What should a mature Christian life look like? Is it the things we do, like going to church or reading our Bibles? Is it the “big sins” we don’t do, like getting drunk or stealing? What did Paul mean when he said, “walk worthy of the calling with which you have been called” (Eph. 4.1)?
Isaiah 55 & 56
Does Your Life Picture a Mature Christian Life?
What Does a Mature Christian Life Look Like?
Verse 1 begins with “I, therefore, … beseech you …”
Therefore! Because of all the things Paul had just explained in chapters 1-3—because we are “in Him”—saved, redeemed, sanctified, justified, blessed, set free—we should “walk worthy of the calling with which [we have been] called” (v. 1)!
Now in these last three chapters of Ephesians, Paul begins to tell us how those truths should be lived out. Chapter 4 says:
We should work to have unity and peace in all our relationships—in our family, in our church, in the workplace—wherever God places us (v. 3).
We should no longer be spiritual babies, tossed to and fro by every appealing sounding doctrine or new spiritual experience that comes along (v. 14). Babies need constant attention, are easily upset and will believe in every “Santa Claus” that comes along! We need to be rooted and grounded in the truth instead of wanting someone to make us feel good or think we need to be entertained all the time. We need to “grow up” (v. 15)!
We are to speak the truth in love (v. 15). That means three things should happen. We should speak—not clam up or give someone the silent treatment—ever! Nothing justifies that behavior in the life of a believer. Second we must “speak truth”—not half truths, not omissions of the truth, but truth! And third it must be spoken “in love”—not because we want to give them a “piece of our minds” or unload on someone!
We should not act like pagans who don’t know God (v. 17). That means we can’t justify our behavior because, “Everyone else is doing it,” or because, “This is not the first century!”
That, obviously, means we don’t commit fornication or adultery. But it also means we don’t flirt if we’re married and we don’t flirt with someone who’s married, even if we’re single.
Ladies, it means we don’t dress like the covers of most magazines or some actress (and husbands, don’t ask your wife to dress that way, unless it’s in the privacy of your home). It means our beauty is to be primarily inner and spiritual. It does not mean we have to dress like a grandmother or be drab or unattractive.
It also means we don’t live with someone if we are not married to him or her … period! Having him stay at your house 2 or 3 times a week, or even occasionally, while you’re not technically “living together” is no better. You’re only deceiving yourself.
We’re not to be lewd, unclean or greedy (v. 19). No dirty jokes or sexual innuendos. No lies because “how else are you going to get ahead in business.”
We are to put off those habits and lifestyles of the old sinful nature (v. 22).
We are to work at renewing our minds (v. 23)—spending time in His Word, reading good theologically sound books, memorizing Scripture and meditating on it—thinking about how it is to be lived out in our lives personally.
We are to put on new righteous habits and lifestyles (V. 24).
We are to stop lying, deceiving, omitting, hiding and coloring the truth; and become open and honest in all our relationships (v. 25).
We are not to sin in our anger, but deal with it quickly (v. 26). There are some things that should make us angry, but we cannot use that as an excuse to sin. We must deal with those sinful thoughts, feelings, and actions quickly (don’t let the sun go down on them). If we don’t, we’re giving the devil an open window to crawl—or charge—through (v. 27).
We are to become givers and not takers in life (v. 28).
We are to use our mouths to build others up by speaking words that are filled with God’s grace and are appropriate for the time and place (v. 29). At times that means we must speak the truth in love even though the other person may not want to hear it. Remember, God’s grace means He gives us what we need, not just what we want.
We’re not to grieve the Holy Spirit who lives in us, by willfully, knowingly choosing to sin (v. 30).
We’re not only to put off anger, but all its ugly cousins— bitterness, rage, clamor, slander, malice, etc. and show kindness, compassion and forgiveness, instead, God’s kind of forgiveness—not that “I’m forgiving you because the Bible says I have to, but I’m watching you” kind of forgiveness (vss. 31-32).
If you’re like me, you read that list, and it’s tempting to think, “Why bother? I can’t possibly do all that!” AND YOU’RE RIGHT! But we are not called to do any of these things on our own or in our own strength. The very impossibility of “keeping the law” is what is intended to drive us closer and closer to Christ and make us more and more dependent on Him and the power of His Spirit to work in and through us.
So how do we do that? When we find ourselves with a desire to respond in a way that is contrary to God’s will, we must pray as James instructed by asking for wisdom (Jas. 1.5) and come to the throne of grace where we will find mercy and grace to help in our time of need (Heb. 4.15-16).
We must humbly admit to God that we cannot do these things on our own and call on the power of the Holy Spirit living in us. Remember that same Spirit which raised Jesus from the dead lives in us (Rom. 8.11).
The wonderful thing is that it’s when we recognize that we cannot do what God requires on our own and humbly come to Him, He does His most incredible, transforming work! And the picture of our lives will become more and more that of a mature Christian life.
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Today’s Other Readings:
Isaiah 55 & 56:
Spending Wages for What Does Not Satisfy
These have to be two of the most glorious chapters in all of the Old Testament! We see that God’s offer of salvation is for all who will come to Him, believe, and accept His gracious free gift. Ethnicity and race don’t matter, physical condition doesn’t matter, all can come!
Yet we so often keep God at arm’s length, not wanting to give up what we perceive as better—our freedom to live life our way, to experience what the world has to offer—and only discover after much grief and heartache that we have spent “money for what is not bread, and wages for what does not satisfy.”
Like a Joyful Mother of Children
Verse 8, “… He grants the barren woman a home, like a joyful mother of children.”
Sometimes God fulfills that verse with a pregnancy where the doctors have said it was impossible or a marriage and family when we least planned or expected it. But at other times He fulfills that promise in other unique and special ways like a teaching career with a special calling and anointing from God, or a ministry opportunity that would be difficult if we were married or had children of our own. However He fulfills it, He will cause each of us to be “like a joyful mother of children” if we will trust His wise and perfect choices for us.
Let the Fire Go Out
Verse 20, “Where there is no wood, the fire goes out; and where there is no talebearer, strife ceases.”
Notice it doesn’t say anything about whether the “tale” is true. Just because the “tale” is true does not mean we have the right to “bear” it to others!
In the next few days we’ll talk about angry children, hypocrisy, the armor of God, what’s going on when we think we can sin now and ask forgiveness later and more.
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