We are taking our time going through the fourth chapter of Ephesians. This is a very practical, very needed section. We all constantly need to be reminded of how we are to live. Wouldn't it be great if we could reach a place in the Christian life where sin was no longer a problem? It would be nice if the longer you were a Christian, the more immunity to sin you built up. But the fact is, a man after God's heart such as David, after years of walking with Yahweh and writing many inspired Psalms, succumbed to the temptation of adultery, and murder. The wisest man on the earth, Solomon, who had several personal encounters with Yahweh, fell into the sin of idolatry.
Sin is always a problem, so the Bible gives us many good reasons to work at not sinning. For one thing, sin hurts you. Yahweh designed His commandments for our blessing and protection. There are built-in consequences when we violate His holy standards. It's like the traffic laws. You can drive fast, run red lights, and drive on the wrong side of the road in order to get where you're going faster. For a while, it may work. You may think, "This is great! I don't have to obey those restrictive laws!" But, sooner or later you're going to get hit by a truck and it won't be fun any more!
Another reason not to sin is sin hurts others. This is obvious with many sins, such as murder, rape, stealing, hatred, gossip, etc. In the context of this chapter Paul is calling for unity in the body of Christ. Sin causes disunity, it hurts the body of Christ.
In the midst of all these commands for holy living Paul gives us some motivation for not sinning. What is our motive to walk this holy walk? Is it fear of the loss of salvation? No, Paul nor any other writer ever uses or hints at that. Is it fear of judgment? No, it is fear of hurting Yahweh, our God. We should not sin because our sin grieves the Holy Spirit:
Do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Ephesians 4:30 NASB
In the context, Paul has been showing what it means to live as a Christian in a pagan world. We are not to live as the rest of the world lives. Paul says, "walk no longer just as the Gentiles also walk" (4:17-19). Rather, as those now created anew in righteousness and holiness, as those who have put off the Old Man and have put on the New Man (4:20-24), we are to live differently. Specifically, this means laying aside falsehood and speaking the truth (4:25); being angry and yet avoiding sin, not letting our anger control us (4:26-27); not stealing, but rather working hard so we can share with those in need (4:28); and, not using speech that tears down others, but using our words to build up others (4:29). We are to minister grace to one another. Paul will go on to say (4:31-32) that as Christians, we must put off all bitterness and anger, and instead be kind, tenderhearted, and forgiving towards one another, just as God in Christ has forgiven us.
But right in the middle of giving all these specific behavioral changes, Paul gives us the supreme motivation for why we should not sin, namely, that our sin grieves the Holy Spirit. The Greek here reads, "And not grieve the Spirit." The coordinating conjunction "and" links this exhortation to the negative imperative of verse 29. But this admonition not to grieve the Spirit is central to the whole paragraph (4:25-5:2) and provides motivation for all the warnings, not just verse 29.
"Do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God"—some Christians misuse this statement, they apply this to the unusual things that they claim the Spirit does in the Church, such as the spirit of laughter. The term "holy laughter" was coined to describe a phenomenon during which a person laughs uncontrollably, presumably as a result of being filled with the Holy Spirit's joy. It is characterized by uncontrollable laughter, sometimes accompanied by falling down to the floor. If you were to say this is not of the Spirit, they would say you were grieving the Holy Spirit. This is not what the passage intends to say.
Kittels notes that the Greek word translated here "grieve" is lupeo, which can mean: "both physical pain and mental anguish." Lupeo means: "to make sorrowful, to affect with sadness." It implies deep sorrow or distress or what we might term, "pain in the gut." Lupeo is used in:
But we do not want you to be uninformed, brethren, about those who are asleep, so that you will not grieve as do the rest who have no hope. 1 Thessalonians 4:13 NASB
If you have ever experienced the death of a loved one, you know that the "hurt" can be devastating. The LXX uses this word of David grieving over Absalom:
The victory that day was turned to mourning for all the people, for the people heard it said that day, "The king is grieved for his son." 2 Samuel 19:2 NASB
Grieve is a love word. You don't grieve people who don't love you. The deeper the love, the deeper the grief when sin hurts the relationship. Your sin grieves the Holy Spirit because He loves the body of Christ, the Church.
That we can grieve Yahweh is an astounding thought, because Yahweh is immutable (unchangeable), and He is in no way dependent on His creation for His happiness. He is the eternally blessed God (1 Tim. 6:15)! So there's a mystery here that we cannot fully understand. In some sense, Yahweh's being grieved at our sin is an anthropopathism, which means, attributing human emotions to Yahweh so that we can understand. It's similar to an anthropomorphism, such as when the Bible speaks of Yahweh's right hand or His mighty arm. We are not to understand it literally, but the Bible is stooping to our level so that we can get a handle on the meaning.
We grieve Him when we use words that create disunity. In the context, Paul has especially been referring to sins that disrupt the unity of the body:
There is one body and one Spirit, just as also you were called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all who is over all and through all and in all. Ephesians 4:4-6 NASB
One body, one Spirit—these two are related. We are one as a body because our one Lord was sent by the one Father to bring about the one hope that we have through our one faith, guaranteed to us through the abiding presence and seal of this one Spirit. So, when we use our words to cause disunity in the body, we bring grief to the Holy Spirit because we are working against His purpose in the Body.
This verse is one of many that clearly prove that the Holy Spirit is a person, not just an influence. Cults, such as the Jehovah's Witnesses, that deny the Trinity, say that the Spirit of God is simply His power or force at work in the world. But you can't grieve a force or a power. You can only grieve a person.
Martyn Lloyd-Jones points out that this verse distinguishes Christian ethics from every other ethical system. Other religions have ethical standards, but none of them command their followers not to sin because their sin grieves God. (Darkness and Light [Baker], pp. 265-266)
The Greek construction of verse 30 is literally, "And do not grieve the Spirit, the Holy One of God." The added article emphasizes the Spirit's holiness. Yahweh's holiness means that He is absolutely apart from and opposed to all sin and evil.
This is the message we have heard from Him and announce to you, that God is Light, and in Him there is no darkness at all. 1 John 1:5 NASB
who alone possesses immortality and dwells in unapproachable light, whom no man has seen or can see. To Him be honor and eternal dominion! Amen. 1 Timothy 6:16 NASB
In Isaiah's vision of Yahweh, the holy angels cry out:
And one called out to another and said, "Holy, Holy, Holy, is the LORD of hosts, The whole earth is full of His glory." Isaiah 6:3 NASB
Our God is holy and He calls us to live in a way that manifests His holiness to the world we come in contact with.
As elsewhere Paul's words here in 4:30, echo the language of the Tanakh:
But they rebelled And grieved His Holy Spirit; Therefore He turned Himself to become their enemy, He fought against them. Isaiah 63:10 NASB
And understanding of the context of this verse is important for interpreting the verse in Ephesians. After depicting the messianic judgment and the victory of the anointed conqueror (Isaiah 63:1-6)
"I trod down the peoples in My anger And made them drunk in My wrath, And I poured out their lifeblood on the earth." Isaiah 63:6 NASB
The prophet's intercession focuses on Yahweh's past goodness and the present desperate situation of His people. As the prophet reviews Yahweh's gracious actions, he begins with the exodus and recounts how Yahweh brought His people Israel into a covenant relationship with himself:
For He said, "Surely, they are My people, Sons who will not deal falsely." So He became their Savior. Isaiah 63:8 NASB
Then in language that recalls Exodus 33:12-14 verse 9 states:
In all their affliction He was afflicted, And the angel of His presence saved them; In His love and in His mercy He redeemed them, And He lifted them and carried them all the days of old. Isaiah 63:9 NASB
So He is saying it was the presence of Yahweh himself which saved the people in the wilderness. Israel rebelled and grieved the Holy Spirit.
But they rebelled And grieved His Holy Spirit; Therefore He turned Himself to become their enemy, He fought against them. Isaiah 63:10 NASB
The presence of Yahweh is interpreted in this passage in terms of the Holy Spirit. But the Exodus narrative makes it plain that Yahweh himself led his people through the desert and gave them rest:
And He said, "My presence shall go with you, and I will give you rest." Exodus 33:14 NASB
Yet Isaiah unequivocally asserts that it was "the Spirit of Yahweh who gave them rest.
The links between the two passages is significant. In Isaiah 63, which looks back to the Exodus, Yahweh is presented as the Savior of Israel, who redeemed his people from Egypt, brought them into a covenant relationship with himself, and led them by His own presence. But Israel the covenant people had rebelled against Yahweh and grieved his Holy Spirit. In Ephesians Paul addresses the new covenant community who have been redeemed (1:7) and reconciled to God through the cross of Christ (2:14-18). They have become the dwelling place of Yahweh by His Spirit (2:21-22). Using the language of Isaiah 63:10, Paul issues a warning to this new covenant community not to grieve the Holy Spirit of God as Israel had done in the wilderness. Paul is using new Exodus typology.
"By whom you were sealed for the day of redemption"-when a person believes the good news of salvation, at that moment, they are sealed in Christ with the Holy Spirit.
The Greek word sphragizo, translated here as "sealed," means: "to stamp (with a signet or private mark) for security or preservation" (Strong's Concordance). The verb sealed is aorist passive showing that believers are the recipients of the sealing.
Peter O'Brien notes, "In speaking of the Holy Spirit as a seal the notions of ownership and protection are in view. Cattle, and even slaves, were branded with a seal by their masters to indicate to whom they belonged."
A seal had three primary functions. First, it made something secure. When the guards put the Roman seal on the tomb of Yeshua, it was secured from anyone tampering with it. A seal on a bottle of medicine tells you that it is secure from anyone contaminating it.
Second, a seal identified the owner. We still have this practice in branding cattle. The mark shows who owns it. This word sealing suggests ownership, and it's in the past tense, in the Greek text. By whom you were sealed, unto the day of redemption.
Third, a seal authenticated the object sealed as genuine. When a king took his signet ring and pressed it into the wax on a letter, the recipient knew that it was authentic. We follow the same practice when a notary public puts his seal on a document. The Spirit authenticates that we are God's true children.
So the sealing of the Holy Spirit secures their safety. Yahweh is marking out those who are His. In Ezekiel 9:4-6, we see that Yahweh set a sign or mark on those who were mortified because of the sin of their nation:
The LORD said to him, "Go through the midst of the city, even through the midst of Jerusalem, and put a mark on the foreheads of the men who sigh and groan over all the abominations which are being committed in its midst." But to the others He said in my hearing, "Go through the city after him and strike; do not let your eye have pity and do not spare. "Utterly slay old men, young men, maidens, little children, and women, but do not touch any man on whom is the mark; and you shall start from My sanctuary. Ezekiel 9:4-6 NASB
The Hebrew word translated "mark" is tav. The tav is the last letter in the Hebrew alphabet. In modern Hebrew it looks like this, , but in ancient Hebrew it looked like this, ; it was two crossed sticks. So those who Yahweh had marked out for safety were those who had the ancient Hebrew letter tav on them that looked like a cross. That's interesting!
So we see from the mark of Yahweh that salvation is not like a transaction at Walmart, where later on you can return your faith when you don't need it anymore. You don't have faith one day, and give it away the next. When you put your faith in Christ, when you "trust" Him, you are sealed with the Holy Spirit, you are marked by Yahweh and are forever secure in His love. So many believers struggle with the security of their salvation when Scripture is clear, believers are secure. Notice what Paul tells the Roman believers:
For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life. Romans 5:10 NASB
"While we were enemies"—think about it! Before you trusted Christ, you were one of God's enemies.
"We were reconciled to God"—reconciliation implies that two parties are estranged, and in this case, at enmity with each other. It is an adversarial condition. We were God's adversaries; God was our adversary. Reconciliation implies that every barrier to the relationship, everything that hinders it, has been removed.
We did not decide to reconcile ourselves to God. Instead, reconciliation is something accomplished by Christ: "through whom we have received the reconciliation" (v11). You only receive what has already been provided by Another.
Through Yeshua the Christ we, who once were enemies of God, are now called His friends. Through Yeshua we, who once were far away, have been brought near to God. We, who once were aliens and strangers, are now part of Yahweh's family. We, who once had nothing to our credit, are now declared to be heirs of Yahweh and joint-heirs with Yeshua.
Now if when we were enemies, when we hated Yahweh, He came to us and reconciled us to Himself; now that we have been reconciled and thus have become friends with Him, "we shall be saved by His life." It's one of the most magnificent statements of the security of the believer in Yeshua that we have in all of the Bible. If anyone has any question about whether having believed in the Lord Yeshua the Christ you're safe and secure, if you'll just think of this text, that should ease all of your problems forever, because if He saved us when we were enemies, now that we are His friends, He surely will do something that is less; keep us in the salvation that we enjoy.
The writer of Hebrews put it this way:
Therefore He is able also to save forever those who draw near to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them. Hebrews 7:25 NASB
Yeshua the Christ saves forever! The word "save" here is the Greek word sozo. "The verb sozo has a wide range of possible meanings. It can mean: "physical healing, rescue from danger, spiritual deliverance of various kinds and preservation from final judgment." We must determine its meaning from its context. In this context in Hebrews, I believe that it is referring to preservation from final judgment.
Not only does Christ's priesthood provide "grace to help in time of need," it also keeps us secure in Him no matter how bad we mess up. In order to understand the eternal security of the believer (which is of utmost importance), it's imperative that we understand the Melchizedekian Priesthood. He saves us to the uttermost. Because of His work, we will never be lost.
The word "forever" is the Greek word panteles, which means: "to perfection." The only other New Testament use of this phrase is found in:
And there was a woman who for eighteen years had had a sickness caused by a spirit; and she was bent double, and could not straighten up at all. Luke 13:11 NASB
The words "up at all" are panteles. She couldn't completely stand up. But just as Yeshua by His power enabled her to stand physically, He can empower us to stand spiritually.
Christ is able to save for the duration of eternity as well as thoroughly. How long is a believer saved when he trusts in the person and work of Christ? Forever! What is left for him to do in order to be sure he is saved? Nothing! He is saved completely!
For as through the one man's disobedience the many were made sinners, even so through the obedience of the One the many will be made righteous. Romans 5:19 NASB
We are saved through His obedience, not ours! This truth takes away any claim by any denomination that says we must have good works in order be saved. There is nothing left for us to do after we become a believer in Christ. This is possible only because Yeshua is an eternal priest, and this is why believers are eternally secure. Our salvation is secure as long as Yeshua is alive. And since Yeshua is alive forever, we shall be saved forever.
If Yahweh has moved you from enemy status to sonship through the death of His Son, if He has gone to that length to reconcile you to Himself, then you can be assured that you will be saved forever by the life of Christ.
As Christians, do we all live on the brink of damnation? Is our salvation conditional on our ability to maintain it? Talk about depression! I mean, people get depressed for a lot of things far less significant than that. I could understand depression, and I could understand taking massive amounts of Prozac if you believe you can lose your salvation. To believe that would be to constantly live in mortal fear.
Paul says that they were "...sealed for the day of redemption." If you don't know what time it is verses like this will throw you off. One commentator writes, "He keeps us until the day of redemption, which is the day of Christ's second coming, when He will claim us completely as His own." He sees this as a future event to us.
S.L. Johnson writes, "I think that that expression, the day of redemption, in the light of the Apostle's statements elsewhere, refers to the time when we receive our glorified bodies."
John Piper writes, "The hope of all believers, guaranteed by the seal of the Spirit, is that at the end of history we will come to a day of redemption instead of a day of damnation."
Gordon Clark writes, "The phrase 'day of redemption' in theis passage is obviously not the day of our regeneration, but the day of full redemption, redemption of the body from the grave, and redemption from sin that will always affect us in our present life"
The believers Paul was writing to in the first century were sealed by the Holy Spirit until, the future to them, day of redemption. This is the "not yet.." Redemption was some thing they had not yet obtained. But then in Colossians Paul says:
in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins. Colossians 1:14 NASB
So here he says they have redemption—"already." People use these verses to argue against the inspiration of Scripture. Which is it? Did they have it, or were they waiting for it? People see this as a contradiction because they don't understand that the transition period was a time of "already but not yet." They had the promise of it, they had the Holy Spirit as the guarantee, but they still waited for the consummation. Redemption was still a hope to them. Until A.D. 70 and the consummation of all they were promised, they lived in hope. Notice what the transition saints hoped for:
For we through the Spirit, by faith, are waiting for the hope of righteousness. Galatians 5:5 NASB
But since we are of the day, let us be sober, having put on the breastplate of faith and love, and as a helmet, the hope of salvation. 1 Thessalonians 5:8 NASB
in the hope of eternal life, which God, who cannot lie, promised long ages ago, Titus 1:2 NASB
The transition saints did not have eternal life until the age to come:
but that he will receive a hundred times as much now in the present age, houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and farms, along with persecutions; and in the age to come, eternal life. Mark 10:30 NASB
so that being justified by His grace we would be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life. Titus 3:7 NASB
looking for the blessed hope and the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Christ Yeshua, Titus 2:13 NASB
The return of Christ was their blessed hope because all that they hoped for would be fulfilled by His presence.
Therefore, prepare your minds for action, keep sober in spirit, fix your hope completely on the grace to be brought to you at the revelation of Yeshua the Christ. 1 Peter 1:13 NASB
The transition period was an age of hope. They hoped for what they did not see. They hoped for the completion of their redemption.
This was a future event for them. The day of redemption was the coming of Christ in A.D. 70. Yahweh had sealed the first century saints who were waiting to receive the promised redemption, the consummation of their salvation. It was future to THEM, but it was very near:
FOR YET IN A VERY LITTLE WHILE, HE WHO IS COMING WILL COME, AND WILL NOT DELAY. Hebrews 10:37 NASB
The phrase "For yet in a very little while" is from:
Come, my people, enter into your rooms And close your doors behind you; Hide for a little while Until indignation runs its course. Isaiah 26:20 NASB
The context is one in which ultimate deliverance is promised to the people of Judah though for the present they are sorely pressed by peril and adversity. The author of Hebrews uses this quote here, I believe, to emphasize the temporary nature of their persecutions.
"For yet a very little while"-the Greek is very expressive and emphatic. The author used a word which signifies "a little while", and then for further emphasis added a particle meaning "very", and this he still further intensified by repeating it; thus literally rendered, this clause reads: "For yet a very, very little while, and He that shall come will come."
The idea which the author wishes to convey is evidently that the time of their deliverance from their trials was not far remote. The reference is undoubtedly to the second coming of Christ. If this is a reference to the second coming of Christ, and if He has not yet come as most of the Church believes, then what did this mean to the people to whom it was written? Nothing! Nothing at all!
What does it mean to us? Can we understand, "For yet a very, very little while, and He that shall come will come" to mean over 2, 000 years? If the Lord did not return in the first century, this would have meant nothing to the Hebrews. To tell you the truth it would have been deceptive to them.
Yahweh inspired the author of Hebrews to write at around 65 AD to the first century saints, "For yet a very, very little while, and He that shall come will come". How could he have made it clearer that the second coming of Christ would happen SOON to them?
Do you believe that the Bible is God's inspired Word?
All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; 2 Timothy 3:16 NASB
The Greek word translated "inspired" literally means: "God breathed." The thought of the Bible being from God suggests that since God is perfect or infallible, if the Bible is from Him it ought to be infallible as well. Specifically, if the Bible made a promise that something would happen within a specified time frame, if that event did not happen when and as promised, the Bible's claim to inspiration falls.
Notice what Yahweh says about those who speak His Word:
'I will raise up a prophet from among their countrymen like you, and I will put My words in his mouth, and he shall speak to them all that I command him. 'It shall come about that whoever will not listen to My words which he shall speak in My name, I Myself will require it of him. 'But the prophet who speaks a word presumptuously in My name which I have not commanded him to speak, or which he speaks in the name of other gods, that prophet shall die.' "You may say in your heart, 'How will we know the word which the LORD has not spoken?' "When a prophet speaks in the name of the LORD, if the thing does not come about or come true, that is the thing which the LORD has not spoken. The prophet has spoken it presumptuously; you shall not be afraid of him. Deuteronomy 18:18-22 NASB
Most Christians would say that the Lord has not yet returned, making the writer of Hebrews a false prophet. But the problem is that it wasn't just the writer of Hebrews who said that Yeshua was to return in the first century, Yeshua himself taught this.
Yeshua speaking to his disciples in Matthew 16:27-28, says that some of them would still be alive when he returned in the second coming. Was Yeshua wrong? If he was, then according to Deuteronomy, he was a false prophet. If Yeshua was a false prophet, then we are all dead in our sins and separated from Yahweh forever. If Yahweh does not keep the WHEN part of his promises, he has not kept his promise! The inspiration of the scriptures demands complete fulfillment of every aspect of God's promises. But if Yeshua is Lord, then what he said was true - he returned in the second coming before all of his disciples had died.
The Bible is God's word to MAN! The time statements about the second coming were made to those men who lived in the first century. The time statements in the Bible were spoken to man to encourage or to warn man. If God did not mean, "For yet a very, very little while, and He that shall come will come", what did he mean? Wouldn't it have been misleading for God to say something was going to happen "in a very, very little while" when it was really not to happen for centuries?
In Numbers 24, Balaam, the prophet, made a prediction of Christ's coming:
"I see him, but not now; I behold him, but not near; A star shall come forth from Jacob, A scepter shall rise from Israel, And shall crush through the forehead of Moab, And tear down all the sons of Sheth. Numbers 24:17 NASB
This is a prophecy of Christ's coming and he says, "It was NOT NEAR"; it wasn't going to happen in "a very little while." Why did he say this? Because Christ's coming was over 1400 years away, and 1400 years is a long time!
In the passage in Hebrews, the author very emphatically tells these believers that the Lord's coming was not far distant, and he therefore urges them to endurance during the little time of trial that remained. It was only to be a very, very little while until Christ returned and destroyed their enemies, the Jews.
If those in the transition period were sealed, securing their salvation, until the Lord returned, consummating their salvation; how much more secure are we today who believe? We are in Christ in the new age, dwelling in the presence of Yahweh, and therefore, eternally secure. Our security is not a reason to sin but a reason not to. Yahweh loves us and made us forever part of His family, why would we want to do anything that grieves Him?
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