Last week, we spent some time discussing that the way we lead our lives, our Christian walk, begins with how we think, begins with our mind. That when we accepted Jesus, we were given the ability to see clearly and we are to use our renewed mind, to think differently. We discussed that this pre-Christian state of darkened understanding explains some of what we see in the society today. We talked about how this darkened understanding leads to the decision that there is no absolute right and wrong, that everything is relative. Wrong!
Then we looked at the woes of the wicked in Isaiah 5, the result of darkened understanding and saw how perfectly they describe the state of our society. So maybe the U.S. is in Old Testament prophecy after all, but not the way we would want it to be.
Today's Lesson: Living in Truth
Paul was describing how blinded, how deadened, how wrong the pagan society was, and then he tells the believers:
Notice that Paul does not say "learn about Christ." It is possible to learn about Christ and never be saved. Jesus says in Matthew 7:
A personal relationship is required. A fellowship growing every day. A relationship and a fellowship with the living Jesus. His sheep know him, will hear his voice. Those who are not his sheep will not hear his voice. John 10 reminds us of that:
The phrase translated "You did not learn Christ in this way" is misleading. The sense of the Greek phrase is that "this is not what you learned when you found Christ." Or, "This is not how you came to know Christ." In modern lingo it might be, "That is not what Jesus is about." When you combine with the next verse, you get, "if you have paid attention, that is not what Jesus is about."
Paul will continue in the next verse to make a point, but notice this. The better I understand the word of God, the better I know the Son of God, because the entire Bible is a revelation of what?
Jesus is throughout Scripture:
As an engineer, sort of a technical guy, you might expect that my favorite part of the book of Genesis is the story of the Creation. It is interesting, but that's not really the best part. The most staggering learning that we had in this class as we went through the book of Genesis is that Jesus is on every page of that book, if you know where to look. And remember that as we went through Genesis we pretty well focused on that. I would doubt that you have ever seen a dedicated Christian that did not love to study the Bible.
Jesus is Truth:
It is amazing. If you look closely around you you'll find that almost everything in our society is built on lies. So what is truth? If you really study this question you'll find that truth is a very elusive thing. The ultimate truth is Jesus, according to John 14:6.
The Bible is truth, according to Jesus.
It Begins in the Mind:
As the mind understands the Bible, the Word of God, it is gradually transformed by the Spirit, and that renewal leads to a changed life. What changes us or transforms us starts with the mind, putting on the mind of Christ.
Verses 22 through 24 are a summary of what Paul also taught in Romans Chapters 5 through 8. You can be grateful that I'm not going to read to you those four chapters of Romans. However I would recommend to you that this week you read Romans 5 through 8 and see how Paul expands on the verses here Ephesians. We dealt with this in Ephesians Chapter 2 earlier, and it is also dealt with in Colossians Chapter three.
A New Creation, A New Citizenship:
As believers we have not only changed our mind but we have changed our whole citizenship. We are part of a new creation. That is one of our greatest challenges. We get our kingdoms confused. We are part of America. We're part of this country. We're part of society. And it is hard to let go. And yet it is important that we do not get our kingdoms confused. Our spiritual kingdom and condition are more important than our earthly kingdom.
As several commentators say, when you find the word "therefore" you should ask what it is "there for". When you see therefore you also know that you have a word meaning that what is about to be said relates to what has just been said.
Paul is never content to explain a principal and just drop it. He always then applies it to different areas in our life. He is going to name five sins to be avoided. Of course there are a lot more, but he names five here. I think the reason that he names these particular five is that remember, he is talking about unity, and the these five sins tend to destroy unity.
And Satan wants us to believe that God is the liar. Not only is Satan the liar, but his goal is to get you to believe that God is the liar. Every time you don't trust God or agree with him, Satan succeeds. It is amazing how often and in how many ways God in effect asks us, "Do you trust me"? It can be through a hardship, it can be through a surprise, it can be through any variety of situations or circumstances, but God is constantly finding ways to ask us, "Do you trust me"? And what Satan wants you to do is to distrust God, to question him, which is in effect calling God a liar. That really is not very smart.
Sad consequences always result from lies. I have not written to you because you do not know the truth, but because you do know it, and because no lie is of the truth. --John 2:21
The first sin of the early church was lying. That was the first sin that
was judged in the early church.
No believer can be neutral in the battle for truth. Chapter 6 will talk a lot more about that. Paul makes the point, here, that the reason we should not lie is that we are members of the body of Christ. Every Christian is called to be honest, even in the little things. We should never deceive anyone. We are called to loyalty, so we certainly should never deceive a fellow believer. If you were to study the level of loyalty between Christians, I'm afraid that you would be shocked at how few believers exercise this mandate. It could be a Christian who is an employee but is disloyal to his Christian employer. For non-Christians that is one thing, but for Christians that is inexcusable. We must never be unfaithful to anyone, but especially to another Christian.
Unfortunately, the word fiduciary is not even in the vocabulary of many Christians. Even the courts, with all their softness and leniency, are still strict enforcers of fiduciary responsibility. A fiduciary is the relationship of a physician to his patient, or of a board member to the shareholders, or of a leader to his followers. It is where you put other people's interest ahead of your own. There are two kinds of relationships in business. One is an arm's length relationship, where everyone is expected to protect themselves, caveat emptor. There can also will be non arm's length relationship, the fiduciary relationship. Christians are called on to have a fiduciary relationship with one another. You should be able to trust me and every other Christian. Unfortunately I don't think that's the case, in reality. If I give you advice, it should be advice that puts your interest ahead of my own. That should be taken for granted, but it is amazing how many Christians have no concept of the obligations under a fiduciary relationship. In chapter 6 we will talk more about this.
...we will pick up at verse 26 of chapter 4 where Paul will give us some other sins to avoid as he instructs on how we should live in a manner worthy of our calling as Christians. He will continue to give us ways to measure or judge our maturity.