First, a back-up:
Eph 4:11 So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, 12 to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up 13 until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.Here, we see the operational core of the gospel mandate and how it confronts a culture in active rebellion against God, knowable truth and the right, being riddled with demonic, deceitful conspiracies and agendas. We are therefore called to truth it in love, implying also the transforming power and purity brought to us by the indwelling, transforming Holy Spirit. That four-point balance is critical: love, truth, power and purity.
14 Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of people in their deceitful scheming. 15 Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ. [NIV, 2011]
This means, both, [a] no undue hostility and [b] no compromise of what is knowable, livable truth and right.
No wonder, discipleship requires an implicit struggle to grow in grace in one's own life, with extensions to family, community, civilisation and world. (And yes, I freely confess to my own struggles, as will any serious Christian; I testify to truth because it is a discipline of core duty, not as implying any claim to perfection!)
For, a world in active rebellion, driven and tossed about by winds of erroneous or deliberately deceptive teachings, through the cunning and craftiness of deceitful schemers is not going to meekly submit to truth or purity. So, we must be spiritually energised with power and motivated by love if we are to be heavenly minded through God's truth and able to successfully do good on earth.
Where, obviously, this four point, growing balance of truth, love, power and purity then becomes a characteristic sign of the genuine presence and work of God. God who is truth himself, who is love as to essential nature, who is utterly pure, who is inherently good and whose power (starting with being Creator) is beyond any finite measure or bound.
Let me note, too -- in correction to certain trends of our day -- that any attempt to drive a wedge between Jesus as Messiah fulfilling the OT prophecies, his apostles and "inconvenient" teachings of the Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments is immediately deepest falsehood to be repudiated. As Messiah in the hebraic scriptural tradition, Jesus is tied to and endorses the OT. He sent and poured his Spirit out on his Apostles. The NT records their authentic, accurate, sound teachings, clearly by God's inspiration. Our view of the scriptures should be that of Jesus: scripture cannot be broken.
And yes, I am very aware that all of this means that we need both a bridge and a wall.
Or changing metaphors slightly, bridges are built because there are gaps that need to be spanned. However, if a bridge is on a border, there is a place for border protection to preserve from what may otherwise be smuggled in or what may be snatched and taken out.
But again, we can do better, going straight to scripture.
In Jesus' vivid words that echo how shepherds of that day apparently used to sleep lying across the entry to their sheep folds, as literal, living doors:
John 10:7 So Jesus said again, “I assure you and most solemnly say to you, I am [b]the Door for the sheep [leading to life].
8 All who came before Me [as false messiahs and self-appointed leaders] are thieves and robbers, but the [true] sheep did not hear them. 9 I am the Door; anyone who enters through Me will be saved [and will live forever], and will go in and out [freely], and find pasture (spiritual security).
10 The thief comes only in order to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have and enjoy life, and have it in abundance [to the full, till it overflows].
11 [c]I am the Good Shepherd. The Good Shepherd [d]lays down His [own] life for the sheep. 12 But the hired man [who merely serves for wages], who is neither the shepherd nor the owner of the sheep, when he sees the wolf coming, deserts the flock and runs away; and the wolf snatches the sheep and scatters them. 13 The man runs because he is a hired hand [who serves only for wages] and is not concerned about the [safety of the] sheep. [AMP]
Again, a tough challenge of balance and a call to self-sacrificial leadership willing to stand in the face of the wolves.
Bearing that in mind, let us now read on in Eph 4:
Eph 4:17 So this I say, and solemnly affirm together with the Lord [as in His presence], that you must no longer live as the [unbelieving] Gentiles live, in the futility of their minds [and in the foolishness and emptiness of their souls], 18 for their [moral] understanding is darkened and their reasoning is clouded; [they are] alienated and self-banished from the life of God [with no share in it; this is] because of the [willful] ignorance and spiritual blindness that is [deep-seated] within them, because of the hardness and insensitivity of their heart.
19 And they, [the ungodly in their spiritual apathy], having become callous and unfeeling, have given themselves over [as prey] to unbridled sensuality, eagerly craving the practice of every kind of impurity [that their desires may demand].
20 But you did not learn Christ in this way!
21 If in fact you have [really] heard Him and have been taught by Him, just as truth is in Jesus [revealed in His life and personified in Him], 22 that, regarding your previous way of life, you put off your old self [completely discard your former nature], which is being corrupted through deceitful desires, 23 and be continually renewed in the spirit of your mind [having a fresh, untarnished mental and spiritual attitude], 24 and put on the new self [the regenerated and renewed nature], created in God’s image, [godlike] in the righteousness and holiness of the truth [living in a way that expresses to God your gratitude for your salvation]. [AMP]
Here we see a contrast, a call to a Christian counter-culture of truth, love, power and purity confronting an age of en-darkened minds and benumbed consciences leading to addiction to impurity, sensuality, perversity and even blatant evil. Resemblance to our own day (and to the ugly picture in Rom 1) is NOT coincidental.
This implies ethical challenge and conflict, with debates over what is true and right in communities tainted and polarised through winds and waves of false teaching ultimately rooted in deceitful scheming. Where, to lie is to speak with disregard to truth, in hope that what one says or suggests will be taken as true. Likewise, it is self-evident that we are morally governed creatures, starting with the testimony of conscience. Similarly, our rational faculties are governed by undeniably known duties to truth, right reason, prudence, fairness and justice, respect for neighbour, and more.
(Such, already implies that even our vaunted intellectual lives operate on both sides of the notorious IS-OUGHT gap. As a consequence, this gap must be bridged. On pain of ungrounded ought, that can only be done at the root of reality. The source of reality must both be incorruptibly, inherently good and adequately powerful to be source of reality. After many centuries of debates, there is but one serious candidate . . . if you doubt this, simply try to suggest and soundly justify another: _______ . Easier suggested than done! The candidate to beat? The inherently good and utterly wise creator God, a necessary and maximally great being. One, worthy of our loyalty and of the responsible, reasonable service of doing the good that accords with our evident nature. And yes, this is a very familiar picture, one studied in biblical, systematic and philosophical theology.)
In this context, Rom 2 draws out a significant further facet of truth:
Rom 2:14 When Gentiles, who do not have the [--> written, Mosaic] Law [since it was given only to Jews], do [c]instinctively the things the Law requires [guided only by their conscience], they are a law to themselves, though they do not have the Law. 15 They show that the [d]essential requirements of the Law are written in their hearts; and their conscience [their sense of right and wrong, their moral choices] bearing witness and their thoughts alternately accusing or perhaps defending them [AMP]In short, our moral sense, when it is not en-darkened, tainted, twisted and benumbed, points to the heart of sound moral law. Indeed, in Rom 13, Paul further amplifies, giving us a form of the golden rule, drawing out why Jesus taught us that all the law hangs on the dual command to love God and to love neighbour:
Rom 13:8 [b]Owe nothing to anyone except to [c]love and seek the best for one another; for he who [unselfishly] loves his neighbor has fulfilled the [essence of the] law [relating to one’s fellowman]. 9 The commandments, “You shall not commit adultery, you shall not murder, you shall not steal, you shall not covet,” and any other commandment are summed up in this statement: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” 10 Love does no wrong to a neighbor [it never hurts anyone]. Therefore [unselfish] love is the fulfillment of the Law. [AMP]
As a sampler on specifics, let us read on further in Eph 4:
Eph 4:25 Therefore, rejecting all falsehood [whether lying, defrauding, telling half-truths, spreading rumors, any such as these], speak truth each one with his neighbor, for we are all parts of one another [and we are all parts of the body of Christ].
26 Be angry [at sin—at immorality, at injustice, at ungodly behavior], yet do not sin; do not let your anger [cause you shame, nor allow it to] last until the sun goes down. 27 And do not give the devil an opportunity [to lead you into sin by holding a grudge, or nurturing anger, or harboring resentment, or cultivating bitterness].
28 The thief [who has become a believer] must no longer steal, but instead he must work hard [making an honest living], producing that which is good with his own hands, so that he will have something to share with those in need.
29 Do not let unwholesome [foul, profane, worthless, vulgar] words ever come out of your mouth, but only such speech as is good for building up others, according to the need and the occasion, so that it will be a blessing to those who hear [you speak].
30 And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God [but seek to please Him], by whom you were sealed and marked [branded as God’s own] for the day of redemption [the final deliverance from the consequences of sin]. 31 Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor [perpetual animosity, resentment, strife, fault-finding] and slander be put away from you, along with every kind of malice [all spitefulness, verbal abuse, malevolence].
32 Be kind and helpful to one another, tender-hearted [compassionate, understanding], forgiving one another [readily and freely], just as God in Christ also forgave [c]you. [AMP]
We thus see the core of gospel ethics and how, naturally, it leads to the four-R progression of reformation as Christian discipleship increasingly pervades a community. And yes, I will again point to the seven mountains model championed by Wallnau et al in recent times, but tracing to Bright, Cunningham and Schaeffer in the 1970's. I do so, as it helps us to see the big picture in a fairly balanced way:
Going back to Francis Schaeffer, we can see how this allows us to view the intellectual history of our civilisation in light of the opposite dynamic, rising apostasy -- recall, post Noah, all surviving people had to have had a renewed sense of God's reality and the urgency of serving God as a counter-weight to the progression of wickedness, and let us recall Jesus' solemn "As in the days of Noah . . . " -- leading to corruption and ultimate ruin:
A driving force, here, is the driving of a wedge between what may be known through God and what we imagine we know while being in mind-darkening, conscience benumbing sinful rebellion:
Rom 1:28 And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God or consider Him worth knowing [as their Creator], God gave them over to a depraved mind, to do things which are improper and repulsive, 29 until they were filled (permeated, saturated) with every kind of unrighteousness, wickedness, greed, evil; full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, malice and mean-spiritedness. They are gossips [spreading rumors], 30 slanderers, haters of God, insolent, arrogant, boastful, inventors [of new forms] of evil, disobedient and disrespectful to parents, 31 without understanding, untrustworthy, unloving, unmerciful [without pity].
1 Cor 1:20 Where is the wise man (philosopher)? Where is the scribe (scholar)? Where is the debater (logician, orator) of this age? Has God not exposed the foolishness of this world’s wisdom? 21 For since the world through all its [earthly] wisdom failed to recognize God, God in His wisdom was well-pleased through the [c]foolishness of the message preached [regarding salvation] to save those who believe [in Christ and welcome Him as Savior] . . . 25 [This is] because the foolishness of God [is not foolishness at all and] is wiser than men [far beyond human comprehension], and the weakness of God is stronger than men [far beyond the limits of human effort].
2 Cor 10:3 For though we walk in the flesh [as mortal men], we are not carrying on our [spiritual] warfare according to the flesh and using the weapons of man.
4 The weapons of our warfare are not physical [weapons of flesh and blood]. Our weapons are divinely powerful for the destruction of fortresses.
5 We are destroying sophisticated arguments and every exalted and proud thing that sets itself up against the [true] knowledge of God, and we are taking every thought and purpose captive to the obedience of Christ . . . [AMP]
Yes, the heart of spiritual warfare is a worldviews and cultural agendas conflict, pivoting on warranting, grounding and living by a gospel integrated sound vision of the truth and the right. In that context, driving a wedge of separation that locks out the authentic voice and grace of God leads to undermining of right reason, prudence, sound warrant for claimed knowledge, ethics and law, worldviews and cultural agendas. This is ruinous -- and is proceeding apace in our day:
That is manifestly happening in our region, the Caribbean:
Starting, with in our churches, for:
By the way, in case you imagine that Wave 2 is irrelevant, kindly notice this outline global plan I first found online on Sept 11, 2001:
Now, of course, we must mark a distinction. We cannot out-argue a demon, such can only be expelled by the power of the Name of Christ and the transforming work of the Spirit. That's part of why Jesus went to a cross, binding the strong man at his very moment of apparent triumph. So, there is a place for prayer and spiritual, Elijah- at- Carmel power confrontation that shows up the emptiness of demonic deception by contrast with the supreme, miraculous, rescuing, redeeming, transforming power of God.
The gospel is the core, that must be boldly taught, must be soundly warranted in the face of ever so many attempts to discredit, dismiss and lock it out, and must manifest itself in forceful Kingdom Power that breaks demonic chains, expels same and sets captives free to serve God.
(I note, I think most demons actually quietly pack up and go when the gospel backed by the Spirit's convicting power comes into a life through sound gospel teaching. Others, like those that possessed that fortune-telling girl in Philippi, challenge the spreading of the gospel to provoke a confrontation that then draws out a demonic riot. But even in the face of injustice at kangaroo court, the gospel was vindicated with literally earth-shaking power. A lesson, that today's arrogant judges and rulers who echo Psalm 2:3 -- "Let us break apart their [divine] bands [of restraint]
And cast away their cords [of control] from us" -- would be well advised to heed. And yes, Chief Justice Smellie of Cayman [and FCO officials], I am looking straight at you. Kindly see here and here, for details. Also, see here, Gleaner Editors and Columnists. Neighbour-love includes the duties of frank confrontation, rejection of slander and just judgement: "you shall reason frankly with your neighbor, lest you incur sin because of him," also "[y]ou shall not go around as a slanderer among your people" and "[y]ou shall do no injustice in court." [Lev 19:15 - 18 ESV. And yes, this also condemns melee politics that elevates slanderous gossip to a political propaganda tactic.] )
Accordingly, and again echoing Schaeffer, it is time for soundly prophetic intellectual and cultural leadership, starting with the Eph 4:17 - 24 counter-cultural stance:
Then, we may contemplate an onward call to action in response to the tidal wave of apostasy and de-christianisation from the North and the missions challenge of the 10/40 Window to the East:
All of this starts with discipleship foundations:
We could keep going, but for now let us pause. Let us again ponder the challenge: why not now; why not here; why not us? Or, yet again: if not now, then when; if not here, then where; if not us, then who? END