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(From Forerunner Commentary)
Ephesians 4:1 contains an interesting principle hidden within the Greek word translated as "worthy." The word includes a dimension that relates to health issues and is something we should strive for in our relationship with God.
D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, in his commentary on Ephesians, tells us the word has two basic ideas, and both are important to this subject. The first is that of "equal weight." Imagine a scale with objects of equal weight on opposite sides so that it does not tilt. The scale balances perfectly; it is "worthy." If it tilts, it is "not worthy." In context and in practical application in life, Paul is saying that doctrine must perfectly balance with practice for us truly to walk worthily of our calling. However packed one's head may be with truth, if it is not being used, he is unbalanced—he is not walking worthily. It is equally true that, if one says that Christianity is no more than living a good life and that learning other truths is not important, and thus he fails to search and expand his understanding of truth, he is also walking unworthily.
Hebrews 6:9-11 provides us with an example:
But, beloved, we are confident of better things concerning you, yes, things that accompany salvation, though we speak in this manner. For God is not unjust to forget your work and labor of love which you have shown toward His name, in that you have ministered to the saints, and do minister. And we desire that each one of you show the same diligence to the full assurance of hope until the end.
These people were in trouble because they were failing to maintain the balance. In this case, they had apparently been diligent at the academic level, but their practical application of truth had declined drastically. They had become unbalanced and poor witnesses of God and were falling away.
The second idea in the Greek word rendered "worthy" is the sense of "becoming." The translators could have translated Ephesians 4:1 as, "I . . . beseech you to walk in a manner becoming the calling with which you are called." The same word appears in the first phrase of Philippians 1:27: "Only let your conduct be worthy of the gospel of Christ. . . ." The King James translates "worthy" as "as it becomes." The basic idea is of matching. It is similar to a person adorning himself with clothing or accessories that are suited to him or match.
Thus, Paul is saying that our doctrine and our practice must never clash, just as the colors or patterns in our dress should not clash. Much of modern music and art perverts this principle. The very heart of true beauty is the central idea of balance, harmony, and congruity. Things of beauty match; a cacophonous clash of discordant color or symbols jar the senses.
Titus 2:9-10 helps to demonstrate this principle: "Exhort servants to be obedient to their own masters, to be well pleasing in all things, not answering back, not pilfering, but showing all good fidelity, that they may adorn the doctrine of God our Savior in all things." Paul's metaphor is that doctrine is the basic garment of God's way of life, and the way we live it is the adornment that complements it. Life has to match, be balanced and congruous with, the doctrine, making it attractive and causing people to admire it and gravitate toward it.
The vivid picture Mark 9:20-22 paints may help us understand:
Then they brought [the demon-possessed boy] to Him. And when he saw Him, immediately the spirit convulsed him, and he fell on the ground and wallowed, foaming at the mouth. So He asked his father, "How long has this been happening to him?" And he said, "From childhood. And often he has thrown him both into the fire and into the water to destroy him. But if You can do anything, have compassion on us and help us."
Herbert Armstrong, commenting on demon influence, said that demons reveal themselves by influencing people toward extremes of human behavior. He did not mean that the people were necessarily possessed but certainly influenced toward that manner of conduct.
This influence has affected all of us to some degree. Has this world influenced us to do certain things? If so, we have been influenced by demons. This is not God's world; Satan and his horde of minions created the system and govern it. They are the principalities and powers we wrestle against (Ephesians 6:12). Their influence permeates the entire system from top to bottom. Thus John warns, "Do not love the world or the things in the world. . . . the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—[are] not of the Father" (I John 2:15-16). This is why we must be so careful about who and what we are following.
Think of anything extreme, things that are foolish and unbalanced, unbecoming to God or man—and demons are behind it. They influence people to excesses of anger, violence, depression, paranoia, schizophrenia, asceticism, hermitism, alcoholism, drug addiction, voyeurism, fetishes, cannibalism, anorexia, bulimia, and any other form of behavior that is destructive of the self and divisive of relationships.
Demons, the principalities and powers of Ephesians 6:12, will do whatever they can to keep our life from matching the truths God has given us in doctrinal form. Working toward improving and maintaining our health is an effort toward balancing what we believe with what we do. It is an adornment to God and His way; it is a stewardship responsibility. Demons will attempt to convince us to do nothing. They will put discouraging thoughts like, "It doesn't really matter"; "There is so much information out there. It is so confusing"; or "My grandfather broke every law of good health and lived to be a hundred!"
There might be scores of such arguments, and every one of them is nothing more than pressure to accept this world's lies. Each of them essentially and completely leaves out of the picture God's leadership and influence to help our efforts succeed, which is the whole reason for the demons' efforts. Undeniably, God's Word provides the balance we need to walk worthily in this physical area of life, as well as in the spiritual.
John W. Ritenbaugh
Eating: How Good It Is! (Part Six)
The key to grasping this austere regimen lies in the phrase “basic principles of the world” (verse 20; “rudiments” in the KJV). The subject of Paul's teaching does not involve God's laws at all but worldly, pagan teachings that involve asceticism and demon worship. A “rudiment” is a basic, elementary principle or act of worship, and these rudiments are drawn from the world. These ascetic practices have nothing to do with God's true religion. Verse 22 confirms this when Paul writes that these regulations are the decrees and teachings of men, not God.
Paul's counsel on the extreme disciplines of the super-righteous, such as those practiced in the world by ascetics, is that they produce a puffed-up mind—pride, a haughty spirit—rather than humble obedience that truly impresses God, such as that praised so highly in Isaiah 66:1-2:
“Heaven is My throne, and earth is My footstool. Where is the house that you will build Me? And where is the place of my rest? For all those things My hand has made, and all those things exist,” says the Lord. “But on this one will I look; on him who is poor and of a contrite spirit, and who trembles at My word.”
In no way is the apostle teaching that we must not discipline ourselves to live balanced lives within God's laws to avoid sin.
John W. Ritenbaugh
Ecclesiastes and Christian Living (Part Twelve): Paradox, Conclusion
1 Thessalonians 2:13
The principle of thanking God without ceasing means often and for everything. Anytime is appropriate. Nevertheless, the principle of balance holds true as well. Thanksgiving would be just vain repetition if we thoughtlessly repeated our thankfulness all day. Conversely, ingratitude is a deadly but common sin. Human beings tend to neglect giving God proper gratitude more than being excessively thankful (Romans 1:20-21).
Martin G. Collins
1 Timothy 1:5-7
Studying a specific theological subject for months and years will make a person unbalanced, emotionally attached to the topic, and deficient in the weightier matters of God's way of life. Such persons become gluttons for new ideas that feed heresy, and they justify their over-consumption by claiming that it is not their fault that they have access to so much religious information over the Internet and through the mail.
"Much study"—especially of a trivial subject or one unrelated to salvation—"is wearisome to the flesh," writes Solomon (Ecclesiastes 12:12). People of this inclination, the apostle Paul says, are "always learning and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth" (II Timothy 3:7). Just as with food, excessive study of the same subject day-in and day-out can cause a person to be unbalanced. We have to know when to say, "Enough!"
Martin G. Collins
Gluttony: A Lack of Self-Control (Part Two)
"Pair of scales" translates the Greek word zugón, which literally means "yoke," as in a yoke of oxen or the yoke of bondage. The beam of a balance, which resembles a yoke's crossbeam, joins or couples the two pans just as a yoke joins the oxen. Just as it is better if the yoked oxen are evenly matched, so the purpose of the balance is to determine that the contents of the two pans are equal.
Today, we have little experience with pairs of scales or balances, yet until recently, they were the commonly used means of weighing substances. Perhaps we are familiar with a pair of scales from its use in a Western movie to determine the weight of a gold nugget. In addition, most of us are aware that a balance is an international symbol of justice, depicting the supposed equality of all before the law. Elements of both of these common uses appear in the third horseman.
In ancient times, the value or quantity of a thing was determined by weighing it on scales. In fact, people bought and sold items by weight or measure rather than by our currency-based system. For instance, the shekel was not originally a unit of money but of weight according to which the price and quantity of things were determined. As such, scales were common marketplace items, and God demanded they be used justly (Leviticus 19:36; Proverbs 11:1; 16:11; Amos 8:4-10; Matthew 7:2).
Interestingly, because scales are easily manipulated, they can also be a symbol of fraudulent exaction and oppression, as Hosea 12:7 illustrates: "A cunning Canaanite [or merchant, referring to Ephraim, which stands for all Israel]! Deceitful scales are in his hand; he loves to oppress." Micah concurs: "Shall I count pure those with the wicked balances, and with the bag of deceitful weights? For her rich men are full of violence, her inhabitants have spoken lies, and their tongue is deceitful in their mouth" (Micah 6:11-12).
When mentioned in terms of foodstuffs, particularly bread, scales become a symbol of scarcity because, normally, bread would be sold by the loaf without much concern for exact weight. However, during a famine when each ounce of flour was valuable, flour would be rationed by weight or measure, and neither buyer nor seller would want to be cheated. Notice God's prophetic warning in Leviticus 26:26: "When I have cut off your supply of bread, ten women shall bake your bread in one oven, and they shall bring back to you your bread by weight, and you shall eat and not be satisfied." The prophet Ezekiel also mentions rationing by weight as a judgment from God:
And your food which you eat shall be by weight, twenty shekels a day; from time to time you shall eat it. . . . Son of man, surely I will cut off the supply of bread in Jerusalem; they shall eat bread by weight and with anxiety, and shall drink water by measure and with dread. (Ezekiel 4:10, 16)
God is often depicted in the Old Testament as holding scales. For example, Hannah prays, "For the Lord is the God of knowledge; and by Him actions are weighed" (I Samuel 2:3). Solomon declares, "The Lord weighs the spirits," or the motives and attitudes of people (Proverbs 16:2). Job cries, "Let me be weighed [margin, Let Him weigh me] in a just balance, that God may know my integrity" (Job 31:6). Perhaps the best known use of the scales in this sense appears in Daniel 5:25, where God tells Belshazzar through Daniel's interpretation, "You have been weighed in the balances, and found wanting."
It is certainly possible that God wants us to understand all these seemingly disparate meanings in the third horseman. His lethal power is a terrible, divine judgment on mankind for its violent oppression and greed, and it takes the form of famine and wasting through malnutrition.
Richard T. Ritenbaugh
The Four Horsemen (Part Four): The Black Horse
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