Walk Worthy of God’s Work

Posted: February 8, 2016 in Ephesians, Route 66, Uncategorized

Route 66: Ephesians, “Walk Worthy of God’s Work”

Pop quiz: what is the only Gentile church that we see throughout the New Testament from Acts to Revelation?  Ephesus.  Although Laodicea is mentioned in the book of Colossians, we do not know its founding.  The Biblical record regarding Ephesus runs from its initial founding in Acts – to the letter we have from Paul – to the letter given it from Jesus in the book of Revelation.  Truly we see the rise & fall of the church, which makes it a great example for all the church to study.  This was a church founded in truth, exhorted to stay in the truth, taught again the truth of God, and exhorted by God Himself to return to the truth.  Like all of us, they had a tendency to wander & they needed a bit of a push to go the right direction.

So what is the right direction?  To walk worthy of the work of God.  The letter of Ephesians might seem to be contradictory at first glance.  The first half of the book tells of the wonderful work of God through Christ Jesus in regards to our salvation.  There is not a single thing we can do to earn our salvation – God has done it all!  The second half of the book tells of the way Christians are now supposed to work – or to use Paul’s terminology, to walk.  Put it together, and we might ask: so do we work, or not work?  The answer: both.  Paul doesn’t contradict himself at all.  We do not work to achieve our salvation – that is the gift of God.  But we do work once we are saved.  There is work to do, simply as a response to God.  Once we receive salvation, now we walk as those who have been saved.

So this is no contradiction, but it is an exhortation.  As Paul himself writes in 4:1, we are to “walk worthy of the calling with which [we] were called.”  And as we do so, we bring glory to God for all of the work that He has already done.

Author: Paul (1:1, 3:1).  The fact that his name is twice mentioned in the text of the letter, that the content is typically Pauline, and that the early church never questioned his authorship ought to put the entire question to rest.  Nevertheless, some modern scholars doubt the letter was written by Paul, claiming that the letter has theology found nowhere else in Paul’s undisputed writings, and that there are quite a few words within Ephesians found nowhere else in the New Testament.  Many of these scholars believe Ephesians to be a copycat letter of Colossians, authored by someone who wanted to come across with Paul’s authority.  What purpose it would serve for a liar to exhort Christians to walk worthy of their calling in Christ, however, is not said.  (For good reason, as it’s totally illogical!)  With all that in mind, there’s really no reason at all to question Paul’s authorship.

As to when it was written, Paul specifically mentions that it was during one of his prison stays (3:1, 4:1).  That, considering the letter’s similarity with Colossians, indicates that Paul perhaps wrote both letters during his Roman imprisonment during the early 60s (referenced at the end of Acts 28).  Earlier in his ministry, Paul had been quite active in Ephesus, having spent almost 3 years there (Acts 20:31).  He briefly visited the city once in his 2nd missionary journey (Acts 18:19), but spent the bulk of his time there during his 3rd missionary venture. As he had done in other cities, Paul first went to the synagogue where he taught for three months, but was eventually pressured to leave & he then got some space in the public school of Tyrannus, where he taught for another two years (Acts 19:8-10).

The city itself was like many along the Mediterranean coast of the Roman empire: rich & full of idolatry.  In fact, the city was famous for a cultic temple to the pagan goddess Diana/Artemis.  Her statue was supposedly carved from a stone that fell from the sky, and she was worshipped for her fertility.  It was the prevalence of this pagan worship that caused a bit of trouble for Paul during his ministry in Ephesus.  God has blessed him immensely there, not only giving him numerous opportunities to teach, but power to perform many miracles through the Holy Spirit.  As a result, many people came to Christ – so many in fact, that the silversmith business started taking a financial hit.  People were burning their pagan books, getting rid of their pagan statues, and not buying any additional idols.  That caused a certain silversmith by the name of Demetrius to instigate a riot, which had to be quelled by the Ephesian authorities.  Paul left shortly afterwards, continuing on his journey.

In any case, Paul had a great number of roots in Ephesus & the surrounding area.  Knowing that makes it a bit unusual that there are not the normal sort of personal greetings to individuals found at the end of the letter.  For someone like Paul to send a letter to a group of people he had spent so much time with in the past, and yet not mention anyone by name is a strange thing.  This fact, combined with a few early manuscripts of the letter that have been found without any mention of the city of Ephesus (only in 1:1) have caused some to theorize that Paul specifically intended for this letter to go beyond Ephesus.  Yes, Paul sent it to Ephesus, but perhaps not only to Ephesus – perhaps it was a circular letter meant to go to all of the churches in the region, from Ephesus to Miletus to Laodicea, etc.  There’s no way to know, but the idea would explain why Paul doesn’t mention anything specific to that church.  Instead, what he writes is significant to the church.  The letter we know as Ephesians is Paul’s personal theology, perfectly distilled.  It’s what we need to know about God, His love for us, and what our practical response ought to be towards Him.

There are a few issues that stand out within the letter, which will be seen as we go through the test.  The first is predestination/election.  Although this is a controversial subject, Christians need to be careful to deny the concept itself, simply because the Bible so clearly identifies it.  The 1st chapter of Ephesus finds Paul diving into it, perhaps not defining it to the extent that some groups would like to claim, but certainly describing the mystery of God’s eternal and sovereign choice in granting us our salvation.

In addition, the book of Ephesians contains some of the most famous verses that deal with justification by faith alone (2:8-9), the roles of husband and wife in Christian marriage (5:22-33), and spiritual warfare (6:10-18).  Because of the combination of the depth of theology and practical application, the letter to Ephesus serves as a marvelous template for basic discipleship.

As with many of the Pauline epistles, Ephesians readily divides into two basic parts: the doctrinal & the practical.

Doctrine: What God did in Christ (1-3)

  • Redemption and wisdom (1).  This is where the discussion of predestination of believers takes place, showing the incredible riches of God that we have experienced through Christ.
  • Jesus’ work in salvation (2).  Here, Paul describes the nature of salvation – how we are brought from death to life, and how we are made into one new body of both Jew and Gentile.
  • The mystery of the gospel (3).  The gospel is wonderful, and thought it was hinted at in the past, it is now fully revealed.  Our minds reel at the amazement of what we have received!

Application: What Christians do in Christ (4-6).  How do we respond to what God has done?

  • Walk in unity (4).  God has gifted us in many ways – we need to use the gifts as we are unified by God.
  • Walk in love (5:1-14).  Once we know how we are to walk with each other, we need to walk lovingly in the midst of the world.
  • Walk in the Spirit (5:15-6:9).  The Spirit-filled life touches every relationship: marriage, children, parents, and occupation.
  • Walk in victory (6:10-20).  The Spirit-filled life makes it possible for us to experience victory over the devil, so we are to do it.

Doctrine: What God did in Christ
Redemption and wisdom (1)
Introduction (1:1-2)
Aside from the lack of personal greetings & the question of whether or not the city name of Ephesus is original, the introduction is fairly straightforward & Pauline.  He introduces himself as “an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God” – here not done in a way to assert his apostolic authority in regards to discipline, but simply as a matter of fact.  Paul will soon write of how God’s will is involved in every detail of our salvation, and here it was involved in his apostolic calling.  Paul didn’t make himself an apostle of Jesus Christ; Jesus chose this for him.  (Likewise, Jesus chose for us our own circumstances – and He equips us to face each and every one.)

God’s eternal plan to redeem (1:3-14)
The letter begins with a benediction – and a long one at that.  Chapter 1 is filled with run-on sentences (far much more than what is evident in most English translations), as Paul gives description after description of the goodness of God in regards to our salvation.  It’s here that Paul gives some of his most detailed teaching of predestination.  Vs. 4, “just as He chose us in Him” – vs. 5, “having predestined us to adoption as sons…according to the good pleasure of His will,” – vs. 10, “He might gather together in one all things in Christ,” – vs. 11, “who works all things according to the counsel of His will.”  To read all of that might convince someone that Paul was a Calvinist before Calvin was ever born (and indeed, many people believe so).  To Paul, there is no doubt of God’s work in our salvation.  God was never once surprised by our need to be saved – this was His plan since before the foundation of the world.  He knew it, knew us, and worked towards what He knew we needed.

With that being said, there’s absolutely nothing in Ephesians 1 that states that man has no free-will in the midst of it all.  Paul writes of God’s work; not man’s will.  One does not discount the other.  We tend to make these things polar-opposites, but the Bible does not.  There are too many other passages in the Bible in which we are called upon to knowingly & willingly put our faith in Christ, and Paul doesn’t contradict a single one here.  All he does is write of the mysterious working of God behind all of it, and that’s not something to deny; it’s something to praise!  God worked in our salvation – God purposed us to be saved…that is a glorious thing!  Because of God, now we have been given every spiritual blessing in Christ (1:3) – because of God, now we have redemption through the blood of Jesus (1:7) – because of God, now we have an inheritance in Christ (1:11) – now we have the guarantee of the Holy Spirit (1:14).  God’s work in our salvation is astounding!

Prayer for spiritual wisdom (1:15-23)
In light of everything Paul knows that we have been given in Christ, he wants to ensure that the church itself realizes it too, so he prays for their wisdom.  He is so grateful that they are saved (1:15), thus he prays that they would come to a greater understanding of their salvation – “the hope of His calling…the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints,” (1:18).  Paul seems to run out of words to describe the wonder of Jesus, and the glory given Him by God – this same glory in which we who have faith in Him will share all the way into eternity.  This Jesus who has been given the name above every name (1:21), who has had all things put under His feet (1:22) – this is the Jesus with whom we share an inheritance.  We have been given marvelous riches in Christ Jesus!

  • This puts things in perspective, doesn’t it?  We have our temporary material struggles today.  Practically speaking, we sometimes wonder how we’re going to be able to fill our gas tank every week, or what bill is going to get paid next.  Those things have a tendency of consuming our time and attention.  But do we realize what awaits us beyond this life?  This life is but a blip!  We have eternity to which we look forward.  And it’s not about posh luxury – it’s about having the closest of relationships with the Creator of the Universe.  We are brought into His very family, becoming His own children.  That is amazing!  Like Paul, may we pray that we can catch a glimpse of it!

Jesus’ work in salvation (2)
New life in Christ (2:1-10)
So we know what we look forward to, but what is it we’ve been given today?  That’s what Paul goes on to express.  The first aspect is life.  Real life – spiritual life – powerful life.  Prior to our faith in Jesus, we were “dead in trespasses and sins” (2:1).  We walked like heathens because we were heathens.  We engaged in all of the lustfulness that the world does, because that is what we were.  We were “children of wrath” (2:3), doing the will of the “prince of the power of the air” (2:2).  But that’s all in the past.  God intervened!  Because of God’s great love for us, He made us alive, giving us life today (2:4).  And the life we have today points to the life that is yet to come.  If we think God has showered us with blessings now, just wait until we experience the “exceeding riches of His grace” in the “ages to come”! (2:7).

It’s at this point that Paul gives some of the most famous words in the book of Ephesians regarding the life we have been given.  That life has come solely by God’s grace.  Ephesians 2:8–10, "(8) For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, (9) not of works, lest anyone should boast. (10) For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them."  We have been saved BY grace, THROUGH faith, FOR good works.  We are not saved by our works, because we couldn’t do anything…we were dead (2:1).  But God could and did do something through Christ.  Because of Jesus, we who have faith have been showered with the grace of God.  And now we can work for Him.  Before, we couldn’t do any good works, but now we can – and that’s exactly what God desires for us to do. (Which is basically the message of Ephesians in a nutshell.)

  • If you’re looking for some memory verses, you’d be hard-pressed to do too much better than Ephesians 2:8-10.  The truth contained here does much to steer us away from heresy.  It keeps us from legalism, for our salvation is not of works.  It keeps us from licentiousness, for we were created in Christ Jesus for good works.  It keeps us from new-age ideas like the power of attraction, in that faith is the vehicle for our salvation; not our salvation itself.  It keeps us to the Biblical gospel, for it shows we are saved by grace alone.

New identity in Christ (2:11-22)
Not only do we have new life in Christ, but we have a new identity as well.  Remember that whatever city Paul was writing (be it Ephesus, Laodicea, etc.), it was to a Gentile audience.  Paul was writing to these churches in Asia he had planted; not to the Jews in Jerusalem.  According to the law of Moses, Gentiles didn’t have an identity in God – but all of that changed according to the gospel of Christ.  Now the Gentiles are no longer aliens & strangers from God’s covenant promises (2:12).  Now they/we “have been brought near by the blood of Christ.” (2:13)

What made the difference?  Jesus made peace.  There was enmity between Jew & Gentile, beyond the enmity between humankind & God.  But Jesus became our peace (2:14).  He made one new body from the two, and reconciled all of us to God (2:15-16).  The point is that there is one salvation: that of Christ Jesus.  The Jews are not saved one way & the Gentiles another – the only way to be saved is to come to faith in Jesus.  The only people of God in this present age is the church, which is comprised of both Jews and Gentiles…anyone who has faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.  To use another analogy, the church is the temple of God, Jesus being the cornerstone & all others fit together by Him into one glorious structure (2:20-21).

  • There are no second-class citizens in the kingdom of God.  There is no ethnicity or race of people that is superior over another in Jesus.  If we are in Christ, we are Christians…period.  There is one church & one family of faith.  He has made us one, thus we are to walk as one. (Per Jn 17.)

The mystery of the gospel (3)
The mystery revealed (3:1-13)
It is with the glorious nature of our salvation in mind that Paul writes of the mystery of Christ (3:4).  In the Bible, a “mystery” is something that was concealed in the past, which is now revealed in Jesus.  IOW, there are hints contained within the OT, but a fuller revelation given in the NT.  That is the case with the gospel.  From the earliest chapters of Genesis, we are told of a special person who will come to reconcile all of humanity back to God – and hints of this are woven throughout the fabric of Hebrew history.  Everything that someone needed to know to be saved was given in the OT, but it was a mystery.  That mystery is fully revealed in the Lord Jesus.  Now people didn’t need to put their faith in the prophecies concerning a Messiah yet to come; He came!  Now they could know.  Now the Gentiles didn’t have to wait to come to faith – now they could know how to be fellow heirs with the Jews in Christ Jesus. (3:6)  Part of Paul’s joy was the privilege of being able to share this message with the Gentiles, helping people understand “the eternal purpose which He accomplished in Christ Jesus our Lord,” (3:12).  That’s why Paul never seemed to get upset at his imprisonments & tribulations – these were the very things God used to bring others to a saving knowledge of Christ.

  • That’s something else that will help us keep perspective.  Do we suffer now?  Yes.  But how will God use that suffering to glorify Himself?  There’s no doubt that He will.  He will use all things that happen to us for His good (Rom 8:28).  It doesn’t mean that all things are good, but God will bring good out of them.  If Paul could trust God to do that with his persecution & imprisonment, surely we can trust God to do the same with our own trials.

Awestruck at the mystery (3:14-21)
As Paul writes of all this, he cannot help but praise the Lord & he has another prayer for the church that they would be strengthened in Christ & catch a glimpse of this mystery.  Ephesians 3:17–19, "(17) that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; that you, being rooted and grounded in love, (18) may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the width and length and depth and height—(19) to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge; that you may be filled with all the fullness of God."  That’s likely the prayer of every pastor for his church. J  That we would be grounded in Christ & that we would be left in wonder of Christ – how wonderful it would be!  When we are overwhelmed by the love of Jesus, astounded & amazed at His goodness & majesty, that is exactly the place we ought to be.  That’s a heart devoted to worship, loving God with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength.  And that is the very best motivation to living for Jesus, which is what Paul goes on to address in the next section…

Application: What Christians do in Christ
Walk in unity (4)
Unity and diversity in the church (4:1-16)
Vs 1 sets it up: Ephesians 4:1–3, "(1) I, therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you to walk worthy of the calling with which you were called, (2) with all lowliness and gentleness, with longsuffering, bearing with one another in love, (3) endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace."  The “therefore” is in light of all of the doctrine that Paul gave.  It’s in light of the overwhelming love & blessings we have in God.  Because of all of those things, now walk worthy of God.  Walk worthy of the calling that you have received.  Walk as a person who has been fundamentally transformed – someone who has been brought from death to life.

And the first way to do that is through loving unity.  Again, there is only one body of Christ, and Paul repeats the idea here (4:4).  There is one work of salvation that is done within a multitude of believers.  Although we all have our own individual testimonies, the testimony of God concerning us is identical.  We were sealed with the same Holy Spirit, given the same hope of eternity, have the same Jesus, were baptized into the same body, etc. (4:4-5).  That’s not to say that we all have the same giftings and roles within the church – we certainly do not.  God gave many gifts to the body of Christ.  Some of which are listed here as offices (apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastor-teachers) – but whatever the gifting, it was given to build up the church for the work of the ministry (4:12).  God gifted the church in a variety of ways to perfect the church – to mature the church – to guard the church.  So ALL the gifts are important, and they are all used together in harmony to help us come together in unity.

  • It’s interesting that Paul’s listing of the gifts here focuses on various offices & instead of other charismatic gifts (such as listed in Romans & 1 Corinthians).  What that goes to demonstrate is that the lists that Paul provides are not comprehensive – they are just lists of the various gifts the Holy Spirit wanted him to write about at the time.  That doesn’t give us liberty to go off and start designating all kinds of other gifts not listed in the Scripture, but it does give us freedom in what we look for in the gifts.  If you don’t see your gifting listed in Ephesians 4, look to Romans 12.  Maybe you’re not an evangelist, but you’ve got the gift of administration, etc.  ALL of these are spiritual gifts, empowered by the Holy Spirit.  And if we acknowledge the existence of some of these gifts, then we cannot help but allow for the possibility of all of the gifts.

Walking as the new man (4:17-24)
Now that we’re equipped to be new, we’re to walk as new.  Paul harkens back to the idea of walking worthy of the calling with which we were called, describing it here virtually in terms of clothing.  To walk as heathen Gentiles is to walk clothed in the “old man,” (4:22) but to walk as Christ has given us to walk is to put on the clothes of “the new man” (4:24).  What clothes are you wearing?  What’s on the outside ought to reflect what has taken place on the inside.

  • To walk as a heathen while believing Christ is just as hypocritical as trying to act religious while having no faith.  Both are deceptions, and neither are proof of salvation.  Jesus has already done the work for those who believe…now we just need to live like it, fully empowered by the Holy Spirit.

Exhortation: don’t grieve the Spirit (4:25-32)
Did you know it was possible to grieve the Holy Spirit?  According to Eph 5:30, it is.  This is what happens when we live as religious hypocrites, claiming faith in Jesus while acting like heathens.  Paul gives specific examples of lying, angry wrath, stealing, and corrupt words.  All of those things are what the heathen Gentiles do; the church is supposed to be different.  After all, we were sealed by the Holy Spirit the moment we believed (1:13) – we were equipped by the Spirit & His gifts to be perfect & complete (4:12-13).  To walk otherwise is to deny His work.  We’ve been given better opportunities, and we ought to use them to walk rightly (in kindness, tenderheartedness, and forgiveness – 4:32).

BTW – don’t miss how Paul teaches of the personhood of the Holy Spirit.  The Holy Spirit is not the mere essence of God, or some sort of force/power that God exudes.  The Holy Spirit is the third Person of the Trinity.  HE (the Spirit) is God, just as much as God the Father & God the Son.  The fact that He can be grieved is one fact that proves it.  You cannot grieve electricity.  You cannot grieve simple power.  You CAN grieve a person, and the Holy Spirit can be grieved.  (So instead of grieving Him, we ought to glorify Him!)

Walk in love (5:1-14)
Imitate Jesus in love (5:1-2)
Continuing this idea of walking worthily, Paul goes on to describe it in terms of love.  His readers were to imitate God, and walk in love (5:1).  If it’s imitation, what was the example?  Jesus.  Jesus loved us & gave Himself for us.  Thus (as Paul wrote to the Romans) we are also to give ourselves back to God as a sacrifice.  To walk in love is to walk as Christ walked – both towards God & towards others.

Unloving behaviors (5:3-7)
Some of what NOT to do is listed next.  Walking in love is NOT “fornication…uncleanness or covetousness” (5:3), etc.  It’s none of the sinful behaviors listed out by Paul.  Those who readily engage in these behaviors have no assurance of their salvation.  They have no proof that they have “any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God” (5:5).  How so?  Because they aren’t walking as if they’ve been changed.  If someone can easily, repeatedly, and gladly bring grief to the Holy Spirit, where is the proof that the Holy Spirit indwells him/her?  This isn’t talking about an occasional sin, or the certain failure that all of us face from time to time.  This is talking about someone’s general description…these behaviors are what define them.  If that is who they are, then they have demonstrated themselves to be “sons of disobedience” (5:6).  Those are things we need to choose to forsake & stay far away from.

Walking in light (5:8-14)
The contrast, of course, is to walk in the light.  Walking in those sins is to walk in darkness, but we have received the light of the world, so we ought to “walk as children of light” (5:8).  What the Spirit has done within us is at stark contrast with the ways of the world, so we’re to have no part with them (“no fellowship” with them).  Those sinful behaviors are not things to joke about, find enjoyment in, or even speak of among our friends.  Instead, they are to be exposed (5:11).

  • Practically speaking, this might have quite an impact on our preferred entertainments.  Think about the media you watch, listen to, or imbibe on the internet.  Do they reflect the stuff of 5:3-7 (fornication, uncleanness, idolatry, etc.), or the fruit of the Spirit (goodness, righteousness, truth – 5:9).  If it reflects the world, those are things to be exposed; not enjoyed.  That’s not to say that all Christians have the same convictions about all things, nor is it to place ourselves under a burden of legalism.  But at some point we need to ask ourselves: what would Jesus say if He were sitting next to me as I watched this?  (Because in fact, God IS with you as you watch it!)

Walk in the Spirit (5:15-6:9)
Be filled with the Spirit (5:15-21)
If we are called to walk worthy of our calling & our God, then how is it made possible?  Paul has already written of gifts given to the church – here, he expands on the idea.  GOD is the one who makes our walk possible.  It is impossible to walk worthily of Him without Him, and thus He is the one who empowers us.  One way He does it is through the gifts, but another way He does it is through the individual filling of the Holy Spirit.  Paul writes of the need for us to walk circumspectly (in wisdom), redeeming the time, understanding the will of the Lord (5:15-16).  What is the will of God?  Paul tells us: it’s to be filled with the Spirit.  Ephesians 5:18, "(18) And do not be drunk with wine, in which is dissipation; but be filled with the Spirit,"

What is important to realize here is the grammatical mood & tense of the language Paul used.  When speaking of the filling of the Holy Spirit, Paul is speaking in terms of a command (imperative mood), and speaking in terms of the always-now (present tense).  IOW, he doesn’t write of something that is already completed & never revisited.  Nor does he write of something that might possibly happen to a believer.  Just as the believer is commanded to walk worthy, the believer is commanded to be filled.  The filling is not something we can do – it’s something we must receive.  But because it is commanded means that it’s something for which we can (and must) ask.  When should we ask to be filled with the Spirit?  Now…and now…and now…  We are to be continually filled with the Spirit because we constantly need the empowerment of the Spirit.  There’s not a single moment in life that we can do without Him, so we are to ask for Him always.

  • Keep in mind that this is different than our seal of salvation.  The Holy Spirit indwells us & seals us immediately when we put our faith in Jesus (1:13-14).  That is also something that happens to us, but it is done totally by the initiative of God.  Here, we are the ones told to take the initiative.  God still does the work, but we need to ask.
  • Have you asked?  Ever?  Maybe tonight is the first night that you ask to be filled with the Holy Spirit – to be empowered to do what it is God calls you to do.

The Spirit-filled life is manifested in many ways, which Paul goes on to describe…

Spirit-filled marriage (5:22-33)
What does Christian marriage, Spirit-filled & directed marriage look like?  It looks like two people mutually serving the other, together pointing to the ultimate marriage between Jesus and the church.  The wife submits to the husband, and the husband serves his wife in total sacrifice.  This is what Jesus did for us, and that is the model given for all Christian husbands towards their brides.  God is the one who does the work joining two people together, and thus both husband and wife are completely dependent upon God as they live life together.

  • It’s when we jettison Biblical teaching on marriage for our own self-centeredness that marriages get in trouble.  When both spouses are submitted to the Lord Jesus, there is always hope for a marriage – when they aren’t, it’s far more difficult.

Spirit-filled parenting (6:1-4)
Relationships between parents and children are also made perfect through submission to the Holy Spirit.  Children following the example of Christ will honor their fathers & mothers.  Parents following the example of God will not provoke their children to wrath.

Spirit-filled work relationships (6:5-9)
Finally, Paul addresses the last common household relationship: that between slaves and their masters.  Here, Paul doesn’t give an apologetic for slavery, as much as he gives guidelines for Christians who simply lived according to the culture of the day.  For the type of slavery described, it finds much more application in a modern-day work environment.  How are men and women supposed to serve their employers?  They are to work knowing that ultimately the Lord is their employer.  Likewise with the boss/slave-holder.  They are to remember that they themselves are accountable to a far better Master in heaven, who cannot be bribed nor fooled.

Walk in victory (6:10-20)
Waging spiritual war (6:10-17)
The final area of walking Paul addresses isn’t described so much in terms of a walk, as it is a battle.  The Spirit-filled life is not an uneventful one.  We have an enemy who is devoted to destroying us.  Jesus said that the devil does not come except to steal, kill, and destroy (Jn 10:10), and Paul is well aware of this enemy.  There is a whole host of spiritual forces arrayed against the Christian – and it is something of which we must be aware.  However, we need not be afraid.  God has equipped us to stand firm against our enemy, and we are indeed called to stand (6:13-14).

Paul describes our equipping in terms of Roman armor.  Ephesians 6:14–17, "(14) Stand therefore, having girded your waist with truth, having put on the breastplate of righteousness, (15) and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace; (16) above all, taking the shield of faith with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one. (17) And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God;"  Keep in mind the idea is less of literal armor with which we are clothed & more the application of what that armor does.  Truth is as essential to the believer as the Roman army belt (which held his armor together).  Righteousness is needed as protection against the attacks of the enemy, as is faith & our very salvation itself.  Virtually everything Paul lists off is defensive armor, with the exception of the “sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.”  The gospel – the good news of Jesus – the Scripture itself – that is the offensive weaponry we use against our enemy.  Don’t wait for the devil to attack you with temptation; take the word of God with you into daily battle!

Prayer request for spiritual strength (6:18-20)
Prayer is itself part of our spiritual armor, as we are to be engaged in it constantly.  But more than that, Paul asked prayer for himself that he would continue to be bold to preach the gospel.  Keep in mind that Paul was already in prison for preaching the gospel – he had been arrested years ago for doing exactly that while in Jerusalem.  He had been faithful to keep proclaiming the gospel throughout his time in various jails until he was finally transferred to Rome.  And now he wants strength to keep it up.  It would have been easy for Paul to kick back & retire – after all, he had already done the work & paid a dear price.  But as long as he had breath, he wasn’t done.  He wanted strength to continue.  (A great example to all of us!)

Close (6:21-24)
Again, there are no personal greetings here (which is unusual) – there is only a commendation for Tychicus, who is likely the person who carried the letter from Rome to Asia.  Paul was hoping to not only send word, but receive it back from him, thus Tychicus was sent as his emissary.  Otherwise, Paul gives a short close, praying for them peace, love, and grace.

So how is your walk?  God has done amazing things for us in Christ Jesus.  The salvation we have experienced through Him goes beyond our wildest imaginations!  Everything He has done for us has been by His will & through His grace.  Now we need to respond.  We are to walk worthy of the calling with which we were called.  Thankfully, God doesn’t leave us on our own to figure it out for ourselves.  He gives us the Holy Spirit, making Him available to us for the asking.

So ask!  Be filled!  Be encouraged to walk for Jesus & keep walking for Him.  Don’t get down on yourself when you fail & give up.  Understand that the battle is long & hard.  It’s called “spiritual warfare” for a reason.  So stand firm, and be renewed by the Holy Spirit today.  Walk better than you did in the past, completely reliant upon the grace and the power of God available for us through Christ Jesus.


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