August 24-25, 2019. Ephesians 6:1-4. A Home in Christ part 3: Children and Parents.

Ephesians 6:1-4. Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. 2 “Honor your father and mother” (this is the first commandment with a promise),3 “that it may go well with you and that you may live long in the land.” 4 Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.

Union with Christ changes everything. It is God’s process for accomplishing his will – the bringing of everything under the authority of Christ (1:9-10). Paul has taken us from the heavenlies to the house. From his cosmic plan for Christ to rule over the universe, down to the very earthly plan of Christ ruling in and through his church and in and through our homes.

All of our blessings in the heavenly places in Christ (1:3) have found a landing place. And it’s in our everyday relationships. This is the will of God (1:9-10). This is walking in love (5:2) and light (5:8). This is living not as fools but as wise (5:15). This is the filling of the Spirit (5:18). This is submission to one another out of reverence for Christ (5:21). It is the exaltation of Christ in and through our lives as both children and parents.

Just as with Paul’s teaching on marriage, the natural order of the family is not destroyed here, but it is placed under Christ. The beauty of the gospel seed is that it brings a new creation OUT OF the old. The old is made new. Family is not annulled it is restored to its proper Christ exalting place. Marriage and family are part of God’s good creation, but they are not ultimate. We will not live forever as married or in our natural family units. But rather than destroying marriage and family the resurrection of Christ and the indwelling of Christ has transformed them into the penultimate signs that they are. Pointers to Christ and God, and his family and his household (2:15-22).

Our union with Christ does not destroy marriage or family. It transforms them. It gives them new meaning. And a new power.

Look at Ephesians 6:1-3. Children are told to obey their parents in the Lord. Why? Because it is right, and because of the promise of the Law (go well with you , and live long). The natural order and the order of the Old Testament scriptures are not destroyed or even dismissed. But look at what Paul says just BEFORE these – obey in the Lord. Why should you obey your parents? How do you obey your parents? In the Lord.

Christ IN YOU and YOU IN CHRIST.

Our reason to obey our parents as children and to continue honoring our parents into adulthood is not simply because it is naturally right or the fulfilling of the law’s promise. Union with Christ the Lord has swallowed those reasons up. We obey and honor because of our union with Christ. Because the Christ in us would obey. And the Christ in your parents deserves to be honored. Because all things in heaven and earth will be brought into Christ, including your relationship with your mom and dad. Because the Christ in us is the crucified Christ who would sacrifice for those he loves. Obedience to parents is the cruciform life. The life of love.

We can see this same power of union with Christ in the command to fathers in verse 4. Is it naturally right for fathers to bring up (nurture) their children? Is it the Old Testament law’s desire for them to discipline and instruct them? Of course it is.

But union with Christ gives us an even greater power and motivation – of the Lord. We aren’t aiming for nice, socially acceptable, passive kids. Our goal is to be Christ to them and stir up the fullness of Christ in them as they come to know him. It is the Lord’s nurture, the Lord’s discipline, the Lord’s instruction that we are graciously sharing with each child.

Why do we raise our children sacrificially and dare I say submissively to them? Why do we give our lives for them in the nurturing, in the disciplining, in the instruction? Because this is the way of Christ and the cross. This too is the cruciform life.

And so here, just as we saw in the mystery of marriage, we see the cycle of love completed again. Parents giving love to their children as they bring them up. Children obediently receiving that love and then in honor giving that love back. Parents receiving that honor and returning it once again, submitting by respecting their children so as to not provoke them to anger.

“To live is Christ” has great implications for our families. If Christ is going to rule the whole universe can we start by letting him rule in our homes? As a child will you be Christ to your parents? Obeying and honoring them? As a parent will you be Christ to your children? Nurturing them through the balance of discipline and instruction? Together in our families we can complete the walk of love that Christ has given to us his image bearers. May our families reflect his glory through his cross each day.

August 23, 2019. Ephesians 5:22- A Home in Christ part 2: The Mystery of Marriage.

Ephesians 5:22-33. 2 Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. 23 For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior. 24 Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit in everything to their husbands.
25 Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, 26 that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, 27 so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish. 28 In the same way husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. 29 For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church, 30 because we are members of his body. 31 “Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.” 32 This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church. 33 However, let each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband.

Marriage is so much bigger than the two people who are married. Yes, we know that God invented marriage and blessed it. But what we find here in Ephesians 5 is the mystery of marriage. What we didn’t know until this little section of a letter, is that marriage reveals the once hidden truth of the gospel. It reveals the mystery of Christ, the mystery of the cross, and the mystery of the church.

Christ

Christ is the union of God and man in the man Jesus. Beyond this, in our union with Christ, God and man are joined in each of our lives. As Paul said in 1 Corinthians 6 we are one spirit with Christ. Here in Ephesians 5 he says it this way – because we are members of his body. Then he quotes Genesis 2:24 about one flesh union in marriage.

What does it all mean? It means that if you are married, your marriage is a living display of the Christian’s union with Christ and Christ’s union with humanity.

The mystery is that marriage is intended for more than just the pragmatics of procreation or our personal happiness. It is intended to reveal Christ and our union with him. To mirror it. To image it. To show him to the world. But how?

Notice that both the wife and the husband do what they do as Christ and as unto the Lord. This is deeper than trying to follow Christ’s example in our marriages. It is seeing Christ IN ourselves and in our spouse. To love and respect is to be the living Christ. To love and respect another is to love and respect Christ himself.

We’re super heroes. What could happen? (off to a bad start)

The Cross

The mystery of the cross is that God will save the world through weakness. Life through death. Glory through suffering. Good through evil. This is the cross.

And this is marriage.

Why are wives told to submit to their husbands? Why are husbands told to love their wives sacrificially, giving himself up for her?

Is Paul combating the Ephesian’s ultra-feministic culture? Is he upholding the household codes of the day? Yes, probably both. But there’s more. He’s showing them the mystery of the cross. The mystery of a life united to Christ the crucified one. He’s asking wives and husband to both live the cruciform life while being male and female.

What is a male? The word male in scripture means to remember and to act, to move, to give. What is a female? The word female in scripture means to be opened or to receive. Men give and women receive. This is the cycle of love. This is the nature of the Trinity. This is Christ. He was both a giver and a receiver. He’s God’s receiving body and the church’s giving head. The cross and resurrection was the giving of life and the receiving of life. It was love.

What is Paul asking wives and husbands to do? He’s asking husbands to get over themselves and love their wives to the end of themselves. He’s asking wives to get over themselves and receive that love. To respect the effort. To submit to the loving nourishment of her husband.

He’s asking them to live out the mystery of the cross.

The Church

The church is the mystery of God. The mystery of his redemptive plan. A plan to save the whole world – Jew and Gentile, male and female, slave and free.

And how does God save humanity?

He marries us.

No other relationship between God and man is as intimate and yet as securely covenantal as this one. We are the Bride of Christ. One flesh with him. This is our salvation- our union with Christ by our marriage to Christ and the joining of the two into one.

This is what marriage is, a revealing of these great mysteries. The mystery of Christ, the mystery of the cross, the mystery of the church, and the mystery of “to live is Christ.”

August 22, 2019. Ephesians 5:22-6:9. A Home In Christ part 1: From the Heavenlies to the House.

22 Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. 23 For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior. 24 Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit in everything to their husbands.
25 Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, 26 that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, 27 so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish. 28 In the same way husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. 29 For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church, 30 because we are members of his body. 31 “Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.”32 This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church. 33 However, let each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband.

6:1 Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. 2 “Honor your father and mother” (this is the first commandment with a promise),3 “that it may go well with you and that you may live long in the land.”4 Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.

5 Bondservants, obey your earthly masters with fear and trembling, with a sincere heart, as you would Christ, 6 not by the way of eye-service, as people-pleasers, but as bondservants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart, 7 rendering service with a good will as to the Lord and not to man, 8 knowing that whatever good anyone does, this he will receive back from the Lord, whether he is a bondservant or is free.9 Masters, do the same to them, and stop your threatening, knowing that he who is both their Master and yours is in heaven, and that there is no partiality with him.

We’ve come a long way to get here. From the heavenlies to the house.

Paul started this letter with us way up in the clouds. Every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ (1:3). God’s will is revealed as the unifying of all things in heaven and on earth into Christ (1:9-10). We are seated in the glory of the heavens at the right hand of God (2:6). We are God’s house, his dwelling place (2:19-22). We reveal the mystery of God to the authorities in the heavenly places (3:10). We are experiencing the love and fullness of God (3:15-19).

Then in chapter 4 Paul brings it down from the heavenlies to the earthlies (not a word). His focus is our walk. Our living within the covenant blessings. Part 1 (ch.1-3) we have the covenant blessings. Part 2 (ch. 4-6) we walk in those blessings. We walk worthy. We walk holy. We walk in love. We walk in light. We walk in wisdom.

Gladiator’s home in the heavenlies (sort of).

And so this is where our walk has brought us. To walk in wisdom is to be filled with the Spirit (same thing), controlled by the fullness of God (same thing) as we look like Christ’s sacrificial love (still the same thing). How?

Ephesians 5:18-21. 18 And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit….21 submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ.

Submitting.

Walking in wisdom- Spirit filled- submitting. If God’s will is that everything is brought under the authority of Jesus Christ. That Jesus the Head of the Church brings his body into his fullness. That we experience his love and grow up into him in love. If that is the plan, then how does it happen? Where does it happen?

And Paul’s answer is first the church (4:1-5:21) but then also the home (5:22-6:9).

In Ephesians 5:22-6:9 he will address three crucial household relationships (in ancient writing this is called a household code): wife-husband, child-parent, slave-master. But Paul’s will not only be a normal Greco-Roman ethic rooted in status and honor and tradition. He will actually turn the current culture on it’s head. How? By bringing it under Christ. Why? Because every one of these people living in the Christian home that he’s addressing has Christ living in them as his home. The Christian home is the home of Christ. Not the structure, the souls.

Ephesians 2:19. but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God.

So how do we live as co-equals in Christ and yet maintain the societal structure in which we live? Wives and husband, children and parents, and yes even slaves and masters are all equal because Christ indwells all equally. And yet Paul won’t smash all familial and societal norms in this letter. How is this done?

The wisdom of submission. Of sacrifice. Of selfless love. Of Christ and his cross.

Wives still submit. Children still obey. Slaves still serve. This is Christ. This is the cross. But also husbands learn to love, fathers learn to nurture, masters learn to serve. This is the will of God. This is the supremacy of Christ. This is the cross in us. This is “to live is Christ.”

This is heaven in the house.

August 21, 2019. Ephesians 5:15-21. The Walk part 8: Walk in Wisdom.

Ephesians 5:15. Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise,

We come now to our seventh and final walk imperative in Ephesians. Pay careful attention to how you walk, or how you live. This command like all the rest is rooted in the BE what you ARE gospel ethic. You ARE wise (not unwise). So BE – walk carefully.

Wisdom is a huge theme in the Bible (and in life). We might even say that the whole Bible is one big wisdom book teaching us how to navigate the big issues of life. Of course the Bible’s answer is that we navigate life through the fear of the Lord, which is the beginning of wisdom (Prov. 1:7). And the fear of the Lord takes us to his redemption plan through Jesus Christ and our union with Christ. Therefore, Christ himself IS the wisdom of God (1 Cor. 1:24). We are united to Christ so we are wise. We have the wisdom of God. We are navigating life through his redemption story. His life. Not our own “knowledge of good and evil,” but his divine eternal life in us as our knowledge of good and evil (big difference).

Data’s search for wisdom. Can wisdom be known? Can Wisdom be known?

So let’s move it from the clouds back down to earth. What does it actually look like to walk in wisdom? Well let’s keep reading…

5:16. making the best use of the time, because the days are evil. – A wise Christian understands that they live in an “evil age.” Every second that we don’t use for good, evil will snatch up and use for its own gain. But this is our time to reflect Christ and his grace and mercy. But that time is short, just like your life. So make the most of each moment.
5:17. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is. – We are not fools. Because we are in Christ we know the will of the Lord. In fact, Paul already told us in this letter what God’s will is – to unite all things in [Christ], things in heaven and things on earth (1:9-10).

Wisdom and understanding the will of the Lord is NOT about you figuring out God’s specific, individual, unique plan for your life (sorry, God’s will does not revolve around you). It IS about submitting yourself to the Lordship of Jesus Christ as the King of the universe. Does this have “real world” implications? Of course it does. They’re all over this letter – tell the truth, be kind, share, speak well, stop getting so angry, forgive, quit making sex jokes, quit having illicit sex, give thanks for sex, be a light, love your wife, love your husband, love your kids, love your servants, love your master. Every day (the same for all Christians) stuff. In other words, live a life that honors the Jesus who indwells you. That’s God’s will.

5:18. And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit – To walk in wisdom is to experience the filling of the Holy Spirit. Clearly Paul is not telling us to GET the Holy Spirit. He has made it clear already that we have been sealed with the Spirit as our guarantee of salvation (1:13-14). But the walk of wisdom, the wisdom that is Christ, will be one where we are constantly seeking a moment by moment experience of the fullness of God through the work of the Spirit.

And what does that work look like? Some sort of ecstatic behavior? Losing our faculties? Running around mindlessly? Falling down?

Nope. It’s the opposite of drunkenness. The filling of the Spirit will always look like Jesus. Like sacrifice. Like self-control. Like substitution. Like love for others. Like the adoration of God and the edification of everyone else. It will look like singing, thanking, and submitting.

5:19-21. 19 addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with your heart,20 giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, 21 submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ.

In these evil days it is so tempting to give up. To coast. To lose hope. But we must not. We must keep surrounding ourselves with each other. Singing with each other to God. Giving thanks as an act of faith. And submitting to each other in love and grace. These are the acts of true wisdom. These are the walk of the one who is in Christ. To quit and lose self-control is to fail to understand the age in which we live. It is to fail to see that even in these evil days Christ is still on the throne. All things will be brought under his control. This is the will of God.

“To live is Christ” is to live each day in this wisdom, this fear of the Lord, the promise of the rule of Christ. It is to walk fully aware that these days are evil, but that Christ will lead us through by the Spirit. And so we live carefully and yet fully alive. Alive in Christ our Savior and King.

August 20, 2019. Ephesians 5:3-14. The Walk part 7: Walk in Light.

Ephesians 5:8-9. 8 for at one time you were darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light 9 (for the fruit of light is found in all that is good and right and true),

Here is the basis of the entire gospel ethic: BE what you ARE.

We ARE light in the Lord and so we DO walk as children of light. Or as Jesus said it: “You are the light of the world… so let your light shine before men.”

This is one of the greatest certainties of our union with Christ, that Jesus is light and in him we too are light. The language is that of identity. We are not just IN the light. We ARE the light. Jesus was not just IN the light, or a pointer to the light, or revealed by a greater light. He IS the light of the world. And by faith IN CHRIST we become the light of God as children of the light.

John 12:36. Believe in the light while you have the light, so that you may become children of light.

It is not just our environment that changed when we were placed into Christ. Our very lives changed. We moved from darkness to light because of the light of life.

John 8:12. When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”

It is Christ’s LIFE that makes us LIGHT. Not his teachings (although they are brilliant), not his miracles (although they are spectacular), not his example (although it is inspiring). It is his life given to us as a gift of grace, transplanted into us as the power of perfect love, that transforms us into his life and light.

Um, this clip might require it’s own blog.

And it is our faith in this life that produces the fruit of light. The fruit of all that is good, and right, and true. Fruit not deeds. Deeds are something you put effort into doing. Fruit is something that grows out of you by the simple reception of the life of Christ (faith in grace) – like fruit on a tree that grows from just being in the light.

But we are walking fruit trees. We aren’t only standing still soaking in the light. We live our lives as light in the dark. And so who we ARE has real life implications for what we DO.

Including implications for our sexuality, which is where Paul started this new section of the letter back in verse 3:

Ephesians 5:3-4. 3 But sexual immorality and all impurity or covetousness must not even be named among you, as is proper among saints. 4 Let there be no filthiness nor foolish talk nor crude joking, which are out of place, but instead let there be thanksgiving.

If our identity is in Christ, if it is light not darkness, then this will impact how we understand and live our lives. Our sexual desires no longer have to define us. Therefore immorality, impurity and coveteousness no longer need control us. Our sexual identity is not our ultimate identity. In fact when you are in Christ sexuality is no longer ultimate, it is a gift. So be thankful for it. The solution is not to suppress the sex drive or the sexual desire but to let it take you to God in thankfulness. Exposing it to the light. Submitting it to him. Forsaking porneia ( a pretty all-inclusive word for any sex outside marriage).

And just in case you need it (and we all need it sometimes) here comes the scary warning:

Ephesians 5:5-7. 5 For you may be sure of this, that everyone who is sexually immoral or impure, or who is covetous (that is, an idolater), has no inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God. 6 Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience. 7 Therefore do not become partners with them;

But the scary warning is not our motivation to be good and right and true. Our new identity as light is. We are not living our lives to avoid wrath (at least I hope we’re not). That is not Paul’s reasoning here. He is not threatening God’s wrath on us. We have already been freed from wrath because Jesus Christ drank that cup on the cross. Here’s Paul’s reasoning within the warning – why would we choose to walk like those who are not inheriting the kingdom of light when in fact we are inheriting the kingdom of light?

Ah good point.

So back to where we started, BE what you ARE.

10 and try to discern what is pleasing to the Lord. 11 Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them. 12 For it is shameful even to speak of the things that they do in secret. 13 But when anything is exposed by the light, it becomes visible, 14 for anything that becomes visible is light.

Be light. Expose works of darkness making all things visible so that they too may become light.

Where are the works of darkness around you? Are you participating in them? Excusing them? Normalizing them?

Or is your walk exposing them?

Not your condemning words. Not your social media rants. Not your arguments.

Your life. Your walk. Your light. Mostly your love. Christ’s love. Does your love for others heap burning coals on their head? Does it reveal their hate? Does your purity reveal their impurity? Does your peace reveal their fear? Does your hope reveal their covetousness? Does your truthfulness reveal their lies? Does your light reveal their darkness?

“To live is Christ” is life lived out as light that first exposes, then makes visible, then transforms into more light. Therefore we are not light so that we can avoid darkness. We are light so that we can dispel darkness while spreading God’s light. We are sparks that are meant to burn. We don’t “hide our light under a basket.” We walk as children of light.

August 19, 2019. Ephesians 5:1-2. The Walk part 6: Walk in Love.

Ephesians 5:1-2. Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children. 2 And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.

Even though this is the start of a new chapter in your Bible it is actually the end of the last section. A section that told us to not walk like the Gentiles in a futile or worthless mindset, but to put off and put on based on our new identity in Christ. A section that ended with these words:

Ephesians 4:32. Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.

And then comes the powerful conclusion: therefore imitate God by walking in love.

Remember, in our new covenant walk the imperative (command to obey) is always empowered by an indicative (truth to be believed). So HOW do we walk in love? By claiming the new covenant promise that we ARE loved. Which Paul says twice in as many sentences – as beloved children, and as Christ loved us.

Do you have any idea how loved you are? Me either. It’s a hard reality to grasp. Perfectly loved all the time. No more no less. No matter what. For better or worse. Without end and without condition. Loved in spite of how well we perform. Loved through every mountain top and every valley.

No way.

But it’s true.

It was Paul’s prayer for us before he even began talking about how we should walk. He prayed that we would be rooted and grounded in love and know the love of Christ, a love beyond knowledge. We are loved beyond understanding. Beyond all the experiences of this life. Beyond death even.

How do we know? Because Christ gave himself as a sacrifice for us. And beyond that, God made us his beloved children. There is no greater love than that. From God’s perspective there’s no turning back now. He loved us as enemies (2:1-3). He loved us before time. In love he predestined us to adoption as sons and daughters (1:4-5).

So what do we do when we read a command like the one we’re looking at today? Imitate God’s love. Do we let it steal God’s love from us (which it cannot)? Do we suddenly make God’s love conditional?

Our instinct is to turn this into another law and then let it drive us either toward despair or toward pride.

  • Despair: “Imitate God? Who can do that? I don’t love like God. Oh no, I’m in trouble.”
  • Pride: “Imitate God? I got this. I will work so hard at imitating God and be the best at it.”

But when we turn it into a law we miss the whole point of our union with Christ. Imitate God’s love is not to be accomplished from law, it’s to be accomplished from life. Christ is our sacrifice, our offering to God on our behalf. What does that mean? It means no more law keeping. It is finished. He did it. He imitated God. He loved. He walked. For us. Imitating God and walking in his love is no longer a standard to maintain, it is a covenant promise to claim.

This is what makes new covenant commands different from old covenant commands – they’re already obeyed. BY Jesus. Now we obey them FROM Jesus. When we are commanded to imitate God’s love here’s the most important part: God’s love for us in and through the indwelling life of Christ is the power for our walk in love.

We are God’s beloved children. That’s the promise. Claim it. You have God’s nature. His DNA. What little kid doesn’t try to be like their mom or dad? Holding their hand in the parking lot. Dressing up like them. The way they talk, and eat, and play, and work. This imitation is a natural part of life. We watch what mom or dad do and then we copy it.

And here is the love that we are copying – and gave himself up for us.

The love of God that we are imitating, that we are walking in, is the love of the cross. The love of self-sacrifice. Of self-giving. For the good of others. For the salvation of others. As our Savior taught us, this is not the love of the “pagans” who love only those who will love them back. This is loving an enemy even. Good Samaritan love. Love that requires a living sacrifice to complete it. This kind of cruciform love is the kind that is a fragrant aroma to God.

“To live is Christ” means you are loved more dearly and deeply than you could ever imagine. Now you have nothing to lose and nothing to gain but a brother or sister. By faith you’ve received the sacrificial love of Christ, now by faith you can walk in that same love. And that smells good to God.

August 17-18, 2019. Ephesians 4:21-32. The Walk part 5: The Put On – Put Off Pattern.

Ephesians 4:21-32. 21 assuming that you have heard about him and were taught in him, as the truth is in Jesus, 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.

In Christ you have already put off the old self and put on the new self. You are a whole new person, a new creation, new mind, new heart, new desires. Half the battle is just believing this awesome new reality that is yours (which is why Paul spends so much time on it).

But the other half is actually appropriating this new reality. Moving it from a spiritual reality inside of you to a physical reality that flows out of you. And so Paul uses the same put off and put on pattern that we experienced at our justification as he moves us into the realm of our sanctification.

25 Therefore, having put away falsehood, let each one of you speak the truth with his neighbor, for we are members one of another. 26 Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, 27 and give no opportunity to the devil. 28 Let the thief no longer steal, but rather let him labor, doing honest work with his own hands, so that he may have something to share with anyone in need. 29 Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear. 30 And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. 31 Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. 32 Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.

  • Put off: falsehood – Put on: speaking truth with your neighbor
  • Put off: anger – Put on: resisting the devil
  • Put off: stealing – Put on: honest work with your hands and sharing
  • Put off: corrupt talk – Put on: edifying grace filled talk
  • Put off: bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, malice – Put on: kindness, forgiveness, and grace (note: the word for forgiving here is the word for grace-ing)

Spiderman spends 37 minutes figuring out what he’s “put on.”

What can we learn about our walk from this list? What is Paul showing us?

First, he’s showing us that the same way we are saved is the same way we grow – by faith in Christ’s life in us. The difference is that we have moved from the passive reception of grace from God to the active giving of grace to others. For example: forgive one another (active sharing of grace) because God has forgiven you in Christ (passive reception of grace). But it’s still faith in grace. We can put off and put on in all of these areas BECAUSE we have put off the old self and put on Christ.

Second, along these same lines, he’s connecting our human relationships to our relationship with the Spirit (and the whole Trinity). Every example he uses here is a relational example. Our spiritual walk and growth is NOT only an experience between us and God. It is not simply personal. It’s not individualistic. Spiritual growth into holiness is always measured relationally. We love God BY loving others. We serve God BY serving others. We grow in Christ BY growing in unity and love for others.

This is why smack in the middle of all these relational example he says this – And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. It almost seems out of place. Random. Why is he bringing up the Holy Spirit here? Because to hurt each other relationally is to hurt the Spirit God. We share the Spirit with Christ and with each other in Christ. To grieve a Christian’s spirit is to grieve the Holy Spirit.

Third, Paul is showing us that the character of Christ in us is actually attainable. “Be like Jesus” is not a fantasy that is so far removed from us that we should just not even bother with it. Of course it’s a process, and a very very slow one at that. But it is still the goal of our union with Christ. We were created in Christ to walk in good works. What are those good works? Well here they are: truth telling, sharing, a timely encouraging word, kindness, forgiveness. This is what Christ looked like and this is what we can look like. How? By being renewed in the Spirit of our minds. Identifying our corrupt thought patterns. Our addictions. Our deceitful desires. And then replacing them with what we learned in Christ as we daily, moment by moment, receive his life, his holiness, and his righteousness as the grace of God.

“To live is Christ” is being a whole new person and therefore we have a whole new walk. But the pattern remains. We ALREADY put off the old man and put on the new man once and for all. Now we can daily put off the dead man’s clothes and put on the new clothes of Christ.