|By: Dr. Wayne Barber; ©2000|
|Now that we have explored the Riches, Reasons and Revelation of our salvation, Dr. Barber turns his attention to the Responsibility we have to "walk worthy."|
We are turning the corner and are beginning to move into those last critical chapters of the book of Ephesians. I hope you have gleaned something from our study in chapters 1-3 on the Riches, the Reasons and the Revelation of our salvation.
Now we turn to the second part of Ephesians. The first three chapters have to do with identity. It is just like in the covenant relationship. If you have ever studied covenant, there were always two parts. The first part had to do with identity. That is the fun part, to find out what we have got in Him, who we are, whose we are in Him. The second part is a little more damaging when it comes to our flesh because it makes us realize then the responsibility that goes along with the identity He has given us in Jesus Christ. Chapters 1-3 was our identity, riches, reasons and revelation of our salvation. Chapters 4-6 are the responsibilities of our salvation.
The hinge between chapters 1, 2 and 3 and chapters 4, 5 and 6 is the prayer in verses 14- 21 of chapter 3. That is the hinge. It sums up what has been said and sets up what is about to be said in the remaining chapters of the book. Well, let’s begin to get into chapter 4.
In verse 1 he says, “I, therefore.” Now, whenever you see a “therefore,” you always want to look to see what it is there for. You always want to look back. We have already looked back, and we know now what he is talking about. “I, therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, entreat you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called.” Let’s nail down what it means to walk in a manner worthy. As we understand that we can jump into the chapter.
The phrase “walk in a manner worthy” has the idea of living a life in such a way that it measures up to something. Think about a set of scales. If I have ten pounds on one side of the scale, I need ten pounds to put on the other side so it will balance. If I put 10.5 on the other side, it would be out of balance. If I put 11, it would be out of balance. I need ten on one side and I need ten on the other. The word “worthy” takes us even a second step. The word for “worthy” is the word axios. It refers to the intrinsic value of something.
There is a difference in the intrinsic worth of something and an appraisal of what that intrinsic value is. I’ll give you an illustration. When I was growing up, my father had a barrel downstairs and in that barrel he had some old telephones. They were the kind of telephone that you had to pick up the little handle and put it up next to your ear. Dad would take those phones and make lamps out of them. He was just brilliant in what he could do with his hands. He would attach an electrical cord to it and when you took the receiver off the lamp would come on. When you hung it up, it would go off. He would make them for minimal cost for people. He just enjoyed doing that. Back in his day, those phones didn’t have the intrinsic value they had a little later on. I took that barrel full of phones and stuck it in our garage or basement. It kind of followed us around. I never understood what I had in that barrel, what the worth of those phones really was.
One day a man came over to our house. He said, “I would like to have some of those phones.” I said, “Sure.” He gave me a check maybe for $25 or something like that. My appraisal of their value was nowhere close to the intrinsic, inherent value of those phones. I found out a few weeks later what they were worth. Oh, it hurts.
Friend, what is your value of your salvation? The value of your salvation is going to determine how you live. You see, if it has not affected your lifestyle, if it has not affected the way you talk to people and about people, if it has not affected the way you treat others, then friend, you have got a low appraisal value of something that is intrinsically worth far beyond what you have even realized yet. Therefore, your life is not measuring up to any standard that God requires. Walk in a manner worthy. Chapters 1, 2 and 3 gives you the intrinsic value of your salvation. Therefore, measure up by the way you allow it to affect your life.
So if our view of salvation means everything when it comes to living, how you look at your salvation dictates how you live. Look at what it meant to Paul in verse 1 of chapter 4. He says, “I, therefore, the prisoner of the Lord.” Now we know what it meant to Paul, don’t we? Paul said, “I have completely submitted to His lordship.” Why? Here is a man who knew who he was and knew whose he was. He understood what happened to him at salvation. It overwhelmed him and changed him for the rest of his life.
When I get to heaven one day, I am going to look at Jesus for about a million years, maybe two or three, but after that, I want to get over there next to Paul. I want to spend at least a couple of hundred centuries with him. You see, he didn’t get any more or any less than what I got when I got saved. The difference is, he understood what he got. He was overwhelmed with what he got, and it made all the difference in the world in the way that he lived. He was submitted to the Lordship of Christ. I love what Philippians 1:21 says. Paul said, “I can’t speak for anybody but myself but ‘For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain.’” He said, “Do you want to know what makes me tick? Buddy, I am so overwhelmed with my salvation, I’ll never be the same.” He was writing from prison when he wrote that! Now that kind of view of salvation, friend, will radically change how you live, but it won’t change until you begin to realize what happened to you when you got saved. You begin to realize the resource you have in the Lord Jesus Christ.
We are getting the idea now. We have the intrinsic value so now measure up. How is this going to work itself out in our relationships in life with each other? Well, first of all, it will be reflected in the corporate unity of the body. Look at verses 2 and 3. Paul tells us how to walk. He says, “with all humility and gentleness, with patience, showing forbearance to one another in love, being diligent to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.” We will go back up to verse 2 in a minute, but you have to look at verse 3 first. There is a constant thing going on with people who have a high view of salvation. Those people preserve with every ounce of fiber in their body the unity already given them in the Lord Jesus Christ. Let’s talk about that for a second. Verse 3 says we “preserve” it. We don’t produce it. Now doesn’t that relieve you a little bit? I am so grateful. You know, some people think we produce unity. They say, “If you will just have more fellowships, if you just had more flock groups, if you could drop down to smaller groups and interact with each other better, if you could have more fun and get to know each other, maybe name tags.”
Friend, if you will look at the passage he didn’t say that you produce it. He said that you preserve it. You’ve got to see something here. I don’t need to know your name. I don’t need to know where you are coming from. If I am one with God by surrendering to Him, if my view of salvation has rendered me a prisoner of the Lord Jesus Christ and if the same is true in your life, friend, you and I are one! The Spirit produces it! We can have 5,000 in the worship service and still have unity. Unity is not what is produced by man. It is what is preserved by our willingness to walk worthy of that which God has done in our life. God has already given us unity. He says it in the verse.
Look again at verse 3: “to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.” The word “bond” refers to a ligament or a tendon. I like that. “Do you mean to tell me that we are linked together even though we don’t know each other?” Listen, I know some folks from Hotzig, Romania, and we are bonded together. I don’t know their language. Why is it I can feel a oneness with the people from Hotzig? Because the Holy Spirit lives in them and the Holy Spirit lives in me. He bonds us together. There is a ligament that is holding us together.
Do you know what the word “peace” is? The word “peace” is the word that means the absence of conflict, the absence of dissension. Isn’t that incredible? Now, he says the Holy Spirit, when He came into your life, bonded you to the family of God. As a ligament, He made you one with the family of God. When we enter into covenant with the Lord Jesus, we enter into covenant with one another. We are ligamented together. We are united together. We are bound together by this ligament. The peace is the signal of that. It is the fruit of the Spirit, remember? The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace. It is something He produces in our life. It means the absence of conflict. It means when two things go together and there is nothing in between that keeps them from cohering.
What does that mean if I am preserving the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace? Well, there are several attitudes that will be seen in my life if I am. The signal that you are filled with the Spirit of God is not that you can speak in tongues, contrary to many people’s opinion. The signal that you are filled with the Spirit of God is not that you can do some ecstatic gift. It is not that you can stand on your head. The signal for being filled with the Spirit of God is a love bond, a oneness with other believers. Jesus said, “By this shall all men know that you are My disciples by the fact that you love one another.”
Now Paul says, “Since God has provided you with the abilities that you didn’t have and given you every spiritual blessing, now measure up to that standard and let it be seen by the fact that you are diligently preserving the bond of peace that the Holy Spirit has produced within you.”
What is the first attitude we have to have? It says it in verse 2, “with all humility.” What in the world does this word “humility” mean? Friends, it frames the whole thought. If you miss this word, you have missed the whole thing. The word is the Greek word tapeinophrosune. It means to think less of yourself. The word tapeinos, is the word for humble. It is the word that means to get down as flat as you can possibly get so nobody can see you at all. That is the thought. It means to be level with the earth. The word phren, is not just the word mind. It is the word that speaks of a framed attitude of the mind. You will recognize that from another text which we will look at in a moment. It is an attitude. So what is the attitude we must have towards ourselves? The attitude is that we are not to think more highly of ourselves than we ought to think. We need to get down where we belong. Listen, the only way up is to get down before God. Do you want a proper estimate of self? Here it is right here. Die. Get down, flatten out, so that the Lord now in His divine ability can continue to keep you united with the body of Christ.
There are three things that I want you to see about humility. Paul uses it three times in three different books. Each one teaches us something about that little quality of humility. It might be helpful for us. Look in Acts 20:19. This is a very important scripture because Paul is talking to the elders of Ephesus. He has brought them down to Miletus. I want us to see how he uses this word here. In this passage, we see that the attitude of humility is essential to our serving the Lord Jesus Christ. Did you know that? You know, some people think, “God is so glad to have me on His team.” That is about as unbiblical as anything you could ever say. God doesn’t want to use anything about who we are. He wants us to be an empty vessel so He can infuse His power in our life. Humility is the essential attitude of our serving Christ.
Let’s back up to verse 18 to catch the context. “And when they came to him [the elders coming down to Miletus from Ephesus], he said to them, ‘You yourselves know, from the first day that I set foot in Asia, how I was with you the whole time, serving the Lord with all humility.” That is our word right there. The first point you want to see about this essential attitude in serving Christ is that when it is there, everybody else knows it. It says “you know, you saw, you experienced.” Paul said, “You know that I was serving out of humility.” How did they know? Paul didn’t tell them.
I like what Ian Thomas said, “I can’t. He never said I could. He can. He always said He would.” That is the essence of humility. I want to tell you, when you have that attitude, everybody knows it. Everybody is aware of it. You are not aware that they are aware, but they are aware. Paul said, “You know, you know. You’ve got to know.”
Secondly, if humility is real it will provoke the religious. Look at verse 19: “serving the Lord with all humility and with tears and with trials which came upon me through the plots of the Jews.” Is he talking about all Jews? No. He is talking about that religious group. I want to tell you something. Religion is what man does, and therefore, man has to stand up to do it. Christianity is what God does, and man has to get down in order to allow God to do it. The two cannot peacefully coexist. You see, religion does not coincide with Christianity. When you start being humble of mind, it means you are aware totally of what you are not, what He is and who He is. You wait until He initiates it so that He might anoint it in your life.
The third thing is in verse 22. If this humility is real, then God’s will will always be preeminent above your will. In verse 22 it says, “And now, behold, bound in spirit, I am on my way to Jerusalem, not knowing what will happen to me there.” We know what happened to him there because we are studying Ephesians. We know he has been in prison for five years because he went to Jerusalem. At this point in Acts 20:22 he doesn’t know. He said, “I don’t have my will.” Everybody tried to get him not to go to Jerusalem, but he said, “I have to go. I am chained to His chariot. I am bound to His Spirit. I am a prisoner of Jesus. I am a bond-servant of Christ.”
You see, when humility is real in your life, it is not what you wear or don’t wear. It is your attitude towards God working in your life. You won’t have an agenda you are putting before Him. You just want His agenda in your life. So we see that humility is the essential attitude in serving Christ.
Secondly in Colossians 3:12, humility is the attitude of those seeking a higher calling. The context is verse 1 of chapter 3. “If then you have been raised up with Christ, keep seeking the things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth.” In that context look at verse 12: “And so, as those who have been chosen of God, holy and beloved, put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.” You see, it is part of the garment of the lifestyle of people who are seeking a higher calling. Who are these humble people? They are not seeking their own calling. They are seeking His calling. They are not looking for the praise of men. They are looking for the glory of God in their life. It is an attitude that just comes out of their life.
Then finally in Philippians 2:5 we see it one more time. This attitude of humility is not only essential to serving Christ, it is not only the attitude of those seeking Christ, but it is also the very attitude of our Savior Himself. “Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore also God highly exalted Him, and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name.” Have you ever heard someone preach on that passage but not put it in context? We know what Christ did. We know He emptied Himself of His glory, but what it says here is that you have the same attitude in you He had before He came to this earth to die on a cross.
So therefore be strengthened in the inner man with an ability that you don’t normally have. It is an ability He has now in you. Who is it in you? It is Christ Himself. Let that attitude be released in your life. That is His attitude. What is it? Philippians 2:3 says, “Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind [that is our word] let each of you regard one another as more important than himself.”
I hope you are beginning to see something here. If I truly have that high view of salvation, I will have a proper estimate of myself. Therefore, I am going to be humble in the way I approach the body of Christ. My attitude is, I know I can’t, but I also know He can. I want to be strengthened with might in the inner man with His power. The scales become balanced.