The Way - Day 140 (Ephesians 4)

Daily Reading:
Ephesians 4
Don't forget to journal in your Foundations Book!
Daily Reading Audio Commentary:
Today's Question or Action Step:
Of all the broad commands given in chapter 4 for Christian living, which command does God seem to be challenging you with most today? How can you rely on His grace and strength to respond to that challenge? What might be the result as you do?
Weekly Memory Verse(s):
OPTION 1: Psalm 51:12-13
OPTION 2: Proverbs 18:22
OPTION 3: Matthew 6:9-11
Further Study Resources:
Study Guide for Ephesians 4 (Enduring Word - David Guzik)
Pastor Tom's Journal on Today's Reading:
Ephesians 4:1-6
After revealing that Jew and Gentile are one through Christ, Paul challenges them with some practical ramifications of their faith. Paul says to "walk worthy of the calling with which you were called." Walking refers to lifestyle and worthy carries the idea of living up to God's standards, so walking worthy is demonstrating a lifestyle of holiness through daily attitudes and actions. Paul does one specific way that his readers can demonstrate a lifestyle of purity... they should live a life of humility. Humility is the quality which causes a person not to think highly of themselves. This doesn't mean we should hate ourselves, but view our life under God's control and submit to His ways. When humility is a part of our daily conduct we will treat others with respect and be patient with them (4:2). Humility leads to patience which ultimately leads to unity. Paul had every reason to address the subject of unity since the Jews were probably not too excited about the inclusion of Gentiles in the church. Paul gave them the formula to be unified - be humble. When people think too highly of themselves and think they are superior to others it will inevitably result in fighting, jealousy, and hatred. These characteristics could not make their way into the church so Paul wanted to challenge them to be humble. The Holy Spirit creates peace within the life of believers (4:3) and oneness is God's way. After all there is one body (the church), one Spirit, one hope (eternal life), one Lord, one faith (truth/Scripture), one baptism, and one God. Unity is expected within the body of Christ! There is no reason people within the church should not get along. I realize people have different personalities, likes/dislikes, and opinions, but those things are not what unify. Unity is based on the list Paul just mentioned. If God expected the Jews and Gentiles to get along, God must also desire us to develop unity within the church. Yes, unity takes work, but the Holy Spirit empowers us. I am not calling for the church to embrace doctrinal error but to demonstrate humility and patience which will ultimately lead to unity!

Ephesians 4:7-16
Unity has been a major theme thus far in the book of Ephesians. The great mystery of Jew and Gentile being brought together through the blood of Christ has finally become a reality, but Paul realizes that many believers would have objections to worshipping beside people of distinct heritage. Paul reveals that one of the key factors in finding unity is in those who are spiritually mature equipping others in love. First, Paul lets his readers know that "to each one of us grace was given according to the measure of Christ's gift" meaning He is responsible for dispensing these gifts (4:8-10). In verse 11 he mentions four spiritual gifts: apostles, prophets, evangelists, and pastors/teachers. This list is not exhaustive (see Romans 12:6-8; 1 Corinthians 12:4-10; 1 Peter 4:10 for more gifts) but Paul gives the ones which pertain to the subject at hand - unity. Although evangelists and pastor/teacher are the only offices which still exist in our church age, these offices served two purposes: to equip and edify (4:12). Equipping carries the idea of providing the necessary tools to arrive at a finished product. In this case, the word of God was faithfully taught by these leaders to assist the church in developing a Christian worldview, mainly unity in diversity (4:13). Edifying carries the idea of strengthening and encouraging those within the church. When people use their gifts properly, believers should benefit by remaining strong in doctrine, avoiding deceitful teachings (4:14), and growing in love (4:16). God always does His part in providing the resources needed for accomplishing His purposes (spiritual gifts), but it is up to us to use them for His benefit. May we discover the gifts God has given to us and use them to bring glory to Him alone!
Ephesians 4:17-24
Paul gets really practical with his readers in these verses. He has been imparting to them a lot of new concepts for the church, specifically that Jew and Gentile have both become one - there is no longer a distinction between the two. The death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ for our sins broke down the walls of separation which formally existed and brought them together in the name of Christ. Paul knew this would cause some animosity within the church, but he further taught them things which were important to their faith. The difference was no longer about heritage, but about the way they lived their lives. Paul begins this practical instruction by writing to "no longer walk as the rest of the Gentiles walk." Remember that Gentiles often represented those who were far from God and did not believe in the one, true God. Paul told his readers that they were no longer like the unbeliever because they " the futility of their mind, having their understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God, because of the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart...have given themselves over to lewdness, to work all uncleanness with greediness." Being Jew or Gentile did not have anything to do with being a Christian, but lifestyle had everything to do with being a Christian. Unbelievers did not regard God in any part of their life, but those who had learned, been taught, and heard the truth of Christ knew that they were to "put off, concerning your former conduct, the old man which grows corrupt according to the deceitful lusts." Belief in Jesus Christ changes the way we live our life. The old man represents our lifestyle before Jesus Christ which was marred by sin and selfishness. Now we have "put on the new man which was created according to God, in true righteousness and holiness." The new man is not something we have the power to create but in perfectly orchestrated by God and enables us to live life in His power, not our own. How do we put on the new man? Being renewed in the spirit of your mind leads us to holiness. Since the mind is the center of all that we are and drives our attitudes and actions, our mind must be transformed. Only God has the ability to give us a new mind! As our mind is changed through the Holy Spirit and the word of God, it leads us to right actions, which we'll address in the next verses.

Ephesians 4:25-32
Continuing to express his theme of unity in diversity, Paul proclaims that lifestyle makes them distinct from those around them, not heritage. In keeping with his theme, he unveils characteristics which define the lifestyle of the believer. Change begins with the Holy Spirit working together with the word of God and an individual submitting to the truth of God. A Christian does not simply acknowledge the truth, he lives the truth. What does living the truth look like? First of all, Paul contrasts telling the truth with lying. Before a relationship with Christ many of his readers lied, but now they have been changed and should demonstrate a life of truth telling (4:25). Secondly, anger should be directed at evil but should never lead to bitterness (4:26). There is nothing wrong with being angry at sin, but some people take it to extremes and allow their anger at wrongdoing to cause them to commit sin. The phrase "let not the sun go down on your wrath" means that there should be a time when we let go of should not consume our life. Paul also throws in the phrase "neither give place to the devil" because he knew his readers may allow righteous indignation turn into bitterness and hatred (4:27). Next, instead of gain through stealing, Paul challenges them to work hard and earn an honest living (4:28). Monetary gain should also lead us to give to "him who has need." Making money is not just about providing for our family, but also giving to help the less fortunate. Another characteristic which makes a Christian distinct from unbelievers is the way he or she talks (4:29). Paul puts it like this: "let no corrupt word proceed out of your mouth, but what is good for necessary edification, that it may impart grace to the hearers." The words which come from the mouth of a person say a lot about his character. Corrupt speech reveals an evil heart, but encouraging speech reveals a heart changed by God. Most importantly Paul instructs them not to "grieve the Holy Spirit of God." Grieving the Holy Spirit is committed when a believer refuses to change his old ways and continually walks in sin. In summary Paul commands that all the things he has mentioned "be put away from you;" in other words, stop following your old ways. In case they did not get it, Paul gave them what has proven to be one of the most profound verses in the New Testament "be kind to one another...forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you." Christians have just lost the art of being nice! Commit today to leave your old ways behind and pursue new life in Christ.

Dear God, help me to put off the ways of the old man and put on the ways of Christ.