Walking In A Worthy Manner – Ephesians 4:1-2

Walking In A Worthy Manner

Nick Esch, 7/21/2019 Cornerstone Baptist Church

Introduction

We’ve now made it through half of the book of Ephesians; so today we begin our journey through the back half of the book. The last three chapters are extremely practical—Paul takes the heights of all of the grand theology that he laid out in the first three chapters and he seeks to bring them down to earth where we can put the implications of all of that theology into practice. So before we can really dive into chapter 4 we need to remind ourselves of what we’ve seen in the first three chapters… There we saw that we were dead in the trespasses and sins in which we once walked; we were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind. But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ… He loved us when we were at our worst… In fact, He loved us even before all of that.

         Ephesians tells us that in love the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ chose us in Christ before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before Him. In love, knowing that we would sin and rebel against Him, instead of writing us off He predestined us for adoption to Himself as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of His will, to the praise of His glorious grace… God displayed His great love for us by sending Jesus to provide redemption through his blood, to provide forgiveness for our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, which He lavished upon us, and lavishes upon all who will turn from their sin and trust in Him. And God doesn’t leave all of that to chance…

In love, this great God predestined us according to His purpose, or His calling, so that we would hope in Christ, and so that we who do hope in Christ might be to the praise of His glory. When we heard the word of truth, the gospel of our salvation, and believed in Him, He sealed us with the promised Holy Spirit, who is the guarantee of our inheritance and the very reason we will acquire possession of it. By God’s grace, through the working of the Spirit, God saves us, keeps us, grows us, and brings us to Himself for the praise of His glory. By grace we have been saved through faith. And this is not our own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.

         These are just the things we see in the first two chapters of Ephesians; but it doesn’t stop there. In chapter three we’re told that this great God—who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, because He is infinitely bigger and infinitely more powerful than we think—we’re told that His grand purpose in creating is for Him to be gloried in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. We’re told that through the mystery of the gospel and the unity and reconciliation that Christ purchased on the cross, that now through the life and gospel-community of the church that the manifold wisdom of God, that His might, majesty, and glory are now being made known or put on display for the watching world, for the universe, even to angels and demons… We’re told that God’s chief design in the universe is the public display of His glory in and through local churches… That in one-way or another the existence of all of creation is tied to this purpose. This is the church, God’s chosen people, this is our calling… To walk in the good works that God prepared for us, and to thereby display, or magnify the glory of this great God who has loved us since before He ever created us… We are to live for the praise of His glorious grace…

So really what we see in the first three chapters of Ephesians is who God is, what the gospel is, who the church is, and what the church is to be about. The Greek Word used for church in God’s Word is ἐκκλησία which basically means two things: it was a word commonly used to refer to a gathering of people, or an assembly of people; but it was also a word used to refer to a called out people, or a select or chosen group… So in God’s Word He uses the word church to refer to His chosen people who have been or will be called out of darkness into His marvelous light, or called out of the world into God’s family to live for God’s glory… And as His people assemble together to form local churches they then embark on this grand calling to live for and display the glory of God and the glorious grace of God in Jesus Christ.

Ephesians 4:1-2

Now, in light of that context, our text begins in verse 1 with Paul saying, “I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called…” And the thereforeis pointing us back to everything I just laid out. Therefore, in light of who God is, in light of what the gospel is, in light of who we are as God’s church, and in light of our calling to live for God’s glory, Paul says, that we are now then to live in a manner worthy of our calling. But notice what he says before that…

         Before getting to us, he reminds us once again that he is a prisoner for the Lord. He’s already mentioned this more than once in Ephesians, so it’s not as if he thinks they forgot… No… He’s trying to make a point. Before he calls the Ephesians to live in a worthy manner, before he calls us to live in a worthy manner, he wants to remind us that God truly is worthy, and that living for the glory of God in Christ is indeed worth it. Paul believes so strongly in what he’s been laying out that he willingly and joyfully is enduring prison… He’d rather be a prisoner for the Lord than abandon the faith… I heard a story recently about a brother in the persecuted church. He was arrested for his faith, interrogated and tortured, and then told that if he did not forsake Christ, if he did not deny that Christ was His Lord and Savior that he would be hung… And when he heard this he told his persecutors, “I would rather kiss the rope than deny Christ…” Why would he do this? Why would he say this? Because he knew that Jesus is worth it… And that’s exactly where Paul starts here.

         Paul says, “I therefore, in view of the great gospel of Christ, and as one who knows that Jesus and the gospel and the glory of God are worthy causes to live for and even suffer for, now urge you to walk in a manner worthy of your calling…” The idea behind the word walk here isto live, it’s our conduct or manner of life. So the call is to live in a certain way, or to give our lives for a certain cause… And this idea of calling is like a purpose, but it’s more than that. As Paul said in Ephesians 1:18, we have been called to a hope—as in a confident future expectation, or future hope. Or as Ephesians 4:4 says, we were called to the one hope that belongs to our call… And our hope and our call are both linked to the same thing, or rather the same person, Jesus Christ. As Paul says in 1 Timothy 1:1, our God and Savior Jesus Christ is our hope. That’s why Paul said things like what he said in Philippians 3:14… There he said, “I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” He sought to work hard and to pour out his life in a manner worthy of the call God had on him in Christ, the call to live for the glory of Christ, to treasure Christ supremely, and to live in such a way that all could see that Christ was indeed His greatest treasure, and should be theirs as well…

         So, because we have this hope, the confident expectation of eternal life with Christ and eternal joy in Christ, we are called to live for Christ while we do live… We are called to magnify His glory in our body, whether by life or by death… Notice how verse 1 is worded: we are to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which we have been called. In other words, we do not earn our salvation or work for our salvation. We are called first… God, in His sovereign grace first calls us and then by His grace enables us to walk or live in light of our calling.

         In 1 Corinthians 1:9 God’s Word says, “God is faithful, by whom you were called into the fellowship of his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.” And that’s generally what is meant by being called. Being called out of sin, out of darkness into God’s marvelous light, into God’s family, into fellowship with Jesus, and thus the whole Trinity. So, to be called here is to become a Christian, to be saved, to be born again… And this is not something we can do. It’s not something we muster up or figure out. As God’s Word goes on to say in 1 Corinthians, “For consider your calling, brothers: not many of you were wise according to worldly standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth. But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, so that no human being might boast in the presence of God. And because of him you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, righteousness and sanctification and redemption, so that, as it is written, ‘Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord’” (1:26-31).

         God calls us when we are at our worst; He calls us when we are blind, deaf, and dead in our sin… But His call is powerful! The gospel is the power of God for salvation… And after calling us powerfully in and through the Spirit empowered gospel-call, He then calls us to live in a manner worthy of our calling. And remember, our calling is to Christ, to Jesus… So we are called to live in a manner worthy of Him. The Greek word for worthy used here is the word ἀξίως (axiōs); and you can hear the English word axis in there… And that’s kind of the idea, like the earth spins on an axis that keeps everything balanced and just right, so too the idea of axiōs is that of balance, counterbalance, or weighing as much as, or being in equal worth. So picture the old school balancing scales, where one side needs to be equal to the other. That’s what we are being told here: that our lives, and the way we live our lives should display the weight, worth, and value of Jesus and His great gospel… That our lives should be balanced by and centered on Jesus, and thus display how amazing our hope in Christ is… In other words our lives should display the beauty and majesty and worth and value of the glory of Christ. Our lives and our manner of life should display to the world how good and how amazing Jesus is…

         Now, with that in mind, the question is, how do we do that? Or, what does the life that displays the worth and the value of Jesus look like? And really, that’s the question that Paul will be answering throughout the rest of the book of Ephesians, but he begins to give us insight into the answer in our text today. So, let’s start the journey that we’ll be on throughout the rest of Ephesians by looking at verse 2. There we’re told that we are to live out our calling to magnify the glory of Christ by living, “with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love…”

         Notice first that verse 2 assumes the local church; it assumes that the Christian life happens in the context of the local church—that every Christian is committed to and in community with a group of Christians assembled together making up a local church. That’s the one anotherit’s referring to here. The one another is not the world, and it’s not even the church at large, but a local body of believers who know each other and are around each other, who have covenanted together with God and themselves to fulfill the one another commands of the Bible, and to help each other walk in faithfulness to Christ for the glory of Christ. So, one major thing we see here right off is that if we would be faithful to live out our calling, if we are going to truly be Christians we must be committed to a local church. And that doesn’t mean just coming to church on Sunday every once and a while; it means putting the church at the very center of your life—it means knowing one another, doing life together, and loving one another.

As I mentioned earlier, God has placed the church at very center of His purposes, so why wouldn’t we? As John Stott once said, “The church lies at the very center of the eternal purpose of God. It is not a divine afterthought. It is not an accident of history. On the contrary, the church is God’s new community. For his purpose, conceived in a past eternity, being worked out in history, and to be perfected in a future eternity, is not just to save isolated individuals and so perpetuate our loneliness, but rather to build his church, that is, to call out of the world a people for his own glory.” And, “If the church is central to God’s purpose, as seen in both history and the gospel, it must surely also be central to our lives. How can we take lightly what God takes so seriously? How dare we push to the perimeter what God has placed at the center?” So given how God feels about His church, I wonder, how do you feel? Are you passionate about the church the way God is? Church is not a hobby, it’s not a show, it’s not a club, or a place to be entertained; it’s not merely about a Sunday morning worship service… The church is an assembled people, a gospel community, a family of faith committed to living life together for the glory of Jesus… It’s a group of disciples discipling one another and seeking to make disciples… So, in order for us to rightly live fore the glory of Christ, in order for a Christian to be faithful and walk in obedience to Christ we must do it in community with one another.

         Now it says we are to do this with all humility and gentleness; Paul lays out a list of attitudes or virtues we are to have, but the way this is worded shows us that these first two are linked, and that’s because humility and gentleness go hand in hand just as pride and anger go hand in hand… But what is humility? C. S. Lewis once said, “Humility is not thinking less of yourself but thinking of yourself less.” But, we are so naturally self-absorbed that humility really only happens as a reflex to pursuing something great. Only God can make us truly humble… So, the key to humility is not trying to think less of yourself, nor trying to think of yourself less; it is thinking of Christ more, seeking to know Him more, and being desperately dependent upon Him in prayer (really, everything Paul has been showing us in Ephesians 1-3). And as our view of Christ grows, as we know Him more, that will all the more put us in our place; which will not only make us humble, but all the more gentle… Because who are we to be wrathful, angry, or vengeful? We are not God; we are not the King; Jesus is! We are sinners saved by grace. We are children of God all because of the adopting grace of God in the person and work of the Son of God. All we deserve is death and hell; so what do we have to be angry about? What do we have to be harsh or vengeful about? Everything we are and everything we have and will have is all because of Jesus. So as we look to Him humility and gentleness become more at home in us. And so even our humility displays the worth of Christ.

         Next he says we are to exercise this humility and gentleness with patience… Gentleness and patience are both a part of the fruit of the Spirit; in other words, it’s impossible to truly have these virtues in a God glorifying way apart from a work of the grace of God in our lives. And patience is an interesting concept: the word literally means to have internal and external self-control in a difficult situation or circumstance; in other words, you’re able to delay an action, or to act slow and thoughtful, instead of immediately reacting in the flesh. In the Bible patience tends to go together with endurance, forbearance or long-suffering, and waiting graciously. Or sometimes it’s seen as a display of true love: “Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things” (1 Corinthians 13:4-7).

         And this goes right along with what we see next; we are to do all of thisbearing with one another in love. The idea behind bearing with someone is literally to put up with something or someone annoying or harmful; to be able to endure such things or such a person… But it doesn’t mean that we are merely to tolerate one another, because it says we are to do this in love. We can tolerate someone we hate for a time… But here we are called to bear with one another in lovewith all humility and gentleness, and with patience… In other words we are to follow the example of God who is slow to anger, long-suffering, and patient with us, all because He loves us—He is abounding in steadfast love, even for sinners like you and me. He’s gracious…These are the attitudes, the virtues, the attributes that are to mark us out if we are going to magnify the glory of Christ. In other words, if we are going to live for Jesus we have to live like Jesus, and we have to love like Jesus—we have to be Christlike…

And that’s exactly what this love mentioned here is—it’s a Christlike love. The Greek word for love here is ἀγάπη, which is divine love characterized by sacrifice in the pursuit of another person’s good. In the next chapter of Ephesians Paul says that Christ loved us and gave Himself for us; and it’s that love that Christ displayed on the cross. He has loved us in a way that is unlike any other love in the universe. He came down from heaven, took on flesh, took on sin, took on wrath, took on death, and then satisfied God’s wrath, and defeated sin and death for all who will turn from their sin and trust in Him. Jesus literally poured Himself out to the death in love… But even more astonishing is that He willingly had the wrath of God poured out upon Himself in our place in love; all while we were His enemies… Jesus has loved us with a completely selfless sacrificial love. And He didn’t just give up a few things for us; He gave up everything for us and went through the absolute worst suffering imaginable… All for our good and God’s glory… All so that we could be like Him, be with Him, and enjoy Him forever—that’s the good that ἀγάπηlove seeks…

This is truly a God glorifying love because it displays how loving and lovely God is, not how lovely we are. Jesus loved us and gave Himself for us because He loved us while we were at our worst, while we were yet sinners… In humility and gentleness, with patience, He bore with us in love; He was long-suffering with us even while we were utterly annoying, while we were wretched sinners, enemies of God, even haters of God… There was nothing in us lovely or attractive to God, yet He loved us anyway… Which is a bit of a foreign concept to us… Let me show you what I mean…

Imagine a young man and a young woman have been dating for a little while, and things are starting to get serious. The man decides he wants to marry this woman. After getting permission from her parents and picking out the perfect ring he takes this young woman to just the right spot to propose to her. After getting her there in this perfect place, at the perfect time, with the perfect ring, he tells her, “From the first day I met you I found you offensive, and time has only proven it all the more to be true. Your hair is always a mess, just like the rest of you, you whine and complain all of the time; you’re impatient, you’re mean, and everything about you displays how wretched and self-obsessed you really are. Yet I love you. Will you marry me?” What do you think she’s going to say to that? No way! Right? She doesn’t feel loved at all. In no way did this man make her feel lovely. Yet he still claims to love her and wants to marry her. How could this be? Well, either this guy doesn’t understand what love is, or if she’s really as bad as he says, and his love is real, it must come from how lovely He is, not how lovely she is. That he could love this woman in spite of how bad she is says a lot about him. And you see, this is closer to the type of love we see in Christ.

         We tend to think about and measure love in terms of someone finding someone else lovely and lovable. But that’s not ἀγάπηlove… Jesus doesn’t love us because we’re lovely. In our sin we are completely unlovely and unlovable—wretches and rebels against God—yet somehow the scandalously gracious God of the universe loves us anyway: He loves people from every tribe, tongue, nation, and generation anyway. How could this be? Well, it’s not because we’re lovely that He loves us, it’s because He is lovely. This is at the core of the love of Christ, and this is the type of love that we are to have for one another…

         But now you might say, “How can I be humble and gentle, and with patience bare with other sinners in love if I myself am a sinner and not altogether lovely like Jesus is? I mean, it makes sense for Jesus to be able to love this way because He is perfect, perfectly lovely, and perfectly loving; but I’m not…” But you see, that’s exactly the point. We can love and live the way we’re called to here, not because we are awesome and lovely in and of ourselves, and not because the people we are seeking to love are awesome and lovely in and of themselves, but because our great God is awesome and lovely in and of Himself, and has loved us with a greater love than we could ever fully understand. God the Father is altogether lovely. Jesus is altogether lovely. The Holy Spirit is altogether lovely… And the love they have and the love shown in the cross of Christ shows this to be true. The love displayed in the gospel makes much of God. But the love that we are called to display is not meant to show how loving we are, or to make much of us; it’s meant to glorify God and to make much of Jesus. And even though the person we may be loving may be completely unlovable, that’s ok, because we are not meant to love them because of them, or even to love them in a way that makes much of them, but to love them because of Jesus for Jesus… As 1 John 4:19 says, “We love because he first loved us.” And because He loved us perfectly in the gospel, completely in spit of us, we can love others with a Christlike love, in spite of how hard they may be to love. And in doing this we actually live out our calling to live for and display the glory of God and the glorious grace of God in Jesus Christ.

Conclusion

The Bible is honest about how hard life is, and even how hard and messed up the church can be. Our text assumes that living out our calling is going to be hard, and that doing life together is going to be hard. It assumes that we are all sinners that still struggle with pride, anger, and flat out being annoying. But in God’s good design, when we walk together in love we walk in a manner worthy of our calling. When we love one another, not because of how great we are, but because of how great Jesus is, we display the worth and value of Jesus to one another, and to the watching world; we show that Jesus is our greatest treasure, not us. This calling would be impossible if not for the grace of God; this calling would be impossible if not for the love of God. But as we look to Christ, as we look to the love of God in Christ we are enabled, empowered, and compelled to love Christ and love like Christ. And living Christlike and loving Christlike, especially in the context of the local church is how we magnify the glory of Christ and begin to truly live in a manner worthy of our calling. So let’s commit ourselves to marvel at Christ day by day and to live for and to love like Christ day by day, for His glory and our good.