Saturday, December 3, 2022

An Uphill Battle

Bobservations' Column
Pastor Bob Lawrenz

The Greek Culture had a great impact upon all the nations swept up into its Empire, and Rome did the same, overthrowing Corinth and Athens about 146 BCE (BC). The residual effects of Greek and Roman idolatry stayed in place in Asia. The City of Ephesus was steeped in Greco-Roman Culture, including their false gods. The level of involvement of Ephesus is revealed in Acts 19:27 & 28, with the excited declaration of Demetrius, the silversmith, “Great is Diana of the Ephesians!” If Paul’s ministry was successful, the silversmiths would soon be looking for new careers, for the Gospel is a threat to idolatry. The worship of false gods and idols is addressed in Romans 1, and its impact on a culture is found in verses 18-32 of that chapter.

The worship of false gods will always lead to the same thing. We can recognize it here in our own country, ever since the raucous decade of the 1960’s (School prayer was outlawed by the U.S. Supreme Court [Engel v. Vitale, 1962], and three decades or more of “free love” followed.)

Diana (Artemis) shared her attributes with other fertility goddesses of the ancient civilizations, Ashtaroth/Ashtoreth, Astarte (Canaanites), Aphrodite (Roman & Greek), Venus (Rome), Hathor (Egypt), each culture had their own. In their worship of Ashtoreth among Israelites, they brought shrines to her into Jewish homes (Joshua 9:10). The worship of her was just one of the issues that King Solomon found to be an empty vanity (1 Kings 11:5,33). Satan makes no exceptions for class distinctions. He attacks any and all alike.

If Jehovah God is not worshipped among a people, they will create a god to worship for themselves, and sexual immorality will follow, and its citizens will fight for acceptance tooth and nail; exactly as we are witnessing here in all of western civilization. If the Son of the Father is not worshipped in a home, there will be pagan ideals that are accepted there.

Paul uses this last part of the fourth chapter of Ephesians as Instruction in Righteousness, and it serves as a high standard against which we can measure our relationships, and examine our own hearts.
1 Corinthians 5:7 - “Purge out therefore the old leaven, that you may be a new lump, as ye are unleavened. For even Christ our Passover is sacrificed for us.”

Today's Audio Message:
Ephesians 4:30-31 - "An Uphill Battle"


Today as we look closer at Ephesians 4:31-32, Paul is exhorting the Ephesian believers not to sin, but to manifest the godly behaviors—namely, showing kindness, being tenderhearted, and exhibiting forgiveness. The main danger in not “putting on the new man” (Ephesians 4:24) is that as we sin against and stray from God, we “grieve the Holy Spirit of God” (Ephesians 4:30), whose role it is to comfort and to guide believers in Christlikeness.

We grieve the Spirit by living like the pagans (Ephesians 4:17-19), by lying (Ephesians 4:25), by being angry (Ephesians 4:26-27), by stealing (Ephesians 4:28), by cursing (Ephesians 4:29), by being bitter (Ephesians 4:31), by being unforgiving (Ephesians4:32), and by being sexually immoral (Ephesians 5:3-5). To grieve the Spirit is to act out in a sinful manner, whether it is in thought only or in both thought and deed. How can we grow in godliness when we are living like the rest of the world? In order for us to draw closer to God and away from sin, we must be born of the Spirit. It is the Holy Spirit who produces new nature in us. God promised that He would give his people a new heart, a new nature, clean lives and a full measure of the spirit on the last day.

Jesus taught His disciples, and by extension, all believers, how the Holy Spirit will work after Christ’s ascension into heaven. In John's Gospel, Jesus promised that when He departed, He would send another Comforter, who is the Holy Spirit, the third person of the Holy Trinity. Our Lord expounds on the Work and Person of the Holy Spirit.

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