Ephesians – Wayne Barber/Part 2
By: Dr. Wayne Barber
|By: Dr. Wayne Barber; ©1999|
|What is a saint? What signs would you expect to see in the life of someone who is a saint? Dr. Barber explains as he begins a sermon series through the book of Ephesians.|
The Characteristics of Saintly Saints – Part 2
We want to continue to talk about the characteristics of a saint. There are a lot of saints that aren’t living very saintly. As a matter of fact, Paul has to get on them quite often in the New Testament. They were people who are born from above, were cleansed by the blood, were inhabited by the Holy Spirit of God, and yet were not living surrendered to Him. They were not living a life set apart from sin and set apart unto God.
The audience Paul was writing to is in verse 1: “Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, to the saints who are at Ephesus, and who are faithful in Christ Jesus.” You know we are God’s delight if we are living saintly lives. We saw in part one that Psalm 16:3 is a beautiful verse in the Old Testament. He says, “All the saints on the earth are my delight.” And of course, he is not talking about people who run off to other idols and run off to trust other things. He is talking about those who obey Him and are set apart to do whatever He wants in their life. They live lives that are surrendered daily to the Lordship of Christ. That’s a saintly saint.
Now the word “hagios,” which is the word we are looking at, is a word which can be translated “saint” or “holy.” Now that sometimes confuses us. Because whereas the New American Standard Version may say “saint”, the King James Version may say “holy one”. Let’s find out where the word “hagios” is used in the book of Ephesians:
- verse 1: “…to the saints who are at Ephesus”.
- verse 4: “…He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world that we should be holy”.
- verse 13: “…you were sealed in him with the Holy Spirit of promise.”
- verse 15: “For this reason I too, having heard of the faith in the Lord Jesus which exists among you, and your love for all the saints.”
- verse 18: “I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened so that you may know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints.”
- verse 19: “…so then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but are fellow citizens with the saints, and are of God’s household.”
- verse 21: “…in whom the whole building, being fitted together is growing into a holy temple in the Lord.”
- verse 5: “…which in other generations was not made known to the sons of men, as it has now been revealed to His holy apostles and prophets in the Spirit.”
- verse 8: “…to me, the very least of all the saints, this grace was given, to preach to the Gentiles the unfathomable riches of Christ.”
- verse 18: “…may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth…”
- verse 12, “for the equipping of the saints for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ.”
- verse 30: “…and do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.”
- verse 3: “…but do not let immorality or any impurity or greed even be named among you, as is proper among saints.”
- verse 27: “…that He might present to Himself the church in all her glory, having no spot or wrinkle or any such thing; but she should be holy and blameless.”
- verse 18: “…with all prayer and petition pray at all times in the Spirit, with this in view, be on the alert with all perseverance and petition for all the saints.”
Now that particular word is found those many places in just the book of Ephesians. We didn’t go into all the forms of it. You see how it is translated “holy”. You see how it is translated “saints”. I need to make a point. I think it may help us understand a saint. Only God is inherently holy. Remember what the word holy means. It means to be pure, to be separate from, absolutely apart from, sin. God has that holy apart-ness, separateness from sin. He is inherently that way. Do you know what I mean when I say inherently? He has always been that way. He will always be that way and can never change. That is the very essence of God. He is righteous. He is pure. He is holy. There is no evil, no sin, that is a part of God. He is apart from it.
Jesus, when He came to this earth, did not and could not have sacrificed His holiness to become the God-man. Could Jesus have sinned? First of all He is God. Always has been God. He didn’t change that when He came to this earth. The only thing He laid aside was the recognition of Him being God. He laid aside the glory, and He came to this earth. He took upon Himself a body—yes, like ours—but not a body that had the nature of sin within it. Even His body was a holy body. Yes, human—100% human—but not a body of Adam. There was no sin in it whatsoever.
Look in Acts 2, and we’ll see that. In Acts 2:27-31 Peter, quoting again from Psalm 16:8-11 that we looked at earlier, says in verse 27, “…because thou wilt not abandon my soul to Hades, nor allow Thy Holy One to undergo decay.” In other words, corruption. Do you realize that every man is walking around with a corruptible body? What does that mean? That means if I die today and you put me into a casket and put me into the ground, my body begins to decay. That is the result of the curse of sin that came to Adam in Genesis 3. There are people today that say, “Oh no, we are no longer under the curse.” Well, technically no. But realistically, we have to live with bodies that are going to die unless the Lord Jesus comes first and changes them. They have to be changed from the corruptible, 1 Corinthians 15 says, to the incorruptible. He will change them into the glorified body that He wants us to have. But the body of the Lord Jesus Christ could not and would not decay.
First of all He did not just die on the cross. He dismissed His own human spirit. We are dealing with God, folks. And when you talk about the resurrection, it was He who raised Himself from the dead. Jesus was no insignificant, inferior child of a trinity. He is God, always has been God. He’s equal with the Father and equal with the Holy Spirit. He did not sacrifice one ounce of His holiness, purity and righteousness when He came to this earth. That is why He could be the absolute pure sacrifice for your sin and for my sin. It could not have been any other way.
In the beginning there was a first Adam. But he really wasn’t the first Adam. He was created. The first Adam is Jesus. Adam came first to this earth, Satan came and tempted, and man sinned. God raised up Abel, and the devil raised up Cain. And on and on and on and on. You see God raising up a man, and you see Satan raising up a man like a great chess game. It gets down to Malachi and then there’s 400 years of silence as if both of them draw back. It’s as if there’s a stalemate for a while. And then God changes His direction. Instead of raising up a man, He became a man. And Satan says, “Oh no! Show’s over. Time to go home. I can’t come back at that.” Because Satan is only a creation. Jesus is God.
In Acts 13:34 Paul mentions the fact again that Jesus does not have a corruptible body. The way the translators have put it, it is as if He escaped it by some narrow miss. But I don’t see that at all. Verse 34 reads “and as for the fact He raised him from the dead, no more to return to decay, He has spoken in this way, ‘I will give you the holy and sure blessings of David.’ Therefore He also says in another Psalm, ‘Thou wilt not allow Thy Holy One to undergo decay.’ For David, after he had served the purpose of God in his own generation, fell asleep and was laid among his fathers, and underwent decay; but He whom God raised did not undergo decay.”
We’re dealing with God, folks. He is holy, absolutely holy, and is totally separate from anything that has to do with evil. The difference was He became sin for us. He took our sin upon Himself, not His sin. He paid a debt He did not owe when we owed a debt we could not pay.
He is inherently holy. We know that in the Gospel of John when Satan came to tempt Him, he couldn’t find anything in him to get out of him. I love that. It’s like when you take a magnet and put it over a toolbox. Anything in that toolbox that is susceptible to that magnet goes up to the magnet. But if you have something in there that has a constitution about it that doesn’t respond to that magnet it just lays there. When Satan comes by you and comes by me all he has got to do is wave that wand of temptation and something inside of us pulls that way. James says it is the lust of your flesh. Peter tells us that that is where they reside, right there in the flesh. We still have it. It’s the remnant left over. It’s what we deal with until the day we are finally changed and glorified. But when he put that magnet of temptation in Matthew 4 by the Lord Jesus Christ, nothing responded. Isn’t that a beautiful picture? Jesus is holy. He is a holy God. And that is what we need to understand.
Since His holiness is inherent, ours is imputed. In other words, He gives us the opportunity to partake of God’s holiness. How do you do that? Well first of all, you respond to the gospel, which is what He has done for us on the cross. Then when you receive Him the Holy Spirit of God comes in and unites with your Spirit. You’ve been set apart, cleansed, washed. And now you’re identified in that holiness. You are a partaker of His holiness. Man could never be holy on his own. But thank God, He is inherently holy and has allowed us now to share in what He is. And that is when a believer can continue to walk in that holiness.
As a matter of fact, if you’ll go back some time and study the fruit of God’s spirit, when the Holy Spirit manifests the presence of Jesus in your life, they are not abilities or talents that you see in the lost world. These are divine holy characteristics. Peter says we share and partake of His actual nature. “You mean to tell me, Wayne, when I love somebody as a fruit of God’s spirit it’s different than before when I didn’t know Christ? And I thought I loved people.” You better believe it’s different. It is as different as night and day. All of a sudden that compassion in you is something of the nature of God Himself. In Him that is inherent, but to us we must partake by being saintly saints.
We saw that saintly saints are God’s delight. He looks down and delights in them when they live holy lives. We also saw that they are the world’s disgust. Can’t you see now why it is the world’s disgust? It is so totally opposite from the world that it is like light against darkness. This is why so many of us have so many difficulties in our families. Because there are people in our families that have entered into covenant with Him. They have joined Him, and He’s joined them. He has attached Himself to them, and therefore, they are now holy under Him. But others in the family have not done that. Boy, you talk about contrast.
Talk about problems. The battle rages when people are saintly saints because the world is disgusted with God. Darkness does not want light. You know why? Light puts out darkness.
In our world today a lot folks think they can put out light. But I hate to tell them. That never works! When we leave a room we do not switch on darkness. We switch off the light. And the result of no light is darkness. The only time when this world will be absolutely dark is when the Christians have been taken out of here. Then they are going to have a dark world. They think they want it. But buddy, when we are gone they are going to find out what it has been like all along.
I want to cover one more thing. They are not only God’s delight and the world’s disgust, they are each other’s duty. Now why did I use the word duty? Well, it means responsibility. God’s delight, the world’s disgust, but each others duty or responsibility.
I want you to see this. We are partakers of Christ. If you are going to call yourself a saint and if you are going to live a saintly life, there are some things you are going to need to understand about the responsibility that brings to us for one another. You see, we can now live apart from sin. It’s not that we are separate from it in the sense of its temptation, but we can live apart from it. It is not going to be perfection until Jesus comes back, but at the cross sin loses its power in our lives because we are now holy. That person, the Holy Spirit, now lives in me, and gives me the power to say no to that which is the defilement of this world.
I want to show you some verses. First of all, we see evidence in scripture that saintly saints are sensitive to each other’s needs. That is part of the responsibility. Look with me in Romans 12. Some of these are very familiar Scriptures, but put in the light of this context they might make more sense. In Romans 12:9 Paul begins a list of characteristics that describe holy love: not worldly love, holy love; that which is not sinful and not evil; that which is God. It is divine love. He said, “Let love be without hypocrisy…” Then he gives a list of characteristics as to what that is. When you get down to verse 13 this is one of the major characteristics of it. He says, “…contributing to the needs of the saints, practicing hospitality”. Now that word “contributing” is kind of misleading in a sense because the word is koinoneo. It is the word to share in, to participate in. It’s to be a partaker of, to be a distributor of; to give it out.
Here is what Paul is saying. When a saint seeks to live a saintly life, and he sees a need in somebody else’s life, then that holy divine concern which is God Himself inside of him begins to operate. He senses how that person that is a friend or brother or sister in Christ is in need. And something in him causes him to want to contribute to that. He partakes of that person’s need and he contributes to that person’s need. That is what saints are like.
“Well, brother Wayne, I haven’t been in too many churches that people are that way.” Now listen. Don’t get down on Christ. Just remember all saints don’t live saintly. If you find a person that is a saint, and he is not sensitive to other people’s needs, then bingo, you’ve got a burden to start praying for somebody. I can’t make them saintly. You can’t make them saintly. It’s going to have to be God working in their life. The Holy Spirit is going to have to convict them. I might be able to convince them from the pulpit, but I have no power to convict them. That is something we have to live with until Jesus comes back. The saintly people are easily seen because they are constantly sensitive. It is like God has put within them a radar to people’s needs. And that’s a divine concern. It gives them the burden, not only to realize the need, but to contribute to it and to partake in the solution.
There is a great illustration of this is in Romans 15. This is one of the most beautiful and precious examples of saintly saints that you can find in the New Testament. Macedonia was a poor country. The people had very little. Look with me beginning there in verse 25. He says, “But now, I am going to Jerusalem serving the saints…” Part of the reason was to take a offering that he had taken up to give to the saints that were there in Jerusalem. There was a famine in Jerusalem, and the people were hurting. They had a financial need, and they had a material need. So Paul takes up an offering among the saints.
Look at what he says in verse 26: “…for Macedonia and Achaia had been pleased to make a contribution for the poor among the saints in Jerusalem. Yes, they were pleased to do so, and they are indebted to them. For if the Gentiles have shared in their spiritual things, they are indebted to minister to them also in material things.” These are Gentiles, and Gentiles don’t like Jews. And Jews don’t like Gentiles. Now we are talking about Christian Jews but still there was a rift. But here are these precious, poor Macedonian gentiles because of the kind concern within them and feeling a need of responsibility and seeking it, they were pleased to give an offering to those people. It says in verse 28, “Therefore when I have finished this and have put my seal on this fruit of theirs, I will go on by way of you to Spain.” I like what he says there: “this fruit of theirs” is not something they manufactured, it is something that is divine. The Holy Spirit within them produced it, as fruit is produced by the vine to which it is attached.
This is the same offering that Paul had to really fuss at and scold the Corinthian church about. The Corinthian church was a rich church whereas the churches in Macedonia were not rich. He wrote them in I Corinthians 16 and said, “Now listen I’m coming, I’m coming. Now, before I get there, every time you meet together take up an offering so that when I come you won’t feel like I’m fussing at you because I have been telling you along that we got a need here, folks, and we all need to pitch in and give.” Well in 2 Corinthians he has to really scold them because evidently when he gets there he finds out they are not doing anything. And here’s these little churches in Macedonia filled with the spirit of God, saintly saints. They didn’t have all the fancy cars, and they didn’t have all the big houses, and they didn’t live in the nice subdivisions. But buddy, they had it together.
When it comes down to saintly living it has nothing to do with your status in society. It has everything to do with your willingness to bow down before the Lord Jesus Christ. Sometimes the rich bow down, and sometimes the poor bow down. But the whole thing is wrapped around your attitude. The difference is how you give. You may not be able to give as much as somebody else. But, hey, if you give the widow’s mite, that’s just as important to God. It’s the same divine Holy Spirit working in saints to see needs in others and to want to contribute to those needs.
I want to ask you something. Do we believe the Word of God or do we not believe it? Do we believe that God cares about us? Well if He does, guess whom He uses to help meet our needs? He uses other saints that are walking sensitive and living saintly lives to meet the needs in our lives. And I tell you what He will do. He will overwhelm you by meeting your need, and then He will open your eyes to somebody else’s need. It’s not one of these things of stacking up God’s blessings. You just become a vessel that money is passing through and you do what God tells you to do. If it ever comes to the point that you are only giving to get you have just shut the whole process down. It is no longer a divine act.
So one of the things about saints in their responsibility to each other is their sensitivity to participate and contribute to one another’s needs. But second, saints have a high standard in the way they minister. Now try to understand what I am saying. There are many saints who don’t live saintly. What they do and call ministry is pitiful. But when a saintly saint ministers it must measure up to the standard of that which is divine or it’s not ministry. So there’s a high standard for a saintly saint to ministry.
Look in Romans 16. Paul is telling them to greet everybody. Look what verse 1 says. “I commend to you our sister Phoebe, who is a servant [also translated “minister” or “servant” or “deacon”] of the church which was at Cenchrea; that you receive her in the Lord in a manner worthy of the saints.” In other words, don’t just treat her like the world would treat her. You treat her like God Himself would treat her. Because you’re a saint and you partake in His nature in you, you will treat her the way she ought to be treated. That’s a high standard when it comes to saintly saints.
There’s a high standard of ministry. There are a lot of people that call what they do ministry. It hasn’t got a thing to do with ministry. Their works are going to burn in judgment one day when they stand before Jesus. But when a saintly saint ministers, it’s a higher standard than anybody else has ever been around. It’s divine. It’s not our reputation that is at stake, it’s God’s reputation that is at stake.
The word used in Romans 16:2 for “worthy” is axios. It means to do it properly. It means to do it so that it measures up to the high standard. It carries the idea of treating somebody with the understanding that you are esteeming them: you are ministering to the point that you are lifting them up as if they are more important than you are. That’s the standard in which God said saintly saints minister to one another.
Saintly saints do things right. Look in 3 John verses 5-6. John is writing to his friend Gaius. He is dealing with a man by the name of Diotrephes who was evidently causing problems in that church. “Beloved, you are acting faithfully in whatever you do to accomplish for the brethren, and especially when there are strangers; and they bear witness of your love before the church; and you will do well to send them on their way in a manner worthy of God.”
There’s a high standard to call something ministry in our life. It must meet up and measure up to the divine standard of being a saint. As a matter of fact, the God in us treats them just like we would treat God Himself. That’s the way you do it. That’s the way you minister. Anything else is subnormal to what a saintly saint partakes of when he ministers.
Well, saintly saints also hold a high standard in the way they handle their disputes. In 1 Corinthians 6:1-2 you’ll see another high standard of ministry. When you conduct yourself in this world, no matter what area it’s in, remember your actions must be measured according to a high standard. And if it doesn’t measure up God is going to deal with all of us about that. Look at 1 Corinthians 6:1-2. He says “Does any one of you when he has a case against his neighbor dare to go to law before the unrighteous and not before the saints? Or do you not know that the saints will judge the world? And if the world is judged by you, are you not competent to constitute the smallest law courts?” In other words, don’t run to the secular courts.
There are times the courts become your friend, because they minister to those that do good. But there are other times that you need to tend to your business and your adversity. Many times we have problems with each other. How do we settle our problems? We settle them on a divine standard, by a divine way. And so one of the ways we see our duties to each other is in our responsibility to hold a high standard in our ministry.
And then third, saints are willing to submit to other saints in order for God to accomplish His order in the church. Saints are actually willing to submit to other saints equally as far as what they got in Christ. They are willing to submit to them in order for God’s order to be worked out.
Look at Philippians 1:1: “Paul and Timothy, bondservants of Christ Jesus, to all the saints in Christ Jesus who are in Philippi, including the overseers and the deacons.” You know who the overseers are? In 1 Peter 5 there are several verses there that mentions the word archipoimen, “pastor”, the word presbuteros, “elder” and the word episkopeo, “overseer” in the same sense of the same man. So in other words, the elders, the pastor and the deacons. Who are these people? Are they different from us? Here’s a question some people ask. “Are we not suppose to be a democracy? Are we not all equal in Christ?” Yes, when it comes to spiritual blessings, yes, when it comes to spiritual promises, but no, when it comes to order and function in the body.
If you had equality in the body of Christ you would have anarchy in the church. God does not work that way. Do you know what the word “submission” is? It is hupotasso. Hupo means to bear up under, and tasso means to put or to place somebody up under or to place them in the right place. What’s happening here is similar to a wife-husband relationship, when the wife says she is going to submit to her husband. As saints they are equals in Christ as far as position and privilege, but they realize they are unequal when it comes to order and function. Somebody has got to lead. And so they are willing to put themselves under.
That’s a miracle. But saints not only do that in the family, because that’s a picture of Christ in the church, saints also are willing to do that in the church. A person who is a saintly saint is willing to submit to other saints for God to accomplish His function and order among them. That is just the way it works. When you find a person who is positionally a saint but is not living saintly, he’ll fight God’s order in the church with everything in him, because self is still on the throne of his life.
Saints are God’s delight; they are the world’s disgust; they are each other’s duty; and they are sensitive to each other’s needs in their effort to minister and deal with adversity and in their submitting to one another. Do you understand a little bit more about the people to whom the book of Ephesians was written? They were saints. They were faithful in Christ Jesus.