September 12th Ephesians 4 B. Practical (A New Man)
Walk worthy in unity
1: I therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you that ye walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called, 2: With all lowliness and meekness, with longsuffering, forbearing one another in love; 3: Endeavouring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. 4: There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling; 5: One Lord, one faith, one baptism, 6: One God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all. 7: But unto every one of us is given grace according to the measure of the gift of Christ. 8: Wherefore he saith, When he ascended up on high, he led captivity captive, and gave gifts unto men. 9: (Now that he ascended, what is it but that he also descended first into the lower parts of the earth? 10: He that descended is the same also that ascended up far above all heavens, that he might fill all things.) 11: And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; 12: For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: 13: Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ: 14: That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive; 15: But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ: 16: From whom the whole body fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplieth, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, maketh increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in love.
Turn from the old ways
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, 18: Having the understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God through the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart: 19: Who being past feeling have given themselves over unto lasciviousness, to work all uncleanness with greediness. 20: But ye have not so learned Christ; 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. 25: Wherefore putting away lying, speak every man truth with his neighbour: for we are members one of another. 26: Be ye angry, and sin not: let not the sun go down upon your wrath: 27: Neither give place to the devil. 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. 29: Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers. 30: And grieve not the holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption. 31: Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice: 32: And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ's sake hath forgiven you.
In chapter 5 Paul brings an application to everyone of us of his teaching. Paul pleads with his readers to live constantly in a manner that reaches up to the life that God has called us to live. This is the nearest we get in the NT to a rule for the believers life. It’s not a rule and it’s not an obligation - it’s a wonderful privilege. And we are to do this in humility, kindness, patience, bearing with each other in love and trying hard to keep the unity which the Spirit has made among us because we are one body – in peace with each other. Because there is only one body of believers and there is only one Spirit and we have been called into only one hope. There is one Lord, one faith and one baptism. There is only one God who is the Father of all of us. He is over us all and he works through us and in us. But we are all different and each of us is given by Christ grace according to the measure that we need. Paul says, When Christ ascended to heaven he led those (OT saints) who were captive (in death) and he gave gifts (of ministry) to men. He gave some to be apostles and some he gave to be prophets (Those who minister under direct revelation from God) and then evangelists (missionaries), pastors (shepherds) and teachers. All of these men were Christ’s gift to the church. All these gifts were for the mending and building up of the saints and for the development of the ministry of the saints so that the whole body of Christ might be built up. This work will continue until we all arrive in the unanimity of ‘the faith’ and to the full knowledge of Christ, until we are full grown mature believers in Christ. When this is realised we will not be children any more, tossed back and forth like a ship in a tempest, and blown off course by storms of false teaching, by the trickery of the dice players and by the craftiness of the card sharks. They secretly set up their traps to fleece the unwary. But rather we speak the truth - in a loving spirit, we may grow up as believers in Christ who is our head. And from him all the body is perfectly fitted together and ever member is secured to each other. We grow together, to build each other up in love. Paul describes the Church not as an institution, or as an organisation but as a body and organism. The church is a living thing and Christ is its head and there no division in the body. Paul resumes his exhortation in v1-3, he says, therefore do not live like ungodly Gentiles whose minds are full of pointless things and who are morally in darkness, who are aliens to eternal life because they do not know anything about it, because there minds are hardened to the gospel. They are apathetic and so they have surrendered themselves to sexual impurity, which works itself out in uncleanness and is insatiable. At the time of your conversion you did not learn to live like that as a christian. Have you heard anything and been taught by Christ the truth of Jesus of Nazareth as your personal Saviour. You were taught to put away your former way of living which was corrupt and to be renewed in your spirit – in your mind. And you were taught to put on the new man who is created in the truth of righteousness and holiness. So put away all falsehood and speak the truth to your neighbours because you belong to each other. Paul gives a number of short sentences, which encapsulate his moral teaching. Be righteously angry but do not sin. (Righteous anger is demanded) Do not let issues remain unresolved. Give no opportunity for the Devil. Those who are thieves are to steal no more, but they are to work hard with their own hands in good employment so that he might give money to the needy. Do not manipulate others by your talk but speak what is good to the building up of each other in grace. Do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God who sealed you until the day of the redemption of your body. In this short phrase, ‘Do not grieve the Holy Spirit’ Paul has captured one of the two keys to living the Christian life. The other being ‘Walk in the Spirit’. Paul continues, do not let any bitter frame of mind, ungodly wrath and anger, brawling or back stabbing come into your lives. But be gracious to each other, have a tender heart and forgive one another in the same way as God forgave you.
- How does Paul summarise our whole duty as Christians?
- What are the gifts of Christ to the church and how do they apply to us today?
- How does Paul describe false teachers?