Ephesians overview – 3:14-19, The Inner Man, the Good Heart Remains Upright.
Wednesday, June 24, 2020
The true office of faithful communion with God is to ask for and appropriate the blessings which are needed for the current crisis (faith, peace, joy, love, endurance, virtue, etc.)
We are tempted to set aside virtue, the right thing, and therefore our joy and peace in Christ, when appropriating them is very difficult due to pressure, temptation, and persecution.
In these times, prayer brings about its chief blessing – the peace that surpasses understanding. We lose sight of the foe and conquer through faith.
The good heart remains upright even when the world around it is in chaos.
When pressure, tribulation, or affliction make you want to abandon the way, you must remain upright in His will.
God has been really driving this point home with us as of late.
Look how David puts it in Psa 11
Psa 11:1 For the choir director. A Psalm of David.
In the Lord I take refuge;
How can you say to my soul, "Flee as a bird to your mountain;
2 For, behold, the wicked bend the bow,
They make ready their arrow upon the string,
To shoot in darkness at the upright in heart.
3 If the foundations are destroyed,
What can the righteous do?"
4 The Lord is in His holy temple; the Lord's throne is in heaven;
His eyes behold, His eyelids test the sons of men.
5 The Lord tests the righteous and the wicked,
And the one who loves violence His soul hates.
6 Upon the wicked He will rain snares;
Fire and brimstone and burning wind will be the portion of their cup.
7 For the Lord is righteous;
He loves righteousness;
The upright will behold His face.
David asks those who suggest that he flee from danger, “How can you say flee as a bird to your mountain?” Whatever the situation was, the foundations of society were being uprooted, and the question is asked, “What can the righteous do?”
“The appeal is that in the face of such anarchy, what can the righteous do? The question is rhetorical, meant to suggest that the righteous could do nothing to stop the destruction of law and order.
In the second half of the psalm David gives the divine alternative. Why should the righteous trust in the Lord? The first reason is that the holy Lord reigns in heaven over the affairs of the earth. … If one is concerned over the coming anarchy and how it might shake the foundations of society, then the only hope is faith in the sovereign and holy Lord who reigns from heaven, and that reign is unshakeable. (The Lord is in His holy temple; the Lord's throne is in heaven) … The second reason that the righteous should trust the Lord is His examination of the affairs of all people. (His eyes behold, His eyelids test the sons of men.)” [A Commentary on the Psalms, Alan Ross]
There is not one righteous heart or one conniving heart that the Lord does not behold every single thought and motivation. That coupled with the fact that He alone sits on the throne of heaven means that nothing escapes His notice, not the smallest thing, and all are under His control. If we wanted to change what He has desired we might as well start making plans to remove the sun.
Thus says the Lord,
Who gives the sun for light by day,
And the fixed order of the moon and the stars for light by night,
Who stirs up the sea so that its waves roar;
The Lord of hosts is His name:
36 "If this fixed order departs
From before Me," declares the Lord,
"Then the offspring of Israel also shall cease
From being a nation before Me forever."
The worst anarchy leading to the worst tyranny will occur under the power of the beast during the Tribulation. There will be 144,000 Jews who possess the seal of God by which not a hair on their head could be harmed, even by the antichrist himself, yet their mission is to evangelize and not the overthrow of tyranny. Jesus alone overthrows the tyranny when He returns.
In any such situation of potential revolution, the believer must be careful to seek out God’s will. In the case of the 144,000, they are clearly told by God what to do. In the case of the American Revolution, good Christians found themselves on both sides of the question and had to use their best judgment. The French Revolution was very different from ours and its results were only in a worse tyranny than the monarchy that was overthrown. The clear-cut revelation from God is Psa 11:7 For the Lord is righteous;
He loves righteousness; The upright will behold His face.
We trust Him, ask, seek, and knock every step of the way, seeking His counsel in His word and in prayer, and never, ever letting opinion divide the body of Christ.
Note that the Lord tests the righteous and the wicked (vs. 5). In this case, the threat of anarchy is testing the faith of God’s believers. This isn’t done to the wicked, for there is no faith to test. To them He rains down snares. The declaration is that the Lord hates violence with all His being.
The reason the Lord hates violence is clear; He loves righteousness. He hates wickedness and so it cannot stand for long.
He loves righteousness;
The upright will behold His face.
“Behold His face” is used figuratively for divine favor in the OT.
“Message and Application
The central message of this psalm could be worded this way: Faced with the breakdown of law and order with attacks from the wicked, the righteous must stand firm in their faith in the Sovereign God who reigns and judges from above. The psalm describes anarchy, wickedness in high places, and attacks on the righteous in this description of a godless society. (in God’s Israel) It is not all bleak; the righteous know that God is sovereign, that He loves the righteous, and that He will eventually set things right.” [ibid]
The Lord gave His disciples the same principle.
“A disciple is not above his teacher, nor a slave above his master. 25 It is enough for the disciple that he become as his teacher, and the slave as his master. If they have called the head of the house Beelzebul, how much more the members of his household! 26 Therefore do not fear them, for there is nothing covered that will not be revealed, and hidden that will not be known.
We do not have to uncover their evil or even worry about it. At the right time the Lord will, and nothing can stop Him.
He who hates disguises it with his lips,
But he lays up deceit in his heart.
25 When he speaks graciously, do not believe him,
For there are seven abominations in his heart.
26 Though his hatred covers itself with guile,
His wickedness will be revealed before the assembly.
27 He who digs a pit will fall into it,
And he who rolls a stone, it will come back on him.
The eyes of the Lord are in every place,
Watching the evil and the good.
Do not say, "I will repay evil";
Wait for the Lord, and He will save you.
Why do the evil do what they do?
Evil men do not understand justice,
But those who seek the Lord understand all things.
“Do not fear” is stated three times in this passage. It is written 58 times in the Bible and hundreds of more passages are concerned with our not fearing.
'Do not fear, for I am with you;
Do not anxiously look about you, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you, surely I will help you,
Surely I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.'
11 "Behold, all those who are angered at you will be shamed and dishonored;
Those who contend with you will be as nothing, and will perish.
“A disciple is not above his teacher, nor a slave above his master. 25 It is enough for the disciple that he become as his teacher, and the slave as his master. If they have called the head of the house Beelzebul, how much more the members of his household! 26 Therefore do not fear them, for there is nothing covered that will not be revealed, and hidden that will not be known. 27 What I tell you in the darkness, speak in the light; and what you hear whispered in your ear, proclaim upon the housetops. 28 And do not fear those who kill the body, but are unable to kill the soul; but rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell. 29 Are not two sparrows sold for a cent? And yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father. 30 But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. 31 Therefore do not fear; you are of more value than many sparrows. 32 Everyone therefore who shall confess Me before men, I will also confess him before My Father who is in heaven. 33 But whoever shall deny Me before men, I will also deny him before My Father who is in heaven.”
The upright are described by Jesus, and as Psa 11 stated, they will behold the face of God.
David responds that they can take refuge in the Lord.
Either we doubt the need for such devotion to all principles of love or we don’t fully understand it, or, since it isn’t rooted in our hearts, we don’t ever spontaneously do it.
Descriptions of the heart in the scripture:
We continue in our study of the heart of the inner man, the center and depth of his being, and we go to various scriptures to see it described. We find many things that are also described of the soul and spirit, which is to be expected. The heart, soul, spirit, and mind are not shown to us by God as four distinct water-tight compartments within us, but as members of a functioning inner man which God desires to transform into the very image of His Son.
The transformed heart acts spontaneously.
The one who spontaneously reacts in righteousness has it rooted in his heart. This takes years of walking with God.
My son, do not forget my teaching,
But let your heart keep my commandments;
2 For length of days and years of life,
And peace they will add to you.
3 Do not let kindness and truth leave you;
Bind them around your neck,
Write them on the tablet of your heart.
4 So you will find favor and good repute
In the sight of God and man.
5 Trust in the Lord with all your heart,
And do not lean on your own understanding.
6 In all your ways acknowledge Him,
And He will make your paths straight.
In His patient and loving way, God shows us the necessity of all aspects of Him. He does indeed know the way and means that it will take for all of those aspects of His divine love to be fully comprehended, understood, and by faith known to be absolutely essential and spontaneous. And when that is true they will be rooted and grounded in our hearts, and then we could say that we perform God’s love with all of our heart, and we would say so without an ounce of pride, for we know that God has poured His love into our hearts, Rom 5:5.
Hear, O sons, the instruction of a father,
And give attention that you may gain understanding,
2 For I give you sound teaching;
Do not abandon my instruction.
3 When I was a son to my father,
Tender and the only son in the sight of my mother,
4 Then he taught me and said to me,
"Let your heart hold fast my words;
Keep my commandments and live;
5 Acquire wisdom! Acquire understanding!
Do not forget, nor turn away from the words of my mouth.
6 "Do not forsake her, and she will guard you;
Love her, and she will watch over you.
7 "The beginning of wisdom is: Acquire wisdom;
And with all your acquiring, get understanding.
8 "Prize her, and she will exalt you;
She will honor you if you embrace her.
9 "She will place on your head a garland of grace;
She will present you with a crown of beauty."
Love, joy, merriment, fear, and trembling are all ascribed to the heart in the OT.
The OT says that we can know in our heart, making it synonymous with the mind.
The heart can be upright, mature, and pure in the OT. It can also discern between good and bad.
The heart can also be evil and full of pride.
God tries the heart and desires integrity within it.