“Now this I affirm and insist on in the Lord: you must no longer live as the Gentiles live, in the futility of their minds. They are darkened in their understanding, alienated from the life of God because of their ignorance and hardness of heart. They have lost all sensitivity and have abandoned themselves to licentiousness, greedy to practice every kind of impurity. That is not the way you learned Christ! For surely you have heard about him and were taught in him, as truth is in Jesus. You were taught to put away your former way of life, your old self, corrupt and deluded by its lusts, and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and to clothe yourselves with the new self, created according to the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.” (Reference: Ephesians 4:17-24 )
Without reading the quotes or editorials, I know this is a scripture passage that the historic Anabaptists used as primary to their faith. Let me go check that I am right.
Well, the commentary on this passage did come out as strongly as I thought it would. With this verse the editors have paired what Jörg Haugk von Jüchsen wrote in “A Christian Order of a True Christian” in 1524. Their excerpt contained this statement: “Consequently, a person who does not heed God’s voice in this life will have to hear it in the fire of the second death in order to do the right thing. All evil desires must be destroyed; our hearts must be emptied in order to become new vessels into which God’s grace can be poured . . . One must put on a new nature.”
But I tell you beloved, exchange “Gentiles” for those of the state faith, and this passage would sum up with the same vehemence the historic Anabaptist perspective that many of their leaders had. When this radical reformation movement gained momentum, many of their leaders preached and wrote with scathing words indicting non-believers with all manner of sins and misbehaviors. We may hear this sort of vehemence in the months ahead.
You need to understand, beloved, that the Gentiles identified in verse 17 does not refer so much to the believers who were no-Jews and had come to faith as it means a group of people who are similar to one another and are of a cohesive group. In short, the writer of Ephesians those people are identified as having the characteristics that the writer of Ephesians lists. So too the historic Anabaptists considered as a group those people who persecuted them and tortured them as being, . . . well, as the author of Ephesians described them.
This verse was placed under the category of “Rebirth” because it talks about setting aside one way of living and picking up another which is completely different from the former life. As von Jüchsen and the writer of Ephesians said, putting on a new nature.
May you beloved flee (or have already fled) from your old way of living and put on a new life that conforms to Christ and pledges itself to our Lord. Selah!