Sunday, February 14, 2010

The #Churches' Walk> In #Unity And #Holiness: #Ephesaisn 4

Theme: Christ's body, the church.

2. Its Walk (4 - 6)
     A. In unity (4:1-16)
     B. In holiness (4:17-32)

Having described the position, wealth, and purpose of the church "in Christ" (1 - 3), chapters 4 - 6 now entreat the body to walk worthy of this calling.

Believers should walk in unity (1-16):

Since they are, positionally, one body in Christ (4; cf. 2:11 - 3:21), and share "one Spirit, hope of eternal salvation, Lord, faith, baptism, and God and Father, believers should keep this unity (i.e. walk in "equal weight" to their position as one in Christ). But how?

First, by putting up with ("forbearing") each other (2). This requires an attitude of humility. Humility is an accurate, sober evaluation of one's condition, which does not think more highly of self than it ought, credits God for any benefits, and acknowledges God's working in others as well (cf. Romans 12:3). Christ showed humility by yielding His rights, obeying God, and serving believers (Philippians 2:6-11).

"Forbearing" also requires an attitude of "gentleness". This involves the concept, not of weakness, but of controlling one's power toward others. Paul contrasted the concept of meekness with coming to the Corinthians with a rod of corrective discipline (2 Corinthians 1:23-24; cf. 10:1; 13:10). In addition to humility, gentleness is closely associated with "patience", a final attitude required in putting up with others. In the same example, Paul delayed his visit to Corinth, to give the offending parties time to change their mind and conduct.

Next, you walk in unity by speaking the truth in love (7-16). Although Romans 12 mentions gifts God gives to individual believers to build up the body, this passage seems to emphasize that Christ has given "men", as gifts to the church. The apostles and prophets were gifts who were instrumental in God's inspiration of the Bible (2 Timothy 3:16; cf. 2 Peter 1:21; 2 Peter 3:15-16), and pastor/teachers now feed, guide, and oversee the church with God's Word (1 Peter 5:1ff.).

This ministry of "truth" (cf. John 17:17) should equip each believer to serve and "speak the truth in love" to other members of the body in a way that builds up the entire church (16; cf. 2 Timothy 3:16-17; 1 Corinthians 12:12-31). The end result is that the body becomes grounded in God's Word, is no longer carried about or deceived by every strange wind of false teaching, and grows into the fulness of its head--Christ.

Believers should walk in Holiness (17-32).

Although, in his position in Christ, the believer has died to sin, been raised to newness of life (Romans 6), and received a new spiritual nature from God (Eph. 4:24; cf. John 3; 14; 2 Corinthians 5:17), he needs to continue to yield himself, to the fruit bearing ministry of the Holy Spirit in his life (Romans 6:12-13; 8:1-17; Galatians 5:16-26).

Unsaved Gentiles, as we once did, walk in the "futility of their mind". This means their thoughts aim at and lead them to a goal which is empty of real value. Since they are darkened in their understanding, excluded from the life of God because of their ignorance, and hardened in their hearts (18), they have become "callous, have given themselves over to sensuality", and therefore "practice every kind of impurity with greediness" (19; cf. Romans 1:19ff.). 
 
Believers, however, have "been created in righteousness and holiness of the truth" (24). 1 Peter 1:23 says the Word of God is the seed by which they are "born again". Jesus said God's Word is the truth which sets them free (John 8:32), and sanctifies us (17:17). 2 Corinthians 5:17, 21 says God makes them new, righteous creatures in Christ. As such, believers, in contrast to Gentiles and their old way of life, should continue to "be renewed in the spirit of their mind". But how do you walk in holiness?

By speaking the truth (25). Throughout the Psalms, we have record of times David pleaded with God for help on account of his enemies who tried to destroy him with lying words. Proverbs 26:28 tells us that "a lying tongue hates those it crushes". Laying aside falsehood, believers should walk in holiness by speaking the truth in love (cf. Eph. 4:15).

By controlling your anger (26-27). "Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, and do not give the Devil an opportunity." The word "angry", in verse 26, is a different word than in 27. It refers to a permanent, settled, righteous hatred for sin. This is the type of anger Jesus showed when He made a scourge and drove the money changers from the temple (John 2:13-17), God expresses toward immoral pagans (Romans 1:18), and God's authorities avenge upon "evildoers" (Romans 13:4). "Anger" in verse 27, however, means an irritated, exasperated, embittered attitude. A believer should show a righteous hatred for sin, but not hold
a bitter grudge.
 
By working to share (28). Rather than steal, believers should work with their own hands, so they will not only have enough to meet their expenses, but also to share with those who are in need.

By guarding your speech (29-30). Rather than say things which will corrupt others, thereby grieving the Holy Spirit who indwells us (30), a believer, (according to the need of the moment) should say things which will serve to build believers in the faith and likeness of Christ

By forgiving each other (31-32). This involves putting away malice" (general ill will), which includes "bitterness" (a cutting or stinging hatred which "springing up causes trouble" and defiles "many" [Hebrews 12:15]), "wrath" (a heated, smoldering passion which breaks forth in boiling, vengeance), "clamor" (lit. to cry like a raven, croak like a frog, or clang on a metal object), and "slander" (injurious speech). Positively, forgiving carries the idea of releasing others
from debt with a "tender hearted", giving ("kind") attitude.

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