by Mike Ratliff
5 Conduct yourselves with wisdom toward outsiders, making the most of the opportunity. 6 Let your speech always be with grace, as though seasoned with salt, so that you will know how you should respond to each person. Colossians 4:5-6 (NASB)
There are really only two mindsets. There is the natural man mindset that we were all born with then there is the transformed mindset that comes as a result of being transformed by the renewal of our minds as a way of life and walking before the face of God. (Romans 12:1-2) The natural man mindset sees things of God as foolishness or unfairness while the transformed mindset is in the process of learning to see things as God sees them.
6 Seek the LORD while He may be found;
Call upon Him while He is near.
7 Let the wicked forsake his way
And the unrighteous man his thoughts;
And let him return to the LORD,
And He will have compassion on him,
And to our God,
For He will abundantly pardon.
8 “For My thoughts are not your thoughts,
Nor are your ways My ways,” declares the LORD.
9 “For as the heavens are higher than the earth,
So are My ways higher than your ways
And My thoughts than your thoughts. Isaiah 55:6-9 (NASB)
Moralists and Pelagians don’t get this. They view Man as capable of doing good and pleasing God with their good works all outside of His grace. However this is completely contrary to what the Bible teaches us that all of us are born separated from God with hearts that are naturally against Him. (Romans 1:21-22; 5:8; Ephesians 2:3; Colossians 1:21) From the Bible we learn that a fool is a person who says “in his heart”, “There is no God.” The fool is the person who lives apart from God. This includes those who have anti-God thinking and living patterns. It also includes those who have beliefs about God and His ways that is contrary to what is clearly taught in scripture.The fool becomes his own god, his own authority. (Proverbs 12:15) He or she determines right and wrong and truth and falsehood entirely by his fallen thinking and sinful inclination, which is the natural man mindset.
Since the fool doesn’t recognize God as He is revealed in scripture, he or she does not recognize sin. This denies God by belief and by practice.The Bible teaches us that wisdom begins with the fear of the Lord (Proverbs 1:7) and continues by acknowledging His truth and ways. (Ecclesiastes 9:1) The process of destroying our old natural man mindset as God replaces it with the transformed mindset happens as we turn from foolishness to wisdom, from self to God. Genuine godly wisdom is centered in conviction and behavior, specifically in recognizing and obeying God.
15 Therefore be careful how you walk, not as unwise men but as wise, 16 making the most of your time, because the days are evil. 17 So then do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is. Ephesians 5:15-17 (NASB)
15 Βλέπετε οὖν ἀκριβῶς πῶς περιπατεῖτε μὴ ὡς ἄσοφοι ἀλλʼ ὡς σοφοί, 16 ἐξαγοραζόμενοι τὸν καιρόν, ὅτι αἱ ἡμέραι πονηραί εἰσιν. 17 διὰ τοῦτο μὴ γίνεσθε ἄφρονες, ἀλλὰ συνίετε τί τὸ θέλημα τοῦ κυρίου. Ephesians 5:15-17 (NA28)
Regenerate believers must live by doing that which corresponds to what they are in Christ. Our regeneration actually seeded us with God’s wisdom. (2 Timothy 3:15; 1 Corinthians 1:30)
Just as a human baby is completely human, our regeneration made us complete in Christ, but as the baby must grow up and become an adult, so do we have to grow in grace becoming a mature believer. God is highly active and in complete control of this process. Our part is to cooperate with Him as we seek His wisdom.
5 But if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him. James 1:5 (NASB)
New believers begin their regenerate life in Christ with all of the wisdom necessary to live for their Lord, but they must also continually grow in wisdom. Why? This makes them even more mature, more faithful, and more productive in God’s service.The phrase, “be careful” from Ephesians 5:15 is the Greek adverb ἀκριβῶς (akribōs). It has the basic meaning of accurate and exact, and carries the associated idea of looking, examining, and investigating something with great care. It also carries the idea of alertness. Therefore, we are to not walk before the face of our God blindly and carelessly. No, we are to carefully examine how we walk seeking to avoid Satan’s traps and snares. If we are not being careful then we will probably fall into some sort sin. This is unwise. It is the way those mired in the natural man mindset walk. It is the way of the world.
Our regeneration gives us the ability to live separate from the world and its ways, which is the epitome of walking in God’s wisdom.The masses that are mired in false doctrine are actually walking in unbelief. They don’t believe God completely. They are clinging to their natural man mindset and its foolishness. Believers play the fool when they are disobedient. (Galatians 3:1,3) They also play the fool when they put their hearts on the wrong things. (1 Timothy 6:9) There is no excuse for Christians to live foolishly when God’s wisdom belongs to them.
Look at Ephesians 5:16 above. Paul did not use the Greek word χρόνος (chronos) for “time” in this verse. That word refers to clock time. Instead, he used καιρόν (kairon) the accusative, singular, masculine case of καιρός (kairos). This word denotes a measured, allocated, fixed season or epoch. This is talking about our lives and their length. God has set boundaries to our lives, and our opportunity for service exists only within those boundaries. God knows both the beginning and end of our time on earth. We can achieve our potential in His service only as we maximize the time He has given us. Paul gives us the idea that we must make the best use of the time God has given us by redeeming it or buying it up then devote it to the Lord instead of for our own use. When the demands on my time draws me away from serving God, I always have the concept in my mind that I have been robbed. I haven’t been robbed of my time in watching TV or sports or whatever. Instead, I have had time that was dedicated to serving my Lord taken away and wasted on things that don’t.
10 So then, while we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, and especially to those who are of the household of the faith. Galatians 6:10 (NASB)
When we do this, we walk obediently in the narrow way of the Gospel. This is walking carefully, taking full advantage to every opportunity to serve God, redeeming the time to use for His glory.
Look back at Ephesians 5:17 (above). I can work with all sorts of people, but the ones that I do not like to have around me on the job are those who panic or become anxious and overwhelmed. Believers should never be this way. Why? This is foolishness. We are to walk through our days with a sense of urgency, but never panic. Instead, we must urgently seek the will of God in all things. If we learn the Lord’s will then obey Him then we will have all the power we need to do good and accomplish His will. God’s basic will is found in Scripture. His perfect and sufficient guidelines for knowing and doing what is pleasing to Him; however, in this passage, Paul seems to be speaking of the Lord’s specific leading of individual believers.
God’s will for our lives is first of all to belong to Him through Jesus Christ (1 Timothy 2:3-4). God’s will is also that we be Spirit-filled. (Ephesians 5:18) We experience God’s will by being sanctified. (1 Thessalonians 4:3) God’s will may include suffering. (1 Peter 2:20) God’s will culminates in believers giving thanks no matter what. (1 Thessalonians 5:18) When we are what God wants us to be, He is in control and our will is merged with His will. It is at these times that God gives us the desires He has planted in our hearts. Jesus Christ is our supreme example. He always functioned according to the divine principles established by His Father. (John 5:19) He knew that His time of earthly ministry was short and would soon be cut off; always functioning according to His limited privilege of time and opportunity, using every moment of His life in His Father’s work. He always functioned according to His Father’s purposes. (John 4:34) Let us close this post with this passage from 1 Peter.
1 Therefore, since Christ has suffered in the flesh, arm yourselves also with the same purpose, because he who has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin, 2 so as to live the rest of the time in the flesh no longer for the lusts of men, but for the will of God. 1 Peter 4:1-2 (NASB)
Soli Deo Gloria!