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Ephesians 4:1-6: Walk Worthy Print E-mail
Sunday, 19 November 2017

Ephesians 4:1-6

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Jesus saved us so that we could live lives of obedience to Him. We donít live lives of obedience so that He will save us, we live them because He has already saved us. We donít obey to be saved, we obey because we are saved. Jesus did not die so that we would remain slaves to our sin. He died to set us free from it so that we could walk in obedience to Him. These important truths are seen in the way Paul arranges his letter to the Ephesians. As we have said, the first three chapters deal with our identity in Christ. We are saints (1:1). We are blessed (1:3). We are redeemed (1:7). We are chosen (1:4), adopted (1:6), and forgiven (1:7). We are His workmanship (2:10), sealed by His Spirit (1:13), members of His household (2:19), and citizens in His Kingdom (2:19). We are strengthened by the Spirit (3:16), loved by the Son (3:18-19), and filled with the fullness of God (3:19). This is who we are by Godís grace. If you have repented of your sins and believed in Jesusí death and resurrection, then you have a new identity in Him.

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In light of such glorious good news, donít you want to live a life that brings honor to your Savior? Donít you want to glorify Him by obeying Him in all that you do? This is the connection that binds together Ephesians 1-3 and 4-6. Paul will teach us how our identity motivates our practice. Who we are informs how we should live. As he gives us instructions for living the Christian life, he will constantly be pointing us back to the truth of our identity in Jesus. He states this connection in verse 1. Look at that with me. As believers, we have been called by God to salvation through faith in Jesus. This is where Paul began the letter (see 1:3-14). This is what gives us our new identity. And now Paul is urging us to walk in a manner worthy of that calling. We are to live lives of obedience that bring honor and glory to Jesus. The emphasis of walking worthy will run throughout the rest of the letter. Paul even repeats the language in 4:17, 5:2, 8, and 15. We are to walk worthy of our calling. We are to do this in the church, our relationships with one another as brothers and sisters in Christ. We are to do it in the world by being set apart from sin and disobedience. And we are to do it in our families and homes. In all of these areas we are to walk worthy of the gospel. So how does Paul tell us to do this in the rest of our passage this morning?

Walk with humility (v. 2a)

Walking worthy of our calling means walking in humility. Look at verse 2a. Paul uses language that was normally applied to slaves in the Greek culture in which he lived. The words carried with them a negative connotation to many. But not for the followers of Christ. We are to serve others just as Jesus served us. We are to consider others as more significant than ourselves (Philippians 2:3). We do this because we remember who we were without Christ. We were dead in our sins (2:1) and children of wrath (2:3). We were without hope and without God (2:12). We were strangers and aliens (2:19). But by Godís grace, we have a new identity! We are now alive. We are objects of Godís grace. We have been brought near and have access to God through the Spirit (2:17-18). All of this was made possible by the work of Christ at the cross. He humbled Himself to pay for our sins and save us. Now we are called to live in humility and gentleness. We are called to be servants to others just as He has served us.

So how do we walk in that? It begins by obeying Paulís command to remember who we were before Christ (2:11). When we are humbled by who we were and all that Christ has done for us, then we will be able to show such humility to others. How can I feel that I am better than anyone else? How can I think that I deserve better than the grace that I have received from the Lord? My identity as a former sinner who is now a saint informs the way I view others. I want to use my life to serve and encourage them. I want to put their preferences ahead of my own. I want to give of my time for their benefit. For those who are not followers of Christ, I encourage you to see that following Him begins with humility, with acknowledging your sin and your need for a Savior. Such humility can lead to repentance and faith, which will then lead to walking in humility and serving others. Walking worthy of our calling begins with humility.

Walk in patience (v. 2b)

If we are going to walk worthy of our calling, then we must walk in patience. Look at verse 2b. Probably all of us have a tendency to want more patience than we are willing to give. I want people to understand my mistakes and failures, but I am not always so quick to understand theirs. Paul calls for brothers and sisters in Christ to show patience, in particular to one another. As we labor to help each other in the process of sanctification, we need to bear with one another in love.

How do we have such love for one another? We remember the love of Christ for us. We try to comprehend the breadth and length and height and depth of His love for us (3:17-19). The more we understand that, the more we will show patient love to one another. The words could be translated to our day: ĎPut up with one another in love.í1 We have to learn to do that. It is easy to get mad or offended and just head to another church or stop going to church altogether. But Paul says that in order to walk worthy we must treat each other like family. We might not always get along perfectly over the holidays, but come January they are still our brothers and sisters, aunts and uncles, etc. If have not joined a local church, then I encourage you to become a part of this family. We are not perfect, but we will strive to show you patient love. By remembering Godís love for us in Christ, we are enabled to walk in patience and love toward each other.

Walk in unity (v. 3-6)

The emphasis in this text falls on Paulís call for us to walk in unity as followers of Christ. He states that in verse 3. Look at that with me. As those who have turned from our sins and placed our faith in Christ, we are all sealed with the same Spirit (1:13). Through the Spirit, both Jews and Gentiles have access to the Father (2:18). We are one in Him. Likewise, the peace that Christ has won for us binds us together as well. Through Jesus, we are reconciled to God and so reconciled to each other. The hostility has been killed (see 2:14-16). Every one of us were dead and now we are alive. We were all far off and have now been brought near through Jesus. We have all been given the same Spirit through repentance and faith. Therefore, we should be unified. And we should work hard to maintain that unity in our lives together.

But how do we do that? How do fight to maintain unity as believers in Jesus? Paul goes on in these verses to give us a strong theological basis for our unity. Look at verses 4-6. Paul lists seven Ďonesí in these verses: one body, one Spirit, one hope, one Lord, one faith, one baptism, and one God. Just as he has done in chapters 1-3, he is again pointing to our identity to encourage us in our practice. How can one body not be unified? How can one Spirit not bring us together? As Paul asks elsewhere: Is Christ divided (1 Corinthians 1:13)? The obvious answer is ĎNo!í If we share all seven of these theological truths, then how can we not walk in unity? We are unified by the Father, Son, and the Spirit, so we should walk in such unity. This means that we will fight hard against unnecessary division. Breaking fellowship with believers by leaving a church is a big step and we must make certain that our motivation is right. The truth is, we donít really get the option of writing off fellow believers. There are times to switch churches and there are reasons to break fellowship, but we must be eager to fight for unity. Maybe there is even someone in the church that you need to reconcile with. Letís be eager and quick to do that. After all, we have one faith, one Lord, one Spirit, one God and Father over us all. We should maintain unity in light of our identity in Him.

Let me close with an important question this morning: why do we struggle with humility, patience, and unity so much? Paul calls for us to walk in each of these in our passage. So why do we struggle to do that? I think a big part of the answer is that we forget who we are in Christ. Our struggles to obey chapters 4-6 is because we forget the truths of chapters 1-3. We cannot obey the imperatives (commands) because we do not remember the indicatives (statements of who we are). Perhaps the best way to fight against pride and for humility is to remember all that God has done for us in Christ. We need to go back to Golgotha. Nobody leaves the foot of the cross full of pride. In the same way, we fight for patience by remembering Godís patience with us. Meditating on His patience with us will enable us to be patient with others. Every time I sin I deserve Godís just wrath. Yet, when I repent, He is faithful and just to forgive my sins (1 John 1:9). If He can show me such patience, if He can bear with me with such love, then surely I can show loving patience to those around me! And the amazing thing about unity is that we donít even have to establish it. Jesus has already done that through His death and resurrection and through giving us the gift of the Spirit. No, we just labor to maintain it. He has brought us together, we are just called to live that out. Paul calls for us to walk worthy of the calling that we have received. Such a command can seem overwhelming. But not when we remember the gospel. Through faith in Jesus and all that that entails, we can walk worthy. Letís do just that. Amen.

1 Klyne Snodgrass, Ephesians NIVAC (Grand Rapids: Zondervan Publishing, 1996), p. 197.

~ William Marshall ~

Last Updated ( Tuesday, 02 January 2018 )

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