Lately people claim doctrine isn’t important, church isn’t important , how we evangelize isn’t important, and how we live isn’t important. Rubbish. Reading over Eph. 4 (especially focusing on 11-23) after hitting some key passages in church yesterday I made some observations.
First, Eph. 4 starts off with how we ARE TO WALK “in a manner worthy of the calling by which we’ve been called.” To “walk” indicates a consistant practice, consistant way of living; simply it means to “practice”. The way we learn to walk in a manner worthy of our calling by Christ, is to be in a local church.
Elsewhere we see Paul telling us how God has instructed us on the structure of the local church (Eph. 4:10): Titus 1, 1Tim. 3, 1Cor. 14, Matt. 18 are examples. Act 2:42 “They were continually devoting themselves to the apostles' teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.” By this, we are attain unity of the faith, grow up in Christ, and are no longer to be children (command) carried about by every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, craftiness in deceiftful scheming. The accountability and stability of being in a local church helps us obey this Scripture.
We are then told how NOT TO WALK. We are not to practice nor live by the ways of the world, that is, by the futility of the fruitless thinking of the Gentiles (unbelievers). As Christians, we are commanded to NOT use the ways of the world, but rather reject it, for it has nothing beneficial for us as Christians in life and in godliness. Moreover, its deadly.
The unbeliever's walk is described as anything but good: futile, darkened, excluded from the life of God, ignorant, hardened in heart, callous, senuality, greedy for every kind of impurity. As the way in which unbeliever’s think, understand, and live, God says: there is nothing here that we are to borrow from at all. Nor is this the way in which we are to evangelize.
Someone once said in regard to evangelism and preaching, “do not appeal to that which is fallen” and this is true. This is exactly what Eph. 4 is talking about. The spiritually dead have no understanding and their thinking is utterly futile. How we learned of Christ was NOT in this way. Think about it: how did Peter learn Christ Jesus is the Son of the living God? By flesh and blood (that is, by man, by rationality, by logic, by the fallen mind, by the teachers of the day?) It was revealed to Peter by God the Father, Jesus said. And so it is when we evangelize.
To use worldly means to win souls is nothing more than to further win souls to HELL yet telling them they're on their way to Heaven. The thinking, the worldview, the practice of the world leads to Hell. So why, WHY would a Christian use the things of the world to appeal to that which is DEAD and condemned by God, to try to lead one to Christ? It is not only anti-biblical, it is utterly insane to even consider doing so! Logic, rationality, entertainment (music, dance, concert-like atmosphere)—that is, appealing to the senses, is diametrically opposed to the way in which we are to proclaim and learn of the Gospel of Christ!
Joh 6:63 "It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing; the words that I have spoken to you are spirit and are life.
Rom 1:16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.
By the way, Eph. 4:20-21 talks about learing Christ, hearing Christ, and being taught IN Christ. This necessitates verbal communication of the Gospel, not some silent witness as so many claim. And we HEAR CHRIST when we hear the Gospel. I think that’s VERY interesting. We don’t hear man, we hear the HOLY HOLY HOLY God when HIS gospel is proclaimed.
And lastly, this gospel that is proclaimed, not by appealing to the flesh, the sinful lusts, the darkened understanding of unbelievers, leads to living a life in a manner worthy of God. In this gospel we are told not only of who Christ Jesus is, all the truth that is in HIM, we are told that salvation necessitates a NEW WALK, new patterns, new thinking—not clinging to parts of the old way of life, the old manners, the old culture, the old worldviews, the philophies of man, the deceit and scheming of man.
Doctrine leads to right thinking and to a life worthy of the calling, worthy of God:
Eph 4:23 and that you be renewed in the spirit of your mind,24 and put on the new self, which in the likeness of God has been created in righteousness and holiness of the truth.
Truth by necessity means we cannot add the lies of humanism/psychology/self-esteem/culture – that which is impure. We are to utterly reject all of this if we are in Christ.
I’d like to offer a few notes from the MacArthur study Bible since it sums up this distinction of unbelievers from believers:
4:17–19 In these verses, Paul gives 4 characteristics of the ungodly lifestyles which believers are to forsake.
4:17 the futility of their mind. First, unbelievers are intellectually unproductive. As far as spiritual and moral issues are concerned, their rational processes are distorted and inadequate, inevitably failing to produce godly understanding or moral living. Their life is empty, vain, and without meaning (cf. Rom. 1:21–28; 1 Cor. 2:14; Col. 2:18).
4:18 alienated from the life of God. Second, unbelievers are spiritually separated form God, thus ignorant of God’s truth (1 Cor. 2:14), and their willing spiritual darkness and moral blindness is the result (cf. Rom. 1:21–24; 2 Tim. 3:7). They are blind, or “hard” like a rock.
4:19 being past feeling. Third, unbelievers are morally insensitive. As they continue to sin and turn away from God, they become still more apathetic about moral and spiritual things (cf. Rom. 1:32). lewdness … uncleanness. Fourth, unbelievers are behaviorally depraved (cf. Rom. 1:28). As they willingly keep succumbing to sensuality and licentiousness, they increasingly lose moral restraint, especially in the area of sexual sins. Impurity is inseparable from greediness, which is a form of idolatry (5:5; Col. 3:5). That some souls may not reach the extremes of vv. 17–19 is due only to God’s common grace and the restraining influence of the Holy Spirit.
4:20, 21 learned … heard … taught. Three figurative descriptions of salvation, the new birth.
4:21 as the truth is in Jesus. The truth about salvation leads to the fullness of truth about God, man, creation, history, life, purpose, relationships, heaven, hell, judgment, and everything else that is truly important. John summed this up in 1 John 5:20.
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