Intro: The Christian life is not based on ignorance but knowledge. Knowledge of Jesus! We are never taught the Bible nor do we study the Bible merely to learn what it says but instead we learn it to live what it says.
True understanding of correct biblical teaching should motivate us to correct Christian Living.
Paul is not saying become a Christian by walking a worthy lifestyle. He is challenging and encouraging us to live as the Sons of God in all the riches we have from Heaven.
What an amazing word picture that Paul uses, walk! It carries the clear idea of a starting point, salvation, and a continual progress of our growth in relationship with Jesus and a final destination heaven and the presence of God forever.
Paul is urging or begging us to walk worthy of the Gospel. He is saying live in a way that proves that you really have turned your life over to Jesus. People are watching!
Dr Jay Vernon McGee tells about a man handing out tracts, a ministry, by the way, that takes much prayer and intelligence. A black man who could neither read nor write was handed a tract. He asked, “What is this?” When he was told it was a tract, he said, “Well I can’t read it; so I’ll watch your tracks.” That was the greatest short sermon this Christian could ever have had preached to him. Someone was watching his tracks. (McGee, J V: Thru the Bible Commentary: Nashville: Thomas Nelson)
I. Gods plan – Unity
To live according to Jesus commands and our confession of Him as Lord we must live together in unity. Paul clearly tells us what the essential character qualities we need in order to maintain unity. If we are to maintain we must understand according to 4.3 the Spirit brings unity and it requires energy from God and effort on our part.
A) Unity requires humility
Humility literally means lowliness of the mind. The Greeks looked at it as weakness. It is just like to Jesus to turn weakness into strength. Humility is the opposite of pride. Humility promotes harmony in the church while pride produces disharmony and division.
It has been said if you think you are humble then you are not. That can’t be true because we are encouraged in several places to be humble. In Acts 20:19 Paul told the Ephesians elders he served with all humility. The difference is the proud person trusts himself the humble person trusts Jesus. Humility is not thinking less of yourself it is instead thinking of others first.
B) Unity requires gentleness
It is translated meekness in the King James. It cannot be accurately translated into one word. The word carries the idea of power under control. It pictures a person who controls his temper and does not retaliate. When we surrender to the Spirit of Jesus our emotions do not control us we control our emotions. This is the opposite of rudeness and abrasiveness, it is the opposite of violence and vengence. This is what proverbs 15:1 speaks of, A gentle answer turns away wrath a harsh anger stirs up strife.
C) Unity requires patience
This literally means long tempered. It is the ability to show restraint when offended, hurt or wronged. Read Romans 5:1-3 and James 1:2, 3 tribulations and trials produce this patience. JM Boice illustration man who asked him to pray for patience. When the Spirit works in this way through us we are not easily offended. Puppy and Dog illustration.
D) Unity requires forbearance (Tolerance)
Unfortunately the word tolerance has been perverted today. Tolerance doesn’t mean every lifestyle choice is okay. It also doesn’t mean that we merely maintain a false acceptance while our insides boil with bitterness and resentment. To bear with one another means to genuinely love those who irritate, disturb or embarrass us. How are you doing with the quirks, habits and personalities of your brothers and sisters in Christ.
E) Unity requires love
This is the God quality that chooses what is best for someone no matter how they treat you in return. 1 Corinthians 13 teaches us that love is empowered by the Spirit as we choose by will to do what is best for those that irritate, hurt, embarrass, disturb and mistreat us. Love is not driven by our emotions it is driven by our will. We choose to treat others right or wrong with the understanding that neither of us deserve such grace.
F) Unity requires diligence
The word that Paul uses here carries the idea of making haste! Paul is trying to teach us that there needs to be intense effort to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the body. It is not something that takes root in passive soils. If we never had to interact with each other we could sit back and take it easy. But since there are different levels of maturity within the church we must be diligent, we must stay alert and be active in maintaining unity.
Jesus is the bond of peace that we are to make haste to move closer to. You have to know that there is a difference between union and unity. You can tie two cats tails together and throw them over a clothesline and they may have union but not unity.
A) Stay Close to Jesus – He is the bond of peace! He brings wholeness to us so we can walk in the characteristics of unity.
B) Stay surrendered to the Spirit – He provides the supernatural strength to live the attitudes and actions of unity
C) Stay saturated with God’s word – We keep our priorities focused on the kingdom of God and Unity of the Spirit when we keep our minds full of God’s truth.
II. God’s plan – Efficiency
A) Gifted leaders
Why does Jesus personally gift people to be apostles, prophets, evangelists and pastor/teachers? It is the ministry of the word empowered by the Spirit that draws people to salvation. Romans 1.16 tells us the gospel is the power of God unto salvation for all who believe. Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word. Each one of the gifted leaders listed are called to minister God’s word for the equipping of the body of Christ.
The word used for equipping is a word that was used for mending fishing nets and getting them prepared to use for catching fish.
B) Trained members
The members of the church are to become ministers. We are all called to serve within the church. 2 timothy 3:16-17 tells us that all of God’s word is useful for training and teaching and correcting us so that we are completely equipped for all the works Jesus prepared for us.
The work of pastor/teachers is not done for saints! It is done to prepare saints for the work of the ministry.
III. God’s plan – Maturity
How can we understand what it means to be mature? We look to scripture to instruct us on what a mature believer is and does.
A) Reception of God’s word
Hebrews 5:11 you have become dull of hearing. You are not receiving God’s word. The believers in Hebrews 5 had become spiritually lazy and were not receiving, meditating and applying God’s word. That resulted in dull spiritual hearing. If there is no diligence on your part you will not mature in Christ!
B) Application of God’s word (The word of righteousness)
What is often missing that leads to maturity in God’s children? Right decisions based on His revealed truth. To whom much is given much is required. When the principles you have learned are never turned into decisions made to obey God then you will stay an infant. Those who live what they learn are those that are maturing.
Someone once said that most Christians are between Easter Sunday and Good Friday. They are covered by the blood but not experiencing the joy of the newness of resurrection life. It is doing the truth that leads to maturity and freedom. James the brother of Jesus said be you doers of the word so that you will not deceive yourself.
C) Discernment using God’s truth
This is the ability to make choices that are right and Godly not based on feeling or emotions. Children babies make choices based on what feels or looks good. Adults are supposed to make decisions based on what is right and wrong, helpful and unhelpful, righteous and unrighteous. Obedience is the true marker of Maturity.