Ephesians 4Read Text
In Ephesians 4 Paul’s letter takes a turn in its focus, as do most of the epistles. He shifts his focus from orthodoxy (proper doctrine/theology, or you could say right thinking/beliefs about God) to orthopraxy (proper conduct, or right actions/living for the believer).
Since, therefore (chapters 1-3), we have been loved, saved, made alive in Christ, been shown mercy and grace, and have been filled with the Holy Spirit of God… Now live a life that is pleasing and acceptable to this gracious God for His glory alone! The Holy Spirit, through the Apostle Paul, tells us what this new life (literally “new self”) is to look like and how to accomplish it.
He does not just simply say “now do this and not that”. He tells us how to do it. It begins with a renewed mind. I am to, working with the Holy Spirit alive in me, make my thoughts line up with God’s thoughts (His Word). ALL of my thoughts should submit to Scripture – thoughts about: God, myself, others, His world, government, etc. Right beliefs precede right actions, or as Jesus would say “Out of the heart we speak and act” (my paraphrase). A renewed mind and heart now enable me to “put off the old self” with its sinful thoughts, actions, and words and to “put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness”. I can now be holy because He is holy (Col. 3:5, 12; Rom. 12:1-2).
Does this mean I can and will be perfect? No! I strive for perfect obedience, knowing that I fight an internal battle with the remnants of my sinful flesh (Rom. 7:7-25).
If becoming a new creation in Christ meant that I would be completely freed from the influence of my sinful flesh, then I would only need the parts of the Bible which tell me about God – who He is, what He has done for me, etc. – the indicatives (usually the first half of each epistle). I would not need the parts of the Bible which tell me how God expects me to live – how to think, act, and speak – the imperatives (usually the second half of each epistle). I would not need them because this new man would do them instinctively because there would be no sinful influence on my mind or body. No need for sanctification. I surely would not need the same instructions repeatedly. Yet what we see in the Word is the same set of commands (imperatives) over and over and over again!
We are instead told repeatedly how this new man is to live if we want a life that is pleasing to our Lord and God. We are also told repeatedly by this holy, righteous, loving, merciful, gracious God that, as we strive for perfect obedience, when we fail and repent, there is yet more mercy, more grace, more forgiveness! He reminds us of this so that when we sin, instead of covering it up and hiding it in the darkness, running from God (giving our flesh and the Enemy a foothold in our lives), we bring it into the light, confess it, repent, and RUN to Him because He cares for us.
Therefore… walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called… (omissions mine). (Eph. 4:1) Our loving Father disciplines those whom He loves – for our good and His glory. He is faithful and just and will forgive us (1 Jn 1:9-10). There is NO condemnation for those in Christ (Rom. 8:1). He humbles the proud and gives more grace to the humble (Jas. 4:6).