Ephesians– overview of 2:14-18; Double Reconciliation, part 11 ~ the law of love.
Tuesday July 9, 2019
“Behold the secret of all true union! It is not by others coming to us, nor by our going over to them; but it is by both them and ourselves coming to Christ.” [Monod]
Christ will always be the Teacher of this peace. He speaks through the word of God and that lives in thousands of hearts from every order, every age, every culture, and every race.
Remove God, remove Christ and His cross and resurrection from a marriage, a group, a society, a nation and you will soon find walls and barriers constructed, dividing people along many lines.
Eph 2:14 For He Himself is our peace, who made both groups into one, and broke down the barrier of the dividing wall,
Eph 2:15 by abolishing [render inoperative] in His flesh the enmity, which is the Law of commandments contained in ordinances, that in Himself He might make the two into one new man, thus establishing peace,
Eph 2:16 and might reconcile them both in one body to God through the cross, by it having put to death the enmity.
Eph 2:17 And He came and preached peace to you who were far away, and peace to those who were near;
Eph 2:18 for through Him we both have our access in one Spirit to the Father.
“Perhaps you say: This is immoral, surely, that the just should suffer for the unjust; that one commits the offence, and another bears the penalty – Stay a moment: that is only half the truth. We are more than individuals; we are members of a race; and vicarious (substitutional) suffering runs through life. Our sufferings and wrong-doings bind the human family together in an inextricable web. We are communists in sin and death. It is the law and lot of our existence. And Christ, the Lord and center of the race, has come within its scope. He bound Himself to our sinking fortunes. He became the co-partner in our lost estate, and has redeemed it to God by His blood. If He was true and perfect man, if He was the creative Head and Mediator of the race, the eternal Firstborn of many brethren, He could do no other. He who alone had the right and the power, - “One died for all.” He took upon His divine heart the sin and curse of the world, He fastened it to His shoulders with the cross; and He bore it away from Caiaphas’ hall and Pilates’s judgment-seat, away from guilty Jerusalem; He took away the sin of the world, and expiated it once for all. He quenched in His blood the fires of wrath and that it kindled. He slew the enmity thereby.” [Dods]
Gal 2:11 But when Cephas came to Antioch, I opposed him to his face, because he stood condemned.
Gal 2:12 For prior to the coming of certain men from James, he used to eat with the Gentiles; but when they came, he began to withdraw and hold himself aloof, fearing the party of the circumcision.
Gal 2:13 And the rest of the Jews joined him in hypocrisy, with the result that even Barnabas was carried away by their hypocrisy.
Gal 2:14 But when I saw that they were not straightforward about the truth of the gospel, I said to Cephas in the presence of all, "If you, being a Jew, live like the Gentiles and not like the Jews, how is it that you compel the Gentiles to live like Jews?
Gal 2:15 "We are Jews by nature, and not sinners from among the Gentiles;
Gal 2:16 nevertheless knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the Law but through faith in Christ Jesus, even we have believed in Christ Jesus, that we may be justified by faith in Christ, and not by the works of the Law; since by the works of the Law shall no flesh be justified.
Why was Peter wrong when he decided to only eat with the Jews who separated themselves from the Gentiles in Antioch?
We may eat a food or drink a drink at one time and not another. Ethically, eating and drinking is an indifferent subject, but what does matter in these or any other activity is the effect of our conduct on others. If we ignore the interests of others, we are no longer walking in love.
Rom 14:15 For if because of food your brother is hurt, you are no longer walking according to love. Do not destroy with your food him for whom Christ died.
Rom 14:16 Therefore do not let what is for you a good thing be spoken of as evil;
Rom 14:17 for the kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.
This is the law of love.
The law of love does not insist on rights but upon the welfare of others. It is subject to God alone and therefore it is subject to all men in the service of God.
The law of love can only exist within the person in whom the love of God has been poured out.
Rom 5:1 Therefore having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ,
Rom 5:2 through whom also we have obtained our introduction by faith into this grace in which we stand; and we exult in hope of the glory of God.
Rom 5:3 And not only this, but we also exult in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance;
Rom 5:4 and perseverance, proven character; and proven character, hope;
“proven character” – dokime = the process of proving. Here it refers to the integrity or state of mind that has stood the test. You have striven with God, seen His faithfulness, and this intensifies your hope.
Rom 5:5 and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us.
The love of God has been poured out within our hearts through our understanding of what Christ has done for us, truths made real by the Holy Spirit within us. This began at salvation with a level of understanding of the gospel and the process continues through our further understanding of God the Father’s love expressed and revealed through the Person and the accomplishments of Christ.
Our integrity has developed as we have witnessed God’s faithfulness to us, despite our sins, flaws, and shortcomings, and through that faith in His promise fulfilled, His Person so beautifully revealed, His Fathership so clearly seen, we develop integrity because through our trials we have stood the test as we have clung to our faith in Him, and strode in our faith in His word.
Bursting upon our souls like a flood is the deeper and deeper understanding of God’s love, which love we rejoice in being able to give to others.
Paul’s insistence in not letting food or drink or any other practice take precedent over walking in love, is on love being the law of the kingdom of God instead of prudential rules and regulations.
As is always the case with some people, the truth will be criticized, and often very cleverly. Paul had critics, and some of them said that Paul taught moral indifference by not concentrating on rules and regulations, and throughout the history of the church there have been many to agree with them. If you’ve ever met a legalistic Christian, you’ve met one of those critics.
Paul sees clearly what many have not, but should, and would if they humbly and prayerfully considered and searched out.
Paul saw obedience and freedom. Obedience to all of God’s laws, and freedom, not to do whatever whenever, but to benefit others as Christ would.
That means that God gives us the freedom to restrict ourselves when properly called for. That also means mastery of our own appetites and desires.
Gal 5:13 For you were called to freedom, brethren; only do not turn your freedom into an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another.
Gal 5:14 For the whole Law is fulfilled in one word, in the statement, "You shall love your neighbor as yourself."
Gal 5:15 But if you bite and devour one another, take care lest you be consumed by one another.
Gal 5:16 But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh.
Gal 5:17 For the flesh sets its desire against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; for these are in opposition to one another, so that you may not do the things that you please.
Gal 5:18 But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the Law.
Gal 5:19 Now the deeds of the flesh are evident, which are: immorality, impurity, sensuality,
Gal 5:20 idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, disputes, dissensions, factions,
Gal 5:21 envying, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these, of which I forewarn you just as I have forewarned you that those who practice such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.
Gal 5:22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,
Gal 5:23 gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.
Gal 5:24 Now those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.
We learn of the law of love, understand it, see its rightness and desirability, and then set about doing it, trusting the Holy Spirit within us to accomplish it.
Gal 5:25 If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit.
Gal 5:26 Let us not become boastful, challenging one another, envying one another.
Act 15:19 “Therefore it is my judgment that we do not trouble those who are turning to God from among the Gentiles,
Act 15:20 but that we write to them that they abstain from things contaminated by idols and from fornication and from what is strangled and from blood.”
Is it of consequence that Gentiles don’t eat things that offend Jews when the issue of the gospel is at stake?
James shows good judgment. The church has just begun and division must be removed before it is too late. Yet, while fornication is always a sin throughout human history, there would be no eating laws in the church age.
What is the difference between a Gentile Christian abstaining from blood during the church’s infancy and Peter removing himself from the Gentile table?
This clearly shows the difference between law and the life of Christ. Sometimes I can eat and sometimes I can’t, and (using eating as just one example for all behavior) I have to determine for myself which one is proper in every situation. (sometimes this is easy and other times not so much).
Peter was very wrong in what he did, and yet in a different situation, he could have been right.
Paul concluded (1Co 8) later on that he wouldn’t eat meat ever again if it meant laying a stumbling block in front of someone.
1Co 8:7 However not all men have this knowledge; but some, being accustomed to the idol until now, eat food as if it were sacrificed to an idol; and their conscience being weak is defiled.
1Co 8:8 But food will not commend us to God; we are neither the worse if we do not eat, nor the better if we do eat.
1Co 8:9 But take care lest this liberty of yours somehow become a stumbling block to the weak.
1Co 8:10 For if someone sees you, who have knowledge, dining in an idol's temple, will not his conscience, if he is weak, be strengthened to eat things sacrificed to idols?
1Co 8:11 For through your knowledge he who is weak is ruined, the brother for whose sake Christ died.
1Co 8:12 And thus, by sinning against the brethren and wounding their conscience when it is weak, you sin against Christ.
1Co 8:13 Therefore, if food causes my brother to stumble, I will never eat meat again, that I might not cause my brother to stumble.
Paul said in that same letter:
1Co 9:19 For though I am free from all men, I have made myself a slave to all, that I might win the more.
1Co 9:20 And to the Jews I became as a Jew, that I might win Jews; to those who are under the Law, as under the Law, though not being myself under the Law, that I might win those who are under the Law;
1Co 9:21 to those who are without law, as without law, though not being without the law of God but under the law of Christ, that I might win those who are without law.