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1 I therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you that ye walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called,
We note the "therefore." Because God has so loved us, therefore I beseech you to be worthy of that love. Then the word "beseech." It is an entreaty, not a command. No mention is made of penalty. He appeals to the best in us.
Bro Growcott - Holy and Blameless in Love
3 Endeavouring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.
"'Pleas for unity' are out of place while the truth is being trifled with; they are dangerous; they are treacherous, however well meant. They will not be listened to by those who are set for the defence of the gospel."
Bro Roberts, 1867
"The true prophets failed to bring matters to a right bearing in Israel, and it is not likely that a few unofficial and powerless sheep of the flock in the dark days of the Gentiles, should bring about a reform. We can but do our duty; saving ourselves from this untoward generation, and such as will hear the word."
Bro Roberts 1871
17 This I say therefore, and testify in the Lord, that ye henceforth walk not as other Gentiles walk, in the vanity of their mind,
Whither Goes Your Mind?
Lift your mind out of the dust into the sky. It is a lifelong, try-fail-and-try-again process, over and over. Keep forcing the mind back, and up. It does not come easily.
The mind is lazy, very lazy, especially in spiritual things. It likes to grovel in the earth. It likes to putter with toys. It likes to be amused, excited, entertained -- ANYTHING but work and labour.
But, with God's help, the mind is capable of wonderful, glorious, infinitely-joyful things. It is a marvellous device, though made of common clay. How little we use its intended powers! How we waste and degrade and abuse it with our infantile toys and prattle and buffoonery!
God's greatest gift to us personally is Conscience. And His greatest blessing is a pure conscience, through obedience that comes by love that comes by faith.
21 If so be that ye have heard him, and have been taught by him, as the truth is in Jesus:
22 That ye put off concerning the former conversation the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts;
23 And be renewed in the spirit of your mind;
24 And that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness.
"No, what you learned was to fling off the dirty clothes of the old way of living, which were rotted through and through with lust's illusions, and, with yourself mentally and spiritually re-made to put on the clean fresh clothes of the new life which was made by God's design for righteousness and the holiness which is no illusion."
J.B. Phillip's translation of Eph 4:21-24
28 Let him that stole steal no more: but rather let him labour, working with his hands the thing which is good, that he may have to give to him that needeth.
If God gives men opportunities, He expects them to discern and enterprisingly use them. This is His way of doing His work. He could do it all Himself: but then His sons would have no share in the results. They are "labourers together with God" (1 Cor. 3:9; 2 Cor. 6:1). It is a co-partnership of divine appointment with this glorious result that at the last,
"Both he that soweth and he that reapeth may rejoice together" (John 4:6).
God will finally admit us to His joy by requiring us first to take part in the work by which the joy will be wrought out.
A present application of the principle may be found in the matter of daily bread. We have a promise that what we need will be provided (Luke 12:29-31), and that God will never leave or forsake us (Hebrews 13:5-6); but the realisation of this promise is as contingent as the obtaining of the land was on Israel's adoption of the needed measures. It is contingent on our obedient compliance with the will of the father, as expressed in the commandment to-
"Provide things honest in the sight of all men" (Romans 12:17);
To labour with our hands for the things needed (Ephesians 4:28); to be not slothful in business (Romans 12:11); a principle carried to this extent that where a man does not yield submission to it, he is not to be relieved (2 Thessalonians 3:10). So also when God-blessed industry secures what is needful, the continuance of the blessing depends upon our faithful use of results in the way directed, as good stewards of the substance of God (2 Corinthians 11:8-13; Psalms 41:1-3; Acts 20:34-35; Romans 12:13; Ephesians 4:28; 1 Peter 4:10).
The Ways of Providence Ch 12
30 And grieve not the holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption.
When we find someone is angry at our shortcomings, our resentment Is aroused, and our better feelings are stifled; but when we find that our failures grieve them, then remorse gives us no peace until we overcome.
If Paul had said, "Anger not the Holy Spirit of God," the whole relationship would have changed. But God does not speak of anger to His saints. Anger is for the shortcomings of a servant, but grief is caused by the failure of a son. If it were anger, then we should sullenly seek to satisfy Him, knowing that He is stronger than we; but when He speaks to us of grief, then we must labour to please Him, and give Him joy, and remove all cause for sorrow.
How much greater power has the one incentive than the other!
Bro Growcott - Holy and Blameless in Love
31 Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice:
Evil speaking is a characteristic of the world. So common is it that its heinousness is not perceived. God has pronounced it a crime. His hatred to it is repeatedly emphasised. Are we resisting or yielding to this popular sin?
"Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice."
This commandment cannot be infringed with impunity. Woe to evil surmisers, false accusers, and tale bearers! Their conduct separates them from God. Gehenna is their certain goal. What righteous man is not pained to hear his brother maligned? Think you not that Christ shares this feeling? Let us not indulge in evil speaking under the unjustifiable notion that we think our brother is deserving of it.
God has provided rules for dealing with transgressors. These rules rigidly prohibit us allowing evil thoughts to rankle in our minds, much less of infusing them into others. Assuming that we have ground for righteous indignation, let us refrain from acting unscripturally.
Let us follow an example set us-"being reviled, we bless, being persecuted, we suffer it, being defamed, we intreat." ATJ
The Christadelphian March 1887. p105
32 And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ's sake hath forgiven you.
The literal fact is that Christ was obedient, and that "God forgives us for Christ's sake" when we conform to His institutions.
Our faith is "counted for righteousness": where we had no righteousness, and we are permitted to share in the privileges that Christ achieved by his own righteousness - if Christ at the judgment seat see fit to admit us. It is not an affair of "imputing Christ's righteousness to us," but of extending to us a participation in the result of Christ's righteousness - on conditions, of which he is judge.
....What happens at baptism is the forgiveness of our sins-not the attributing to us of a righteousness that Christ performed, for in that case our salvation would be inevitable.
What we have to do after that is to work out our salvation, by righteousness, in view of the solemn fact that he only that doeth righteousness is righteous, and that the unrighteous shall not inherit the Kingdom of God. When John saw the bride-elect at the final union, he was informed that the fine linen in which she was arrayed is "the righteousnesses (plural in the original) of the saints."
It is a truth that the world in general have forgotten, and which false theories obscure, that Christ will "give to every man according to his works."
The Christadelphian Aug 1894. p304