Chapter four

Ephesians 4   32 verses in this chapter

 

V1  I therefore, the prisoner in the Lord, beg you to walk worthily of the calling with which you were called, 

 Paul is not just physically in prison, but is a prisoner for the sake of Christ. He regards this situation as a high calling and a privilege to be a captive of Christ. This calling is to holiness and submission to God in all things, and all Christians walk in a similar way.  This calling has not been our choice, but we are chosen by God to suffer hardships for His sake.

We have received this direction from God, so that we have the motivation to live our lives in a manner worthy of Him. The Christian life is not attractive to the ungodly mind, since it is a spiritual calling that does not belong to this world or this life.

 

 

 

 

V2  with all lowliness and humility, with patience, bearing with one another in love, 

A worthy life is a holy life. It is a gentle and kind life. We are not to think of ourselves more highly than we ought, or to think that we are above any other person. We are not to be harsh, but to be kind. Not judgmental, but tender hearted. We need to guard ourselves from being “used” to evil or hurtful ideas. We are to be absolutely tolerant of each other, showing love at all times and in every way.

Love is wishing the best for the other person, and doing and saying things to encourage and help them to progress in their Christian life. We should bear patiently with each other, and not be high handed or dismissive.

Impatience is not a Christian virtue. We bear with each other and teach each other the ways of Christ in a way the other person will understand. Keeping things to ourselves is not the path to sharing and fellowship. If we see a need we should try to meet that need. If a Christian family is in need of food, it should be provided. In these days of the “welfare state” we think that someone else will pick up the practical things for poorer people. But we live in a post-welfare society, where people are not cared for and many go hungry. The media portray plenty, but many families are destitute.

“But whoever has the world’s goods, and sees his brother in need, and closes his heart of compassion against him, how does the love of God remain in him?”    1 John 3:17

There is no holding back. No protecting ourselves from the needs of others. No token gestures. It is a challenging life, because we think our resources are our own. We guard ourselves and keep others at bay, in case they come to rely on us too much.! We forget what we owe and that we only have our provisions because of the mercy of God.

“Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy.”    Matthew 5:7

If we refuse our mercy, then we shall receive none.

Likewise with spiritual needs. We should be willing to teach and care for each other as spiritual beings and no Christian should go hungry for the Word of God. This will take us out of the church setting and into the world. If we keep it all to ourselves it will go rotten, like the manna in the wilderness.

 

 

 

 

V3   being eager to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.

Because of this loving mindset fostered in the Christian, we must make every way possible to keep peace in the church community. We must seek peace and pursue it actively. We bend and tolerate and find ways of getting along with all Christians, not separating about various “issues.”

There are plenty of issues that aggravate the Christian, but we have to realize we cannot fix things, and in all situations, God is working out His will. We must bend to His will and keep the peace from our side.

The only reason to break relationships is actual sin, but only after efforts to put things right. Repentance is necessary at times, and to sidestep it and ignore the failure, causes a lot of trouble. We must forgive as we would wish to be forgiven.

We must absorb the ill feeling and hurtful words of others and try to put the bad attitudes in others, behind us. However unity must involve repentance if there is wrong, and refusal to make the peace may mean a person has to leave. If they do so, it must not involve making factions and divisions in the church, but going out on the direction of the Lord.

Not everyone seeks God. Not every church reaches out as it should. But every Christian is called to walk in obedience and fight for a holy life. God will take care of the big issues.

If there is genuine hurt, wrong done towards a person, and a refusal to listen to wise council, there is a time to leave. There are churches that hurt the spiritual life of Christians, and the Christian must listen to the council of the Lord in their own life and obey Him with a full heart of love and sacrificial service.

 

 

 

V4  There is one body and one Spirit, even as you also were called in one hope of your calling, 

In the Kingdom of Christ there is one body of believers. They are the body of Christ and are one in Spirit. The Holy Spirit lives in the lives of every Christian, and brings unity of desire and purpose. God has called us into one hope, the hope of forgiveness through faith in Jesus. We have the hope of heaven to be with Him forever, and the hope that we shall be like HIM.

He has called every Christians into His body and to have His Spirit in them. It should make a difference to how we live and how we relate to each other.

As the individual Christian has been forgiven and has a living hope in Christ, so we treat others in like manner.

Unity is based on forgiveness. As we have needed to be forgiven, so we also forgive. This will keep the unity, since we walk in the same hope of the Spirit.

 

 

 

V5   one Lord, one faith, one baptism, 

The One Lord is Jesus Christ. He is the Lord for all. Everything that is seen and that exists, was made by Him, and He keeps all things functioning by the word of His power. As the Lord of His people, He laid down His life for their sakes, so that they could be forgiven and be His people. He is the Lord of the living, which includes those who do not love Him, but He is their judge and not their Saviour.

“For to this end Christ died, rose, and lived again, that he might be Lord of both the dead and the living.”   Romans 14:9

Jesus is Lord of all, whether people recognize that or not.

The faith that He gives a person to believe on His name, is an exclusive and the one and only passageway to heaven. He is the only Saviour who can forgive sins. Those who trust in Him, have this one faith.

“Salvation belongs to The Lord.”    Psalm 3:8

There is only one baptism into Christ – the baptism of our faith into His body. As we confess our faith before other people and live godly lives in the Spirit of God, so we are brought into Him. There will also be a specific and pointed confession of faith by the Christian believer that is a marker of the work of grace that has happened in their lives.

Every Christian identifies with their Lord and Saviour by going down into the waters of baptism and out of those waters again, as a sign of what has happened to them in Christ. The resurrection out of the water signifies the new life they have received in Christ. This is a powerful testimony to other people.

 

 

 

 

V6   one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all, and in us all. 

 As the Lord Jesus is the One Lord over His people, so He is also over all things. He is the one God, the person of the trinity with the Father and the Holy Spirit. He is Saviour of all who come, and the Father of all peoples on the earth. He overrules the circumstances of every life, and purposes every event, to seeming good or ill. We cannot see His purposes because they are beyond our understanding.

Those who do not trust Him, blame Him for what they do not see or understand, but the humble heart will accept His ways, even though they do not comprehend the purposes of them.

He is in authority over all people and he is working in everything to work out the purposes of God. He is sentient in all that happens, how it happens and when it happens. Nothing escapes His notice, and He is working all things into conformity with the will of the Father and the Spirit. All three persons in the trinity are together in this outworking and all relate to each other in love and communion.

The sovereignty of God is shown in the relationships of the three persons of the trinity. Each relates to the other in love, so there is peace. This is the end goal of every Christian, to relate to the persons of the Godhead, and to each other, in love and therefore peace. Without love there is no peace.

Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, to the chosen ones who are living as foreigners in the Dispersion in Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia, according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, in sanctification of the Spirit, that you may obey Jesus Christ and be sprinkled with his blood: Grace to you and peace be multiplied.”                        1 Peter 1:1+2

 

 

 

 

V7   But to each one of us, the grace was given according to the measure of the gift of Christ. 

The outworking of the will of God is not the same for every person. Some will belong to that everlasting kingdom of joy and peace, and some will not. God gives to each person the grace they need. Without this grace given, we can never enter in. There are different portions of grace, and Christ Jesus decides the amount and necessity. God gives grace through His son Jesus, who bought the right for us to have it.

There is the particular grace for those who come to God and exercise faith in the Son, and receive the promised Holy Spirit. This grace for salvation belongs to the people of God. God’s people all have saving grace, and keeping grace that will bring each one, safely home to heaven.

In our lives, God chooses our situations and has a destiny for us in Christ. Each one is chosen for a particular purpose and is rescued from this present evil age, for an everlasting future.

God give some of His children deep troubles, and deep grace to go with them. They are the ones who have the loving hearts of Christ and pour themselves out as drink offerings to serve God’s people and to reach out to the lost. Those who experience grace can appreciate it greatly.

If we are people who are conscious of our deep failings, we will also be conscious of the forgiveness we have received. That will give us a deep love for our Saviour and a better appreciation of what He suffered for us. Those who have been forgiven much, love much.

“Therefore I tell you, her sins, which are many, are forgiven, for she loved much. But to whom little is forgiven, the same loves little.”   Luke 7:47

 

 

 

V8   Therefore he says, “When he ascended on high, he led captivity captive, and gave gifts to people.”

When Jesus ascended on high to His glory, after conquering death and hell, He took a huge crowd of captive souls from the ages past, with Him to heavenly glory. Those who had been bound in death waited for the Messiah. They were waiting for this great deliverance day, and were taken up to glory, by Christ.

They were His triumphant band. The triumph of what Christ did on the cross at Calvary, was felt and known by every one of His people. Those who had died in faith, now were able to enter in.

Those believers still alive and those yet to come, were given gifts by their Saviour and Lord. They received the gifts of salvation and also the gifts of the Spirit, to worship and serve God with spiritual life, now bestowed.

This compete work of Christ, was now one of the triumph of Christ over sin and death, and the doors were opened that all who believed could enter in.

“..in all these things, we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 8:37-39

Those who enter in, become conquerors also, through Christ.

 

 

 

 

V9  Now this, “He ascended”, what is it but that he also first descended into the lower parts of the earth?

The fact that Christ ascended from the earth, presupposes that he went lower than the earth. He went to the lower regions of the soul. In that place of captivity of His people, He brought them up into glory by conquering the power of that lower place, and conquering the power of death and hell forever.

It is hard to understand how Christ could go lower, or into a low place. But He took the form of a servant and lowered Himself to live as a man in the lower place of earth. He is the heavenly King, and yet He humbled Himself and became obedient to a terrible death. So also in his death He lowered Himself further into the realms of death and hell, to save His people.

His ability to humble Himself, was complete. He is the mighty Saviour. He is the conquering King. All glory belongs to Him. For this reason, every creature will bow the knee and proclaim Him the Lord, and their Lord. Jesus understand the pain of being misunderstood and of suffering for people who just don’t deserve it. To try to comprehend the depths He plumbed for us, is beyond human imagination.

He is in all regards, the humble Lord. When we see that as His people, we are amazed. We see His beauty, as of the “Only Begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.”  John 1:14

 

 

 

V10  He who descended is the one who also ascended far above all the heavens, that he might fill all things. 

 The incarnation of the Son of God was the most amazing act of humiliation that had ever been seen. Few actually saw it at the time it occured, such is the blindness of the human soul. Few recognized it even as He walked the earth. The people welcomed His deeds of mercy, but often rejected Him. Yet He went to the cross, to pay the price for sin. As He came down to rescue sinners, so He ascended into heaven after that conquest. He came down in love, as we celebrate at the Incarnation, and He rose into heaven in glory when Jesus rose again.

So as He humbled Himself and descended into the clutches of death, so also He raised Himself to life forever. Jesus is the conquering king. Humbled and then exalted above every other name that can be named.

“Have this in your mind, which was also in Christ Jesus, who, existing in the form of God, didn’t consider equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, taking the form of a servant, being made in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself, becoming obedient to death, yes, the death of the cross. Therefore God also highly exalted him, and gave to him the name which is above every name; that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, those on earth, and those under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”    Philippians 2:5-11

His glory now fills the whole Universe, and can be seen by those who believe.

 

 

 

 

 V11   He gave some to be apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, shepherds and teachers; 

 The gifts God now gives, are not temporal for this life, but for the growth and blessing of all spiritual blessings on His people. They will also be a blessing to those who will be brought into the kingdom. God chooses the gifts He gives us and every Christian has gifts, or various sorts. We are told to exercise these gifts and train ourselves to use them.  We are responsible for them, and we can also loose them, if we do not prayerfully use them for the gospel. Each day we are to use our gifts to bring the message of salvation to a suffering and sinful world, and to build each other up in Christ.

Apostles were those who had actually seen and heard the living Christ. They penned the words of scripture, which we now have as the unchangeable Word of God. Many do not seem to accept this in our day, and certainly don’t count it as sufficient. There are those who take and leave out the bits that suit their world-view. They set themselves up as judges over the eternal Word.

There are those who set themselves up as Apostles, which is a dangerous and mistaken name to take. There are no “words from God” to people in these days. The Word of God is settled and authenticated for us in the Old and New Testaments. We can be setting ourselves up for a great rejection by God, for the folly of thinking of ourselves more highly than we ought to think.

Prophets explain the Word of God deeply. They are not necessarily for-tellers of the future. The future belongs to God and He keeps it a secret from us, in kindness. We need to study and think deeply about His Word and learn His ways as we walk in that Word. Some people who immerse themselves in Scriptural truth, are helpful in explaining the meaning, purpose and application of that Word. This does not necessarily mean they can take this title to themselves. We should be humble and follow the Lord with carefulness and awe.

Evangelism is the job description of every Christian. We are all called to give account of our hope in Jesus. We are constrained to identify ourselves, personally, with the name of Christ. Every knee will bow to Him. We are not to be ashamed of Him. As a Christian, we are to build others up in  good works, and encourage brothers and sisters in Christ to live godly lives which are totally given over to God. Our lives are to be sacrifices of praise to the one who saved us and set us free from sin and judgment. We, therefore, must also tell others that they will not escape from the destruction, which is certain for those outside of Christ.

Pastors are shepherds of the flock. This isn’t just about preaching, though many set themselves up for that and seek a name for that skill. The caring for the people of Christ is a much more onerous business, and perhaps that is why many side-step this calling. To care for the people of God requires relationship, compassion for people, empathy, sympathy, counseling skills, and the ability to encourage people in all situations. This is tall order! There has to be a lot of soul searching to step into this pair of shoes. This will involve many different kinds of people, to cope with the many different kinds of trials. It will require levels of love and care for others that cannot be found in Bible school! This requires deep commitment to people and being willing to meet them wherever they are. The modern idea of one person at the front, is not feasible, and quickly becomes an idolatrous situation.

Teachers of the Word of God and applying it to real life, is a skill rarely seen in these days. We focus our attention on preaching and teaching doctrine and finer points of theology, with little application to any kind of reality. We may think we are preaching the Word, but we are just putting out our particular point of view, and an outlook on scripture which belongs to a past time and reality. Scripture is for the now. Whatever our daily lives are like, scripture applies.

Doctrine is good, theology is good, but in many cases, that’s as far as it goes. Christians sit and listen to a sermon and leave thinking it was “quite good” or “very good” but it has no impact on the life next day! We have a form of words, but there is no power. To be a teacher of the Word is an awesome responsibility. The prophet Ezekiel speaks about those who don’t speak it properly, and God will hold them responsible for failing the people they are supposed to serve and teach.

The Spirit of God needs to teach us our need and we need some serious internal wars, to get ourselves on the right track. When we have suffered for the sake of the message, then we are in the right place to teach it to others.

“Son of man, I have made you a watchman to the house of Israel: therefore hear the word from my mouth, and give them warning from me. When I tell the wicked, You shall surely die; and you give him no warning, nor speak to warn the wicked from his wicked way, to save his life; the same wicked man shall die in his iniquity; but his blood will I require at your hand. Yet if you warn the wicked, and he doesn’t turn from his wickedness, nor from his wicked way, he shall die in his iniquity; but you have delivered your soul. “  Ezekiel 3:17-19

This scripture makes the seriousness of the calling of Pastor and teacher very grave. Love for God, for Christians and for outsiders, has an awesome responsibility. Who can bear this without the filling of the Holy Spirit of God..

This is the intended state for every Christian….

 

 

 

 

V12   for the perfecting of the saints, to the work of serving, to the building up of the body of Christ, 

The Evangelists, Pastors and teachers, are working towards this end- so that every person in the fellow                                                                                                                                                                          ship group, has a spiritual job to do. Not just some people doing practical stuff and others doing the ministry stuff, and the person at the front who is paid to speak to us. The body of Christ should be built up. Why are so many Christians unable to really serve? Why do they not feel equipped? Why do we maintain the status quo?

If people are not serving the Lord and taking about Him in their daily lives, they are not functioning as Christians. Why are we so embarrassed? Why are there no opportunities in church life for anyone to speak up? We become lukewarm very easily and quickly. Maybe we were not that warm to begin with? Can we really call ourselves Christians?

We are responsible for each other. Some say we need the big “spiritual” person at the front, and at the top of the organization.

We say…

“We need a great leader like secular organizations.”

“We need to adopt the mind-set and business practices of the worldly structures to make our “church” work.”

“We need designers and people with media skills to get us noticed.”

Who exactly is in charge?”

Is that person willing to bear the blame for failure? Is that person willing to lay down their lives so that others will prosper? When your church fades and fails, is that your fault? This is so negative.

From even a glance, the “church” is not really functioning as it should, and still we will not search the scriptures and seek answers. We must let go the present fascination with form, or the spiritual lethargy that dogs us, will perpetuate the deadness. Even as we watch things fail, we seem unable to examine the evidence and search the scriptures for truth.

Many Christians are asking these difficult questions, and being cut off from church life, because of the torpor that surrounds our institutions. We should be praying for a new visitation of the Holy Spirit in the lives of Christians. We need the filling of the Spirit and a holy boldness to stand up, step out and walk humbly with our God.

There is very little of the sentiment in this Psalm.

“God, you are my God. I will earnestly seek you. My soul thirsts for you. My flesh longs for you, in a dry and weary land, where there is no water.”   Psalm 63:1

Where is the passion for being like Christ?

 

 

 

V13  until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a full grown man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, 

 What is a true church? Here we see it. It is a body of believers who have reached unity in the knowledge of Christ and each one is mature. Each one has reached the fullness of Christ.

This is amazing. This is a spiritual attainment, not an outward and obvious one. The church is not about the building, the history, the constitution, the denomination…etc.. It is so hard for us to break out of this. We think the Lord is blessing us, if we can knock down our walls and build “better”

We think we are successful if we have 1,000 people in church on a Sunday morning. It is hard to get out of this mindset. The maturity in Christ is that we know Him better and better and become more and more like Him. This involves going down in the world’s estimation. People might not regard us because we meet in a school hall. They might think it is not proper church. People have great buildings and are thought suitable for weddings!! But not much else…We regard the bricks and mortar and are easily impressed by the outward trappings of religion. The worldly view gets us every time.

Unity of faith means believing in one Lord, one Saviour, one Master, Jesus Christ. We refute the life of sin, and walk in obedience to Him. We seek to be like Him and to live lives worthy of what he has called us too. The things of this world become increasingly less to us, and the desires for spiritual fruit get more. Our lives are a perpetual “weeding out” of the godless things we like.

Holiness is not a popular word, but is the desire of every true Christian. We seek to grow in grace, obedience and humility and desire the fruit of the Spirit. The humble saint does not mind the slights of others, but is content with their Saviour, who is our reward.

Abraham had very little of this world’s goods, and was happy for his nephew Lot to get the better-looking land. He refused the gift from the King of Sodom.

“After these things the word of Yahweh came to Abram in a vision, saying, “Don’t be afraid, Abram. I am your shield, your exceedingly great reward.”  Genesis 15:1

How wonderful to be satisfied with Christ, and not fret for any other blessing. Too many want the blessings of God, but not Him as a person.

 

 

 

 

V14   that we may no longer be children, tossed back and forth and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in craftiness, after the wiles of error; 

A mature Christian is someone who knows the whole council of God. This person is not an immature child any longer, but keeps faithful to God’s ways. As this Christian reads and studies the Word of God so their mindset and thought processes change and become more like the mind of Christ. This affects their behaviour and words and in fact, impacts on every area of their lives. The changes may not be attractive to other people, so dealing with resistance, also builds character and refines the life style.

The Holy Spirit keeps them steady and safe and able to see through the lies of evil people who try to push them off course. They are wise and strong and full of love.

Jesus said… For the zeal of your house consumes me. The reproaches of those who reproach you have fallen on me.”    Psalm 69:9

Christ was completely taken up with redeeming His people and keeping them to the end. It was His all-consuming delight. He bore our sin and the insults that we poured on Him and continued His task of calling out a people for His name. So also we are taken up with His person and the life we have in Him. We are full of zeal, enthusiasm, and rejoicing as we serve Him and walk this world in His company.

The temple Christ spoke of was not the old physical edifice built by human hands. It was not the bricks and stones, but the building of that mighty kingdom of God that would be a people for His name. The house rises and the individual stones are lifted up, as the work of Christ in the life, is made deeper and more steadfast to withstand the enemy.

Jesus said… I will build my assembly, and the gates of Hades will not prevail against it.”   Matthew 16:18

The waves and billows of life will wreck many lives, without the power of Christ within. As each tsunami hits our lives, so God strengthens us to cope, so that we will stand again against the next wave. It is all or nothing. There are no half-hearted Christians, only those who prevail, or those who fall away and fail ultimately.  

 

 

 

V15    but speaking truth in love, we may grow up in all things into him who is the head, Christ, 

Instead of being duped by charlatans, we will be mature in the knowledge of God, which gives us the strength to stand. We will know His truth and speak it to others at all times. We will have true love for people. Not a shallow self-satisfied love that keep most of it’s blessing to itself, but a generous love, giving always and not keeping track of either giving or receiving. The true heart will not keep or hide thoughts or ideas that would help others. Maturity is ready for rebuff and rejection, and will follow the Lord Christ at all times.

The desire to be accepted is huge. We want people to think well of us. What if we need to say some difficult words to question people about what they are doing? We don’t want to do it. We let things go on as they have always gone on. The situation deteriorates and no one seems to notice. Don’t rock the boat… The Bible concept of unity is brought into play and twisted, so that no one is actually held responsible and accountable for anything. Things slip and nothing is done…

Leaving things as a status quo is not mature. Accepting that that’s just the way it is, is not Biblical.

In every aspect of our lives we will be part of the mature body that belongs to the head  – Christ. This is not an academic maturity. This is not some “church” that can sit for hours listening to words, but has no backbone or motivation to actually serve. This is a group of people who seek lives like Christ, not a polite social circle. This is hard for us to do, because it requires love, compassion and a totally giving spirit. Anything less than everything, is not Christ.

 

 

 

 

V16   from whom all the body, being fitted and knit together through that which every joint supplies, according to the working in measure of each individual part, makes the body increase to the building up of itself in love. 

As a consequence of this maturity and steadfast love, the whole body of Christ – the Church universal – will be joined and kept united by the supporting ligaments of the Holy Scriptures and the power of the Holy Spirit. This is no ordinary “building”. This building will prevail and every stone will be put in place by the power and planning of the Holy Spirit. It is not an organization based on human philosophy, or business practices. It is not worldly, but a spiritual house not made with human hands, or human mindsets.

It is a building that people will want to go to, because God is there, and love and hope.

So also the living stones themselves build each other up in love. This happens when every stone is doing what it is supposed to do. Every member of this Kingdom plays their part and contributes in the way God intended for them. Every member and their calling by God, is crucial. Those who don’t participate cannot be part of the structure. Love is the force that drives the work and love is the force that binds all together. Without love, the work is pointless.

 

  

 

V17This I say therefore, and testify in the Lord, that you no longer walk as the rest of the Gentiles also walk, in the futility of their mind, 

Children of God do not live like unbelievers. They do not behave or speak like those who have no faith. Their minds have been changed and renewed. Their thinking bears much fruit in time and eternity. A Christian’s behavior is not just a moral code that they follow, doggedly, but is the outworking of the Holy Spirit dwelling in the life. Christians are motivated by love for Christ and seeking to be like Him and speak for His glory at every opportunity.

Christians are different. They deliberately turn away from evil, and have the power to do so. When they fall, it is the weakness of the flesh, giving in to sinful desires. It does not have to be that way. God’s people live their lives becoming more and more like their Saviour, Jesus.

Even their fallings and failings are somehow turned to the good of others and themselves. We are fallen people and easily are tempted away, but the power of the Spirit in our lives, gives us the strength to walk uprightly.

Though sinful, we can appreciate the Lord and what He has done for us. The contrast in life-styles of the Christian and the unbeliever, could not be greater. Those who do not follow Christ live lives of futility, due to futile thinking. Those who are still in darkness, choose the things of this life, over the eternal joys ahead. They have no concept of what those joys are, or that they are worthwhile to have.

The difference between the life of the Christian and the life of an unbeliever, is clear for anyone to see. It should be obvious in a very short space time in meeting someone, that this person has different motives, different desires, cares about others and will put themselves down for the sake of another.

 

 

 

V18  being darkened in their understanding, alienated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, because of the hardening of their hearts. 

Unbelieving people are gloomy and darkened in their understanding about God. They have no experience of God, or His love, or forgiveness, and do not desire it. An unbeliever sees the world as a place to stay and where happiness and fulfillment can be found. The thoughts about meaning are superficial, as they have no life with God, the maker of everything, and do not understand everlasting principles.

People live in this state for long periods of time, and will deliberately avoid God, or any thoughts about Him. This chosen ignorance makes their hearts hard towards God and other people. It is a dangerous state because it perpetuates itself, endlessly.

Faith does not arise from the human heart- it is a gift of God. The built-in foolishness makes people unable to understand God, or what His ways in the world are. Humans have darkened minds, because they refuse the Lord, and cannot think outside the perimeters, of this world’s, education.

The scriptures are full of such instances of people who have no time for God, or who know God, but refuse Him. The Old Testament is full of warnings and explanations from God to sinful humanity and a whole series of entreaties and punishments to win His people over to Himself, but they would not have it.

 “The Lord is not slow concerning his promise, as some count slowness; but is patient with us, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.”  2 Peter 3:9

Even in our days when the scripture is open to all, God waits and speaks to us to repent and be converted. It can seem like there are few who really come to Him. 

 

 

 

 

V19  They, having become callous, gave themselves up to lust, to work all uncleanness with greediness. 

The hard hearts of the human race lead to separation from God and all that is good. The heart looses its sensitivity towards God, and this has consequences for the individual and the society that person lives in. We all affect where we are and the people we live amongst, and we choose the people who suit our mind set, and lifestyle. People choose a particular lifestyle and fight to get it accepted.

God gives sensitivity to people to think about Him and to wonder at the world He has made. Every human has at least one thought about God, and most have many more. Those thoughts can lead us to seek God, or reject Him. In times of trouble, the mind goes to God. Some call on Him, some blame Him. God is not willing that any should perish apart for Him, and He gives many opportunities to people to seek Him.

When we reject Him, we start to loose feeling for any spiritual appetite. We grow our desires for worldly things. We take to ourselves sinful practices and reward ourselves for godless lifestyles. We reject God. Our sense of love and kindness fades and we are given over to pleasure, increasingly.

Fleshly desires are never satisfied and can never fulfill us. If we should get the whole world for ourselves, and every delight possible, we would never be content.

“For what does it profit a man if he gains the whole world, and loses or forfeits his own self?”   Luke 9:25

There is something about getting all that we want, which hardens our hearts and consigns our soul to death.

Greed in all its forms takes over. We become insatiable and our appetites drive us to depend on the things of life, rather than our God. Without God we are ruined.

We become enemies of life, even physical life, and regard death as a mere plaything for our own purposes. The fear of a holy God has long gone, and we are accountable for nothing. Hardness takes over, tough we see it as “inclusiveness” and “tolerance.”

We tolerate anything but the paths of righteousness, holiness and God’s eternal love.

 

 

 

 

 V20   But you didn’t learn Christ that way, 

 The Christian life is diametrically opposed to the life of the world. Everything about it is different. The Philosophy, motivations, attitudes, life-style, moral code, thoughts processes, and emotional expressions of this world are the antithesis of the Christian way. The Christian has had a profound change in their hearts core, and are therefore different from those who remain unchanged.

These believers in Ephesus have this different life-style. They have turned away from godlessness and have become godly. Their lives are centered on the Love of God and the Word of God. Their lives are no longer fruitless, but they have been given grace to believe in the truth.

The faith they have received takes them away from the godless world view point and turns them into different people. The earth-bound cravings are gone, and these Christians now desire the spiritual things of God.

This new life, the Christians have had to learn. It did not come naturally to them, but Paul himself taught them the way to God. They have looked and listened to Paul and other Christians, and have been turned from the world, to the Living God. They are now different. The Holy Spirit lives in them and teaches them the way to righteousness.

It is the same for us today. No one can enter in except they hear the Word and believe. This is the way of Christ.

 

 

 

 

V21    if indeed you heard him, and were taught in him, even as truth is in Jesus:

Here we see the outworking of the message about Christ. The Ephesians when they were coming to faith, put off from themselves their former and sinful life, and took on faith in Christ. When they heard the truth about Jesus and the fact that He can give this new life, their souls were taught by Him to believe.

The believing was in a truth. It is a settled and ultimate truth about God and themselves. They found out about Jesus and who He is, and what He had done for them, personally, on the cross. They heard what Christ did for them and, why he did it and that believing in Him is the only way to heaven. Even as they trusted in Christ, they found that truth to be true.

The message is spoken and heard, and the mind and heart is taught, and the truth in Jesus is understood and believed, by those who are chosen in Christ.

There is no other truth, apart from Jesus. 

 

 

 

 

V22     that you put away, as concerning your former way of life, the old man that grows corrupt after the lusts of deceit, 

The old life they had before, they were taught by the Spirit to get rid of it. This is a deliberate act of abandonment. The old has gone. This old life is corrupt and getting more and more corrupt because it panders to the desires of the flesh, which trick us into thinking that we are doing well.

Those who teach others the way to God, have an awesome responsibility, and we all need to be sure about the truths of God when we speak to other people. The message of God tells us to put off the old sinful person and put on the new person. It could be like a coat. We put off the old ragged sinful coat, and put on the righteous coat given by Christ. This putting off is a necessary part of the evidence that a person is new in Christ. If it is not put off, then the old sinful life will continue to corrupt and deceive us.

 

 

 

V23 and that you be renewed in the spirit of your mind, 

When the Christians at Ephesus walked away from their old lives, God made them new. He gave them new minds and new attitudes. The mind is a crucial key in believing and thinking and doing. If we carry on with our old darkened sinful minds, we will be led astray. We will think we are satisfied, but only in the things of this world.

God must make us new. Unless the work of salvation comes from Him, it is futile and not real. If we have Christians, ministers, church leaders trying to convince us we are new in Christ, we need to be careful. Salvation is of the Lord, and the work in a soul must be His work, if it is to last for eternity.

Every Christian must be clear about their life in Christ. It is wise to test out our salvation. To go around the memory and experiences and make sure we do really belong to God.

A Christian really does have new attitudes, outlook and ways of thinking. Our minds are renewed and made like the mind of Christ. This is another indication that we belong to God. Our thinking has put off the cloudy lens of sin and put on the clarity of the Scriptures. We seek to understand more and more clearly these precious words from God.

 

 

 

V24    and put on the new man, who in the likeness of God has been created in righteousness and holiness of truth. 

When a person comes to Christ, they put on the new life and way of life. The new life is eternal life, which is a quality of life fit for heaven, and experienced here on earth, and as we walk with God. The way of life, is the change in our behaviour and tastes, which set us apart from the people of this world.

The new-self, is the person we are meant to be. We are forgiven and at peace with God. We can be bold and courageous, because God’s Holy Spirit rules within. There is a living faith that need never fail. We become righteous people, who delight to know God and have endless love for others. This is given by the power of the Spirit, from the mighty God.

As sin is confessed and put away, so the new self comes forward and the life becomes one of holy living and serving God and not ourselves. This “new man” will be our new character and motivation in our lives. We now live to serve God and bring glory to Him.

It is hard to believe that a sinful person such as we are, can have this likeness of God and be credited with a righteousness not our own. As we ponder such truths, let us praise God with a full heart.!

 

 

 

V25    Therefore putting away falsehood, speak truth each one with his neighbor. For we are members of one another. 

This aspect of life is thoroughly changed for the Christian. As we put on holiness and cast off sinfulness, it will change our demeanor. The Christians must always speak the truth and behave in an honest way. We are to be straightforward towards everyone and sincere in all our responses.

There is a deliberate putting away of falsehood and lies. We are to speak truthfully to everyone. This includes Christian sisters and brothers, and also those who are not part of the fellowship of Christ. This especially refers to our interactions with other believers and how careful we must be to be true. This is a top priority because it shows our inner holiness and honesty of lifestyle.

No member should be lording it over another. The way we behave and arrange our fellowship meetings together, should mirror our truthful mindset and the Truth of God. As we meet we are all members of the one body, the body of Christ.

People should see a deep sincerity in our speaking and dealings with each other. Any ill-will must be dealt with by us and if we need to speak to a sister or brother, we should do so. We do so for clarity and not to blame or unload our bad feelings. Love is the key. Peace is the gift of God. Faith will forgive and cover over a huge number of sins…

“But the end of all things is near. Therefore be of sound mind, self-controlled, and sober in prayer. And above all things be earnest in your love among yourselves, for love covers a multitude of sins. Be hospitable to one another without grumbling. As each has received a gift, employ it in serving one another, as good managers of the grace of God in its various forms. If anyone speaks, let it be as it were the very words of God. If anyone serves, let it be as of the strength, which God supplies, that in all things God may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom belong the glory and the dominion forever and ever. Amen.”  1 Peter 4:7-11

 

 

 

 

V26    Be angry, and don’t sin.” Don’t let the sun go down on your wrath, 

There is a place for anger in the Christians life. God is angry at the wicked every day. Anger against evil doing is the mirror image of love. If we love holiness and justice and the righteousness of God, then we will be angry at things we see and hear which are not righteous. God is not to be messed about with. He is angry because he is holy. There is no place for sin in the eternal kingdom. When we see people polluting the house of God, denigrating His holy word, denying His person, and many other slights, we should be grieved. It should matter to us.

A Christian is angry at the sin of others, and also at the sin they see in themselves. The sin within, is forgiven and paid for by Christ, and we can deal with our anger before the throne of God.

The anger at others, is more difficult. This anger must be dealt with quickly and brought to God, seeing the problem and acknowledging the anger and the reason for it, and leaving it all with the Father. We cannot carry it around, as many other sins will come from it. Anger must be dealt with every day and confessed if wrong, and if legitimate, it must be left for the one who understands all things, to sort out. If we need to forgive, we should forgive straight away. If people will not forgive us, we must leave it with the Father.

 

 

 

 

V27    and don’t give place to the devil. 

The devil can use anything to get a grip on our souls and make us fruitless. He can use legitimate issues and grievances to cause trouble in our lives. The issue about forgiveness is always near the centre of every issue. When people will not forgive me, why should I forgive them? When people are doing wrong and ruining the witness of God, can I be angry? Should I care?

Anger can ruin lives and cause hurts to ourselves and others people. It can make us ill with stress and hold us back from God’s purposes for our lives. It can have a cleansing effect when dealt with properly, but this is very hard to do. To be able to talk to others about something that is troubling us, can be helpful, but it can also reinforce the problem by rehearsing it and giving it importance. It is best to take the problem to God, and He will reveal a way out.

“No temptation has taken you except what is common to man. God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted above what you are able, but will with the temptation also make the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.”   1 Corinthians 10:13

This scripture is about temptation, and the temptation to hold on to anger, is surely a big issue in the life of the Christian.!
In all cases it is important to keep a firm hold on the sovereignty of God. He knows all about every situation and He is in control of it all. If you need to do something, he will tell you and show you. Be obedient. All anger and ill will and lack of forgiveness- we must let go. The devil can cause the Christian a lot of trouble by just stirring up feelings and a sense of injustice. Do not fret. God will work all things out in conformity to His will.

 

 

 

 

V28    Let him who stole steal no more; but rather let him labor, producing with his hands something that is good, that he may have something to give to him who has need. 

Here we deal with the other side of honesty. Christians must be scrupulously clean in terms of truthfulness and also honesty regarding possessions. We should be givers rather than receivers, and not concerned of keeping close track of our goods. All we have belongs to the Lord, and we give it, and lend it, freely. In our work, we should work hard and keeping close watch on doing what we are supposed to do. We should sign up for work so that we can support ourselves and our families and also others, who cannot work.

If someone has been dishonest before they were changed by God, they must learn to do something worthwhile and beneficial for other people. Everyone should be paid for their work, so that money can be shared around and everyone get what they need. There is no closed, selfish, independent view of resources, but children who trust in the Lord, work hard, and support each other. This is the opposite of stealing. It is a giving and caring lifestyle with a mindset, which is outward looking and generous.

 

 

 

 

V29    Let no corrupt speech proceed out of your mouth, but only what is good for building others up as the need may be, that it may give grace to those who hear. 

The Christians who is actively loving and following Jesus must be very careful about what they say. We must not be insulting, though we may have to speak difficult home-truths. We speak words that ultimately help and build up others according to their needs. Our words should benefit people and encourage them to grow in their lives and be interested in God’s Word.

Anything that is termed “unwholesome” includes swearing, taking God’s name lightly, insulting words, uncontrolled angry words, dishonest words, bad temper, etc.

It also includes keeping our minds free from such words. If they are in our minds they will come out of our mouths. We guard our lips, and guard our minds. Even as we are exposed to evil speaking around us, in the media, etc, we do not hold onto these words. As we keep a clear conscience with God and keep our minds clean in His word, He will protect us. 

 

 

 

 

V30    Don’t grieve the Holy Spirit of God, in whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. 

People must not grieve the Holy Spirit of God. He keeps us and assures us that we belong to God. He walks with us and teaches us right until the day we are totally redeemed. We must not speak unworthy things or lie or pretend or cover up.

To speak the truth in love, pleases the Spirit and He leads us into all truth and love. It is possible to grieve Him and counter act His loving work in our lives. We can miss out just by being careless, or selfish, or proud. Once we start to think of ourselves as above another person, we are grieving Him. Once we start to disobey and stop listening to the Word and the voice within, we are grieving the Spirit.

The Holy Spirit is our guarantee that we are the people of God. If we grieve Him, we are getting ourselves into trouble and will not be able to appreciate spiritual things and the spiritual life will falter. At this point it is easy to fall into sin and be affected by the worldliness around us.

 

  

 

 

V31    Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, outcry, and slander be put away from you, with all malice.

We actively put away from us all bitterness, rage, anger, aggression and evil speaking against others. All malice and spite must be turned out of our thinking processes. We do not rehearse grievances or allow them to fester and grow in our minds. If someone offends us, or we are concerned about something, we need to get it settled straight away. We must get rid of the feeling and mindset of anger.

If we are unable to deal with the situation and cannot get it resolved, we need to get out of it. We must not find ourselves constantly living in a bitter place.

Constantly rehearsing the things others have done/said to us, is not helpful. The Spirit of God says we are to put these things away from us. Either stop the cycle of thinking, or deal with the difficulty in a Godly way.

If justice eludes us, we are to put the problem away and leave it with God. It does not mean we pretend nothing is happening or take to ourselves all the blame. Becoming a scapegoat in your own mind is not right. It is good to have someone to talk to, but this might not be possible.

All these bitter attitudes of mind and heart are ungodly. We practice being truthful and dealing with the oppression of others without rage in any form. We must be mature in how we deal with hurts and oppression, and bring everything to the Lord. Solace is to be found in the Word of God, and this we rehearse as we meditate in the Word and God and pray.

Check out the Book of Psalms….

 

 

 

 V32   And be kind to one another, tender hearted, forgiving each other, just as God also in Christ forgave you

Christians are to love each other with kindness and compassion. When sisters and brothers hurt us, attack our viewpoint or disadvantage us, we must forgive them. God has forgiven us everything and forgiven us the serious sins against His person, so we also must forgive. If Christ could love you enough to die for you, then you as His child are required to forgive others what they do or say to you, at the very least.

We imitate Christ in this way. Our demeanour is to be humble and compassionate towards brothers and sisters in Christ, and also towards outsiders who see our witness and realize our sincerity and that we are different from the world.

These words and teachings are hard for us to follow.

They are impossible without the Spirit of God in the inner core of the life. We cannot keep this up without His gracious work in our minds and hearts. We read the Word of God with the enlightenment of the Holy Spirit and we pray to our Father in heaven, in the power of the Spirit.

Paul entreats us to keep our minds centered on Christ and to keep our lives clean from the things of this fallen world.

“Pure religion and undefiled before our God and Father is this: to visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained by the world.”  James 1:27