Not to Walk


  1. Do not Walk in Vanity/Foolishness
    1. Texts: Job 31:5; Ps 39:6; Jer 2:5, 8; Eph 4:17, 5:15
    2. Principles:
      1. Avoid the emptiness and futility of the false religion.

People who walk after vanity become vain (Jer 2:5). Vanity in this case is literally “breath, vapor,” but figuratively refers to anything empty or useless. Jeremiah records God’s thoughts about the vain, profitless idols and false gods of the heathen. The people had “gone far” from the Lord by adopting the idolatrous worship practices of the heathen. Those worshipping false gods become like them—useless and stupid (cf. Ps 135:15-18). Christianity has nothing in common with the falsehood and error of counterfeit religion, and Christians must “come out from among them” and separate from such unclean things (2 Cor 6:14-17).

  1. Avoid the foolishness of secular human thought.

a)                  The word “vanity” in the NT means “emptiness, futility.” Paul is referring to emptiness and futility of thought so common among the “Gentiles,” i.e., the unsaved. Whatever unbelievers think and do ultimately ends in futility and disappointment. From God’s point of view, whatever the unbeliever’s mind/intellect conceives is worthless. Peter uses the same word when describing false teachers who speak “great swelling words of emptiness” (2 Pet 2:18). Unbelieving Gentiles failed to attain the true purpose of the mind, namely, to receive God’s revelation which would guide them in their conduct.[1] Instead of thinking God’s thoughts after Him, unbelievers fill their minds with worthless, meaningless, foolish thoughts.

b)                  Paul describes what the futility of the unbelieving mind looks like  (Eph 4:18-19):

(1)               Having their understanding darkened—both intellect and emotions are corrupted by sin.

(2)               Being alienated from the life of God—they have no spiritual life due to their separation from God.

(3)               Ignorance and blindness of heart—they do not know and do not see (cf. 1 Cor 1:18f).

(4)               Hardening of heart—a medical term signifying callous hardening (cf. John 12:40; 1 Tim 4:2)

(5)               Given over to lewdness, uncleanness, and greed—voluntarily yielded themselves up to the power of their own sensuality and lasciviousness, so as to be commanded by it, without resisting it.[2]

Quote:  Indulgence in vice destroys the intellect as well as the body, and unfits a man to appreciate the truth of a proposition in morals, or in mathematics, or the beauty of a poem, as well as the truth and beauty of religion.[3]

c)                  The unwise are those who, having no insight into things that pertain to God and salvation, are not aiming to reach the highest goal and therefore do not know and do not even care to know what are the best means to reach it. They regard as very important what is in reality of minor value or may even be harmful, and they do not appreciate what is indispensable. They conduct themselves accordingly.[4]

d)                 The NT repeatedly warns believers not to adopt the philosophies and vain traditions of unbelievers (cf. Rom 1:21-22; 1 Cor 1:19-20; Eph 5:6; Col 2:8, 18). The wisdom of unsaved man is empty foolishness compared to the wisdom of God. Believers must reject any man-made philosophy or rule that contradicts God’s word (cf. Acts 5:29; 1 Cor 1:20, 3:19).

Note: Christians are frequently guilty of seeking approval from the unsaved crowd. They strive for recognition and respect from mainstream society (i.e., media, politicians, entertainers, educators). They try to merge Christian thought with secular philosophies. This is exceedingly dangerous and unbiblical. Gaining approval and recognition from the unsaved world is not a biblical value; far from it. We should have no interest in gaining appreciation or support from those who hate God. In fact, when a professing Christian gains worldly approval, he has made himself an enemy of God (James 4:4). Beware of following any Christian leader who gains approval or respect from the unsaved world.

e)                  Theologians refer to the negative consequence sin has upon the mind as the noetic effects of sin (based on the Greek word for mind, nous). The carnal (fleshly, i.e., unsaved) mind is hostile to God and refuses to subject itself to the law of God (Rom 8:5-8). The result is blindness to the truth and foolishness of thought. Regeneration reduces some of the noetic effects of sin, yet the believer still must strive to bring his thoughts under the Lordship of Christ (cf. 2 Cor 10:5).

  1. Avoid the externalism and superficiality characteristic of the unsaved world.

a)                  To “walk in a vain show” (Ps 39:6 KJV) likely refers to living according to external appearances. The Hebrew word for “vain show” is literally “image or shadow” and suggests something imaginary instead of real. Such people “make an uproar for nothing” (Ps 39:6b NASB). That is, they make much of what is essentially trivial, inconsequential, and insignificant.

b)                  Unsaved people often emphasize appearance/image over substance, costume over content. Outward show becomes important while the content of one’s character has little value. What they are so proud about is worthless and empty from God’s perspective. Examples: TV/movies/video games, sports fanatics, celebrities.

c)                  Christians must be careful not to adopt this heathen characteristic of valuing what is essentially worthless (cf. Isa 44:14-20). Our thoughts should be focused on “things above,” not vain, earthly concerns (Col 3:1-3). Man looks on the outward appearance, but God looks at the heart (1 Sam 16:7). The “hidden man of the heart” (1 Pet 3:4) is of true value; that is where our focus should be.

Good quote: “There is nothing wrong with frivolous activity for one whose life is not committed to frivolity. There is no harm in superficial pleasures for one who also has a knowledge of the tragic and of the transcendent. The subjectivism of popular culture is impotent for someone whose life is characterized by rootedness in objective reality. Christians should not fear the idols and myths of our day, as long as they have no reverence for them.”[5]

  1. Do Not Walk in Craftiness
    1. Text: 2 Cor 4:2
    2. Principles:
      1. “Craftiness” in this case is not a positive attribute. The word connotes the trickery or cunning treachery necessary to deceive others. Satan deceived Eve by employing craftiness (2 Cor 11:3), and he continues to use this strategy. God promises to catch the “wise” (i.e., fools) “in their own craftiness” (1 Cor 3:19). So the idea seems to be cunning deception.
      2. Craftiness is in the same category as “hidden things of dishonesty.” Paul refused to deal with people dishonestly or deceptively. He was honest and full of integrity. This should be particularly true of Christian ministry (2 Cor 4:1). One need not use underhanded or deceitful means of convincing unbelievers to be saved or of exhorting believers to be holy. Simply preach the Gospel and trust God for the results (Rom 1:16; 1 Cor 3:6-7; 1 Thes 2:3-5).

Quote:  Trickery is an attribute of the devil, not of the apostles and their helpers.[6]

Much ministry these days is tainted by man-pleasing flattery rather than God-honoring truth. The church marketing and seeker-sensitive models are guilty of pandering to the sensibilities of the unsaved mind.

  1. Those guilty of craftiness may also be guilty of “handling the word of God deceitfully.” Some have falsified God’s word to suit their own agenda. They “lie in wait to deceive” through their “cunning craftiness” (Eph 4:14). We must not be among those who “corrupt the word of God” (2 Cor 2:17). Genuine Christians must retain their commitment to “rightly dividing the word of truth” (2 Tim 2:15) by speaking sincerely and honestly.
  2. Do Not Walk in Sin
    1. Texts:  1 Kings 15:3, 26, 34; Col. 3:5–7;Jer 6:28, 9:4, 23:14; Mic 2:11;Rom 13:13; 1 Pet 4:3; Dan 4:37; 2 Thes 3:6, 11
    2. Principles:
      1. Avoid the sins of your ancestors or predecessors. The fact that your family behaved in a certain way does not guarantee that such behavior was right or proper. The Christian rule of life must come from the Bible, and especially from the NT. We can learn much from our forebears, but we must be careful to avoid their errors and sins.
      2. Avoid lies, slanders, speaking evil, false stories, gossip, etc.
      3. Avoid rioting, drunkenness, lewdness, lust, fornication, uncleanness, passion, evil desire, covetousness, strife, envy, etc.
      4. Avoid pride (an over-inflated estimation of oneself). See Rom 12:3.
      5. Avoid disorder.
        1. Disorder is forsaking the apostolic tradition taught to the churches. Christians are to behave themselves properly in God’s house, the church, “the pillar and ground of the truth” (1 Tim 3:15). The church in particular should be characterized by good order—”Let all things be done decently and in order” (1 Cor 14:40).
        2. Disorder is departing from the rule of life as given in the Bible. The apostles and their contemporaries exemplified a pattern of Christian living that we should emulate (Phil 3:17). Paul specifically mentions idleness and gossip as evidence of a disorderly lifestyle.

[1] John F. Walvoord, Roy B. Zuck and Dallas Theological Seminary, The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures (Wheaton, IL: Victor Books, 1985), Eph 4:17–18.

[2] Poole

[3] Barnes Notes

[4] William Hendriksen and Simon J. Kistemaker, vol. 7, Exposition of Ephesians, New Testament Commentary (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1953-2001), 237.

[5] Kenneth Myers, All God’s Children and Blue Suede Shoes, 87.

[6] Simon J. Kistemaker and William Hendriksen, vol. 19, Exposition of the Second Epistle to the Corinthians, New Testament Commentary (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1953-2001), 137.

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