Ephesians 4:26-27 Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, and give no opportunity to the devil.
There are few things our enemy the devil hates more than a unified body of believers in Jesus Christ. He can’t stand to see God working through people who love one another and bear each other’s burdens. His strategy is to divide us.
We’ve all been to churches where there’s disunity. Maybe someone didn’t like the choice of colors for the new carpet or maybe someone got upset because the coffee pot was moved to another location. Whatever the reason, people get angry with their fellow Christians and they begin to miss out on the mission God has for them. That’s exactly what the enemy wants.
But when we forgive offenses that our brothers and sisters in the Lord commit, we offer him no ammunition to use against us. When we put away our anger and instead choose love, we don’t allow him a way in. When we value people and relationships more than things, we take away something from the enemy’s arsenal. We leave him weak.
When we choose to love, it honors God and brings Him glory. That should be our ultimate incentive for treating others well and acting in unity as a church of believers.
Ephesians 4:25 Therefore, having put away falsehood, let each one of you speak the truth with his neighbor, for we are members one of another.
One of the most loving things you can do for another person, especially one who is your brother or sister in Christ, is speak the truth to them. There are few actions or words that can even compare with just some refreshing truth.
We all know that being a liar is a hard job. When you lie to others you have to keep track of what you told to whom and it makes you worry about getting caught. But honesty, that brings freedom. Speaking the truth to people frees us and lets us know that there is nothing to hide.
It can be really hard sometimes to say what needs to be said, but when you know someone is believing lies it’s always best to let them know what’s real. The biggest liar of all, Satan, tries to lure people into believing that God doesn’t care, that He isn’t listening, or that He’s not good. But the truth is that God is love (1 John 4:8). God cares about His people (Romans 8:30). God is good (Nehemiah 9:31). God is listening (1 John 1:9).
When we know the truth, we’re free from the burdens that lies bring. We can be the burden-breaker for someone else by speaking the truth. It’s what family does.
Ephesians 4:23-24 and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.
When you surrendered your life to Jesus Christ, you became a new creation (2 Corinthians 5:17). A major transformation occurs when someone takes this step. Along with that transformation comes a new heart. With a new heart comes new desires. With new desires comes renewed thinking.
The thing about obedience to God is that it all begins with right thinking. If we have any hope of following Christ we can’t do it on our own. We need His help to obey and we can only know what it is He wants us to do if we have been transformed by the renewal of our minds (Romans 12:2). We have to seek after the truth that’s only found in Him.
At some point in time the truth of God’s Word really penetrates your soul and you just know the truth for what it is. It becomes so clear that you can’t believe that you never embraced this truth before. This truth sets you free! (John 8:32) With a new heart and a new mind there’s a new life, one free from the burdens of this world and from the taskmasters of fear and shame.
A new mind is a clean slate to start over with. Instead of allowing your mind to be consumed by the things of this world, you have the opportunity to allow the Holy Spirit to fill it with what is right and good and pure.
Ephesians 4:20-22 But that is not the way you learned Christ!— assuming that you have heard about him and were taught in him, as the truth is in Jesus, to put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires,
This fact of life should be revisited from time to time: Not everyone who teaches knows what they’re talking about. Likewise, not everyone who professes to speak for God truly speaks for Him.
The Apostle Paul uses and interesting phrase in this letter to the Ephesian church. He says “assuming that you have heard about him and were taught in him, as the truth is in Jesus.” The point he’s making is that he knows the Ephesians have learned better than to live like the pagans. But what about those in the church who have learned no better than to keep living in sin?
Some will come in the name of the Lord and yet contradict His Word. Some will claim to have heard from God himself and yet present a message that goes directly against His nature. Some will even mock God with their teaching and somehow still claim to be His representative. It’s our job to discern the truth from the garbage.
If anyone teaches a gospel that contradicts the Good News that Jesus Christ died for our sins and rose again from the grave and that His work on the cross was sufficient for salvation, then they’re not worth listening to. Paul warns elsewhere that even if an angel were to preach a false gospel it should be tossed out (Galatians 1:8).
So how do we know the truth from the false teaching? It’s important to start with getting acquainted with the Bible. In it God has revealed himself and His nature. The Bible is the truth tester. If something doesn’t stand up to agreement with it, then it’s false. If you seek the truth, you will find it.
Ephesians 4:15-16 Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love.
It’s clear throughout the New Testament that God expects us to grow spiritually once we’re His. It’s not acceptable for a professing follower of Christ to just remain a spiritual infant. He must grow into maturity, and we must then help others to do the same.
The Church is called the “body of Christ” many times and this is not to be overlooked. There are very interesting parallels between a physical human body and a church of believers. Every member must do their part in order for the body to function and the body must grow in order to become mature. A physical body that does not grow is not normal and something is wrong which must be corrected. It is also true that without a head the body does nothing. Without a head the body cannot properly grow either.
Look at this in regards to the Church. We can’t grow individually or corporately as a body without our Head, who is Jesus. We can’t expect to become mature if we do it in our own power, apart from His giving of life. Though every member has his or her own function, talent, and calling, we’re all subject to the Head. In Him we grow, in Him we function, in Him we find unity, and in Him we find life.
If His love flows throughout the Church, there is growth. If there is a lack of love, there is no growth. There is turmoil, not unity. There is disfunction, not a living out of calling. But with His love, all things are in order, all things are functional. The body grows in love.
Ephesians 4:13-14 until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes.
It should be obvious to every Christ follower that we are to aim to grow spiritually. Just as we would notice something was terribly wrong with a person who has not physically matured past infancy, we should see it as a problem when a Christian has not grown past spiritual infancy. The thing is, though, we don’t.
It’s far too common for those of us who profess to follow Jesus to be content with spiritual youth, never even trying to get past the first stages of Christian life. We overlook it in our own lives and we often overlook it in the lives of others. We get stuck in a place where surface level understanding is accepted and we miss out on a whole lot of blessings that only come with maturity.
To return to the physical to spiritual comparison, think about this: If a child never matures past infancy, he or she can never enjoy certain benefits like driving, marriage, living independently, or even just keeping friends. Likewise, in the spiritual life, there are many things that can only be enjoyed by those who move past the elementary things of the faith. Living in communion with other believers, weathering the storms of life with unshakable faith, finding answers to life’s questions within God’s Word on your own, genuinely worshipping, and praying as one who is close to God are really all much deeper if we have grown and matured.
Paul seems to be warning the church in Ephesus that they will believe anything if they don’t mature spiritually. His image of being tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine is a good picture of many Christians today. Let us all decide that we’re going to pursue spiritual growth and a better knowledge of God so that we can really experience Him in a greater way. Let’s vow also to help others towards this goal.
Ephesians 4:11-12 And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ,
When it comes to missions, every Christ-follower has been given one. The Great Commission given by Jesus in Matthew 28:19-20 is for all of His people. Go and make disciples. This is the mission for every one of us.
We don’t all go about that mission in the same manner, however. We’ve each been given our own talents and abilities that best suit us to do certain tasks in the big plan. Some of us are better at certain things than others, but we’re all still called to make disciples.
An interesting bit mentioned by the Apostle Paul is that God gifted His people with some people in particular that He wants to lead and to train. Apostles, prophets, evangelists, shepherds and teachers are all set apart to equip the rest of the body for ministry. All are called, but some are chosen to build up the body through special assignments. What’s your job that fits into the mission of God?
Ephesians 4:9-10 (In saying, “He ascended,” what does it mean but that he had also descended into the lower regions, the earth? He who descended is the one who also ascended far above all the heavens, that he might fill all things.)
How low are you willing to go for someone else? For those you love, you’re likely willing to sacrifice your time, your money, and maybe for some even your life. But would you go even further than that for someone else? What about someone who doesn’t even know you?
What Jesus did on your behalf is unfathomable from a human standpoint. He went beyond dying for your sin. He took on all of your sin, even though He had none of His own. He was in the Kingdom, high above the earth and everything else, but He chose to lower himself and come all the way down here to be with us, to show us who God is, to pay the ransom that we owed.
No matter who you are, the truth is this – you would never descend so far as Jesus Christ did for you – not for anyone. It’s not even possible. He left the heavenly realm and became a person like you and me. He emptied himself of His prerogatives as God (Philippians 2:7). He went from King of Kings to servant of all, just because He loves us. That same love is what led Him to the cross and it remained after He rose from the dead and ascended back into His rightful place in heaven.
Ephesians 4:7-8 But grace was given to each one of us according to the measure of Christ’s gift. Therefore it says, “When he ascended on high he led a host of captives, and he gave gifts to men.”
Of all the gifts given to us as children of God, there’s nothing more incredible than the gift of God himself. He extended to us, in the form of Jesus Christ, a relationship with Him. Nothing we could ask for could be as great as this.
Grace has been offered, though not all will reach out and receive it. But for those who do, the experience of reconciliation with God, of His mercy by not pouring out His wrath on us (which we deserved), and His grace that led Jesus to the cross in our place, cannot be matched by any other thing in this world.
If you’re the recipient of God’s grace, you know peace. You know what love really is, you have felt the release from bondage that once held you. You know how it feels to live under no condemnation and no more slavery to sin. If you’ve known God’s grace, you know eternal life and you know you’ll never die.
This wonderful gift came with a price. Jesus Christ willingly laid down His own life on that cross in your place and mine so that we might know the grace of God. According to His gift of His own life was God’s grace measured out. The abundance of grace shows the abundance of love that led Jesus to the cross. What an amazing gift.
Ephesians 4:4-6 There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call— one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.
The Apostle Paul makes it a point to speak an awful lot about unity within the Church throughout his letter to the Ephesians. His efforts should not be overlooked. It’s obvious that unity is very important.
Many Christians think that they can live out the life of a Christ-follower apart from belonging to a church family, but in reality things were never designed to work that way. There is one body – and a body can’t fully function without all of its members. It was designed that way. There is one Spirit. We’re each indwelled by the Holy Spirit, but it’s not just for the purpose of solo living.
John Calvin once stated boldly that “those who separate themselves from their fellow believers estrange themselves from the kingdom of God.” He also said, “if we are not one body and one spirit, we are not fit for that inheritance.” This is strong wording, but it truly captures the nature of Paul’s letter and why he’s so adamant about talking to these people about unity. There is not Christianity, no Church, apart from that unity. Embrace your fellow Christians, flaws and all, because they’re your spiritual siblings and you need them as much as they need you.