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Posted by Pastor Greg Allen on July 5, 2017 under AM Bible Study |

AM Bible Study Group; July 5, 2017 from Ephesians 5:6-14

Theme: The conduct of the believer in this world is to be characterized by wisdom.

(All Scripture is taken from The New King James Version, unless otherwise indicated).

You can tell a lot about someone by how they ‘walk’. We’re not talking, of course, just about how someone’s literal ‘gate’ looks; but rather more, by the choices they make in daily conduct—the choices they make of where to place their feet in everyday life. As Solomon warned in Ecclesiastes 10:3; “Even when a fool walks along the way, he lacks wisdom, and he shows everyone that he is a fool.”

In the Book of Ephesians, Paul has made a great deal about our “walk” as believers. The word “walk” comes up eight times in it. Paul speaks of our former state of ‘deadness in sin’, “in which you once walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit who now works in the sons of disobedience” (Ephesians 2:2). But he says that now, raised by God in Christ, “we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them” (2:10). With this in mind, Paul beseeches us now “to walk worthy of the calling with which you were called” (4:1); that we “should no longer walk as the rest of the Gentiles walk, in the futility of their mind” (4:10); but “be imitators of God as dear children. And walk in love, as Christ also has loved us and given Himself for us …” (5:1-2). For Paul, it boils down to what we now are in Christ; “For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light” (5:8). (See H.A. Ironside, In The Heavenlies, pp. 261-2.)

Those seven previous uses of the word ‘walk’ help us now appreciate the exhortation we find in Ephesians 5:15-17;

See then that you walk circumspectly, not as fools but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be unwise, but understand what the will of the Lord is (5:15-17).

Ours is to be a walk characterized by careful thought and attention—guided by the word of God. The truly ‘wise’ walk of the believer is …


Paul begins in verse 15 with the words “See then …”; or, as it is in the NIV, “Be very careful, then …” And you can see that what he is telling us in verses 15-17 is a consequence of what he had told us in verses 8-14. We were once darkness, and we once did not care what God said about our conduct. But now, we are children of light—having entered into the illuminating influence of God’s revealed word through Christ. So; we are now to “See then …” that we manage our daily conduct in a new way.

What is this new way? Paul says we are to “walk circumspectly”. To be ‘circumspect’ means to be looking around one’s self attentively. If you’ve ever taken a stroll through the farm, you know, of course, what this means literally. But it becomes even more important in a figurative sense of walking through the daily path of life in a world where that pathway is surrounded dangerous moral embankments and drops off the cliff, and where the pathway itself is spotted with dangerous pot-holes and the quicksand-pools of sin. If, as Paul says in verses 3-7, there are practices in this world that will result in the wrath of God, then we need to be very carefully where we put our feet in life.

And what principle do we follow in walking in this ‘new way’ of care? Paul writes, “not as fools but as wise …” The word translated “fool” is the word for “wise” with a negating ‘alpha’ in front of it: to be “a-wise” or “un-wise”. In order to walk in a truly circumspect way in this world, we must not disregard wisdom; but rather, walk in accordance with wisdom. And true wisdom always begins with a reverential respect of God and a readiness to hear and do as He says. As Proverbs 1:7 says, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and instruction.” You might say that wisdom is a matter of knowing what God says and doing it, and foolishness is a matter of knowing what God says and refusing to do it—or knowing that He has spoken and not caring what He said. We’re to walk carefully in this world—walking through the dangerous moral land mines with reverent dependency upon God, and carefully putting our feet where He says.


In a sense, that careful walk focuses on what to avoid. But if that’s all we focus on, then we’re not truly walking in wisdom. A truly wise walk in Christ involves not just avoiding the wrong things but also doing the right things. Paul, therefore, urges us to walk wisely, “redeeming the time …” (or as it can be better translated, redeeming the “opportunities”).

The word that Paul uses for “redeeming” is one that comes from the world of marketing. It means “to buy up” something. If you go to an antique store or a second-hand store, and you see something of great value, you seize the opportunity and buy it up. A wise investor sees how goods purchased now, when the cost is low, can render a higher yield later; and so he makes use of the opportunity and buys-up now what he can. And that’s what Paul calls us to do in our daily walk. We’re to be paying careful attention to what is going on in life around us, and then see the opportunities to do God’s will in everyday life, and then eagerly grab-up the chance to do it. Ephesians 2:10 says that God has prepared good works for us in advance, and we’re to grab hold of the chance to do them when we come upon them. Paul writes in Galatians 6:9-10; “And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart. Therefore, as we have the opportunity, let us do good to all, especially to those who are of the household of faith.”

This is especially important, as Paul affirms, “because the days are evil.” Jesus said that “from the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven suffers violence, and the violent take it by force” (Matthew 11:12). Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 7:29-31—speaking to his Corinthian brethren of the unusual times in which they were living—that “the time is short, so that from now on even those who have wives should be as though they had none, those who weep as though they did not weep, those who rejoice as though they did not rejoice, those who buy as though they did not possess, and those who use this world as not misusing it. For the form of this world is passing away.” These are dark times in which we’re living—not the time for business as usual. We walk wisely when we grab hold of the opportunities to do good while we can.


Paul concludes, “ Therefore do not be unwise …” And the word that he uses here for “unwise” is a different one from what we find in verses 15. Here, it means to be “unenlightened” in such a way as to lack spiritual judgment. In the old days, we walked around in spiritual darkness and could not judge things rightly. But now, because we are children of light, and because the days are evil, we must not walk in a way that is “unenlightened” or “un-illuminated”. Jesus told people, “A little while longer the light is with you. Walk while you have the light, lest darkness overtake you; he who walks in darkness does not know where he is going” (John 12:35).

Instead of walking around as if without true illumination, Paul writes, “but understand what the will of the Lord is.” The word “understand” here means “to send together” or “to put the pieces together”. It’s the idea of thinking—truly reasoning in a sanctified way—about the revealed word of God; putting the pieces together, for practical living, of what this verse over here says, and of what that passage over there says; and learning from the instruction of God’s word were to put our feet in the light of what God’s word says. This involves work on our part. As Psalm 119:105 puts it, “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path”; and we must do the hard work of thinking of what that means in practical living for the illumination of our foot path.

Naturally, this would mean that we must be people who are regular in our times in God’s word; and who know well what the Bible says. It is God’s provision for practical understanding of how to walk in this world in a way that pleases Him. Paul urges us in Romans 12:2, “do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.” And he tells us in 2 Timothy 3:16-17;

All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work (2 Timothy 3:16-17).

* * * * * * * * * *

In the first Psalm, we’re reminded of the blessings of the ‘wise’ walk:

Blessed is the man

Who walks not in the counsel of the ungodly,

Nor stands in the path of sinners,

Nor sits in the seat of the scornful;

But his delight is in the law of the Lord,

And in His law he meditates day and night.

He shall be like a tree

Planted by the rivers of water,

That brings forth its fruit in its season,

Whose leaf also shall not wither;

And whatever he does shall prosper (Psalm 1:1-3).

May our walk be consistently characterized by the reverential care, the Spirit-enabled eagerness, and the biblically informed illumination that makes it a truly ‘wise’ one in Christ.

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