One of the biggest challenges that every believer faces is their daily walk as a Christian. Our walk, or manner of living, should be consistent and Christ-like. When God saved us, He changed us and made us a ‘new creature’, 2 Cor. 5. 17, and this should be reflected in how we live our lives. There should be a difference that is clearly seen in us, as day by day we live out what God has made us.
There are several passages in the Bible that give us instructions on how we ought to live as Christians. Ephesians chapter 4 is one such passage; we are going to consider this briefly. The first three chapters of this lovely Epistle present great doctrinal truths, but chapter 4 commences the practical section where Paul exhorts the saints to ‘walk worthy of the vocation [calling] wherewith ye are [have been] called’, v. 1. And to live in a way that is worthy of such a high and holy calling.
In verses 2 and 3, Paul sets out the code of conduct, or ethics, that we should follow as we seek to fulfil this responsibility. A selfless attitude of ‘lowliness and meekness’, v. 2, is essential. Our saint-ward actions should be marked by patience, forbearance, and love, v. 3. These two requirements will help us in our endeavour to ‘keep the unity of the Spirit’, v. 3. This is the outworking of the truth of chapter 2 where Jew and Gentile stand united in one body and are ‘builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit’, 2. 22. This unity has a doctrinal basis which is highlighted in verses 4 to 6 with reference to the three persons in the Godhead.
In verse 1, we have Paul’s petition. Then, in verses 2 to 6, we have the principles that should govern our conduct. Following on from verse 7 to verse 16 we have the provision of gifts by the risen Christ to build up and strengthen the saints so that we may make progress and develop in spiritual things.
It is God’s expectation that every Christian makes progress spiritually. Not one of us is exempt. The body has been given all the resources necessary to enable it to be built up and strengthened through the exercise of these spiritual gifts.
From verse 17 to verse 32, we have the practical implications of Paul’s challenge. The first thing Paul does is to present a contrast, vv. 17-19, that should mark us in our Christian walk. Our lives should be different from the ungodly around us. We should have different interests and desires. It is sad when our walk reflects more of the character of the world than it does the person of Christ.
The contrast that should be seen is because of our conversion, vv. 20-24. Paul points out that at salvation we put off the old man and a new man was ‘created’, v. 24. All that we were in Adam and our links with him have been broken and dealt with legally at the cross, Rom. 6. 6. We have now ‘put on the new man’, v. 24. This new man is created ‘after God’, v. 24, which simply means that we have become a new creation, created according to what God is like, righteous and holy. This is not something that we do ourselves but rather it took place the moment we were saved. The effects of it, however, should be seen in our daily lives. The following verses give us eight characteristics that should mark us - note the use of the word ‘wherefore’ in verse 25. The change is in light of what God has made us - a new man in Christ - these are the things that should be reflected in our walk.
I will outline these eight characteristics of a God-honouring Christian lifestyle in Part 2 of this article.
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