The Gospel Observer
"Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations...teaching them
to observe all that I commanded you, and lo, I am with you always,
even to the end of the age" (Matt. 28:19,20).
August 12, 2012
1) Ephesians 4:16-24 (Tom Edwards)
2) News & Notes
by Tom Edwards
In our last bulletin, we closed with the need for the Christian "to
grow up in all aspects into Him who is the head, even Christ" (Eph.
4:15). Paul then goes on to say in the next verse, "from whom
the whole body, being fitted and held together by what every joint
supplies, according to the proper working of each individual part,
causes the growth of the body for the building up of itself in love"
Though each Christian has a responsibility in doing his or her part
toward the upbuilding of the body of Christ, it is ultimately God
who can be praised for that. For Paul declares that the entire
body "grows with a growth which is from God" (Col. 2:19).
Unfortunately, however, that same verse also shows that some had
been guilty of "not holding fast to the head" and, as a result, had
veered from Christ and fell into things contrary to His word, such
as self-abasement (which has been referred to as a "mock humility"
that pleases self, as in self-imposed sufferings for one's own
gratification; and, therefore, a humility that is artificial instead
of genuine), the worship of angels, personal visions, and being
"inflated without cause by his fleshly mind."
Every saint is a member in the body of Christ; and each one,
therefore, must maintain his or her function in order to benefit the
entire body. For as Paul shows, it requires "the proper
working of each individual part" (Eph. 4:16); and when that is
carried out, the body will grow and increase in love for God and one
In addition, love is also what the Christian becomes "rooted and
grounded in" (Eph. 3:17). And as Paul explains, "...love
edifies" (1 Cor. 8:1) -- so it in itself helps toward the spiritual
development of Christians and the building up of the body of Christ.
In Ephesians 2:21, the church is depicted as a building, fitted
together and growing into a holy temple in the Lord; but can you
think of a better way to express the oneness between Jew and Gentile
-- and brethren in general -- than to describe the church as a body
and each member as a part of that body? For we view our own
body as being one, but yet we realize the importance of each
individual part that makes it up. For example, have you ever
imagined if you had to lose one of the parts of your body, which one
it would be? You probably would not want to lose any part --
even a little toe or a little finger. We realize how important each
part is, and that also well illustrates how important each member of
the body of Christ is -- even though we might have different
talents, abilities, and functions. Paul makes this
very clear in 1 Corinthians 12:12-27. Also, to the Romans,
Paul declares, "For just as we have many members in one body and all
the members do not have the same function, so we, who are many, are
one body in Christ, and individually members one of another" (Rom.
In Ephesians 4:17-19, Paul exhorts the brethren to not resort to
their former ways -- which was a life of sin and futility. He
says: "So this I say, and affirm together with the Lord, that you
walk no longer just as the Gentiles also walk, in the futility of
their mind, being darkened in their understanding, excluded from the
life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, because of the
hardness of their heart; and they, having become callous, have given
themselves over to sensuality for the practice of every kind of
impurity with greediness."
Paul speaks of these Gentiles as having lived in vanity or
futility. Why was that? Because their understanding was
"darkened," which resulted in their exclusion from God.
Doesn't that pretty much sum up the vanity Solomon speaks of in
Ecclesiastes? A main message of that wisdom book is that life
without God is vain or incomplete -- so let's reverse that by
fearing God and keeping His commandments. For that is "the
conclusion, when all has been heard" -- "the whole duty of man"
Paul also points out to the Ephesians that the Gentiles' exclusion
from the Lord was because of their ignorance, which had also been
the case with many of God's people during the Old Testament times,
as Hosea 4:6 shows: "My people are destroyed for lack of
But as we read on in that passage, we see what their problem was
that led to that. It says that they had "rejected knowledge" and had
"forgotten" God's laws. So they didn't have to be ignorant,
but they brought it upon themselves.
Similarly, the Gentiles who were excluded from God (because of their
ignorance) is explained as also having been "because of the hardness
of their hearts" (Eph. 4:18). And as Paul shows in verse 19,
it was because of that callousness that they then gave themselves
over to "sensuality for the practice of every kind of impurity with
greediness." So, again, we are made aware of a people who had
no one to blame but themselves for their spiritual depravity.
Corresponding to that, note what Paul says about the Gentiles in
Romans 1:21-32: "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 foolish heart was darkened. Professing
to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the
incorruptible God for an image in the form of corruptible man and of
birds and four-footed animals and crawling creatures.
Therefore God gave them over in the lusts of their hearts to
impurity, so that their bodies would be dishonored among them. 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. For this reason God gave them over to degrading
passions; for their women exchanged the natural function for that
which is unnatural, and in the same way also the men abandoned the
natural function of the woman and burned in their desire toward one
another, men with men committing indecent acts and receiving in
their own persons the due penalty of their error. And just as
they did not see fit to acknowledge God any longer, God gave them
over to a depraved mind, to do those things which are not proper,
being filled with all unrighteousness, wickedness, greed, evil; full
of envy, murder, strife, deceit, malice; they are gossips,
slanderers, haters of God, insolent, arrogant, boastful, inventors
of evil, disobedient to parents, without understanding,
untrustworthy, unloving, unmerciful; and although they know the
ordinance of God, that those who practice such things are worthy of
death, they not only do the same, but also give hearty approval to
those who practice them."
Paul then goes on to show in Ephesians 4:20-22 that the way of
Christ involves ceasing from one's former life of sin: "But you did
not learn Christ in this way, if indeed you have heard Him and have
been taught in Him, just as truth is in Jesus, 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...."
The implication in the phrase "learn Christ" involves not merely
learning about Jesus as a person, but also that which He taught and
putting those things into practice. Compare this to what John
declares in 1 John 2:3-6: "By this we know that we have come to know
Him, if we keep His commandments. The one who says, 'I have
come to know Him,' and does not keep His commandments, is a liar,
and the truth is not in him; but whoever keeps His word, in him the
love of God has truly been perfected. By this we know that we are in
Him: the one who says he abides in Him ought himself to walk in the
same manner as He walked."
The Christian is to "lay aside the old self" (Eph. 4:22). The
KJV refers to the "old self" as the "old man"; and laying aside the
old self begins at baptism, according to Romans 6:6: "knowing this,
that our old self was crucified with Him, in order that our body of
sin might be done away with, so that we would no longer be slaves to
sin...." For that verse also ties in with verses 3,4, which
shows that "...all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus
have been baptized into His death...so that as Christ was raised
from the dead...we too might walk in newness of life."
Since that "old self," therefore, has been crucified for the
Christian with Christ, we don't want to resurrect it again by
yielding to temptation. Paul also speaks of this in Colossians
3:9: "Do not lie to one another, since you laid aside the old self
with its evil practices...."
In the phrase, "That ye put off concerning the former conversation
the old man..." (Eph. 4:22, KJV), "former conversation" means more
than merely a verbal communication. Rather, it denotes one's "former
behavior" or "former manner of life," as the NASB renders it. The
Greek word for it is "anastrophe"; and, in the thirteen times it is
used in the New Testament, it never refers to only verbal
communication; but, instead, one's entire conduct. The NASB
translates it throughout the New Testament as "behavior" (6 times),
"conduct" (4), "manner of life" (2), and "way of life" (1).
It appears that some of the Ephesians were slipping back to their
old, sinful ways, so this admonition was needful for them.
Some years later, according to Revelation 2:1-4, it was the church
in Ephesus who had been guilty of having left their first
love. They are, therefore, exhorted in verse 5 to remember
from where they had fallen, repent, and do the deeds they had done
One of the things which Paul shows had characterized the former life
of the Ephesians was the "lusts of deceit" (Eph. 4:22) -- or, as the
KJV renders it, "deceitful lusts." Commenting on this, David
Lipscomb writes, "The lusts are deceitful because they promise
happiness if gratified, when they always bring misery." We can
also add that even if deceitful lusts do not bring misery right
away, they eventually will -- and for all eternity, if not repented
of. As Romans 6:23 states, "For the wages of sin is death...."
And that is a spiritual death that leads to an eternal separation
from the love, mercy, and blessings of God -- and to that far,
opposite realm of hell itself, which will be the greatest misery of
So we must be aware (by looking to the Scriptures) of all that God
views as being sin, of its dangers, and of its penalty. For
sin can be deceptive and make the heart callous toward spiritual
things. This is why the Hebrew writer gives the following
warning in Hebrews 3:12-14: "Take care, brethren, that there not be
in any one of you an evil, unbelieving heart that falls away from
the living God. But encourage one another day after day, as
long as it is still called 'Today,' so that none of you will be
hardened by the deceitfulness of sin. For we have become
partakers of Christ, if we hold fast the beginning of our assurance
firm until the end...."
In the Bible, we often find the positives and the negatives -- the
do's and the don'ts. For instance, Paul not only shows what we
need to put off, but also what we need to put on in the next
passage: "and that you be renewed in the spirit of your mind, and
put on the new self, which in the likeness of God has been created
in righteousness and holiness of the truth" (Eph. 4:23,24).
Notice what renewing our mind will also do for us, according to
Romans 12:2: "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."
So, first of all, renewing our minds will transform us from
worldliness to spirituality; and, secondly, renewing our minds will
fill us with the knowledge of God's word (from which our
In Ephesians 4:24, Paul shows that the "new self," which we are to
put on and maintain, is in the "likeness of God." This also
parallels with Colossians 3:10: "and have put on the new self who is
being renewed to a true knowledge according to the image of the One
who created him...." So, the more we develop the new
self, the more we become Christ-like; for He is the one we are to
pattern our lives after, as Peter also indicates: "For you have been
called for this purpose, since Christ also suffered for you, leaving
you an example for you to follow in His steps" (1 Pet. 2:21).
And corresponding to this, John instructs that "the one who says he
abides in Him ought himself to walk in the same manner as He walked"
(1 Jn. 2:6). So we look to Jesus as our greatest of all
Of course, we can also strive to emulate others who are serving the
Lord in their lives. For instance, the apostle Paul certainly set
forth a good example in this; and, as a result, was able to say, "Be
imitators of me, just as I also am of Christ" (1 Cor. 11:1).
The "new self" begins at our baptism, and this can be seen by
coupling 2 Corinthians 5:17 with Galatians 3:27. For the
former verse says, "Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new
creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have
come." And in the latter, Paul shows one of the necessary
steps toward getting into Christ: "For all of you who were BAPTIZED
INTO CHRIST have clothed yourselves with Christ."
This connection between baptism and the new life is also seen in
Romans 6:4: "Therefore we have been buried with Him through baptism
into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead through the
glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life."
And that "newness of life" is a life that is to be maintained, as we
can conclude from 2 Corinthians 5:15: "and He died for all, so that
they who live might no longer live for themselves, but for Him who
died and rose again on their behalf." Living for Jesus is a
As we see this relation between baptism and the new life, doesn't it
also remind us of what Jesus teaches in John 3:3-5? The
passage states: "Jesus answered and said to him, 'Truly, truly, I
say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of
God.' Nicodemus said to Him, 'How can a man be born when he is
old? He cannot enter a second time into his mother's womb and be
born, can he?' Jesus answered, 'Truly, truly, I say to you,
unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter into the
kingdom of God.'" To be "born again" is to be "born anew," as
it is also translated in the American Standard Version and various
other translations. So here, again, we see the connection
between water and the new birth, and that water is pertaining to the
need for baptism (immersion), as the New Testament makes clear in
many other passages.
So let us do as God instructs to lay aside that "old man" of sin and
become that "new man" through our obedience to the Lord's gospel
plan of salvation; and then ever strive to maintain that new self to
become more and more conformed to the nature of Christ. For
that will not only help us throughout this life, but also for the
eternal life to come, which we who are Christians now have the great
hope of and the motivation which that hope provides.
News & Notes
We extend our sympathies to the family and friends of Clyde
Jackson, who passed away August 15. There will be a
graveside service at the cemetery in back of the Seale Funeral Home
in Denham Springs at 9:00 AM this Friday (8/17). Let those of
us who are Christians be praying for all his family and
Let us also be remembering Linda Lefort (Harris Lefort's
sister-in-law) in our prayers. Her throat cancer has become
worse by spreading to other locations.
Bill Barfield can also use our prayers. He is Virginia
Fontenot's brother who was admitted to ICU last March and has been
in a step-down unit ever since.
Let us also continue to remember Cheryl Crews, Jean
Calloway, and Shirley Young in prayer, due
to their health problems.
The Steps That Lead to Eternal Salvation
1) Hear the gospel,
for that is how faith comes (Rom. 10:17; John 20:30,31).
2) Believe in the
deity of Christ (John 8:24; John 3:18).
3) Repent of sins
(Luke 13:5; Acts 17:30).
4) Confess faith in
Christ (Rom. 10:9,10; Acts 8:36-38).
5) Be baptized in water
for the remission of sins (Mark 16:16; Acts 2:38; 22:16; Rom. 6:3,4;
Gal. 3:26,27; 1 Pet. 3:21).
6) Continue in the faith;
for, if not, salvation can be lost (Heb. 10:36-39; Rev. 2:10; 2 Pet.
CHURCH OF CHRIST
9923 Sunny Cline Dr., Baton Rouge, LA 70817
Sunday services: 9:00 AM (Bible class); 10 AM & 6 PM (worship)
Tuesday: 7 PM (Bible class)
evangelist/editor: Tom Edwards (225) 667-4520
http://ThomasTEdwards.com/go (Gospel Observer website)
http://ThomasTEdwards.com/audioser.html (audio sermons)