Do Not Give Up

by Mike Ratliff

in whom we have the boldness and access in confidence through our faith in Him. Therefore, I ask you not to give up over what I am suffering for you, which is your glory (a personal translation of Ephesians 3:12,13 from the Greek text)

In January 5, 2011 we looked at The Right Attitudes Concerning Prayer using Ephesians 3:12 as our primary focus. Now let us look at another important word from v13 which many Bible translations render as ‘faint,’ ‘discouraged, ‘ or ‘lose heart.’ Here is v13 from the Westcott and Hort Greek New Testament.

διο αιτουμαι μη εγκακειν εν ταις θλιψεσιν μου υπερ υμων ητις εστιν δοξα υμων 

The words “not give up” above translate μη εγκακειν. Μη or expresses absolute denial. Paul is expressing his desire to the Ephesians that they DO NOT do something. That something is εγκακειν that is the Present tense, Infinitive mood, Active voice form of ἐκκακέω or ekkakeō, which literally means, “to turn out to be a coward, to lose one’s courage, to faint or despond in view of trial or to be utterly spiritless.” So perhaps my translation of “do not give up” seems insufficient in light of this, but what we must see is that the verb structure Paul used here is speaking of a way of life not a one-time action.

This sort of encouragement would make no sense in the theology of most of those who preach Your Best Life Now or Name It and Claim It or Health, Wealth, and Prosperity as the focus of Christianity. However, anyone with any depth to their Biblical knowledge knows that those are heresies and not Biblically sound at all. Instead, what we learn is that the true Christian will be persecuted in this world because he or she will not be of the World. He or she will be in the World, but not be of the World. The World loves it own and hates the real Gospel because it condemns all that are of the World and not of Christ. You see, no one can be of both. Therefore, Paul is telling us that we can be persecuted. He wrote this letter to the Ephesians from prison. Paul is challenging all of us to not faint, not to sink into despondency not to become so dispirited and cowardly that we just quit.

Much of what we hear from preachers like Rick Warren and those who promote the self-focused form of Christianity is to rely on self-confidence and that from being “busy.” What would the result have been if Paul had said, “I’ll just keep a stiff upper lip and willpower will see me through?” Would he have been able to go willingly to his death for His Saviour with that worthless attitude? About 100 years before the time of Martin Luther there was a Church reformer named John Huss. He was arrested and condemned by the Roman Church for heresy. Here is what he told those who were preparing to burn him alive, “You need not tie my hands to the stake; I will stand in the flames on my own!” He could say that and do that because he had the same power that Paul had that all of us who have not lost hope have that is far beyond our own.

We all get discouraged at times in our Christian walk. I would be lying if I tried to tell you that I never get despondent about that. However, these things are part of the trials that are actually part of “out glory.” In Romans 8:18 Paul wrote, “For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us. Let us keep our eyes on the prize my brethren.

Soli Deo Gloria!

4 thoughts on “Do Not Give Up

  1. Dear Mike,
    Thank you for this timely encouragment!
    Yes, things are in a mess, but do we not think that God sees what is happening? Has Jesus not already triumphed over sin and death? Has God not already sealed us with the indwelling of the Holy Spirit as a promise of what is to come? If we have faith that Jesus purchased us and that our salvation is sure, and we are clothed in the robe of His righteousness then we need to live in faith. We need to exude the hope of our Savior redeeming us from this fallen world. When overcome with the sadness of this wayward world (especially for my children) I must remember that God loves them more than I ever could and that not one of His sheep will be lost. All whom God intends to save will be saved. Praise God for mercies. “He delivers the afflicted in their affliction, and opens their ear in time of oppression.” Job 36:15 Grace and peace in Christ Jesus

  2. Amen!

    “The saints prove their conversion by their perseverance, and that perseverance comes from a continual supply of divine grace to their souls.” ~Spurgeon~

  3. Thank you Mike. It is great encouragement to us when we remember that the Lord is sovereign in our suffering and in how He uses us for His glory. Preaching the cross is foolish and “counter intuitive” for those who believe that man is spiritually alive and able to save his own skin through man centered techniques and methods. But, God says that He is the one who saves and sanctifies, and also is the One who produces good fruit in His own children. Praise Him that He does work in some of His creation to cause them to really trust Him and faithfully preach Christ crucified. Times of discouragement can be times when God helps us to remember that He is in control and that even though it hurts to see error and darkness in the church, God can and will bring eternal good and glory through difficulties. Blessings to you as you encourage others through you ministry.

  4. Two parallel natures…the old and the new. The outer nature encompasses everything from discouragement and depression to unbelief and rebellion.
    The inner nature displays Christ’s goodness and endurance in spite of what is going on around it. The life of Christ, the source of our triumph in the face of suffering, is the astonishing result of the Spirit in this old jar of clay.

    The clay jar stays the same…the contents are transformed by the Word.

    1 Corinthians 4
    7 But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. 8 We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; 9 persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. 10 We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body.
    What happens if we try to transform the jar of clay? In that case, the emphasis is on the clay jar and the inner life is neglected. The Word becomes void.

    This is what is happening among the churches today…the Church Growth Movement where the outward “good works” of the corporate entity have taken the place of the inner transforming works of the Spirit of grace in the individual.

    This is what has happened in the 12 steps programs where they have emphasized one’s own works of transformation on the old jar of clay, remaining blind and ignorant of the potential for the Spirit’s work on the inner man.

    Even those who have begun in the Spirit, because the work of grace is not instantaneous, have abandoned and traded “abiding in the vine” for an emphasis on the jar of clay to bring about it’s own restoration…which of course, is futility.

    Outwardly we are wasting away…deteriorating, dying, decaying. But for those who have the power of Christ at work in their jar of clay, the inner life is alive and well.

    1 Corinthians 4
    16 Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. 17 For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. 18 So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.

    Two parallel natures…one dying, the one we should give up on; one living for eternity, the one that keeps us from giving up.

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