map
Support I.B.C
map
map
map
map
map
map
map
How to live a life worthy of the calling we have received in Christ. Ephesians 4
How to live a life worthy of the calling we have received
Ephesians 4

Scripture reading: Ephesians 4

Last week we began a two week mini series in the Book of Ephesians. In chapter 1 Paul encourages us by speaking of the incredible BLESSINGS that we have in Christ. These blessings are to inspire PRAISE for God.

This morning we are going to take a look at Ephesians 4. In this portion, which marks the beginning of the second half of the Book of Ephesians Paul turns his attention to how we are supposed to live as the followers of Jesus-- detailed in Ephesians 4-6***.

Paul's style in Ephesians is similar to the Book of Romans. In Romans 1-11 Paul instructs in matters of doctrine. In Romans 12-15 Paul then proceeds to tell us how we are to live in view of God's incredible mercy. Paul does the very same thing here in the Book of Ephesians. In Ephesians 1-3 Paul instructs us in matters of doctrine. In Ephesians 4-6 Paul then turns to direct application, talking to us of how we are to live in light of God's mercy, love, and grace, expressed to us in Christ.

The point: All to often when we come to the instructions/commands of the Scriptures we get hung up, thinking following God is all about rules. What is being asked of us is this: Follow God from your heart. Obey Him out of love.


READ PASSAGE

As I read, I'd like to think of your own life. Not everything that you read in the next 5 minutes will resonate with you at the moment, but their no doubt will be something that the Holy Spirit prick your conscience with. Don't ignore the Spirit's voice.


HOW TO LIVE A LIFE WORTHY OF THE CALLING YOU HAVE RECEIVED

FIRST THINGS FIRST:

WE MUST CONSIDER OUR MOTIVATION FOR OBEYING THE COMMANDS OF EPHESIANS 4-6

Prefacing Paul's call to live a life worthy of the calling we have received in Ephesians 3:17-19, which says; "And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord's holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge-that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God."

Our motivation: The love of Christ. The grace of God!

A survey of Ephesians 4

A shotgun approach--- knowing that the Holy Spirit will speak to your heart about something from this text

1. Be humble v.2 Don't think too highly of yourself. Pride comes before a fall.
2. Be patient v.2
3. Be gentle v.2 People's hearts are fragile. Handle with care
4. Bear with one another in love v.2 1 Corinthians 13 tells us what love is
5. Work to maintain the unity of the Spirit and of the church v.3-6
6. Use your gift (of the Holy Spirit) to build up the church v.7-13 Fan it into flame
7. Strive to grow in the Word and in maturity v.14-16 Be transformed by the renewing of your mind
8. Don't live as those do who don't know Christ. v.17-19

Paul speaks of such ones as being spiritually blind. They are separated from God. They have hard hearts. There consciences have been seared. They have lost all sensitivity as it regards what is right and wrong. Sensuality, immorality, and every manner of impurity is there way.

Ponder for a moment the average person on the street. They think nothing of getting drunk, having sex before marriage, or living together before marriage. In most people's estimation, abortion is ok. Cursing and swearing is acceptable. Homosexual behavior is fine for them to. It's alright to lie, cheat on your taxes, etc. Yet, these same folks-- many who are very nice-- think they are "good people". Such is contrary to the Word of God which teaches us that there is no one who is good and that God alone is good.

That we might not think to highly of ourselves, the description of unbelievers in v.17-19 used to describe us.

Remember what Paul said in 1 Corinthians 6:9-11 "Do you not know that the wicked will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor male prostitutes nor homosexual offenders 10nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. 11And that is what some of you were. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.

We are to live differently.

Our values are not to be the same as those around us.
Our speech is not to be the same
Our motives are not to be the same
What we watch on tv, consume at the movie theatre, read, listen to-- We are to be different.

Blending in is not an option for us-- We have a holy calling to live up to.

9. Following Christ entails "Putting off" the old self and "putting on" the new self v.20-24

The image Paul invokes is that of getting undressed and re-dressed.

For several months as a teenager I worked in a chicken rendering facility. Into the factory would come live chickens, out the other door would go the chicken parts that we buy in the grocery store. Before quitting, I was put on the life hanging line. A carton would go by with live chickens in it. My job was to grab a chicken and hang it up on the line-- and away the chicken would go to the next station. As you might imagine, when a chicken is frightened it tends to make a mess and that mess gets on people. Now let me tell you this, before going home- you put off your old clothes and put some fresh ones on-- even if you can't smell your self- for others can.

When Paul talks about putting off our old self and putting on the person and character of Christ, the chicken illustration works. Spiritually, when we were apart from Christ, we are as dirty and unclean as a person working in a slaughter house. In Christ, our sins are washed away and we are cleaned up and purified. In response to Jesus' work, we are not to live as we used to. Our driving goal is to be like Christ. The holiness of Christ is our aspiration.

Problem: The putting off/on process is an ongoing one. Sometimes we put on the old way of life when we shouldn't.

10. Speak the truth -in love v.15, 25

We are to be truth tellers.

I'm always surprised at the number of Christians who think it's ok to lie depending on the circumstances they are in. Some even cite Biblical examples of people lying as justification.

We are to tell the truth. We are not to be deceitful either. Deceit and lying are kissing cousins to each other.

We are to tell the truth whether it costs us money or otherwise. We are to be honest.

As it regards our relations with others, we are to speak the truth in love. We are not use "truth" as a weapon to purposefully hurt other people. Depending on the context; "I was just telling the truth' can be very damaging and mean spirited to others.


11. Be angry in the right way, at the right things, to the right degree- In your anger do not sin. v.26-27

In life, there are some things that should/will make us angry-- injustice, willful disobedience, our sins, the propagation of the homosexual lifestyle, people calling wrong right and right wrong.

Righteous anger is acceptable-- Jesus himself was angry and yet he did not sin

Our problem is most often- unrighteous anger. Anger that sees us "blowing up", shouting at others, throwing things, hitting, smoldering in resentment for days, weeks, months, and years.
To behave like this is to give Satan a foothold in our lives.

The antidote: Praying for patience

12. Don't steal v.28

Don't take what doesn't belong to you-- whether it be a stack of napkins in a restaurant, the pens at your work place, pirated internet content, taxes you owe, etc

Employee theft is big problem. In 2011in the USA, employee theft accounted for about 44% of retail shrink.

We are to honest in our dealings-- in big and small

13. Be productive. Work hard. Share with others v.28

Connected to the command to not steal is the positive call to be a hard working, productive, and generous person.

A couple of things

a. We are not to be takers. We are not be givers. As Christians we are to move on the spectrum of being a taker to a giver.

Notice that God has a purpose for what we have: Sharing with others. Generosity- willing generosity, not grudging.

b. We are to be hard working people

In Titus 1:12, Paul, trying to correct a situation in the church of Crete, reminds them of how as a culture they had a bad reputation, saying "Even one of their own prophets has said, "Cretans are always liars, evil brutes, lazy gluttons."

The point: Whether you are paid or not, we are supposed to be busy and productive- serving Christ, serving others, helping out. We are not be lazy. We are not to spend our days glued in front of our tv sets, or in front of our computers playing games. There is work to be done, there is volunteering to do.

14. Say things that are wholesome and of benefit to others v.29

From the list that we are looking, no doubt there are items that we realize are more relevant at this moment to us, than others.

For most of us, the subject of our speech is always relevant. In James 3:6 it says of the tongue "The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole person, sets the whole course of his life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell."

With out tongues we can build up or tear down.

Our tongues have great capacity to bring harm to others. We need to purpose to encourage and build others up and when we fail we are to go and apologize.

See also Ephesians 5:4 which says; "Nor should there be obscenity, foolish talk or coarse joking, which are out of place, but rather thanksgiving."

15. Don't grieve the Holy Spirit v.30

By purposefully rebelling against God's commands. By not being careful with our tongues, by sinful anger, etc


16. Get rid of all bitterness, rage, anger, and every desire to quarrel and fight and run others down. v.31

We are not to be people who carry bitterness with us. We are not to be of the sort who holds grudges. Neither are we to be troublemakers who like to stir the pot and get people going.

17. Be kind and compassionate and forgive others the wrongs they have committed against you v.32

Tied in to getting rid of bitterness and rage and anger is the call to forgive others the wrongs they have committed against us.

We are to forgive as we have been forgiven in Christ!


CONCLUSION

This morning I have spoken to you about how to live a life worthy of the calling we have received in Christ.

We've only really scratched the surface, for the entirety of Ephesians 4-6 concerns this subject and we've only touched on a few verses.

As I close, I believe its important that once again we ponder our approach to the do's and do not's of Ephesians 4-6. Our obedience to these commands must find its source in gratitude to Christ for his love in dying for us and the cross. If we are not motivated by this, all that we have considered will devolve into "do and do". We are to follow God from our hearts, striving after holiness, as a response to the grace shown to us.