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Sunday, March 11, 2007

Ephesians 4 (part2) - Love in the Body of Christ

Ephesians 4 part 2 (4:17-32)

- Paul is going to contrasts two types of life in the next passage. One outside of Christ and one in Christ. In doing so he asks them to remember their previous life before Christ. He calls the life outside of Christ, the Gentile life. In speaking this way he is not talking about ethnicity, but those outside God’s people. Those inside the church are neither Jew nor Greek but a new man.

-The next thing to notice is that the difference between the lifestyles is not merely outward but inward. In verse 17 and vs. 23, he begins with the “mind”. This word in Greek is “nous” and does not refer to our rational mind that reasons and thinks. It is a reference to the inner man. It is the part of man that is able to communicate with God.

-St. Maximos concerning the “nous” says that the “great battle which is waged by the demons is to capture the nous and to attract it to impassioned thoughts.” By defeating the “nous,” as St. Maximos says, the demons “lead it to sin in the mind [dianoia, the rational faculties] and, when this has been done, they induce it, captive as it is, to commit the sin in action.”

-So the difference is a battle for inner man because whatever happens inwardly with eventually manifests itself outwardly..

II. Love in the Body of Christ. (17-32)
A. Life outside Christ - A Gentile life (17-22) 17 This I say, therefore, and testify in the Lord, that you should no longer walk as the rest of* the Gentiles walk, in the futility of their mind, 18 having their understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God, because of the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart; 19 who, being past feeling, have given themselves over to lewdness, to work all uncleanness with greediness. 20 But you have not so learned Christ, 21 if indeed you have heard Him and have been taught by Him, as the truth is in Jesus: 22 that you put off, concerning your former conduct, the old man which grows corrupt according to the deceitful lusts,

1. Futility of mind
-Or vanity as Chrysostom says. In Paul’s discussion, he mentions that those things that have no lasting value are vanity or vain pursuits.

2. Estranged from the life of God.
-This is a great phrase for understanding spiritual death. We have cut ourselves off from the life of God. The life of God is Grace. This cutting off of God’s life is what happened at the Fall. This is the death that God spoke about to Adam. This restoration of the life of God is what the Incarnation was about.

-A consequence of being cut off from the life of God is to have our understanding darkened.
This has happened through ignorance and blindness. It is not that God has rejected us but that we have cut off ourselves because of our own ignorance and blindness.

3. Cast off all feeling
-This lack of true feeling has created a life of immorality and all uncleanness. Outside of Christ man is deadened to feel or sense the life of God. True feeling is an awareness and living in the life of God. Because there is no true feeling; man pursues substitutes.

4. Put off the old man
-This type of life is not what has been revealed in Christ. So Paul urges us to put away our former conduct and put away the old man which grows corrupt. It becomes corrupt through “deceitful lusts”. These are desires or passions that promise good results or happiness in our life but this a deception because they only bring death.

B. Life in Christ (23-32)23 and be renewed in the spirit of your mind, 24 and that you put on the new man which was created according to God, in true righteousness and holiness. 25 Therefore, putting away lying, "Let each one of you speak truth with his neighbor,"* for we are members of one another. 26 "Be angry, and do not sin":* do not let the sun go down on your wrath, 27 nor give place to the devil. 28 Let him who stole steal no longer, but rather let him labor, working with his hands what is good, that he may have something to give him who has need. 29 Let no corrupt word proceed out of your mouth, but what is good for necessary edification, that it may impart grace to the hearers. 30 And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. 31 Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, and evil speaking be put away from you, with all malice. 32 And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you.

1. Be renewed

-Just as in the beginning of this passage (vs. 17) the Gentiles were said to have a futile mind; the Christian is to be renewed in mind.

2. Put on the new man

-The new man is Christ. Paul begins to give some of description of what the new life looks like. Each portion is listed, but the meaning of each is pretty self explanatory except the verse on anger. The discussion of this passage is limited to that about anger.

-Put off falsehood
-Be angry but do not steal (psalm 4:4) St. Nicholai of Zica “Be angry with yourself, brethren, and sin no more. Be angry at your sins of thoughts and deeds, and sin no more. Be angry with Satan the father of lies (John 8:44), and no longer do his will. Be angry at sin in the world and the trampling of God's holy Church by godless men, but beware that you do not cure sin by sin. Be angry with your friends when they sin; but be angry with the intention to correct them, and not to embitter them even more. The anger of a friend toward a friend, and the anger of parents toward their children-and of God toward men-is not a storm that uproots the tree but a wind that strengthens the tree, and rids it of rotten fruit so that the healthy fruit will increase in number and beauty. But let your anger have measure, so that it may be healing and not poisonous. In order to have this kind of control, keep God before you in your anger. There is no stronger containment for anger than God. All anger that is not in the name of God and God's righteousness is a sin. Do not become angry for the sake of idleness, but become angry for that at which God is angered. If your will is firmly set in God's law, you will always know when it is necessary to be angry, and how much is needed. This cannot be expressed entirely in words, nor can it even be explained to the uneducated. Anger, in its place, acts as mercy does in its place. O my brethren, do you see how various powers are placed in our souls, and man, by his free will, can utilize them for life or death? Anger toward oneself can never be recommended enough. Here is a wonderful example: the more a man learns to be angry with himself, the less he is angry with others. Carried away with anger at his own weaknesses, he either does not see the weaknesses of others, or when he does see them, he judges them kindly”

Also for more info on this passage see the following link: http://www.orthodoxresearchinstitute.org/articles/misc/cozby_anger.htm

-Don’t steal
-Speak gracefully
-Don’t grieve the Spirit

-“Paul exhorts us not to ‘grieve the Holy Spirit’ (vs. 30) now residing in our hearts, but to let the Spirit of God seal off our senses solely for the purposes of receiving grace and imparting blessings to others. Thus, the Apostle’s exhortation is two-sided: 1) to attain godly control of our sensory life, and 2) to impart God’s grace to others." (From the Orthodox devotional Dynamis)

3. Summary:

-The Old Man: Remove strife
-St. John Chrysostom notes a progression in these. “Observe the progress of mischief. Bitterness produces wrath, wrath anger, anger clamor, clamor railing, that is, revilings; next from evil-speaking it goes on to blows, from blows to wounds, from wounds to death.”

-The New Man: Be kind

-The Spiritual Life is about others. It is an inner battle that determines our relationship to those around us. It really is summed up in “Love God and Love People”

Sources used:

Prison Epistles

The Orthodox New Testament

Ancient Christian Commentary

Also Chrysostom’s commentaries which can be found online here: http://www.ccel.org/ccel/schaff/npnf113.html

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