When one studies the New Testament, he will find certain phrases that are very poetic. Take for instance the following passage in the book of Ephesians: “This I say therefore, and testify in the Lord, that ye henceforth walk not as other Gentiles walk, in the vanity of their mind” (Eph. 4:17). There it is, “the vanity of their mind”. So simple, but also very poetic and powerful.
Vanity can be described as emptiness. The minds of many Gentiles were very “empty” when it came to spiritual things. Instead, they were living their lives in error and sin. Paul continued to describe these people as “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. 4:18-19). As one can tell, this is definitely not the lifestyle that a Christian should be living. Therefore, Paul encouraged the Christians in Ephesus to “walk” differently than those outside of Christ.
The Ephesian brethren were different from their non-Christian peers. That was not a bad thing! These brethren had gone through a life and soul changing process. It is the same process that all of us who are modern Christians have gone through as well. Paul explained, “But ye have not so learned Christ; If so be that ye have heard him, and have been taught by him, as the truth is in Jesus:” (Eph. 4:20-21). The brethren in Ephesus had “learned Christ”, “heard him”, and had “been taught by him”. Christianity is a “taught religion”. It is not a “feeling”, “emotion”, or “miraculous experience”. When writing to the church in Corinth, Paul mentioned, “Moreover, brethren, I declare unto you the gospel which I preached unto you, which also ye have received, and wherein ye stand; By which also ye are saved, if ye keep in memory what I preached unto you, unless ye have believed in vain. For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures:” (1 Cor. 15:1-4). Every Christian has had to “learn Christ”.
Paul indicated, “How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher? And how shall they preach, except they be sent? as it is written, How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things! But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Esaias saith, Lord, who hath believed our report? So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God” (Rom. 10:14-17). For those who might wonder how all Christians have “heard him” and “been taught by him”, one only needs to remember one verse. “If any man think himself to be a prophet, or spiritual, let him acknowledge that the things that I write unto you are the commandments of the Lord” (1 Cor. 14:37). When New Testament writers recorded Scriptures, their words were equal to those that would have been spoken by the Lord.
After being taught the Gospel, the process of change continued by actions. The Christians in Ephesus had “…put off concerning the former conversation the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts” (Eph. 4:22). Children of God must have a change of life and purpose. To continue to live as “the old man” is the same as walking “…in the vanity of their mind”. By putting “the old man” to death, Christians must “…be renewed in the spirit of your mind” (Eph. 4:23). Our mindsets must change. No longer am I to live selfishly and worldly. Those who have obeyed the Gospel have given their lives to their Lord (Rom. 12:1-2; Luke 9:23). With our mindsets now changed, we have the blessing of putting “…on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness” (Eph. 4:24). The “new man” does not “walk in the vanity of their own minds”. The “new man” seeks direction from God. His future is not about physical things, but rather spiritual (Matt. 6:24-34).
So where are we today? Are we “walking in the vanity of our own minds”, or are we “walking with the Lord”? There is only one way that will please God (Matt. 7:13-14). Let us decide soberly.