Scared Straight – Ephesians 4:17-20

by Pastor John Fredericksen

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A 1978 television documentary narrated by Peter Falk showed juvenile delinquents on a three-hour tour of Rahway State Prison in Georgia. These teens were brought face to face with hardened criminals who screamed, berated, and cursed at these young people as they described what prison life was really like. This program was initiated, as a last-ditch effort, with hardened youth, who were already engaged in criminal behavior, attempting to “scare them straight.”

It has always been the will of God for His children to live in a godly way that becomes a testimony to the lost. Israel was told she was “…the salt of the earth…” and to “…let your light shine before men…” (Matthew 5:13,16). Similarly, Paul told believers to “…walk in newness of life” (Romans 6:4), and to “…shine as lights in the world” (Philippians 2:15). Sadly, the pull of the world, the flesh, and the devil is so strong that it often pulls many blood-bought Christians into the path of a very sinful lifestyle. The words of Ephesians 4:17-32 are, in effect, God’s effort to “scare them straight.” We are told we are to “walk not as other Gentiles (or the un- saved) walk, in the vanity of their mind” (vs. 17). We are to be different, godly, and tenderhearted toward the Lord. Therefore, we are told to “put off…the old man (or nature)…and be renewed in the spirit of your mind” (vss. 22-23). That means to put away lying, anger, stealing, immorality, and filthy language from us. Such things “grieve…the Holy Spirit of God…” (vss. 25-30). The scary thing to realize is that refusing to implement these instructions will gradually harden our hearts and bring dire consequences while we are here on Earth. For those who willfully choose to live as sinfully as the unsaved, Paul explains that their spiritual “understanding (becomes) darkened,” they become “alienated from the life of God” as they drift further away from the Lord; and, worst of all, they can become “past feeling” (vss. 18-19). There can come a point were a Christian becomes so hardened that they no longer feel any sensitivity toward the Lord, nor have any interest in the things of God. One can become a self-exiled, spiritual castaway while still possessing eternal life.

Believer, don’t let this happen to you! If you’re flirting with an ungodly path, allow these verses to scare you straight back into the path of a close, daily walk with the Lord Jesus Christ. If you wait too long, it may be too late.

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Start each day with short, devotional articles taken from the book Daily Transformation by Pastor John Fredericksen. As Pastor Fredericksen writes in the introduction:

"We welcome you, as you journey with us..., to not only learn information, but to benefit from examples of faith and failure, and seek to apply God’s Word to every day life. Together, let’s transition from only studying theories of doctrine, to applying God’s truths in a practical way every day. May God use these studies to help you find daily transformation."