RCC in the Word – Week of February 25

RCC in the Word
Week of February 25
Ephesians 4

The Worthy Walk
 
“we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us”
-Romans 8:37
 
I was with some friends recently at lunch and a few of us were reflecting on where we would be without Jesus. Our thoughts ran to unsaved loved ones, and old, unsaved friends who over the years have lived lives that were spiritually speaking, shipwrecked. My humble friend exclaimed “that’s where I would be” reflecting on the powerful force of sin and how she too would be shipwrecked had it not been for the Lord. Sin indeed is a powerful foe. The enormity of its presence in every aspect of our lives both externally and internally is enough for many of us to throw up our hands in defeat.
 
What is remarkable about this all-encompassing, ever-present foe (Romans 7:21) is that it has, what appears to be, major advantages and numerous allies, namely the very world around us and the invasiveness of our fallen flesh. In the book of Exodus, we get an account of the enormity, of a monstrous enemy, and his all-encompassing, intimidating, kingdom. His power is displayed in every way possible before the enslaved Israelites. Pyramids, monuments, and statues of false gods at every turn. The Israelites were indeed at a great disadvantage, left to themselves. But as they labored in slavery, they prayed, and the God of power heard their cries (Exodus 3:9).
 
Amazingly that story does not end with their defeat or captivity. In a display of great sovereignty, God unleashes his power, and suddenly what appeared to be an all-encompassing force to the Israelites, is reduced down to “nothing.”
 
In the first part of verse 1 in chapter 4 to the Ephesians the great apostle, says this: “I Paul, a prisoner for the Lord.”  With just a few introductory words Paul mocks the power of sin. I am no longer a slave or a prisoner to sin (Romans 6:18) but a content (Phil 4:12) prisoner of the Lord. You see Paul, like all of us, is a redeemed man. He is in fact so changed that he now can turn sin on its head and steal its ultimate intent-to make us slaves or prisoners. Sin wants to master us (Gen 4:7) and force us to be a prisoner to its lusts. Without shame and with a sense of gladness, Paul claims he is a prisoner for the Lord and then emphatically calls us to “walk worthy” of the calling to which we have been called. That is, he wants us too, to be glad, prisoners of the Lord. Prisoners that are humble, gentle, patient and bear with one another. The way Paul uses the word “prisoner” in a positive, godly fashion reminds me of David taking Goliath’s own sword and using it to cut off his head. David, by faith, mocked Goliath’s intimidating presence and then used his very own sword to kill him.
And so too Paul mocks captivity.
 
Paul was no captive at all but rather captivated by His God.

In the Exodus account above the Israelites witness God’s power as all the firstborn of the Egyptians die. This of course results in their release. Not only are they no longer prisoners or slaves to Egypt but they walk away with the Egyptians riches.
 
“35 The people of Israel had also done as Moses told them, for they had asked the Egyptians for silver and gold jewelry and for clothing. 36 And the Lord had given the people favor in the sight of the Egyptians, so that they let them have what they asked. Thus they plundered the Egyptians.
 
Did you hear that? They “plundered” the enemy. They cut off Goliath’s head with his own sword. They, through God’s power, were freed, mocking the enemy.
In Ephesians 4:7-9 Paul gives us a glimpse into the magnitude of the believers, “plundering” of the enemy.
He says that “grace was given to all of us who are called. It’s important to note that this grace goes beyond its salvific nature.
You see, Jesus who is the God of all power “descended (Eph 4:8) from His ascended position.
 
Why?
 
To lead (like Moses) a host of captives out of slavery and into freedom (Gal 5:1).
 
Ephesians 4:8 says it this way:
“When he ascended on high he led a host of captives,
    and he gave gifts to men.”
 
As if His rescue was not enough for us, Jesus then provides gifts to each of his saints as they leave their proverbial Egypt.
 
Amazing!
 
Jesus who ascended, humbled himself and descended to not just save you, but bless you with spiritual gifts so that we all may become like him.
 
Check out Ephesians 4:11-13:
“And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers,  to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ,  until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ,
 
What does the plundering of the enemy look like for us?
 
It looks like exercising spiritual gifts by faith so that others may become mature with Christlike character. (Ephesians 4:13).
It looks like us being “eager” to maintain unity, unlike the world. (Ephesians 4:3)
It looks like “bearing with one another” in humility and gentleness through love (Ephesians 4:2).
This my friends is a worthy walk. Paul “urged” us to walk this way because Christ rescued us from captivity.
To walk worthy of the Gospel we have to walk in the manner of Christ himself.
 
For instance, how are you doing at “bearing with one another?”
The Phillips translation of “bearing with one another” says to “make provisions” for one another.
 
Making provisions for others sins, weaknesses and shortcomings is “worthy” of your calling (Proverbs 19:11). Making no provision for them or being impatient is not.
Being “eager” to maintain unity is “worthy” of your calling. Being eager to slander or gossip is not.
My friends these qualities are not ordinary! They are amazingly contrary to this world and improbable, like that of the weak slave carrying away a powerful enemies gold and silver.
You see Romans 8 says you are “more than conquerors” through him who loved you!
My friends, you are more than conquerors! You have been freed and equipped with gifts from above.
 
To push this forward even further, consider that your gifts to teach, shepherd, evangelize, etc. were given to build others up in the church.
And we are to do this to the point where our brothers and sisters own the “measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ” (Ephesians 4:13).
 
How is that for the weak plundering the enemy?
 
You, the embodiment of sin and weakness are being used, through your gifts to build others up. And the ones you are building up become as contrary to this world as Christ himself; holy, righteous, wise, gentle, and kind (Ephesians 4:32).
 
Think:
 The same power that called you, will conform you (Romans 8:29).
 The lies and false beliefs the world owns cannot own you any longer (Ephesians 4:14).
 You have the truth (Ephesians 4:21).
Walking worthy means we put off and put on. We remove the old clothes of sin we once wore. Those garments are filthy and old. How badly do we want to remove filthy clothes? Instead we become renewed by the transforming of our minds (Romans 12:2 & Eph 4:23) and put on the new clothes of holiness.
 
Ephesians 4:22-24:
22 to put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires,23 and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, 24 and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.
 
Walking worthy means you must acknowledge and act upon what you know to be true. Walking worthy means you walk knowing you represent him who is holy and righteous:
Don’t lie but rather be truthful (V25)
Don’t steal but rather labor and share with those in need (V28)
Don’t use speech that tears down but rather builds up and gives grace to those who hear it (V29)
Don’t grieve God but rather please him (V30 and 2 Cor 5:9)
Don’t be a bitter, angry, wrathful, clamoring slanderer but rather be kind and tender to each other.
And, forgive one another!
 
And why should we do all this?
 
Because as Ephesians 4:32 says, God through Christ forgave us! My friends, the Lord of all creation, who authored the scriptures and holds all things together (Col 1:17) died for you walking more worthy than we can ever comprehend. His desire for you now is very simple.
 
Walk worthy too.
 
Love others, bear with one another, be kind and tender.

Your freedom was improbable.

Walk like you know that today.
 
Blessings,
Written by Peter J. Figliozzi