Welcome to Expositing Ephesians

THIS BLOG IS DEDICATED to one of the chief passions of my life and ministry, The Epistle of Paul to the Ephesians. I believe this epistle is at the very core of the Christian life. I spent years in the study of it and then three and one half years expositing it from my pulpit. I hope this blog will be a blessing to you as I share that exposition. I also hope you will tell others about this blog. Please check for new posts each Monday .

Sunday, May 31, 2015

Don’t be a Partaker of Sin

In the Apostle’s Paul’s writing on how the Christian is to walk in love (Eph. 5:1-7), he ends with two commands in verses 6-7 in light of the consequences of the sins of verses 3-5. The first is don’t be deceived into sin (Let no man deceive you with vain words, v. 6a).

Second, don’t be a partaker of sin (Be not ye therefore partakers with them, v. 7). The Greek behind partakers (summetochos) is the same word we studied back in 3:6: “That the Gentiles should be fellowheirs, and of the same body, and partakers of his promise in Christ by the gospel.” The root is metochos, meaning partaking of something or participating in something. It’s also used to speak of a partner, as in Luke 5:7, where Peter and the others in his boat had so many fish in their net that “they beckoned unto their partners, which were in the other ship, that they should come and help them.” When the prefix sun is added, which means “together, together with,” implying a close connection, the idea is intensified that we are “partners together,” reemphasizing the closeness of the relationship. So, Paul is telling us that we must never be partners together with sin or with those who are involved in sin.

Paul elaborated on this principle to the Corinthians, who were notorious for their partnership with sinful behavior: “Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness? And what concord hath Christ with Belial? or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel? And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? for ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you” (II Cor. 6:14-17).

The word “fellowship” is again metochos, partnership. Paul’s first metaphor, of course, is based upon Deuteronomy 22:10 (cf. Lev. 19:19), which commanded not to yoke together an ox and a donkey for plowing because of the obvious reason that their “walk” is different, that is, their step and pull is uneven. Paul’s point, then, is clear. The Believer and the unbeliever “walk” differently, that is, they are totally different in every way—actions, attitudes, philosophies, goals, and destiny. They must, therefore, never be “yoked” together in circumstances that require agreement, such as marriage, close friendship, business partnerships, lodges, or anything else. Just as light and darkness, Christ and Satan, and God’s Temple and idols, are all opposites, so is the Christian and the non-Christian. We are never to “partner” with sin.

Man’s words are empty, and Paul warns us to not be lured into believing man’s philosophies or committing man’s deeds. Oh, let us not allow ourselves to be lured into Satan’s counterfeit!

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Don’t be Deceived Into Sin

In the Apostle’s Paul’s writing on how the Christian is to walk in love (Eph. 5:1-7), he ends with two commands in verses 6-7 in light of the consequences of the sins of verses 3-5.

First, don’t be deceived into sin (Let no man deceive you with vain words (v. 6a). Deceive is apatao, to seduce into error, to mislead. Vain, however, is the key word. The Greek is kenos, “empty.” Used literally, it refers to such things as an empty jug or empty hands. Used figuratively, as in our text, it pictures that which is without content or truth, hollow, or shallow. Whenever I see this word, philosophy always comes to mind, as Paul wrote the Colossians, “Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain [kenos] deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ” (Col. 2:8).

No word better describes human philosophy than kenos, empty, hollow, and void of truth. The philosopher who always comes to my mind here is 19th Century German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche, one of the first to proclaim that “God is dead.” He wrote, “What could be created if there were Gods? . . . If there were Gods, how could I bear to be no God? Consequently, there are no Gods?” What empty, foolish, irrational words! And, as we noted in our study of Truth way back in 1:13, Nietzsche could not live with the implications of his philosophy and ultimately went insane. Christian philosopher Francis Schaeffer well sums up Nietzsche: “I am convinced that when Nietzsche came to Switzerland and went insane, it was not because of venereal disease, though he did have that disease. Rather, it was because he understood that insanity was the only philosophic answer if the infinite-personal God does not exist” (How Shall We Then Live?, p. 180).

20th Century philosopher Jean-Paul Sartre also comes to mind. As the “Dean of Existentialists,” he taught that existence is pointless and absurd, so that each person must authenticate himself by an act of the will. But he also taught that the will is separate from reason, so the will can authenticate itself in any direction it chooses. Therefore, as Francis Schaeffer again writes: “On the basis of his teaching, you could authenticate yourself either by helping a poor old lady along the road at night or by speeding up your auto and running her down. Reason is not involved, and nothing can show you the direction which your will should take” (p. 167).

Empty words! Ramblings from a mind devoid of Truth and a heart derailed from God. Yet innumerable people are lured into these and countless other philosophies.

Likewise, philosophy dictates behavior. With Darwin’s theory of Evolution as the foundation, the result has been everything from the gas chambers of Nazism to genetic engineering. Heinrich Himmler believed that the law of “the survival of the fittest” should rule, and genetic engineers believe that science should be used to propagate only the fittest, leaving the weak to die.

Many people are also lured into cults and religions by all kinds of empty words, such as, “belonging,” “unity,” “harmony,” “paradise,” and even “divinity.”

Tragic also is how even Christianity has been reshaped to be alluring nowadays. “Easy Believeism,” “No-Lordship Salvation,” salvation without repentance, the “God is love” philosophy, and other perversions of the Gospel make Christianity into just another feel good religion that meets your social and emotional needs.

Even more basic and practical, most people are lured into sin by the promises it makes: it will make life better, it will give pleasure, it will make you popular, and so on. But it is all empty, just hollow words that can’t deliver what they promise.

Mark it down: philosophy always looks interesting, religion always looks compelling, and sin always looks pleasing. But they all are just empty words.

Monday, May 4, 2015

The Consequences of Man’s Immorality (2)

Having mentioned several characteristics of counterfeit love in Ephesians 5:3-4, Paul now turns to the consequences of such immorality in verse 5-7: For this ye know, that no whoremonger, nor unclean person, nor covetous man, who is an idolater, hath any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God. Let no man deceive you with vain words: for because of these things cometh the wrath of God upon the children of disobedience. Be not ye therefore partakers with them.

We looked at the first last time: those whose lifestyle results in their having no inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God.

Second, Paul adds that because of these things cometh the wrath of God upon the children of disobedience. Even more unpopular today is the preaching about God’s wrath. Instead, to get large crowds, the emphasis is upon “felt needs,” “seeker-sensitivity,” social activism, and entertainment.

The more and more common approach of “ministry” today is addressing “felt-needs” and being “seeker-sensitive,” in spite of the clear fact that Scripture does not support either. This was brought home to me recently while attending a conference on using computer technology in ministry. Now let me say that I love technology, computers in particular. Like any other tool, they can be used to make our work more efficient and even enable us to accomplish more. What is happening in many churches today, however, is that technology is obscuring the Truth. In order to appeal to more people, we are using more technology and less Truth. Fancy presentations and other technology greatly appeals to the senses, so the messages is “toned down” to attract as many people as possible. Jesus is often “sneaked in the back door” and even presented more as a Savior who “meets our needs” instead of condemns and forgives our sin and demands our obedience. We have lost sight of the fact that the Gospel is about God’s wrath upon the sinner and Christ’s sacrifice as salvation from that wrath.

Man does, indeed, think he can do anything and get away with it. If I dare be controversial for just a moment, many people today scoff at the thought that AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases are the “wrath of God.” But that is exactly what they are. Yes, there are those who contract HIV from blood transfusions and the like, but those are not the rule; such diseases are spread by behavior. Let men scoff, but God never has allowed men to go unpunished and He never will.

This is proven without question by the verb tense in the clause cometh the wrath. Cometh is in the Present Tense, so the idea is not that wrath awaits sometime in the future, rather it is already here. Yes, there is more wrath coming—“the lake of fire” (Rev. 20:14-15; 21:8)—but God’s wrath is present even today on the children of disobedience, that is, those who “are of [their] father the devil” (Jn. 8:44) and who “do not obey the truth” (Rom. 2:8). As commentator William Hendrickson pictures, “These sinister practices attract God’s displeasure like a fully lit up enemy target attracts bombs.”

Yes, what we’ve shown here is a “hard saying,” but it’s no less true.