Dear Precious Disciple,
Paul beautifully described the Father's grace in the first part of his letter to the Ephesians. He emphasized that the Father's grace saves you from sin, death, and the evil one:
As for you, don't you remember how you used to just exist? Corpses, dead in life, buried by transgressions, wandering the course of this perverse world. You were the offspring of the prince of the power of air — oh, how he owned you, just as he still controls those living in disobedience.
But Paul went on to say that the Father didn't just save you FROM this dead existence in bondage; he also saved you FOR a life of goodness and blessing:
For we are the product of His hand, heaven's poetry etched on lives, created in the Anointed, Jesus, to accomplish the good works God arranged long ago.
In the second half of his letter, Paul described the character and compassion of the Father that must characterize the lives of these Christians living in Asia Minor. He emphasized that the old life of bondage should no longer characterize them. (Notice the underlined parts in the verses below.) Paul called these believers to take on a new way of life that clearly reflects the nature of the Father. The Father re-created them — and you — for this new life. (Especially note the parts in bold in the verses below.) One sentence from Paul summarizes this point well:
[A]lthough you were once the personification of darkness, you are now light in the Lord.
The motivation for this new way of living comes from Our work in You:
- What the Father did to re-create you.
- The price I paid as the sacrificial Son to redeem you.
- The power the Spirit supplies to energize this new life.
You are a child of the Father, a child of light, so be certain that you are not living in the darkness; rather, live in ways that reflect the light. Display the character and compassion of your Father in your daily life. Go back and read My Sermon on the Mount in Matthew chapters 5-7. Notice how several of the truths that I taught are emphasized by Paul in a slightly different way in the last half of Ephesians.
Your motivation for this new way of living is not a matter of obeying a set of rules or laws. Instead, you are trying to honor your Father for what He has done for you. You are remembering the price I paid to redeem you. You are being empowered by the Holy Spirit as you are transformed to become more and more like Me. As Paul said to the Ephesians, "So imitate God. Follow Him like adored children, and live in love as the Anointed One loved you — so much that He gave Himself as a fragrant sacrifice, pleasing God."
Let the world see your family resemblance to the Father!
At first glance, it might be possible to view the following passage from Ephesians as a Christian set of laws. However, Paul's emphasis on the new life versus the old life and on imitating the Father should remind you that this new life is about your relationship to the Father, to Me as your older brother, and to the Spirit as the indwelling presence of Our family nature. This nature should "Spirit-naturally" come to life in you and produce in your life the kind of Godly fruit Paul describes in these verses. (Galatians 5:16-23 shares a similar understanding.)
Let your resemblance to Our family shine through you in all you do!
Therefore, as a witness of the Lord, I insist on this: that you no longer walk in the outsiders' ways — with minds devoted to worthless pursuits. They are blind to true understanding. They are strangers and aliens to the kind of life God has for them because they live in ignorance and immorality and because their hearts are cold, hard stones. And now, since they've lost all natural feelings, they have given themselves over to sensual, greedy, and reckless living. They stop at nothing to satisfy their impure appetites.
But this is not the path of the Anointed One, which you have learned. If you have heard Jesus and have been taught by Him according to the truth that is in Him, then you know to take off your former way of life, your crumpled old self — that dark blot of a soul corrupted by deceitful desire and lust — to take a fresh breath and to let God renew your attitude and spirit. Then you are ready to put on your new self, modeled after the very likeness of God: truthful, righteous, and holy.
So put away your lies and speak the truth to one another because we are all part of one another. When you are angry, don't let it carry you into sin. Don't let the sun set with anger in your heart or give the devil room to work. If you have been stealing, stop. Thieves must go to work like everyone else and work honestly with their hands so that they can share with anyone who has a need. Don't let even one rotten word seep out of your mouths. Instead, offer only fresh words that build others up when they need it most. That way your good words will communicate grace to those who hear them. It's time to stop bringing grief to God's Holy Spirit; you have been sealed with the Spirit, marked as His own for the day of rescue. Banish bitterness, rage and anger, shouting and slander, and any and all malicious thoughts — these are poison. Instead, be kind and compassionate. Graciously forgive one another just as God has forgiven you through the Anointed, our Liberating King.
So imitate God. Follow Him like adored children, and live in love as the Anointed One loved you — so much that He gave Himself as a fragrant sacrifice, pleasing God.
Listen, don't let any kind of immorality be breathed among you. Any demoralizing behaviors (perverse sexual acts, uncleanliness, greediness, and the like) are inappropriate topics of conversation for those set apart as God's people. Don't swear or spurt nonsense. Don't make harsh jokes or clown around. Make proper use of your words, and offer them thankfully in praise. This is what we know for certain: no one who engages in loose sex, impure actions, and greed — which is just a form of idolatry — has any inheritance in the kingdom of God and His Anointed.
Don't be fooled by people whose sentences are compounded with useless words, empty words — they just show they are empty souls. For, in His wrath, God will judge all the children of disobedience for these kinds of sins. So don't be persuaded into their ignorance; and don't cast your lot with them because, although you were once the personification of darkness, you are now light in the Lord. So act like children of the light. For the fruit of the light is all that is good, right, and true. Make it your aim to learn what pleases our Lord. Don't get involved with the fruitless works of darkness; instead, expose them to the light of God. You see, it's a disgrace to speak of their secrets (so don't even talk about what they do when no one is looking). When the light shines, it exposes even the dark and shadowy things and turns them into pure reflections of light. This is why they sing,
Awake, you sleeper! Rise from your grave, And the Anointed One will shine on you.(Ephesians 4:17-32; Ephesians 5:1-14)
Father God, thank You for redeeming me and saving me from a fruitless life of sin and death. I know that Satan is seeking to destroy all that is good in me. Help me remember Jesus' great sacrifice. Open my eyes to the Spirit's great power. I want Your righteous character and gracious compassion to shine through in my life. I want to lead people to glorify my beloved Jesus. I pray all this through the intercession of the Holy Spirit and in the name of my Savior, Jesus. Amen.