R1594-351 Bible Study: Imitation Of Christ

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IMITATION OF CHRIST

IV. QUAR., LESSON VIII., NOV. 19, EPH. 4:20-32

Golden Text—”And be ye kind one to another, tender hearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.”—Eph. 4:32

If the relationship of this lesson to the preceding portion of the Apostle’s letter be observed, it will be seen to be at utter variance with what is now popularly considered broad and liberal Christianity;—the Christianity which makes little or no distinction between the Church and the world, which calls all men brethren, and has large charity for every heathen religion and every apostasy from Christianity, if only the worshipers be sincere; that is, if they have succeeded in deceiving themselves, and are earnestly going about deceiving others.

Let the student carefully observe the Apostle’s teaching: (1) That God has predestinated the selection of a chosen few, on certain conditions, that he might train and afterward exalt them for a special purpose.—Chap. 1:5. (2) That that purpose is, ultimately, in his own appointed time, to lift up and bless the remainder of humanity through this trained, exalted and empowered few. (Eph. 1:10; 3:10.) (3) That he declares the rest of the world to be „children of wrath,” as we also were until brought nigh to God by the blood of Christ. (Chap. 2:3,13.) (4) That now we are no longer strangers and foreigners [like the rest of the world, who are not recognized as sons of God, and who, therefore, should not be recognized as our „brethren„—since we are no longer in Adam, but now in Christ] but fellow-citizens with the saints, and of the household of God.—Chap. 2:19.

In chapter fourth the Apostle exhorts all of this class—not the world, but the saints, the few who have come into Christ—to endeavor to keep the unity of the spirit in the bond of peace (verse 3), and to grow up as one harmonious body into the likeness of Christ, all recognizing the one Lord; holding the one faith of divine revelation through the apostles and prophets, and accepting no other though it be preached by an angel from heaven; and being baptized with the same baptism of complete subjection to the will of Christ.—Verses 4-13.

And this whole compact body of Christ, thus apart from the world and its spirit, is to be separate from the world and not in affiliation or alliance with it. Since they have received the spirit of Christ, they must not walk, as other Gentiles walk.—Verses 16-19.

VERSES 20-24. Such have not so learned Christ as to observe no difference between themselves and the world. They have put off the old man, the old sinful dispositions inherited from Adam, which constituted their former selves, and have put on the new man: they have become new creatures in Christ Jesus, the second Adam, created in righteousness and true holiness.

VERSES 25-32 are worthy of the careful pondering of all such new creatures in Christ; for, though renewed in the spirit of their mind, they still have „to keep the body under,” to „crucify the flesh” and to „war a good warfare,” „against the world, the flesh and the devil,” that they may grow up into Christ, and finally be received into the full privileges of worthy sons of God. Though these verses need little comment, they need much careful pondering in the spirit of humility and prayer.

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— November 1&15, 1893 —