“Therefore I, the prisoner of the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called” Ephesians 4:1 (NASB).
If you’ve never read Ephesians, start to finish, do it as soon as possible! In fact, if you want to go and read it now, I’ll wait for you. It’s one of my favorite books of the Bible. Paul wrote it while he was under house arrest–a prisoner of Rome, by accusation of the Jews–for preaching the gospel (See Acts 28).
The verse I quoted above comes almost right in the middle of the book. Paul has just spent the first three chapters of Ephesians laying out all the wonderful things we have in Christ. And now, he says “THEREFORE,” which refers back to all he just told us. He’s saying–he, who suffered much for his calling–based on all God has done for us in Christ, live your life in a manner worthy of all this. In a minute we’ll look at how we do that, but first let’s look at the why.
Have you ever found yourself watching an informercial? The people yell and gesticulate excitedly and tell you what amazing things you’ll receive for one low price, then they say, “But wait, THERE’S MORE!!”
That’s what I think of when I read the first three chapters of Ephesians. There was a high price, not a low one, but Jesus paid it on the cross, and still there’s more. God not only gave his only begotten Son (John 3:16), but he continues to give us more and more, simply because we have believed in his Son. In fact, Paul says in Romans 8:32, “He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things?”
Here are just a few of the things God has given us in Christ as listed in Ephesians 1–3:
- He chose us in Christ before the foundation of the world and marked us in love for adoption as his children
- He’s given us grace, redemption through Jesus’s blood, and forgiveness of sins
- He’s given the Holy Spirit as a guarantee that he will finish his work in us
- Although we were dead in sin, he made us alive in Christ because of his love for us and because of his mercy
- Formerly, (as sinners) we were objects of his wrath, but he saved us (from his wrath and judgment) by grace through faith–not by our works because we might boast (yet still they wouldn’t be enough); it’s a gift
- He’s given us peace and reconciled us to God and given us his power through the Holy Spirit
WOW!! That’s a lot of spiritual treasure, and it’s only a partial list! So Paul says “therefore,” as in, because God has done that for us in Christ, live a life worthy of this calling on your life.
I told you earlier that Paul’s urging for us to walk in a manner worthy comes in the middle of the book; the first half tells why. Now, in the second half, he tells us how. How do we live a life worthy of what God has done for us? Let me say, first of all, that we are NOT worthy. We can do nothing to earn God’s mercy and grace. He gives it because of his great love for us, not because we deserve it or are worthy of it.
But that’s not what Paul means. He says we are to live our lives in a worthy manner, meaning that since God called us in Christ Jesus to be his children, we must live according to his commandments. As believers, we’re called OUT of our former way of life–that life that made us objects of the wrath of a holy God. We’re to put off our old sinful nature that’s being corrupted.
Instead, we are to put on the new nature, which is created to like God in righteousness and holiness (Ephesians 4:24). We’re to be like God, not like our former selves, not like unbelievers, not like the world.
We should live as children of light: humble, patient, gentle, loving, peaceful, mature, truthful, industrious, etc., etc. (read the rest on your own).
There should be none of that former corruption coming from our mouths either!
- no gossip
- no slander
- no unwholesome talk
- no obscenity
- no coarse joking
***AND NOT EVEN A HINT OF SEXUAL IMMORALITY***
God’s wrath comes on those who are disobedient, and we have been saved from that, so we’re not to be partners with them in that behavior. Paul says, “Be very careful how you live.”
In Jesus, God gave us his very best–he was the perfect Lamb of God, without sin, who came to take away the sin of the world. His sacrifice on the cross gave us forgiveness of sin, a relationship with God, and blessings in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing (Ephesians 1:3). All of the incredible things described in chapters 1–3.
So THEREFORE, let us listen to Paul and live a life worthy of God’s call.