Put Away

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.

20 thoughts on “Put Away

  1. Amen.

    I wonder what a discussion between Jonathan Edwards, John MacArthur and Mike Ratliff would be like. Hmm……

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  2. Amen, and thank you, brother. I also learned a different context for airō, which I understood to mean “to take up” in the context of Luke 9:23. “To put away” really adds to the weight of the word – we must take up our cross AND put away, or cast off, the works of darkness. And we will do so until we are glorified in Christ.

    By the way, one thing I wondered about today to ask of a person who misunderstands or rejects repentant faith – “when you confessed Christ as your Lord and Savior, did you not bow your knee?” I think the answer to that question would put this silly controversy to rest.

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  3. It’s a great word Justin! I looked it up in my Greek/English Oxford Lexicon as well, which is from Classical/Attic Greek. You have it right.

    Yes, I often wonder why these people insist on this silliness. What could their motive be? Just read Revelation…

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  4. Mike, I’ve always been puzzled by people who cannot see that if they are saved, they are a purchased possession of the Lord’s, with no more say over the disposal of themselves!
    Clay for the Potter to do what He wills with!
    This knowledge has been my great comfort
    And a goad to turn me back when the old man beckoned.

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  5. Solomon had it right when he said …”there is nothing new under the sun….” (paraphrase). This problem goes back to The Garden when the Serpent tempted man with …”ye shall be as gods…” Since that day man has tried to attain godhood. Wanting to be the master of their destiny and coming under no authority whatsoever, even the Lord Jesus Christ. They only go part way, not surrendering their entire self to Him.
    I have heard it said that the doctrine of Lordship is no more than believing that we are puppets with God pulling the strings. I say GLORY! What is wrong with that? That is my comfort and peace, and I can rest secure in His capable, mighty hands.

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  6. Berean Gal, if you can get your hands of J.M.’s book Slave then do so. I think you would really enjoy it because he shows the Biblical and logical truths behind all these things and the logical fallacies behind the arguments against them.

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  7. Is the Lordship of Christ not a question of obedience?

    Our core is now the Holy Spirit so we should be hearing from Him about what is acceptable and what is not…tax evasion is not acceptable, living with two goddesses instead of one is not acceptable, taking on more debt than you can afford is not acceptable because it is greed, always talking about “think and grow rich” schemes is not acceptable because it is idolatry, drinking a case of beer a day, exercising a filthy mouth or taking advantage of “your neighbour” is not acceptable.

    These are the every day things that we see among a worldly person whose core is self and who has no idea of what is right except his own standards of morality. But if our core is Christ, then if we are not suffering the severest conflict for participating in these kinds of things, then I would say that the core is self and Christ is not Lord….he’s not even present. He has either been dismissed, quieted, grieved, silenced or never there to begin with.

    The pig has gone back to rolling in the mud, Lordship does not exist and to be a slave in obedient submission to the Spirit is incomprehensive.

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  8. Thanks for the article Mike. I have seen a lot of fury over the concept bondservant/slave John MacArthur discusses here. Many quote a lot of Scriptures believing this contradicts verses that talks about we are now adopted heirs of God such as Romans 8:9-17, and that we are no longer servants of Christ but His friends as in John 15:13-16.

    Quite puzzling if you look their fury at the term and I think they have perhaps ignored too much of the proper contexts of the verses supporting the concept of bondservant.

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  9. Mike, I’m wading through through MacArthur’s The Jesus You Can’t Ignore and John Stott’s The Cross of Christ at this stage. Don’t think I will have time to wade through the book at this stage, but will come back later…

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