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Clifford McLain's avatar
November 30, 1987

“THE MYSTERY” Its Reality, The Practical Side

“THE MYSTERY” Its Reality, The Practical Side (Ephesians Chapters 4 through 6)

Since The Mvstery is a body of many truths addressed to God’s people (Col. 1:26), the practical side would of necessity have to do with the walk. “As ye have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk ye in Him.” (Col. 2:6) The instructions in this context are no less forthright: “Work out your own salvation (deliverance) for it is God who is energizing you to His purposes.” (Phil. 2:12, 13 and 16).  The walk that is worthy begins in meekness and endeavors to keep (not create) the unity of the Spirit (Eph. 4:1-3). Thus, Faith-Obedience in the walk turns on seven distinct fundamental points of stewardship (Eph. 4:4-6). These seven points will be discussed at the end of this article.{C}{C}{C}{C} The pilgrimage of the Mystery saint traverses many adjustments along the way (Eph. 4:12). The progress or regress determines the time element until there is the unity of the faith (Eph. 4:13). Unity of the faith also speaks of the perfect man (maturity) — see also Col. 1:28. [For a separate study, compare these two scriptures to see the adjustments in understanding the saints had to make just after the close of the Acts Period: I Cor. 12:28 and Eph. 4:11. Compare the eight offices of the church in I Cor. to the 5 in Eph. Also compare the diversities of operations in I Cor. 12:6 and the parts of the Body in I Cor. 12:21 to Eph. 4:15. See our paper, ” ‘The Mystery’ – A Corporate Body, i.e., The Body of Christ,”]

The mature saint is no longer tossed to and fro with the many ups and downs of other teachings, but is growing in love, along with the increase concerning the unity of the body (Eph. 4:14-16; Col. 2:19). Needless to say, this overview of the things which lead to the unity of the Body are but preparatory for the practical realities – – that is where “the rubber meets the road.”

At the outset, on the practical side, we are told to put off the “Old Man,” i.e., the natural man, the old nature, human nature, etc. (Eph. 4:22). The reality of “put off” is best served when we are renewed in the spirit of the mind. This is, of course, in order that we put on the New Man, i.e., the spiritual man, the new nature, etc. (Eph. 4:23,24).

The Old Man is the prodigy of procreation in Adam. Hence, his nature is that of a rebel (Gen. 4:13, 14); whereas, the New Man is the product of a new creation in Christ (Eph. 2:10). The result of this dual nature in the believer is well demonstrated in the conflict between the two natures (Rom. 7:14-25). Consistently then, the saints need to examine themselves. Upon examination, it is discovered we have an umpire which gives peace (Col. 3:15), we also have. with other advantages, a mediator between God and Man, .the Man, Christ Jesus! (I Tim. 2:5)

Do you still practice lying? Do you still steal? How selfish are you? Do you allow the sun to go down upon your wrath? Do you practice illicit sex? Have you checked upon your musings lately? Where are your affections? Are you fulfilling your role as a husband or wife scripturally? What about your children? If you are a young person, do you obey your parents? As an employee, do you give a full day’s work for a full day’s pay? As an employer, do you pay your employee a full day’s pay for a full day’s work? Are you a responsible person? etc. (See Eph. 4:23-32; 5:1-33; 6:1-9; Col. 3:5-14). Just remember, in your assessment, the Holy Spirit is the Umpire. In the main, these last questions have to do with the things of the flesh. Even so, we do have a spiritual world with which to contend.

“The Warfare in the Spiritual World (Eph. 6:10-18)

“For our conflict is not against flesh and blood, but against the highest rulers, against the delegated authorities, against the world rulers of darkness, against the spiritual hosts of the Evil One, in the heavenlies,” (very literal – Eph. 6:12).

In the Colossian epistle we are advised not to be at all involved in the unseen world, i. e., angels, spirits, etc., because it is beyond our ways of understanding (Col. 2:18). However, there are times when the exception to the rule proves the rule. The intrusion of the spirit world into our lives is a case in point. Therefore, we are not to attempt any resolve in our own strength, but rather in the might and power of Almighty God (Eph. 6:10). Hence, we are not to instigate any trouble, but rather to make our stand in His power, clothed with the armor of His choice (five pieces of defense, and two of offense).

Armor of Defense (Eph. 6:14-17)

  1. A girdle of truth for our loins (All of Psalms 119. Christ is the truth! John 8:32, 36 and John 14:6).
  2. A breastplate of righteousness (Christ’s righteousness!) (Phil. 3:9).
  3. Since we stand upon our feet, they should be shod with the gospel of peace (II Cor. 5:19-21; Rom. 5:1, Eph. 2:14, Phil. 4:7).
  4. Our shield is The Faith (Rom. 10:17, Rom. 12:2, II Tim. 2:13).
  5. Our minds must be protected with the helmet of salvation. (Col. 2:10). (Christ, our Passover, is our salvation! I Cor. 5:7)

Armor of Offense (Eph. 6:17b -18) [All Parts of the Armor is Christ Jesus, Himself!]

  1. The Sword of the Spirit is the Word of God (Heb. 4:12)
  2. Prayer — in the Spirit (Rom. 8:26; Phil. 4:4-8).

“The Walk that is Worthy” (Eph. 4:1-6)

A change in any dispensation calls for certain adjustments in the status quo. For example, prior to the Flood, man was a vegetarian by the fiat of God (Gen. 1:29). Whereas after the Flood, man was allowed to eat flesh (Gen. 9:3, 12). See also I Tim. 4:1-5. In like manner, prior to Acts 28:28, Israel was the people of God. Thus they were to be the channel of blessing unto all the nations (John 4:22; Acts 3:25, 26). Just so, the Gentiles after Acts 28:28 came to be the channel of blessing (Acts 28:28, Eph. 3:1-3, and Col. 1:26-28).

In light of these facts, it follows quite naturally that there would be some adjustments to be made in the new status quo. Hence, the context of “the walk that is worthy” is the appeal of the Holy Spirit, “endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit.” Note carefully the word, “beseech,” (Eph. 4:1) for there is no hint of any legal requirement whatsoever. All is grace! In any case, it would seem from the context that the Holy Spirit anticipates seven distinct fundamental points wherein opinion may differ. Therefore the emphasis is upon meekness, lowliness of mind, in love, in order to keep the unity of the Spirit while certain adjustments of the Holy Spirit (Eph. 4:12) are energizing the student on to maturity and unity of the faith (Eph. 4:13) – – and thence on to a unity of the Body (Eph. 4:14-16).

The Seven Points for Adjustment

  1. The one Body (see our paper, “The Mystery – A Corporate Body…”
  2. The one Spirit (the one who guides into all truth – John 16:13, 14, Eph. 1:13-14).
  3. The one Hope (Col. 1:26-28).
  4. The one Lord (Christ is all – Col. 3:11. Phil. 2:10-11, I Cor. 15:28).
  5. The one Faith (see our paper, “The Faith – God’s Gift”)
  6. The one Baptism (Christ’s baptism unto death Matt. 20:22, 23 with I Cor. 12:13, Col. 2:12-13).
  7. The one God (the Father- I Cor. 11:3, Col. 1:12).

Much prayer is always helpful in any adjustment. Mac.

C. E. McLain 11/30/87.