There's a place in the Bible that contains some of the highest thoughts, most controversial topics, and finest theology of the New Testament: Ephesians. My October and November podcasts (Season 2, Episodes 4-5) are concentrated on Paul's letter to the Ephesians. This letter has been called "The Queen of the Epistles." It was truly interesting to study Ephesians, identify six themes, and assemble and present the podcasts that you can find on Apple, Spotify and Podbean podcasting sites. Please search on each for "Cecil Taylor monthly podcasts."
This blog is a preview of the November "Himalayas of the New Testament" podcast, which covers the final three of the six themes:
The body of Christ
Mutually submissive relationship model
In Ephesians, we find Paul in his most reflective mood. Typically he dashes off letters to churches or individuals to address particular topics going on at the time. But in Ephesians, perhaps inspired by his nearly simultaneous letter to the Colossians, Paul backs away from the day to day, in order to highlight the bigger picture in a circular letter meant to be shared across the churches of Asia Minor.
Paul identifies that Christ unites everything and everyone. He points to God's wisdom in His plan for Jesus and the church that was hatched at the beginning of time and is coming to fruition. He presents the analogies of the church as both the body of Christ and the bride of Christ. And Paul urges us to model Christ's humility and submission in our relationships.
But Paul, of course, is never far from the practical, and he sees a place where theology and practicality meet, in how to address evil. Paul realizes the human condition is to be surrounded by evil temptation and to have to deal with it and to do our best to conquer it. Sprinkled throughout Ephesians are Paul's ideas on how to address evil.
Paul suggests four ways to fight evil. I'll share them from the podcast but not in the order in which they appear; each is relevant to us today.
First to discuss is to rely on what we have been taught. Paul is writing to a largely Gentile population that was brought up in pagan culture but has been taught the ways of the Lord. He reminds them to abandon impurity and to renew the attitude of their minds. Similarly, we modern Christians have been taught what is right and what is wrong; it's up to us to trust our teaching and to follow it when tempted.
The second way to fight evil is by simply making good decisions as we choose light over darkness. Paul points to the consequences of darkness, including losing our inheritance in God's kingdom. This is a complicated term, but I interpret it as not being aligned with God's heavenly kingdom revealed on earth and losing the benefits of the kingdom until we align. Paul lists bad behaviors while urging good behaviors, such as kindness, compassion and forgiveness, qualities that need to be applied in our daily living today more frequently and naturally.
Paul provides a third way to fight evil in the analogy of putting on the armor of God so you can defend yourself with the tools God gives you. Paul compares each part of a soldier's wardrobe and weaponry to God-given tools, including truth, righteousness, peace, faith and God's saving power. Paul is clear that we go to war with Satan each day, and these are the tools by which we protect ourselves from his trickery and temptations.
Finally, Paul lets us know that when all else fails, we can fall back upon God's grace to save us from our sins and preserve us for good works in His name. We are God's workmanship, and God protects and restores His workmanship because He has greater things in mind for us than to play in the mud puddles of Satan.
This is only a small part of what we learn when unpacking the great thoughts of Ephesians. I urge you to listen to the November podcast and to check out the October podcast as well. It will enrich your life to travel through this great scripture and then apply it to your 7-day practical faith walk.
Monthly podcasts from Cecil Taylor Ministries can be found in the following locations by searching on "Cecil Taylor Monthly Podcasts"
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