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January 13, 2021 7:00 am
Turn on the television or open a popular magazine and you will be inundated with images of the things the world values success, beauty, fame and wealth, but for Christians there is a higher calling than simply pursuing these worldly values today on the Bible study our Dr. James Boyce will offer us a biblical perspective on living a holy life and seeing the world as God sees it and welcome to the Bible study our radio and Internet broadcast with Dr. James Boyce preparing you to think and act quickly. We often hear the instruction that we should be in the world but not of it.
In the fourth chapter of Ephesians, Paul expounds on this idea by explaining that the Christian life should look vastly different from an unbeliever's life. Let's listen in together to learn more. There's a saying of the ancient world, certainly ancient world around that goes one in Rome do as the Romans do its been a worldly advice about conformity. It really means. Don't be different.
At least not you want to get ahead and be successful.
It's not really very wise advice even in worldly terms because it usually people who are different to do 60 least at anything worthwhile. But what bothers me about the saying is not its folly, but is wickedness is, of course, it is radically opposed the way of Jesus Christ.
Jesus Christ came not to make us conformists but to make us different. That is to make us like him because he was supremely different in the way this world needs. That's what Paul is talking about in Ephesians, which we been studying when he gets to the section when he begins to develop these things practically by which we began us in chapter 4 verse 17 and what he says there is this I tell you, and insist on this in the Lord, you must no longer live as the Gentiles do, this is a new point of the vision and the letter. It's the beginning of the third and last main section of the epistle. Most of Paul's letters are divided as I'm sure you know into two main parts. Larry is the first part which deals largely with doctrinal matters and there's a second part that deals largely with practical matters. This is in a rigid division of course, because when Paul talks about doctrine, the inevitably begins to show how this applies practically and when Paul begins to talk about the practice of the Christian life. He inevitably brings doctrine and again and again. Generally speaking you try to analyze letters and understand the flow of his thought.
It is this my first teeth, presents the teachings of the Christian faith, and then having done that, he shows the application of those teachings in our lives.
Romans is a great example of that procedure first 11 chapters of that book deal with Dr. under various headings. Then, beginning with chapter 12 and continuing to the end.
Paul talks about practice relations is another example of the great doctrinal section of the book of Galatians is the middle to chapters, chapters 3 and four after Paul has given personal matters attention in the first two chapters, but then having finishes right doctrinal section, beginning with chapter 5 in chapter 60 talks about the application that is exactly what we have in Ephesians, Ephesians divides nicely right down the middle first three chapters. It would doctrine then chapters 4 through six deal with the application of this practically is interesting, however, that this second portion of the book deals with practice itself can be divided in the two sections. The first or shorter is what we've already looked at Ephesians 41 through 16 deals with church unity then the second, beginning with verse 17, which we come now to the end deals with holiness in the lives of Christian people. Both of those sections relate to what is gone before Paul was talking about doctrine focusing on the church. He showed that great work of God be getting back in the far distant reaches of eternity in the mind of God before there even was a world decision to call forth the people unto himself and glorify himself through them that which he says even the angels desire to look into. Paul talks about that in one of his points in the doctrinal section is that God has called the people to be one people in the application of that of course this first portion of the second half of the book is that because God is called us to be one. We must strive to be one.
We must work for unity because if we don't reflect that were disagreeing with one another in fighting one another and acting in a non-Christian way to the division of the body undermine our Christian profession and what God is done, then he is also said in the first doctrinal section of the book that God called his people to be a holy people. That reason is he now begins to point out, Christians must lead holy lives. This is of great importance you say because when we talk about morality as Christians talking about it and urging it upon one another.
Just because while morality is a good thing as it were, or even which sometimes we do because we Americans are so pragmatic because of useful that you do better you get along better if you lead a moral life, it's not primarily for those reasons that we talk about high ethical standards reason we talk about these things through space. In fact, in truth in history and upon what God is done, we act as we do and must act as we do because God is who he is because God has done what he is done for us in the Lord Jesus Christ. This means you say is Martyn Lloyd Jones says at one point in his commentary on this fourth chapter of Ephesians that to some extent living out of the Christian life must be for us a thing that is inevitable. We really are Christians as we really are committed to Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord, then we must live in a way that honors him we find as we examine ourselves if there is not an inevitability about these things. If we find ourselves saying, well, it doesn't make much difference. What we do, we have to re-examine our relationship to the Lord Jesus Christ in the first place. Say what we should be thinking is not so much how these things affect us, or how we personally are going to deal with our problems, but rather how these things affect God whether our conduct really does reinforce God's great purposes for us in the church and the sinful world. And so that's the way the apostle Paul begin. You would think after an introduction like that that Paul would switch over very practical positive moral and ethical instruction you think he would say, not sin. Get rid of bitterness become lines, act like Christ. Forgive others and it is true that that is what he says eventually striking, however, that is, Paul begins to lay the base for this kind of moral instruction. He doesn't.
First of all, in a negative manner contrasting what we are to be and do with what we have been and gone and what the world is a part from the gospel of Jesus Christ. That is to say, he reminds us again in this section as he did in the first section of the book in chapter 2 of that from which we have been taken by his grace toward us in Christ says you see don't live as the Gentiles. That's to say don't live as the pagan world you're in Rome, but don't act like the Romans you are in Ephesus, but don't act like the Ephesians you are in Philadelphia but don't act like Philadelphians is really remarkable analysis of the pagan world is as he begins to talk about it here he talks about his nature, which he describes as being futile empty darkens as new with intellectual things and then he talks about how it got that way and then thirdly, he talks about the consequences of being that way does in the very short scope only three verses here, but that's what he's doing is bringing it before our minds in order that we might understand this intellectually and live differently now. It is also striking that when he begins to analyze the failures of the secular world. He does so first of all, in intellectual terms saying you say when he speaks of the futility of their thinking in the darkening of their understanding that he's talking about a failure of their intellect, failure of their reasoning. Failing of their comprehension where God and therefore all great spiritual things is concerned is important to realize that is the basic failure. There are several different errors we can make at this point, and one is the characteristic Arab RA the error of thinking that somehow as long as you do the right things. At least the things that the world thinks are right doesn't make much difference. What you think we sort of glorify free font in our day to go around with all sorts of different ideas.
It doesn't matter. Think about this Bassett is the theory think about that advanced that is a theory is what you're thinking about as long as you're kind of doing the things that are acceptable and get you by.
That's great error because there is an inevitable link between how we think and what we do reason our world as the ancient world is so confusing. As morality is that it is so basically confused and it's thinking the other error which was more characteristic of the ancient world and ours was to think that as long as your reasoning is right doesn't make any difference what you do. Greeks exalted that into an entire philosophical system because they provided the part of the human personality which was the mind or the processes of thought from the flesh or the activities of the body and they said what really matters is the mind as they sought the mind was the noble part of man mind was the divine spark within human personality. So salvation for the Greek was largely through the cultivation of the mind through right-thinking as long as you were thinking rightly. Well it didn't make much difference. What you did problem of courses that that contributed inevitably, the moral breakdown as well as to the intellectual breakdown of Greek society. The Greeks prided themselves on their thought they were the philosophers.
They were the minds of the ancient world, but they didn't think clearly. But in spiritual things because I didn't think clearly, there morality is all other aspects of their lives were to base after analyze the product of these rates Greek minds. All they did have great minds they can understand profound philosophical concepts they could make syllogisms and paradigms and work out all the problems or inherent in the syllogisms to say when they began to reflect on the real nature of things. Inevitably, some of them are polytheists, that is, they believe in many gods, all of the gods of the Greek and Roman pantheon. Some of them were pantheists as they believe that God was in everything in matter why many people do today and some were atheists who believe that there was no God at all.
Not one of them unaided by the biblical revelation came to a true understanding of the nature of the world and the spiritual realities that flow from Edward Gibbon writing about it later. Said that as a consequence of this kind of thinking and the disillusionment that followed that in the period about which he wrote to the common people all the religions were equally true and the philosophers all religions were equally false and to the magistrates, all religions were equally useful and so any idea real truth simply evaporated while Paul turns to the Christians in Ephesus, you say and says something like that.
Don't be like that in your thinking. Understand God is done something marvelous with you.
God is brought you out of this and is given your knowledge of how things really are no exhaustively none of us are going to no exhaustively as long as we have finite minds you can know truly the point of knowing truly where it all begins. As with the knowledge of God reveals himself in Scripture and in the life and personality of Jesus Christ, so that's his first point, and secondly he wanted these Ephesians understand how the world got to be as it is the world of course didn't even understand this problem and I was part of the problem wasn't understand now how the world got to be the darkens place spiritually that it was in their time and remains and hours apart from the gospel uses in verse 18 is the word hardening so the hardening of their hearts. This is one of those places in our study of Scripture, where newer translations are a great help from people love the old versions and that is understandable. Certainly the language of the old authorized or King James version is a delight is reflected itself and much of our literature. A person is ignorant in terms of literature. If he doesn't understand some of that old phraseology that's wonderful, wonderful thing, but the newer translations from time to time really pick up nuances of words that were not wrongly translated but not translated in the best of all possible ways in the older versions and this is a case in point word it stands behind that word hardening of the Greek languages process has an interesting history.
It comes from a noun. Paul Ross, which really means a stone or rock and it was used of a certain kind of marble. What's significant about that term however is that it was taken up in medical language and was used of certain kinds of medical ailments.
The word holy on slight variation on word for stone referred to a callous and callous you would get on your hand or on your foot to self place for the skin is hardened which course explains why a word that refers to a stone or something hard issues that way medically.
The bird that came from it for all, therefore, meant to petrified her heart word that you would use of joints that have become stiff, perhaps through arthritis.
It was a word that was used for the setting of a bone when you immobilize a fracture and then new bone or new cartilage begins to develop and seal the two broken parts together if it was applied to the eyes. For example, it meant what we would call blindness. But the reason it meant that is that according to the ancient way of thinking. The eyes were blind because they were becoming hard and functioning in a lively living way as they should. Now that's the word that's here because I worry sometimes translated blindness in reference to the eyes. The authorized version pick up that word because of the blindness of the heart is not wrong, because it is proper to speak of a heart that is blind and can't see spiritual things with the difficulty with that is when we talk about blindness. We really think of some unavoidable physical affliction something that you can't do anything about that is quite the idea all it is true that the secular world apart from the illumination that God gives is blind.
Reason the world is blind is not because this is some inevitable kind of malady that inflicts people in their natural state. It's blind because he wants to be like. That's why this translation harder hardening is an improvement over the older versions say the problem is not merely the men and women are spiritually blind.
That much is evidence of the problem is that they are willfully so I hardened their hearts against the God of truth and against his revelation. This of course is only to say that what Paul is talking about here in Ephesians is exactly what Paul talks about in the great first chapter the book of Romans versus 1823, where he analyzes the human predicament.
Most extensively are four parts to it.
As Paul analyzes it in Romans. First of all, he speaks of a natural revelation of God's revelation of God in nature plain things about God have been made clear to them is what Paul says now it's a limited revelation, nobody finds out way of the gospel through studying nature. We don't learn about the love of God through studying nature we can learn truly about God in nature.
That is, there is a God is all-powerful and he's made us Paul speaks about this natural revelation to make the point that it holds men and women guilty if they fail on the basis of that natural revelation to seek God out inserted so we develop slatted. Romans one. The second point is that in spite of this revelation of God in nature. Men and women have suppress the truth, the better translation of that word is suppress press down keep out of you because, as Paul is perfectly aware. The difficulty is that people in their natural state, though they don't have a saving knowledge of God are nevertheless somewhere deep down in their being aware that there is a God and that if there is a God. They should serve him and I don't want to do that. I want a God who is there more data want to God. It was their Savior, they know what a holy God, a loving God is sovereign God run their own lives, so they suppress the truth about God, which is revealed in nature why some of the wisest of the philosophers can be so foolish in spiritual terms third point Paul makes in Romans is that as a result of that the wrath of God is poured out upon is not an arbitrary thing.
It's not an unjust thing.
God's not judging them simply because they can't see but is because they repress the truth and do it because of their wickedness. They want to remain in sin. That's why the judgment God in the fourth point in that section is the God judges not so much as Paul thinks of it there in terms of the final judgment or final judgment is going to come to but in terms of a natural outworking of the processes of sin in their lives. Some of it has to do with the intellect by says God gave them up to futile, thinking, and they became corrupt in their imaginations and they distorted the image of God and inevitably were distorted in their thinking about human beings to some of it has to do with their moral lives, as Paul describes how God gave them up to impure thoughts and impure conduct point I'm making you see is it that is exactly what Paul is also saying here in Ephesians as he directs our thought as well as that of the Ephesians to the secular world is easy to find the secular world always glamorous is putting its best foot forward is pretending to be something it's not, but don't glamorize world is resisting its great enemy is your Savior because it's resisting rejecting God's alienated from him and God is the God of all grace, all good world is on a path to increasing sin and misery and eventually judgment in the course that is the way the passage ends. Paul talks about the nature of the world system as God sees it.
He talks about the reason it's that way.
Finally he talks about the consequences. Having lost all sensitivity given themselves over to sensuality so as to indulge in every kind of impurity, with a continual lust for more of Paul's conclusion. At that point is going to be.
As he began that we are not to live like that going to go on talk about how we are to live were going to look at all those verses in detail, but let me make these conclusions. First, the basis of the analysis Pegasus of the secular world. First of all we need to recognize that the world really is like this is hard for us to realize that because as I said the world is always presenting a different picture.
You look at the world as it presents itself through the media, television, newspapers and glossy magazines.
You would think that world was a great place. Everything is God and it is not is getting better and one day it's going to be perfect and well the world's way is the way to happiness. But you have to understand is that that's all an illusion, something the world is putting forward to cover up its alienation from God.
Christians are going to live lives that please God have to begin with the truth of that analysis.
Secondly, we have to realize the blindness of the world, apart from the grace of God, the world really can't see these things we say well the world is deceiving us that escrow is also deceiving itself doesn't know any better because the world doesn't know God as a result of anything is to happen in the lives of other people. It must be by the grace of God which softens hard parts and turns rebellious wills and opens blind eyes to the truth of God's gospel Martin Lloyd Jones my mentioned earlier gives a great illustration at this point, William Pitt the younger was one of the greatest prime ministers that England never had. He was a brilliant man and he was a friend of Wilbur Wilberforce, the man who was used by God to liberate the slaves throughout the British Empire, Wilberforce was a Christian. It had an evangelical conversion in his youth and it was not that really changed his life and made him the great godly man. He was his motivation for social change came from his personal relationship to Jesus Christ.
A pet was a nominal Christian. But Christianity didn't mean anything to him because Wilberforce was his friend. He was very anxious to have Pitt come to a knowledge of the truth that happened at that time in London that was a great Anglican churchman and preacher by the name of Richard Stossel settle really was a stirring preacher and Wilberforce used to go to hear sisal and he found the seaside and that preaching that his heart was warm and his mind was stimulated and his devotion to the Lord was simply increased again and again every time he attended on Cecil's preaching. He wanted his friend Pitt to go and when he would ask if it would always make excuses while he was too busy affairs of state. He was going to be out of town for some reason one excuse after the other, but eventually the time came and there was a weekend that Pitt could go and so we told Wilberforce.
You know, I think I can go with you this Sunday if you'd like me to. And so they both went and they sat and I heard Richard sisal preach. Wilberforce was just blasting had never heard sisal better as he expounded the great truth of the word of God is artists Lord is a lesson that he glorified God through the preaching and he prayed for his friend Pitt was sitting there next to him on the pew prime minister of England when they left, William Pitt the great man will always intellect turned Wilberforce and said to them, you know, Wilberforce. I couldn't understand the thing that man was talking about, say, many of us know that by experience. You witness to your friends. You try to get them to come to church sometimes after a great deal of reluctance and hesitancy. They finally do, and as they leave, they say, you know, I just didn't get it.
It just didn't mean anything to me that's a sad thing and we should be saddened by it. We shouldn't be surprised because that's the way the world is a part of the revelation that God gives personally the agency of his Holy Spirit that brings me to my third conclusion an application. The last point about is the nature of things of the world really is desperate place. Paul portrays it to be and if it's blind and unable to see. Then we should pray for the world is going to require God. God alone to save it to death when I say pray for the world say a lot seem so overwhelming and I pray for the world or I don't pray for the world would prefer the part of it. You know, pray for the people you know. Pray for the neighbor you know. Pray for the coworker you know that one who seems utterly blind to God's truth and in fact really is blind because of the hardening of the heart. Pray for that one who knows God tells us we have not because we asked not very well in that case, do that friend what God is already done for you. Save them savor the glory of his great grace is bright.
Her father, when we approach or word were conscious. Always the limitations of our understanding and obedience. We would ask our father that as you been gracious to us to bring us to faith in Christ. Apart from any real ability in ourselves. So you would be gracious and leaving as long as Christians in this way of Christ.
It was understanding of the world in which we live.
Open our eyes see in that area as well to see the world and its desperate sinful state and the reasons for it, give us the grace.
Also, we pray to be burdened for those who were lost to end.
Pray for them. Our father we need revival in our time, but that must come from you are father bring that in our own hearts and lives in her own community and our own fellowship in her own church and then from there are city or country in the world, not for our sakes. We deserve nothing but for the sake of Jesus Christ, who so love the world that he died for. We pray in his most blessed you are listening to Bible study hours with a Bible teaching of Dr. James Boyce listener supported ministry of the alliance of confessing Evangelicals.
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