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"This I say therefore, and testify in the Lord, that ye henceforth walk not as other
Gentiles walk, in the vanity of their mind. Having the understanding darkened, being
alienated from the life of God through the ignorance that is in them, because of the
blindness of their heart: who being past feeling have given themselves over unto
lasciviousness, to work all uncleanness with greediness" (Eph. 4: 17-19).
This, according to verse 22, is the `old man' and his `conversation'; this is a darkness
like that of Egypt, a darkness that can be felt. Two words are employed in the Greek
N.T. of Ephesians for `vain' namely kenos empty, referring to the contents of anything,
and mataios, foolish, idle, useless, empty, referring to the results. Kenos is used in
Eph.v.6 "Let no man deceive you with vain words". Mataios is used in Eph. 4: 17
"The vanity of their mind". It is as though `Ichabod' had been written across the mind of
man, rendering all his thinking, his planning, his devising, purposeless. Sin, indeed
makes man, originally made in the image of God, `come short'. Paul places over against
the vanity of the mind, the darkening of the understanding. The faculty of moral
reflection, dianoia, the ability to `think through' a problem, was darkened, and this
darkness was moral, and it was the outcome of the alienating character of sin. These
Ephesians were aliens from the commonwealth of Israel (Eph. 2: 12) and alienated from
the life of God (Eph. 4: 18). As Gentiles they suffered dispensational alienation, and this
but reflected the deeper moral alienation of their hearts.
Enlightenment is associated with knowledge (Eph. 1: 18), darkness with ignorance.
Now there is an ignorance which excites our pity, and which it would be unjust to punish,
but the ignorance here intended is of the heart, and can be rendered callousness.
Porosis, is derived from poros, a stone, something like marble, and in medicine, a
calculous or chalky concretion. Dr. Johnson says of the word `the hard substance by
which broken bones are united'. The verb poroo, means to callous, to make insensible to
the touch. In two passages, this verb is translated `to blind' (Rom. 11: 7; II Cor. 3: 14),
even as the noun porosis is so translated in Rom. 11: 25 and Eph. 4: 18. An
insensibility whether of the eye, the ear, the mind or the heart, was the terrible condition
of the Gentile world at the time when the light of God's glorious revelation of grace was
about to dawn.
In Rom. 1: 24, 26 and 28, the word paradidomi which in Eph. 4: 19 is translated
`have given (themselves) over', is used of the nations "Wherefore God also gave them up
to uncleanness", `to vile affections', `to a reprobate mind'. This degenerate way was not
followed with regret or any apparent hesitation, but was pursued `with greediness'. What
a picture of moral degradation, a darkness indeed that recalls that which enveloped
Egypt, a darkness that could be felt. It must have been grace indeed that could deliver
from such a condition, translate from such an authority, and make meet for partaking of
the inheritance of the saints IN LIGHT.