Vs. 16 "From whom the whole body fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplieth, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, maketh increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in love."
In the first fifteen verses of this chapter Paul has laid Great stress on keeping the unity of the faith, and in verse sixteen he continues his belaboring of this theme By picturing the church ("body") as an organism. What Paul has in mind is, a structure made up of various Interdependent parts. The parts being separate in function, yet working harmoniously for the good of the whole, whereby All parts are mutually benefited.
Each member of the church derives strength from Christ (vs. 15), and according as each member utilizes this strength is the increase of the body. The criteria for growth are, "the effectual working in the measure of every part". it goes without saying, that each singular part of the human anatomy is in measure dependent upon every other part, and the efficiency with which each part functions determines the efficiency of the compacted whole.
Each member is given a particular place in the church, and each place in the church is under girded with the strength of Christ, it is only when the member does not avail himself of that strength does he become ineffective. Let us walk worthy of the vocation wherewith we are called (4:1), and be a means of Contributing to the edification of the church.
Vs. 17 "this I say therefore, and testify in the Lord, that ye henceforth walk not as other Gentiles walk, in the vanity of their mind."
In verses 17 - 19 Paul brings into sharp contrast the life of born again Gentiles with that of lost Gentiles. In verses 14 - 16, Paul shows the intimacy which saved Gentiles can have with Christ by faithfulness to His church, so it is, the two extremes are set before us in verses 14- 19,
Verse - 17 calls for a complete and irreparable severance with the old manner of life, "That ye henceforth walk not as other Gentiles walk". The break called for is of such nature that it not only means a leaving off of the former life, but an abhorrence of the former life will be the invariable result, Paul says in the next chapter (5:11), "have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them," and it is said of Christ that He, "loved, righteousness and hated iniquity" (Heb. 1:9).
The Ephesian saints once lived as other Gentiles, "fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature the children of wrath" (2:3), while in time past they "walked" according to the course of this world" (2:1), they are now no longer citizens of a pagan world, and are to henceforth walk as Christ walked, "henceforth," means from the point of regeneration, forward without turning back. A consistent walk in an opposite direction to the pagan life would be an open renunciation of it, and invoke the hatred of the pagan population, which produced many first century martyrs, the cost was great, but so was the faith.
Unsaved Gentiles walked "in the vanity of their mind". "vanity" As used here means, that their minds were devoid of spiritual discernment, and was fully spent on things which had no eternal value, thus it is, first century paganism has been perpetuated over Twenty Centuries, and is prevalent in contemporary Christendom(?). Let us, who have been favored with truth, and have been brought into that intimate relationship with Christ which the church affords, be mindful of the things which glorify the head of the church.
Vs. 18 "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,"
"Having their understanding darkened," suggests the absence of spiritual discernment, and more, while natural light and darkness are mutually exclusive spiritual light and spiritual darkness antagonistic. That is why Paul says, "the carnal (natural) mind is enmity against God" (Rom. 8:7).
"Alienated from the life of God", the true aliens in this world as viewed in light of the eternal economy are unsaved people, or Non-Christians. "The earth is the Lord’s, and the fullness thereof (Psm. 24:1), and He has promised to His people a time when they reign on this earth (Rev. 5:10), "the meek shall inherit the earth" (Matt. 5:5). It is our brief sojourn here under the curse God placed against this earth that our alienation is in effect, and during that time we are caused to rejoice, for we know that our jubilee is soon coming when this earth will revert back to its rightful owner. "Alienated from the life of God," they are held fast by the bonds of death, for where the life of God fails to flow, the torrent of death run rampant.
This alienation is due to the ignorance that is in them. They know not God, care not to know Him, and cannot know him apart from the Implantation of light by the sovereign Holy Spirit, "the blindness of their heart," the original Greek word for "blindness" meant "petrifaction", and is translated in some versions by the word "hardness", the heart of the unsaved is like a petrified stone hard, adamant, and unyielding. Thus, we have Christ saying, in the Parable of the sower that some of the seed was sown in "stony places" and could take no root (Matt. 13:5 & 20). In the restoration of Israel, God takes awayy their stony heart, and gives them a heart of flesh (Ezk. 11:19).
Vs. 19 "Who being past feeling have given themselves over unto lasciviousness, to work all uncleanness with greediness."
"Being past feeling", beyond the point of caring for anything spiritual, or anything that does not serve self interest. The expression "past feeling" describes a state where the moral conscience is impotent, and feels no reproach at the ghastly deeds of the depraved heart. That is a frightful state to think about, much less be in.
"Given themselves over unto lasciviousness", lasciviousness, as used here, means, undisciplined and unrestrained wanton conduct. It is this wanton nature that has produced an alarming number of Alcoholics in America, and it is this same ungovernable conduct which has inundated society with homosexuality. Public censure of these crimes is a thing of the past, and they are fast becoming the accepted norm. Public decency has plummeted, and is now at ebb where it can no longer be shocked. We have now
reached the place and time when there is nothing left to shame man, and in our permissive society there is a competitive spirit as to exceeding in sin. Loose and unchecked reins have been given to Lusts of the flesh, and man cares not what his peers may think as long as he can gratify his fleshly desires.
"To work all uncleanness with greediness", greediness simply means, never satisfied, but always wanting more. In the context which it is used here, it means, to get all you can without regard as to whom may get hurt in the process of getting. This is that Philosophy which teaches that the end always justifies the means. Man is born with a nature which has absolutely no regard for the rights of others, and when they civil magistrates can be bought and sold for the price of a mistress, and when they take the legislative hammer and chip away at the divine mandates, kill the unborn baby And let the murderer run loose on the street, we are but a short Distance removed from anarchy.
"To work all uncleanness with greediness", this is a primary reference to illicit sexual indulgence, sexual greediness. Such things should not need to be mentioned among saints. The two most unpopular things about true Christianity in our time is,
1. It demands purity and chastity,
2. It demands abstinence from alcoholic drinks as a beverage.
If professed Christendom would return to these bible requisites it would be a far better world in which to live. But alas, it is so.
With true churches, it is that they need to be on guard as to greediness in the material realm, it is in the area of material covetousness the devil trips many of God’s people. Let us work, and enjoy the fruit of our labors, but let us remember that we must give an account of our time and talents unto God. We have been translated out of the kingdom of darkness unto the kingdom of light and in the kingdom of light, people are satisfied with food and Raiment, 1st Tim. 6:8 and this satisfaction excludes covetousness.