Read: Ephesians 4:17-24 (all quotes taken from Amplified Version)
Reflect: It was the dead of winter. We had parked our little VW Bug on the street, facing the bottom of the hill. Whenever the weather got frigid, we often had to “pop the clutch” on the car to get it started. For those of you who have never driven a stick shift, “popping the clutch” means holding down the clutch pedal, manually putting the vehicle into first gear, and releasing the clutch. If you have already pushed the car into a running start, the engine should start.
an exercise in futility
That frigid morning the VW wouldn’t fire. Bill needed my help. I ran down the street, got in the driver’s seat and Bill began to push the car. Remember, this was the middle of winter. My husband is asthmatic and cold air is not his friend. For the life of me, I couldn’t get the engine running. Bill pushed with all his might. I steered with the clutch in, released the clutch and nothing happened. No juice. Bill’s breathing was getting worse. Then it dawned on me. I was popping the clutch, but I never put the car into gear. Unless the car is in 1st gear, popping the clutch will never work. It was an exercise in futility.
This passage talks about people walking in “futility of their minds”. Futility means utter uselessness. Struggling to live a righteous life without Jesus Christ, the source of all righteousness, means one’s spiritual engine will never start. It is living in darkness; living in the foolishness and emptiness of their souls. One’s moral understanding is darkened, and their reasoning is clouded. Adding further misery to the picture is they are alienated and self-banished from the life of God with no share in it; because of the willful ignorance and spiritual blindness that is deep-seated within them, because of the hardness and insensitivity of their heart. That’s beyond dark. Like trying to pop a clutch in a VW on a bleak winter day without putting the car into first gear. It is an exercise in futility.
gifted with a whole new life
The great thing is that this is not to be the norm for the life of a believer. When Christ walks into a person’s life, they are gifted with a whole new life. They no longer have to live chained to the old life – trying to pop the clutch but not having their life in the “first gear” of Jesus Christ. Goodness becomes inner goodness (righteousness), because of the work of the Holy Spirit. Believers can put on the new self [the regenerated and renewed nature], created in God’s image, [godlike] in the righteousness and holiness of the truth [living in a way that expresses to God your gratitude for your salvation].
releasing the clutch on one’s life
Apply: If you are a believer, you are left with a choice. Do you daily choose to live in the reality of your new life with Christ and yield in obedience to Him? Or do you habitually choose the disastrous plan of trying to look good on the outside without inwardly yielding your daily life to Christ? The second choice is an exercise in futility. How about choosing to release the clutch you have held on your own life and letting it be empowered by God’s first gear? You could see your life take off like it never has before. You can life a life infused with joy; a life no longer lived in futility.