Unity From the Spirit
Ephesians Lesson #114
July 25, 2021
Dr. Robert L. Dean, Jr.
“Father, again we’re just so thankful for all the ways You provide for us. Above all, we are thankful for Your Word. The Scripture says Your Word is a lamp unto our feet and a light unto our path. As our Savior prayed to You, ‘Father sanctify them in truth. Thy Word is truth.’
“We have absolute truth before us, teaching us to understand reality which is Your creation, to understand the dynamics of that creation and that reality. And to live in conformity to Your creation and the ways in which You have established certain principles and laws for not only the conduct of natural things in creation, but also in terms of human behavior.
“And that it is a lifelong pursuit to learn to not be pressed into or conform to the mold of the world, but to be transformed by the renewing of our thinking.
“Father, we pray that You might open our eyes that we can understand that which we study today in terms of the magnificent reality that is ours in Christ in this dispensation. We pray this in Christ’s name, amen.”
Open your Bibles to Ephesians 4, and we will talk about this topic of the unity which is produced by God the Holy Spirit in this Church Age. There’s just a lot here that needs to be addressed, and we will take it apart one by one as we go through the coming weeks in looking at this passage in depth.
This concept of unity, as we see in the verse that we’re looking at this morning, is a concept that is related to both what we’ve already talked in terms of the characteristics that should be part of our daily walk with the Lord, but also on the basis of these realities that are true for every one of us.
Every person who believes in Christ has partaken of these realities, but they are concepts that Satan steals—because they sound so good—and perverts them. You always hear people at different things like beauty pageants talk about world peace; and they don’t understand what that is and that we can’t have it in the sense they’re talking about until the Messiah comes.
But Satan is always trying to establish it now. I always liked what Lewis Sperry Chafer said, that the absence of world peace and stability is evidence that Satan cannot truly be the god of this world as he wishes, because to be God one must be able to produce peace and he cannot, so it is evidence of his failure.
We have to understand this concept of peace, which is brought up here in Ephesians 4:3. And the concept of love, which we looked at last time, which is also so poorly understood by human viewpoint, by the pagan mind, by the unbelieving mind. They know they want it, they know there’s something there.
But as the Bible talks about this love, it is not something that we can produce on our own. It is produced only by God the Holy Spirit. It goes beyond human love, and so it is the result of simply learning the Scriptures, walking by the Holy Spirit, and letting Him transform us.
We’re looking at Ephesians 4:1–6:9 in the second part of Ephesians. The first part, Ephesians 1–3 talks about the wealth that we have in Christ. Today we will go back and see how this verse connects to the foundations developed in Ephesians 1–3.
In this section, the focus is on application, so it gets real personal and pointed. I’m not making it personal and pointed, the text is doing that. If it feels real pointed, like somebody is jabbing you in the side, it’s the Holy Spirit, it’s not me. We have to understand that.
The emphasis is on:
- walking in unity, Ephesians 4:1–16
- putting on the new man, Ephesians 4:17–24
- the negative command, not grieving the Holy Spirit, Ephesians 4:25–32
- walking in love, Ephesians 5:1–2.
“Walk in unity” is our focus right now.
Paul draws a conclusion, Ephesians 4:1–3, “Therefore, I, the prisoner of the Lord, strongly urge you to conduct your life in a manner worthy of the exalted position to which you have been called.”
We are in the royal family of God. We are identified by two phrases that exalt us:
- The body of Christ—no one else has ever been identified as the body of Christ
- The bride of Christ—no one else. Israel’s the bride of Yahweh; we are the bride of Christ.
These are high concepts that indicate our new identity in Him.
In the last few lessons, we looked at the attributes that should accompany this worthy walk.
In this chart it’s accompanied by two things: a genuine humility and a gentle kindness. It’s awkward to translate either one of these words into English because we lack the vocabulary to correctly interpret them in just one word or another.
The ancient world had no concept of humility. TAPEINOPHROSUNE, translated humility here was not used prior to the New Testament. It became a new concept. It emphasizes a quality in a person related to humility.
We often think of humility as letting other people take advantage of us, but no one took advantage of the Lord Jesus Christ. He is the One who used both of these terms to relate to Himself.
Gentle kindness is PRAUTES; the idea is strength under control. An example of this is someone taking wild mustangs or a wild lion or tiger and taming them. They are strong and they are powerful, but it is strength and power under control.
We can understand the meanings of these words a lot of times by the way in which they are used or what they are used to contrast, so it’s helpful to understand that. It’s someone who is not short tempered or quick-tempered, someone who does not speak too hastily or somebody who does not jump to conclusions.
It is people who listen before they formulate a solution or an answer. Those are all part of the idea of gentle kindness. It is somebody who is able to lead with strength. It’s accompanied by those two qualities.
The second is with patience, which is long-suffering. Patience is waiting on the Lord.
There are two participles that modify the walk verb that indicate the means or the manner in which we walk:
“… by putting up with one another by means of love”
“… in the manner of making every effort to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.”
We looked at the phrase, “bearing with one another in love,” in Ephesians 4:2. It is putting up with one another by means of love. It is using love as a tool to handle difficult situations, so we have to understand what love is. Love is not an emotion; it is a mental attitude that is produced in us by God the Holy Spirit.
In Galatians 5:22, it is the first quality of the singular “fruit,” not “fruits of the Spirit,” but the “fruit of the Spirit. These describe the manifold facets of this matrix of the fruit of the Spirit.
The first is love, and the way we come to understand that is by looking at the Scriptures. Ultimately, the picture God gives us of love is the Cross. John 3:16 and Romans 5:8, God demonstrates His love toward us.
Christ used this in John 13:34, “A new commandment I give you.” We cannot command an emotion. It is a mental attitude, it is a way of thinking that we learn and is gradually produced in us by God the Holy Spirit. Christ says, “I give you a new commandment that you love one another, as I have loved you.”
The pattern is to look to Jesus to understand what that means, and that we are to love one another. Of course, “one another” in the Scripture focuses on believers. The Old Testament passage to love your neighbor as yourself was anyone who is in your vicinity.
That is also exhibited in the Parable of the Good Samaritan, Luke 10:30–35, who finds a Jew that has been robbed, beaten up; he’s been waylaid on the on the road to Jericho. The Samaritan is going to respond in care and biblical love and take care of this Jew.
Why is that important? We could transform this into a modern parable, and identify the Good Samaritan as a former black slave in the American South before the Civil War, or it could be a black after the Civil War. And the person on the road is a brutal slaveholder or a member of the KKK. That captures the animosity that existed from the Jews toward the Samaritans.
The Samaritans were not a pure Jewish ethnicity because when Assyria conquered the Northern Kingdom of Israel in 722 BC, they took most of the population and just scattered them to different locations throughout the Assyrian Empire.
That was their normal policy. When they conquered a people, they would break them up so that they could not unite together and institute a revolt, then just scatter them throughout their empire.
That’s what they did with the 10 northern tribes. People talk about them as the 10 lost tribes, but they’re not lost. God knows the descendants of every one of them in His omniscience.
Then after they’ve conquered other people, they will take those people and resettle them into these conquered areas, so that the ethnicity of Jewishness in the area of what had been the Northern Kingdom is now mixed between these various Gentile groups and the Jews that remain there.
Those in Judea looked down upon them. The reality is there’s a lot of Gentile mixture even in those in Judea. Some of them we know from the Scripture: Ruth was one of them, Rahab was another. There were many other Gentiles who had joined themselves with the Jews. So it was a false pride and false arrogance.
The picture there with the Good Samaritan is that he didn’t just help this person, he went the extra mile. He cleansed his wounds, carried him to an inn where he could stay and paid for him. He gave him clothes; he went the extra mile.
This teaches us that love is not just the absence of mental attitude sins, it is a very positive treatment of those who may hate us, those who may do us harm, and those who would seek to destroy us. That’s the picture and why that is so powerful.
We looked at various attributes of love seen in 1 Corinthians 13:4-7: “love is patient.” We see that in connection with a virtue that is in our passage, that we are to walk worthy with patience, MAKROTHUMEO, so that’s a characteristic of love. It “is kind,” CHRESTEUOMAI, which indicates a kindness.
“… love does not envy, it does not seek its own. It is does not parade itself, is not puffed up.” It’s not oriented toward self, not self-absorbed; it is not arrogant.
1 Corinthians 13:5, it “does not behave rudely, does not seek its own …” It’s not attention-grabbing, it’s not all about the person who is loving. It’s not all about you, it’s about the other person.
This is the reason there are always problems between individuals when one person thinks it’s all about them and the other person thinks it’s all about them.
It “does not seek its own, is not easily provoked, thinks no evil …”
1 Corinthians 13:6, “does not rejoice in iniquity—in sin.” When it sees that in another person, “Oh, I’m glad they finally fell on their face. That arrogant person has always gossiped about me or he’s done this to me or that to me, and I’m so glad his sin is out there for everybody to see.”
It “does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth: Focus on the truth always related to God’s Word.
1 Corinthians 13:7, “… bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, and endures all things.”
We went through this rather briefly last time, as I am now because I think it’s fairly clear. “Bears all things…” think of yourself as a parent and your kids, or your dog and you, either one. (It is going to be convicting, I know!) You love your kids.
You know that they mess up. You discipline with them when they mess up. But you put up with them anyway because they are your child, and you are working to bring discipline and maturity into their life.
That is how we are to treat everyone. We have friends, acquaintances, coworkers, parents, children, siblings—all of whom have behaviors that drive us crazy at times.
But we are to bear all things, put up with it, and we are to love them in spite of that. Because that is what biblical love is all about; what the fruit of the Spirit is all about.
“Believing all things” doesn’t mean it’s credulous or naïve, but it is optimistic. It wants to believe in the positive things. It is focusing on improving that relationship, not on just finding things that you can pick apart and destroy the relationship.
“Hopes all things” is focused on a future. Hope always has a confident expectation for the future, and hopes all things in relation to the object of love.
Finally, “endures all things.” It is not seeking a way to kick someone out.
That doesn’t mean that there aren’t unusual or extreme circumstances when it’s not necessary to do that because God, on the other hand, does not enjoin us to put ourselves in a position where our health or our life is in danger. That is an option to each person.
Some people will stay in a relationship in order to, hope to, work through the problem or situation with someone, and it may be an abusive situation, it may be a situation where a person says, “Well, they could kill me, but I’m going to stick here and see if I can resolve the situation.”
I can think of one example: The Lord Jesus Christ. He didn’t go to His people and say, “Well, you guys are going to kill me, and you’re going to beat me unmercifully and do all of these things to Me. I guess I’ll just leave now and go find somebody else who will accept Me.”
He hung in there. That doesn’t mean that in every situation, because we can all think of people we know who have kids who just are so incorrigible, and they get on drugs or they steal money or they do any number of things where parents must go to that extreme and say, “You just can’t live here anymore.”
I’ve known a number of situations like that. In fact I had a relative my age that that happened to Him. I heard of a situation just last Sunday. I was supposed to have gone to a reunion party. My class of 1970 will probably never have a reunion, COVID will always intervene.
But we were supposed to go to this party, and Sunday morning I got this text, “Don’t come. The party is canceled.” It came out that they had taken in an incorrigible grandson who committed suicide that morning in their home because they had asked Him to leave that week. He just would not abide by any of their rules or anything else.
So, we do make decisions to keep someone in our life close, and we know there’s a risk of bodily harm or injury or abuse. But it’s up to us where we’re going to draw those boundaries, and where we are going to draw those lines.
That’s up to each individual. You can’t set a hard and fast rule on that. There’s nothing wrong with getting to that point where you know that line is reached, and it can’t go forward because of the destructiveness of the behavior.
We are to “bear all things, believe all things, hope all things, and endure all things.” These come with that love which is truly supernatural. The Christian life is a supernatural way of life, and it demands a supernatural means which is God the Holy Spirit.
We haven’t defined love, but the Scripture describes love. On this chart love is in the middle; anything within this circle is defined as love. And the attributes that relate to it are being patient, being kind; not being envious, or conceited, or arrogant, or rude, or self-absorbed, or easily irritated, or provoked, or angered.
We don’t impute evil to other people, thinking, “Oh, I’ve heard this, so you must be guilty.” We look at the details and the evidence. Not rejoicing in wrongdoing but rejoicing in the truth, rejoicing in integrity. Those are the characteristics of the kind of love that God the Holy Spirit produces in our lives.
Paul emphasized this in Ephesians 5:2, “And walk in love—‘by means of’ love.” It is means, part of what I call spiritual skills that we develop to use to handle situations with unpleasant people. People that we have to live with, work with, deal with on a day-to-day basis.
We are to walk by means of love, “as Christ also has loved us,” going back to the prime directive of John 13:34–35. We can’t do it; you can’t manufacture this kind of love in your life. It is the result of God the Holy Spirit.
How did Jesus love us? “He gave Himself as a substitute for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet smelling aroma.”
John 3:16, “God loved the world in this way, that He gave his only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.”
We were not pleasing to God at all. The thoughts of our heart were evil continuously. The heart is deceitful and wicked above all things. Who can know it?
Romans 5:8, “Yet God demonstrated His own love toward us, in that while we were still—obnoxious, unlovable—sinners—He loved us and—Christ died for us.”
That helps us to understand what it means to bear with one another in love.
Ephesians 4:3, “endeavoring—a second participle that is parallel to the other one—endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit by means of the bond of peace.”
Just like the other phrase, it starts with a participle, so it’s parallel in meaning to the manner of putting up with one another in love and in the manner of making every effort. Here it is directed towards maintaining “the unity of the Spirit.”
But the phrase “in the bond of peace” is also a preposition of means, “by means of the bond of peace.” We have to understand what that bond of peace is. You lose the significance of the Greek word by just looking at the English.
“Endeavoring” is SPOUDAZO, which was more interpreted than translated in 2 Timothy where Paul says, “Study to show yourself approved unto God …” The context shows that it was talking about learning the Word of God.
SPOUDAZO has the idea of being diligent, making every effort or being zealous to do something, making it a priority. This word is used 11 times in Scripture.
I’ll tell you of little side story. For almost 50 years I’ve thought of this. When I was a counselor at Camp Peniel, one of the things that they did and still do, is they use Tejas Indian tribes for how they organize the kids at camp.
The counselors are not Mr. “So and So,” they’re Chief. The first year you’re at camp as a counselor, at the end of the summer they will give you an Indian name, which is supposed to reflect something about your personality.
They just couldn’t come up with anything for Dr. Randall Price. Of course, he wasn’t a doctor back then, we were just barely out of high school. But he loved to study the Word as he does to this day, so they ended up making his Indian name, “Spoudazo Owl.” I still give him a hard time about that.
The idea is someone who is zealous, especially toward the study of God’s Word, but here it is related to “keeping the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.”
“To keep” is TEREO, the idea of keeping or guarding something or maintaining something that is already in place. The goal isn’t to create the unity. The unity is established by God the Holy Spirit at the time of our salvation.
That is part of something that happens for every believer at the instant of salvation; we are all united in the body of Christ. But we are to be diligent, to make every effort to maintain that unity, because that unity is often going to be broken for one reason or another.
“… to maintain that unity of the Spirit,” the Greek HENOTES is translated as “unity” or “oneness.” This is found in only two verses, both in our passage:
Ephesians 4:3, “… make every effort to maintain the unity of the Spirit by means of the joint bond of peace.”
Ephesians 4:13, “till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the son of God.”
The way that is translated, “till we all come to the unity …” tells us that this is a process, that God the Holy Spirit creates the unity, but maintaining that unity is going to be directly related to spiritual growth and spiritual maturity. That is indeed a process.
We see in terms of the basic language and grammar here that it’s parallel to the last part of Ephesians 4:2. It is in the manner of being diligent or the manner of making every effort to maintain the unity which is produced by God the Holy Spirit. And we maintain that by means of the bond of peace.
One of the ideas that is dominant in our culture is that peace is the absence of conflict and in some sense that is true. But we think of it as peace in the sense of the absence of physical conflict like war. But in the Scripture, it has the idea of the removal of a conflict between man and God.
How is it used in Ephesians 2? We always have to be driven back to context. Paul is writing to the Gentile believers in Ephesus, and he has already introduced the concept of peace as that which should be the new state between Jew and Gentile.
In Ephesians 2:14 we see the emphasis on oneness, “For He Himself is our peace, who has made both…” Who are the “both?” Jew and Gentile.
I want to remind you that the only biblically authorized ethnic distinction ever made was the distinction between Jew and Gentile, which God made when he called out Abram to be the father of a new people, because he was going to use Him and his descendants to bring the Messiah into the human race and to have a people who would preserve and pass on his Word.
That was codified in the Mosaic Law. It was not a distinction between different ethnicities, but just between those who were descendants of Abraham and everybody else.
Everybody else is a Gentile. It doesn’t matter what color your skin is; it doesn’t matter your ethnicity, what group you came out of, what tribe you came out of, those are not legitimate distinctions to make in terms of your relationship with others.
I have defined racism as for a Christian as any believer who puts ethnicity, subculture, culture, tribal allegiance, or any other human factor as more important than the unity that we have in Christ.
Ephesians 4:5 and Ephesians 4:13 we get to the part about the unity of the faith or one faith. This is being fractured today by people of many different ethnicities because they want to institutionalize this aberration, this horrible worldview of the human race, Critical Race Theory, based on hate.
It’s based on the claim that every human being is a racist. And if you’re white you’re an uber racist. And you’re probably an uber, uber racist if you’re a white male, evangelical heterosexual. Therefore, you have committed an unforgivable sin because in their term, if you’re white, if you’re a racist, it’s unforgivable. There is no forgiveness now or in eternity.
It is fueled by anger, it is fueled by bitterness, it’s fueled by resentment, and that has no place in the body of Christ. That is the opposite of love. It is dividing congregations, and it should because those who are holding to this are buying into the devil’s truth, and they are the devil’s disciples.
It divides denominations: the Southern Baptist Convention is going through some horrible things right now as a result of this. It divides families: I read this last week, an article about how many parents are being canceled by their kids. My first response was those parents ought to cancel their kids, take them out of the will and let them know that there are consequences for idiocy.
This is also tearing apart the visible body of Christ today, making it the tool of Satan. God never authorized this kind of resentment or caricature of races that we find today. We are all part of one human race and every individual is created in the image and likeness of God. So there’s no basis for this at all.
We learned as we went through Ephesians 2:14–16 that Christ is our peace. He’s made both Jew and Gentile one now. That happened at the cross. He broke down the middle wall of separation.
When did He do that? He did it when He abolished in His flesh the enmity which was the law of commandments contained in the ordinances so as to create in Himself one new man. He did that at the Cross.
At the Cross that barrier between Jew and Gentile was eradicated. Since that’s the only legitimate barrier based on ethnicity in history there is no basis in the last 2000 years for that kind of barrier.
What did He do? He created in Himself, in Christ, in the body of Christ, one new man where there is neither Jew nor Greek, bond nor slave, male nor female.
That’s the result of the baptism by the Holy Spirit, which is integral to understanding this, and we will talk about it next week because it demands one whole lesson itself. He created in Himself one new man from the two, thus making peace.
When he talks about the bond of peace from the Holy Spirit in Ephesians 4:3, he’s thinking in terms of this peace between Jew and Gentile created by the cross, where He reconciled both Jew and Gentile to God in one body through the cross, thereby putting to death the enmity.
Ephesians 2:18, “For through Him we both—Jew and Gentile—have access by the same Spirit—the Jews don’t have one Spirit and Gentiles another Spirit—“by the same Spirit we both have access to the Father.”
In the next couple of weeks, we will go through these seven statements about oneness, unity.
Ephesians 4:4. “There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called in one hope of your calling.” Notice that all relates to the Holy Spirit.
God the Son is emphasized in Ephesians 4:5, “one Lord, one faith, one baptism,” all related to God the Son.
You ask, “Wait a minute! What is that baptism? Well, be here next week, you’ll find out.
Ephesians 4:6, “one God and Father of all, who is above all and through all, and in you all.”
God the Father indwells each and every one of us, not just God the Holy Spirit, not just God the Son, but all of the Trinity. This is a great passage on the Trinity.
Ephesians 4:3, we are to be diligent or make every effort “to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.”
Bond is the Greek SUNDESMOS. We’ve seen the form of the word DESMOS, meaning to be a prisoner. Paul used it earlier when he said, “Therefore, the prisoner of the Lord …” someone who is in chains or is incarcerated. Here it is prefixed by the preposition “with.”
Now that’s really interesting. Why is that interesting? Because of how many times Paul coins new words in Ephesians 2–3 by prefixing SUN to that. SUN means “together with.”
We are reminded in Ephesians 2:5–7, he talks about what happens, that we who were spiritually dead, separated from the life of God, Ephesians 2:5, “even when we—Jew and Gentile—were dead in trespasses, made us alive together.”
Ephesians 2:6, a word there with SUN, “raised us up.” We are raised together, so it’s SUNEGEIRO, “raised us up together and made us sit together.” That happens at the instant of salvation.
First of all, we’re made alive together in Ephesians 2:5; then we are raised up together in Ephesians 2:6; and third, we are seated together. The “together” is Jew and Gentile. No ethnic distinctions.
We are all seated together in Christ. That involves male and female, Jew and Gentile, bond or slave. All are united in Christ and seated together. That’s our new exalted position in Christ.
Later in Ephesians 2, he talks about what Christ did on the cross, obliterating the enmity between Jew and Gentile, Ephesians 2:18, “For through Him we both—that’s together—we both have access by one Spirit to the Father.”
Ephesians 2:19, “Now, therefore, you are no longer strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens …” SUMPOLITES, meaning “fellow citizen.” All of these are joint things; that we are together in all of these things, Jew and Gentile.
Ephesians 2:22, “in whom—that is, in the body of Christ—you also are being built together—another SUN. We are—being built together for a dwelling place of God in the Spirit.”
Ephesians 3:6, the purpose of this was “that the Gentiles should be fellow heirs—or joint heirs. Again, it’s prefixed by SUN—of the same body—so identical heirs, fellow heirs—of the same body, and partakers of His promise.”
All of these are what every believer has together. We want to emphasize it is that way because there should not be any distinction since we all have this identity and position. So the distinctions that are made for various reasons all come out of the sin nature. They’re all opposed to the plan of God. They are all based on something other than love because it’s all based on asserting some sort of self-identity.
Paul stresses this so much over and over again as we look at the Scriptures. He emphasizes the importance of this unity.
Romans 12:16, “Be of the same mind toward one another.” That’s the positive it’s unity: think the same way, basically. In contrast—“Do not set your mind on high things, but associate with the humble—see how that echoes the same thing he saying in Ephesians 4:2 in terms of humility and gentle kindness? Do not be wise in your own opinion.”
When you’re wise and you’re arrogant, it’s going to fracture that unity that God the Holy Spirit has already created.
Romans 14:19, “Therefore let us pursue—that’s an active concept—pursue the things which make for peace and the things by which one may edify one another.”
We look out on the scene today and see this divisiveness caused by Critical Race Theory and social justice and the number of pastors and churches that are getting on board because all comes down to money.
They’ve got so many bills to pay and so many people, that if they let something that is going to make half their congregation unpleasant, then their church might split, and they can’t pay the bills. So, they’re all going to cave into the social pressure of getting along with this. They are just the devil’s disciples.
We are to “pursue the things that make for peace,” and that is not at the expense or sacrifice of biblical truth. The churches that are validating LGBTQ-whatever behavior are just the devil’s disciples. They are the ones who are fracturing the unity that was established by God the Holy Spirit.
Those who are teaching false doctrine deny the deity of Christ, deny the substitutionary atonement, deny the Trinity, and deny that God has a separate and distinct plan for Israel, a future plan for Israel that He will bring about after the return of Christ. So it excludes replacement theology and anti-Semitism.
Those are all creating fractures in the body of Christ. But where do they point their fingers? Oh, it’s on us, “You evangelical dispensationalists, you are just so divisive. If you would not hold to the Bible in your superstitious manner, then we could all get along together.” That’s what we hear, and that’s just the devil’s own lie.
We have to “pursue the things that make for peace” and that is not at the expense of doctrinal correctness. “… and the things which may edify one another” are one and the same. If it makes for peace, it will be edifying, strengthening, building up one another.
Romans 15:5, “Now may the God of patience and comfort grant you to be like-minded toward one another—that includes people who, based on their personality or their spiritual growth, might be a little obnoxious to you, or they’re not as lovable.
We are to be like-minded, but that like mindedness is on the Scripture: Paul says, ‘Think on these things …’ “Be like-minded toward one another, according to—a standard which is—Christ Jesus.”
Romans 15:6, “that you may with one mind and one mouth glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
In 1 Corinthians he deals with this, of course, because they’re so divisive, they were so arrogant and self-absorbed and splitting up into all kinds of different groups. 1 Corinthians 1:10, Paul pleaded with them,
“… by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you may be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment.”
2 Corinthians 13:11, “Finally, brethren, farewell. Become complete—or mature—be of good comfort, be of one mind, live in peace; and the God of love and peace will be with you.”
All through the Scriptures, this is the emphasis.
Philippians 1:27, a passage on living your life worthy of the gospel of Christ, “… so that whether I come and see you or am absent, I may hear of your affairs, that you stand fast in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel.”
Those who are not going to unify on the truth need to be excluded. Dr. Lightner, one of my professors at Dallas Theological Seminary who is now with the Lord, used to say, “Sometimes churches grow by division and subtraction.” It is necessary to exclude those who have bought into Satan’s lies because they will destroy a local church.
Philippians 3:16–17, “Nevertheless, to the degree that we have already attained, let us walk by the same rule, let us be of the same mind. Brethren, join in following my example, and note that those who so walk, as you have us for a pattern.” In other words, they follow our example.
This brings us to where we will begin next time. The emphasis that we see when Paul talks about the unity of the body is that he also talks about the differences in the distribution of spiritual gifts. This is an emphasis on unity and diversity.
There is a oneness, a unity in the body of Christ, but that doesn’t mean that God holds some sort of mold, and he’s making everybody exactly the same. There is a unity in the way we think, but there are different ministries and distinctions between each believer.
1 Corinthians 12 also talks about spiritual gifts. Remember Ephesians 4:11 talks about the four key leadership gifts given to the church. 1 Corinthians 12:11–14,
“But there is one and the same Spirit who works all these things—that’s unity—distributing to each one individually as He wills.” This is a ministry of God the Holy Spirit.
1 Corinthians 12:12, “For as the body is one and has many members—so the body is one. It is united—but all the members of that one body, being many, are one body, so also is Christ.”
1 Corinthians 12:13, “For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—there’s the unity, but there are distinctions—whether Jews or Greeks—Gentiles—whether slaves or free, and have all been made to drink into one Spirit.”
What does that mean to be baptized by the Spirit? Therein lies a lot of confusion, which I’ll deal with next week.
He concludes, 1 Corinthians 12:14, “For in fact the body is not one member but many.”
Ephesians 4:4, “There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called in one hope of your calling.”
Here he introduces this unity factor by the Holy Spirit. He will go on in Ephesians 4:5 to talk about one Lord, one faith, one baptism. But since the baptism here is related to all of these, I want to take it ahead of time, so that we understand what I’m talking about when I use that terminology.
“Father, we thank You for the fact that we have a unity in Christ. This unity was accomplished by God the Holy Spirit at the instant of salvation. It was grounded upon the work of Christ on the cross where He broke down the barrier between Jew and Gentile, so that now there is only one body.
“There’s not a body for Gentiles, there is not a body for Jews, there is not a body for Caucasians, there is not a body for Blacks; there is not another body for Hispanics. There is one body and there’s no basis for division based on ethnicity.
“Father, this race card, these race-baiters that constantly bring this up in our culture to aggravate the distinctions are just creating such trauma within the visible body of Christ. Father, we need discernment, we need the critical thinking skills necessary to deal with these worldviews that seek to bring destruction into our world and into our nation and into our families.
“Father, we pray that You might give us the patience, the love, to handle these situations, the wisdom and the skill to apply the truth of Your Word to our personal circumstance. Because these can be very, very complicated, we need to have the same wisdom available to Solomon, which is available to us in Your Word. We need to be dedicated students of Your Word. So Father, we pray that You would strengthen us in these areas.
“Father, we pray that anyone listening or anyone here that has questions about how they are saved, how to have new life in Christ, that it is very simple. It’s not based on ritual, it’s not based on human effort. It is based on the fact that Jesus Christ paid the penalty for our sins on the Cross.
“He settled that issue, but we have to trust in Him. We are still born spiritually dead. We still lack righteousness, but the only way we can have spiritual life and righteousness is to trust in Christ. At that instant, we’re made alive again, and we receive His righteousness.
“We pray that You would make that clear to any who needs to understand how to be saved. We pray these things in Christ’s name, amen.”