Through the Bible with Les Feldick
LESSON 1 * PART 3 * BOOK 38
Now we’ll jump right back to where we left off in Ephesians chapter 4, and we’ll begin with verse 17. I’d like to mention the fact that we have two couples from Indiana with us today, we have the Roebkes and the Simpsons, and they didn’t know each other before they got to Tulsa. So hopefully they’ve made some new friends for down the road. We’ve also had folk in from other states over the years, and always feel free to join us when you can. Now back to our study.
“This I say therefore, (and remember when Paul says therefore, he’s referring back to what he’s just covered.) and testify in the Lord, that ye henceforth…”
Once we’ve come into the Body of Christ, we’re different, we’re totally different. Now, not that we’re to be odd balls. Oh it just gripes me when some Christians are just odd balls, that’s not what God wants. God doesn’t want somebody that the world would say, “If that’s being a Christian, then I’m glad I’m not one.” The world should be able to look at us, and say, “I wish I had what they’ve got. I wish I had their joy and happiness, and their outlook on life.” Always remember, when you come into certain positions, the world out there expects somebody to be worthy of that position, that’s just a given. Well it’s the same way here, when we come into our position as a member of the Body of Christ, it becomes a given that we’re to be different. And look what Paul says.
“…walk not as other Gentiles walk, in the vanity of their mind.” Now that word walk is a unique Pauline term. We saw that in chapter 2, and Paul is always referring to walk, and here it’s almost the same kind of description, but in a different setting.
“Wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world,…”
Now what does Paul mean by that? Their everyday life’s experience before believing the Gospel, and the course they walked. Now coming back to chapter 4, and verse 17 our walk now is as a member of the Body of Christ. Paul tells us not to walk as those pagan Gentiles do. Now when I’m studying Scripture I try to remember the circumstances in which Paul lived and wrote. I guess it was never so graphically brought home to us as it was a couple of years ago when Iris and I visited Pompeii, some of you have probably been there. When you saw the proof of that corrupt city, the ungodliness and the wickedness that was evident even in the ruins.
So what must it have been like in it’s hay day? But that was the kind of a city into which Paul walked. He didn’t have the convenience of evangelists today. Most of them have help with all kind of publicity, they have the counselors ready, prayer warriors in place, but all Paul had was the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Paul would come in pretty much alone into these pagan cities. Sometimes he’d have a companion such as Luke or Timothy, but he had the Gospel, and he proclaimed it.. He would bring these people out of that abject, pagan, immoral, lifestyle.
You know I feel so sorry for our young parents trying to raise kids in this culture of today, where they’re bombarded with these same kind of things as an incitement. And it was terrible in Paul’s day. Look what he says.
“This I say therefore, and testify in the lord, that ye henceforth walk not as other Gentiles walk, in the vanity of their mind.” In other words, they had no comprehension of what God expects. They just lived according to the appetites of the flesh. Now verse 18, and in this verse is the other Gentiles that Paul is referring to.
“Having the understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God through the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart.”
Now immediately two verses just pop into my mind. The thought here is having their understanding darkened. So let’s go back to John’s gospel chapter 3
“And this is the condemnation, that light (reference to Jesus of Nazareth) is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, (why?) because their deeds were evil.”
They lived in the gutter. Oh they may have lived sumptuously, and there again Pompeii shows that. Some of the ruins of those beautiful homes, they must have been mansions, and yet as you went down the street there was evidence of the immorality, and corruption everywhere you went. So when we look at what’s going on in America, and the Western world today, don’t think for a moment that this is the first time anything like this has happened. It’s always been this way, we’re just doing it in a grander scale I guess now. I remember telling my Sunday school class way back in the 1960’s when the favorite cliche at that time was, “the new morality.” Do you remember that? It was the so called sexual licenses, and I use to tell my kids, “Hey wake up, there nothing new about that, it’s the same old immorality that has plagued the human race from day one.” Now it’s the same way here in this verse.
“…and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. (look at the next verse) 20. For every one that doeth evil hateth the light neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved.”
Now where did his lifestyle of evil deeds come from? Adam! All those evil deeds came from the fall of mankind, and evil has been with generation after generation since then. Now before we go to II Corinthians for a moment, first let’s come back to Ephesians chapter 4, and look at verse 18 again. I hope I’m not preaching to you, but rather teaching you.
“Having their understanding darkened (they loved walking in the dark, because their deeds were evil. But now what’s the next word in that verse?) alienated from the life of God through the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart:”
Now for this we must go to II Corinthians chapter 4. Where do they get such stringent blindness that they can’t even see through it and recognize the light? Where does it come from? Well of course it originated from Adam, but who picked up the dominion of everything when Adam dropped it. Satan did. Now if you don’t think some of our Churches are in trouble, one of my class people told me a while back that one of their pastors was holding a Bible study, and that individual said, “he didn’t believe in Satan.” Well no wonder we’re in trouble. If you can put Satan out of the picture, then he’s home free isn’t he? If you’re not going to recognize him, he has free reign. But oh the Scripture does recognize him.
II Corinthians 4:3-4
“But if our gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost: (if they’re lost they’re in darkness. If they’re in darkness, they’re blind, and it’s just a vicious circle) 4. In whom (these that are lost) the god of this world (Satan) hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them.”
Do you see how one feeds on the other. If you can keep people blind, they can’t see the light. If you can keep them from seeing the light, they’re going to stay blind, and the end will never meet, until the Lord moves in of course, and breaks this chain of blindness that is a blinder on the minds and hearts of lost people.
Now I’m going to read the next verse also. I’ve never had it happen, but I’ve been waiting for the time that some one will say, “Well Les, you make too much of the apostle Paul.”
II Corinthians 4:5
“For we preach not ourselves, but Christ Jesus the Lord; and ourselves your servants for Jesus’ sake.”
So always remember that when I’m constantly emphasizing Paul’s apostleship it is only because Paul gives us the true view of the finished work of the cross, you don’t get it anywhere else. This is why I spend as much time as I do in the Pauline epistles. Now this coming Saturday, I’m going to have a whole day seminar in Minnesota, and I’m sure they would like for me to spend the whole day in the Book Revelations, and prophecy. And I like to teach prophecy, but listen, by the time prophecy is being fulfilled, hopefully we’re out of here if you’re a believer. So why should I spend all that time in something that I’m not even going to be here to witness.
I’m going to teach in Paul’s epistles, because this is where we needed it in the here and now. This is what we have to know today, this is what we have to know to tell people how to get ready so they won’t be here for the Book of Revelation. I tell you what, I sure don’t won’t to be here for that. I know the world scoffs at the Book of Revelation, because they can’t imagine that these things are going to happen, but they are. I’ve been teaching the Book of Exodus in one of my classes in Oklahoma, and all the plagues that happened there. People don’t scoff at that because there’s enough valid proof that those plagues happened, but I say, if you can believe the plagues in Egypt, you’d better believe the plagues in Revelation, because one is tied to the other.
We’re just going to keep teaching what Paul teaches because he is going to be constantly pointing us to the crucified, risen, and ascended Lord. Now back to Ephesians chapter 4, verse 19, and Paul is speaking of these people who are in darkness. He’s speaking of these people who the god of this world is keeping blind.
“Who being past feeling have given themselves over unto lasciviousness, to
work all uncleanness with greediness.”
Now I just read in a magazine recently where a young man out in Seattle just became a multi-millionaire overnight nearly, by putting a pornography page up on the internet. He’s just reaping in the money. Alright, what about a young man like that, does God love him? Absolutely! Is the Gospel available to him? Absolutely! But do you think it’s very likely that he’ll ever see it? No. I mean, he is so blinded no doubt, by the chains of Satan, and all he’s got on his mind is more, more, more money, and the things that greed precipitates, because it’s greed that drives this stuff.
All right so in verse 19 they have gone beyond the feeling that would respond to the Gospel, because they are saturated with this immoral lifestyle, these immoral thoughts, and what have you, and all they can think about is working that which is unclean for the sake of satisfying their greed. I had a gentlemen in our Tulsa class tell me several years ago, it was his opinion that the human race is motivated almost entirely by one word. “Greed!” And you know he was completely correct. Now I love the capitalistic system, I love this freedom and all that, but you take greed out of it, and how long would it last? Oh it would die overnight, because it’s that constant push for more and more that keeps it going.
But that’s not what I’m talking about. I’m talking about those who are so saturated with the things of the this world especially the lower element as we’re seeing it take over our whole society tonight, and greed is the motivating power. Now verse 20.
“But ye have not so learned Christ;”
Speaking back to us as members of the Body. That’s not what we’ve learned Christ. We’re not in the Body of Christ to promote our greed. We’re not a Christian so we can have health and wealth, and my Bible doesn’t teach that. My goodness, you look back over the years of Christian history, How many millions suffered and died for their faith. They didn’t have health and wealth. Even today all around the world Christians are under tremendous persecution, we don’t hear much about it. There’s an organization up in Bartlesville, Oklahoma that puts out a monthly magazine, and they report on the persecution of Christians. It’s unreal the amount of persecution that’s going on against Christians right now as we speak today. There are places in almost every continent where they’re dying daily for their faith. These Christians are not in it for greed, but rather they’re in it because they love the Word of Truth!
“If so be that ye have heard him, and have been taught by him, as the truth is in Jesus:” (Now everybody knows that verse in John)
“Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life:…”
Of course He is, and again I come back to my use of the synonyms. Truth, Gospel, and Christ, all mean basically the same thing. If you know Christ you know the Gospel. If you know the Gospel you know Truth, and they just all fit together. So what Paul is saying here in verse 21 is, if you know the Gospel, if you’re a member of this Body of Christ, then you have Truth, and we have Truth that the world knows nothing of. Now in verse 22, Paul comes into a review of what he taught more explicitly in the Book of Romans.
“That ye put off concerning the former conversation (manner of living) the old man,…”
Now the old man in Paul’s language is old Adam. The old Adam who is responsible for sin, it’s the old Adam who makes us sinners, and since the old Adam is functioning in a person, he’s constantly trying to satisfy that desire of the flesh in one way or another. But the believer is instructed to put that lifestyle out of your everyday thinking, and actions.
“…which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts;”
Now corrupt isn’t a pretty word is it? And I want you to know it’s not a pretty word. If any of you have ever done any gardening, especially if you put out a patch of potatoes. When you dig up those new potatoes after the growing season, and you’re going through that nice fresh turned dirt, and picking up those new potatoes, invariably you’re going to stick your finger into something that will just about turn your stomach inside out. And what is it? That old seed potato that is now rotten, that old potato which is now corrupt. Now that’s what I think of when I see the word “corrupt.” It’s something that is repulsive, something that just turns your stomach, and something that you just want to push out of your mind. Now listen, I think in the eyes of God that I can safely say, this is what our old Adamic nature boils down to. It is corrupt in His eyes, and is something that just turns Him off.
Now God loves us, don’t get me wrong, but the old Adam is corrupt, and vile. The word shows us how bad it was back before the flood in Genesis. In fact let’s go back there and look at it for a moment in chapter 6. This chapter is introducing the flood, and what brought it on, and see, God is still looking on that kind of a world. My word, when I consider, and read some of these articles of the filth, and the corruption that’s permeating the whole world tonight, I have to wonder, how long can God put up with it. Well it was the same way back here in Genesis, and there came a day when He didn’t put up with it any longer, nor is He going to again.
“And GOD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. (does that ring a bell? Hey we’re there!) 6. And it repented (or made the Lord sorry) that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him at his heart. 7. And the LORD said, I will destroy man whom I have created from the face of the earth, both man, and beast, and the creeping thing, and the fowls of the air; for it repenteth me that I have made them.” Now you come on down to verse 11, and we’ll pick up with the word “corrupt.”
“The earth also was corrupt before God, and the earth was filled with violence. 12. And God looked upon the earth, and, behold, it was corrupt; for all flesh has corrupted his way upon the earth.”
There you have the word corrupt three times in 2 verses, and you know by now when God repeats something 2 or 3 times in a short period, what’s He doing? Emphasizing. It’s emphasis that the world leading up to the flood was rotten to the core. But I believe their technology at that time was also exploding. Why do you think Lot chose Sodom, rather than the highlands of Israel? Oh because it was thriving, it had an economy, it probably had a stock market above 11,000. They had an abundance of food, and an abundance of idleness, which gives you the whole picture now of our own society. This is where we are, and what did the Lord Himself attach to it? “As it was in the days of Noah, as it was in the days of Sodom, so shall it be at the coming of the Son of Man.” Hey, we’re close to that time again. I don’t put dates on it, but the more you see our slide down morality, and our technology, we’re getting so close it almost scares me. And in our closing seconds let’s look at verse 13.
“And God said unto Noah, The end of all flesh is come before me; for the earth is filled with violence…” And when you have corruption, you have violence!