by Mike Ratliff
Βλέπετε οὖν ἀκριβῶς πῶς περιπατεῖτε μὴ ὡς ἄσοφοι ἀλλ᾽ ὡς σοφοί, ἐξαγοραζόμενοι τὸν καιρόν, ὅτι αἱ ἡμέραι πονηραί εἰσιν. (Ephesians 5:15-16 NA27)
See therefore how carefully you walk not as unwise but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil. (a personal translation of Ephesians 5:15-16 from the NA27 Greek text)
There is a great deal going on the visible church, much of it having little to do with genuine Christianity, that most of can do little about. Yes, we can pray, which is very powerful. We can also obey God and expose the evil to other believers. However, the older I get in the faith the outrage over much of what people like Rob Bell or Rick Warren say or write I no longer allow to consume me. I know what my role is in the Truth War do you what yours is? For most of us it is to obey what the Apostle Paul wrote to the Ephesian church in Ephesians 5:1-21.
This passage is easily broken into two sections. The first section is made up of vv1-2 that is Paul’s exhortation to self-sacrificial love. The second section, vv3-20 is Paul’s instructions to the Church for Holy Living. I am convinced that trying to the latter without former will only lead to a form of legalism so let us start with vv1-2.
Γίνεσθε οὖν μιμηταὶ τοῦ θεοῦ ὡς τέκνα ἀγαπητὰ καὶ περιπατεῖτε ἐν ἀγάπῃ, καθὼς καὶ ὁ Χριστὸς ἠγάπησεν ἡμᾶς καὶ παρέδωκεν ἑαυτὸν ὑπὲρ ἡμῶν προσφορὰν καὶ θυσίαν τῷ θεῷ εἰς ὀσμὴν εὐωδίας. (Ephesians 5:1-2 NA27)
Be therefore imitators of God as beloved children and walk in love as Christ loved us and gave up Himself on behalf of us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God. (a personal translation of Ephesians 5:1-2 from the NA27 Greek text)
Yes, we are slaves of our Lord Jesus Christ if we are indeed in Him, but, if this true, then we are called to imitate God’s holiness in all our conduct as His beloved children who are loved. Our Lord’s supreme sacrifice on the Cross was on our behalf. He gave Himself up for us. Should we not reciprocate to this supreme act of love in obedience by imitating the holiness of God in our own lives?
Πορνεία δὲ καὶ ἀκαθαρσία πᾶσα ἢ πλεονεξία μηδὲ ὀνομαζέσθω ἐν ὑμῖν, καθὼς πρέπει ἁγίοις, καὶ αἰσχρότης καὶ μωρολογία ἢ εὐτραπελία, ἃ οὐκ ἀνῆκεν, ἀλλὰ μᾶλλον εὐχαριστία. τοῦτο γὰρ ἴστε γινώσκοντες, ὅτι πᾶς πόρνος ἢ ἀκάθαρτος ἢ πλεονέκτης, ὅ ἐστιν εἰδωλολάτρης, οὐκ ἔχει κληρονομίαν ἐν τῇ βασιλείᾳ τοῦ Χριστοῦ καὶ θεοῦ. Μηδεὶς ὑμᾶς ἀπατάτω κενοῖς λόγοις· διὰ ταῦτα γὰρ ἔρχεται ἡ ὀργὴ τοῦ θεοῦ ἐπὶ τοὺς υἱοὺς τῆς ἀπειθείας. μὴ οὖν γίνεσθε συμμέτοχοι αὐτῶν· ἦτε γάρ ποτε σκότος, νῦν δὲ φῶς ἐν κυρίῳ· ὡς τέκνα φωτὸς περιπατεῖτε – ὁ γὰρ καρπὸς τοῦ φωτὸς ἐν πάσῃ ἀγαθωσύνῃ καὶ δικαιοσύνῃ καὶ ἀληθείᾳ – δοκιμάζοντες τί ἐστιν εὐάρεστον τῷ κυρίῳ, καὶ μὴ συγκοινωνεῖτε τοῖς ἔργοις τοῖς ἀκάρποις τοῦ σκότους, μᾶλλον δὲ καὶ ἐλέγχετε. (Ephesians 5:3-11 NA27)
But fornication and all impurity or greediness let it not be named among you, as is proper for saints, also indecency and foolish talking or coarse jesting, which are not fitting, but rather thanksgiving. For this you know by recognizing that every fornicator or impure person or covetous person, that is, an idolater, does not have an inheritance in the Kingdom of Christ and of God. Let no one deceive you with empty words; because of these things, the wrath of God is coming upon the sons of disobedience. Therefore, do not be joint partakers with them; for you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light for the fruit of the light is in all goodness, righteousness, and truth proving what is well pleasing to the Lord, and do not participate in the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather expose them. (a personal translation of Ephesians 5:3-11 from the NA27 Greek text)
As I translated that passage, I was struck at how often I have quoted from it in various posts. Paul was writing about the 1st Century Roman world he knew with the Church still in the apostolic stage. However, even with the Apostles right there planting churches, appointing elders, passing on Christ’s doctrines to the churches, the enemy was using all his weapons to attack it just as he is now. Fallen man in an unregenerate state is at best religious and full of piety, but still driven by flesh. What about those born of the Spirit? The flesh remains. It is still there and we can still fall into sin if are not careful to obey what Paul is telling us here. How are we to walk? We are not to partake of the ways of the world, but are, instead, with hearts full of thanksgiving, walk as children of light. Instead of participating in the ways of the flesh, we are to expose the dangers of them to the Body of Christ.
τὰ γὰρ κρυφῇ γινόμενα ὑπ᾽ αὐτῶν αἰσχρόν ἐστιν καὶ λέγειν, τὰ δὲ πάντα ἐλεγχόμενα ὑπὸ τοῦ φωτὸς φανεροῦται, πᾶν γὰρ τὸ φανερούμενον φῶς ἐστιν. διὸ λέγει· ἔγειρε, ὁ καθεύδων, καὶ ἀνάστα ἐκ τῶν νεκρῶν, καὶ ἐπιφαύσει σοι ὁ Χριστός. Βλέπετε οὖν ἀκριβῶς πῶς περιπατεῖτε μὴ ὡς ἄσοφοι ἀλλ᾽ ὡς σοφοί, ἐξαγοραζόμενοι τὸν καιρόν, ὅτι αἱ ἡμέραι πονηραί εἰσιν. διὰ τοῦτο μὴ γίνεσθε ἄφρονες, ἀλλὰ συνίετε τί τὸ θέλημα τοῦ κυρίου. καὶ μὴ μεθύσκεσθε οἴνῳ, ἐν ᾧ ἐστιν ἀσωτία, ἀλλὰ πληροῦσθε ἐν πνεύματι, λαλοῦντες ἑαυτοῖς [ἐν] ψαλμοῖς καὶ ὕμνοις καὶ ᾠδαῖς πνευματικαῖς, ᾄδοντες καὶ ψάλλοντες τῇ καρδίᾳ ὑμῶν τῷ κυρίῳ, εὐχαριστοῦντες πάντοτε ὑπὲρ πάντων ἐν ὀνόματι τοῦ κυρίου ἡμῶν Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ τῷ θεῷ καὶ πατρί. Ὑποτασσόμενοι ἀλλήλοις ἐν φόβῳ Χριστοῦ (Ephesians 5:12-21 NA27)
For it is shameful even to speak of the things done by them in secret, but everything when it is exposed by the light becomes visible, for anything that becomes visible is light. Therefore, it says, “Arise, O sleeper, and rise up from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.” See therefore how carefully you walk not as unwise but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil. Therefore, do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is. And do not become drunk with wine, in which is dissipation, but be filled by the Spirit, speaking to one another in Psalms and Hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your hearts to the Lord, giving thanks always for all things to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, submitting to one another in the fear of Christ. (a personal translation of Ephesians 5:12-21 from the NA27 Greek text)
Here is the meat of how we accomplish this walk in personal holiness, not being partakers in the ways of the flesh that Paul talked about earlier. How do we do it? It is very clear that if we will pursue the holiness of God, that is, that if we will seek to be in the light of God that Christ will shine on us. If we will walk in this wisdom, redeeming the time rather than in wasting our time in fleshly pursuits, then we will be drawn closer to God. If we draw near to God, He will draw near to us (James 4:8) If we will redeem this time we have by not wasting it on the ways of the world, but in pursuing God in prayer, worship, et cetera what is going to happen? This is not talking about going to a higher level of being a Christian. This is just what we are all called to do in order to grow more mature in Christ and learn how to walk in personal holiness.
I watch very little television. I do not have the time. If I am not at work or spending time with my family then I am working on this ministry. Fortunately, God has given the time and resources to put into this, but I doubt if he expects all of you to learn Koine Greek and all that. No, but if you become familiar with what Paul is talking about here and apply it to your walk what do you think God is going to do in your life? I promise you this, the world and our enemy will lose all hold on you because God will have you and not let you go. This is how God got me turned around back in 2004. It was this very thing. I turned away from the idols and turned to pursing God. That is how we redeem the time in this evil age.
Soli Deo Gloria!