There needs to be a change from before we believe in Christ for salvation and after. Our thinking, our desires, our character traits are different. Paul tells us what we should not be like, because these traits are the traits of unbelievers.
- Empty mind—the Greek word is ματαιότης mataiótēs (G3153). It means empty. Here, it is empty of truth about themselves, God, eternal life, the Gospel, holiness, wisdom (as God defines it), etc. Compare Romans 1:21, Psalm 4:2 ((H7385) loving emptiness), Romans 8:5-7, and Titus 1:15. How sad to love what in reality is nothingness, and without value; it is just an imaginary lie.
- Darkened understanding—the Greek word for understanding is διάνοια diánoia (G1271). It means the ability to think clearly, understanding, thoughts, thinking. The more a person sins and stifles their conscience, the dimmer the understanding. Compare Romans 10:3, Matthew 13:13-15, and Psalm 119:130 (the cure).
- Alienated life from God—no fellowship with God, no life from the giver and source of life. Alienated—only knowing the way of death. Compare Jeremiah 21:8 and Psalm 34:16.
- Ignorance—the Greek word for ignorance is ἄγνοια ágnoia (G52). This is the opposite of wisdom, knowledge, knowing, etc. If in a legal sense, it means ignorance of the law. Being void of truth is horrifying, yet before we were believers, we think that all is good, that we are good, and we are good for heaven. Compare Proverbs 19:3 (we blame God for our errors), 2 Timothy 3:7, and Acts 3:17. It also has the idea of willful ignorance (Vine).
- Hard hearts—Wilbur Pickering PhD writes: This works like a downward spiral: the ignorance feeds the hardening, that in turn increases the ignorance. The consequence is that they can never get out by themselves. Someone must take Christ’s power to them to help them out.
- Given to sinful pleasures—this is the idea of being addicted to sin, which is the worst of all addictions. See Hebrews 3:17.
- Morally corrupt (verse 19)—the Greek word for corruption is ἀσέλγεια asélgeia (G766). This is sinful lust without restraints, that is, the desire, whether carried out in the mind only and/or physical.
- Insatiable desire (verse 19)—desires that are never satisfied. Barclay (beware) writes: The Christless man does all this in the insatiable lust of his desires. The word is pleonexia (G4124), another terrible word, which the Greeks defined as “arrogant greediness,” as “the accursed love of possessing,” as “the unlawful desire for the things which belong to others.” It has been defined as the spirit in which a man is always ready to sacrifice his neighbour to his own desires. Pleonexia (G4124) is the irresistible desire to have what we have no right to possess. It might issue in the theft of material things; it might issue in the spirit which tramples on other people to get its own way; it might issue in sexual sin.
- Proverbs 14:12 (CSB) There is a way that seems right to a person, but its end is the way to death.