The Wealth, the Walk, and the Warfare of the Believer
Ephesians Lesson #004
October 21, 2018
“Our Father, as we come to this time in the worship service our focus is upon Your Word. It is through Your Word that You speak to us today. It is through Your Word that we are informed, that we are given the information that we need.
“It is through God the Holy Spirit that that information is taken and made applicable to us, so that we can use it, and that we can grow spiritually, for the growth process, the maturation process is overseen by God the Holy Spirit. But our wills are involved at every moment of every day to walk by means of the Spirit or to walk in our sin nature.
“Father, we pray that we might be challenged as we study Ephesians that we are to walk by the Spirit, that You have provided for us a wealth of assets and provisions and blessings beyond anything that we can imagine, and it is on that basis that we should live.
“One of the sad realities is that as wealthy as we are spiritually, there are far too many who live as street people, as homeless people, as people who are at the bottom of the poverty ladder because of either their ignorance of our wealth in Christ, or their refusal to live on the basis of the riches that we have been given in Christ.
“May we each be challenged as we study this epistle, to understand who we are in Christ, and how we are to walk as believers in the midst of a spiritual warfare that always surrounds us.
“We pray this in Christ’s name, amen.”“
Open your Bibles with me to Ephesians. It is my custom over the years when I begin a book study, to do a flyover to teach the whole book in 45 minutes or an hour or so, so that we can understand what it looks like from above.
If any of you’ve ever been up in an aircraft flying over your neighborhood or an area you’re familiar with, where you can look down and see the streets and the creeks and the roads and the houses from above, you realize you get a different perspective than what you have if you’re driving around at ground level.
So often when we’re studying the Scriptures, we lose sight of that overview, we lose sight of what the purpose of an epistle or historical book is, because we are looking at all the details. We forget what the forest looks like because we’re looking not just at the trees, we’re looking at the cell structure of each individual leaf at times.
It’s important to have these overviews, so that we can constantly go back and forth between the details of a text and the overall context. That is what helps to prevent us from going off into the weeds, as it were, when we’re studying the Scripture.
Ephesians is a remarkable epistle. There are many who have taught it several times because it is believed and has been believed, especially by a number of dispensationalists, that this is the highest revelation of the mystery of the Church Age given to us. And I think there is a lot of truth to that, but it should not be to the exclusion of the rest of God’s Word.
There is no part of God’s Word, even if you have the red letters in your Bible, that are more inspired or more the thoughts of Christ than any other. They are all breathed out by God, Paul says in 2 Timothy 3:16–17, for our equipping, for our training. They are breathed out by God for teaching, so that all of God’s counsel should be taught.
There have been some pastors and some dispensationalists who have only taught the Pauline epistles because he was the apostle to the Gentiles. That is a practical denial of 2 Timothy 3:16–17. There are others who just teach the New Testament.
In fact, I have heard, and I have quoted to this congregation at times of very well-known, popular, young, so-called cutting-edge pastors in this country who have said that we don’t need to ever teach the Old Testament. But we cannot understand the New Testament if we do not understand the Old Testament.
Jesus on the road to Emmaus, when He shows up with these two disciples who are trying to figure out what has just happened in terms of His death and burial—they haven’t heard of His resurrection yet—they’re trying to put it all together.
And what did Jesus do? He went back to the Old Testament. He started in Genesis and walked them through to the end—because in the Hebrew Bible the last book is 2 Chronicles—He walked them through to 2 Chronicles showing all of the places that prophesied and taught about Him and that He was the fulfillment of the Old Testament.
There is so much that we can learn in all of the Scripture, but Ephesians is one of those that strikes close to the mission and the purpose of the church and who we are in the body of Christ.
This is something that is so often lost today. For the last several months I have been reading Ephesians through over and over again, both in the English and in the Greek, and things have just stood out to me as I have done that.
I encourage you over the coming, probably years that we are in Ephesians, that you take the time. For example, we will be in the first chapter for probably several months, and you can begin your Sunday morning by simply reading through the first chapter of Ephesians. Then when we get to the second chapter, read the second chapter, and so on as preparation.
In Ephesians there are basically three divisions.
The first talks about the spiritual wealth that we have in Christ. The phrase that is often used is “our riches.” It is what God has provided for us.
We have phrases like Ephesians 1:3, that God has “blessed us with every spiritual blessing.” These are our possessions. They form our new identity in Christ, and that is the basis in these first three chapters to come to understand how we are to live.
One of the things that we will see as you make your progression from chapter 1 to chapter 2 to chapter 3: it is moving in a direction. It culminates at a climax in chapter 3 of the significance of the church—not the local church, but the body of Christ—because there is something new and distinct in this dispensation that has never before happened for every single believer.
We are unique in all of history in what God has done for us, in what God has provided for us in giving us this, as it were, spiritual bank account that many of us live as if it doesn’t exist.
That is the focal point, the trajectory, of those first three chapters. It lays the foundation for what comes up in Ephesians 4:1–6:9, the second section which talks about the walk of the believer. Because of who we are, understanding our position in Christ, understanding the riches, the wealth that we have in Christ, we are therefore to live a certain way.
“We are to walk” is the metaphor that the Scripture uses for our spiritual life and our spiritual advance. That culminates in Ephesians 6:9, and there is a closing challenge in in Ephesians 4:1–6:9. There are five times that Paul says “walk.” He uses that command to walk a certain way.
In Ephesians 6:10 it changes. Instead of “walking,” we are to “stand firm.” We are to stand in the power of God. And this relates to the spiritual warfare that goes on, because the problem isn’t just the problem of our own sin nature that is corrupt and still tempts us and drives us to disobedience to God.
But as Paul will develop, especially the beginning of chapter 2 and throughout the rest of this epistle, we deal with this world system. The system of thinking that just comes right out of the brain of Satan, and that that defines the course of the world, the thinking of the civilizations of man that are in rebellion against God.
That external enemy of the world entices our sin nature, and it provides rationales for our disobedience to God. Behind all of this here is an invisible spiritual war. We refer to this as spiritual warfare or the angelic conflict, the angelic rebellion, Satan’s rebellion, different terms are used.
Barnhouse used the phrase in his book The Invisible War. Others have used other terms, but it all relates to the same thing, that we live in the midst of a cosmic conflict that surrounds us and that has an incredible impact on the things that happen in human history and human civilization day in and day out, culminating in these attacks that are directed towards the believer to ignore, to deny, to reject that which we have been given in Christ.
That gives us the main overview of what Ephesians is all about. We have these three divisions: The wealth of the believer, our walk because of our wealth, and then our warfare.
In this first section, which covers Ephesians 1:3–3:21, the focus is on God’s distribution of this wealth of spiritual riches to those in Christ.
This phrase “in Christ” is a critical phrase that is repeated 17 times in these first three chapters. It has to do with our position in Christ, our privileges in Christ as believers. The phrase “in Christ” is unique to those who are believers in this Church Age. No other believer in any other age has been identified with Christ in His death, burial, and resurrection.
It could not happen in the Old Testament because Jesus had not yet come. It does not happen in the Tribulation Period because there is a restoration of God’s plan to Israel. The Holy Spirit, the restrainer, is removed at the Rapture, so there will be a different dynamic occurring during those seven years.
Then, of course, we will be with the Lord ruling with Him, and He will be on the earth during the thousand-year rule and reign of Christ. So the Church Age, as it were, represents the highest and best that God provides for believers.
This is described, beginning in Ephesians 1:3–14, talking about these riches in Christ. In this whole section, I want to draw your attention to these phrases and verses.
Ephesians 1:7 talks about the riches of God’s grace.
Ephesians 1:18, “the riches of His inheritance.” That’s our possession, a possession that He has given to us. We will have to spend some time understanding what it means to have this inheritance in Christ and its impact on how we live, how we think today.
In Ephesians 2:7, Paul now expands on the riches of grace to the exceeding riches of His grace.
Then in Ephesians 3:8 he describes them as the unsearchable riches of Christ. This is what we have, who we are in Christ.
This section, Ephesians 1:3–14, is one sentence in the Greek. It is the longest sentence. Paul loves long sentences, but if you have English Bibles, they usually chop it up. There are three divisions in this sentence:
- There is a division related to the Father and what the Father has provided for us.
- The second section relates to the Son and what the Son provides for us, and
- The third section is related to the Holy Spirit and what the Holy Spirit provides for us.
Each one of the sections of this introduction end with a statement of praise to God —to the Father, to the Son, and then to the Holy Spirit for what They have provided for us.
Ephesians 1:3, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ, just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love.”
Now you’ll notice that I have underlined those first-person plural pronouns. This is important in the study of Ephesians to understand to whom these pronouns refer. Later he will talk about the Gentiles using “they.”
Here he uses an inclusive pronoun “we” or “us”—first-person plural pronoun. It will be contrasted as we go through the first chapter with the second-person plural pronoun, which all y’all know is “y’all.”
Who’s the “y’all,” and who’s the “we?” That’s important, and one of our first clues to this is going to come in the second section of this opening statement of blessing towards the Trinity, where he says regarding the Son in Ephesians 1:11,
“In Him also we have obtained an inheritance—notice WE have obtained. Who’s the WE?—have obtained an inheritance, being predestined according to the purpose of Him who works all things according to the counsel of His will.”
Ephesians 1:12, “… that we who first trusted in Christ should be to the praise of his glory.”
Who’s the “WE” who first trusted in Christ? The verb “trusted” is in the perfect tense which means it is talking about a completed action in the past, and it is very likely that this is a major clue here that the “WE” is not talking about “we believers.” It is talking about “we Jewish believers.” We are the first ones who trusted in Jesus as Messiah.
This is covered in Acts 2–9 before the Apostle Paul is saved and becomes the apostle to the Gentiles. After that then there is the inclusion that we read about with Peter in Acts 10–11, as Gentiles are brought into this new body of Christ.
We get a further indication of this when we get down to Ephesians 3:1 where Paul says,
“For this reason I, Paul, the prisoner of Christ Jesus for you Gentiles, if indeed you have heard of the dispensation of the grace of God which was given to me for you.”
Many commentators, if not most, say that he doesn’t shift to this Jew/Gentile distinction until he gets to chapter 3, but there’s no exegetical basis for claiming that. They just assert it. One of the things we always have to be careful about is assertions without evidence.
It seems that to be consistent, we have to see that what Paul is doing from the beginning is talking about what first the Jews had in Christ, and then the Gentiles. What chapters 2–3 focus on is driving us to the endpoint of chapter 3; the dividing wall between Jew and Gentile is down. It’s gone.
The Law is removed, and now there is peace because Jew and Gentile come together at the Cross and become one in Christ, one in the body of Christ. That distinction between Jew and Gentile is no longer significant.
Paul talks in Galatians 3 about the baptism by means of the Holy Spirit: that because we have all been baptized by one Spirit, there is no longer Jew or Gentile, male or female, bond or slave.
He’s not saying that those distinctions don’t exist in reality. You still have Jews, you still have Gentiles, you still have men, you still have women; you still have slaves, and you still have those who are free.
But in the Old Testament Law those who were male, and were free and Jewish, were the only ones who could get into the inner area of the temple and worship God. These were distinctions God had for various reasons.
But now that’s broken down because, as the writer of Hebrews says, the veil has been rent from top to bottom. When Jesus died on the Cross, when He said, “it is finished,” it is completed, the veil in the temple split from top to bottom, opening the way to the Holy of Holies.
All this is talking about that now there is a unity in the body of Christ, a new entity, a new organism that is unique to this Church Age, and the distinctions that were significant under the Mosaic Covenant are no longer applicable to today.
All of this just drives us to this great conclusion he comes to in chapter 3 that this means that we are one in this new body, and Christ is the head. That is foundational because he’s going to develop that in Chapter 4.
As we look at Ephesians 1, we see his praise to the Father in Ephesians 1:3–5 and then he ends with a doxology where he says in Ephesians 1:6, “to the praise of the glory of His grace, by which He made us acceptable in the Beloved.”
Ephesians 1:7, “In Him we have redemption through His blood—this is the Lord Jesus Christ—In Him we have redemption through His blood.”
When we get there, we’re going to have to go to the parallel passage in Colossians 2:12–14 to get a clearer understanding of this because he says in Ephesians 1:7, “In Him we have redemption, the forgiveness of sin.” We’ve studied this and have broken it down. There are four different areas of forgiveness described in the Bible with relationship to the Cross.
The first I call a “forensic forgiveness” because according to Colossians 2:12–14, that all of our sins, identified in many translations as a “certificate of debt” was nailed to the Cross. That’s a historical event that occurred in AD 33, and with it being nailed to the cross, it is wiped out. That certificate of debt is eradicated.
The word APHIEMI, which is often translated “forgiveness,” comes out of an economic background, and it also is used this way many times, as the eradication of a debt; the forgiveness of the debt.
CHARIZOMAI, the other word that’s used for forgiveness, is also used in that way.
That’s objective: Jesus paid the penalty for all sin on the Cross, so that sin is not the issue for people anymore. It’s not to go beat them over the head with their sins and “you have to repent of your sins.” Their sins are paid for.
The issue is they’re still spiritually dead. Paul will get to that in Ephesians 2:1, that we’re born spiritually dead in our trespasses and sins, but God, when we get down to Ephesians 2:4–5, it starts with that phrase, “But God—we’re born spiritually dead—but God, Who is rich in mercy … made us alive together with Christ.”
Christ is the One who provides us with redemption, with forgiveness of sin. Then there is another doxological statement of praise where he says, Ephesians 1:8, “… which He made to abound toward us in in all wisdom and prudence, having made known to us the mystery of His will, according to His good pleasure which He purposed in Himself.”
When we get down to the doxology part at the end of Ephesians 1:11b–12, “… Him who works all things according to the counsel His will, that we who first trusted in Christ should be to the praise of His glory.”
In the third section, which is two verses related to the Holy Spirit, there the emphasis is on the fact that those who are redeemed—those who are saved—are sealed by the Spirit, foreshadowing what Paul will say again in the second part of the book, in Ephesians 4:30, that we are “sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise.” It is, as it were, that we are branded, so that it is clear that we are owned and identified by God as His.
That concludes those first 14 verses.
There is a prayer in Ephesians 1:15–23 from which we learn some key principles of prayer. It begins with thanksgiving, and we are told that Paul does this every time he prays, “… always making mention of them in my prayers.” As he says at the end of 1 Thessalonians 5:17, we are to “pray without ceasing.”
Prayer needs to be cultivated as a consistent and regular discipline in our lives. Not just something we do on the fly, but something we give some attention to because we are communicating with the Creator God of the universe.
If we were to be granted an audience with the Queen of England, or if we were able to get access to the Oval Office and meet with the President of the United States, how would we structure what we were going to say? Would we just go in there and wing it? Lot of people would, but most people would think about it.
This is an important opportunity: we get to think about what we want to say. We can’t say everything. What are we going to focus on? We see through the ages that mature believers have cultivated a thoughtful prayer life, where they have crafted their prayers, thought about their prayers, and they have presented thoughtful petitions before the Lord.
A pattern that we see here is this pattern of giving thanks, but also a focus beginning in Ephesians 1:18–23, Paul outlines specific things that he says.
He begins Ephesians 1:18 by saying, “… the eyes of your understanding being enlightened …”
That’s a perfect tense also in the Greek, which means that at salvation the eyes of our soul are enlightened. That means that before we’re saved there is a veil of obscurity. We read the Bible. It doesn’t make sense. We don’t understand it.
But when we are saved and given a new life in the indwelling of God the Holy Spirit Who illuminates our minds to the truth, then at that point we have been enlightened, so that now we can come to understand the Word. What we focus on in our understanding is the majesty of God, Ephesians 1:19, His “exceeding greatness and power.”
We go on to think about what He has done for us, Ephesians 1:20, “He worked in Christ when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at the right hand in the heavenly places.”
Why is that important? Because what we’re going to find out in Ephesians 2 is then when we are saved, we are seated with Him in the heavenlies, so we have to start with the first part, He is seated in the heavenlies in this position, and then we are seated with Him in the heavenlies at the time of our salvation.
Ephesians 1:5, we were “made alive together with Christ, and were raised up together, and we are made to sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus.”
This prayer focuses on the fact that we should grow and mature in understanding and in knowledge. That is essential to our spiritual growth, and that knowledge relates to an understanding of who Christ is and who we are in Him.
Ephesians 2 focuses on what God provides for us in a new position, that before we are saved, we are dead—spiritually dead. We have no real life at all; there is no relationship with God. When we are saved, when we trust in Christ for our salvation, we are made alive again.
We are given a new position. We are given a new purpose in Christ. That’s described in Ephesians 2:1–10, verses that are familiar to many of us.
Paul says, “And you He made alive—that is added to make sense. The idea of being made alive comes in Ephesians 2:4, “… you He made alive, who were dead in trespasses and sins.” When did they become dead? They were born spiritually dead because of Adam’s sin.
He goes on to say it’s not simply a problem of being spiritually dead, but as they have grown, they have been influenced by the demonic forces and by the world system.
He says, “… in which you once walked.” Notice now he is talking about “you” instead of “we,” but he’s going to include himself and the Jews in a couple of verses. He says,
Ephesians 2:2, “… in which you once walked according to the course of the world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now works in the sons of disobedience.”
This foreshadows Ephesians 6:10–20 in spiritual warfare because there he makes it clear that our enemy that we often think we are fighting in terms of a human being, a human system, is just the front on the face of a spiritual power that is behind it. That’s what he is saying here, “the spirit who now works in the sons of disobedience.”
Ephesians 2:3, “… among whom also we all once conducted ourselves in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, just as the others.”
He’s including the Jews that were saved as well because all have sinned, as he says in Romans 3:23, “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”
Ephesians 2:4 begins with this great contrast, “But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us …”
Not because He chose us for some arbitrary decision which is how people take some of the language in Ephesians 1:4–5, where “He chose us before the foundation of the world,” and “He predestined us.” We will get into all of those particular issues to understand that, but His motivation is His love and His desire to save all whosoever will come to the Cross to be saved.
Paul says that Ephesians 2:5, “… even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved.)”
Then he sort of gets distracted, and he comes back to that phrase “by grace you have been saved …” in Ephesians 2:8.
He talks about the three things that happened:
- We have been made alive together with Christ.
- We have been raised up together.
- We have been made to sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus.
This is our new position and privilege as Church Age believers.
It has a purpose that takes us into the far distant future, Ephesians 2:7, “that in the ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of His grace in kindness to us in Christ Jesus.”
Then our purpose: first he states how we are saved. Ephesians 2:8–9, “by grace you have been saved through faith and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God not of works lest any man should boast.”
We often stop there because that defines our salvation. “It is by grace through faith and not of works,” and we end it there, but the sentence goes on.
In Ephesians 2:10 it says, “For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus—there’s that phrase again—created in Christ Jesus—our new role in the church—for good works.”
That’s God’s purpose in us: that we live a certain way to reflect His holiness, His righteousness, and His glory. This is not optional. That is our purpose. That, again, lays the foundation for what He will say about our walk in righteousness and holiness when we get into Ephesians 4.
Then he begins to shift gears a little bit when we get into Ephesians 2:11–13, and begins to focus on this new privilege, the peace that we have with Christ and the peace that we have with saved Jewish believers in Christ, because that wall, that barrier between Jew and Gentile is broken down, and we and the Jews “have been brought near by the blood of Christ”— or His death.
Why? Ephesians 2:14, because “He Himself is our peace, who has made both one, and has broken down the middle wall of separation.”
Remember, as we studied in the background series, a couple lessons in Acts 19 that Paul went to the synagogue first in Ephesus, and he was there for three months. So there was a large number of Jews that became believers in Jesus as Messiah. There was a large Jewish community there, and they came together with Gentiles. They were trying to figure this out because their cultures were so different, and there would have been cultural clashes.
He is saying no, the Law is now broken down. They had to understand that it wasn’t the kashrut laws of the Mosaic Law anymore; those weren’t in effect anymore and various other aspects of the Mosaic Law were not in effect anymore. The two, Jew and Gentile, were now one together in Christ.
Ephesians 2:19, he uses a building metaphor and talks about the fact that now we are all part of one household. This is the church—the church that is built on the foundation of the apostles and the prophets, according to Ephesians 2:20, and that on that foundation a whole building is being built together, “growing into a holy temple.”
NAOS, the inner sanctum of the temple—that is the body of Christ, here compared to a temple for the dwelling of Christ.
Ephesians 2:22, “… in whom—that is in Christ, in this building, in this body—you also are being built together for a dwelling place of God in the Spirit.”
We won’t realize that, I don’t believe, in this age like we will in the Millennial Kingdom, when we rule and reign with Christ.
Then he ratchets it up a notch, in Ephesians 3:1–13 he talks about this new organism that was a mystery, previously unrevealed in the Old Testament, and that this new body of Christ, the church, is being given to accomplish His purposes on earth unlike anything that had ever been accomplished before.
All of this is part of God’s plan and purpose. When we look at Ephesians 3:11–12, it’s “according to the eternal purpose which He accomplished in Christ Jesus our Lord in whom we have boldness and access with confidence through faith in Him. Therefore, I ask that you do not lose heart at my tribulations for you, which is your glory.”
That we should not become discouraged, that we should not look at the opposition that we face in the world from worldly philosophies, from other religions, from atheist, from secularists— that we are to not lose heart. We are to have boldness because of who we are in Christ.
This closes with a prayer of thanksgiving and glory for what has been provided for us in this new position in Christ Jesus. He ends with a doxological statement,
Ephesians 3:20–21, “Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us—that power of God theme comes up again and again through Ephesians—to Him be the glory in the church by Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen.”
We have a shift when we come to the Ephesians 4:1, which is divided at a good place. Paul says, “I, therefore—the ‘therefore’ reaches a conclusion based on those three previous chapters. He says—I, therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you to walk worthy of the calling with which you are called.”
We do not walk worthy to be called; we do not walk worthy to be saved. We walk worthy because we are already adopted into God’s family. We are already called; we are already saved. So because we have this new identity in Christ, we are to have a new way of thinking and a new way of living. We are to walk worthy, and this is defined as being in unity, Ephesians 4:1–16.
One of the things that is often gone to here is this chapter that talks about, “Oh, we are to keep the unity of the Spirit; that we have one Lord, one faith, one baptism. We are all one, let’s just sing Kumbaya and put our arms around each other,” but that is taken out of context.
There is to be a unity in the body of Christ, but not at the expense of doctrine, not at the expense of truth, but on the basis of truth. For the next time this word unity is used in this chapter, it comes down in Ephesians 4:13.
What we have between Ephesians 4:3–13 is the revelation that Christ ascended and gave gifts to men, gifts that were leadership gifts: apostles and prophets, evangelists and pastor teachers.
We studied that on Thursday night about pastor–teachers, and that their purpose is to equip the saints. This is the leadership gifts to equip the believers in the body of Christ, to maximize the assets that we have been given in Christ. We are to equip the saints,
Ephesians 4:12–13 “… for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ until we all come to the unity of the faith …”
See, it is a progress, it is growth. This is a major theme that we run into here, is that we are to grow. We don’t have unity at the beginning because we don’t have a mature understanding of the Scripture. We have to grow together to understand our faith, what we believe, what has been revealed about the Son of God. So we are to grow up. We’re to get out of the diapers, to get out of the short pants, to grow up, to act like adults, spiritual adults.
I heard Earl Radmacher years ago make the comment that the sad reality for the church is that we’re the largest nursery in the world! Everybody’s a baby, and we have nursery workers—by that he meant pastors—who don’t know how to get the babies out of diapers and into adulthood. So they just keep repeating the same very, very basic spiritual pablum, and nobody ever grows.
That is not what Paul is talking about in Ephesians 4:15. He says we’re to, “… speak the truth in love that we may grow up in all things …” and then again, in Ephesians 4:16 he talks about that which “… causes growth for the body edifying itself in love.”
That first walk is to walk worthy in unity, then secondly in Ephesians 4:17–5:1 he says, walk not like the unbelievers but in righteousness and holiness.
In this section, Ephesians 4:17–24, he primarily talks about the things that we’re not to do, that are characteristic of the unsaved, pagan Gentiles.
Then he uses a clothing idiom, and he talks about we’re to “take off the old man.” Now that has nothing to do with salvation because they’re already saved. Taking off the old man means quit living like you did when you were a spiritually dead unbeliever.
Ephesians 4:22, “… former conduct … and be renewed in the spirit of your mind.” It’s thinking— renovate your thinking—and then put on the new man. That is everything that should characterize your spiritual life—your spiritual walk with the Lord—and not grieving the Holy Spirit.
There is a list of six different sins that we’re to put away in Ephesians 4:25–31. Then there is a conclusion with just a whole list of different sins that we are to put away.
In contrast Ephesians 4:32, we are to “… be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another—CHARIZOMAI means to be gracious to one another—even as Christ forgave you.”
We are to understand, meditate on, and reflect on what exactly happens when Christ forgives us. What is the basis for that? What does that look like? What are the characteristics of God’s forgiveness?
We live in a world where forgiveness means that you get off scot free. But that’s not true. I can sin; I can confess my sin. God forgives me, but there still may be consequences. Sometimes, many times, God in His grace doesn’t lower the boom, and I don’t face consequences.
Then there are times when I do face consequences, and then there are other times when those consequences may be softened a little bit, but they’re still opportunities to grow and to learn.
The third command is to walk in love in Ephesians 5:2–7. The chapter break comes after Ephesians 5:1. It should read at the end of Ephesians 4, “even as God in Christ forgave you; therefore, be imitators of God, as dear children.” Imitating God in forgiving one another.
Next we’re to “walk in love, as Christ has loved us.” So this is developed to understand again, that this is part of loving one another: putting aside these various sins that have implications and hurt and harm for other people.
The next command is to walk in the light, Ephesians 5:8–14. This is a critical chapter on understanding the spiritual life and spiritual walk. We’re to walk as children of light, not as children of darkness because we are children of light. But it also tells us that even though we’re children of light and saved, we can live just like we did when we were unbelievers, so we’re to no longer walk as we did before we were saved.
Ephesians 5:13, “But all things that are exposed are made manifest by the light.” The light exposed is the Word of God. We come to study the Word of God, to read the Word of God daily, to humble ourselves under God’s revelation, so that our sins are exposed. So we can learn to walk in the light.
Fifth, we are to walk carefully in biblical wisdom, Ephesians 5:15–16, “See then, that you walk circumspectly—or that we walk carefully—not as fools but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil.” As part of wisdom, we are to be filled by means of the Spirit.
What I’ve taught many times is being filled by the Spirit doesn’t mean we get more of the Spirit. It is that the Spirit fills us with something. When we are walking by the Spirit, He fills us with His Word, because the results of being filled by the Spirit here have to do, first of all, with worship,
Ephesians 5:19–21, “… speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord”—that has to do with singing and worship. Then prayer in worship—“giving thanks always for all things to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.” Then our love for one another which involves—“submitting to one another in the fear of God.”
This impacts five different relationships:
- Wives submitting to your husbands.
- Husbands loving your wives as Christ loved the church.
- Parents are to raise up their children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord—that’s directed to fathers.
- Children are to obey your parents.
- Bond servants—we would relate that to employees—are to be obedient to your masters and work as if you are serving the Lord Jesus Christ.
- Masters are also to treat their servants or their employees in love, seeking the best for them.
That brings that section to a close.
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Then he concludes with something different, no longer walking, using that metaphor; it is standing firm in the power of God.
We have this tremendous chapter in which he’s alluded to this spiritual conflict, this spiritual warfare. From Ephesians chapter 1 to chapter 4, this is presented. He says finally as he presents his conclusion, Ephesians 6:10, “be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might.”
It is God’s power, God’s might, not our fight. It is what David said, “… the battle is the Lord’s.” It is not our battle, so we are to put on God’s armor, not our armor.
We face problems according to His standards and not our standards, because the battle is against invisible forces, the principalities and powers and rulers of darkness of this age. We have to learn what the armor is and how we put that armor on, so that we can be effective warriors in spiritual combat.
Then he comes to his basic close and his greetings to various people in the Ephesians 6:21–24.
That’s our flyover. We have to understand what our riches are in Christ. The wealth that we have, the unbelievable spiritual assets and power that Christ has given us, and then we need to live on the basis of that.
It doesn’t happen overnight. It is a growth process; but it is something we have to focus on day in day out, week after week after week. It doesn’t happen all at once. It takes time, and as we walk by the Spirit, God is the one who takes His Word and uses that to transform our thinking and to transform our lives.
If we’re not taking in the Word, and by that, I mean if we’re not reading it for ourselves, if we’re not taking the time to listen to the pastor teach the Word and to feed the sheep, then that growth does not take place.
This is a challenge we’re going to have, and we will come back next time and began in Ephesians 1:1.
“Father, we thank You so much that we have this great epistle to teach us who we are, what we have, what You have given us in Christ, this unique entity of the body of Christ, the church, this unique dispensation that is distinct from all previous dispensations, and all that will follow, where we are identified with Christ in His death, burial, and resurrection.
“We are made alive again, and we are raised with Him and seated with Him positionally in the heavenlies. This is our position and the basis for our power.
“Father, we pray that You would challenge us to understand these things and to take the steps necessary to come to understand this and use it in our lives.
“Father, we know that there are many people around the world who listen. Some are live streaming, some listen later. We do not know who is listening, but maybe here or maybe around the world somewhere, someone is listening and they’re not sure about their eternal salvation, not sure of their eternal destiny.
“Father, we want to make it clear that salvation is not based on works; it is not based on Bible reading, Bible study. It’s not based on prayer; it’s not based on spiritual disciplines. It’s not based on being obedient. It is based on trusting in Jesus Christ as Savior.
“Jesus died on the Cross for our sins. He paid the penalty; the debt was paid, the certificate of debt was wiped out. So that all that remains is for us to believe, to accept what Christ did on the Cross. At that instant, You make us alive together with Him, so that we are new creatures in Christ with a new position and new privileges, new assets, and we pray that after that, that is the issue of walking with our Lord.
“Teach us how we should do this as we study and read Your Word, and we pray this in Christ’s name, amen.”