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Scripture reading – Ephesians 4; Ephesians 5

Continuing our study of Paul’s epistle to the believers of the church in Ephesus, we come to chapters 4 and 5. In the first three chapters, the apostle reminded the believers of Ephesus, though they were of Gentile descent, by their faith in Christ they were redeemed. To what end or purpose had God saved them? To the end they might glorify God (1:4-7; 11-14).

Their salvation and hope of eternal life were not in their physical lineage (for they were, like all sinners, born into this world, “dead in trespasses and sins,” 2:1). The believers of Ephesus were saved by the same grace through which the Old Testament patriarchs came to God…Faith (Hebrews 11).

Paul declared, “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: 9Not of works, lest any man should boast” (Ephesians 2:8-9). No sinner is saved by good works, church membership, baptism, or observing a rite or ordinance of the church. Sinners come to salvation and find forgiveness of sins the same way Abraham found favor in God’s sight…Faith. Paul wrote, “Abraham believed God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness” (Romans 4:3; Genesis 15:6). The apostle wrote the same to the Galatians: “Even as Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness” (Galatians 3:6).

By God’s grace, Jew and Gentile are baptized into the same body, and therefore “of the house of God” (2:19), the visible body of Christ (2:19-22; 3:6).

Ephesians 4 – The Believer’s Life in the Church

For a second time, Paul reminded believers he was not a prisoner of Rome, but “the prisoner of the Lord” (4:1; 3:1). Out of that reality, his imprisonment was fulfilling God’s purpose, even as Paul called believers to “walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called” (4:1). A believer’s conversion, and profession of faith in Christ, of necessity changes his walk, and day-to-day priorities. A child of God by faith has a vocation, a holy, heavenly calling (2 Timothy 1:9; Hebrews 3:1).

The Basis of Unity (4:2-3)

It has been observed: Good relationships are not built upon an absence of problems and conflicts. How are the members of the church (the body of Christ), to find harmony and unity in the midst of our differences? Paul exhorted, if we are to enjoy the “unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace” (4:3), we must choose “lowliness and meekness, with longsuffering, forbearing one another in love” (4:2).

Conflicts are unavoidable; however, when believers respond in “lowliness and meekness, with longsuffering,” and bear our differences in a spirit of sacrificial love, the church will experience “the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace” (4:3).

Conflict only prevails in a vacuum of love, which is the foundation of all spiritual virtues.

The Means of Unity (4:4-24)

Sincere believers have a mutual affection, and spiritual kinship with one another. Paul identified seven traits of our oneness as believers: “4There is one body (the church), and one Spirit (God’s Spirit), even as ye are called in one hope (salvation) of your calling; 5One Lord (King; Sovereign), one faith (in Jesus Christ), one baptism (water baptism, and our identification with Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection), 6One God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all” (4:4-6).

Closing thoughts – While the world is known for its self-centeredness, and pursuit of sinful pleasures (4:14, 19, 22, 25-30), believers are commanded to “put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness” (4:23-24). Consider with me four principles that not only pave the way for peace and unity, but are fundamental to good communication (I credit the late Dr. Jay Adams with this simple outline).

Be Honest: “Speaking the truth in love… putting away lying, speak every man truth” (4:15, 25). Warning: Be prepared for rejection, for sinners hate to hear truth. Yet, when spoken in love, loving words may fall upon a tender heart.

Keep Current: “Be ye angry, and sin not: let not the sun go down upon your wrath” (4:26). There are circumstances when anger is justified; however, we should seek solutions to conflicts, and not allow for resentment or a vengeful sprit.

Attack Problems, Not People: “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. 30And grieve not the holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption” (4:29-30). Words have the power to hurt, and the power to heal. We should avoid words that are unwholesome, vicious, and vulgar. Our speech should encourage righteousness, and edify and strengthen others.

Act, Don’t React: This final principle identifies six negative, sinful reactions (4:31), followed by three loving actions (4:32). We read, “Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice: 32And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you” (4:31-32).

Spiritual TruthWhen your attitude is proud (4:2-3), and your words are unloving (4:22-32), trouble and heartache will plague your life.

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Copyright © 2022 – Travis D. Smith

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