What we know about God and what we do for God have a way of getting broken apart in our lives. The moment the organic unity of belief and behavior is damaged in any way, we are incapable of living out the full humanity for which we were created.
Paul’s letter to the Ephesians joins together what has been torn apart in our sin-wrecked world. He begins with an exuberant exploration of what Christians believe about God, and then, like a surgeon skillfully setting a compound fracture, “sets” this belief in God into our behavior before God so that the bones–believe and behavior–knit together and heal.
Once our attention is called to it, we notice these fractures all over the place. There is hardly a bone in our bodies that has escaped injury, hardly a relationship in city or job, school or church, family or country, that isn’t out of joint or limping in pain. There is much work to be done.
And so Paul goes to work. He ranges widely, from heaven to earth and back again, showing how Jesus, the Messiah, is eternally and tirelessly bringing everything and everyone together. He also shows us that in addition to having this work done in and for us, we are participants in this most urgent work. Now that we know what is going on, that the energy of reconciliation is the dynamo at the heart of the universe, it is imperative that we join in vigorously and perseveringly, convinced that every detail in our lives contributes (or not) to what Paul describes as God’s plan worked out by Christ, “a long-range plan in which everything would be brought together and summed up in him, everything in deepest heaven, everything on planet earth.” (Ephesians 1:10, The Message)
This book is for God’s church that is forming and being built on the foundation of Jesus Christ who is our Savior and Lord. If indeed He is our Savior then we are saved as believers in Him. We know what we believe. If He is indeed the Lord of our lives then we are behaving as closely to what we say we believe given the help of His Holy Spirit. Herein lies the rub…there are those who accept Jesus as their Savior (believe) but do not live (behave) or follow Him as their Lord.
Paul reminds the church in Ephesus that we must behave in like we say we believe. There are six chapters in this letter to the church. Paul painstakingly tells us who we are in Christ in the first three chapters while reminding us who God is.
I highly recommend reading the whole letter in one sitting but for now I will give you the highlights, or my personal favorite passages that have helped me in my life.
Chapters 1-3 BELIEF – WHO WE ARE IN CHRIST
(Ephesian Highlights taken from NIV)
“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ…”
“For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight…”
“In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace that he lavished on us…”
“When you believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, 14 who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession—to the praise of his glory…”
“…because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved.”
“For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast.”
“For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.”
“For he himself is our peace…”
“He came and preached peace to you who were far away and peace to those who were near. For through him we both have access to the Father by one Spirit.”
“Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and strangers, but fellow citizens with God’s people and also members of his household, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone.”
“In him (Christ) the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord. And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit.
“In him and through faith in him we may approach God with freedom and confidence.”
Paul’s prays lovingly for the church(people) in Ephesus:
“I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.”
“Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.”
Chapters 4-6 BEHAVIOR – WHAT WE DO IN CHRIST
“I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received.”
“Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.”
“Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.”
“There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to one hope when you were called; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.”
“Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.”
“…speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ. From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work.”
“You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.”
“THEREFORE each of you must put off falsehood and speak truthfully to your neighbor, for we are all members of one body. “In your anger do not sin”: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, and do not give the devil a foothold. Anyone who has been stealing must steal no longer, but must work, doing something useful with their own hands, that they may have something to share with those in need.”
“Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.”
In other words, THINK before you speak. These questions are helpful to me in my quest and prayer to be more gracious:
T- Is what I’m about to say the Truth?
H-Is what I’m about to say going to helpful?
I- Is what I’m about to say going to be inspiring?
N-Is what I’m about to say really necessary?
K- Is what I’m about to say going to be kind? (Give life to the soul or suck life from the soul)
“And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.” (We have a way of breaking God’s heart by the way we treat each other at times.)
“Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.” (Jesus forgave us, once and for all, immediately, to remember our sin no more. Can we forgive like He did? We can by his power in us with our decision to forgive completely.)
“Follow God’s example, therefore, as dearly loved children and walk in the way of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.”
“…among you there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality, or of any kind of impurity, or of greed, because these are improper for God’s holy people. Nor should there be obscenity, foolish talk or coarse joking, which are out of place, but rather thanksgiving. For of this you can be sure: No immoral, impure or greedy person—such a person is an idolater—has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God. Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of such things God’s wrath comes on those who are disobedient. Therefore do not be partners with them.”
“For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light.”
“Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil.”
“Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.” (From a place of awe, devotion and deep love for our Lord and Savior.)
“Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands as you do to the Lord.” (Submit is a positive word here…As you love Christ more and more and realize His love for you, the more you will love you spouse and “submit” to his love for you.)
“Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her…” (What a deep, reverent, precious, profound relentless love this is!…just as Jesus loves and gave Himself up for us!)
“For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.” This is a profound mystery—but I am talking about Christ and the church. However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.”
“Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. ‘Honor your father and mother’—which is the first commandment with a promise—’so that it may go well with you and that you may enjoy long life on the earth.'” (Paul is again quoting The Law given by God to Moses. Jesus came to fulfill The Law and explain God’s intent for living it.)
“Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power.” (Don’t leave home without it! We need God’s strength, power, wisdom, insight and understanding daily, even hourly!)
“Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.” (Each day we enter a spiritual battle for our souls as believers. Who will we choose to follow? Who’s side are we on?”
Get your gear on for this is not an easy battle for us but nothing for Jesus. He’s already won this battle with evil, went to hell and back again for us, so know that He will fight for you and with you when when it comes. “Not today, Satan!” is our battle cry.
“Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.”
“And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people.”
Dear Heavenly Father,
We pray for all who are coming to mind right now who are struggling with all kinds of illness, issues and circumstances beyond their ability to solve. We lay all of this at your feet to heal, to fight for, and to provide a way out. Lift our thinking to higher places where you are in your thinking. Give us wisdom, insight and understanding for your Word and for each other. Help us to BEHAVE like we say we BELIEVE.
Help us to love and forgive like you do. Heal our land. Heal your church so it is healthy and growing and full of love.
In Jesus Name, Amen