See that you walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil. Wherefore be ye not unwise, but understanding what the will of the Lord is. (Ephesians 5:15 and 16)
The Lord Jesus Christ, as He neared the time of His crucifixion and resurrection, spoke to His disciples concerning these matters. In the 14th Chapter of the Gospel of John, the Lord Jesus Christ had begun to instruct His disciples that He would be leaving them. He was not going to leave them without a Comforter or a Helper, but it was necessary for Him to leave them to go and prepare a place for them. He told them, " let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid, you believe in God believe also in Me" (John 14) He also told them that He would come again and receive them (and us who know Him) that where He is we will be also. In the 24th Chapter of the Gospel according to Matthew, His disciples asked Him point blank "… What shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the world?" (Matthew 24:3)
Jesus answered them and said to them, "take heed that no man deceive you". (Matthew 24:4) Clearly, therefore, the question to which the world had been seeking an answer – WHAT SHALL BE THE SIGN OF THY COMING, AND THE END OF THE WORLD? – was answered by Jesus telling them, “don't be deceived”. He goes on to tell them in the 24th chapter of Matthew that “many false prophets shall arise, and shall deceive many." He also tells them that “because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold". Therefore, in response to the question “what shall be the sign of your coming and of the end of the world, Jesus told them “don't be deceived”, there will be many false teachers, false prophets, false Christ's and these shall deceive many! There will be betrayal, hatred, and iniquity shall abound, which will result in the love of many growing cold! Are we seeing these things occur at this day and time in the 21st Century?
We have men in the churches professing to preach the Gospel of Christ, who are Marxists, preaching another Gospel, proclaiming liberation theology, calling for lasciviousness, playing the world's music in the churches. This “music” is sensuous and in many cases ungodly. There has been seemingly an exponential increase in violence against many; law enforcement officers are being ambushed; school children are being shot in their schools; mass murders have occured around our country; murderers have driven trucks and automobiles into crowds of people killing many; and many other seemingly senseless, random acts of violence.
The Lord Jesus went on to tell His disciples that they would not know the day and the hour of His return and of the end of the world. Only the Father knows when this shall be. Nevertheless, IT SHALL BE! Jesus did tell His disciples that “as the days of Noah were, so shall also the coming of the Son of Man be". (Matthew 24:37) You may see “those days” described in Genesis Chapter 6.
- The real question is what are we to be doing as we await the return of Christ?
Clearly, we are to be obedient to the great commission found in Matthew 28, where Jesus tells His disciples the following:
“And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, all authority is given unto Me in heaven and in Earth. Go ye therefore and teach all nations, baptising them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, low, I am with you always, even until the end of the world. Amen" (Matthew 28:18 – 20)
Therefore, we are called to teach God's Holy Truth and the glorious Gospel of Jesus Christ to “all nations". We are called to make disciples of those around us. We are also to grow in holy manner of life, or conversation, increasing in godliness and looking for and “hasting the coming of the day of the Lord”. (2 Peter 3:12)
In the 5th Chapter of Ephesians, the Lord God, speaking through the Apostle Paul, tells His children that they should be followers of God as dear children. We are to walk in love even as Christ has loved us and has given Himself for us as an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet smelling savor. In the 5th Chapter of Ephesians, Paul also lists a number of specific acts of disobedience and sin that we are not to be engaged in and in the 15th verse, he tells us specifically that we are to “walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil.” As we consider the events of our day, we want to remember the command of the Lord Jesus Christ to teach His Holy Truth and the glorious Gospel of Jesus Christ and, therefore, make disciples of all nations. Anyone and everyone are those to whom we should reach out. It is specific. It does not involve a “marketing plan”! It does not involve making the church accommodate pagans! It does not involve bringing the culture into the church! It does involve preaching God's Holy Truth and the glorious Gospel of Jesus Christ – not with wisdom of words less the Cross of Christ become of none effect – and calling men and women and boys and girls to surrender their will to the Lord's will in true repentance, and place their trust in the Lord Jesus Christ alone for their salvation! A brief look at Ephesians 5:15 and 16 will give us insight into the manner in which we are to teach, (and walk).
- WALKING CIRCUMSPECTLY
Walking, of course, means how we are to be living. The basic meaning of the word circumspectly is to “look around". It is a prudent, cautious, and careful consideration of all circumstances and a desire to avoid mistakes and bad consequences. The great British expository preacher, Martyn Lloyd-Jones, describes circumspectly as a term which would really mean “accurately, carefully, because you cannot be accurate unless you are careful". In verse 15 of Ephesians Chapter 5, we see it contrasted with “walking as fools”. As you can see from the quote above, we are to “walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise”. This is actually just the exact opposite of the non-Christian, who is ungodly, and according to scripture, is governed by the prince of the power of the air. (See Ephesians 2:1-10). Only a Christian can walk circumspectly. In the second chapter of the book of Proverbs, God's Word says the following:
“My son, if you will receive My words, and hide my commandments with thee; so that you incline your ear unto wisdom and apply your heart to understanding; yea, if you cry out after knowledge, and lift up your voice for understanding; if you seek her as silver and search for her as for hid treasures, then shall you understand the fear of the Lord and find the knowledge of God. For the Lord gives wisdom, out of His mouth comes knowledge and understanding. He lays up sound wisdom for the righteous. He is a buckler to them that walk uprightly. (Proverbs 2:-1-7)
Thus, we see that wisdom comes only from the Lord. In first Corinthians 1:30, the Apostle Paul writes saying, “but of Him [the Lord God] are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption." (1 Corinthians 1:30)
Clearly all who are in Christ Jesus have wisdom. He is made unto us wisdom! God has put this wisdom in His Son. In the second chapter of Colossians, God's word says, speaking of the Lord Jesus Christ, “in whom are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge". The answer to all of the problems of the world are in the Lord Jesus Christ. One would think that those who are looking for answers to every single problem, some of which are the sexual perversion of all types that is rampant in our country; the violence that is becoming rampant in our country; and every other conceivable problem in existence in our country, would at least consider this staggering claim that the Lord Jesus Christ is the answer to all of the problems of the world. There is not a problem that is confronting any individual, or any nation in the world today, that is not answered in the Lord Jesus Christ!
It is the business of Christian people to recognize this and to walk circumspectly, not as fools but as wise, fulfilling the great commission given to us by our Lord Jesus Christ Himself, which is set out in Matthew Chapter 28:18- 20. In other words, we are called to walk circumspectly – not as fools – for we have the Lord Jesus Christ residing in us! We are the temple of His Holy Spirit. We ought to be reminding ourselves every minute of every day that He is our wisdom, righteousness, redemption and sanctification, indeed in Christ Jesus – who is in us – are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. Every day before we go out into the world, we should realize these holy truths and “walk circumspectly, not as fools”.
II. REDEEMING THE TIME BECAUSE THE DAYS ARE EVIL
Here, in this passage of scripture, we see the reason why we are to walk circumspectly. The simple straightforward truth is that we are to walk circumspectly so that we can redeem the time for the days are evil! Only God can redeem anything. He has redeemed us in the Lord Jesus Christ. “Christ Himself bore our sin in His own body on the Cross that we might be dead unto sin and alive unto righteousness and with His stripes we are healed.” Christ is our kinsman redeemer! If any man be in Christ he is a new creation, old things have passed away all things are becoming new. (2 Corinthians 5) We have been born-again. Only the Lord God through the Lord Jesus, can redeem us. Only the Lord God can make us to be born-again. It is the wisdom of God alone that enables a man to see that the days are evil and to redeem the time.
In Chapter 6 of this same Epistle, God’s Word, through the Apostle Paul, reveals to us the depth of this evilness. It is revealed that “we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.” (Ephesians 6:10ff) Here it is revealed that we are not just dealing with bad politicians. We are not just dealing with bad men. There is a design and a purpose in the evil. The entire non-christian world is under the control of the prince of the power of the air and those forces, principalities and powers, rulers of the darkness of this world, and spiritual wickedness in high places, that are all hostile to the Lord God and in active opposition to God.
The Apostle John, in his first Epistle, speaks of this evil that is rampant and in opposition to the Lord God in this way:
“Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world. (1 John 2:15 and 16)
Therefore, the things that the world loves, the Christian is called not to love.
- The Ten Commandments
The Word of God gives us God’s Ten Commandments to show us how a saved man is to live; how a Christian man should conduct himself. We are not left to have to guess these things, because God’s Word tells us clearly. In Exodus Chapter 20 is set forth God’s Ten Commandments as they were published to Moses on Mount Sinai.
“I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery.
3 “You shall have no other gods before[a] me.
4 “You shall not make for yourself a carved image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth. 5 You shall not bow down to them or serve them, for I the Lord your God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children to the third and the fourth generation of those who hate me, 6 but showing steadfast love to thousands[b] of those who love me and keep my commandments.
7 “You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain, for the Lord will not hold him guiltless who takes his name in vain.
8 “Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. 9 Six days you shall labor, and do all your work, 10 but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the Lord your God. On it you shall not do any work, you, or your son, or your daughter, your male servant, or your female servant, or your livestock, or the sojourner who is within your gates. 11 For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested on the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.
12 “Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long in the land that the Lord your God is giving you.
13 “You shall not murder.[c]
14 “You shall not commit adultery.
15 “You shall not steal.
16 “You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.
17 “You shall not covet your neighbor's house; you shall not covet your neighbor's wife, or his male servant, or his female servant, or his ox, or his donkey, or anything that is your neighbor's.”
In Deuteronomy Chapter 5, Moses publishes again the Ten Commandments, and in Deuteronomy Chapter 6, Moses calls on the children of Israel and on all who love the Lord Jesus Christ in the sincerity of our own hearts, to hide these commandments in our hearts and to bind them as frontlets before our eyes. We are to write them on the doorpost of our houses and to teach them diligently to our children when we lie down and when we rise up, and we sit in our houses, and when we walk along the way. We are to think on God’s Word, for it is God’s Word alone which gives wisdom. This enables us to redeem the time, even though the days are evil. Of course, redeeming the time means a purchasing of that time that we have been given, not just making the most of our time but actually “buying up the opportunity”.
What we as Christians have been given is a great opportunity to tell others of Jesus who is mighty to save. Our citizenship is not in this world! We are merely pilgrims and strangers in the world. Our home is in Heaven. We are merely sojourners here. The things of the world, the things that we see, all that is in the world, is not real life to the Christian. Real life, so grand and so marvelous that we really can hardly imagine it, is coming in due time.
We are to buy up this opportunity that we have now, in other words redeem the time, to fulfill God’s Great Commission to make disciples of all nations, teaching them to observe all things whatsoever Christ has commanded us. That means, of course, to tell them the glorious Gospel of Jesus Christ. In the fullness of time, God sent forth His only begotten Son, born of a woman, to redeem God’s people. Christ Jesus came not into the world to condemn the world, for the world was condemned already, but Christ Jesus came into the world to redeem the world with His own body on the Cross, by His precious blood which cleanses us of all sin.
What about us? Are we redeeming the time? Are we walking circumspectly? Are we fulfilling the Great Commission? Or, horrors upon horrors, are we just out there amongst the world, loving the world and the things of the world?
In Colossians Chapter 3, we are told if we be risen with Christ, we are to seek those things which are above where Christ sits of the right hand of the Father and we are to set our affections on things above and not on the things of the earth. How are we doing in that regard? Are we governed by what is going on at our places of work? Are we governed by whether we got the raise which we thought that we deserved? Are we governed by the pursuit of pleasure, or the pursuit of our children’s academic or athletic career? My prayer is that we all will be governed by the command of our Lord Jesus Christ to tell others of Jesus who is mighty to save and to make disciples of all nations; that we will walk circumspectly, not as fools but as wise redeeming the time for the days are evil, as we go about seeking to fulfill Christ’s Great Commission.
Now may the God of all peace that brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus Christ, that great shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant, make you perfect in every good work to do His will, working in you that which is well pleasing in His sight through Jesus Christ our Lord, to whom be glory for ever and ever . Amen