Ephesians

Ephesians 4:1-6 Our Unity in Christ

Ephesians 1-3 described all that God has done for us in grace, giving us every blessing and making us His people, so that all believers together form the BODY OF CHRIST. He has made us all one in the Spirit, whatever our sex, nationality or background. Now Paul moves from what God has done to our response.

NEW LIFE should lead to NEW LIFESTYLE: “I, therefore, the prisoner for the Lord, beseech you to WALK worthy of the calling with which you were called” (v1).

Paul speaks with the ‘I’ of apostolic authority reminding us that really it is God speaking! As ‘the prisoner for the Lord’ there is no credibility gap. He is not one who teaches one thing and does another. He put his life on the line for the Lord. His life backs his message up (Phil 4:4 and Acts 16:25). ‘Therefore’ links us to what God has done for us and made us (ch 1-3). Because of all this he ‘beseeches’ (makes a strong appeal) to us to ‘WALK’ worthy of our calling.

The 3 main Sections of Ephesians are marked by 3 key words: SIT (Ephesians 1-3), WALK (Ephesians 4-5), STAND(Ephesians 6).

Our first posture is to SIT. He made us to SIT in heavenly places. This is the attitude of realising that God has done it all in Christ and we just SIT back and TRUST in his completed work. We SIT down after all work is completed. Christ sat down signifying His work is complete and He wants us to SIT with Him in heavenly places. First, before God, we must learn how to SIT back and rest in what God has done for us.

Then we must learn to WALK! The Christian life before men is described as a WALK (one step at a time in the right direction). 

Our walk is to be ‘worthy.’  This word is to do with scales, where there is something heavy on one side, to be balanced by a corresponding weight on the other side. So, ‘let your life come up to the level of who you are in Christ.’ What we do should correspond to what God has done. Our behaviour should rise to balance our beliefs. At school I was told: ‘you are a student of Taunton School so act like it!’ A Prince is Royal by grace (not works), is told to learn to live worthy of his royalty! In Christ we are royalty, so we are called to live like it! We learn we are the Righteousness of God, we are the Body of Christ, and we are the Temple of the Holy Spirit - so now we are called to live worthy of this!

‘The calling with which you were called’ was described in Ephesians 1-3. In Christ we were called (and so made) both ONE people and a HOLY people. Our calling is (1) UNITY and (2) PURITY.  Paul focuses first on the fact we have been called as ONE BODY - so we should live and behave as such:

I. Ephesians 4:1-16: WALK IN THE UNITY OF THE NEW MAN (relates to 2:11-23). Then:
II. Ephesians 4:17-5:21: WALK IN THE HOLINESS OF THE NEW MAN (relates to 2:1-10).

The Blessings of UNITY: “Behold, how good and how pleasant for brethren to dwell together in unity! - like the precious (anointing) oil upon the head, running down on the beard, the beard of Aaron, running down on the edge of his garments..like the dew of Hermon, descending upon the mountains of Zion; for there the LORD commanded the blessing - life forevermore” (Psalm 133:1-3). 

HUMILTY- THE ATTITUDE NEEDED FOR UNITY:
 “With all lowliness and gentleness, with longsuffering, bearing with one another in love, endeavoring to keep (guard) the UNITY of the Spirit through the bond of peace” (v2,3).

We already have UNITY - (1) we are one interconnected Body, (2) filled and animated by one Spirit. We don’t have to create unity, it’s already been created (v4-6). The ‘bond of peace’ connecting each one of us is there, through which God’s Spirit flows to one other unifying us. But there is something we are to endevour to do. Working diligently and urgently (sparing no effort) we are to guard the flow of spiritual life that unites us through our bonds (consisting) of peace, by staying in peace (fellowship) with each other. It is not always easy, because people are people! We develop harmonious relationships by working on cultivating those attitudes that promote unity. The five attitudes he gives are aspects of HUMILTY. The thing that hurts unity most is PRIDE, when we isolate ourselves or raise ourselves above others or just focus on ourselves so much there is no room or time for others. Humility is needed to demonstrate our unity in Christ.

We must work to cultivate the attitudes that will make visible to the world our invisible unity in the Spirit:

1. LOWLINESS (of mind), the humble recognition of the worth and value of other people, as seen in Jesus Christ which caused him to empty himself and come and serve us.

2. GENTLENESS. This is MEEKNESS not weakness. It is a quality of the strong. It is strength directed to help others rather than for one’s own rights. ‘The absence of the disposition to push for ones own way or to be offended when things don’t go your way.’ It is hard to offend the meek.

3. LONGSUFFERING is PATIENCE towards aggravating, difficult, resistant people as God was longsuffering with us! It means ‘long-tempered’, the opposite of ‘short-tempered’.

4. BEARING WITH ONE ANOTHER is TOLERANCE of each others limitations, humanity, and imperfections - ‘making allowance for each others faults’ (Amplified)

5. LOVE embraces the other four and is the crown and sum of all these qualities. It is actively and seeking the good of others, even sacrificially going the extra mile

THE BASIS FOR OUR UNITY IS THE UNITY OF GOD IN TRINITY.
The foundation of all Unity is the Trinity (Three united in One). He is ONE yet THREE, so He wants His people to glorify Him and show the world what He is like by being ONE, loving one another: "A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another" (John 13;34,35). He is more concerned that we love one onother than that we love the world because this is the greatest witness to the world of the reality of Christ. Although we are diverse yet we are one, like the Trinity (Three Persons, yet One God).

The Unity we have by grace is summarised by 7 facts- based on the Trinity (v4,5,6) 
I. THERE IS ONE SPIRIT: “There is (1) one body and (2) one Spirit, 
(3) just as you were called in one hope of your calling.” 

FACT 1: ONE BODY (this comes first because it is the dominant picture of this passage). We are members of one body all connected together by bonds of peace. I’m glad the members of my body do not fight each other or get get in pride with the eye looking down on nose saying: ‘I am so lovely, I’m so glad I’m not a nose. I’m so wonderful, I don’t need you.’ So it detaches itself and goes rolling around on its own! I’m also glad they don’t get inferior, like an ear saying:“nobody appreciates me, I must be useless, she’s always fixing her face, but when’s the last time she gave me a clean! I think they don’t need me, I’ll just stop hearing.”  We all need each other and work together in unity. We need a revelation that we are one BODY - when one hurts or rejoice, then we also (Romans 12:15).

FACT 2: ONE SPIRIT. There is one body because there is ONE SPIRIT animating every part. We all share in and are joined by the same Spirit. We need a revelation that our unity is not just in name but in life, not just natural but supernatural and then to show it in practice.

FACT 3: ONE HOPE. Because we are one BODY indwelt by One SPIRIT we also share the same future hope - heavenly glory. If the head goes somewhere so does the eye and toe.

II. THERE IS ONE LORD: “(4) one Lord, (5)one faith (in Christ) (6)one baptism (into Him)”

FACT 4: ONE LORD. We are all united in our submission to one Lord Jesus, the Head of the Body. Every part is united to and receives instructions from the same Head.

FACT 5: ONE FAITH. We are all united in our faith in Jesus Christ. He is our Lord because we all put our FAITH in Him, in His death and resurrection (Rom 10:8,9).

FACT 6: ONE BAPTISM. When we believed we were all baptised into Christ and His body. We are all identified with Christ and share the same position and salvation in Him. “As the body is one and has many members, but all the members of that one body, being many, are one body, so also is Christ. For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body- whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free--and have all been made to drink into one Spirit”(1Cor 12:12,13).

III. THERE IS ONE FATHER
“(7) one God and Father of us all (we are one family) who is (reigning) above all(Sovereign), and (working) through all, and (present) in you all.”

FACT 7: ONE FATHER of the Family (we are one family with one Father over all). These are facts: we are already ONE. So we must tune in to and live by the unity that is there. To do the opposite is sin against the body and against Christ and is a great shame that hurts His witness to the world.

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