EBible Fellowship Sunday Bible Study – 17-Feb-2008


by Robert Daniels


I want to spend a little bit of time in Ephesians 5.  Let us turn to Ephesians 5:1-8 where we read:

Be ye therefore followers of God, as dear children; And walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us, and hath given himself for us an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweetsmelling savour. But fornication, and all uncleanness, or covetousness, let it not be once named among you, as becometh saints; Neither filthiness, nor foolish talking, nor jesting, which are not convenient: but rather giving of thanks. For this ye know, that no whoremonger, nor unclean person, nor covetous man, who is an idolater, hath any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God. Let no man deceive you with vain words: for because of these things cometh the wrath of God upon the children of disobedience. Be not ye therefore partakers with them. For ye were sometimes darkness, but now are ye light in the Lord: walk as children of light:

These are God’s commandments to us; this is God speaking to each and every one of us. 

Again, God says in Ephesians 5:1:

Be ye therefore followers of God, as dear children;

It is God’s commandment to us that we should be “followers of God,” and this is a very, very important command.  God tells us that we are to follow Him, and we know that, of ourselves, we cannot obey this commandment; none of His commandments can we obey.  He gives us a whole lot of commandments in the Bible, but how can we obey them?  We are sinners.  We have rebelled against God and God demands perfection.  We have to walk before Him perfectly and not one of us can do this, not one of us. 

There are many people who are not saved and they are trying desperately to follow Christ; they cannot do it.  They are trying desperately to do it God’s way; but if they are not born again, if God has not given them a new heart, they cannot do it. 

If we read on in Ephesians 5, God gives a commandment to the husbands and the wives: “Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church.”  Can we of ourselves do this?  No, we need God’s help; we cannot love our wives in this way unless God is working in us.

Let us look at 1 Corinthians 11.  Here we are going to see Paul the Apostle, as God the Holy Spirit moves in him to write.  Paul, at times, is a picture of Christ.  Paul the Apostle, in many instances in the Bible, is a picture of Christ.  In 1 Corinthians 11:1-3, Paul writes under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit:

Be ye followers of me…

So Paul is pointing to himself, that we ought to be followers of him.  It says:

…even as I also am of Christ.

So in this instance, we see that Paul the Apostle is a picture of Christ. 

It continues:

Now I praise you, brethren, that ye remember me in all things, and keep the ordinances, as I delivered them to you. But I would have you know, that the head of every man is Christ; and the head of the woman is the man; and the head of Christ is God.

So we see from verse 1 that Paul is a picture of Christ Himself and he wrote:

Be ye followers of me…

He also is following Christ, but I believe in this instance that he is being a picture of Christ Himself. 

Turn over to 1 Corinthians 4 and we will pick up the context in verse 12.  1 Corinthians 4:12-16 says:

And labour, working with our own hands: being reviled, we bless; being persecuted, we suffer it: Being defamed, we intreat: we are made as the filth of the world, and are the offscouring of all things unto this day. I write not these things to shame you, but as my beloved sons I warn you. For though ye have ten thousand instructors in Christ, yet have ye not many fathers: for in Christ Jesus I have begotten you through the gospel. Wherefore I beseech you, be ye followers of me.

Paul is a great picture of Christ and of a true believer, as he also is following Christ.  Paul set the example to be followers of Christ, and we know that Paul the Apostle is a saved man. 

I also want to look at an example that God gives us in the Bible of Israel.  Remember, we cannot be truly and faithfully following Christ by ourselves.  We cannot do it of ourselves; we have to be born again.  So let us look at an example that God gives us of Israel. 

Israel was trying desperately to do it God’s way.  If you remember when God would speak to Moses, Israel would respond by saying, “All that the LORD hath spoken we will do.”  However, we know that they could not do it.  They could not do it.  Why?  They could not obey because they were not saved. 

They are like anyone today who is desperately trying to follow Christ but is not born again.  It is going to be an uphill battle because he is relying on his own strength.  It is as if he is saying, “I am going to do it even if it kills me.”  However, we cannot obey God unless God helps us. 

Being a true follower of Christ is not easy.  There are going to be trials and there are going to be tribulations and there is going to be testing.  If you are not saved, you are going to get discouraged.  You are going to throw in the towel and you are going to go right back into the world. 

Remember the man sowing the seed?  When you read through that parable, some people heard the Word and it fell on “stony places,” and so forth.  There was only one that represented true salvation, which was the seed that fell on “good ground.”  In one of them, the Word fell “among the thorns” and “the care of this world” caused these people to go right back into sin because they were never born again.  Maybe they tried for a while; but eventually, they fell away because they were never truly saved. 

God tells us in 1 Corinthians 10 about Israel.  In 1 Corinthians 10:11, we read:

Now all these things happened…

This is speaking about Israel.

…unto them for ensamples…

So when we read about Israel in the Old Testament, we should not look down our long noses and say, “Aha, look at them.”  No, we should look at ourselves and remember that these things are written for examples:

…and they are written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the world are come. 

Those who look at Israel should be very careful when pointing a finger.  Instead, they should ask themselves, “What about me?  Am I being obedient to God?  Am I walking very humbly before God?  Am I not looking at anyone else but myself?”  

Let us look at Deuteronomy 5.  In Deuteronomy 5, God is pointing at Israel’s problem and why they could not be obedient to God’s commandments.  He is pointing at us also; He is pointing His finger at us.  In Deuteronomy 5:28, God is going to point a finger at those who are trying to follow God but who are not saved.  God says that not being saved is their problem.  We read in Deuteronomy 5:28-29: 

And the LORD heard the voice of your words, when ye spake unto me; and the LORD said unto me, I have heard the voice of the words of this people, which they have spoken unto thee: they have well said all that they have spoken. O that there were such an heart…

Israel admitted, “We are going to do what you say, Lord,” and here God is now looking at their heart.  He says:

O that there were such an heart in them, that they would fear me, and keep all my commandments always, that it might be well with them, and with their children for ever!

Do you see what the problem was?  The problem was in the heart.  Their hearts were not right; God did not give them a new heart.  Some who are trying desperately to do it God’s way do not succeed because God has not given them a new heart. 

So you see, God is pointing the finger on what Israel’s problem was; it was the heart.  Every time God would test them, they would murmur, they would complain, they would want to go back into Egypt.  Why?  Because their hearts had never left Egypt; Israel’s heart never left Egypt!  They would complain.  God would test them.  God would give them what they asked for, and then they would get another trial.  God would give them another trial and they would practically want to stone Moses because their heart was not right. 

Look at the book of Acts; God also tells us there where Israel’s heart was.  In Acts 7, we read of Stephen who was under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit and preaching a beautiful sermon to the people.  Soon he was stoned to death by the people.  We are going to pick up the context in verse 37.  It says in Acts 7:37-39: 

This is that Moses, which said unto the children of Israel, A prophet shall the Lord your God raise up unto you of your brethren, like unto me; him shall ye hear.

This verse is speaking about Christ.

This is he, that was in the church in the wilderness with the angel which spake to him in the mount Sina, and with our fathers: who received the lively oracles to give unto us: To whom our fathers would not obey, but thrust him from them, and in their hearts turned back again into Egypt,

Do you see where their hearts were?  Within their hearts, Israel would turn back into Egypt because that is where their heart remained. 

Then we read in Acts 7:40-41:

Saying unto Aaron, Make us gods to go before us: for as for this Moses, which brought us out of the land of Egypt, we wot not what is become of him. And they made a calf in those days, and offered sacrifice unto the idol, and rejoiced in the works of their own hands.

Then God goes on.  But do you see what their problem was?  Their hearts had never left Egypt.  They always wanted to go back there.  God will again test them in the wilderness and they will stumble again.  They will constantly fall and rebel because their hearts are not right with God. 

If any one of us today claims to be a child of God whose heart is not right with God, we will fall; we will just keep on stumbling.  There are those who also “stumble at the word.” 

Today we are living in the time when the church age is over and we are in a big test.  If you claim to be a child of God, what are you going to do?  Many, many people today are failing this test because they have gone back into the churches.  They have gone back into Egypt, back under the bondage of Satan.  We have to look at our own hearts.  Do we really believe that the church age is over and that we are at the end of the world?  It is a test.  Whom are you going to obey? 

In order for us to follow Christ in a God-glorifying way, God has to put within us a new heart.  Even when we are given this new heart it is not easy because God has left us in a body that is not saved.  Our bodies are a big test.  Whom are you going to obey?  We cannot get rid of our bodies; we cannot.  We have to live in our bodies until the Lord either returns on the last day or we die and go home to be with Christ.  But our bodies are testing us and they are testing us every day.  Whom are we going to obey? 

We know from Ezekiel 36 that God will put within us a new heart.  We need this new heart to follow Christ, but this new heart has to come from God Himself.  Let us read this familiar passage in Ezekiel 36:25-27:

Then will I sprinkle clean water upon you, and ye shall be clean: from all your filthiness, and from all your idols, will I cleanse you. A new heart also will I give you… 

God has to perform the mighty miracle of salvation in us.  He has to give us that new heart; no one else can do that.  It is then that we become a new creation. 

Then God says:

A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh. And I will put my spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes… 

He causes us to walk in His statutes.  It is then that we are following Him and being obedient to Him. 

Remember that Ephesians 5:1 said: 

Be ye therefore followers of God… 

And we are to be “followers of God”: 

…as dear children;

So Ezekiel 36 says that God is the One who will put a new spirit within us and who will cause us to walk in His statutes, in His commandments, to be obedient to Him.  Then it continues in Ezekiel 36:27-28: 

…and ye shall keep my judgments, and do them. And ye shall dwell in the land that I gave to your fathers; and ye shall be my people, and I will be your God. 

We can see that this is something that God does and He does it all. 

Now look at John 10.  Let us pick up the context in verse 27.  Here God is speaking about the true believers.  He says in John 10:27-30: 

My sheep hear my voice… 

These are God’s elect, His people.

My sheep hear my voice, and I know them… 

God knows all of His elect.  He knows every single one of them.  He says here:

My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me: And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand. My Father, which gave them me, is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father’s hand. I and my Father are one.

It is all God’s doing.  For us to follow God in a glorifying way, we must be born again or else it is going to be an uphill battle that we cannot win.  We cannot follow God and be obedient to God as He commands us unless we are born again.  That is just how it is; we have to be born again to be a true follower of Christ.  A whole bunch of people claim that they are following Christ, but they are not saved.  Again, we cannot follow God until God makes us born again and works in us. 

I have a few more verses about Israel that we could apply to our own situation.  In Hebrews 4:1-2, we read:

Let us therefore fear, lest, a promise being left us of entering into his rest, any of you should seem to come short of it. For unto us was the gospel preached, as well as unto them: but the word preached did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in them that heard it.

They heard the Gospel but they heard it with only their physical ears.  God did not give them a heart to perceive the Gospel.  This is why they kept stumbling and falling and falling and falling again.  It is because they were never born again. 

Let us look at Deuteronomy 29 where God gives us a little more information.  In Deuteronomy 29:1-4, we read:

These are the words of the covenant, which the LORD commanded Moses to make with the children of Israel in the land of Moab, beside the covenant which he made with them in Horeb. And Moses called unto all Israel, and said unto them, Ye have seen all that the LORD did before your eyes… 

They were seeing much, but faith does not come by seeing things.  If there was ever a nation that we thought would believe God, it would be Israel.  They heard the voice of God and they saw all the mighty miracles that God did for them, and yet God tells us they perished in the wilderness “because of unbelief.” 

It continues: 

…before your eyes in the land of Egypt unto Pharaoh, and unto all his servants, and unto all his land; The great temptations which thine eyes have seen, the signs, and those great miracles: 

They saw these things.

Yet the LORD hath not given you an heart to perceive, and eyes to see, and ears to hear, unto this day. 

God did not give them eyes to see or hearts to perceive. 

Any one of us here today whom God has not given eyes to see or a new heart cannot perceive and cannot understand.  Some things you will be able to understand; but the deeper things of the Bible, you cannot because God has not worked in you “to will and to do.” 

When we see someone, we do not know what they are thinking.  Outwardly, they might appear to love the Lord; but we cannot see what goes on inwardly.  We cannot see what goes on in his heart, but God sees.  This person might claim to be a child of God; but if God has not given him a new heart, he is not saved.  He cannot be obedient to God’s commandments in the way that God requires of him.  He cannot; he is still under God’s wrath.  God’s wrath yet abides upon him and he is in deep and terrible trouble with God.  If God never gives him spiritual eyes to see or a heart to perceive and if God does not cause him to walk humbly in His commandments, he will not be saved.  God must do everything for his salvation and God will do that only if it is His will. 

Let us look at Matthew 13:11-13.  It says: 

He answered and said unto them, Because it is given unto you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it is not given.

The mysteries of the kingdom of heaven;” the deeper spiritual things of the Bible are given to God’s elect.  They are going to perceive it; they are going to understand it because God has given them a new heart.

It continues: 

For whosoever hath, to him shall be given, and he shall have more abundance: but whosoever hath not, from him shall be taken away even that he hath. Therefore speak I to them in parables: because they seeing see not; and hearing they hear not, neither do they understand.

You can speak to someone about the church age being over or you can speak to them about grace and that people are saved by grace, but if God has not given them a heart to perceive, they cannot understand; they cannot see.  God is the One who has to open our eyes to truth.  He is the One who has to make us born again and cause us to walk humbly in His commandments. 

Let us go back over to Ephesians 5.  We were looking at Ephesians 5:1.  Let us read verse 1 again; God commands us:

Be ye therefore followers of God, as dear children;

We have seen that the only way that we are going to be followers of God is if God Himself makes us born again.  Many people claim that they are following Christ.  Some people might think that following Christ will make everything go well in life.  However, great troubles begin when someone becomes born again because we are living in a world that is in spiritual darkness. 

In our society today, sin is abounding; no one can deny that.  Look at the local TV news or the local newspaper: murder, murder, murder.  It seems like the world is out of control and sin is multiplying.  Look at the troubles in families, look at marriage relationships dissolving.  Sin is multiplying and multiplying.  It seems like there is no end to sin.  However, we know that God is in control and He is preparing this world for judgment.  Look at twenty or thirty years ago when homosexuality was in the closet and see now how these sinners are out there demanding rights and recognition. 

We know that God is preparing this world for judgment and that we are so very close to the end.  Therefore, each one of us has to examine ourselves and ask, “Am I born again?”  Remember that tomorrow is not guaranteed for any one of us.  God could come for us on any day.  How young you are or how healthy you are has nothing to do with when death comes.  If a man died when he was not born again, all hope is gone for him.  Therefore, it is important to make sure that we are indeed born again. 

During the church age, some people developed a gospel that claimed that once a man was saved, the Lord would give him many physical things.  However, this person would then have been following Christ for all the wrong reasons!  Look at the televangelists; all they want you to do is send them some money and then they claim that God will multiply it back to you a thousand-fold.  Can you see how the church has totally destroyed the Gospel?

Let us now look at Philippians 3 where we will see how there are those who supposedly say that they are following Christ when, actually, they are following their own lust.  We will see how the televangelists and the pastors have designed a gospel to feather their own nest!  We read in Philippians 3:17-19:

Brethren, be followers together of me…

So many times God tells us through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit how we are to live!  God is using Paul the Apostle to write these remarks:

Brethren, be followers together of me, and mark them which walk so as ye have us for an ensample. (For many walk…

These are those who are unsaved and yet claim that they are following Christ:

(For many walk, of whom I have told you often, and now tell you even weeping, that they are the enemies of the cross of Christ:

They are following Christ for their own gain!  Here God explains:

Whose end is destruction, whose God is their belly, and whose glory is in their shame, who mind earthly things.)

The churches have developed a gospel to fit this model; they “mind earthly things.”  Just like Israel, their hearts never left Egypt.  They have developed a gospel that is centered on the things of this life, the things of this earth.  Their “God is their belly,” just like it was for Israel.  However, we cannot look down our long noses at Israel because God is warning us and He is using the same language He used with Israel!  The churches are also following Christ in order to obtain things of this earth; they “mind earthly things.” 

Then we read in Philippians 3:20-21:

For our conversation is in heaven… 

Here Paul is speaking to the true believers: 

…from whence also we look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ: Who shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body, according to the working whereby he is able even to subdue all things unto himself.

This is where our eyes ought to be, not on the things of this life.  They ought to be on Heavenly things, things that are eternal. 

As we know, the church is under judgment because their gospels have been patterned after the things of this life.  How sad this is!  Every one of us ought to examine our own self, “Is the Gospel that I am following centered on the truths of God’s Word?” 

Salvation has nothing to do with what you have or do not have physically.  When you die, you can take none of it with you.  It is all left behind and it is going to be burned up on that last day when it is going to be totally destroyed.  Therefore, what good is it?  This is why God tells us, “Seek ye first the Kingdom of God.”  We have to look at eternal things. 

Let us look at some verses in Romans 7.  Some churches teach about what they refer to as “carnal Christians,” but the Bible does not teach this.  God the Holy Spirit moved the Apostle Paul to write Romans 7 about the true believer who is in a body that is not saved.  True believers are not going to live a perfect life.  In our spirit, we become born again and we are perfect in our spirit; but this body of ours is a bother to us.  Our body is a test to us.  God the Holy Spirit has moved the Apostle Paul to write in Romans 7:22-25:

For I delight in the law of God after the inward man: But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members. O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death? I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord. So then with the mind I myself serve the law of God; but with the flesh the law of sin.

It is a struggle for the true believer as God has given him a great desire to walk humbly before Him.  However, we are in a body that is a problem for us.  Our body is like a sore thumb!  It is a struggle!  But with the help of God who strengthens us, we can win some victories over this body of ours. 

Remember that God tells us to crucify the flesh, to put it to death, and to not feel sorry for ourselves as we live in this body.  You see, sin pops up here and there and God gives us victory over it, but then another sin pops up somewhere else!  It is a spiritual warfare in this body of ours.  True believers want to be with Christ where they will no longer have to be struggle with their bodies.  That is where we desire to be; but for the moment, we have this earthly house to contend with. 

Let us look at Romans 6 where God tells us a little bit more about our bodies.  In Romans 6:14-21, we read:

For sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under the law, but under grace. What then? shall we sin, because we are not under the law, but under grace? God forbid. Know ye not, that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom ye obey; whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness? But God be thanked, that ye were the servants of sin… 

Before we were saved, we were “servants of sin:” 

…but ye have obeyed from the heart… 

This is referring to that new heart that God has given to us. 

It continues: 

…that form of doctrine which was delivered you. Being then made free from sin, ye became the servants of righteousness. I speak after the manner of men because of the infirmity of your flesh: for as ye have yielded your members servants to uncleanness and to iniquity unto iniquity; even so now yield your members servants to righteousness unto holiness. For when ye were the servants of sin, ye were free from righteousness. What fruit had ye then in those things whereof ye are now ashamed? for the end of those things is death.

Before we were saved, we were following the dictates of our flesh, but now we are born again and we are in a different situation.  A true believer has to rule over his body; the body does not rule over the true believer any longer. 

Look at two other verses in Matthew 7.  Remember, we have to follow Him in this body that God has given us for the time being, and this is not easy.  In Matthew 7:13, we read:

Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat:

There is a whole host of people who are going to come to the realization that they were never saved, they were never born again.  They thought that they were following Christ, but they were not. 

Then God goes on to tell us in Matthew 7:14:

Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way… 

That narrow gate is painfully hard as we follow Christ.  Christ is the way:

…narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.

It is a very difficult journey as we follow Christ.  Look through the history of the church and see how many people were stoned to death, burned at the stake, and died other horrible deaths because they were following Christ.  The broad way “leadeth to destruction,” the Bible tells us.  The narrow way, the very difficult way, “leadeth unto life,” to life with Christ.  We know that Christ is “the way” and it is a very difficult way.  Christ is “the gate.”  He is The Way, and serving Christ is not an easy thing. 

When a man is a follower of Christ and is being obedient to His commandments, he becomes an enemy to this world.  God is going to send trials and tribulations his way; he could lose a loved one, he could lose his job, he could come down with a terrible illness, and it will seem to him like everything is going wrong. 

If people do not want to hear the Gospel of Christ, you cannot force it on them.  If someone does not want to hear the Gospel, share the Gospel with someone else.  Keep going and do not be discouraged.  Remember, we live in a world where mankind does not want to hear the Gospel.  Many say, “Let me be; I am fine,” but as we know, they are not fine, they are not. 

(There was no question/answer session pertaining to this study.)