Ephesians – Wayne Barber/Part 1
|By: Dr. Wayne Barber; ©1999|
|Dr. Barber begins a new study by taking a general look at the book of Ephesians and making some observations about what the book teaches.|
The Characteristics of Saintly Saints
The Lord used Paul to write 13 of the 27 books of the New Testament. If he wrote Hebrews, and we do not know that for sure, then it was 14. That would be over half of the New Testament. And of course, Ephesians is one of those books. He was a man God greatly used.
Who is he writing to? “Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God to the saints”—Now notice that: “To the saints”—”To the saints who are at Ephesus and who are faithful in Christ Jesus.” Who are these saints? We need to understand that term. There is just a wealth of Scripture about saints that is there. Have you ever heard somebody say, “Well, I’m no saint”? Have you ever said that? Or have you ever been acquainted with some of the religions of the world that make people saints? Or they put them into sainthood as if there is some kind of hierarchy in the spiritual life that if you ever reach the plateau of being “Saint Wayne” or “Saint Spiros”, then you have really reached it in your life? Well, some people think that is what a saint is. Others just don’t have a clue what a saint is.
Just what is a saint? We want to begin to look at the characteristics of a saint. You must understand the word “saint” in verse 1 is also translated “holy ones” or “holy” in verse 4. It’s the same word. Verse 1 reads, “saints who are at Ephesus”. Now look at verse 4. It reads, “just as he chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him.” That’s the same word. Some translations don’t put “saint,” they put “holy ones.” And so therefore you go back and forth as to how often it’s found. In the New American Standard Version it’s found 66 times in the plural and 1 time in the singular. But what does it mean?
There are two things that we are going to be looking at. First of all we need to note that A SAINT IS ONE WHO IS GOD’S DELIGHT. Now when we talk about saints we are talking about the saints Paul was writing to in Ephesians. He is writing to people who are God’s delight. How do you know that? Well, turn with me to Psalms 16:3. I’m doing this for a reason. Many of you are surprised to find that the word “saint” is translated that way in the New American Standard in the Old Testament . Again, the King James Version chooses to translate the word as “holy ones.” We need to see what a saint is in the view of the Old Testament understanding. Psalms 16:3 is a beautiful verse. This is one of the messianic psalms. As a matter of fact, Peter uses verses 8-11 of Psalms 16 in his sermon in Acts 2 and refers that to the Lord Jesus Christ. But let’s read verse 3 of Psalm 16. “As for the saints who are in the earth, they are the majestic one in whom is all my delight.” In other words there is a delight to God for those people that are called saints on this earth.
Now what does he mean by the word “saint”? Look in verse 4 of Psalm 16, and you will see what a saint is not. Sometimes it’s that way in Scripture. You find a statement, and then the next verse will show you what it’s not. That helps you know what it is. I want you to see this. Verse 4 reads, “the sorrows of those that have bartered for another god will be multiplied.” Now what is a person who is not a saint in the Old Testament? It is a person who does not honor God in his life. He goes to other sources. He is an idolator. He runs after other gods. He is not separated unto God for God to use him in His own purposes.
A saint on the other hand is one who focuses solely upon God. There are two Hebrew words that refer to saint or are translated “saint” or “holy ones.” One is the word “hasad” which has the idea of the character of one who is a saint. That is very rarely used in the Old Testament. It is not the main word which is translated “saint” in the Old Testament. It talks about his compassion to others, etc. But the word that is used in Psalm 16:3 is the most normally translated word for saint. It is the word “gidosh.” It has the understanding of being separated unto God. Now that is the thing I really want you to see. In the Old Testament if you were a saint, then you were someone who was separated unto the one true God, our God, Jehovah God, and you were willing to obey what He said. In other words, you were focused just upon Him. That is the Old Testament understanding of the word saint.
But to really understand the word “saint” you’ve got to go to the New Testament. You interpret the Old with the New. You don’t interpret the New with the Old. You’ve got to turn it around. The New Testament completes the understanding of the word “saint”. Not to understand what the New Testament means in the word “saint” is to miss heaven, possibly. Some people say, “Well, hey, I love the word of God. I’ll go ahead and obey the commandments. Everything will be alright because God says I am separated unto Him. Therefore, I can get to the kingdom of heaven. I can live forever with him.” No, that’s not right. They’ve never received Christ. The Pharisees tried that and Jesus said except your righteousness, your good deeds, your separateness, be greater than the Pharisees, you can’t enter the kingdom of heaven.
So you’ve got to understand that term “saint” in the New Testament, not just the Old Testament. Israel was separate unto God. Israel was God’s delight when they did what God told them to do. That was a saint in the Old Testament. These holy ones. But in the New Testament it adds a whole new dimension and completes the picture of what a saint really is. In Ephesians 1:1 the word for saint there is the word, “hagios.” It has the same fundamental idea as the word in Psalm 16:3. It still means to be separate unto God, to be used for God’s purposes, and to be focused upon what He wants in your life. But it has a further idea that better helps us realize what saint is. The idea is of something that is filthy and muddy and dirty, sunk down in the mud, useful for no purpose at all, and someone reaching down, pulling it up out of the mud, washing it off, cleansing it and now shining it up and using it for their own purpose. Now see there’s a difference here. Still being separate unto God, but there is something else that took place. A washing of something, a cleansing of something. And because now it is cleansed, it can be usable finally, eternally for God.
Now we could take a long time working that out, but let me just simplify it by saying this: A saint in the New Testament is a person who has been cleansed by the blood of Jesus Christ. I love just understanding that. Jesus told Peter “I want to wash your feet.” He said, “You’re not washing my feet.” Jesus said, “Listen, you’ve had your bath, and you need your feet washed.” He was talking about salvation. Salvation is the washing. Then daily we are washed by the blood. There is a one bath but then there is a daily cleansing in our lives. Water baptism does not save anybody, washes nothing away. Maybe dirt on the outside, but it doesn’t touch sin. The person has got to be cleansed by the blood of Jesus. Without the shedding of blood there would be no remission of sin, Hebrews tells us. So we have been washed.
Psalm 40 says, “I was in a pit and I couldn’t get out and He reached down, heard my cry, delivered me, set my feet upon a rock, and put a new song in my life.” That is almost the perfect picture of what being a saint is all about: it is having been useless in life, bound in sin and the mud and the filth of what Adam has caused to all mankind, but having someone reach down and pull you up out of that mud, wash you and make you uniquely His own, and let you be usable now for His own purposes.
So a saint in the New Testament is a believer. If you’re a Christian, you’re a saint. We’re all saints. Positionally we have been made saints. We didn’t separate ourselves unto Him. He has separated us unto Himself, and we receive what He did for us. And now we are saints unto God. The Greek word “hagios” has a common root with another Greek word, “hagnos.” The word “hagnos” means pure and chaste. So you can’t take the idea of cleansing out of the word for saint that’s found in Ephesians 1:1. Now that a person has become a saint, he’s been born from above. He’s now a believer. He can partake in that which is pure, absolutely pure and that which is holy, absolutely holy. As a matter of fact, the word “holy” has a lot to do with what you are associated with. You see what is the absolute here? The absolute is God himself. He is absolutely holy. We are called saints because He has chosen to attach Himself to us through salvation. Now we are saints who are uniquely bonded to Him in His family.
Well, if you are a believer, you are a saint. But now wait a minute. Something needs to be balanced. Psalm 16:3 says “the saints in the world are my delight.” You mean, brother Wayne, if I am a saint God delights in me? Well, maybe yes and maybe no. Well, what are you saying Wayne? If I’m a saint surely I am a delight to God. Maybe not. You need to realize what He is saying here in Psalm 16:3. If you will look in Ephesians 1:1 again Paul says “to the saints who are at Ephesus”. But look what he goes on to say: “And who are faithful in Christ Jesus.” Who are the people who are God’s delight? They are saints, yes. But they are not just positionally saints, they are experientially living saintly lives. They have separated themselves unto God. He separated me unto Himself. Now I separate myself unto Him. I am always loved by God. This is important to know: when I am not living right, when I am not living saintly, God still loves me. Listen, we are not talking about the same thing. Loving me and delighting in me are two different things. He loves me all the time. How do I know He loves me even when I sin? Because He chastens me. That’s how I know. He doesn’t let me get away with it. What kind of Father would ever let a child be disobedient and then spare the rod in that child’s life? That’s how I know He loves me even when I sin.
As a matter of fact, look with me in Romans 1:7. Just a thought I want to share on that verse as I was studying that word “saint.” It really blessed me. Paul is speaking to the Christians in Rome, and he calls them something. He says in verse 7 in the middle of a sentence, “to all who are beloved of God in Rome, called as saints.” That little word “as” is written in. It should read “called saints.” Who are the saints? They are the beloved of God.
Now I had a wonderful time looking up that word “beloved.” The Greek word is “agapetois.” It is from the word “agapao.” It is the word which means to be loved with the highest form of love ever known to man. In other words, men can’t love men this way. Only God in men can love men this way. This is somebody who is uniquely identified in a divine bond of love with God. When you become a believer that is solidified, and you always have that. He loves you whether you are sinning or not. He may not delight in you, but He loves you. He is committed to your spiritual benefit and welfare. He will bring difficulties into your life if He has to. Hebrews 12 says, “He disciplines, and chastens and scourges even those He loves.” He loves us, therefore, He disciplines us. So you can always say I am the beloved of God.
Well, what do you mean that saints are His delight? I’m talking about what He delights in is when one of His beloved begins living saintly before Him. Ephesians 1:1 reads, “to those who are faithful in Christ Jesus.” What does the word “faithful” mean? It means to be dependable. It means trustworthy. When I read Scripture I just sort of sense that when I say yes to Him there is a ripple effect that goes through heaven. Angels don’t understand redemption. They have not been redeemed. The ones that are in heaven have not fallen. And it says in Scripture they look upon the redeemed people with amazement. They see us in a fallen earth. They see us in a dark world. And they see us choosing not to let that darkness affect us. They see us choosing to let light transform our life, and they marvel. There is a host of witnesses there watching us at all times, and when we say yes, and live saintly as saints ought to be living, separated unto Him, the delight fills the portals of heaven. In Ephesians 1:1 Paul says, “I am writing to those who are God’s delight. Oh yes they’re His beloved. Any saint is His beloved, but I am writing to those who are His delight.”
When I was growing up my dad loved me. How did I know he loved me? Did he tell me? You know he really didn’t tell me a lot. One of the ways I really knew he loved me was he would discipline me. I was one kid that was difficult to raise. I know he loved me because the scripture says that a father who loves chastens his child. But, buddy, he loved me enough to endure the pain of disciplining me. Listen, I remember one time my mama and I were sitting on the steps. She had just spanked me. She said, “Wayne, this hurts me worse than it hurts you.” I was saying, “Right!” But now that I have children I understand exactly what she was saying. It is tough being a parent and disciplining a child. It takes pain. It takes effort. You’ve got to stick with them. If you do it God’s way you can’t break their spirit. You’re only allowed to break their will. You’ve got to stay with them until instruction is given and encouragement is given. And then the person gets back on the right track. That takes time. That takes pain. And that takes effort.
But you know there were a lot of times in my life with my father that I was not his delight. Because he tried to instruct me, but I wouldn’t listen to what he said. He always loved me. Unconditionally he loved me. But many times he was disgusted with me. And that is the saddest thing in the world for a saint to say, “I am God’s disgust and not God’s delight.”
When I was growing up my dad was a semipro baseball player. And he loved it, and he wanted me to get involved in it. The one thing I could not do was hit the ball. My dad worked with me and worked with me and worked with me. He loved me. When I would strike out he would say, “That’s alright, that’s alright, son. That’s alright.” I could tell he loved me. But I could also tell he was disgusted with me because I would not do what he told me to do. One day I remember him coming to my game late. He got out of his car and came over to the field we played on. He came over behind the fence and I saw him standing out there. I was coming up to bat, and by seeing him, I was reminded of how he had instructed me to hit. He had told me to spread my stance, let your swing be in your wrist, and keep your eye on the ball. That kind of thing. I remember the first pitch this guy usually threw was a strike. I knew that because we had played against him before. I went ahead and spread my stance and when he threw I never saw the ball. I sort of beat at wherever I thought it was going to be. It was a blur to me. And the ball hit that bat. And that ball soared like a rocket. It was wonderful. My dad was standing out there in center field. When he had first gotten there he waved at me, and I waved back. I knew he loved me and cared about me. When that ball went out of the park, it went over his head. Behind him was a little shed that had bathrooms in it and a tree in front of it. The ball went over the tree and bounced on the roof of that shed. As I went around first base I glanced out at my dad. He wasn’t waving anymore. He was jumping up and down! And I could tell I had delighted my father because I did what he told me to do.
Now, I don’t know if that is getting it across or not. God says in the Old Testament during the days of the saints of Israel, the holy ones, supposedly, were some of the most rebellious people that we know about. But, hey, there were a lot of them that weren’t. Joshua and Daniel, for example. You name them. Go down through the list. And He said “…the saints in the world, they’re all my delight.” So this morning we have to realize he’s writing to people who have delighted the Father.
Boy, I tell you what. When you start disgusting Him, that’s a sad testimony to one who is the beloved of God. Why in the world would we ever want to find a saint who is not absolutely living obedient to what God says? Do you think God is delighted in a Christian who lets immorality in his life? Do you think God is delighted when a person allows other things like cheap compromises in his business ways? Do you think God is delighted with that kind of behavior? Hey! Yes, He loves them. But I have to believe that He’s disgusted with believers who do not live for God.
Well, not only are the saints the object of God’s delight if they are living saintly. But secondly they are the object of the world’s disgust. That’s the hard one. This is the one that makes you think, “I’m not sure I want to go to church this morning. Because I know I’m a saint. I’m a Christian, but right now I am not living like it.” Well, friend, you’re not pleasing to God in that sense. Yes, you will always be pleasing in Christ, but not in the sense of your behavior. God does not smile upon sin. Not only that, but when you start living saintly what happens is the world is disgusted with you immediately.
Since Adam there has been hatred in this world for God that we have not yet fathomed. We do not understand it. We do not understand how much hatred is in the world for God and for what He represents. If we did it would horrify us all because we have been a part of it at times in our life. This world hates God. It is under the dominance of darkness. If Sadaam Hussein lined us all up and was going to put us in front of a firing squad, and he said, “Wayne Barber, I hate you, I hate your God,” I would say, “Shoot me. Because if that’s the way it is I can live with that.” That’s easy to take, folks. A whole lot easier than to take that kind of deceptive hostility towards God that is found with the cloak of religion wrapped around it. If you will carefully study the New Testament, you see hatred toward believers comes more from religious people than from the lost world. It is masked. We don’t even see it. People can join the church and they hate God. How do you know they hate God? Because they have never, ever, loved his commandments in a sense of they rule and reign in their life. They love the church. They love the organization.
It is all about control. Pharisees couldn’t handle Jesus because when he came into the Temple they couldn’t control him. But when you start finding people who just move by the wind of the spirit and walk in the obedience to the Lord at His word, others that are religious hate that kind of thing. Look at Acts 9:13. Paul was one of the ones who hated them. And he expressed his hate. The word hate means to absolutely refuse to associate with and to annihilate in any form. He showed his hate towards them by the way he treated them and by his own confession. Ananias was the man sent to instruct Paul, or Saul at the time. This is Saul of Tarsus who became the apostle Paul after he was converted on the Damascus road. And Ananias was told by God, “You go on over and get this man Saul.” And here Ananias is kind of stuttering a little bit. He said he wasn’t so sure he wants to do it. Look at verse 13. “But Ananias answered, ‘Lord, I have heard from many about this man, how much harm he did to Thy saints in Jerusalem.’”
You think Paul didn’t hate saints as a Jewish Pharisee? As a matter of fact, he said in Philippians “as according to the law I was blameless.” He was the top when it came to religion. He was a man schooled by Gamaliel who was a top religious leader. Gamaliel was also the one who taught them according to their fathers. And so Paul was well-versed in religion. He knew the system. He knew all about God. But he didn’t know Him, because he rejected His Son. And Paul went out persecuting those who were saints. He persecuted them. He stood there by Stephen by his own confession. Look in Acts 26:10. By his own confession this is what he says about himself. He is before Agrippa in Caesarea. In Acts 26:10 he says, “This is just what I did in Jerusalem; not only did I lock up many of the saints in prisons, having received authority from the chief priests, but also when they were being put to death I cast my vote against them.” Paul said that. How can a man hate saints like that?
Well, that’s the way the world is. When you don’t know God, you hate those who are attached to Him. You hate those who partake of who He is. And so when you become God’s delight you are automatically the world’s disgust. Folks, there is a hatred in this world. In America we think we have religious freedom. No, we don’t. We have religious toleration, and it is growing shorter and shorter and shorter. In Russia they are begging us to come to the public schools and teach about Jesus. You can’t do that in Chattanooga, Tennessee, in most schools. You say we are a Christian nation. Who are we kidding? And the more righteous we walk and live and more saintly we become the more the hatred is going to intensify. It is not going to get better before Jesus comes. It is going to get worse and worse and worse and worse. And you are going to see those who are saints because they will pop right to the surface. They won’t bail out and go after another god as it says in Psalm 16:4. They will remain separated unto Him regardless of what it costs.
I want to show you how one day the hatred is going to be revealed. I can’t even begin to fathom in my mind myself; even in scripture it’s masked right now and the only reason it is kept from being unveiled is because the Holy Spirit still lives in this world. But when He leaves with us, it is going to be seen. Right now people don’t seem to believe it.
Look at Revelation 16. This is in the bowl judgments. Look at verses 4-6. “ And the third angel poured out his bowl into the rivers and springs of water and they became blood. And I heard the angel of the waters saying, ‘Righteous art Thou, who art and who wast, Oh Holy One, because thou didst judge these things; for they poured out the blood of saints and prophets, and Thou hast given them blood to drink. They deserve it.’” Not only will it be revealed one day, but God is going to annihilate it and do away with it. Hatred is allowed to stay in this world right now for many reasons and most of them I don’t know because I’m not God. But I believe part of the reason He lets it hang around is to keep me and you straight and to help us understand what it really means to make choices to serve Him. In some countries it’s worse than others. Over here it’s sort of subtle.
If you will look in Revelation 17:6 you will see Babylon, the evil economic, political, but also religious system of the day that is going to dominate, suck people into its claws. Revelation 17:6 says, “And I saw the woman drunk with the blood of the saints, and with the blood of the witnesses of Jesus.” It is the system that hates believers and saints and martyrs them to death.
Rev. 18:24 is speaking again of this system and what is going to be revealed one day. “And in her was found the blood of prophets and of saints and of all who had been slain in the earth.” Do you realize that Babylon was a city, but it was also a system? It was evil, and it was political, economic and religious, and every bit of that hated the saints of God.
Think of the world’s political system. You think they love God? You think they love His saints? Look at the world’s economic system. Have you been sucked into it already? Folks, if you have, you have been sucked into something that literally hates the very things of God. And in a religious system it is the same way. And God is going to reveal her and destroy her and annihilate her in that last day. Thank God for that. But if we could see the evil that is in this world today it would absolutely horrify every one of us. Darkness hates the light of God. But when I become God’s delight I automatically become the world’s disgust.
In Luke 6 in the second group of Beatitudes Jesus said to His disciples, “Woe be unto you when all men speak well of you.” We think to have a testimony in this world is to be liked by everybody. It is exactly the opposite. When all the world thinks well of us we stand for nothing. But when we start living saintly lives that’s when the persecution begins to arise.
So what is a saint? A saint is God’s delight if he is living saintly but he is the world’s disgust. The world cannot tolerate that person who loves the things of God. But you know Jesus balanced that in Matthew 5. He said, “Blessed art thou when men persecute you and do all manner of evil against you.” You know what the world “blessed” means. It means absolutely, totally and completely satisfied inwardly by the Lord that lives there. So there is a good ending here. When you are persecuted, thank the Lord. Evidently you are delighting Him. You are disgusting people who don’t delight Him, but you are delighting Him. A saint positionally in Christ is cleansed, delivered. But a saint experientially is by choice when you choose to live by this word. That delights the Father.