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Rightly Dividing the Word of Truth (2 Timothy 2:15)
Established November 2008 Published Weekly on Friday AM
This is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all men (and women) to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. (1Timothy 2:3-4)
Welcome and thanks for choosing HBS as your Bible study partner.
We’re in the midst of our study of Ephesians chapter 4 which the Bible translators titled: The Believer’s Walk… in love (4:1-3). Genuine love for one another is absolutely essential if we’re to grow up (mature) in all aspects into Him who is the head (of God’s one Church), even Christ (Ephesians 4:15; Galatians 5:22-26).
Babies are usually fussed over receiving exceptional, loving attention. However, I’ve never met a mother or father who did not set goals for the child fully expecting them to advance from mother’s milk to solid food, progress from crawling to walking, develop speaking skills, and graduate the toilet-training process, with honors. These accomplishments in their child’s life mark their visible growth. Babies are cute and cuddly, but no parent I know desires that they remain a toddler. Who wants a five year-old sucking on a pacifier and asking for a diaper change?
In chapter 4, Paul speaks of “living a sanctified (holy) life.” Holy means to be separate; set apart for the use intended by the Designer. An ink pen is sanctified when it’s used for writing. Eyeglasses are sanctified when used to improve one’s vision. Biblically speaking, an individual is sanctified when striving to walk worthy or live their life according to God’s divine purpose.
In Ephesians 3:10-11, we learn about God’s divine purpose for each of us, His Church:
…and to bring to light what is the administration of the mystery which for ages has been hidden in God who created all things (including the Church); so that the manifold wisdom might now be made known (how) through the church to the rulers and the authorities in the heavenly places. This was in accordance with the eternal purpose which He carried out in Christ Jesus our Lord (Deuteronomy 29:29).
God’s church (Ekklesia) is made up of Believers; members like you and me. When the Church is sanctified (separate) from the world through the faithful preaching and teaching of sound doctrine by godly men, who speak the “whole counsel of God,” Rightly Divided, they equip all the saints for works of service, and the church proclaims the glory of God through the power of the gospel in accordance with God’s eternal purpose. No other association on earth can honestly make this claim.
God fully expects every Believer to change (repent) and grow up (mature) in all aspects into Him (related to Jesus Christ). Unity of the faith and spiritual maturity are two goals God the Father has determined for His one Church; the Body of Christ (Ephesians 4:4-6, 5:30; Romans 12:5; 1 Corinthians 12:12-27).
Last week we learned another required goal God has determined for the body is purity:
…that, in reference to your former manner of life, you (by the Holy Spirit’s power) lay aside the old self, which is being corrupted in accordance with the lusts of deceit, and that you be renewed in the spirit of your mind (4:22-23).
Let’s pick up our lesson from there. Please open your Bible at Ephesians 4:23-25.
…and put on the new self (or the new man), which in the likeness of God has been created in righteousness and holiness of the truth. Therefore, laying aside falsehood, “SPEAK TRUTH, EACH ONE of you WITH HIS NEIGHBOR, FOR WE ARE (what) MEMBERS OF ONE ANOTHER.”
In verse 24 Paul explains how the true Believer attains purity. The verbs “laying aside” and “put on” emphasize accomplished events in the Believer’s life, rather than the process of present sanctification (the reorientation of our desires) itself. So, Paul isn’t telling them to lay aside (put off) their “old self,” their “old self” (the old man) has already been laid aside at their conversion (Romans 6:6, 8:12-13; Colossians 3:9-10; 1 Thessalonians 4:3). Accordingly, Paul commands them not to live (walk) like the unbelieving Gentiles, a.k.a. their pagan, Ephesian counterparts.
This fits the Bible context in verses 4:22-24. Paul reminds them of what they were taught, and that was they are presently in Christ. This means each Believer has laid aside their old self and put on the new man.
We placed our trust (faith) in the gospel (1 Corinthians 15:1-4) and are now justified, i.e. declared “not guilty” in the eyes of God; however, this doesn’t mean God removed the old man (our Adamic nature). Our old self is totally depraved, wicked beyond measure, and loves the things God deplores. Our sinful nature will be with us until the Lord comes for His one Church at the Rapture, which means we need to “deal with” the ever re-emergent force of the flesh, by using the Spirit’s power to overcome temptation and sin: “Many are the afflictions of the righteous, But the LORD delivers him (and her) out of them all” (Psalm 34:19, 57:1; 1 Corinthians 10:13; 2 Thessalonians 3:3).
Now, in 4:25-32, Paul teaches practical applications of how each Believer is to live 24/7/365 because present sanctification requires us to be separate from the world. Beginning in verse 4:25 and all the way through to verse 6:9, Paul names several specific sins characterized by their old man they are to be put off, and godly behaviors they are to be put on. It’s not true in every instance, but he usually mentions the sinful behavior Believers are to put off, and then the godly behavior they are to put on. Sometimes he follows this up by giving the reason (motivating factor) for the necessary change.
In 4:25 Paul wrote: Therefore, laying aside falsehood, SPEAK TRUTH EACH ONE of you WITH HIS NEIGHBOR, for we are members of one another.
Paul uses the word Therefore frequently. He’s taking us all back to the preceding context or what he had stated earlier. Because we must no longer live like the (unsaved) Gentiles, and because we have received the teachings of Christ, we have put off the old man and put on the new man, which means we have also "laid aside falsehood."
"Laying aside falsehood"—the words "laying aside" are from the Koine Greek word Apotithemi (ap-ot-eeth'-ay-mee), Verb, Strong’s Greek #659; which means: “to put away (literally or figuratively), cast off, lay apart (aside, down), put away (put off). Here Paul expresses the idea of “taking off a filthy and worn out suit of clothes.”
This term is also used at the stoning of Stephen:
And when they had driven him out of the city, they began stoning him, and the witnesses laid aside their robes at the feet of a young man named Saul (Acts 7:58).
And Paul expresses its meaning quite well in Galatians 3:27: For all of you who were baptized into Christ (by faith alone) have clothed yourselves with Christ.
The English Majority Text Versions correctly carries over Paul’s metaphor of “literally, removing one’s old clothes:”
Therefore, having put off falsehood (past tense), "Let each one speak truth with his neighbor," for we are members of one another.
This verse explains an accomplished or completed action that took place in their past, specifically, at their conversion. This is when they laid aside the old man.
The English Standard Bible Version is even more enlightening. It says they have already put aside falsehood (speaking untruths): Therefore, having put away falsehood, let each one of you speak the truth with his neighbor, for we are members one of another.
"Falsehood"—is from the Koine Greek word Pseudos (psyoo’-dos), Noun Neuter, Strong’s Greek #5579; meaning: a falsehood, an untruth, a lie. Paul’s literally saying these saints “have put off the lie."
Paul used this same expression in Romans 1:25:
…For they exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen.
Here in the Greek it is "the lie." They exchange the truth of God for the lie. So Paul uses the same expression as in Ephesians 4:25, but in Romans it refers to idolatry. So Paul may be using "falsehood in the sense that anything which is opposed to the truth of scripture is “the lie.” He just said, "The New Man... has been created in righteousness and holiness of the truth." Now he says, "…having put away the lie" which could possibly be Paul referring to anything that runs contrary to God’s revealed truth, or God’s Word in general. All of man’s philosophy and wisdom apart from God’s wisdom and expressed will runs contrary to the scriptures and could be labeled "the lie."
"SPEAK TRUTH EACH ONE of you WITH HIS NEIGHBOR"—the word "speak" here implies the Ephesians are to make a habit of speaking the truth. But hold the horses! These folks are saved and eternally positioned in Christ Jesus, so don’t they always speak the truth? That would be “No.” If practical righteousness was automatic as many church leaders teach, Paul wouldn't need to tell these folks (and us) to speak the truth. Practical righteousness is not automatic no more than one’s salvation is automatic. Some churches believe and teach this untruth. However, the N.T. is filled with God’s commands and guides for living righteously (Zechariah 8:7-16; Romans 12:9; 1 Thessalonians 5:22; 1 Peter 2:11).
Then Paul gives the reason why we’re to speak truth to our neighbors: “For we are members of one another.” Although we must follow all of Paul’s teachings re: the biblical principles of ethics at all times and toward everyone, Paul focuses mainly on our behavior within God’s Church family, since the context has to do with maintaining the peace and unity that the Lord Jesus Christ died to obtain: For if we have been united with Him like this in His death, we will certainly also be raised to life as He was (Romans 6:5 – Berean Literal Bible).
The health of our physical body depends on truthful communication between its members through the nervous system. If you put your finger on a hot stove and your nerves do not relay the message, “Wow, this is hot!” to the brain, you will suffer great harm. A person with leprosy lacks this communication ability between the nerves and the brain. They can actually cause great harm to their body without even knowing it. When you lie to your spouse or another member of Christ’s body, you are injuring yourself, another member, and, what’s worse, you are injuring Christ, because He is one with His body.
Believers, as God’s children, are to always speak the truth. Truth is an accurate representation of the facts. The truth Paul speaks of here is compliance to and consistency with God’s righteous standards, as revealed in His Word:
"Sanctify them in the truth; Your word is truth (John 17:17).
As I pointed out earlier, beginning at verse 25 Paul begins to identify those attitudes and actions which the Ephesians are to put off. He also names those which they are to put on” in their stead. But Paul is also dealing with their manner of life. Their fleshly behavior is the outgrowth (the expression) of their inner fleshly nature, just as the Believer’s conduct is the outgrowth (and expression) of the new man, created and empowered by the Holy Spirit:
But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh. 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. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the Law. Now the deeds of the flesh are evident, which are: immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, disputes, dissensions, factions, 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. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. Now those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified (put off) the flesh with its passions and desires (Galatians 5:16-24).
Paul continues to stress the connection between our conversion to Christ (past tense) and our conduct in Christ (present tense), which should be manifested in our worthy walk; manner of life:
What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace might increase? May it never be! How shall we who died to sin still live in it? Or do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus have been baptized into His death? Therefore we have been buried with Him through baptism into death, in order that as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life. For if we have become united with Him in the likeness of His death, certainly we shall be also in the likeness of His resurrection, knowing this, that our old self was crucified with Him, that our body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin; for he who has died is freed from sin. Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with Him, knowing that Christ, having been raised from the dead, is never to die again; death no longer is master over Him. For the death that He died, He died to sin, once for all; but the life that He lives, He lives to God. Even so consider yourselves to be dead to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus. Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body that you should obey its lusts, and do not go on presenting the members of your body to sin as instruments of unrighteousness; but present yourselves to God as those alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God. For sin shall not be master over you, for you are not under law, but under grace (Romans 6:1-14).
As you therefore have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him, (Colossians 2:6).
In Christ, their old man was crucified, put to death. As this applies to the Ephesians’ daily walk, Paul’s saying they are to crucify the flesh daily, and lay aside the evil conduct which springs forth from those fleshly desires. In Christ we were made alive, raised from the dead and seated with Him in the heavenlies (Ephesians 2:5-6). We are therefore to walk in newness of life, manifesting the work of the Spirit of God in and through us. It is by His power that we are enabled and motivated to live in a way that pleases God:
There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death. For what the Law could not do, weak as it was through the flesh, God did: sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and as an offering for sin, He condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the requirement of the Law might be fulfilled in us, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit.… And if Christ is in you, though the body is dead because of sin, yet the spirit is alive because of righteousness. But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who indwells you (Romans 8:1-4, 10-11).
“I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me, and delivered Himself up for me” (Galatians 2:20).
…that, in reference to your former manner of life, you lay aside the old self, which is being corrupted in accordance with the lusts of deceit (4:22).
…lusts of deceit – some people profess they are unsure of what Paul meant by this expression. However, using the Law of First Mention, we find ourselves in Genesis, chapter 2. This is the biblical account of the woman being deceived by the serpent in God’s perfect garden. After reading the text, we can say for certain there is a direct association between “lust” and “deceit.” Her lust for the forbidden fruit did not bring about the desired result; she did not become like God, even though Satan said she would. Instead, her disobedient act caused her to become spiritually dead to God the moment she ate of it (1 John 2:16).
Thus, we learn there is a direct relationship between “lust” and “deceit.” Using the woman’s fall from grace as the guiding example in scripture, it’s safe to say “lust” is “deceitful,” and you can flip that over and also say “deceit” is “lustful.” Lust is deceitful in that it does not produce what it seems to promise. Lust promises pleasure or complete satisfaction but ultimately it produces death (Romans 6:15-23). Deceit is lustful in that it never seems to be satisfied. Old Adam always wants more (Proverbs 1:10-19).
Jesus warned of the danger of attempting to remove evil, rather than replacing it (Luke 11:26). Paul’s words indicate our Adamic nature and its evil deeds are not merely to be rejected, they are to be replaced. This is what Paul means by the term, “put off.” The old man needs to go away and the new man is to be “put on.” While the old man is continually being corrupted by the lusts of deceit, the new man is being renewed in each one of us, in accordance with the nature of God and His righteousness and truth.
(To be continued)
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