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1. “ Children obey your parents in the Lord: for this is right. ” Out of the Lord, dare to disobey and suffer the consequences. If your parents assign you to a dancing-school, refuse to go; if you get a thrashing every day, receive it joyfully for Christ’s sake. It is equally true in the relation of husband and wife, master and slave. You are only to obey in the Lord. When the brutal husband of a holy woman forbade her going to John Wesley’s meetings on pain of death, still she went, though he had sworn in his wrath that be would bake her in his oven. Returning from a glorious class-meeting, she saw the smoke going up from the bake-oven. Falling on her knees, she said; “Lord, if you need a martyr in England, I put in the first bid. I am ready to go into that oven like Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. If you do not need the martyr, put your hand on my wicked husband.” When she got inside of the house, she saw him rolling over the floor, unable to stand on his feet, exclaiming aloud, “Pray for me, O my Polly; I will be in hell before night.” Soon he was converted and sanctified, and became an earnest class leader. When you dare to obey God, he will take care of the results.
2,3. Sin dishonors your father and mother, casting over their memories a reflection of reproach for neglect of duty. A correct life observes the laws of nature, lives hygienically, and always conduces to longevity. “The wicked shall not live out half their days.”
4. “ And, fathers, provoke not your children to wrath. ” You know the poor little things have inherited evil tempers from you. If you can not kill a rattlesnake, just let him alone. If you arouse him, he will probably kill somebody. The hereditary evil in your children is the snake nature, imbibed from the devil in the fall through the serpent. You can not kill it. Adam the Second alone can kill Adam the First. Hence, do your utmost to avoid arousing the evil tempers in your children, till you can get them all sanctified out by the cleansing blood. “ But bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord; ” i.e., so correctly in the fear and love of God as to keep them out of sin, and enforce obedience. Solomon says, “If you beat a boy with a rod, you shall save his soul,” and warns us not to “spare the rod and spoil the child.” Meanwhile, you sedulously control him in harmony with the law of God. Your home is to be the school of Christ, in which you faithfully teach the inmates the Holy Scriptures and the way of the Lord.
5-9. This paragraph beautifully expounds the relation between the master and slave; as servant here is doulos, which always means a slave, as oiketees is the word for hired servants. Slavery was common in all nations in Paul’s day. The gospel is not a political, but a spiritual power. Hence, while it provides sanctifying grace competent to superinduce perfect harmony, love, peace, brotherhood, and charity between the master and servant, so as to make their home a little heaven, yet it lays deep in the heart of both those sanctified principles which will, in due time, utterly and eternally undermine and abolish the institution of human slavery. My great-grandfather, when converted under the preaching of Bishop Asbury in old Virginia, owned thirty Negro slaves. On arrival at his home, he called them all into his house, told them his experience, fell on his knees, and prayed for them, got up, and bade them a loving adieu, exhorting them to meet him in heaven, saying, “Go now whither you will, you are as free as I am.” Though we always lived in a slave State, that was the finale of slavery in our family.
THE CHRISTIAN’S PANOPLY
10. “ Finally, be filled up with dynamite. ” Heaven is full of dynamite. We have but to tap the ocean by faith and we get full. When a teacher in college, I use to charge a galvanic battery with electricity, have a student stand on an insulating stool, put his hand on the pole, and get so full of electricity, that every hair on his head would stand out straight. If a person would come near him, a spark of fire would leap out of him, and burn him.
So we all ought to be full of God’s dynamite, transmitting the sin-consuming fire to all who come about us. This is the way we are to conquer the world for Christ.
11. “ Put on the panoply of God, that you may stand against the methods of the devil. ” When John and Charles Wesley, Thomas Maxfield, and John Fletcher organized the Holy Club at Oxford, in 1724, the Churches were so dead and the clergy so unspiritual, that they had 110 methods for the conversion of sinners and the sanctification of believers. So, when John Wesley organized the class-meeting for the conversion of penitents, the holiness bands for the sanctification of Christians, and the select societies for the edification of the sanctified, and they saw them working hard day and night to get sinners converted and Christians sanctified, the proud clergymen and carnal members raised a critical howl, “See how these fellows have methods of doing God’s work,” considering it a matter of ridicule that any one would presume to adopt methods for the salvation of souls, as that was God’s work, and he would attend to it in his own time and way. Hence, they called John Wesley and his comrades “Methodists,” simply because they had methods of saving souls. Here we see Paul alludes to the “methods of the devil;” therefore, the devil is a great “Methodist,” having an infinite diversity of methods for the damnation of souls. Hence, if we would compete with him, we must have methods, too. The fallen Churches are full of methods for money-raising and everything else except salvation, of which they are utterly destitute. Hence, Satan, with a gusto, dumps them into hell by wholesale, as he has an abundance of most successful methods for damnation, and they none for salvation.
12. “ There is not to us fighting against blood and flesh, but against governments, against authorities, against the world-rulers of this darkness, against spirits of wickedness in the heavenlies. ” Satan utilizes his paradoxical intelligence as an organizer of his diabolical forces in earth and hell for the damnation of each revolving generation. His war is not haphazardous, but wisely planned and cunningly executed. His strategic movements against humanity are marvelous, and infinitely beyond human conception. Could you see the tall peers of the pit, commanding the vast demoniacal battalions, and manipulating their adroit military evolutions through our populous cities, even drawing the chloroformed Churches into their cooperation to fight holiness and join the world, you would fall in line with the holiness movement, and stir us all up into a Balaklava charge against the combined armies of earth and hell. “High places” here is the same Greek as heavenly places in every preceding chapter. “Places” in the original should not occur; the proper reading, simply “the heavenlies” i.e., heavenly experiences which we must have preparatory to our enjoyment of heaven.
Hence, we see that the big fight with the devil, in which he marshals all the hierarchies of hell, is pitched against the people “in the heavenlies.” Satan doesn’t waste his ammunition on sinners, as they are already secure in his black clutches. Neither does he expend much on unsanctified Christians, as the depravity in them is hell’s lasso around their necks, sure to drive out their religion, and drag them into the pit, if they don’t get it burnt off with sanctifying fire. But when you get truly sanctified, saved to the uttermost in the enjoyment of the heavenly state, and robed and ready for the bright upper world, Satan knows he is fighting in his last ditch; he must get you now, or give you up forever. Hence, he lays under contribution all the armies of earth and hell for your apostasy and damnation.
13. “ Therefore take the panoply of God, that you may be able to stand in the evil day, and, having done all, to stand. ” We awfully jeopardize our immortal interest, if we neglect a solitary item of the Christian’s panoply. We most imperatively need it all, and terribly imperil our souls if we take chances on the devil’s battlefield with inadequate armor. Man’s extremity is God’s opportunity. When we have “done all,” and reached utter despair, God takes the work into hand; the sinner gets converted at the end of all human resources. In a similar manner must the Christian who would receive the sanctifying baptism of the Holy Ghost and fire leave John at the Jordan, and see Jesus only. It is equally true in all our Christian warfare, the victory comes when we have “done all.” On a ship in mid- ocean the alarm roars, “A man overboard!” “Who will save him?” A stalwart youth volunteers. All eyes are fixed on him, and all wonder that he does not leap in, for he stands like a statue gazing on the deep. The man appears amid the billows, struggling terrifically; all shout, “Now, now is your chance!” The volunteer heeds them not, but stands still. Two minutes have flown; the drowning man again rises to the surface, struggling for life, but not half so violently as before. Again all shout to the volunteer to leap to his rescue, who, to their surprise, looks on the scene with apparent indifference. Five minutes have flown, the drowning man again comes in sight. The struggle is over, for he is dead. Now the athlete leaps overboard, and soon brings him up by the hair of the head. Erelong he is recuperated and running like a racehorse all over the deck, so glad he is alive. They now ask the swimmer, “Why did you not save him the first time?” “Too strong; he would have drowned me as well as himself.” “Why did you not save him the second time?” “Still too strong; he would have drowned us both. I waited till his strength was gone.” So Jacob wrestled all night till his hip was out of joint, and his strength gone.
14. “ Therefore stand girded about your loins with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness. ” “Loins” symbolize strength, and the girdle the powerful auxiliary. Hence, we see that God’s revealed truth Is our power. A sermon may be eloquent and intellectually edifying, but it is potent for good only as it is freighted with the Word of God. This is the melancholy secret of the lamentable loss of power in the Churches. The Word of God is substituted by human learning, which is utterly powerless to save souls. Hence, the cultured, eloquent preacher just lets the people drop through his fingers into hell. In the breast are located the important vital organs of the physical organism; i.e., the heart, lungs, liver, stomach. If they are not protected you will soon die. Your own righteousness, arising from your good works, is “filthy rags” in the sight of God. It is the fond trick of the devil to so fool you as to get you to insult God by poking off on him your own righteousness, a pile of stenchy rags. This “breastplate of righteousness,” so indispensable to your fortification against Satan’s missiles of death, is none other than the righteousness of God in Christ, imputed unto you when in radical abandonment of all sin and eternal submission to the Divine Will in the profound realization of your fitness only for hell, by faith alone, you cast yourself on the mercy of God in Christ.
15. “ Having your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace. ” It is distressing to see the sore footed pilgrims limping around; and no wonder, for they are barefoot, and the road is both flinty and thorny. What a pity they do not all supply themselves with a pair of good, substantial gospel shoes! Then they would delight to run, like Sampson’s foxes, throughout the whole community, everywhere bankrupting the devil by burning down Philistines’ cornfields, and taking the land for King Jesus.
16. “In all things taking the shield of faith, by which you shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one.” The Stygian soldiers of Satan’s army are constantly shooting at the saints of God red-hot arrows, flaming with hellfire. “The shield of faith” is more than a match for all of the devil’s artillery, quenching or putting out all of the fire, so they are perfectly harmless falling at your feet. Thus you receive no damage. Meanwhile hell is robbed of her ammunition. This is not the faith by which a penitent sinner is justified. Neither is it the faith by which a consecrated Christian is sanctified. But it is the Christian ‘warrior’s faith. Hence, when you go out to fight the devil, be sure you wear your shield; i.e., have faith in Jesus to give you constant victory, and it will be according to your faith every time. When the soldier-boy left home for the field, the Grecian mother always delivered to him his shield, with the words, “My son, with this; or upon it.” When the soldier fled before the enemy, he always threw away his shield for expedition. When he was slain in battle, they carried home his dead body on his shield. Hence, the charge of the Grecian mother to her soldier boy to conquer or die on the battlefield.
17. “ And receive the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God. ” The helmet protects the head, the location of the brain, the most important and vital organ. This “helmet of salvation” is the genuine salvation of the Lord, which is the infallible protection against all the assaults of Satan. When I was in the Tower of London, I saw the medieval knights mounted on their gallant war steeds, invested with a panoply of shining steel from the crown of the head to the soles of their feet, their war-horses also covered with the same impregnable armor. Amid all this stupendous panoply, so vividly described by Paul, every weapon is defensive, except the sword, which is the Word of God. Hence, you seethe Christian warrior goes forth to meet the foe so thoroughly fortified by his protective armor, as to be utterly invincible, simultaneously lifting high his glittering two-edged sword, by which he cuts down the enemy right and left, without distinction or mercy. During the conquest of Mexico by the Spaniards in the sixteenth century, amid an awful battle on the Heights of Chepultepec, two young Aztecs flew at General Cortez, like lions in desperation, to precipitate him from the heights, thus killing him and themselves to save their country; but the heroic Spaniard very adroitly met and slew them both with his sword. O how few Christians are experts in gladiatorial combat! This wonderful sword has two edges. If you receive the salvation edge, it will cut all sin out of you, sanctify you wholly, and save you forever. If you are too cowardly and mean to hug the salvation edge, you are destined to receive the damnation edge, which will cut out all your hopes of heaven, consigning you to an eternity of woe.
18. You can not always be in the meditation of prayer, but you can incessantly abide in the spirit of prayer, which is your needed fortification against demoniacal surprises, to which you are constantly liable, and in danger of disconcertment. When Bunyan’s Pilgrim met Apollyon in the Valley of Humiliation, and fought him six solid hours in a terrible hand to hand combat, the latter roaring like a lion and fighting with desperation, in the midst of the deadly conflict at one time Pilgrim lost his sword. Meanwhile it seemed that his doom was sealed. Bunyan says that he had another weapon called All-prayer, which he used with his utmost ability during this awful crisis. Suddenly, to his joyful surprise, his hand lights on the hilt of his sword, which he wields with unprecedented energy, stampeding his hellish foe from the field, and raising the mighty shout of victory.
19,20. Here Paul reminds the Ephesian saints fifteen hundred miles away, to incessantly pray for him, not that he may be released from bonds and imprisonment, but tat he may have the power and liberty of to Holy Ghost, “ boldly to make known the mystery of the gospel. ” Nearly all the preachers lack boldness and clearness. Indifferentism withers and chills all gospel effort. The remedy for all this is prayer. The preacher ought to have a score of red-hot public prayers before he opens his mouth to preach the living Word, as it is a mystery which none but the Holy Ghost can reveal.
21,22. Tychichus and Onesimus traveled together from Rome to Asia, carrying this epistle and that of Colossians and Philemon, all of which Paul wrote, occupying his rented mission-hall the first two years of his Roman imprisonment.
REGENERATION AND SANCTIFICATION
24. “ Grace be with all who love our Lord Jesus Christ with Divine love in purity. ” Here we have agape, the definition of God himself. (1 John 4:18.) “God is love;” i.e., love is the Divine nature. It evanesced from humanity in the fall, and never gets back till the Holy Ghost pours it from his own heart into ours in regeneration. So this Divine love is the new heavenly nature imparted to us in regeneration. We receive it into a depraved heart, as we have no other sort. This heart must be thoroughly purified in the subsequent work of entire sanctification. Why does not God take the old life of sin out of us before he imparts the new life of grace? Why did not the Indians evacuate California before the Americans came and settled this beautiful country? From the simple fact that they loved California, and wanted to stay in it, and did stay until they were driven out by the new inhabitants. Even so the devil loves the human heart, and only evacuates it at the point of the bayonet. If the Holy Ghost did not come in, Satan would never go out. When he comes in, he always brings his new life with him. Hence, we see regeneration must precede sanctification. This verse is a good text, beautifully revealing this great double salvation in a nutshell.
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Godbey, William. "Commentary on Ephesians 6". "Godbey's Commentary on the New Testament". https://www.studylight.org/
the Second Week after Epiphany