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THE WAY (3) – Walk in This Way

Ephesians is one of the most theological of Paul’s epistles. It is likely that it was intended as a circular letter to the churches of Asia Minor. The words “in Ephesus” are missing from some early MSS, and there are no personal messages from the apostle in this letter. Some believe that this circular letter is “the letter from Laodicea” referenced in Colossians 4:13. Note that the reference is to “the letter from Laodicea,” not “the letter to the Laodiceans.”

Be that as it may, this epistle speaks clearly about The Way of life in Christ Jesus.

After his greeting to the letter’s recipients, Paul spoke of giving glory to God in what is a single sentence in the KJV (1:3-14). God has blessed us by choosing us to be holy and adopting us as his children – “to the praise of his glorious grace” (1:6). God is glorified in the redemption we have in His Son according to the mystery made known to us. The mystery is that we who hope in Christ “might be for the praise of his glory” (1:12). Finally, God’s glory is praised because of how we are sealed by the Holy Spirit as a guarantee of our inheritance as God’s children (1:13-14).

The next paragraph is a prayer of thanksgiving for how God has given us this Spirit of wisdom and revelation that we might understand the hope to which he has called us by His own great power. That power, Paul said, is like the power God exerted when he raised Jesus from the dead and exalted Him to His own right hand (1:19-20).

Chapter 2 begins with a description of how God has raised us with Christ, who “were dead in your transgressions” while living among those who are disobedient. This resurrection with Christ, Paul says, includes our being “seated with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus” (2:6). This is so that He might show his great grace that He gives to us in Christ (2:7). He adds that this “resurrection” is essentially a new creation “in Christ Jesus to do good works” (2:10).

The latter part of chapter 2 addresses one of the major issues in the early church – the unity of the Jew and Gentile in one body in Christ, the two becoming one holy temple to the Lord where God is glorified. After an interlude in chapter 3 where Paul describes his work among the Gentiles, which he had by God’s grace, and where he offers a prayer for all of God’s family that they might know the unknowable love of God for us so that we might be “filled to the measure of the fullness of Christ” (3:18-19), he continues the subject of unity in chapter 4:1-16.

From that point to the end of the epistle, he describes the walk of the child of God, a walk that we have earlier described as being on the road with Jesus, following Him as he is going up to Jerusalem (Mark 10:32). This, we said, is a parable of our walk in following Jesus as we are on the road to the new Jerusalem, which is from above.

He first describes this walk negatively:

So I tell you this, and insist on it in the Lord, that you must no longer live as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their thinking. They are darkened in their understanding and separated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them due to the hardening of their hearts. Having lost all sensitivity, they have given themselves over to sensuality so as to indulge in every kind of impurity, with a continual lust for more. (4:17-19)

With bold strokes of his pen, he paints a dark picture of the Gentile world. It is a world of futility or emptiness in thinking, of darkness in understanding, and of lust for more and more indulgence in sensual behavior.

This, however, is not the way you came to know Christ. “The truth that is in Jesus” teaches us to “put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness” (4:20-24). He then lists attitudes and actions to “put off” and describes what is to replace these depravities in our hearts.

  • Put off falsehood, and speak truth.
  • Put off sins of anger, and do not let the sun go down on your wrath.
  • Put off stealing, but do useful work so you can even share with others.
  • Put off unwholesome talk, and use your words to build others up.
  • Put off bitterness, rage, anger, brawling, slander and malice; instead, be kind, compassionate, and forgiving.

All of this describes a transformation of those who live as children of the devil into the likeness of Jesus Himself.

Chapter 5:1-20 addresses each of the depravities of the Gentiles and shows how following Jesus changes those into life as children of God. He takes them in reverse order to the way he listed them in 4:17-19.

Passionate lust becomes Agape Love (5:1-7). As we learn to imitate God as His children, we learn to love one another as Christ loved us “and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God” (5:1). This eliminates the perversion of love that is practiced among the Gentiles, for “among you there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality, or of any kind of impurity, or of greed.” Passion for these things are replaced with love for one another as Christ has loved us (5:1-7).

The Light of God Is To Replace Darkness As Our Way of Life (5:8-14). “For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light” (5:8). As Jesus said to His disciples in the Sermon on the Mount, “You (plural) are the light of the world” (Matthew 5:14). The dark world can see light in the children of light as they love one another as Jesus loved them. This life lived in the light, as light in the Lord, is to be consistent. “Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness” (5:11). In contrast to that, “find out what pleases the Lord” and live “in all goodness, righteousness and truth” (v. 10).

Futility in Thinking Becomes Wisdom in the Lord (5:15-20). In Romans 1:20-21, Paul had earlier developed the idea of the mental futility of the Gentile mind.

For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools….

Right thinking results in wisdom and understanding what God’s will is. It also leads to wisdom in action, such as being filled with the Spirit (5:18) instead of being drunk and debauched. The author of Proverbs long before this informed us that wisdom is found in walking after God, in His way. Paul here reiterates this great truth.

Ephesians 5:21 – 6:9 describes how walking in love, light, and wisdom looks in different circumstances of life – as a wife, a husband, a child, a parent, a slave, or a master. While different specific instructions are given to each of these, the principles are the same: live lives characterized by love instead of lust, of light instead of darkness, and of wisdom instead of vacuity of mind.

The epistle closes with a charge to take the entire armor of God to be able to stand against the evil one who rules in this world. Without this armor, the Christian will not be prepared to face the temptations and trials of life. Along with this armor, we are to always pray in the Holy Spirit (6:10-18).

What, then, is The Way?

It is a way of giving glory to God by following His Son. It is walking in love, in light, and in wisdom as children of God who listen to Him. It is living as Jesus lived. There is no other way of life that can qualify as The Way as that expression was used in Acts.

When people began to really live as Jesus did, the world around them took notice – and they were persecuted, as Jesus had warned them they would be.

If we were to live as Jesus lived, would we also find persecution in this Way?


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