Tuesday July 14, 2020
EPH 3:14-19: The indwelling of the Holy Spirit and Christ.
Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I do my share on behalf of His body (which is the church) in filling up that which is lacking in Christ's afflictions. 25 Of this church I was made a minister according to the stewardship from God bestowed on me for your benefit, that I might fully carry out the preaching of the word of God, 26 that is, the mystery which has been hidden from the past ages and generations; but has now been manifested to His saints, 27 to whom God willed to make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory. 28 And we proclaim Him, admonishing every man and teaching every man with all wisdom, that we may present every man complete in Christ. 29 And for this purpose also I labor, striving according to His power, which mightily works within me.
For I want you to know how great a struggle I have on your behalf, and for those who are at Laodicea, and for all those who have not personally seen my face, 2 that their hearts may be encouraged, having been knit together in love [the great defense against false teaching], and attaining to all the wealth that comes from the full assurance of understanding, resulting in a true knowledge of God's mystery, that is, Christ Himself, 3 in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge [in 3:3, your life is hidden with Christ in God].
All the treasures of wisdom and knowledge are in Christ. There are no where else. If we look anywhere else we will not find them.
We closed last time talking about complete devotion to God. Without it, we will be looking to Christ to find some things, and then looking somewhere else for the rest.
Attaining the full knowledge of Christ, in our passage in Eph 3: the Christ may dwell in your hearts, is a life-long endeavor. If we are only partially committed to it, then partial is all we’re going to get. Could we honestly say that we know a person if we only know about parts of them?
A few lines from Mere Christianity:
“The ordinary idea we all have before we become Christians is this. We take as a starting point our ordinary self with its various desires and interests. We then admit that something else - call it “morality” or “decent behavior” or “the good of society” - has claims on this self: claims which interfere with our own desires. What we mean by “being good” is giving into those claims. Some of the things the ordinary self wanted to do turn out to be wrong: well, we must give them up. Other things, which the self did not want to do, turn out to be what we call right: well, we shall have to do them. But we are hoping all the time that when all the demands have been met, the poor natural self will still have some chance, some time, to get on with its own life and do what it likes. … The Christian way is different: harder, and easier. Christ says, “Give Me all. I don’t want so much of your time and so much of your money and so much of your work: I want You. I have not come to torment your natural self, but to kill it. No half-measures are any good. … Hand over the whole natural self, all the desires which you think are innocent as well as the ones you think wicked - the whole outfit. I will give you a new self instead. In fact, I will give you Myself: My own will shall become yours.” Both harder and easier than what we are trying to do. … The terrible thing, the almost impossible thing, is to hand over your whole self - all your wishes, all your precautions - to Christ. But it is far easier than what we are all trying to do instead. For what we are trying to do is to remain what we call “ourselves,” to keep personal happiness as our great aim in life, and yet at the same time be “good.” We are all trying to let our mind and heart go their own way - centered on money or pleasure or ambition - and hoping, in spite of this, to behave honestly and chastely and humbly. And that is exactly what Christ warned us you could not do. As He said, a thistle cannot produce figs. If I am a field that contains nothing but grass seed, I cannot produce wheat. Cutting the grass may keep it short: but I shall still produce grass and no wheat. If I want to produce wheat, the change must go deeper than the surface. I must be ploughed up and re-sown. That is why the real problem of the Christian life comes where people do not usually look for it. It comes the very moment you wake up each morning. All your wishes and hopes for the day rush at you like wild animals. And the first job each morning consists simply in shoving them back; in listening to that other voice, taking that other point of view, letting that other larger, stronger, quieter life come flowing in. And so on, all day. Standing back from all your natural fussings and frettings; coming in out of the wind. We can only do it for moments at first. But from those moments the new sort of life will be spreading through our system: because now we are letting Him work at the right part of us. It is the difference between paint, which is merely laid on the surface, and a dye or stain which soaks right through. He never talked vague, idealistic gas. When He said, “Be perfect,” He meant it. He meant that we must go in for the full treatment [devotion and commitment, not consistently sinless]. It is hard; but the sort of compromise we are all hankering after is harder - in fact, it is impossible. … This is the whole of Christianity. There is nothing else. It is so easy to get muddled about that. It is easy to think that the church has a lot of different objects - education, building, missions, holding services. Just as it is easy to think the State has a lot of different objects - military, political, economic, and what not. But in a way things are much simpler than that. The State exists simply to promote and protect the ordinary happiness of human beings in this life. A husband and a wife chatting over a fire, a couple of friends having a game of darts in a pub, a man reading a book in his own room or digging in his own garden - that is what the State is there for. And unless they are helping to increase and prolong and protect such moments, all the laws, parliaments, armies, courts, police, economics, etc., are simply a waste of time. In the same way the church exists for nothing else but to draw men into Christ, to make them little Christs. If they are not doing that, all the cathedrals, clergy, missions, sermons, even the Bible itself, are simply a waste of time. God became Man for no other purpose. It is even doubtful, you know, whether the whole universe was created for any other purpose.”
We are to be strengthened with power in our inner man so that the Christ may dwell in our hearts through faith, so that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth, and length, and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge.
Comprehending the breadth, and length, and height, and depth, and knowing the love of Christ is to attain to all the wealth that comes from knowing the treasures of wisdom and knowledge in Christ.
These treasures are only found in the Word of God. They can only be seen by revelation from the Word to us, through the teaching ministry of the Holy Spirit. Man’s opinions, his ideas, his reasonings, cannot attain to that wisdom. Many men are sincere when they form their opinions and when they try to do God’s will from their own reasoning, usually motivated by the current popular culture, but only the simple, revealed truths of the word of God will give us the vision in the eyes of our hearts of the real Person and Work of Christ.
Therefore be careful how you walk, not as unwise men, but as wise, 16 making the most of [redeeming] your time, because the days are evil [surrounded by evil]. 17 So then do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is. 18 And do not get drunk with wine, for that is dissipation [asotia: an abandoned dissolute life (Thayer)], but be filled with the Spirit
The life of abandonment, “behavior which shows a lack of concern or thought of the consequences of an action - senseless deeds, reckless deeds” (Louw and Nida Greek Lexicon) is shown here as the antithesis of “redeeming [exagorazo = to buy out] your time.”
Redeeming your time under the will of the Father rather than being senseless and reckless with your time is the point of this passage. Don’t abandon your time to a dissolute life, for that is meaningless, but be filled with the Holy Spirit, redeeming your time in obedience to the will of the Father in all things.
Asotia hinges on the philosophy of nihilism, which means nothingness and of which Nietzsche is famous for.
“Nihilism rejects values and is therefore antinomian or lawless. But even most relativists do not deny all value, just all absolute value. Less stringent nihilists simply deny that any ultimate or absolute value exists. The only value that exists is what we create. Yet, the denial of all value is self-refuting, since the very denial involves the belief that there is value in making this denial. Nihilists value their freedom to be nihilists. Thus, they cannot escape affirming value implicitly, even when they deny it explicitly.” [Norman Geislser]
Christianity is the moral absolute from God who came into the world. We do not compromise them. A moral absolute is an objective (not subjective) moral duty that is for all men and at all times. It is not progressive nor is it dependent on culture or race or gender.
Moral relativism is self-deficient. It cannot call itself moral if there is no absolute by which to judge it right or wrong. Relative is always relative to something. What people do is subject to change. What people ought to do is not. Also, Christ doesn’t change, but our understanding of Him does. We know much more about Him than we did, say ten-years ago, but He hasn’t changed.
The means by which we come to that knowledge is absolute: the word of God and living the Christian life according to the standard of that word. In the political process, both right and left claim to desire justice. They differ on the means of increasing it. Not so in Christianity. There is one means - God’s word and striving to live according to it.
“Can you be righteous unless you be just in rendering to things their due esteem? All things were made to be yours and you were made to prize them according to their value.” [Thomas Treherne]
CS Lewis in The Abolition of Man writes about the quest in some parts of western society that seek to destroy absolute virtue: “You can hardly open a periodical without coming across the statement that what our civilization needs is more drive, or dynamism or self-sacrifice, or creativity. In a sort of ghastly simplicity we remove the organ and demand the function. We make men without chests [men without virtue and love for that virtue, i.e. magnanimity] and expect of them virtue and enterprise. We laugh at honor and are shocked to find traitors in our midst. We castrate and bid the geldings be fruitful.”
In the history of the world, there has been the pursuit of other values than the ones given to us by God, and the rejection of the concept of value altogether, i.e. that there are no values.
In the same way, in Eph 5, if we spend our time in reckless, foolish, and senseless things and we expect to find ourselves imitators of God, EPH 5:1, we are right fools.