Grace and Peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
Today, we will continue our reading of the book of Ephesians. In this chapter, Paul reveals to us the nature of our unity and the New Spirit that dwells in us.
Reading: Ephesians 4
I therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you that ye walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called,
2 With all lowliness and meekness, with longsuffering, forbearing one another in love;
3 Endeavouring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.
As Christians, we are always called to be peace-makers. In the Love with which we are Loved, we extend that love to our brethren in Christ.
4 There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling;
If a priest comes forth preaching a Spirit which we have not received or a Christ different from the Christ we know, he is not of the body. As The Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost are one God, so is the body of Christ one body.
5 One Lord, one faith, one baptism,
This verse speaks to several things. First, we are united under One Lord Jesus Christ. We share in one faith by the Holy Spirit, and we are reborn in one baptism. What disunity can we have so long as we share all these things?
6 One God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all.
The concept of “Aristotle’s God” asserts that there is a logical need for God. Some say it’s because God had to be there to start the universe, but more accurately it’s because everything we observe appears to rely on some other thing for its existence. Without gravity (or whatever force it is that performs the function of gravity), nothing would exist the way it does. Without a parent, no single organism could exist. Without logic, we could not have science or mathematics.
However, it is understood that infinity doesn’t exist in our observed natural world. The Infinite and Eternal are concepts that cannot be understood in logical terms, and are logically irrational. That means that, at some point in the chain, there must be something which “starts” the logical chain.
Think of it as a case of the chicken and the egg. It doesn’t matter which one came first, because one of them surely must have.
We Christians point to verses such as this and Acts 17:28 (“For in him we live, and move, and have our being; as certain also of your own poets have said, For we are also his offspring.”) to argue that our Lord is the logically necessary entity, which does not require any other thing for its existence. It is God whose properties provide existence to all things.
That’s a bit tangential, because this verse speaks directly to the Christians of Ephesus. God is always with us and sustaining us.
7 But unto every one of us is given grace according to the measure of the gift of Christ.
Because of the massiveness of the Gift of Christ, we know that the grace given to us must be equally massive.
8 Wherefore he saith, When he ascended up on high, he led captivity captive, and gave gifts unto men.
9 (Now that he ascended, what is it but that he also descended first into the lower parts of the earth?
10 He that descended is the same also that ascended up far above all heavens, that he might fill all things.)
We know that the disciples leaned on the Old Testament to support their teachings. Jesus himself was thoroughly versed in the Scriptures from a young age, such that the teachers were astounded by his knowledge. It’s important that we do no less when we speak.
The same Christ who is now ascended above all things descended down into death for us, so that in his resurrection He might grant to us gifts and free us from our slavery to sin.
11 And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers;
12 For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ:
Unto each of us is granted a certain set of spiritual gifts. The Apostles were granted one set, which made them prophets, evangelists, teachers, and ministers all in one. Among us, we are given to be prophets, evangelists, teachers, ministers, and servants in the service of Christ. (Note that I do not speak of “worship leader” ministers, but those who provide comfort, guidance, and service to the brethren)
We must embrace and employ these gifts, because to do otherwise is to anger the giver of the gift. It is like the parable of the Talents; no matter how great or small your gift, you must nurture it and employ it towards God’s glory.
13 Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ:
14 That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive;
15 But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ:
The mark of childishness is flightiness. Children run from thing to thing, for they lack the discipline and inner-strength required to “stick to it”. They are easily misled, for they lack the wisdom and awareness required to defeat clever cons.
We are more than children who are in Christ. We are granted stability in faith, which causes us to seek after the Lord in all things.
Let us speak truly amongst ourselves, out of the love that we share in Christ.
16 From whom the whole body fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplieth, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, maketh increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in love.
Apart, we are less than our fraction of the whole. What would we gain if we were all teachers, and none of us ministers? Or when we are all ministers, without Pastors or Prophets to guide our hands?
So, in the unity we share, we are to apply our gifts together in the works which God has prepared for us.
17 This I say therefore, and testify in the Lord, that ye henceforth walk not as other Gentiles walk, in the vanity of their mind,
18 Having the understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God through the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart:
19 Who being past feeling have given themselves over unto lasciviousness, to work all uncleanness with greediness.
What do we see in the Modern Humanist (Atheist or otherwise)? We see a great deal of vanity, for they fashion themselves the lords of creation, holding the keys of life and death. They are blinded in their hubris, so that their ignorance merely grows as time goes on. Their fruits are abortion, erosion of moral standards, destruction of the good, and exploitation of all. Their greed destroys them.
We see similar in all those who lack the love of Christ.
20 But ye have not so learned Christ;
21 If so be that ye have heard him, and have been taught by him, as the truth is in Jesus:
Fundamentally, because we know Christ and have been taught by Him, our minds are different. We are no longer like the other Gentiles.
22 That ye put off concerning the former conversation the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts;
23 And be renewed in the spirit of your mind;
24 And that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness.
The process of sanctification is long, for no matter how long we are alive we still are trapped in these bodies of sin. However, we are creatures with a New Spirit. We are different from the Old Man, now, and so we need not focus unduly on the old sinful ways.
By our renewal in Christ, we are new men. We are given the gift which makes us now righteous and holy.
25 Wherefore putting away lying, speak every man truth with his neighbour: for we are members one of another.
Because we are new men, we need no longer lie to one another, for we are brethren in Christ, and of one body.
26 Be ye angry, and sin not: let not the sun go down upon your wrath:
As new creatures, we should avoid the quick and violent anger of the old man. This is not to say that we can never be angry (because even Christ Himself was angry and wrathful in his time on this earth), but we must not dwell in our anger.
On another side of the coin, this verse demands that when we do grow angry, we must resolve that wrath swiftly.
27 Neither give place to the devil.
When we allow our minds to be filled with sinful ideas (of which the internet, television, and other media abound), we begin to dwell on those ideas. As we dwell, these thoughts sink into our subconscious minds, strengthening the wicked impulses natural to us.
Never give place to the devil.
28 Let him that stole steal no more: but rather let him labour, working with his hands the thing which is good, that he may have to give to him that needeth.
Our God is not communist or socialist. This is why he discourages theft, for theft discourages the laborer to labor and produces nothing else. However, giving generously (out of desire to give) is encouraging and empowering to the giver and receiver.
When more people produce, total value increases for the entire population. This means that there is more to go around.
Therefore, let us all produce according to our ability, so that we may prosper and share that prosperity with one another as we choose.
29 Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers.
Interestingly, this verse has nothing to do with “swear words”. More accurately, this verse encourages us to avoid thoughts and speech that will hold anyone back. We must speak the truth in love, working to teach and encourage one another to do good works.
30 And grieve not the holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption.
Why would we want to grieve the Holy Spirit of God? Honestly, the new creature does not want to do any such thing.
However, it is in our physical nature to be sinful creatures. When we sin, we grieve the Holy Spirit who is in us.
31 Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice:
These emotions are natural to us, and to a degree we need anger to function in today’s world. However, these worldly emotions should never be turned toward our brethren while we coexist in unity with the Spirit.
32 And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.
Let us Pray
Mighty Lord, you have given us a Unity that we cannot fully understand. We pray for the day when all of us who are united in the Holy Spirit in the name of Jesus Christ are united again, without the superficial issues that divide us.
Bring us together in the Word.
In your Holy Name, we pray,
May the good Lord go before you to lead you, behind you to encourage you, beside you to befriend you, beneath you to uphold you, above you to protect you, and within you to inspire you.
Go in the peace and power of Almighty God. Amen.