VIII. Perfection. Ephesians 4:1-16 Message Fourteen
Based on the facts set before them in the previous three chapters, “I therefore….”, Paul wrote to them about choices they should make and how these choices will influence their lives in the matter of perfection (which we will speak of later) and influence the lives of those that will follow them.
Ephesians 4:1-3 I therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you that ye walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called, With all lowliness and meekness, with longsuffering, forbearing one another in love; Endeavouring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.
We begin by looking at –
- The choice Paul made in his life.
Ephesians 4:1a I therefore, the prisoner of the Lord…
Paul had well learned through God’s Word and personal experience that God is in control! When we get saved, coming to God in faith in His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, we acknowledge that God is in control and we must listen and obey Him.
We should make a public statement of this change in our lives by telling others that we have been saved by the grace of God through faith in Him through His Son, Jesus Christ.
We should also make a public statement of our salvation by being baptized, showing that we believe in the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus and that we identify with Him, not being ashamed of Him –
Romans 6:4-5 Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection:
Each day following the day of our salvation we should learn through His Word by reading the Bible, learn through our prayer time with Him, and learn through the experiences of each day as He leads us, that He is in control.
This is a truth, a fact that we must learn for ourselves. We hear it in preaching and in the testimonies of others, but each of us must learn for ourselves.
When we are saved, we are like a container, filled with things that need to be removed and making room for things that need to be added. This change should be noticed by our own selves and by those around us. We will know that God is in control! As we throw out things and as He puts in things, we find that we are trusting in Him more and more. During this time of growth, God encourages us to trust Him more and more.
1 John 5:13-15 These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life, and that ye may believe on the name of the Son of God. And this is the confidence that we have in him, that, if we ask any thing according to his will, he heareth us: And if we know that he hear us, whatsoever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we desired of
1 Peter 5:6-7 Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time: Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you.
We must have confidence in the Lord and whatever our situation should say with the Psalmist –
Psalm 56:3-4 What time I am afraid, I will trust in thee. In God I will praise his word, in God I have put my trust; I will not fear what flesh can do unto me.
People who have confidence in the world and the things contained therein do not understand that God is in control –
What is it that Paul is declaring in the words “…I therefore, the prisoner of the Lord…..”
Emperor Nero thought Paul was his prisoner
The Romans thought Paul was their prisoner
The centurion thought that Paul had been his prisoner
Festus thought that Paul had been his prisoner
Felix had thought Paul had been his prisoner
The chief captain of the Roman guard in Jerusalem thought Paul had been his prisoner
But God was in control the entire time and was insuring that Paul would arrive safely in Rome –
Acts 23:11 And the night following the Lord stood by him, and said, Be of good cheer, Paul: for as thou hast testified of me in Jerusalem, so must thou bear witness also at Rome.
Even if he would be traveling Prison Class!
One of my favourite thoughts on the ‘prisoner’ status of Paul is found in Paul’s journey to Rome. Along the journey he was to them at first a prisoner, then a preacher, then a prophet, then a protector, then a provider, and upon arrival in Italy – a prince! And finally Paul was delivered to Nero, but he was as much Nero’s prisoner as Jesus was Pilate’s prisoner –
John 19:10-11 Then saith Pilate unto him, Speakest thou not unto me? knowest thou not that I have power to crucify thee, and have power to release thee? Jesus answered, Thou couldest have no power at all against me, except it were given thee from above: therefore he that delivered me unto thee hath the greater sin.
Pilate had his authority from Ceasar and Ceasar was emperor according to the will of God –
Romans 13:1 Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God.
So Pilate was under the authority of Ceasar and Ceasar was under the authority of God – “…except it were given thee from above.” Pilate was confused by the entire situation and tried desperately to get out of it, throwing off the responsibility to others.
Caiaphas’ authority, as the High Priest, came from God. Caiaphas was not confused and knew exactly what he was doing, therefore having the greater sin! In both cases, though, God was in control!
Pilate thought that he was only accountable to Ceasar and Ceasar thought that he was only accountable to himself! The day of their accounting to Him before the Great White Throne of Judgment is coming! And Ceasar and Pilate will be standing alongside the High Priest, Caiaphas, receiving their sentence of eternal separation from God – except if they turned to God for salvation before they died. Only God and they know if this is the case at this time.
Paul believed it was most important for us to understand this fact and so stated it three times in this letter –
Ephesians 3:1 For this cause I Paul, the prisoner of Jesus Christ for you Gentiles,
Ephesians 4:1 I therefore, the prisoner of the Lord
Ephesians 6:20 For which I am an ambassador in bonds:
God is in control and we should make choices based on that knowledge.
Paul made his choices believing with all of his being that God is in control of all things. What about our choice? Having this same confidence provides us with the foundation for –
- The choice of an obedient attitude. Ephesians 4:1b
“…beseech you that ye walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called,…”
- The exhortation “…beseech you…” you have a choice to “…observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you…”
- The exaltation “…that ye walk worthy of the vocation…”
Colossians 1:21,22 yet now hath he reconciled…… In the body of his flesh through death, to present you holy and unblameable and unreproveable in his sight:
- The expectation “…wherewith ye are called…” submission to the request of He who called.
2 Corinthians 5:17-20 Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new. And all things are of God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation; To wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation. Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us: we pray you in Christ’s stead, be ye reconciled to God.
Next week we will look at how Paul instructs us how to fulfil the will of God – continuing to make right choices –
Today we have decisions – choices to make which will affect our lives, the lives of those around us, and the lives of those that come after us.
Do you believe that God is in control of all things?
Trust Him then and by your own choice –
Pray, asking Him for His wisdom,
Read His Word, seeking His guidance,
Live in such a way as to bring glory to God in all things.
Colossians 3:17 And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him.