Identity – Ephesians 4

We have been called into a great calling. A task that requires all of us to work together. We are unified and called to continue building that unity. What is this calling and unity? It is the work of the church. That is, the work of believers united by the Holy Spirit to live for Christ and do the work he has called us to do. This involves living rightly and responding to the gift of salvation which we have been given. This is Paul’s message in Ephesians 4 and I want to spend the next few moments discussing it’s implications.

Sam Storms, pastor and author, says, “First, we must take note of the connecting word ‘therefore (v. 1a). Clearly, Paul believed that his appeal for ethical transformation is grounded in and thus the only legitimate response to the gracious redemption and the spiritual blessings that are ours because of God’s work in Christ, all of which he expounded in chapters 1-3.” We see here that the first half of Ephesians explains to us the gift of salvation, and our inability to obtain it on our own. God’s grace is the only grounds we can claim! We boast in the Lord, not in ourselves. So if this is true, why does Paul spend the rest of Ephesians telling us how to behave? Because we can not accept salvation and continue living as we used to; because of Christ we are changed. Paul’s task in the second half of this wonderful letter is to remind and encourage believers to live according to the salvation we have been granted. We are not like the world, we are followers of Christ and as followers we are called to look and live like him. We don’t earn salvation, we respond to the reality of it in our lives. If you have professed Christ and claim to be a Christian, then your responsibility is obedience. We are called to live righteously, by the grace and power of God alone.

Paul calls this the “new self.” Our “old self” is the life of sin and corruption that comes from following the lies of this world. They create in us attributes that are antithetical to God’s desire for this people. The “new self” is the mentality and character of Christ being formed in our lives. Paul doesn’t demand that we be perfect, but he does exhort us to live according to Christ and trust in God’s Spirit to renew us on a daily basis. He says elsewhere,“Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.” (Romans 12:2 NLT). We lean on God for transformation, not ourselves, yet we are still called to respond and do away with the things that belong to the “old self.” Here are some things that Paul specifically addresses in Ephesians 4:

  • hardness of heart
  • anger
  • unforgiving attitude
  • stealing
  • foul language
  • dishonesty
  • bitterness

Are these things that you continue to find present in your own life? Do away with them and put on the “new self,” asking God to renew your mind and heart so that your desires will become his desires. We respond to salvation by imitating Christ, and the “new self” contains the things of Christ.

Here are some questions that I would like to leave with you this week and have you consider as we reflect on Paul’s words in Ephesians 4.

  1. Where do you stand in your walk with Christ?
  2. What is our calling? Are you following this?
  3. What gifts and talents can your offer in service to the Lord?
  4. What aspects of the “old” still remain?
  5. How will you model the “new self” this week?

I pray that we will all seek to put on the “new” as we shed off the “old” for God’s glory and the work of his kingdom. He has called us to a great task and we have been empowered to work towards it. We imitate Christ not because we hope to be saved, but because we are saved and we desire to love him and show others what salvation truly means. Be encouraged this week to put on the “new” and ask God to give you opportunities to show others what walking with Christ truly means. Take care and have a great week in the Lord!

Peace in Him,

Coleman

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