Once the Devil was walking along with one of his cohorts. They saw a man ahead of them pick up something shiny. “What did he find?” asked the cohort. “A piece of the truth,” the Devil replied. “Doesn’t it bother you that he found a piece of the truth?” asked the cohort. “No,” said the Devil, “I will see to it that he makes a religion out of it.”
How Can We Change?
One such example is George Ivanovich Gurdjieff, a mystic from present day Armenia, who in the 1920s and 30s gained widespread notoriety for his system of self-realization. He had travelled widely, studied deeply and in the end tried to merge different religious thoughts from Sufism, Buddhism, Zoroaster and many others into his Fourth Way for self-realization. His belief was that there was ancient knowledge that was hidden to mankind and that people could be revived from their sleep state to achieve what they’re capable of. In order to wake people up, he would make people read his books, with lots of made up words, folk stories and dubious facts about his own life, several times (which would put me to sleep), he choreographed dances that people would do, but in the more extreme cases, he would make them do mentally, physically and emotionally traumatizing things that he called, “Devices” because he said that people can easily renounce their pleasures, but nobody will renounce their sufferings. But as is often the case with made up systems for self-realization, the guru and his movement fell apart over time. Later in life he would organize dinners and hold drunken parties during which he made, “toasts to idiots” and he started to lecture about interesting anecdotes and jokes. It became clear that his so-called spiritual awakening was suspect rhetoric and he died largely disbelieved, a prattling, incoherent old man. Normal. Like John Calvin said, “The light of human reason differs little from darkness; for before it has shown the way it is extinguished.”
He knew the question, but not the answer. He knew the problem, but attempted to piece together a Frankenstein solution. The problem is that humanity on the whole is asleep and have fallen far below their own true potential. We need to be revived, wake up and learn who we really are! And yes, there is an ancient truth that, if discovered, if applied, will transform us! But it is hidden to those who aren’t in Christ Jesus. Their minds are made.
“So I tell you this, and insist on it in the Lord, that you must no longer live as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their thinking.” Ephesians 4:17
You Are Changed
It is a profound irony that Paul says to the Ephesians who he’s writing this letter to, that they must no longer live as the Gentiles do, because they were, as he said earlier in the chapter, “Formerly Gentiles in the flesh.” In other words, these Ephesians, non-Jews, are no longer Gentiles because they are now God’s people in their inner person, because God has called them into his family and given them his Spirit to transform them from the inside out. Their identity is now so much deeper than their country of origin, skin tone or social standing. They aren’t Gentiles, they’re Christians. The old is gone the new has come. So it is with tongue firmly in cheek that he says, “Don’t live like the Gentiles do.”
Because if you’ve received Jesus as your Savior and Lord of your life, then down deep, you’re not like the “Gentiles”, that is, those who have no relationship with God. So you don’t want to live as if you were separate from Christ, separate from his people, without hope and without God in the world. Before the Holy Spirit had quickened your spirit and made you alive to his presence and his ways, you had one way to live and weren’t in conflict within yourself.
The fact that you’re at conflict, unsettled and discontent with your lack of change is a great sign! It’s a sign that the most important part of you has been changed! Now, however, there’s a war between your spirit and your flesh and when the world, the flesh and the devil are winning, you’re tortured like you never were before. You weren’t tortured before because you were dead in your transgressions and sins and the hounds of hell ate on your corpse. Now you’ve been made alive and feel the pain that you should have felt all along and when you wake up, you wake up to the fight of your life. And even though there are times when you wish that you could go back to eating the meat of Egypt, even though it would mean slavery for you, Paul says, exhorts, commands, in the Lord, don’t you dare go back that way.
Think That You’re Changed
Why? Because their thoughts, ways and lives, it’s all futility. The word for futility in that Bible verse is the word that’s used to translate the statement in Ecclesiastes, “Vanity of vanities, all is vanity!” Empty, vaporous, wasted, wanting and worthless. That’s what their thoughts are, but not yours. That’s what their life is, but not yours. It must not be, it cannot be. Christ has come to fill his temple, he has come to fill the whole universe! As simple and mundane as your life seems, it is stuffed with glory…and you mustn’t think otherwise.