The Unworthy Live in a Worthy Manner
As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. 2 Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. 3 Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. 4 There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to one hope when you were called;5 one Lord, one faith, one baptism; 6 one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.
From my notes in last week’s message:
One of the biggest misunderstandings in life is our feeling of the need to deserve God’s love and grace.
The sooner you get past the idea of deserving, the faster you can come to rest in the love that God has for you. God’s love is a gift given freely by Him. He can justly withhold it if He chose to, He is truly free, and He has chosen to love you. John 3:16. For God so loved!!!!!
We cannot deserve God’s grace. We can never be “worthy” of God’s grace in ourselves, apart from Jesus’ atoning death.
BUT there is a proper response to the grace of God in our lives and it is certainly not to do what we want apart from the kingdom of God
Also, it is not to go on sinning because God has paid for or sins. Sin separates us from God and His kingdom rule in our lives
So, Paul presents in the rest of the book of Ephesians the balancing message to unmerited grace.
Paul transitions from what God has done for us to what our proper response is in response to that grace of God. And what we find is that while we do away with the concept of deserving, we seek to live as worthy recipients of grace.
Here is the human question:
Wouldn’t life be better if we could just do what we wanted all the time? Really all this question means is, wouldn’t my life be better if all that I did was accepted as good? Think about it? Why does sin have to be sinful? Let us go on sinning so that grace may increase. The logic of grace can move us in this way. Here is why this is a false narrative.
Sin is bad. We like it, it feels good in the sense that it removes for a short time the pressure of temptation, but sin creates chaos in every foundational aspect of life that we have. It corrupts our relationship to work, the environment, God, spouse, family and friends. That is what it does. Whether or not we receive grace and forgiveness or not. Our bad behavior produces separation from the life that God has for us. So, it is not a matter of deserving grace and forgiveness, it is a matter of not inviting death and pain into our lives and the lives of our loved ones.
Again, wouldn’t life be better if we could just do what we wanted all of the time? What do you think God is working on in your life right now? There are two ways for this to happen. We can change God: we want God to change. He cannot. God can change us! This is very good news! What if you could not change? You can change! You must change! You can learn to will God’s will in your life. And in doing this you are working on being able to do what you want all of the time.
And so Paul tells us here at the beginning to how to direct ourselves toward living in a worthy manner of the grace God has given us.
- Live Like a Prisoner Set Free
God has set us free.
In Galatians 5:
It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.
- Freedom is bound to responsibility
Living like a freed prisoner is an attitude relative to God that will inform our actions toward others.
Just because we cannot earn grace does not mean that living a deserving life is a bad idea. It is always good to be good. We are made for goodness! And sin invites chaos into our lives.
If we do not properly manage our responsibilities, we lose our freedoms.
We are slaves to the one that we obey:
15 What then? Shall we sin because we are not under the law but under grace? By no means! 16 Don’t you know that when you offer yourselves to someone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one you obey—whether you are slaves to sin, which leads to death, or to obedience, which leads to righteousness?
Food, pornography, insecurity, gossip etc. When we do not REFLEXIBLY live in obedience, we evidence slavery to a bad habit or desire.
- Freedom is an opportunity to get it right this time
Resurrection means we get to start over again. It does not mean that God changes His kingdom principles so that we might do what we want. That attitude is silly, and yet…
When others love you they can be taken advantage of and you can make their lives worse. Is that the kind of person you would like to be to God?
- Paul’s life as an example
He was a persecutor. He is now the greatest proponent of Jesus Christ. He was forgiven, and he who is forgiven much loves much. Paul uses the opportunities created by the grace of God in his life to serve Christ.
What does one who lives like a prisoner set free do? They focus their lives on loving one another! Why is this a first principle? Because it is hard. Because it is important. Because this is where we reflect the image of God to each other!
- Love One Another
A worthy life is one that reflects love of God and neighbor. It always has, it always will!
Love is not well defined or demonstrated in our culture.
- Commitment before feelings
We are not talking about feeling like others are important, but acting in their best interest.
We are not requiring people to earn this level of treatment.
These attitudes are to be the pre-set positive in our lives.
We are to love Because God loves us.
We are to love How God loves us. What does this look like? Well, start here.
- Attitudes that inform feelings
2 Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.
Humble: seeing the correct level of relative importance of all people.
Gentle: treating others with the care that they deserve.
Patient: enduring the weaknesses of others without withdrawing love. (Not treating others as they deserve)
Bearing one another’s burdens: investing your time, energy and talent in the life of another person for their good. We are also to bear our own load as well.
- You are learning about God
“As I have loved you” the 11th commandment
You are giving others space to grow.
You are modeling what you want for yourself.
Whose feet did Jesus wash? Whose feet will you wash?
After the commitment to love, we see a commitment to united service!
III. Be United in Service to Christ
We are united because there is only one God.
- No other God
There are appropriate times to adjust our attitudes and actions. This is one of those times. This is what we are to be about!
There is one Spirit. You can quench the Spirit’s fire. You can grieve the Spirit. You can reject the working of the Spirit in your life and substitute your own plans and effort.
There is one Lord: Jesus Christ
One God and Father of all who is over all and through all and in all.
We are united because there is only one kingdom plan.
- No other kingdom or plan
4 There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to one hope when you were called;5 one Lord, one faith, one baptism; 6 one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.
This is God’s plan for you. There is only one:
One body of Christ: This is your identity and there is no other group you will be associated with.
One faith: (One way to enter) Faith in Christ’s work on your behalf and the Spirit’s power in you and each other.
One baptism: One association, one decision to join with God’s plans and purposes (kingdom) for your life.
We are united because there is only one real hope. And that hope is real for me and it is real for you. It is the hope that God can displace the fleshly realities you are hardwired with, with spiritual realities that at the beginning you do not want!
- One hope is real hope
What you don’t like you will like.
What feels like death will be life.
God is at work.
Because you don’t “feel” like living like you are worthy today, doesn’t mean that your feelings won’t change tomorrow. We invest ourselves as prisoners because we deserve to do this and then God goes to work on us and in us. All of the implications of this are expressed in the verses that are upcoming.