Ephesians 4:1-3 ESV
“I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.”
A Prisoner for Christ
Paul was, indeed, a literal prisoner for the Lord, not in prison to sin any longer, though, for there he was set free. But he was serving time in prison for his testimony for Jesus Christ and for his gospel. The same people, or similar people as put Jesus to death on a cross, were against Paul, too.
They were opposed to Paul for teaching that Jesus Christ is the fulfillment of the prophecies in Scripture regarding the Messiah (the Christ) who was to come, and that he is God, the second person of our triune God – Father, Son and Holy Spirit. They did not like him teaching on Jesus’ resurrection, either.
They also did not like the gospel message that Paul was teaching, which was the same one that John the Baptist, Jesus, and the New Testament apostles taught, although Jesus and his apostles taught much more extensively than did John the Baptist regarding our salvation and eternal life with God.
Jesus said that if any of us would be coming after him we must deny self and daily we must take up our cross (die with Christ to sin) and follow him in obedience and in surrender to his will for our lives. If we hold on to our former lives of sin, we will lose them for eternity, but if we die with Christ to sin daily, we will have eternal life with God, he said (Lu 9:23-26; cf. Jn 6:44-58; Jn 15:1-11).
Paul reiterated Jesus’ teaching when he said that we are slaves to the one we obey. If it be sin, it leads to death, but if it is obedience, it leads to righteousness and its end is eternal life with God (Rom 6:16-23).
He also said that we must walk (conduct our lives) according to the Spirit and not according to the flesh if we want to have salvation from sin and eternal life with God. For, he said, if we walk (in practice) in sin, we will die in our sins. We will not have eternal life with God (Rom 8:1-17; 1 Jn 1:5-9).
Thus, Paul was severely persecuted for his walk of faith and for his testimony for Jesus and for his gospel.
In a Manner Worthy
Persecution for our faith and testimonies for Jesus Christ is God’s way of pruning and disciplining us and purifying us and making us holy. Through the trials we go through he is conforming us to the likeness of his Son, Jesus Christ, if we are surrendered to him, and if we are willing to be changed.
Through persecution we move further away from the ways of this world and we draw closer to our Lord when we respond to persecution with faith. Then, God strengthens us in our faith, and he gives us a stronger sense of urgency to proclaim the truth of his word for all to hear.
Not only will we now be walking in a manner worthy of the calling to which we have been called, but we will be urging our brothers and sisters in the Lord to do so, too.
And that calling is to righteousness, holiness, godliness, moral purity, truth, obedience, submission to Christ, and the forsaking of our sins, dying with Christ daily to sin and living daily to his righteousness. For this reason, Jesus gave his life up for us on that cross (1 Pet 2:24; 1 Co 6:19-20; 2 Co 5:15).
This is how we are to conduct our lives day by day, hour by hour, in the strength and power of God’s Spirit. We are to say “NO!” to ungodliness and fleshly lusts and we are to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives while we wait for Christ’s return (Tit 2:11-14; Eph 4:17-24; Rom 6:1-23).
Bearing with One Another
But our lives are not just supposed to be about us and God, but we are to be those who love others with God’s love, too. With regard to other believers in Jesus, we are to bear with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.
But this is where it gets tricky. First off, not everyone who calls himself a sister or a brother in Christ is one. There are many false professions of faith in Jesus Christ these days based off a false gospel and a false Christ and a cheapened form of God’s grace. So, we must be discerning here.
Biblical faith in Jesus Christ dies with Christ to sin and to self and lives to Christ and to his righteousness. The ones believing, therefore, have forsaken their former lives of living for sin and for self, they have been born anew of the Spirit of God, and they are now walking in obedience to the Lord, though not necessarily in perfection (Eph 4:17-24; Rom 6:1-23; Rom 8:1-17; 1 Jn 1:5-9).
Thus, bearing with one another in love is not accepting, condoning, or pacifying willful and deliberate sinning against the Lord. We are compassionate and merciful, surely, knowing our own propensity to sin, but we don’t tolerate sinful lifestyles as part of the walk of faith in Jesus.
Also, the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace is unity with the mind and heart of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. It is not unity with humans and with their marketing schemes on how to build their businesses called “church.” And the bond of peace is absence of hostility against God, not world peace which wants us to compromise our faith.
So, know the truth of the gospel. Know what the Scriptures teach regarding salvation and eternal life with God (the whole counsel of God). Understand what they teach regarding who has eternal life and who doesn’t. And pay attention to what they teach on love, unity, and peace.
Know the truth, then live the truth by the grace of God and for his glory and praise. Amen!
When in The Stillness
An Original Work / September 26, 2011
When in the stillness of this moment,
Speak to me, Lord, I humbly pray.
Be my desire, set me on fire,
Teach me to love always.
Help me to walk in fellowship with You,
Listening to You; sit at Your feet.
Whisper Your words to me,
Oh, how gently, guiding me in Your truth.
While we are waiting for Your blessing,
Lord, in our hearts be King today.
Help us to live for you ev’ry moment,
List’ning to what You say.
May we not stray from your word within us,
Help us obey You, Lord, in all things,
Walking each moment, Lord, in Your presence,
Our offerings to You bring.
Help us to love You, Lord, our master;
Be an example of Your love,
Helping the hurting, lift up the fallen,
Showing them Your great love.
Teach them to love You, follow You always,
Bearing their cross and turning from sin;
Walking in daily fellowship with You,
Making You Lord and King.