by Mike Ratliff
And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you. (Ephesians 4:30-32 ESV)
Much that is wrong that is causing the confusion in the church visible all around us right now is the result of complete misunderstanding of what it means to be a true disciple of Christ, a Christian. John MacArthur’s new book, Slave, is a great source for believers to read and then understand their true role in the Kingdom of God. Back in the late 1980’s a good friend at our church gave me a book by John MacArthur. It was the first edition of his book The Gospel According to Jesus. I believe I read it in just a few days. I have read it two more times since then. I have also read his books The Gospel According to the Apostles and Ashamed of the Gospel. There is a common theme in all of them my brethren and it is one that detractors of John MacArthur hate because that theme is directed to correct them. That theme is all through his new book, Slave, as well. What is it? It is that Jesus Christ is Lord and those who belong to Him are his δοῦλοί (slaves).
My friend Justin Edwards informed me today that he is undertaking the addressing of an article by Dr. Andy Woods titled What’s Wrong with Lordship Salvation. Justin’s rebuttal is here. This battle about Lordship Salvation will never be over as long as the enemies of the cross are alive to wage their war. While some are confused about what all the fuss is about, I would like to make it very clear to all reading this exactly what is at stake. As I stated above much that is wrong that is causing the confusion in the church in our time is from the predominance of the no-lordship ideology for such a long time throughout the church visible. Consider the following quote from Slave.
Today, however, the threats are much more subtle, primarily because the contemporary evangelical movement has lost its interest in doctrine. The current of mainstream evangelicalism is driven by pragmatic concerns, not theological ones. Church growth gurus worry about what draws a crowd, not about what the Bible says. Because it successfully appeals to unredeemed flesh, prosperity preachers make man the master, as if Christ were some sort of genie in a bottle—obliged to grant health, wealth, and happiness to those who send enough money. Even within some conservative circles, pragmatic worldly methods (including crass humor and coarse speech) and almost boundless adaptations of the worst of worldly music are aggressively defended as long as they get visible results. The sad reality is that popularity, not faithfulness to Christ and His Word, has become evangelicalism’s new standard of measure and its current brand of no-lordship ideology.1
This shift from Christianity being about man instead of God and His glory has as its root cause the corruption of the Gospel in a move to a no-lordship ideology and away from Christ being Lord and all who are truly His are His slaves. If we are His slaves then doesn’t that change the complexion of how we are to obey our Lord then? Doesn’t it make our lives His to do with according to His will and that our lives are not our own?
In light of that, let us focus on one Greek word that we find in the passage I placed at the top of this post (Ephesians 4:30-32). In v31 the phrase “be put away” translates the verb ἀρθήτω which is the Aorist, Imperative, Passive of αἴρω or airō. This is a command. This verb in this context is referring to us “sweeping away” something. Here Paul is painting a graphic picture that we should “sweep away” the hindrances to Christian living listed in the surrounding context. Consider the following quote in reference to this verb usage in this verse by Pastor and expositor Martyn Lloyd-Jones.
The Apostle is exhorting the Ephesians to put away all this evil. He does not say that because they have become Christians it has automatically dropped off…And again we notice that he does not merely tell them to pray that these sins may be taken out of their lives. Pray by all means, but do not forget that Paul tells the Ephesians to put them off, to put them far from them, and we must do the same. It is not pleasant. It is not at all pleasant even to preach on these things; it is very unpleasant for us to face them…but, says the Apostle, we must do it, and if we find any vestige or trace of these things within us, we must take hold of it and hurl it way from us, trample upon it, and bolt the door upon it, and never allow it to come back.2
Take a long look at the fleshly attitudes and actions in those verses. Those things should not be accounted amongst us my brethren whether we are dealing with non-believers or with each other. If you have a “yeah but, what about so and so is still going on and on?” so what! I promise you that your Lord is more concerned about you getting right before Him then he is with that. You have got to forgive whether that person repents or not. If we do not put away these things then we are not walking within the Lordship of Christ, but according to our own fleshly desires and that is sin.
Soli Deo Gloria!
1. John MacArthur, Slave (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 2010), 74.
2.Martyn Lloyd-Jones, Darkness and Light (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House), pp 282-283.