Oct 31 2021 Eph 5 - How to Live a Life of Wisdom

Ephesians 5:3-14, Paul talks about putting off the old self – the ways of the Gentiles – and putting on the new self, the life in Christ – and then:

Ephesians 5:15 15 Therefore be careful how you walk,

not as unwise men

but as wise,

16 making the most of your time,

because the days are evil.

17 So then do not be foolish,

but understand what the will of the Lord is.

So what he is doing – transitioning his language from the old self/new self – and making a contrast between wise/unwise – and foolish/understanding. The language of the wise and the fool is straight from the Old Testament, with a new twist – the fools are the ones who live in the ways of the world, and wisdom is about living the life of Christ – spiritual transformation and discipleship. Paul wants to direct them into how this is to be done.

When we think about wisdom, we think of ‘good advice’ – you get good advice – and you think that person is wise! That may be true – but you can get good advice without the giver being wise. Wisdom is about being like Christ.

The Book of Proverbs says that the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.

It is much more than being smart, clever, or just giving good advice – it has the focus of a relationship with God.

We have been looking at these themes in Ephesians

Be careful how YOU (ALL) walk. Make the most of Y’all’s time.

Paul doesn’t just flip into wisdom here – he has been explaining it all along.

As a community – living in wisdom is living as a community in love and unity – individually and corporately. The walk of wisdom is one of love and unity.

Second – a life of wisdom – a walk of wisdom is partnering with Jesus in His victory over the power of the spirit of darkness.

Third – walking in wisdom is participating in the Bible – becoming faithful witnesses to the mystery of Christ.

Ephesians 3: 10-11

and to [a]bring to light what is the administration of the mystery which for ages has been hidden in God who created all things; 10 so that the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known through the church to the rulers and the authorities in the heavenly places. 11 This was in accordance with the [b]eternal purpose which He [c]carried out in Christ Jesus our Lord, 12 in whom we have boldness and [d]confident access through faith [e]in Him.

Walking in wisdom is these three things that have come up.

Ephesians 5:16

16 making the most of your time,

because the days are evil.

We think of time management – you’re on it! Multitasking! But that is not what Paul is talking about.

Some translations say redeeming your time. Buy back the time. The phrase was used to buy a person from the slave market to give them their freedom –

Because the days are evil.

Making the most of our time has a lot to do the days being evil.

He has been talking about this diagram:

These are the things he has been talking about the whole way through – this present evil age is connected to the ‘already and not yet’ –

Satan/Sin/Death – the reality of the evil age. This is not just ‘NOW’ – but everything up until the return of Christ. From the cross to the return of Christ.

In the age to come – we have Resurrection and New Creation.

That in-between – is the ‘already and not yet’ – and this is where we live.

When we are told to make the most of our time, we are to live in the present evil age in light of the age to come.

Our focus in this world – this age – is to live in-between – where we are already in the age to come, but not yet.

The church is to create a community living in the new creation living under the prince of the power of the air.

I have a metaphor – the one of performing this biblical drama – that is our job. Ephesians can be viewed as a narrative. Think of the Center of the Venn – already and not yet – as a theater – and the Present Evil Age is the world, watching the church – quick to let us know what we do wrong! But that is the reality of being a Christian. You might say – why do they do that? It is the PRESENT EVIL AGE! Of course they do that.

The Age to Come – the producers/Writers/Directors – Father/Son/Holy Ghost.

They have determined the script – right? God has determined the script – and in Chapter 1:1 – 5:15 – they have been saying – here is the script – this is what we’ve written. Now your job – the Church – is to live it out – in front of the watching world. Not our own drama, but the drama God has given us to live.

St. Francis of Assisi was accused of saying these words – Preach the gospel – and if necessary – use words!

Some people champion that phrase – for one reason or another – and others dismiss it – and both of those come from a general misunderstanding of first – St. Francis and all that he did! We get caught up with how he talked to animals – but he was an unbelievable missionary – preaching the gospel everywhere – amazing life!

But another reason we misunderstand it is because of the way we present the gospel. We tend to turn the gospel into a series of bullet points and a diagram! There is nothing wrong with bullet points and a diagram – but if our understanding is that those bullet points and a diagram are the gospel – then we have a problem. The gospel is the story of Jesus’ full redemption of humanity.

Several years ago, a friend’s son was tragically killed in a car accident in Texas. I’m in the airplane – and I don’t have earphones – and I get this movie without hearing the dialogue – The Devil Wears Prada – and I had it all figured out – the poor girl who gets a break and becomes better for it.

Having actual watched it now – I got it a lot better. That is how we need to view the gospel. Of course it must be proclaimed and lived out! You can’t have one without the other. The gospel is us living out the story of Jesus. That is what we do. When the church lives out this story of Jesus – not just talks about it – but lives it really – not the story of Christianity – but the story of Jesus! Those can be different! Not the story of our view of the story of Jesus. It is all right here in these four gospels. We must know those four books so we can live out this story. We the church will show the world what it is and what it is not. We demonstrate to the people of the world – what it actually is. It is not a present evil age – it is beyond that – it is what life could be –

The second thing that happens – it offers hope – people can see there is a different way – another way of living.

Ephesians 5: 17 So then do not be foolish,

but understand what the will of the Lord is.

What is missing from that line? We think – understand what the will of the Lord is “For your life” – it does not say that – understand what the will of the Lord is. From verse 1 to here – we need to understand what God’s will is – this mystery that is being revealed through the church.

Three things we need to ponder thoroughly and thoughtfully.

Understand – put together mentally – God gave you a brain – USE IT! Use your mind to clearly think through what God is doing in the world.

First – the story of God found in the Bible.

That is just so important. The story of Creation/Rebellion/Redemption – to New Creation – it is a string throughout the Bible. When we think of God’s will – we think of a couple verses that sum up God’s will for that area. Like – I am doing THIS because of THIS verse. It is okay – but when we do that – we are getting a narrow view. We need to thoroughly and thoughtfully get to know the story that God is telling.

The good news today – there are so many resources at our fingertips – on our phones, on our laptops – where you can get that information. And from different sources. Bible Project is one – but there are many others. There are good and not so good, and you have to discern the difference.

Second – our real-world context. We are familiar with the massive issues the world has been facing the last couple years – and I’ll talk more about it in chapter 6. Paul did not want them to be ignorant of the schemes of the enemy. We have to pull back the curtain – and understand what God is doing. Then understand how to engage – and how NOT to engage – in the world as it is. God, in His word – teaches us the proper way to engage and the many other ways that we tend to engage in the world.

Third – we need to ponder the movement of God in our place of context – discerning what God is up to, right now, here, with all that is going on. What is God doing in all of this?

What is God doing in me? In my life? In your life?

Look at the events or circumstances – career issues – sickness – new season of life – had a baby – retiring – empty nester for the first time – what is God doing through that? He is not an innocent bystander – He is engaged!

Now, it is important that we don’t think that God made that happen to me –

Next, we need to look at spiritual themes. Are you noticing any spiritual themes going on in you? Maybe through reading scripture, prayer times, radio sermons, God gives us themes. These aren’t algorithms!

God should I buy a new car? You know when you Google Tesla – that everywhere you go you will see Teslas from there on out. Those are algorithms – that is not God speaking to you! IT is people manipulating you! People with gazillions of dollars to manipulate you!

But God DOES speak in rhythms and themes in our lives.

Finally - are there burdens – like, I just have a concern for this – and that might be God working in you to do something . You can run with it!

Next – what Is God doing in the Church – both locally and universally! It is no secret that today – one thing that is happening – there is a great divide. Christianity is divided – open your eyes – more than ever I can remember – maybe it has always been there – but we see that God is forming many new alliances and partnerships amongst Christians from all kinds of different backgrounds – to perform His will.

Thanks, in part, to the Internet and theologians and Bible scholars who are willing to use it – there is an explosion of biblical understanding that is available to us.

Every Christian – for the most part – if you have access to the internet – you have an opportunity to gain an outstanding theological education – for free if you wish. There are different realms of theology and spheres that are doing it – and it is a good thing (except for those who are off from standard orthodox Christian faith.)

There has been a surge in megachurches – and so some good things have happened – people coming back to church – but there have also been problems that are filling the news today.

There has been tremendous growth in small churches.

In America – 25-35 million Americans – Exvangelicals – mostly young people – and it is sad. A reality. Church attendance is really down in America.

From there – we have to ask – what is God doing in the world?

The center of Christianity has shifted over the past 50 years. It has left the developed west. The US, for a long time, was the center – and it has moved to the global south and to the far east. We think the church is declining – but not in those places! Not at all! It is exploding! The numbers are massive – what God is doing!

We are at a point where we need to learn from THEM! For years, the west sent the missionaries out – and now the Church has a lot to learn from Christians in the emerging world. We are probably living more like – Paul speaking – because of their circumstances and situations –

I’ll close with this: God did not send or create the pandemic, racial conflicts, political divide – God is working in and through all of that – and all of it is an opportunity for the church to be the light of the world – a city set on a hill.

And do not get drunk with wine,

for that is dissipation,

but be filled with the Spirit,

Ephesians 5:19 19 speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody with your heart to the Lord; 20 always giving thanks for all things in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ to God, even the Father;

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