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Apr 27 / Chuck Smith, Jr.

April 26, 2015 – Ephesians 6:14-20

Dress For the Occasion

Stand firm therefore, having girded your loins with truth, having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace; in addition to all, taking up the shield of faith with which you will be able to extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. Ephesians 6:14-17

Intro: One skill that characterizes excellent teachers is their use of analogy

A good analogy is a key to learning and understanding
– the human brain learns by associations
• a good analogy: clear parallels to what it explains and memorable
• Jesus’ style of teaching (e.g., Mk. 4:33-34) “The kingdom of heaven is like . . .”
◦ he could not say what it is exactly — we would not have understood him
◦ the kingdom isn’t bread dough or mustard seed, but it’s like bread dough, etc.
– the Bible’s use of analogy suggests to us how to think about God
• it isn’t always helpful to come at it directly–e.g., the “science” of theology
◦ analogy may be the only way to get God’s truth into our heads, heart and soul
• the book in Bible that brings us closest to God’s realm is Revelation
◦ it is full of images, symbols and word pictures
◦ we can’t read it without using our imaginations

Paul’s best known analogy is the armor of God
– it meets the criteria of apt parallels and it is definitely memorable
• at first, we may be uncomfortable with “armor,” with its warlike implications
• I hope we will find it helpful and relevant as we work our way through this


Let’s ease into the passage with a simple observation

When it comes to shopping, shopping, men buy clothes and women buy “outfits”
– and the outfits are chosen for specific occasions — running errands and so on
• what is the “occasion” behind this passage?
A. W. Tozer observed, “The world is not playground, but a battleground”
• I think it is both playground and battleground
(only sometimes the play can be pretty rough)
– we’ve been receiving junk mail for “the active senior in your home”
• (I give these to Barbara)
• this outfit is for the active spiritual life
◦ the contemplative life is one-side of Christian spirituality, the active life is the other
◦ that we’re issued bullet-proof vest speaks for itself


Paul’s analogy illuminates the essentials of the Christian life

Truth, righteousness, faith, etc. are our soul’s breath, its food and drink
– these are the items we use to gauge our spiritual health

read more…

Apr 21 / Chuck Smith, Jr.

April 19, 2015 – Ephesians 6:10-13

Spiritual Self-Defense

Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might.
Put on the full armor of God, so that you will be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places. Therefore, take up the full armor of God, so that you will be able to resist in the evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm.
 Ephesians 6:10-13

Intro: Ephesians begins with an awesome portrait of Christian spirituality

This way of being in God was designed “before the foundation of the world”
– our access to it and “success” in it is guaranteed by “every spiritual blessing”
• these blessings do not spring from the earth, but from “heavenly places in Christ”
◦ i.e., they transcend the fluctuations of our lives’ circumstances
• God has revealed to us enough of “the mystery of His will” for us to know:
◦ how he has adopted us and what he is making us to become
◦ what we have going for us
◦ how our lives are secured in him by his Spirit
◦ and, most important, to know him 
– all in all, this is a life that is lived “to the praise of His glory”

But we also encounter a sinister and dangerous spiritual dimension
– those who ventured deep into Christian spirituality were not afraid to talk about it
• as humans can surrender to God for good, so they can yield to other spirits for evil
• Paul has alluded to this diabolical influence in world (Ep. 2:2; 4:27)
◦ but he has saved a more detailed insight to it for now
– we can think of this as biblical raining in spiritual self-defense

If I had chosen to skip a passage, this would have been it
– not for what is here, but for the way some authors and speakers have used it
• I am referring to people who presume to be experts in “spiritual warfare”
◦ for some, their only credentials are a personal history of satanism and the occult
◦ they imagine Christians to be in daily combat with demons
• with dire warnings, they have believers thinking evil spirits are lurking everywhere
◦ e.g., a national men’s ministry has so emphasized this sort of spiritual warfare that the husbands they’ve trained constantly suspect a demonic influence over their wives
◦ we do not need to be looking demons, but for what God is doing–and join him
– the Bible–especially the Hebrew Scriptures–plays down demonic forces
• C. S. Lewis’ famous observation is still very relevant

“There are two equal and opposite errors into which our race can fall about the devils. One is to disbelieve in their existence. The other is to believe, and to feel an excessive and unhealthy interest in them. They themselves are equally pleased by both errors and hail a materialist or a magician with the same delight.”

Do we appreciate the fact that in these verses Paul is working with a metaphor?
– chained to a literal soldier (v. 20), Paul saw a spiritual parallel in a Christian’s life
• he also made metaphors around an athlete, a farmer, a contractor, and so on
• we need to be cautious regarding our use of military metaphors
– the metaphor here is used to bring us close to a reality that is elusive
• it appears in our peripheral vision but is never seen clearly in its true form
• the soldier’s conflict and gear helps us conceptualize an invisible threat


V. 10, “Power Up” — It’s important to see this as an introduction

Paul makes clear that he is beginning to a new thought
– the first thing he says is that whatever challenge we face, we can be empowered
• not that we “power up” ourselves, but we find strength “in the Lord”
– Paul needs more than one word to make his point, so he uses:
• power, might and force
• this is the most important truth to remember
◦ the balance of power is radically tilted


V. 11, “Suit Up”

What is Paul getting at with the armor metaphor? Take your situation seriously

Many years ago I officiated a funeral for a young man who when in high school contracted a crippling disease. During his long stays in various hospitals, everyone who worked with him came to love and admire him. He put up a banner in his hospital room that read, “Life is hard–get a helmet”

• that’s what Paul is saying — the conflict is intense
◦ but don’t run from it, just remember to wear your helmet and pads
– “full” armor, or “all” the armor–in other words, don’t leave anything unprotected
• this was the reason Mom or Dad would pray over us before we left school each morning

Now we come to our primary concern, that we will be “able to stand”
– a term that when used in a military context meant, “hold your position”
• it’s not only a matter of keeping our balance
◦ it’s taking a stand against any force that could knock us down
◦ gravity, a strong wind, an uneven surface, and so on
• here, it is “schemes” – today we would say scams or cons
– Paul told the Corinthian believers to extend forgiveness so someone in their group
• otherwise they might be “outsmarted by Satan”

for we are not ignorant of his designs (2 Cor. 2:10-11)

• the Greek word translated design suggests a contest of moves and counter moves
◦ as C. S. Lewis said, the devil is like “a good chess player”


V. 12, “Wise Up”

What, precisely, are we up against?
– not “flesh and blood” – nothing human or physical
• this is either ignored or forgotten by many Christians
◦ a lot of believers have been wounded by “friendly fire”
– our opponent is not anyone we can see with our eyes
• we do not engage this fight in our four-dimensional universe
• these adversaries do not respond to logic and bullets would pass through the

They are rulers, authorities, world-powers of this darkness, and spiritual evil
– some of the spiritual warfare experts assume Paul refers to ranks in devil’s army
• I’m doubtful that is what he had that in mind
• his concern was not how evil is organized, but how it comes at us
◦ how we experience it
– all these terms suggest domination and control

If not flesh and blood, then where is the “theater of operations”?
– “in heavenly places” – this is one of our difficulties with these verses
• but it also helps to understand why Paul used metaphors
◦ we know so little about the spiritual realm
• the “heavenly places” would seem like a save and secure realm (Ep. 2:6; 3:10)
◦ but evil follows us even there
◦ perhaps “stand” means, “Hold your (heavenly) ground” (Mt. 6:19-21; Col. 3:1-2)
– when attacked, where are we assaulted?
• what ground does the enemy attempt to take?

For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh, for the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh, but divinely powerful for the destruction of fortresses. We are destroying speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God, and we are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ (2 Cor. 10:3-5)

“speculations . . . knowledge of God . . . every thought”
• when Jesus was tempted, the devil planted ideas in his mind
◦ each one had a rational element — one even included a biblical quotation
◦ the devil would have succeeded if Jesus entertained those thoughts
“If I am the Son of God, why go hungry?”
– at times we receive impulses or intuitions from  God’s Spirit
• e.g., to call someone who comes to mind
◦ only later, we realize it was God who planted that thought

Then I knew that this was the word of the LORD (Je. 32:8)

• our minds can be infiltrated by other spiritual influences — sinister “inspirations”
◦ “resent this person,” “be anxious,” “try it once
◦ the objective is that we fall under control of something other than God


V. 13, “Buck Up” — Paul reiterates what he said in verse 11

Reduced to it’s most simple form, our strategy is to:

  1. Resist (withstand), put up a fight
    – the word “evil” also means bad in the Greek translation of the Old Testament
    • it does not always have the moral significance that evil suggests
    • so, resistance in the day of “trouble” is not unlike,
    “And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from evil”
  2. Do “everything” – all that is expected of God’s child (cf. Ep. 2:10)
    – all that calls for our active response or participation
  3. Stand – hold your ground

Conc: I want to reassure you, that experiencing this conflict

When your head is filled with thoughts of everything but heaven
– or you realize you’ve been distracted from anything spiritual for days (or weeks)
• or you feel exhausted with resisting all that is appealing yet wrong
• you are not going backwards, but this is the normal state of affairs
◦ as much as it may feel like failure, it means you’re still swimming against the stream
– spiritual self-defense is awareness, readiness and confidence in God
• that even if we lose contest after contest, nothing will separate us from him

For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 8:38-39)

Apr 16 / Chuck Smith, Jr.

April 12, 2015 – Ephesians 6:1-9

Cradled In God’s Will

Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. Honor your father and mother (which is the first commandment with a promise), so that it may be well with you, and that you may live long on the earth. Ephesians 6:1-3]

Intro: Paul is helping his readers figure out the will of God (5:17)

Paul provides them with a general idea of God’s will
– but leaves it to them to work out the specifics
– the place to begin living God’s will is also the most difficult: our home
• in the New Testament, “household” refers to more than the immediate family
◦ it could include a steward who managed household affairs and other servants
• Paul groups people and addresses them according to their position in the family
◦ nevertheless, it is possible to hear a personal tone in his instructions

It is important to note Paul’s underlying optimism
– this is how the ideal Christian household functions
• the strong protect and provide for the weak, the older care for the youngest, etc.
• real life is more complicated than the simple outline given here
◦ and the dynamic relations and interactions of many families are often twisted
– an obvious weakness of endorsing hierarchy (in home, church, etc.) is the potential for abuse
• inflexible authoritarian structures can be used to legitimize oppression or violence
• roughly 90% of the population in the Roman empire were subject to exploitation
– we need to keep in mind that Paul covers the rule and not the exception


Children, obey your parents

I wish it was this simple

read more…

Apr 6 / Chuck Smith, Jr.

April 5, 2015 – Acts 25:18-19

Intro: We are going to drop into a story already well under way

The Apostle Paul is in custody in Caesarea
– his case has already been heard twice before two Roman governors
• both have found him innocent of any crime “worthy of death or imprisonment” (Acts 23:29; 25:25 & cf. 26:31)
• so, though he’s innocent, he’s held over for political reasons (Acts 24:27; 25:9)
– as Roman citizen, Paul had the right to appeal to Caesar, which he did
• that created a problem for Festus, the current governor
◦ he needed a substantial charge against Paul — and he did not have one
• King Agrippa–“an expert” in the customs and issues among the Jews–visited Caesarea
◦ Festus told Agrippa about his frustrating situation with Paul
◦ perhaps Agrippa could provide legal help in putting together a formal charge

Festus’ description of what he learned during Paul’s trial went like this:

When the accusers stood up, they began bringing charges against him not of such crimes as I was expecting, but they simply had some points of disagreement with him about their own religion and about a dead man, Jesus, whom Paul asserted to be alive. Acts 25:18-19

– here is the story of Easter boiled down to its essence

a dead man, Jesus, whom his followers affirmed to be alive

• I love this simple, blunt assessment of Paul’s message as presented by an outsider

read more…

Apr 2 / Chuck Smith, Jr.

March 29, 2015 – Ephesians 5:21-33

The Family’s Unseen Depths

. . . and be subject to one another in the fear of Christ. Wives, be subject to your own husbands as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife, as Christ is the head of the church, He Himself being the Savior of the body. But as the church is subject to Christ, so also the wives ought to be to their husbands in everything. Ephesians 5:21-24

Intro: This brief passage requires more background than we usually devote to a text

INTERPRETIVE BACKGROUND
God’s eternal word enters temporal human cultures (Isa. 40:8)
– not only do cultures come and go, but every culture changes over time
• messages specific to a culture or time can suffer a loss of meaning elsewhere
◦ I doubt anyone here has ever returned an enemy’s stray donkey
◦ but that doesn’t make Exodus 23:4 irrelevant; it makes it require special handling
• changing cultures require dynamic processes of interpretation
◦ we need God’s Spirit to enlighten us to fresh ways of seeing the ancient text
– a common sense way to finding relevant meaning in culturally conditioned texts:

  1. When a commandment is specific to a time or situation, generalize it
    • look behind it –
    what is the guiding principle for this commandment?
    ◦ Paul does this in 1 Corinthians 9:9-10
    (he generalizes “do not muzzle the ox . . .” to humane care for servants)
    • then a specific application will appear for our situation
  2. When a commandment is general, specify it
     look within it – figure out its specific application to our current situation
     “You shall not steal” is a general commandment
    ◦ we have to determine how it applies to modern notions of theft
    ◦ for example, laws regarding copyrights and intellectual property

• Paul wrote to Christian communities in the first century Mediterranean world
◦ his instructions to husbands and wives made perfect sense to his intended audience
◦ but we need to review our interpretation of our current situation in which

  • women have the same education as men
  • women enter the workplace and share careers with men
  • a woman can not only survive but thrive without a husband

CONTEXTUAL BACKGROUND
Let’s pull out our map again to see how this passage fits into the rest of the letter
– Paul took the Ephesians on a sublime tour of Christian spirituality (Ep. 1:23)
• we find ourselves seated with Christ in heavenly places (Ep. 2:6)
• in chapter 4, Paul began addressing spiritual practice
◦ how we live in the world and heavenly places at the same time
◦ we begin by adopting a lifestyle consistent with our spiritual status (4:1)

Therefore if you have been raised up with Christ, keep seeking the things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on the earth. (Col. 3:1-2)

– more immediate context of the previous verses, Paul stressed knowing God’s will
• in verse 21, the transition is from speaking to submitting
◦ but the context is still practice and knowing God’s will
• mutual submission is a recognition of “spheres of influence”
◦ all the members have their calling and gifts
◦ we learn to defer to their areas of “expertise”

PAUL’S OBJECTIVE
What is Paul trying to accomplish in this section?
– a wide spread scholarly opinion is that he intended to produce a household code

read more…

Mar 23 / Chuck Smith, Jr.

March 22, 2015 – Ephesians 5:14-20

God’s Will? It’s Quite Simple

Awake, sleeper,
And arise from the dead,
And Christ will shine on you.”
Therefore be careful how you walk, not as unwise men but as wise, making the most of your time, because the days are evil.
 Ephesians 5:14-16

Intro: The Hebrew Scriptures contain a rich diversity of content and style

There are stories, commandments, poetry, riddles, parables and so on
– biblical scholars refer to a particular classification of style as wisdom literature
• in general, the purpose of the wisdom literature is:

To know wisdom and instruction,
To discern the sayings of understanding,
To receive instruction in wise behavior,
Righteousness, justice and equity;
To give prudence to the naive,
To the youth knowledge and discretion . . .
To understand a proverb and a figure,
The words of the wise and their riddles. (Pr. 1:2-6)

• the wisdom embodied in these writings is practical
◦ it demonstrates how people improve or ruin their lives by choices they make
– Proverbs chapter 9 is a parable involving two women, Prudence and Folly
• both call out from the heights of the city to anyone who will listen
◦ both invite the naive into their homes to feed on what’s been prepared for them
• but the consequences of entering one home are opposite those of the other
◦ in the home of Prudence is life and a continuous journey in understanding
◦ in the home of Folly is death and the path to Sheol (the grave)

Paul’s goal in this Ephesians’ passage is to guide his readers to path of wisdom


Vv. 14-16, We take a step back (v. 14) to mark the transition

To what and Whom do we awake?
– we awake to this present moment and we learn to do this by practice

read more…

Mar 17 / Chuck Smith, Jr.

March 15, 2015 – Ephesians 5:7-14

Comparing Our “Before And Afters”

Therefore do not be partakers with them; for you were formerly darkness, but now you are Light in the Lord; walk as children of the Light Ephesians 5:7-8

Intro: Have you seen a before and after photo that raised your suspicion?

Photographers have begun to leak their secrets
– for example, a model’s posture, having a happier expression in the “after” photo, and lighting produce huge differences
• some admit taking before and after pictures on same day – even in the same shoot
◦ I know that our bedroom mirror favors me
◦ but the bathroom mirror, where the light is uncomfortably bright, is too honest
• today’s technology of creating fake photos has blurred the line between reality and imagination
– we can hardly flip through a magazine or visit as website without encountering before and after pictures
• why? What’s the purpose?
• they serve to answer the question, Does this really work?


The underlying theme of this passage is the believer’s “before and after”

V. 8, “Formerly,” which we noted in chapter 2, verses 2, 3, 11, and 13
– the tension running through chapter 4 was the conflict of the old and new “selves”
• Paul now explores this tension through another metaphor: darkness and light
– his goal is to help the Ephesians break free from worldly attachments
• v. 7, “partakers” means “to join-in with” — be a joiner in a culture of impurity
• worldly things are not as serious a problem as our attachment to them
◦ our unwillingness to let go, holds us back and stunts our growth

THE “BEFORE”
“You were darkness” – not “in,” but darkness itself

read more…

Mar 12 / Chuck Smith, Jr.

March 8, 2019 – Ephesians 5:3-7

A Reliable Guide Through Complexities

But immorality or any impurity or greed must not even be named among you, as is proper among saints; and there must be no filthiness and silly talk, or coarse jesting, which are not fitting, but rather giving of thanks. For this you know with certainty, that no immoral person or covetous man, who is an idolater, has an inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God. Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience. Therefore do not be partakers with them . . . Ephesians 5:3-7

Intro: Thank you for your prayers while we were in Israel — we had an exceptional experience

Although it snowed in Jerusalem the week before we arrived, we had sunshine until the last day
– but that seemed appropriate, because the last site we visited was the Garden Tomb
– like so many places in Israel, it’s doubtful that we were at the exact spot where Jesus was buried and rose again
• so I reminded the group, that the precise location was irrelevant because, “He is not here, He is risen”
• then I apologized for bringing them all way to Israel just to learn we are as close to God here in South Orange County

I think “close to God” is what draws Christians to Israel — as it has through the centuries
– for that reason the “Holy Land” is peppered with monasteries and churches
• our souls tell us there’s a deeper human experience, a reality beyond the normal routine
◦ and we hope to find it by walking where Jesus walked or praying in sacred sites
– the letter to the Ephesians and not a tour of Israel, takes us on the journey to that richer experience
• this is the path of Christian spirituality

Ephesians begins with a breathtaking description of “life in Christ”
– it then moves to the practical side of Christian spirituality
• chapter 5 begins with a general “rule of thumb”: “walk in love, just as Christ also loved you”
• next comes more detailed instructions regarding what to avoid and what to adopt
(notice how the contrast is highlighted with “but rather” in verse 4, which is translated “but instead” in v. 11)
◦ avoid whatever is contrary to love and adopt whatever is consistent with love
◦ love that imitates God’s love is always the most reliable guide to to discerning his will
– Paul moves through specific instructions that include:
• a list of “do not’s”
• the play of opposites: light and darkness, wisdom and foolishness
• a list of “do’s”
• behavior that is consistent with a well-ordered Christian home


If we cannot find a structure to this section, we can at least see patterns

Paul uses multiples of three:
A. immorality, impurity and greed
B. filthiness, silly talk and coarse jesting
C. goodness, righteousness and truth (v. 9)
D. psalms, hymns and spiritual songs (v. 19)
• notice how the triads in line A correspond with the triads in line C and the same with lines B and D

We will look first at greed, even though it is the last item in the first triad
– we encountered this word in chapter 3 (v. 19) and defined it as “an insatiable desire for more”
• greed is more passion than action, but the behavior it inspires is all negative
◦ greed can infect every pleasure, possession, and aspiration
◦ it is the capstone of the Ten Commandments

You shall not covet your neighbor’s house; you shall not covet your neighbor’s wife or his male servant or his female servant or his ox or his donkey or anything that belongs to your neighbor (Ex. 20:17)

• in verse 5, the same word for greed is translated “covetous man” and is equated with idolatry
◦ any “thing,” when it takes the place of God in our commitment and devotion becomes an idol

read more…

Feb 17 / Chuck Smith, Jr.

February 15, 2015 – Ephesians 4:32-5:2

The Heart of Everything

Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you. Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children; and walk in love, just as Christ also loved you and gave Himself up for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God as a fragrant aroma. Ephesians 4:32-5:2

Intro: A thought occurred to me a couple days ago

I haven’t worked through it yet, so I’m not certain it’s true
– however, it does have some biblical support

It has to do with authentic spiritual communities
– first, how they are formed (whether monasteries, home groups, churches, etc.)
• people who find themselves drawn to God are also drawn together
◦ like lines converging on a single point
• attempting to satisfy our thirst for God we meet others who share a common  devotion
– then, the community drawn to God becomes as crucial to our development as One who draws us
• a spiritual community provides us the first opportunities to live what we learn
◦ to practice it with real people

. . . for the one who does not love his brother whom he has seen, cannot love God whom he has not seen. And this commandment we have from Him, that the one who loves God should love his brother also. (1 Jn. 4:20-21)

• What I’ve learned on Wednesday and Thursday nights:
◦ that how God works with you is as helpful to me as how he works with me


I’ve taken a step backward

I wasn’t happy with how I finished last week
– the last verse in chapter 4 is too profound to treat lightly
• in fact, I doubt my ability to do it justice
• but at least we can benefit from simply spending more time with it
– these two verses may be a summation of the essence of this whole section
• like the way Jesus sums up all the law and prophets in two commandments (Mt. 22:34-40)

In verse 17, Paul began writing a negative checklist
– this could be characterized as the do’s and don’ts
• but notice he begins verse with “Be” – a shift in emphasis:
◦ from “what we do” to “who we are
• the doing is automatic to a thing’s being
◦ e.g., an orange tree automatically grows leaves, blossoms and oranges
◦ Jesus said that a person is known by what he does (Mt. 7:16-20)
– “Be” is “become” or as A. T. Robertson has it, “keep on becoming”
• we cannot instantly change ourselves — for example, into “kind” people

John Chapman observed that the beginner is not “expected to show at all a high degree of perfection. God does not show the soul all its faults nor all it has eventually to give up. It gives up something, and in time He will ask more. Meanwhile, it has faults which are obvious enough to others, though probably not to itself.”


“Tender-hearted” is a move inward

read more…

Feb 9 / Chuck Smith, Jr.

February 8, 2015 – Ephesians 4:25-32

The Gradual Death of the False Self

Therefore, laying aside falsehood, speak truth each one of you with his neighbor, for we are members of one another. Ephesians 4:25

Intro: Paul begins where he left off in the previous verse

He explained why our spiritual transformation is not instantaneous
– we are tugged at by the gravity of two potential selves
• the old self and the new self – or the false self and the true self
◦ the conflict is described well in Galatians

. . . 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. (Gal. 5:16-17)

◦ essentially, the ethical challenge is to “put off the old self and put on the new”
• we learn today that we do this piece-by-piece
◦ similar to the way we “put on the whole armor of God” (ch. 6:11-17)
– “laying aside [or “putting off”] falsehood” is one of the pieces of the old self that we strip off

If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross daily and follow Me. For whoever wishes to save his [soul] will lose it, but whoever loses his [soul] for My sake, he is the one who will save it. (Lk. 9:23-24)

• Christian spirituality begins at the cross and is made possible by the cross
◦ the soul we lose at the cross is the false self and the soul we gain is the true self
◦ we lose the false self day-by-day (“take up his cross daily“)
• the new self does not develop automatically
◦ we have to learn how to walk and talk and listen and so on
◦ that’s what this whole section has been about, beginning in 4:1, Walk!

Later, Paul paints a picture of Jesus with his bride, bathing and beautifying her,

. . . that He might present to Himself the church in all her glory, having no spot or wrinkle or any such thing; but that she would be holy and blameless. (Ep. 5:27)

• we cannot perfect ourselves
◦ but we can break some bad habits, make some changes
◦ we can wash the window of our hearts and rinse our eyes (Mt. 5:8; 6:22-23)
– as we make our way through this passage, keep in mind: Paul was addressing Christians
• you may find yourself identifying with a behavior in the negative column
◦ remember that other believers do too
• this struggle is the spiritual journey and to stay in it is to take up our cross


V. 25, There’s a speech issue between the old self and the new self

“Falsehood”–pseudos–has been an underlying theme in this section
– awhile back,a  man represented himself to me as friend
• the way he showed interest in me was by asking a lot of personal questions
◦ for several years I assumed that we shared a genuine friendship
• after confiding in him all those years, the lesson I learned the hard way was that:

Curiosity is not necessarily an expression of love

Rowan Williams argued, “It is an unscrupulous rationalization of the lust for power which can be hidden in curiosity, the diabolical thirst to know without loving, to substitute knowing for loving.”

– for someone to know you without loving you is terrifying
• it is exactly the danger that is posed by identity theft

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