Today I am coming to you with my takeaways from weeks six and seven of our study of Ephesians this summer. Week 6 looked at the first half of Chapter 4 and week 7 looked at the second half, so this will be a combined post on Chapter 4.
Chapter 4 transitions the letter (that Paul is writing, from prison) from doctrine, principle and position to duty, practice and behavior. He is explaining to us what we do now and how we live now that we have established who God is and who we are in light of who He is (which was the subject of the first 3 chapters).
We are to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which we have been called. Walk here means our daily conduct: how do you handle your finances, your marriage, your time, how do you see your possessions, etc. and calling here means our salvation: the glorious grace of Jesus. Our walk (daily conduct) should match our calling (salvation).
In true Gospel-driven Christianity, we need to start with what we believe, not with what we do (i.e., follow rules), because you don’t “behave” your way to God. You believe your way to God and once you get there, your behavior changes. A true Christ-follower’s life should begin to look different from the rest of the world’s. Verses 17 through 19 give us a list of four characteristics that, according to Paul, should change:
- Your broken mind becomes a renewed mind.
- Alienation from God becomes connection to God.
- Callousness becomes sensitivity.
- Careless lives become disciplined lives.
But Christianity isn’t simply modified behavior, it is a brand new nature. God gives us a new nature that is capable of doing what He wants us to do. He changes even your desires, and you begin to want to do what God wants you to do. Verses 25 through 29 give us another list of characteristics, or fruits that according to Paul, should be seen on the trees of our lives:
- Truthful (most of our lies or exaggerations are told out of insecurity, but once we are secure in who we are in Christ, we care less about what others think of us because we are secure in our identity as a son or daughter of Christ)
- Controlled anger (anger is a God-given emotion; we can be angry, but we control our anger and do not let it lead us into a sinful place)
- Measured words (God helps you control your tongue and instead of doing unkind, destructive things with your words, He will enable you to harness the power of your words and speak grace and encouragement to those around you)
- Kindness (kindness is internal, it is a heart-thing, and is different from simply being “nice” to someone)
- Forgiveness (Christians forgive because we have been forgiven; you will never forgive anyone of as much as you have been forgiven by God; unforgiveness is like you drinking poison yourself and hoping that it will hurt someone else, it will eat you alive)
- Sensitive to the Holy Spirit (the Holy Spirit indwells and seals believers, leading us into truth (meaning that He teaches and illuminates the word of God for us); being sensitive means that when the Holy Spirit convicts you of something, you will pay attention to it and you will repent and change)
Grace is a one word definition of the Gospel. Grace is both a noun and a verb. It is both the character of God and simultaneously the activity of God. It was His character that prompted Him to love us and His activity that was displayed on the cross. Your life needs to look more and more like the grace by which you have been saved. The gap between where your life is and where you want to be has been covered by Jesus. That is His grace. The cross didn’t let us off the hook, it put us on the hook, so to speak, because now our lives are being used. We are witnesses for God and should be always be moving towards a life that clearly displays God’s grace to those around us.
We are saved as individuals into a body (the church). Believers are meant to live out their calling in the context of a unified community called the church. The church reflects the Triune God, unique yet completely unified. The church is a unified community of uniquely and sovereignly gifted individuals all saved by grace. Church is not meant to just something you attend, it is a family that you are part of. The church is a beautiful bride with a dirty dress, being constantly cleansed by her loving Groom.
Lots of really good stuff here! I really hope that everyone learned something or read something that they needed to hear today.