Yesterday, I had the privilege of preaching from Ephesians 4:25-32 in our ongoing series through Ephesians. As we have noted on multiple occasions in our study, Paul’s letter to the church at Ephesus (and surrounding cities) is clearly divided into two parts. The first three chapters teach Christian doctrine while the remaining three chapters (4-6) exemplify how that Christian doctrine is put into action.
The Founding of the Faith
As Paul emphasized in the earlier passage, the believers in Ephesus had first heard the gospel and had been taught in the gospel as well. Their lives had changed as a result of Jesus Christ. Paul contrasteIn other words, the reason these believers had a desire to obey Christ was based upon their changed life. They had heard and been taught. They first heard the gospel which pierced their soul bringing them to faith in Christ. Then, after their conversion, they had been discipled. Both of these aspects of the Great Commission are extremely important (see Matthew 28:18-20).
The Life of Faith
Building upon that truth, Paul pointed out six aspects of the Christian’s life that must be visible. In fact, in these points, Paul provides emphasis by giving commands to these believers regarding how they are to live. For faith, without works is dead.
- Christians speak truth.
- Christians control their temper.
- Christians labor with honesty.
- Christians control their tongues.
- Christians don’t grieve the Holy Spirit.
- Christians control their emotions and forgive one another.
The point of Paul’s words are not to teach a behavioral list in order to achieve salvation. Paul has already taught clearly that salvation is of the Lord and that it’s not earned by man’s work. However, in this passage, Paul is driving home the point that Christians should be clearly distinguished from the world In other words, Christians should love the things that God loves and hate the things that God hates.
Finally, Paul drives home his point by demonstrating the reality that God expects us to be pursuing and maintaining unity within the church. He concludes with a statement that should settle the deal for us all. This points to true Christianity. If anyone is unwilling to forgive another person in the church, that individual has no right to believe that he or she is a true Christian. How can anyone claim to have been the recipient of God’s grace while harboring bitterness and anger toward another person? That’s not the way of Christ.