17 This I say, therefore, and testify in the Lord, that you should no longer walk as the rest of the Gentiles walk, in the futility of their mind,
The culture that surrounds the believer is a serious challenge to his spiritual life.
that you should no longer walk [behave] as the rest of the Gentiles walk,
Most of the Ephesians were Gentiles before they became Christians (Eph 1:11; 3:1, 6, 8, 17). A Gentile was someone who was not a Jew. The New Testament classifies people into three groups:
Christians (either former Jews or Gentiles)
Ephesus was a leading city in the Roman Empire. It was known for decadent debauchery. Most Gentiles in Ephesus were pagan and lived in a culture of rank immorality. Ephesus was known for immoral decadence.
The many pagan temples heavily influenced its corrupt way of life. The renown temple of Diana (Artemis), one of the seven wonders of the world, furnished a context for moral corruption for Christians living there. This temple of Artemis practiced immoral rituals because Artemis was a depraved sex goddess. Thousands of temple prostitutes served in her temple.
The word “walk” means to walk around, indicating a course of life. “Walk” is how we order behavior. Ephesian Christians were not to order the course of their lives like Gentiles. They were not to allow their culture to affect their Christianity.
The Christian epitomizes a completely unique way of life.
The relationship of the believer to the church is one thing, but his relationship to the world system is another. The church in Ephesus was an island in a cesspool of debauchery. Former adherents to Artemis who became Christians faced enormous pressure to conform or accommodate to the values of that culture. No doubt they had many friends and associates who were committed to Artemis’s values.
Western culture is heading in the same direction as depraved Ephesus. Our prevailing culture puts great pressure on committed Christians. There is temptation everywhere for Christians to conform and acculturate to the moral values of Western culture (1 Jn 2:15-17). Christians are not to allow their unique way of life to become corrupted by the cultural context in which they live.
1 Pe 4:3-4, For we have spent enough of our past lifetime in doing the will of the Gentiles—when we walked in lewdness, lusts, drunkenness, revelries, drinking parties, and abominable idolatries.4 In regard to these, they think it strange that you do not run with them in the same flood of dissipation, speaking evil of you.