EPHESIANS 4: Walk Worthy
As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. 2 Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. 3 Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. 4 There is one body and one Spirit– just as you were called to one hope when you were called– 5 one Lord, one faith, one baptism; 6 one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all. 7 But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it. 8 This is why it says: “When he ascended on high, he led captives in his train and gave gifts to men.” 9 (What does “he ascended” mean except that he also descended to the lower, earthly regions? 10 He who descended is the very one who ascended higher than all the heavens, in order to fill the whole universe.) 11 It was he who gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers, 12 to prepare God’s people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up 13 until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ. 14 Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of men in their deceitful scheming. 15 Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will in all things grow up into him who is the Head, that is, Christ. 16 From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work. 17 So I tell you this, and insist on it in the Lord, that you must no longer live as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their thinking. 18 They are darkened in their understanding and separated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them due to the hardening of their hearts. 19 Having lost all sensitivity, they have given themselves over to sensuality so as to indulge in every kind of impurity, with a continual lust for more. 20 You, however, did not come to know Christ that way. 21 Surely you heard of him and were taught in him in accordance with the truth that is in Jesus. 22 You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; 23 to be made new in the attitude of your minds; 24 and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness. 25 Therefore each of you must put off falsehood and speak truthfully to his neighbor, for we are all members of one body. 26 “In your anger do not sin”: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, 27 and do not give the devil a foothold. 28 He who has been stealing must steal no longer, but must work, doing something useful with his own hands, that he may have something to share with those in need. 29 Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. 30 And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. 31 Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. 32 Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.
Here is a little reminder before we jump headlong into Ephesians 4. In Ephesians 3:6, Gentiles are through Christ fellow inheritors to all God promises in Christ. So, by the Spirit of Christ, there can be unity because of Him. In addition, Ephesians 3:19 speaks to that aim by noting that the children of God are being filled up with the fullness of God.
Now onto Ephesians 4.
In Ephesians 4, we see that the gifts from Christ are the reality of His victory in descending from Heaven to crucify sin in His flesh (His death). Jesus completed that feat and at Pentecost God the Father began to pour out His Spirit on all flesh who believed.
God provides the Body of Christ with apostles, prophets, evangelist, teachers, and pastors (and many others). He provides His disciples the means to mature to become like Him. For the believer, enduring in faith is required toward the sake of unity because the plan and the means are made clear in how God will have His humanity live… as He intended.
Unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace comes by Christ Jesus having peace with God and then offering forgiveness to us by means of His death, resurrection, and ascension. With that victory, He gifts humanity with the ability to be filled up to the fullness of God.
Love must be in view with one another towards unity because not everyone is gifted alike or in the same place with God. Moreover, though we are to grow in every way, we must not demand folks grow in accordance with the grace we have personally received. Rather, we give freely as we have received from the Lord so we share with them so they learn of God through us and vice versa.
Verse 13 is very important. As we advance in our call through Christ, we mature. Maturity is the steadfast effort of all those who share in God’s Spirit with the good works of Faith in Christ. We seek to follow Christ’s example and out of that seeking and unity will arise among His people. Unity in the Spirit is stability in our maturing in Christ.
The goal is a body (group, fellowship) indwelled with Christ’s Spirit. A healthy body has everyone living out their given functional role according to the Spirit’s wisdom. We find balance with the Lord and also with His church. This balance then extends to the whole of creation where everything will be brought under Christ. Think about that! Jesus Christ will return to a body of mature believers (the Church)… so our maturing in faith and unity is fully supported by God.
Yet… even though we have God’s full support… we must recognize that God is good and not us. The best we can do is reflect Him. Keep in mind the human heart is often wickedly deceitful and we can deceive ourselves out of being as responsible as we should.
I often find myself (and others) wanting to place the full burden of the relationship on Christ’s shoulders. It is true that the means of having a relationship with God is all on Christ, but our response is not. That is what Paul is addressing.
Verses 25-32 are very practical in nature. Life under the authority of God’s grace means old sinful behavior is to stop. Period. To come under the lordship of Jesus, is to become free of all law and authorities that are in opposition to Him. Moreover, we must then live under Christ’s authority if we are to have eternal life. Anyone who repents can do so because the Spirit of Christ is given and with it the revelation in how to live. Jesus did say we must deny ourselves and follow Him. Otherwise… why call Him Lord?