Summary: Our's is a HIGH calling. There are ethical choices to be made to serve Him worthily.
EPHESIANS # 6
We go back to the letter Paul wrote to the Christians in Ephesus and that the Spirit has inspired for us!
TEXT - Ephesians 4: 1-16 PB 1821
In the first half of his letter Paul tells us who we are. The key phrase is ‘in Christ.’
Through Him we’re blessed, chosen, made holy, adopted into God’s family, accepted, redeemed from slavery to sin, forgiven, empowered by the Holy Spirit. We are brought into the Church, through which God plans to make His love, wisdom, and victory known in the visible and invisible world!
Now that we know these things, in chapter 4 we are challenged to do something with them.
Too often, as we emphasize the amazing grace gifts of God and our inability to save ourselves from sin,
we preachers accidentally create the impression that Christianity requires nothing of us. “God’s love is free and complete,” we happily and truthfully proclaim, without finishing the thought. A genuine experience of Christ changes you and me into new people - and there is much for us to do in owning our faith.
The last half of this letter is concerned with ethics.
What are ethics?
They are, the dictionary says, “the rules of conduct recognized in respect to a particular class of human actions or a particular group, culture, etc. as in - medical ethics; Christian ethics.”
A shorter definition is “moral principles.”
If there is one area of contemporary America over which we ought to weep it is our abandonment of ethics. It is as if we are afraid of saying, “this is right, that is wrong” for fear of hurting someone, alienating another, or hindering self-expression. So, millions of people are morally adrift, ignorant of principles that would enhance their lives.
The paradox is that with the decline of teaching ethics, we have increased our spending on law enforcement. We rely on the police and the courts to protect us from our neighbors who no longer seem to know how to live, or who have no desire for self-restraint.
This failure is broad - touching church, government, industry, and family.
Did no one tell priests and pastors that using their position to abuse children and women is wrong?
Did no one tell those elected to office that taking bribes is wrong, that using the office for self-promotion is wrong?
Did no one tell young financial wizards that taking obscene profits by exploiting people with fraudulent schemes is wrong?
Did no one tell that beautiful young woman that using her sexuality promiscuously is wrong and would ultimately hurt her?
Did no tell that young man that he must learn to master the strong desires of his sex, that to
use his strength to gain sexual pleasure is wrong?
Without being overly simplistic, our abandonment of ethics parallels our abandonment of God. Two generations ago, even those who had no personal relationship with God, knew something of theology and from those bedrock convictions knew the difference between right and wrong.
It is fundamentally true that rules cannot make a person act ethically. Only an awareness of God and good, working from inside to outside, will cause a person to make better choices than to merely serve today’s whim.
Our text is the first part of the 2nd half of Paul’s letter that addresses ethical behavior for Christians.
READ - 4: 1
The opening line says “live a life worthy of the calling you have received.”
That serves as the basic command from which the rest of this letter flows.
Some translations say, “walk worthy,” and that phrase more closely follow Paul’s intent. He is not instructing us about some momentary decision made just for today. We are to ‘walk it out,’ to keep on keeping on, to focus on making steady forward progress.
∙ Is that a description of your Christianity?
∙ Are you still dealing with the same issues that you dealt with at your conversion or are you growing?
∙ Are you discovering God’s Person, living in the Spirit, and becoming a person of depth.
The NIV translation adds the heading to this passage - Unity and Maturity in the Body of Christ
READ - 4: 2- 16
re-read v. 3
The first call is to unity! The great commandments from which all the rest of God’s commands flow are “Love God with your whole person” and “Love others as you love yourself.” And yet, we who bear the Name of the Lord of Love surely know how to have a fight. Few things bring more contempt on the Church that her fights, and yet we continue to split and divide, to feud and to fight - among ourselves, among our congregations, and among our denominations.
The Scripture does not tell us to create unity. We read “keep the unity of the Spirit.” Unity exists like love. It is ours through Christ. But, we have to make the choice, continually, to live in a way that makes unity part of our lives.