Lesson 8 Ephesians 4. Matching our behavior to our beliefs.
Now we come to the practical outworking of our position in heaven here on earth. Did you notice in Ephesians 2- where is says we are? And God raised us up with Christ and SEATED US WITH HIM IN THE HEAVENLY REALMS IN CHRIST JESUS ( Ephesians 2:6) This is our source of strength. This is our source of power to live out the Christian life, laying hold of the possessions and power that are ours. We must first be seated- resting in Him. For it is not in running, but resting. It is not in trying but trusting.
When Paul uses the word walk he is talking about living your life. Paul has told us who we are as new creatures ( butterflies) and now he will instruct us how we should live. From a position of resting in Him, we now begin our walk.
Ephesians 4:1&2: I therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you that you walk worthy of the calling you have received. Be completely humble and gentle; be patient and bearing with one another in love.
Eight times in the KJV, the word walk is used by Paul to describe the way we are to live or behave. As Ginas mother, Hope, used to tell her grandsons-Southern gentlemen do not behave like that. She meant they were to behave and conduct their lives in keeping with who they were Southern Gentlemen in the making. Paul means we are to behave in keeping with who we have become, children of God, Christians being conformed to the image of Christ. Our behavior is to match our beliefs. And remember behavior is learned- therefore we must be taught how we are to behave, to conduct ourselves. God will not only give us the desire to live according to who we have now become- He will also give us the power to live and behave the way we should.
The first test of matching our behavior to our beliefs, our walk matching our talk is in our relationship to others. Paul will discuss or relationships in the home- husband and wife, children and parents; as well as our relationships in the world-our neighbors, brothers and sisters in the Lord, and the workplace as both employers and employees.
How then are we supposed to walk? How are we to live a life that is worthy of the calling- how are we to be as ( Ephesians 5:1) tells us to be imitators of God to live a life of love, just as Christ loved us? This is the question before us and this is the question we will seek to find the answer to in Gods word so we may find the secret of this strength to live the Christian life and walk worthy of the calling we have received.
Look in verses 2 &3 at the first words used to describe this walk.. be completely humble, and gentle, be patient, bearing one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.
Let us look these five essentials: humility, gentleness, patience, forbearing love, and unity.
Humility/humble: God gives grace to the humble but He resists the proud. Christ, who was God in flesh, humbled Himself as our example. That is why we told to be imitators. The first sin was pride and we know pride goes before the fall. And many believe pride is the root of all sin and the supreme temptation of the devil. Pride keeps one from being transparent. Pride builds walls between us. Pride keeps God from dwelling in those areas of your life in which you take pride in yourself and your abilities. In fact, pride keeps one from admitting they are a sinner in need of a savior. No wonder God hates pride so..and why humility is so necessary. Pride demands its rights- humility claims no rights. Pride says my will be done- humility says Gods will be done in my life.
Gentleness or gentle: means non-violent, not harsh or stern. Remember what Jesus said of himself: come unto me, all you who are weary and burdened and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me , for I am GENTLE and HUMBLE in heart and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light. ( Matthew 11: 28-29) Our Lord is not harsh or stern- He is kind, gentle, and humble. Children were attracted to Him, and children would not be attracted to someone who is harsh or stern. If you and I are to be a sweet smelling savor to the lost, we must be loving, kind, gentle and humble. These virtues make us approachable. Jesus said to the women caught in adultery who had been treated so harshly and publicly humiliated by the prideful Pharisees- I do not condemn you go now and leave your life of sin. ( John 8)
Patience will come as an added benefit and virtue when one is humble in heart and gentle .Patience is also used by God to mature our faith. There are many verses that tell us to wait upon the Lord. I especially like the verse in Hebrew 10 that tells us for in just a very little while, He who is coming will come and will not delay. Patience is a sign of maturity-realizing that God, our Father is always at work and His timing is perfect. We accept His plan for us in everything. That is why Paul says he has learned to be content in whatever situation he finds himself—good or not so good. Notice Paul says he has learned- for behavior is learned. The Holy Spirit is our teacher, the Word of God our text book.
Next on our list is forbearing love. This is a description of agape love- love that is patient, kind, does not envy, does not boast, is not proud, is not rude, is not self-seeking, is not easily angered. This love does not keep records of wrongs, nor does it delight in evil. This love rejoices in truth, always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always preserves and never fails ( I Cor. 13)
Observe this process- humility gives birth to gentleness ( both an expression of love). Gentleness gives rise to patience- another expression of love.
And together these will enable us to keep unity- peace for we are not self-seeking, nor easily angered and keep no record of wrongs.
Nothing has done greater damage to our Christian testimony than demanding our rights. When we are wronged- we want to demand our rights- to retaliate to strike back or demand an apology- that is our old nature acting out. That is the conduct of unbelievers. Our conduct is to be shaped by who we are. We are Christians. As a Christian I look to Christ for how I am to respond in a given situation. Forgiving one another, even as God for Christs sake has forgiven you. ( Ephesians 4:32) Here is what we must remember- we have all been wrong before- we have all done wrong and God has forgiven us, hasnt He? We have all made a mistake of pulling out in front of someone in our cars, not realizing we have done so- yet when someone else does this to us- do we not grow angry and call them stupid blankety-blanks!!!#* ? When we have done that to others and they have responded with horn honking, glares and perhaps loud descriptions of us as well as hand gestures- how does that make you feel? Ever have someone treat you that way- then when they pass you, their bumper has a sticker that says if you love Jesus honk your horn?
Next we look at the unity of the believers. In verses 4,5&6- we see this oneness- this unity. Lets look a each one:
Verse 4: There is one body and one Spirit just as you were called to one Hope when you were called. One body- the church is described as Christs body of which He is head. We are called living stones in this body, in another placed we are called different parts of the body, the eye, etc. We are described as being in a marriage with the Lord Jesus as our husband and we are His fiancée ( a role more easily understood by women than men) but marriage is pictured as two becoming one. The Holy Spirit is the One Spirit and as such He is given to us at salvation as a pledge, we would consider this in todays marriage customs, an engagement ring. Our calling is to be like Him ultimately. In the meanwhile, we are being conformed to His image. We will have gifts which will be used in our various ministries- but our ultimate calling is to be like Him- Holy and Blameless. This sanctification process we are now experiencing will not be completed until we see Jesus. Then we will be glorified- that is like Him. The Holy Spirit within each of us believers is the guarantee this will happen.
Verse 5 states an absolute truth: There One Lord, One Faith, One Baptism. There is only one way one can be saved. Jesus is the Way, the Truth and the Life, no man comes to the Father except by Him.( John 14). There is no salvation except by Jesus Christ. Therefore since there is only One Lord, there is Only One Faith. All other religions and belief systems are false- wrong and will not lead anyone to heaven, to another reincarnated life or anything else. There is only One Baptism- this being the baptism or immersion of one by the Holy Spirit into the body of Christ. This refers to spiritual baptism not water baptism. Water baptism is a symbol of what has happened spiritually, but it is not a means of salvation- rather it is a public confession of Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord. It is a testimony of identify. For remember we are saved by grace through faith and that not of ourselves, it is a gift of God, not works lest any man should boast. ( Ephesians 2:8,9)
Verse 6 then tells us there is : One God and Father of all, who is over all, and through all, and in all. God says in Isaiah 45: I am the Lord and there is no other. Jesus told Mary at the empty grave that early resurrection Sunday morning. I am going to my God and your God, to my Father and your Father. If you are a believer, God is your Father and you are His child, with the full rights and privileges of an heir. You and I may come boldly into the throne room, we may call Him ABBA- a word that is the equivalent of Daddy. The Holy Spirit Himself testifies with our spirit that we are Gods children.( Romans 8)
I like what John MacArthur says in his commentary: We are God created, God loved, God saved, God Fathered, God controlled, God sustained, God filled, and God blessed. We are one people under one sovereign( over all) omnipotent ( through all) and omnipresent ( in all ) God.!
As we continue on in Pauls letter to the Ephesians we see other ways in which we are to walk and conduct ourselves which will tell us what we should do and should not do. What we are to say and not say, what we are to put on and put off .
But let us keep two truths in mind: one the power to walk the walk- to live according to our new identity is supplied by Gods glorious riches. It begins by being made to sit in Him in heavenly places. Sitting means resting in or on something or someone. Our power comes from Him- in whom we must rely on completely. When we attempt or try to do things in our own power, we will sooner or later find ourselves in a weakened condition. The Lord allows these failures to expose our weakness and self- reliance. For the Lords strength (power) is made perfect in weakness.(2 Cor 12) So when we are weak we are strong.
Second truth to keep in mind is that behavior is a learned response. We must be taught, and prepared. The Holy Spirit is our teacher, but we will also see that the Lord has provided each of us with gifts to help one another , so we may teach others as they learn how to behave .
An eagle must be born an eagle if he is to soar on wings above the earth, but even an eaglet must be taught how to fly. A caterpillar cannot fly until it has been transformed into a butterfly. When we are born again- we are babes in Christ, infants who can only handle milk of the Word, not meat. We cannot walk yet, we must be carried and then crawl before we walk, But just as it would be tragic for a baby to never grow up and walk on its own, so is it tragic for a born again child of God not to grow up- to stay a eagle in the nest and never soar, a butterfly who continues to crawl on the ground.
Verse 7: So Our Lord has seen to it there each of us has been given a portion of grace as God saw fit. But to everyone is given grace according to the measure of the gift of Christ. The next verse tells us Our Lord did this when He returned to heaven. This grace is given to every believer. It is the enabling power that works in and shows itself through the life of the believer. This is the power that is in us- that Paul prayed we would see and would strengthen us in our inner being.
These gifts that Christ gave and we each received one is unique. God gives both the grace, His enabling power and the faith to energize whatever gift He gives to the full intent of His purpose. ( For it is God who works in you both to will and to act according to His good purpose. Phil 2:13)
The gifts He gave listed in this chapter are not a complete list of gifts but a partial list. It states: He gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, some to be pastors and teachers to prepare Gods people for the work of the ministry. In other words to equip us- teach us how we are to walk, to behave for behavior is a learned response.
Gods purpose and goal is clearly defined: a built up church that has reached unity in the faith and knowledge of the Son of God, that is becoming spiritually mature and attaining the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.
God desires that we no longer be infants, immature andtossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by cunning and craftiness of men in their deceitful scheming.
So God wants us to grow up. Learn how to behave. Teach others- build one another up using the gift that each has been given.
God wants us to be mature in the flesh.
God wants us to be mature in our minds.
God wants us to be mature in our relationships.
God wants us to be mature in our fellowship with Him.
It is time to put away childish things.
The time is coming and may very well be here already when the fight will grow even more fierce.
The Lord will need prepared believers who can not only walk, but run and not grow weary. He will need those who will not give up but give their all. Who will be prepared to press on.
The Lords need today is for prepared and ready instruments. Why? Because the days are evil!
The situation is becoming desperate among the Christian public.
God is giving us three commandments and He is giving them in the order in which they are to come and be obeyed.
First He has commanded us to Sit. He has made us to sit with Him in heavenly places. Sit is a position of rest. We first must find rest in the Lord. Where is it? Seated in Him in Heavenly places.
Secondly, He commands us next to walk worthy of our calling. Having found our power resting in Him and His finished work we now possess and have everything we will ever need in His complete resources and supplies. For My God has supplied my every need according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus. It is from there I begin my walk that is according to who I now am. My walk or behavior begins to match my beliefs and position.
We will continue next week with how we are to walk and then we will end in our last chapter how we are to stand against the enemy.