25 October 2020 (Trinity Twentieth Sunday Morning Prayer) Ephesians 5:16
Last two Sundays, we meditated about the Grace of Jesus and our understanding about Jesus. In continuation, I would like to meditate from our epistle reading, St. Pauls epistle to Ephesians chapter 5 verse 16. “Redeeming the time, because the days are evil”. I have two questions based on these verses: 1) Why are the days evil and why should we redeem the time? and 2) What should we do?
1) Why are the days evil and why should we redeem the time?
A few weeks ago, when we looked at the ages of earth, we heard that God created angels to praise and worship Him. The archangel Lucifer was created with special talents. Lucifer rebelled against God and was pushed down to the pit. He became the fallen angel when he rebelled and sinned against God. God’s anger covered the earth, and the earth was frozen. We read about God renovating the earth in the first couple of chapters in Genesis. God created Adam and Eve without sin. He gave them authority over all creation and the renovated earth. The fallen angel was not happy about the creation. He knew God’s plan. Just as He was separated from the presence of God because of his sin, he wanted to separate the new creation by tempting them to fall into sin. He tempted Adam and Eve to commit sin. Adam and Eve were separated from the presence of God and were sent out of the garden of Eden. This early sin continued through all generations in the world. During the Old Testament period, people offered sacrifices for the remission of their sins. Committing sin and offering sacrifices was a routine cyclic process. Lucifer, who is the prince of this world knew that his time is limited in this world and that Messiah would come to save every one of us. But he is focussed on winning as many people as possible to his side. Even though he knew that Jesus was the Son of God, he boldly asked Jesus to worship him. But our Lord Jesus overcame temptations. Jesus came to save the world from sin and death.
However, Jesus’s death and resurrection has not stopped Satan from continuing with his work. Even today, he continues to tempt people and lead them to eternal death. He knows that Jesus Christ will come to receive the church as His bride on the day of rapture. He knows that all those who died in Jesus will be resurrected and transformed into glory. The world will be then given to antichrist. The fallen angel or the prince of this world is waiting for this moment when he will be the ruler of this world. Those who are not saved by the blood of the lamb of God will be left for the antichrist reign. His reign will come to end after Armageddon war at the end of his seven-year reign. At the end of Jesus’s One Thousand-year reign will be the ‘Great White Throne Judgement’. Those who lived their life in Jesus will inherit eternal life and those who are not saved will be cast into the lake of fire and brimstone.
The fallen angel is not bothered about those who are not in Christ. But he is worried about those who have accepted Jesus Christ as their personal saviour. The fallen angel did not trick Eve on the very first day. He patiently waited for many years to tempt Adam and Eve. Genesis 5:3 says that Seth was born when Adam was 130 years. Based on the age of Adam, theologians say that he would have waited for at least eighty years to separate Adam and Eve from the presence of God. 1 Peter 5:8 says, “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour”. The fallen angel is roaring like a lion to devour and deceive as many as he can. He tries to imitate Jesus, who is the lion of Judah and tries to show he is powerful. The fallen angel wants more people to be on his side, so he is working every moment to deceive those on God’s side.
Jesus suffered and died on the cross. He shed His precious blood as the sacrificial lamb for the remission of our sins. He bore our curse on the cross and gave His life to save us from eternal death. We see the grace of Jesus Christ and love of the Father Almighty on the Cross. The fallen angel is walking about as a roaring lion to devour us through various means. This is why Bible says the days are evil and cautions us to redeem time.
2) What should we do to redeem the time?
We know that the life in this world is very short. Psalm 90:10 says, “The days of our years are threescore years and ten; and if by reason of strength they be fourscore years, yet is their strength labour and sorrow; for it is soon cut off, and we fly away”. We often say the years are flying.
I would like to highlight what we can do to redeem time:
- Be sober and vigilant: As said in 1 Peter 5:8, we must be sober and be vigilant at all times. 1 Peter 1:13 encourages us saying “gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and hope to the end for the grace that is to be brought unto you at the revelation of Jesus Christ”.
- Resist the devil: James 4:7 says that when we resist the devil, he will flee from us. As we heard in our epistle reading, we should not be unwise. We should understand the will of God. We should not be drunk with wine in excess but be filled with the Holy Spirit. We should be praising and singing to our Lord giving thanks to Him always. We will be able to do these only when we resist the devil.
- Listen to the Holy Spirit: After Jesus ascended to heaven, He sent the comforter Holy Spirit to guide and prepare us to inherit our eternal life with Jesus. He said the Holy Spirit would teach us all things and bring all things to our remembrance, whatsoever Jesus said. In Matthew 16:6 Jesus said that when the Holy Spirit comes, “he will reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment”. We need to open our spiritual ears to listen to the voice of the comforter Holy spirit for Him to guide and prepare us.
- Watch and pray: Jesus said in Matthew 26:41, “Watch and pray, that ye enter not into temptation: the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak”. Mark 13:33 says, “take ye heed, watch and pray: for ye know not when the time is”. When Jesus was praying with His disciples in the garden of Gethsemane, He said, “My soul is exceeding sorrowful, even unto death: tarry ye here, and watch with me”. When He saw them sleeping, He asked “Peter, What, could ye not watch with me one hour?”
We can learn about watching and praying here. Jesus knew that He had to suffer and die on the Cross. He knew the burden He had to bear. He knew His disciples will leave Him and Peter would deny Him. He knew the sins of the world will separate Him from His Father. He knew He had to bear it alone. He would have found it very tough to bear. That’s why He prayed “O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me: nevertheless not as I will, but as thou wilt.” It would have been very tempting to pray that the suffering pass from Him. Jesus knew how tough it was. That is why He said to Peter “Watch and pray, that ye enter not into temptation: the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.” He reminded them of His earlier teaching when He taught them to pray. He had said, “lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil”. But Jesus spending time in prayer strengthened Him to endure the sufferings on the Cross for us. He did not yield to any of the temptations when He was on the cross. Many shouted and asked Him to come down if He was really the Son of God. Many shouted that He saved many but could not save Himself. Only prayer enabled Jesus to fulfil God’s vision. He died on the cross as a Passover Lamb and redeemed us with His precious blood. Peter did not watch and pray, so could not overcome temptation. He denied Jesus thrice on the same day.
Watching and praying is very important to strengthen ourselves to be sober and vigilant and resist the devil. We can overcome temptations with the Holy Spirit’s guidance only if we watch and pray. We will be able to redeem the time only if we are sober, vigilant, resist the devil, listen to the Holy Spirit and watch and pray.
We are in the last days. We do not know when Jesus will come to receive the church as His bride. Jesus said in John 13:15, “For I have given you an example, that ye should do as I have done to you.” Jesus is the only example we can follow. He practised what He preached. Today, whose voice are we listening to? Are we willing to listen to the Holy Spirit who was sent by Jesus? We hear the loud noise of the world around us. It is so pleasing to our hearts and we are inclined and happily listen to it. Isaiah 30:21 promises us “thine ears shall hear a word behind thee, saying, This is the way, walk ye in it, when ye turn to the right hand, and when ye turn to the left.” Are we listening to and obeying what the Holy Spirit speaks? We need the Holy Spirit’s guidance to overcome trials and temptations. We will receive guidance from the Holy Spirit only when we watch and pray.
I pray we remain sober and vigilant. I pray we are strengthened to resist the devil and temptation by watching and praying. Above all, I pray we give heed to the Holy Spirit’s voice to guide us in all of these so that we inherit eternal life. Amen!