Well, I can’t see to get away from Ephesians 4!

First we looked at verse 1 in which Paul reminds us that we have been called by God and pleads with us to live a life worthy of that calling, see Saturday’s blog for more on God’s calling.

Then we looked at verses 2 and 3 where Paul instructs us to be humble, gentle and patient – “because of your love.” We looked at these verses in Sunday’s blog.

Today let’s look in a little more detail at the further instructions Paul gives for “living worthy.”

17With the Lord’s authority I say this: Live no longer as the Gentiles do, for they are hopelessly confused. 18Their minds are full of darkness; they wander far from the life God gives because they have closed their minds and hardened their hearts against him. 19They have no sense of shame. They live for lustful pleasure and eagerly practice every kind of impurity.

20But that isn’t what you learned about Christ. 21Since you have heard about Jesus and have learned the truth that comes from him, 22throw off your old sinful nature and your former way of life, which is corrupted by lust and deception. 23Instead, let the Spirit renew your thoughts and attitudes. 24Put on your new nature, created to be like God—truly righteous and holy.

25So stop telling lies. Let us tell our neighbors the truth, for we are all parts of the same body. 26And “don’t sin by letting anger control you.” Don’t let the sun go down while you are still angry, 27for anger gives a foothold to the devil. 28If you are a thief, quit stealing. Instead, use your hands for good hard work, and then give generously to others in need. 29Don’t use foul or abusive language. Let everything you say be good and helpful, so that your words will be an encouragement to those who hear them. 30And do not bring sorrow to God’s Holy Spirit by the way you live. Remember, he has identified you as his own, guaranteeing that you will be saved on the day of redemption. 31Get rid of all bitterness, rage, anger, harsh words, and slander, as well as all types of evil behavior.

32Instead, be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you.
Ephesians 4:1-32 (NLT)

Paul gives both the do’s and the don’ts of living worthy.

Don’t live as those who don’t know God.

Do throw off your old nature and the way you used to live because you have met Christ – you have learned the truth of Jesus.

Do let the Spirit renew your thoughts and attitudes.

Do put on your new nature, the one that is truly righteous and holy – God’s nature!

Don’t tell lies.

Do speak the truth because we belong to the same family now – the body of Christ.

Don’t let anger stand – for anger gives a foothold to the devil.

Don’t steal.

Do work hard and give generously to those in need.

Don’t use foul, rough, abusive or crude language.

Do guard your tongue so that everything you say is good and helpful.

Do speak words of encouragement.

Don’t grieve the Holy Spirit by the way you live.

Do get rid of all bitterness, rage, anger, harsh words and slander.

Do get rid of all types of evil behavior.

Do be kind to each other.

Do forgive one another.

Do all of this remembering that Christ has forgiven you.

It’s easy to run through a list of do’s and don’ts and believe we fall into all the do’s and none of the don’ts, but if you pray through the list, I would be surprised if you don’t find yourself in some places you’d rather not be.

Let me pose some questions that relate to the don’ts:

  • Are you a truth-speaker? Or have telling lies of convenience become too convenient? (I hate how convenient those lies can be.)
  • Does anger sometimes control your actions or attitudes? Paul says that “anger gives a foothold to the devil.” Unconfessed sin also gives a foothold to the devil. If you become angry frequently, repent, confess your sin and ask the Holy Spirit to help you change. Enlist the help of a friend or counselor to hold you accountable and work at identifying the deeper issues behind your anger.
  • Are you stealing in subtle (or not so subtle) ways from your employer, customer, spouse or children?
  • Do you engage in abusive or unkind language? Do you say things that are not good, helpful or encouraging? Are you a master at sarcasm? At best, sarcasm is a mask for speaking truth in a straightforward way and in love; at worst it’s cruel and hurtful.

And now a few questions for the do’s:

  • Do you let the Holy Spirit renew your attitudes? It can be so easy (and gratifying to our sinful nature) to hang on to those attitudes that are not pleasing to God. Don’t do it!
  • Do you cultivate learning how to speak the truth in love? It’s not enough to simply speak the truth. Learning how to speak it in love is the greater challenge (and a greater reflection of Christ in us).
  • Do you give generously to those in need? Giving comes in many ways and I’ve found that some people are great at giving financially but not so great at giving of their possessions or their time. Some are better at giving away their possessions but struggle to give financially. Practice giving generously in varied ways. Become a hero at giving.
  • Do you strive to make everything you say be good and encouraging? That would mean no complaining or grumbling. That would mean denying our sinful nature.
  • Are you kind to others – both those close to you and to strangers? I have a pattern of ignoring strangers. I’m trying to change that.
  • Are you forgiving? Are you proactive about forgiving? That’s another of those activities that requires denying our sinful nature.

Sounds like lots of denying of our sinful nature. That’s a good thing. That’s living a life worthy of our calling.

Well, chapter 5 of Ephesians continues with more instructions for Godly living, but I’ll leave that for you to explore on your own. But don’t just read it – pause to allow the Holy Spirit to show you how you’re living and how to live a life worthy of your calling.

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