Live a Life Worthy of the Calling
Comments for Study 4
Memory Verse: 4:1
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I. Unity (4:1-6)
>1. What kind of life should we live? (1)
* Ephesians 4:1 "As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received."
* "then" -Some translations say "therefore" and put it at the beginning of the sentence. Either way this is a transition, a connection, and a consequence of.
* "As a prisoner for the Lord" -Paul was under house arrest in Rome awaiting a trial. See introduction for more information.
* "I urge you" -Urge is a strong word and could also be "beg" or beseech", a wooing in love. A strong plea was needed for obstacles arose in Ephesus and other churches that made growing in Christ's love hard. One was that believers from different cultures that were once at odds with each other outside of Christ were having troubles getting along in love. If it were not so, Paul would not have urged them. Today we are not so different as each generation of believers seek to establish and build the congregation. As newly weds from different family backgrounds find it hard to make a new home, so families from different cultures find it hard to make a congregation that glorifies God. People of the world wonder why there are so many different denominations and congregations. They are the same people who do not recognize that family units are the bricks of a well built, sturdy, elegant, and tall society. And they do not understand that each family needs to be a unique brick and yet a connected brink to make the building of society extravagant. And they do not accept that each member of a family is unique and so that family has its own character just as each congregation has its own character. Paul now urges each unique congregation what is needed for them to unlimitedly glorify God.
* "to live a life worthy of the calling" -Paul had just revealed many desirable aspects of the wonderful calling in Christ, the desire of all. Men have unsuccessfully sought to build a perfect society out of imperfect bricks. Jesus make each brick perfect and is building a perfect kingdom with these bricks. We should therefore live a life worthy of what Jesus is doing in and through us.
* "live a life" -God calls us to actively live out our faith in him. Faith is not a passive thought. Faith in God is acted out in our day to day living, our manner of life, our lifestyle. 1 John 1:7 states, "But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin."
* "you have received" -We should remember that we received the calling from God.
* As Joshua and Israel had to lay hold of the land that was promised them, so Christians and congregations are to lay hold of the blessings in Christ that are promised to us. Joshua and us have to lay hold of the promise practically every day of living; overcoming, conquering, and occupying.
* The direction given in the following verses are for those in Christ (of the Spirit, 3). Those in Christ are capable of following a life worthy of the calling because he have access to the Father and receive all the blessings in the heavenly realms.
* God's love is greater than I can comprehend. His love maintains, connects, and supports all creation and all people. I can stay connected to him and his love.This was yesterday's devotional theme.
These verses concern my love towards others. Verse 2 contains the 3 "be"s. Be patient, Be humble, Be gentle. These are how Jesus' followers engage with everyone, especially other believers.
Professionally I have been in the bearing business for much of my career. So the phrase, "bearing with one another in love" (2) stood out. Bearings support a moving load. Many types of bearings exist. Each type have special features that best handle specific types of moving loads.
One bearing type is totally anchored so that it does not move with the supported moving load. A Slip-n-Slide is an example, though technically that fun summer toy is not a bearing. Another bearing type moves with the supported moving load. A door hinge is a good example. That type of bearing is called a sleeve bearing.
Another type of bearing is called a roller bearing. A roller bearing has a part that rolls between the load and at least one ring. A ball bearing in a roller skate is a good example.
All of these bearing types not only support a moving load, they do it much more efficiently and smoothly that if they were not present. Added to this, they extend the life of the moving load, keeping it from wearing down. They do this at their own expense. The moving load will exist eternally because the bearing sacrifices itself as the load moves.
Jesus took my moving load with him on the cross so that I may live a much more effective and smooth life. He extended my life to eternity. In the same way I am to be a "bearing with one another in love".
There is one body in Jesus (4). I am to be a bearing joint in Jesus' body; like a hip, an elbow, a neck, and a knee. I am to make every effort to keep the unity of the body with the power of the Spirit and peace (3). I am to "Be patient, Be humble, Be gentle."
>What are some of the things that this entails? (2)
* Ephesians 4:2 "Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love."
* "completely" -As I consider each one of points in this verse all I can says is, "I have not been "completely" in all situation at times.
* "humble" -Humility is a matter of the heart. As is all matters of the heart, humility is displayed in actions. We should view others better than ourselves. (Phil. 2:3) An actor can fool for awhile, but eventually pride rears its ugly head. Greeks did not consider humility as a virtue. Neither does the times we live in. Yet we are to be humble. Jesus is a great example of humility. (Matt. 11:29) Not only did he leaven his glory and heaven, but he did not exercise his power and judgment. Jesus said, "I did not come to judge the world, but to save it." (John 12:47)
* "gentle" -Gentle is meekness, not weakness. A gentle man is under complete control. What does it mean to be gentle? The person who is meek does not insert his own importance or authority. Consider the loving parents with an infant. When the baby cries they are gentle with the infant, they don't yell at the baby nor beat them. Rather they take care of its needs in love; talking gently and holding them in care. When we see faults in other believer, for all are not perfect yet, we should be gentle with them. To many give rebukes to often and at the wrong time. Jesus said, "Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother's eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, 'Brother, let me take the speck out of your eye,' when you yourself fail to see the plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother's eye." (Luke 6:41-42) Is there someone in the congregation you attend that annoys you? Pray for them and be gentle with them. Spend time with them and find something in them to compliment them about.
* "patient" -Since we do not justify our own faults and wait for complete change in us, why can't we give the same patients to other believers. We should be long-suffering as God is with us. A person who calls themselves a believer and is then quickly angers toward another believer is not walking in Christ.
* "bearing with one another in love" -I was an application engineer for rolling bearing companies for nearly ten years. Rolling bearings bear loads while rotating. A rolling bearing will last longer if it is rotating. Stop the rotating and the bearing's life is greatly reduced. Even during vacation and holiday shut down I advised maintenance men that bearings should be periodically run. Similarly, if we actively work out our faith every day in Christ we can bear the load of each other differences and problems much longer and better than if we are idle in our faith and love.
>How much effort are we to put to unity? (3)
* Ephesians 4:3 "Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace."
* "Make every effort" -This reminds me of Jesus saying, "Make every effort to enter through the narrow door, because many, I tell you, will try to enter and not be able to." (Luke 13:24) Hebrews 4:11 states, "Let us, therefore, make every effort to enter that rest, so that no one will fall by following their example of disobedience."
* "to keep the unity of the Spirit" -In Christ is unity, and we need to do all we can do in Christ to keep the unity. Living by the Spirit will bring unity. Living by the world's ways will bring disunity. I have seen in my life in Christ some who would not live in unity. Though some became rich in the world by taking advantage of others, they are poor in Christ. I saw two men who were considered great shepherds of congregations at a Christian conference so filled with pride and hate that after sharing harsh words stormed off in other directions. I have also seen humble men sit next to those who did them wrong in love receive one spiritual blessing after another. One even saw the Lord Jesus face to face in a vision at night.
* As this verse implies, unity is a gift of the Spirit. And yet this verse also implies that we can break that unity. If fact it implies that we must work to keep the unity of the Spirit. This will be true as long as we are in this cursed would living in a body that was made from its dust.
* "to build unity is one of the Holy Spirit's important roles. He leads, but we have to be willing to be led and to do our part to keep the peace. We do that by focusing on God, not on ourselves. for more about who the Holy Spirit is and what he does, see John 3:6, Acts 1:5, and Ephesians 1:13-14." (Life Application Bible Series, Tyndale House Publishers, Inc.)
* We do not make the unity, but we are to keep the unity as forces within and without the congregation of Christ try to pull us apart.
>What are all the "ones" Paul identifies? (4-6)
* Ephesians 4:4-6 "There is one body and one Spirit-- just as you were called to one hope when you were called-- one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all."
* "one body" -body of Christ
* "one Spirit" -Holy Spirit
* "one hope" -We hope in the coming of the kingdom of God, when the will of God will be on earth as it is in heaven.
* "one Lord" -The Lord Jesus Christ
* "one faith" -faith in the Lord Jesus christ
* "one baptism" -Physical that is a symbol of the spiritual baptism.
* "one God and Father of all" -"Hear oh Israel, the Lord our God the Lord is One."
* "who is over all and through all and in all" -What a powerful statement. In a day to day life, in a hum-drum world of sin and sinners, we can get bogged down. Then we think of our Father who is in control and is working all things for the good of those who believe according to the plan he created before the creation, and that plan included every believer in Christ.
II. Maturity (4:7-16)
>2. What is grace? (7)
* Ephesians 4:7 "But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it."
* "to each one of us" -We should recognize that God is gracious to us as well as all other believers.
* "grace" -God helps each one of his people even though they do not deserve us. God does not treate his children as their sins deserves.
* "as Christ apportioned it" -Jesus gives each person love and care even though they were enemies of God and common sinners.
* What is grace? This is grace. I was a typical Midwest U.S.A. young lad, chasing girls and getting drunk. I committed many sins to in thought and in action. I was miserably lost and if not for the intervention of God's grace I would have grown even worse. Then God moved my heart in 1982 to order a free book called The Power of Living. With the book came the gospel of John. Reading the gospel the Spirit moved my heart at the words and actions of Jesus. God made me desire to become a Christian even though I had gone to church every day of my life. I read the book on how to become a Christian. By grace God moved my heart to accept Jesus as Savior and Lord. The Spirit of God, full of peace and love filled my heart. After that I sinned at times. Yet by grace God continually worked in my heart. He gave me the strength to resist sin and seek his will. After two years I was able to make a commitment to read the Bible that my college roommate left laying around our apartment. I read a chapter a day from Matthew 1 to Galatians 5. God convicted me of indecision I repented. God assured me he was taking care of me. Through the prayers answered of believers I began studying the Bible and witnessing to almost everyone I meet starting in the summer of 1985. Now that is grace.
* Jesus rose from the dead amd ascended into the highest heavens (9,10). He brought with him all those who had died while believing in him and loving him (8). Jesus also gave gifts to those still on the earth who also believe him and love (11).
Jesus gave many types of gifts because there are many positions to fill (11). Jesus through the Spirit enables each of his believers as is required for each needed place. This doesn't mean that at times the position will be easy and without problems. It just means he insures that his people are able to do that which they need to do.
Jesus made Paul an apostle. Jesus make Luke a physician. He made Mark an assistant.
Jesus has some things for me to do too. I don't have to be concerned that his will for me won't be accomplished nor that I will fall short. By faith I know that God has and will enable me to accomplish his specific will for me. I have a place in Jesus' home.
>How does Psalm 68:18 foretell this? (8)
* Ephesians 4:8 "This is why it says: "When he ascended on high, he led captives in his train and gave gifts to men."
* Psalms 68:18 "When you ascended on high, you led captives in your train; you received gifts from (or gave gifts to) men, even from the rebellious-- that you, O Lord God, might dwell there.
* "he ascended on high" -After resurrection and appearing to his disciples for forty days Jesus ascended to heaven. (Acts 1:3, 9)
* "he led captives in his train" -We were captives of sin and death. Jesus' death and resurrection freed us. When he ascended to heaven our newly born spirits ascend with him. As Paul wrote earlier, we are in the very present of God.
* "have gifts to men" -The gifts spoken of in earlier chapters. Jesus is the conqueror marching to the gates and taking tribute from the fallen city and gives them to his people.
>3. When did Christ descended to earth? (9; John 1:14; Heb. 2:14-15)
* Ephesians 4:9 "(What does "he ascended" mean except that he also descended to the lower, earthly regions?"
* John 1:14 "The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth."
* Hebrews 2:14-15 "Since the children have flesh and blood, he too shared in their humanity so that by his death he might destroy him who holds the power of death--that is, the devil-- and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death."
* Jesus was in heaven as Lord. He descended and became a baby and was placed in a manger. When he died his body was buried in the earth while he himself descended to Hades (Hebrew Sheol) and lead the saints before him to heaven. Jesus will descend again very soon and take his church to the same place as he took the former saints who were in Hades.
>When did he ascend to heaven? (10, Acts 1:9; Heb. 4:14-16, 8:1-2)
* Ephesians 4:10 "He who descended is the very one who ascended higher than all the heavens, in order to fill the whole universe.)"
* Acts 1:9 "After he said this, he was taken up before their very eyes, and a cloud hid him from their sight."
* Hebrews 4:14-16 "Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has gone through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are--yet was without sin. Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need."
* Hebrews 8:1-2 "The point of what we are saying is this: We do have such a high priest, who sat down at the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in heaven, and who serves in the sanctuary, the true tabernacle set up by the Lord, not by man."
* Jesus is now at the right hand of the Father interceding for all the saints. Romans 8:34 states, "Who is he that condemns? Christ Jesus, who died--more than that, who was raised to life--is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us."
>4. Who appoints us? (11)
* Ephesians 4:11 "It was he who gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers,"
* "It is he" -Jesus as the previous verses point out, is the one giving gifts. Now he points out how Jesus is using parts of his body, the church, so that we may live a life that is worthy of our calling.
* "who gave some" -Not everyone has these titles and responsibilities.
>Are each given the same task and position?
* No. Paul lists several positions in the body of Christ. All act out of a need for believers, not for selfish needs.
* "apostles" -Apostles means "sent". Even though Jesus sends all of us, this does not mean that we are apostles. The position of apostle is meant here one who saw the risen Jesus. Jesus appointed twelve as apostles during his earthly ministry, and one was a traitor. The eleven remaining after his death, resurrection and ascension appointed one more to replace Judas. Jesus appointed Paul as a apostle to the Gentiles. Galatians 1:19 says James, the Lord's brother is also an apostle as in a few others in Romans 16:7 and perhaps 1 Thess. 2:6. Since then there has not been any other appointed probably because after that their message has been passed by writings. An apostle displays all the gifts of the Holy Spirit to support their message, and is personally taught intensely by Jesus. In a sense the apostles are ministering to us through the gospels and the letters of the New Testament.
* "prophets" -A prophet in Old Testament time gave Israel and Judah God's word as direct inspiration of the Holy Spirit. The prophecies were often specific to the times as well as having a second and even third fulfilment in times much after them. John the Baptist is the last of the Old Testament prophets. Acts mention prophets after Jesus' ascension, directly inspired by the Holy Spirit as the Old Testament prophets before them. I don't know of any prophet that was not a descendant of Jacob, though some may say that Balaam was a prophet, a strange assessment for he seduced Israel into Baal worship. (2 Peter 2:15, Rev. 2:14)
* "evangelists" -An evangelists is someone who goes from one congregation to another on to build up the believers in their service to the Lord through effective delivery of the word of God. Philip was an evangelist (Acts 21:8) as was Timothy (2 Tim. 4:5) Billy Graham is an evangelist as are modern missionaries. I know of a man who is an evangelist in the sense that he is building up the churches in a tri-state area, equipping them to better share the gospel with others.
* "pastors" -Pastor is here "poimen" in Greek meaning shepherd. The Old Testament portrays God's people as sheep. Shepherd's therefore take care of God's flock. Unlike an evangelist, a pastor ministers at one congregation at a time. "Pastoral ministry is closely associated with teaching as God's gift to the church. Such ministry fulfills its God-ordained purpose when it trains church members to be mature in faith and equipped for ministry and unifies the church in Christian faith and knowledge. Self-promotion and political divisiveness run counter to the biblical ideal for pastoral ministry. In laying down His life for His sheep (John 10:11,15), Christ set the standard for pastoral ministry that goes beyond words to deeds. His sheep recognize His voice as a trustworthy guide (John 10:3-4). Pastoral ministry is an expression of love for Christ (John 21:15-17)." (Holman Bible Dictionary)
* "teachers" -The teaching of the word of God is given to some within a congregation, though at times they may visit another congregation to teach too. (Rom.12:7; and 1 Cor. 12:28-29; and 1 Tim. 3:2)
* Apostles, prophets, and evangelists are for the universal church. Pastors and teachers are generally for a local congregation.
>What was his intention in appointing us? (12)
* Ephesians 4:12 "to prepare God's people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up"
* "to prepare God's people" -A pastor prepares, that is his work of service. The apostles decided that they should dedicate their time to the word of God and not wait on tables. (Acts 6:2)
* "for works of service" -All believers are to serve one another in one way or another.
* "so that the body of Christ may be built up" -Apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors, and teachers do not minister for selfish gain. They build up the congregation. Those who are given these positions are tempted to use it for their own benefit. Many pass the test, some do not. I know of one apointed to the position of teacher of children who used their position to takes trips to France. I know of one pastor who used his position to gain control of another pastors position. There are teachers who promote and teach their own ideas rather than the word of God. There have been evangelists and missionaries who use their office to escape poverty and build up great wealth. There are prophets like Balaam who lead God's point into sin. I mention these not as judging them, but so that those who study this are careful not to fall to temptation.
* "build up" -The church is elsewhere compared to a building and each person is a brick or a stone. And so these appointments minister the word of God so that each stone is a part of the building and is ready to be in the right place.
>How is the body built up?
* All of the ministries mentioned incorporate the word of God. Hebrews 4:12 states, "For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart." And 1 Thessalonians 2:13 states, "And we also thank God continually because, when you received the word of God, which you heard from us, you accepted it not as the word of men, but as it actually is, the word of God, which is at work in you who believe." Why is the word so important to believers? Because Jesus himself is the word of God (John 1:1, 14) And as Matthew 4:4 records Jesus telling the devil, "It is written: 'Man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.'"
* God appoints and God equips through the Spirit. Some are appointed to positions, but then forfeit the gift of the Spirit needed to be effective in Christ's body through pride and sin.
* No one should consider that what God has given them is their own. Did the apostles says, "No one should quote us. No one else should use our material to help the church." Or, "Anyone who uses our materials should pay us for it and acknowledge us as the source." No. And yet today there are some who refuse to let someone else use their materials without being paid and/or recognized. Anyone can use the material I use here freely and never should try to make a profit from it. I am not saying the ox should not receive his hay; that is, shepherds can be financially helped by the congregations they are called to serve. And I am not saying that if a person only quotes others then they should be consider as shepherds. Our God is active and people should rely on the Holy Spirit and the word of God more than the word of other men of God. I have seen web sites that only have posted what other people wrote (no longer under copyright laws) and then they make a profit from it. I don't think that is right. Most of what I post is what the Lord has revealed to me through his Spirit after many years of Bible study (30 years in 2012). Sometimes I quote other authors because they say it so well, or because it back-up the point I see in the verse and made.
>What is the final out come? (13)
* Ephesians 4:13 "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."
* "unity in the faith" -As long as we are in this flesh there will be shepherds and teachers for there is always the tempter who tries to bring disunity. If there is not complete unity in Christ, then these offices are to minister the word of God until Jesus comes for his bride. In heaven and at the resurrection of the dead, the rapture of the church, the roles of these positions will be directed for those who humanly make it through the seven years tribulation.
* "unity... in the knowledge of the Son of God" -The teaching of the word of God should always glorify and point to Jesus. Knowing Jesus is not just intellectually, it is personally. The desire of those appointed God is that his people know Jesus deeply and personally.
* "become mature" -Once a believer is mature a shepherd and teacher must release that person to be a pastor, teacher, or evangelist. We should not hold onto God's people once they are mature in the Lord.
* "attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ" -The definition of mature.
>5. How are infants in Christ described? (14)
* Ephesians 4:14 "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."
* "infants" -All who first accept Jesus are infants. Some mature after that others do not. (1 Cor. 3:1, 14:20) The word of God is the food that helps us grow. 1 Corinthians 3:5-9 states, "What, after all, is Apollos? And what is Paul? Only servants, through whom you came to believe--as the Lord has assigned to each his task. I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God made it grow. So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God, who makes things grow. The man who plants and the man who waters have one purpose, and each will be rewarded according to his own labor. For we are God's fellow workers; you are God's field, God's building."
* "tossed back and forth by waves" -Driftwood comes to mind or perhaps ships without rudders and sails such as Paul experienced when he was being transported to the Roman prison he was in when he wrote this. (Acts 27; and 2 Cor. 11:25)
* "blown here and there by every wind of teaching" -I consider the Cottonwood and a Dandelion seed as a good example for me to understand this. Some claim to be Christian and yet teach something not of Christ. The infant cannot distinguish a teaching from God or from the world. Bible study inspired by the Holy Spirit is important for all believers.
* "by the cunning and craftiness of men in their deceitful scheming" -So many false prophets exist to this very day. Anti-Christ have all been amongst believers and then broken away because their false teaching was not of Christ, though they at one time and in one way or another used the word of God. Infants in Christ don't know the word of God enough to know when Satan is tempting them.
>How does this explain the task of the different positions in verse 11? (1 Tim. 4:13; and 2 Tim. 2:15)
* 1 Timothy 4:13 "Until I come, devote yourself to the public reading of Scripture, to preaching and to teaching."
* 2 Timothy 2:15 "Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a workman who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth."
* The word of God is important and must be used in all these positions.
* A congregation should not put an infant in Christ in a position of leadership, and yet this is what many do lately. Many congregations are like the world, judging by outward appearances, wealth, and social position in appointing pastors, elders, teachers, and deacons. Outward they look good, but they do not know the word of God and do not attend the church's Bible studies. Paul told Timothy that overseers should be able to teach the word (1 Tim. 3:2); not look good or have a deep pocket. Congregation who do such things wonder why they have leaders like Saul instead of like David.
>6. How are we to speak the truth? (15)
* Ephesians 4:15 "Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will in all things grow up into him who is the Head, that is, Christ."
* "speak the truth" -God's word is truth. Jesus said, "Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth. As you sent me into the world, I have sent them into the world." (John 17:17-18)
* "in love" -When the word of God is ministered to people it would be in love.
* "we will" -Paul included himself.
* "in all things grow up into him who is the Head" -"A slightly different restatement of verse 13, based now on the imagery of Christ as the Head of the body, which is the church. Paul thus speaks primarily of corporate maturity. It is the 'body of Christ' that is to be 'built up' (12). In verse 13 'we all' are to become 'mature' (lit. 'a mature man')" (NIV Study Bible, Zondervan)
* "the Head" -Jesus is the Head of the church. This letter repeats it four times. Paul never claimed he or any other person or group was the head of the church. It's possible that someone was claiming that they were the director of a specific congregation or a group of congregations. It's also possible that the disunity that was threatened them caused some to for "camps" around personalities. Idolization of personalities often happens in any worldly society and unfortunately it sometimes happens in Jesus' church. (1 Cor. 1:12)
>What are we to do for one another? (16)
* Ephesians 4:16 "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."
* "grows and builds itself up in love" -Love is not just a good idea. Love is not a function of the physical body. Love is not good warm fuzzy feelings. Maturity and unity in Christ is impossible without love for God is love. (1 John 4:8) Anyone in the body of Christ must practice love. 1 John 3:16 states, "This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers." The body of Christ is not stagnant, it grows when love is applied by its members. Do you want to see a congregation that is dying? One that does not practice the love taught in the body. Jesus later said to Ephesus believers, "Yet I hold this against you: You have forsaken your first love. Remember the height from which you have fallen! Repent and do the things you did at first. If you do not repent, I will come to you and remove your lamp stand from its place." (Rev. 2:4-5)
>How does this further explain unity?
* "the whole body" -This is the fifth time the believers in Jesus are called the body of Christ in this letter. Other letters also use the analogy and at times in more detail. (1 Cor. 12:12-30)
* "joined and held together by every supporting ligament" -The whole congregation of Jesus; past, present, and future are all one body. Jesus called it the kingdom of God and the kingdom of heaven. (Matt. 11:12; Mark 1:15; Luke 16:16-21)
* "as each part does its work" -Jesus has a task for each member of his body. Find out what God had prepared you to do and then do it? At times I've wondered what God wanted me to do next. Sometimes it took some time before I was called to another task and for me to know what that was. I have found this word to be a good direction. "Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God--this is your spiritual act of worship. Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is--his good, pleasing and perfect will." (Romans 12:1-2)
* Is there someone in your local congregation that you find it hard to love? Pray for them and yourself. Then make an effort to practically show them love; invite them over your house for a meal or a special event, take them out to eat, give them a gift they will appreciate, ask them if there is some way you can help them, listen to what they have to say, say a kind word to them as often as you see them, smile and shake their hand, speak well of them and give them words of encouragement, and turn the other check. What about those not in the church? Do the same, but do not expect kindness back from them as Able did not experience from Cain. Oh Lord forgive this man for not repaying wrong with love.
III. Reward of Personal Life (4:17-5:20)
>7. What happens when a person hardens his heart to God? (17-19)
* Ephesians 4:17-19 "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. 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. 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."
* Mark 3:28-30 "'I tell you the truth, all the sins and blasphemies of men will be forgiven them. But whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit will never be forgiven; he is guilty of an eternal sin.' He said this because they were saying, 'He has an evil spirit.'"
* "insist on it in the Lord" -Everybody who reads this letter should take this to heart.
* "you must no longer live as the Gentiles do" -Apparently some of the believers, the body of Christ, after they accepted Jesus as Savior and Lord were not obeying all of Jesus' commands. The Lord once directed me to a man through a changed flight plan who believed that it was impossible for those who accepted Jesus and Savior and Lord and given the Holy Spirit to sin. He said he belonged to a group who believed that sin was impossible for the converted. They apparently didn't study or ignored passages like this one that instructed congregations who were in the body of Christ to stop sinning.
* "as the Gentiles do" -Paul was not saying they should follow Jewish customs or laws. (Mark 7:8-9) For there is a liberty in Christ, but it is not a license to sin. In Paul's days the Gentiles knew nothing of the Lord and the Scriptures, and so they worshiped idols and committed all kinds of sins. By race they and we are still Gentiles. However, we are not Gentiles in Christ, we are grafted into Israel. (Rom. 11:17) All in Christ and thus spiritual Israel, are therefore not to live like other Gentiles (those around us who are not in Christ). In ancient Greece and much of the world today there is a mental, moral, and spiritual decadence in society. In Christ we are a part of Israel that is saved by faith. So we are to live as our Israel forefathers lived; by faith and purity.
* "They are darkened in their understanding" -Man cannot think himself into an understanding of truth and God no matter how intelligent and determined. Some truths may be understood, but without connected to the source of all wisdom and knowledge even the parts understood are darkened to meaningless. Those not in Christ think that a sinful lifestyle is so sophisticated and cultured; foolish thinking. I was talking with someone last night about a misconception held by many who do not know Jesus. They think, "A good and loving God cannot send anyone to hell." This is a good example of darkened thinking. God does not send anyone to hell. Rather people run to it when they run away from God. Everyone has a choice in this life, accept a Jesus of Savior and Lord or reject him. Those who reject him remain apart from God. Die apart from God is running into hell.
* "separated from the life of God" -Jesus taught, "Now this is eternal life: that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent." (John 17:3) "Know" here is a personal relationship with God through Jesus.
* "due to the hardening of their hearts" -Hardening of the heart is as I described above, "running from God". Its actively and continually putting off God. The NIV Study Bible calls this "moral unresponsiveness". Perhaps better is to understand this as a callus on the skin which after continual rejecting loses "all sensitivity" and eventually stubbornly puts off God. A callus is made of dead skin. A rejection of God is turning oneself over to sensuality, an attempt to convince oneself that they are still alive.
* "indulge in every kind of impurity" -One vice leads to a worse vice. Continual rejection of God is a spiral downward.
* "with a continual lust for more" -As long as a person rejects God they seek continually degrading vices. Some call this an attempt to replace the empty place where God should be. That's not as accurate at needed, for God is not a spot in us. Christ is to be in every part of our being. Rather, the vice that once made an temporary impact in a continually hardening heart, becomes unable to penetrate thickening skin and so leads to a worse vice until that to is enable to shock a dead soul. Thus the sad state of someone who was meant to be in the image of God. Someone could ask, "Is there a point that a soul is so hard that it is beyond hope?" Jesus said, "What is impossible with men is possible with God." (Luke 18:27)
* We should be careful to distinguish the different between man's laws and God's law. A burka is man's law, not God's. Unkempt hair (head and beard) goes against Jesus' words. (Matt. 6:17) The command, "No make-up" did not come from God. Vanity is not of God. (1 Cor. 11:6) Modesty is good.
* Some may ask, "Why does God allow people to become so decadent till they become like pigs in the gutter?" God does not want robots, for then we would not be human. God does not want slaves; he is humble and gentle, not forcing himself on anyone. God's desire is revealed in the parable of the prodigal son.
* A common desire and question Christians have is, "What does a daily life in Christ look like?" New and growing believers especially are interested in knowing what they should cease doing and what they should start doing.
A personal relationship with Jesus must start with changing thought patterns (17) and heart attitudes (18). Before accepting Jesus as lover and master, human minds are set on bad thinking patters, heart attitudes, and desires.
A person who does not know Jesus has hardened their heart, having lost all sensitivity to God (18). Jesus taught the parable of the sower where God's seeds penetrates our being and begins a new life in us. A Christian accepts the spiritual penetration of Christ daily.
A daily life in Christ is to change and renew my thoughts and heart attitude. It consist in setting my will on Christ. A sensitive heart towards Jesus is a relationship of faith, hope, love, respect, and submission. Christians daily want to "be made new in the attitude of our minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness. (23,24)."
>What three things do Christians do? (20-24)
* Ephesians 4:20-24 "You, however, did not come to know Christ that way. Surely you heard of him and were taught in him in accordance with the truth that is in Jesus. 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; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness."
* "You, however" -We live opposite, in contrast to the world.
* "did not come to know Christ that way" -"That way" is by continually hardening our heart to God, rather accepting God as complete Lord of our life.
* "the truth that is in Jesus" -Paul does not use Christ here, but uses Jesus as to refer to Jesus' earthly lifestyle.
* "to put off your old self" -After accepting Christ by faith, we first must actively stop sinning.
* Romans 6:6-7 "For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin-- because anyone who has died has been freed from sin."
* "to be made new in the attitude of your minds" -Secondly, we are to actively change our way of thinking.
* "to put on the new self" -Third, we are to live a life according to the Spirit of God.
* "created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness" -Since the new self is created, it cannot refer to the indwelling Christ. Nor is it some kind of new essential nature. We are like God is our new spirit and should also be like God in action, the new self.
* Colossians 3:9-10 "Do not lie to each other, since you have taken off your old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator."
* Romans 13:14 "Rather, clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ, and do not think about how to gratify the desires of the sinful nature."
>8. What is the first practical way to put on the new self? (25)
* Ephesians 4:25 "Therefore each of you must put off falsehood and speak truthfully to his neighbor, for we are all members of one body."
* "put off falsehood" -Jesus said we are to worship in "spirit and truth". At times it his hard to put off falsehood.
* "speak truthfully to his neighbor" -What point of truth? All points. Is there such a thing as a "white lie"? No. When asked a tough question we don't need to lie to be kind. I want to be as wise as Christ in his answers. Also, fallen man doesn't want to admit they are wrong. Fallen man doesn't want to admit to their sins. Adam blamed God saying, "The woman you put here..." Eve blamed the serpent saying, "The serpent deceived me..." Fallen man doesn't accept responsibility for sin.
* "all members of one body" -Paul is talking to Christians in their interactions with other Christians.
* Chrysostome wrote, "Let not the eye lie to the foot, nor the foot to the eye. If there be a deep pit and its mouth covered with reeds shall present to the eye the appearance of solid ground, will not the eye use the foot to ascertain whether it is hollow underneath, or whether it is firm and resists? will the foot tell a lie, and not the truth as it is? And what, again, if the eye were to spy a serpent or a wild beast, will it lie to the foot?" Of course not for it is connected to the same body, the same fate.
* Zechariah 8:16-17 "These are the things you are to do: Speak the truth to each other, and render true and sound judgment in your courts; do not plot evil against your neighbor, and do not love to swear falsely. I hate all this," declares the Lord."
* The main subject in these verses is anger (26, 27, 29-31). Anger is an emotion that in itself is not evil nor godly. Anger in itself is not good nor bad. Anger is a natural emotional expression from the heart. Anger is a result. Anger is the plant springing from a seed. Many heart conditions can produce anger, and anger usually produces a reaction.
If the heart condition is impure, then the reason for and expression of anger will be impure and destructive. If a heart is pure, then the reason for and expression of anger will be pure and constructive. Therefore, all these facts about anger refers back to the previous verses concerning the need for a new attitude (23), a new heart (17), and a new way of thinking (18). Not meaning riding oneself of anger. Rather, what to do about and with anger.
The Lord driving Adam and Eve from the garden in anger was a pure reaction. Jesus cleaning the temple of a market in anger was a pure reaction. Jesus' anger to the stubborn disbelief of the religious leaders was pure. Jesus' reaction to the apostles often had a hint of constructive anger and compassion.
To a certain degree anger can be bottled up. However, often only bottling up anger creates a time bomb that often results in sin. Rather than containing anger, be sure to control the reason and reaction to anger. "In your anger do not sin." (26)
If the motive and reaction to anger is impure, then quickly correct and amend the result of your anger (26). "Get rid of bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice" (31). Ask the Spirit to help transform and replace these with kindness, compassion, forgiveness (32).
>What is the second? (26)
* Ephesians 4:26 "In your anger do not sin: 'Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry,'"
* "In your anger" -Anger is an emotion that is not wrong. Jesus was angry when the religious leaders confronted with the indisputable proof that he was the Messiah still did not believe. (Mark 3:5; Luke 14:21)
* "do not sin" -Emotions must be purified. Anger must be kept in check, especially while in this world. Jesus in his anger did not sin. Anger can lead to hate, and hate is murder. God loves the sinner, but hates sin that the sinner commits.
* "Do not let....still angry" -Anger should be short lived. We should never "hold a grudge" against someone, especially a believer.
* Psalms 4:3-4 "Know that the Lord has set apart the godly for himself; the Lord will hear when I call to him. In your anger do not sin; when you are on your beds, search your hearts and be silent."
>How can anger be a foothold? (27)
* Ephesians 4:27 "and do not give the devil a foothold."
* "do not give" -"but each one is tempted when, by his own evil desire, he is dragged away and enticed." (James 1:14)
* "the devil" -"Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour." (1 Peter 5:8)
* "a foothold" -Personal desire is a foothold for the devil to lead us to sin. "Do not convent" is desirer's fruit. The pure desire is for the Lord and to please him. I imagine "a foothold" as an evil person putting their foot between my door and the doorpost so that the door cannot close, leaving a way for evil to come in and do its evil deed. And perhaps since walk is mentioned, consider a person walking in the Lord and suddenly getting their foot stuck in quicksand.
* Matthew 18:21-22 records this lesson, "Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, 'Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother when he sins against me? Up to seven times?' Jesus answered, 'I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times.'"
>What is the third? (28)
* Ephesians 4:28 "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."
* "stealing" -Some steal because they are short of food and water. Other's steal because they cannot control the desire to have more and more. some steal as a form of self punishment or self gratification. No matter what the reason the Lord stays, "Do not steal."
* "but must work" -As I write this I have not had a job in the common sense. I do not work for someone who pays me a hourly, weekly, or monthly wage. I was laid off almost eleven months ago. Yet my hands are not idle. I finished writing a manuscript and hope to someday have it published. I also have been working on this web site. This is not "work" as some define it because so far it has not transmitted into money. Still, I have been working, though I do not have a job and I live by faith that the Lord will take care of my needs.
* "that he may have something to share with those in need" -Interesting is the fact that he says that we should work to share with those in need, not to provide for our daily bread and our desires and wants. We should not work for pay for ourselves. Jesus taught, "I tell you, use worldly wealth to gain friends for yourselves, so that when it is gone, you will be welcomed into eternal dwellings." (Luke 16:9)
>What is the fourth? (29-30)
* Ephesians 4:29-30 "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. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption."
* James 3:5-6 "Likewise the tongue is a small part of the body, but it makes great boasts. Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark. The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole person, sets the whole course of his life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell."
* "the day of redemption" -The Lord is not finished changing us. Soon he will come and the dead will be raised and those alive will be changed. This is the redemption to come. After that Jesus will come again to establish him kingdom, another redemption to come.
* Gossip is a temptation that men and women must avoid for it will break up a congregation very quickly.
>What are some other ones listed in verses 31-32?
* Ephesians 4:31-32 "Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you."
* This long list is easy enough to understand, but often hard to implement in our life. Therefore, we should make all the effort to be close to Christ, filled with the Spirit that is able to help of keep these.
>9. What is our example of how we are to love? (5:1-2)
* Ephesians 5:1-2 "Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children and live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God."
* Jesus, who is God and God's Son, is our example. We should study his life as found in the gospels and draw near to him so the Spirit will empower us.
* To walk in the way of love (1,2) and live as children of the light (8,9) are similar. The chapter before spoke of changing my heart, mind, and will. These verses are what my heart, mind, and will are to be set on and not set on. These verses deal with practically loving sacrificially as Jesus did on the cross and the fruit of living in light.
Christianity is not a set of do's and don'ts. However, there are things that are good to do and things that are not good to do. These things have to do with morality and ethics.
For example, as a toddler my parents told me not to touch the hot stove. Most of the time they did not tell me the dier consequences if I did. Their word wasn't a rule as much as a compassionate warning and sound advice.
The black coils turning glowing red was fascinating and mystical. I was compelled to investigate beyond vision. When I sheepishly moved my hand closer to the mystical device the heat increased. "No!" was the alarm from my mother. She saved me from self inflicted pain.
Exposing fruitless deeds of darkness (11,13) is not instructions to meddle in other people's lives as some moral police such as the Pharisees were. Rather, it has to do with examining my words and actions throughout each day. It is getting to the reason and motivation of what I do and say. I am the one to wake up and rise from the dead (14).
>What are some ways this can be done? (3-7)
* Ephesians 5:3-7 "But among you there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality, or of any kind of impurity, or of greed, because these are improper for God's holy people. Nor should there be obscenity, foolish talk or coarse joking, which are out of place, but rather thanksgiving. For of this you can be sure: No immoral, impure or greedy person--such a man is an idolater--has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God. Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of such things God's wrath comes on those who are disobedient. Therefore do not be partners with them."
* "even a hint" -We should not even think it, and if we do put it out of the mind right away by thinking on what is good, right, and honorable.
* "sexual immorality" -This include porn. Porn has brought many a men who had confessed the Lord to ruin.
* "greed" -Greed is a great temptation to elders and pastors (shepherds).
* "coarse joking" -Humor is a good thing as long as it doesn't offend others and God. God has a sense of humor to; consider the ostrich, the fastest land bird and yet when it senses danger it sticks its head in the sand.
* "any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God" -So even is they say to Jesus, "Lord, Lord" they are not and will not be in heaven and in the Millennium.
* "God's wrath comes on those who are disobedient" -God's wrath is not just a future event, it is poured in the here and now in hope that people may repent and turn to God.
>10. How can we find out what pleases the Lord? (8-10)
* Ephesians 5:8-10 "For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light (for the fruit of the light consists in all goodness, righteousness and truth) and find out what pleases the Lord."
* Paul repeats what he has said before.
* "light" -Light is used to symbolize purity.
* "and find out" -By Bible study and obedience by faith in the Lord.
>Who does Christ shine the light on and why? (11-14; Ps. 119:105)
* Ephesians 5:11-14 "Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them. For it is shameful even to mention what the disobedient do in secret. But everything exposed by the light becomes visible, for it is light that makes everything visible. This is why it is said: "Wake up, O sleeper, rise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you."
* Psalms 119:105 "Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path."
* "expose them" -Expose sin in ourself with the word ofGod and then admitting it and repent. We should not go around pointing out all the faults of others. Jesus said, "Take the log out of your own eye first."
* "This is why it is said" -Perhaps a song or a hymn.
>How then are we to live? (15-20)
* Ephesians 5:15-20 "Be very careful, then, how you live--not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord's will is. Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit. Speak to one another with psalms, hymns and spiritual songs. Sing and make music in your heart to the Lord, always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ."
* "making the most of every opportunity" -To please God.
* "debauchery" -Once after knowing the Lord I got drunk and did things that could have lead me into much trouble if not for the Lord's gracious hand that kept me from further sin.
* "Speak to one another with psalms, hymns and spiritual songs" -Singing is good, but here we are encourage to quote scriptures to one another.
* "Sing and make music in your heart" -I see nothing wrong in Christian concerts as long as the lyricks are good and our heart is right.
* "always give thanks for everything" -Whether enjoyed or not enjoyed remembering that the Lord works all things to the good of those who believe. After being jailed and threatened the apostles praised God.
* "Be careful how you live" (15) and "making the most out of every opportunity" (16) is similar to "living in the moment" with the understanding that a Christian's heart "understands what the Lord's will is" (17). I can worship God by celebrating what he is lovingly doing in my life every moment. I know that all things work out for the good of those who believe. I know that his will is best. I will look to see the good he is going to do at the moment too come.
Some struggle with making decisions and living in the Spirit (18). We are afraid that we will make a poor choice that will lead to bad things happening in life. So we get stuck in a rut of mind fear. Some will even lay in bed all day rather than seek to fulfill God's wonderful destinies in living. The fear of decision-making is egotistic and lacks faith in Jesus' love for us. No matter how unsure I am of myself I am to make my plans known to God and ask his will be done not mine. Then seek to ensure the plan will happen fully trusting in God's control.
Others of us sadly escape to the wine bottle and pill bottle (18). Rather than knowing God can turn anything around (which is his will), we escape into numb existence. Numb existence robs me of singing and making emotional and moving music in my heart to the Lord. Some of them aren't joyful, but they are emotional movements that tend to be the sweetest when he touches me (19).
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