In chapters 4-6 we now move into the behavioral and practical instruction in the letter from Paul. He has given us a doctrinal and theological base upon which he now builds with practical instruction for our lives in the world.
I therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you that ye walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called,
Ephesians 4:1 KJV
Paul once again, as in verse 1 of chapter 3, declares himself to be a prisoner of Jesus Christ. Paul laid out our position in Christ as members of the Kingdom of God. Now the expectation is that we live the appropriate lifestyle in conjunction with the will of God in holiness and with love.
Therefore: Paul gave us the truth of our position in Christ, now he transitions to the practical truth of living in that position. The principles of life in Christ must be lived out.
Prisoner: Paul reminds us that he understands the cost of discipleship. He is not instructing us to do anything that he would not do. This reminds me of the sacrifice of Christ and then my small bit of suffering.
Ye have not yet resisted unto blood, striving against sin.
Hebrew 12:4 KJV
In reading 2 Corinthians 11:16-33 I realize my suffering is nothing compared to Paul whose sufferings do not amount to the sacrifice of Christ.
Walk worthy: the salvation, and everything with it, that was given to us has a weight to it, a great value. Our Christian walk should be equal to the gift we have been given, living in holiness and righteousness.
Vocation wherewith ye are called: we are called to walk in a way that is suitable to our divine calling. Our vocation is to share the gospel as our lives show forth the Kingdom of Heaven which is at hand.
With all lowliness and meekness, with longsuffering, forbearing one another in love;
Ephesians 4:2 KJV
After the call to a proper walk, Paul lays out the characteristics of the worthy walk.
Lowliness and meekness: humility and gentleness.
Humility is a foundational Christian virtue, the absence of pride and self-satisfaction. A humble and contrite hear is necessary to be pleasing to God. This requires a self-awareness, a Christ-awareness, and a God-awareness. Knowing the proper position and power and authority of each will put things into proper perspective.
Gentleness is produced by humility and meekness is a sign of true humility. It has nothing to do with weakness or timidity, rather, it is power under the control of God. The power of our tongue and our actions must be under the control of God. Not control such as puppets and a puppet-master, but as one walking according to the principles and calling of God. Self-control is part of the fruit of the Holy Spirit in our lives.
Longsuffering: this patience is the product of lowliness and meekness. Being long tempered in the face of negativity and opposition. Patiently serving the Lord, willing to endure hardship, affliction, or persecution. There must be a willingness to accept God’s plan in order to live our lives in a manner that is pleasing to God.
Forbearing one another in love: this is agape love that looks past the faults of others and loves them despite those shortcomings. This is the love that covers a multitude of sins as the sin is not allowed to affect our love for the person. It puts us in a position to restore that person to a life of righteousness. This is the love that enables the disciple to walk in victory.
Endeavouring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.
Ephesians 4:3 KJV
Those four characteristics, or virtues, bring us to a position of being able to maintain unity in our fellowship with one another. Holy Spirit graces us with gifts and fruit in our Christian walk that empower us to carry the peace of God. Such peace bonds us together, and as such, multiplies our ability in Christ to see the Kingdom of God lived out in the earth. The world seeks such peace but never truly finds it. The Spirit, which is our bond, is missing from their efforts.
There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism,
Ephesians 4:4-5 KJV
Unity, which is based in love, brings all things to one. We all share in the many aspects as one. This is where we must have the true revelation of Christ and of the Body of Christ. He is the head, and we are the body. There is one Spirit as we submit our spirits to Him. Our calling, though manifold, is one. We are to glorify Christ and God through obedience in love. Our faith and baptism bring us into the family of God and the Body of Christ.
One God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all.
Ephesians 4:6 KJV
God is sovereign, above all. God is omnipotent, or all powerful, through all. God is omnipresent, in all. God is omniscient, knowing all. God is our creator who is also our caretaker and He calls us to draw near to Him and enjoy a loving relationship with Him.
But unto every one of us is given grace according to the measure of the gift of Christ.
Ephesians 4:7 KJV
The gift of Christ is the grace given by Him to everyone who believes. We saw that our response to that gift was faithful obedience to his call upon us.
For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.
Ephesians 2:10 KJV
Christ measured out that gift of grace to each person to carryout the calling He has placed upon the life of each person.
As every man hath received the gift, even so minister the same one to another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God.
1 Peter 4:10 KJV
Peter instructs us that the gift, and the grace to use it, is for the sake of the body to build it up.
Wherefore he saith, When he ascended up on high, he led captivity captive, and gave gifts unto men. (Now that he ascended, what is it but that he also descended first into the lower parts of the
earth? He that descended is the same also that ascended up far above all heavens, that he might fill all things.)
Ephesians 4:8-10 KJV
Christ descended to Hades after the crucifixion and took back the authority, the keys, from Satan. This is the authority that Satan attained at the fall of Adam. The gifts, the grace and calling given to man, were given by Christ who was given all authority in heaven and earth. Christ sent Holy Spirit to man to dispense the spiritual gifts to men and women of God to enable them to overcome the schemes and plans of the evil one.
And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers;
Ephesians 4:11 KJV
He established the five-fold ministry with these giftings for whom He chose to build up the Body of Christ. These are gifts given by Christ and Holy Spirit, not occupations we choose for the sake of earning a living. He gives the gift and anoints the person with the grace to carry it out.
For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ:
Ephesians 4:12 KJV
This verse tells us exactly what the reason is for the giving of the gifts. Again, it is for the building up of the Body of Christ. The believers need to be educated and mentored in doing the work of the ministry that we are all called upon to do to some measure, as determined by the Lord.
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:
Ephesians 4:13 KJV
The time of the duration of these gifts from the Lord is given here in the sense of being until these parameters are fulfilled.
- Until we all come into unity in the faith.
- Until we all come into the knowledge of the Son of God, such that we become perfect men and women of God. (not salvation here)
- Until we all measure up to the stature of Christ: in the fullness of Christ. (maturity)
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;
Ephesians 4:14 KJV
We are to grow to maturity and put away our childish ways concerning both our spiritual and our physical lives. Maturity will protect us from having our faith and beliefs from being bounced around, in and out of doubt. The enemy comes after us with contrary doctrine, deception and various schemes. They “lie in wait to deceive.” If we propagate the deception and falsity to others, we do damage to the efforts to expand the Kingdom of God on earth as it is in heaven.
But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ:
Ephesians 4:15 KJV
Truth and love are two pillars upon which we can base our faith. Truth in love is how we relate the truth to others, in word and in action. Whatever we do, we are to do in love. The Ekklesia that speaks truth will take the unadulterated gospel of peace to the people and experience encounters with God that put His power and grace on display.
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.
Ephesians 4:16 KJV
All the gifts and callings in the Ekklesia have been provided by Christ through Holy Spirit to bring the Body of Christ into perfect working order. If every gift is active and all believers are walking in obedience in love, the body grows and strengthens and operates effectively.
This I say therefore, and testify in the Lord, that ye henceforth walk not as other Gentiles walk, in the vanity of their mind,
Ephesians 4:17 KJV
Therefore: referring to our high calling in Christ.
Testify in the Lord: agreement with the Lord; the mind of Christ.
Paul says that we accomplish the work we are to do if we are living as those who are in the world. We have a choice to make here. Do we follow Christ and operate in obedience in love, or do we think we know better and follow the world’s ways of doing things?
This is a battle of the mind. We are called to make a choice. We are to live for Christ and the Kingdom and reject the things of the world. The materialism of our culture makes it especially difficult to separate the two and live without mixture. God calls us to come out of the world.
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:
Ephesians 4:18 KJV
It is easy to ignorant of the ways of God and to continue living with a mixture of the world because of the ease of life in our affluent country. On the contrary it is difficult to give up the things of the world that distract us from God and the calling He places upon us as we do not want to be rejected or ostracized by others. We are called to be different from the ungodly by more than simply limiting our sin in type and quantity. If we keep one foot in the world, our understanding is darkened to some extent. This verse also says we are “alienated from the life of God” because we refuse to sanctify ourselves. This blindness of our heart limits our relationship with God. That is a hardness of the heart.
Who being past feeling have given themselves over unto lasciviousness, to work all uncleanness with greediness.
Ephesians 4:19 KJV
Being past feeling: callous; apathetic and insensitive to things morally and spiritually.
Given themselves over: those who continue trying to serve two masters will eventually need to choose one. Here we see that the negative has taken place being given over to sin.
Lasciviousness: a lustful quality; a lewd quality; to arouse inappropriate sexual desire.
Sexual immorality is an especially grievous sin in God’s sight and many men and women fall from grace through it. Moral restraint breaks down until the conscience is seared, imaginations take root, and there is no more restraint from committing sinful acts.
Uncleanness with greediness: impurity with unbounded covetousness that drives one from sinful act to sinful act until such immorality becomes a way of life that is shameless and calloused as only the fulfillment of selfish desires is what matters.
But ye have not so learned Christ;
Ephesians 4:20 KJV
This pagan and self-centered life is not the way of life that is in Christ, or that was promoted by Christ. In fact, it was the opposite, Christ teaching a life of denial of self and love for others. To love God is displayed through obedience to His word and trusting in Him as being far above our thoughts and our ways. Jesus led by example as He humbled Himself to the point of obedience to the plan of the Father that led Him to the cross for our sake.
If so be that ye have heard him, and have been taught by him, as the truth is in Jesus:
Ephesians 4:21 KJV
This is the condition for the previous verse, that if we heard Christ. The truth of the teachings of Christ will not lead a person to the selfish life of immorality. In our case the Holy Spirit giving us revelation through the scriptural accounts of the teachings of Christ Jesus.
That ye put off concerning the former conversation the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts;
Ephesians 4:22 KJV
Being enlightened by Christ and Holy Spirit to the truth, we are to put to an end the deceitful lifestyle of immorality that corrupted us through our lusts. This life according to the desires of the flesh is the old way, or the old man, which we are to crucify and die to daily. It is only by the grace of God that we can do so. The carnal man cannot change apart from new life which is a gift from God.
And be renewed in the spirit of your mind;
Ephesians 4:23 KJV
Our new life in the Spirit enables us to make the change from the depraved life to new life in a loving relationship with God. We, by the power of the Spirit, are able to renew our mind and see the truth of things as God sees them.
And that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness.
Ephesians 4:24 KJV
God created the new man for us to put on, or the new life for us to step into. This is a life for us created in righteousness and holiness of truth. This is more than a change in the mind, for that is of the self and is not enough to overcome the evil within us and in the world. It is our spirit coming to life in a new birth where the blindness has been removed so we can see God and the things of God more clearly.
Wherefore putting away lying, speak every man truth with his neighbour: for we are members one of another.
Ephesians 4:25 KJV
Having realized this new life (wherefore), we are given this specific command for the new life in which we are to walk. We are told in scripture that liars will not enter heaven. A lifestyle of idolatry and lying will be destructive to anyone who participates in such activity. We are to speak to one another in truth, and we are to speak truth to one another.
For we are members one of another: believers are members of the Body of Christ. We are one body as we saw back in verse 4.
Be ye angry, and sin not: let not the sun go down upon your wrath:
Ephesians 4:26 KJV
Be angry: this is a deep-seated conviction as in hating evil and immorality. Injustice and all sort of ungodliness can cause a righteous anger.
And sin not: we are not to give in to anger that is self-defensiveness or self-serving, for it is resentful of what has taken place and may lead to more serious sin against God and His ways. Beware, however, that even the righteous anger can lead to bitterness and self-righteousness.
How often does the mind go to work on something once we have laid down for the night? As things get mulled over in the mind, all kinds of possibilities and fears come to mind. Scenarios are rehearsed in the mind to seemingly no end. Resentment can produce all sort of retributions against a wrong suffered. Vindictive thoughts can lead to unforgiveness.
Neither give place to the devil.
Ephesians 4:27 KJV
We are not to allow this to happen as it gives the devil ammunition with which to tempt us. It is our own vain imaginations that rise within us and produce sinful activities if they go unchecked. Paul deals with this in Romans 12 when he warns that we are not to pay back evil with evil.
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.
Ephesians 4:28 KJV
Paul shows us an example of a reversal of life where that which was used to cause sinful behavior is now used to produce fruitful behavior in the Kingdom. In this case it is hands that selfishly performed evil acts that are now used to do good for the sake of self and others.
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.
Ephesians 4:29 KJV
We are also warned to guard the tongue and transform our conversation from immoral and corrupt to that which is good in God’s sight. Again, it shows us to turn from the selfish ways we did things to doing them with others in mind, that being for their good. This is the pattern of the Christian life, putting others first.
And the tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity: so is the tongue among our members, that it defileth the whole body, and setteth on fire the course of nature; and it is set on fire of hell. For every
kind of beasts, and of birds, and of serpents, and of things in the sea, is tamed, and hath been tamed of mankind: but the tongue can no man tame; it is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison.
James 3:6-8 KJV
This is a tall order, to control the tongue. Even the inadvertent comment can cause unintended damage. We need to be always aware of our thoughts and words. Vigilance is the key here. In verse 9 of chapter 1 James give good advice to “be slow to speak.”
And grieve not the holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption.
Ephesians 4:30 KJV
Sin grieves the Holy Spirit. The children of God, when they refuse to change from self-centered ways to loving others, grieves the Spirit. Whatever violates the will of God and holiness, will grieve the Holy Spirit.
Back in chapter 1, verses 13-14, Paul instructed us that we were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise. Here Paul reiterates that Holy Spirit sealed us until the fullness of our salvation. Paul could effectively ask us, “How could you grieve Holy Spirit, knowing that He is graciously watching over you?”
Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice:
Ephesians 4:31 KJV
Paul once again tells us to lay aside all the selfish ways of our past, as well as the things we hold against others. The vices need to be put out of our lives as they are only destructive to relationships with both God and others, as well as to self.
And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.
Ephesians 4:32 KJV
The vices are to be replaced with the virtues that promote loving relationships with God and others. We are called upon to be gracious to others just as God has been so gracious to us. We are to love and forgive others just as God loves and forgives us. Forgiveness is at the core of the Christian life and we need to learn to give as well as receive.