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Revelation 22:20

This is a Home Bible study. It exists to promote the Word of God as it's written, which means nothing added or taken away, and minus opinions.

The Bible is the only source of Divine Truth in the world today. Although it is helpful and informative in many ways, the Bible might not tell us everything we want to know but the Bible does tell us everything we need to know.

My role is to guide you through the Scriptures; to explain what this book says and in some cases what it does not say because this is just as important.

Ultimately, you have a decision to make concerning your salvation - no one can make it for you. The Lord Jesus Christ, the Creator God, has given everyone the ability to make choices - this is is called "Free Will." I pray you consider your choice wisely.

II Timothy 2:15

Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, accurately handling the word of truth.

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Friday, July 6, 2018

Ephesians 5:15-17 (Lesson 24)

Home Bible Study©
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)

Ephesians (5:15-17)                                                               (Lesson 24)

Welcome back to HBS.

It’s been wisely said, the first 3 chapters of Ephesians is how God the Father sees us, His beloved children in Christ Jesus, and the second half (4-6) is how the world should see His beloved children, in Christ Jesus.  Said differently, we are not the people we formerly were, so how we think should no longer resemble darkness but Light.

Please open your Bible at Ephesians 5:15.

Walk Wisely as Children of Light

In Ephesians 4:1-16, Paul calls Believers to walk in a manner worthy of their calling.  In 4:17-32, he calls them to walk in a way that differs dramatically from their previous walk as unbelieving Gentiles.  In 5:1-6, Paul urges them to walk in love; and in 5:7-14, they are commanded to walk as children of light.  Then, in 5:15-6:9, all true Believers are strongly encouraged to walk wisely because the days are dark.

This final command to walk as those who are wise that begins at 5:15 and ends at 6:19 is the longest of Paul's walk worthy instructions.  The dominant command of this section appears twice; first in verse 5:15 and then Paul repeats himself in verse 17, basically saying “Believers are not to be a foolish.

Ephesians 5

15: Therefore be careful how you walk, not as unwise men but as wise,

This is the seventh “Therefore” in this letter and as usual Paul is directing our attention to the preceding context where we recently learned Believers are Light in the Lord so we’re to walk as children of Light (5:8).  

We’ve reached the sixth section in this letter where Paul deals with the Believer’s reasonable and practical response to God’s free gift of grace and all the “spin off” blessings associated with that tremendous gift.  God has provided wonderful and glorious blessings to the individual who places their trust in Christ Jesus.  Paul proclaimed several of these spiritual blessings in the opening verses of this letter.  He also emphasizes these blessings each Believer in Christ receives are to the praise and glory of God’s grace:

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ, just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we would be holy and blameless before Him.  In love He predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the kind intention of His will, to the praise and glory of His grace, which He freely bestowed on us in the Beloved.  In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace which He lavished on us.  In all wisdom and insight He made known to the us the mystery of His will, according to His kind intention which He purposed in Him with a view to an administration suitable to the fullness of the times, that is, the summing up of all things in Christ, things in the heavens and things on the earth.  In Him also we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to His purpose who works all things after the counsel of His will, to the end that we who were the first to hope in Christ would be to the praise of His glory.  In Him, you also, after listening to the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation—having also believed, you were sealed in Him with the Holy Spirit of promise, who is given as a pledge of our inheritance, with a view to the redemption of God’s own possession, to the praise of His glory” (Ephesians 1:3-14).

So Paul’s letting these folks know their salvation (conversion) isn’t the end of their story it marks the beginning of a life-long journey towards the goal of Christlikeness.  This journey of becoming begins the moment God transferred us from death to life i.e. made us alive with Christ (2:5):  In light of this truth, and many others, Paul said, “Therefore be careful how you walk, not as unwise men but as wise” and he gave them the reason for this:  for the days are dark.”

Therefore be careful how you walk - the word careful is from the Koine Greek word Blepo (blep’-o), Verb, Strong’s Greek #991, meaning:  to see, discern, to see with the mind’s eye.  So, here, Paul’s speaking of one’s spiritual perception. 

I prefer the KJV’s rendering of this verse and I’ve placed it here for y’all to read:  See then that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise.”

As you can plainly see the NASB translation omits the words circumspectly and fools in this verse.  Circumspectly is derived from the Koine Greek word Akribos (ak-ree-boce’), Adverb, Strong’s Greek #199; meaning:  exactly, accurately, diligently; to consider with exactness.  It’s an accounting term.  One of the first things they teach you in Accounting is “Be attentive to the details, because they matter.”  If you’re responsible for keeping someone’s financial records or if you’re balancing your checkbook, it is important your work be exact or precise.  Every penny is to be accounted for.  So, Paul is introducing the concept of accuracy and exactness as Believers discern God’s will for their lives or their walk in this darkened world.   

The word fool is the Koine Greek word Asophos (as’-of-os), Adjective, Strong’s Greek #781, and it means:  unwise, foolish.  In his first letter to the Church in Corinth, Greece, our Apostle Paul used the word “foolish” in describing the Greeks wisdom or their way of thinking:  For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God (1 Corinthians 1:18). 

The Sophists (ancient Greek professional philosophers) were orators, public speakers, mouths for hire in an oral culture because they were gifted speakers.  They were skilled in what became known as “rhetoric.”  They were respected, feared and hated because they used their gift in a manner that aroused the anger of many.  They challenged, questioned and did not care to arrive at the very best answers.  They cared about winning public speaking contests, debates, and lawsuits and in charging fees to teach others how to perform as they did.  To be able to speak well meant a great deal at that time.  Because no paper was available, there were no written contracts or deeds.  Disputes that would be settled today with a set of documents as evidence backing them up had to be settled through a contest of words: one person's words against another's.  Whoever presented the best oral case in a public arena would often prevail.  They were such good orators they could convince a crowd up was really down, that day was night, that the wrong answer could be the right answer, that good was bad and bad is good, even that injustice is justice served and justice would be made to appear as injustice!   Sounds like I’m reporting on the world today, doesn’t it. 

To support one's position in any matter, nothing better could be offered than a quotation from one of the Greek works, which told of the gods and their actions.  If an action of the gods could be found that was similar to that being taken by a party to a debate then that was evidence of the correctness of that action.  Therefore, those who were the fastest and most accurate at being able to locate quotations and take them and apply them to a given situation would often win the debate, the contest, the lawsuit or discussion.  After all, who wants to oppose the words of the gods?  The Sophists were very well versed in the epic tales and poems.  They were able to find the most appropriate quotation to support any position.  They regularly entered contests and those who won were given prizes, but no prize was greater than being the victor and able to charge the highest rates of tuition to instruct the sons of the wealthy in how to argue their point in public.  This skill was needed to defend oneself against lawsuits even against the most frivolous of lawsuits brought by one who thought himself to be the better speaker.  

The Sophists held no values other than winning and succeeding.  They were not true believers in the myths of the Greeks but would use references and quotations from the tales for their own purposes.  They were secular atheists, relativists and cynical about religious beliefs and all traditions.  They believed and taught "might makes right."  They were pragmatists trusting in whatever works to bring about the desired end at whatever the cost.   They made a business of their own form of education as developing skills in rhetoric and profited from it.
Their concerns were not with truth but with practical knowledge.  They practiced rhetoric in order to persuade and not to discover truth.  Their theater was the ethical and political problems of immediate concern for humans.  They put the individual human being at the center of all thought and value.  They did not hold for any absolutes; not universal truths or universal values.  They sought and took payment for their lessons at speaking (and writing).  Their motivation was notoriety and the money, of course.

So, this explains Paul’s opposition and more importantly the mindset of the Greeks (Gentiles) as he arrived among them proclaiming “Christ Crucified” and preaching salvation by faith (alone) in the gospel (1 Corinthians 15:1-4). 

For the word of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God (1 Corinthians 1:18-25).

Paul doesn’t use the word “walk” anymore after this in this letter, but the meaning hasn’t changed.  It still means to picture your way of life, in a daily step-by-step process, in accordance with the Word of God, and powered by the Holy Spirit.  In Paul's day, walking wasn’t a form of exercise.  People took to the byways, dirt roads, and overland trails to reach a specific destination.  To walk carefully or circumspectly pictures the saved person’s habitual, step-by-step, yet steady progress toward the spiritual goal of becoming like Christ Jesus.    

Paul was telling the Ephesian Church they needed to choose their way forward with exactness because Satan has placed pitfalls in their path (destructive obstacles or hindrances) and these can cause grave harm to them and others.  Picture a soldier who finds himself in the midst of a “minefield.”  He doesn’t foolishly run through it, instead he carefully plans each step forward with accuracy and exactness because just one false step can bring great harm.
…not as unwise (foolish) men but as wise (5:15b) - the Greek words used here are Asophos and Sophos.  The Greeks were known for Sophos (wisdom) which means they “knew” some things.  However, the Greek idea of wisdom is understanding the "why" of things.  But wisdom, as Paul uses it here, is not the methodology of trying to understand the “why” of things, but responding correctly, exactly, to the circumstances in life.  Wisdom is acceptance of, and adjustment to, God’s revealed truth. 

 The way of a fool is right in his own eyes” (Proverbs 12:15).  This Bible verse describes the person who considers themselves “wise” but was actually walking in a state of foolishness, unseeing and unbelieving:

And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are (foolishly) perishing, in whose case the god of this world (Satan) has blinded the minds of the unbelieving so that they might not (what) see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God (2 Corinthians 4:3-4). 

There is a way which seems right to a man, But its end is the way of death (Proverbs 14:12).

So, Paul may be writing to the Ephesian Believers, but his message is pertinent to all of us.   We were once dead (to God) in our trespasses and sin, and walking in a state of foolishness.  You see, the outgrowth of foolishness is sin because it misses the mark (goals) established by the Living God.  This describes all those who are “outside of Christ.”  That is, those who do not trust Jesus Christ (alone) as their personal Savior (1 Corinthians 15:1-4). 

WISDOM:  as Paul intends to use it here doesn’t mean “knowing many things.”  It means the ability to apply biblical knowledge and understanding in the daily affairs of life with carefulness (the ability to avoid Satan’s schemes).  In other words, the wise person takes knowledge, (God’s revelation), and applies it in their daily walk, striving to do God’s will out of deliberate obedience. 

In the work of regeneration which occurs at salvation God gives your mind a new ability to think and comprehend.  We saw this earlier in 4:20-23 where Paul said, “you did not learn Christ in this way… be renewed in the spirit of your mind… created in righteousness and holiness of the truth.”  In 1 Corinthians 2:14-16 Paul said the natural man believes spiritual things are foolish because they are unable to understand them, but the saved person has been given the “mind of Christ” (Isaiah 40:13).  This means true Believers view life from our Savior’s point of view, having His values and desires in mind.  It means they no longer think as the world thinks.  Instead, they share God’s perspective of compassion, humility, and love for one another.   In short, we want to do the will of God always.      

If you’re going to drive you vehicle somewhere, you have to keep your mind engaged in order to ascertain the potential dangers just ahead.  To live wisely implies the same truth.  Wisdom is properly evaluating the potential pitfalls related to circumstances that arise in life and making the right decision at the right time.  It is the ability to respond correctly, with moral insight, to the circumstances of life and it begins with knowing God:

The fear (awe or reverence) of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom, And the knowledge of the Holy One is understanding (Proverbs 9:10).

Paul wrote in Romans 1:21-22 saying, “For even though they knew God, they did not honor Him as God, or give thanks; but they became futile in their speculations, and their (what) foolish heart was darkened.  Professing to be wise, they became fools.”

So, the Ephesian Believers were given “the mind of Christ” at their conversion, which means with the mind of Christ comes spiritual wisdom for in Him are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge (Colossians 2:3). 

In 1 Corinthians 1:30 Paul wrote we find that by God’s doing the Believer is “in Christ Jesus,” who became to us wisdom from God, and righteousness and present sanctification, and redemption…”  Because Believers are joined with Christ Jesus at their salvation they are also partakers of Christ’s righteousness, present sanctification, and wisdom.  Thus, when a Believer sins it is partly due to the fact they choose to live unwisely.  Sin is a choice, not a way of life for a true Believer. 

Paul’s command in 5:15 is like the others he has given in this book – live according to the change God has made in you.  Live as one who is wise, not unwise.  When he warns these Believers to “be careful,” he’s conveying the need to be alert as they live their lives with exactness because Satan’s snares are waiting just ahead to trip up the unwise.

Time Waits for No One

Ephesians 5

16:  making the most of your time, (Why?) because the days are evil.

The first and foremost area that will demonstrate our wisdom is the use of the time that God has given to us.  Paul says here in our text:  Therefore be careful how you walk, not as unwise men, but as wise making the most of your time, because the days are evil.  This idea of making the most of your time or “redeeming the time,” as the KJV Bible says, is not simply a request from God, via our Apostle Paul, for these Believers to be good time managers.  It certainly includes it, but it is so much more.

There are two Koine Greek words for time.  One is “Chronos” from which we get the English word “chronometer” – as in a clock.  When I served aboard ship in the USN, we always referred to “wall clocks” as chronometers.  Twice in a 24 hour cycle all the chronometers aboard ship were re-set to the main clock on the ship’s bridge to ensure the accuracy of reporting on the days’ events.

But here it refers to time as measured in hours, minutes and seconds.  Now, here’s the thing, if Paul was simply talking about time management he would have used the word “Chronos.”  However Paul used “Kairos,” which denotes a measured, allocated or fixed season.  It refers to the specific periods of time that are given to you to accomplish particular tasks.  Most people are familiar with final exams.  You are given the test and an exact amount of time in which to complete it.  Store coupons are another example.  Most store coupons used for shopping have an expiration date, i.e. the offer is valid until a certain, specified date, and then the coupon becomes valueless. 

The Apostle Peter used the same term in 1 Peter 1:17 saying:  And if you address as Father the One who impartially judges according to each man’s work, conduct yourselves in fear during the time of your stay (upon earth).  Here Peter repeats the O.T. command for God’s people to be holy because God is holy before adding this remark. 

In other words, God has only given you, me, and every true Believer a certain length of time to dwell on the earth and accomplish whatever it is you are going to accomplish with your life in accordance with His will.  This is also the point of Psalm 90:12, in which Moses calls on God to “Teach us to number our days, That we may present to Thee a heart of wisdom.  Paul is expressing this same idea to the Ephesians.

Ecclesiastes 3 speaks to this issue well – There is an appointed time for everything. And there is a time for every event under heaven – and then King Solomon lists them: birth, death; planting, harvesting; mourning, dancing; war, peace; etc.  God has given you certain seasons in your life in which you can accomplish certain things.  After that season is past, the opportunities are gone.  We do not know how long the season will last, but God fixes its length.  Scripture speaks of that time being shortened, but never lengthened.  From this we learn there are no “do over’s.”  A person may die or lose opportunity before the end of God’s time, but there is no reason to expect life or opportunity to continue after the end of God’s predetermined time:  It is appointed unto men once to die, and then the judgment” (Hebrews 9:27).  Wisdom makes the most of the opportunities life presents. 

The Greeks had a basic understanding of this.  Lysippus (Greek sculptor) crafted it into a statue called “Opportunity.”  It was the figure of a man with wings on its feet, a long lock of hair on his forehead, but the rest of his head was bald.  The inscription explained:  “Why has thou wings on thy feet?  That I may fly away swiftly.  Why has thou a great forelock?  That men may seize me when I come.  Why are thou bald in back?  That when I am gone by, none can lay hold of me.  

The Greatest Rock Band of all time, The Rolling Stones, performed the song, “Time Waits for No One.”  The words are meaningful and applicable. 

The Rolling Stones Lyrics
"Time Waits For No One"

Yes, star crossed in pleasure the stream flows on by
Yes, as we're sated in leisure, we watch it fly
And time waits for no one, and it won't wait for me
And time waits for no one, and it won't wait for me
Time can tear down a building or destroy a woman's face
Hours are like diamonds, don't let them waste
Time waits for no one, no favours has he
Time waits for no one, and he won't wait for me

Men, they build towers to their passing yes, to their fame everlasting
Here he comes chopping and reaping, hear him laugh at their cheating
And time waits for no man, and it won't wait for me
Yes, time waits for no one, and it won't wait for me
Drink in your summer, gather your corn
The dreams of the night time will vanish by dawn
And time waits for no one, and it won't wait for me
And time waits for no one, and it won't wait for me
No no no, not for me...

The sailors have a much shorter truism for this, “Time and tide wait for no man.”

The idea of making the most of your time is not an invitation to busyness, that Satan’s plan for you, but rather to ordering your life according to God’s priorities.  We need to follow the example of Jesus who never rushed from one scene to the next.  The Lord kept moving steadily forward, with the Father’s plan in mind.  Jesus had compassion on people, but He also knew the weaknesses of the human condition and the body’s need for rest and the mind’s need for some solitude.  He would spend time communicating with the Father as well as ministering to the needs of the Israelites, but He always maintained balance by keeping His focus on the Father’s will.

Our text says the days are evil, and if you are not careful, society can suck you into its evil ways.  Life in this day and age can be fast paced, and that can quickly burn you out. You can be out and about every day and every evening and hardly scratch the surface of all the things that need to be done.  You can also fall into the leisure trap and easily squander your life away pursuing entertainment and things of little importance.

Perhaps the greatest time waster in our society is television.  Second to that would be video games.   Consider how these two pastimes can easily consume hours of your day with little return on the time investment, and considering the rubbish that most programs contain now, it may be a negative return.  The days are evil; don’t let your life be frittered away.  The opportunities you have now for righteousness (or the good works which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them (Ephesians 2:10) may not be available in the future.

God has appointed for us seasons of opportunity in our short lives.  The question is will we make the most of that time.  How will we know what is the right way to use our time.  Paul answered this question in verse 17.

Ephesians 5

17: So then do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is.

This isn’t new news; the foolish Ephesians heard it before from Paul.  Be imitators of God, as beloved children; and walk in love, just as Christ also loved you and gave Himself up for us (Ephesians 5:1-2).

The foolish are self-centered which mean their lives revolve around them.  They selfishly use their time to do whatever pleases them for the moment or whatever will help them achieve whatever they classify as success.  Society defines this as:  fame, fortune, happiness, power, prestige, pleasure, wealth, etc.   King Solomon refers to all these things as vanity and chasing after the wind (Ecclesiastes 1:14).  The foolish give little if any consideration to God’s eternal perspective and purposes.  The result:  wasted lives and wasted time.  How tragic many Christians end up doing the same thing, hence Paul’s warning – So then do not be foolish!

How can you keep everything in balance and know what to do?  There’s only one way – wisdom!  And wisdom is based on knowing the will of God and saying, “Okay, Amen.”  It is following the priorities He has set for your life and His priorities are often opposite of those of the world.  

Look no further than scripture for God’s will:    

Love the Lord God with all your heart, soul & mind and your neighbor as yourself (Matthew 22). 

Husbands, love your wife as Christ loved the Church (Ephesians 5).  

Wives, see to it that you respect your husband (Ephesians 5).  

Raise your children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord without provoking them to anger or causing them to lose heart (Ephesians 6; Colossians 4).   

…present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship.  And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect (Romans 12:1-2).

Be holy and humble (1 Peter 1:16, 5:6)

use your spiritual gifts in love (I Corinthians 12, 13).  

Paul calls on all Believers to be careful how they walk.  They are to be wise, not unwise for the days are evil.  Thus, they need to be making the most of the time God gives them.  Therefore, Believers are to take advantage of the opportunities God has prepared beforehand for them, while there is time to do so.  Paul said don’t be foolish, but know and understand what the will of the Lord is.  The only way to discern God’s will for you is to pick up this book and study it. 

(To be continued)

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