Daily Word

Historical Posts | Ephesians



*incorruptible love*

Eph 6:21 — Eph 6:24

21  But that you also may know about my circumstances, how I am doing, Tychicus, the beloved brother and faithful minister in the Lord, will make everything known to you. 22   I have sent him to you for this very purpose, so that you may know about us, and that he may comfort your hearts.

23  Peace be to the brethren, and love with faith, from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. 24 Grace be with all those who love our Lord Jesus Christ with incorruptible love.


Two things seem to stand out in this final section of Ephesians. Paul sent Tychicus to the Ephesians to let them know how Paul was doing. He’s in jail in Rome at that time so they were likely anxious if he’d even be alive still. But T’s job was not simply to read a letter or communicate information. He was sent to “comfort the hearts” of the Ephesians. There’s a real ministry in comforting others. When someone is anxious or depressed, it’s a great ministry to comfort them. But the source of T’s comfort to the Ephesians really came from the Comforter, the Holy Spirit. T was an instrument of the Spirit. That’s what we want to be – instruments of the Spirit. 

Second, Paul talks about loving Jesus with an incorruptible love. What doesn’t corrupt? I think of rocks, solid, tough rocks. Some rocks do corrupt – they get weathered over time by minerals, the sun, or by water. Some, like sandstone or limestone weather easily and get molded and changed by the elements affecting them. Those not exposed to the elements, that are deeply embedded in the earth and surrounded by other solid rocks, don’t get changed – like granite. I don’t want to stretch this too far but there can be a parallel to us – being of a solid nature, not wishy-washy in our faith, surrounded by others of strong faith and character who can encourage us to continue to live a life worthy of Him, which pleases Him, which delights in Him. Is your love incorruptible? 


*prayer for the work*

Ephesians 6:19-20 (ESV) 

19 and also for me, that words may be given to me in opening my mouth boldly to proclaim the mystery of the gospel, 20 for which I am an ambassador in chains, that I may declare it boldly, as I ought to speak.


As we go into battle, spiritual battle, as we prepare for the battle by clothing ourselves with the spiritual armor of God, as we grab the sword of the Spirit, the Word of God and pray with all prayers, always, with perseverance, for all saints, what do we pray? Paul tells us here – to pray for the work of the Gospel. Pray that God will accomplish his saving will among all the nations. Pray according to His will – that all He has called and redeemed and adopted will come to Him, that He will continue to extend mercy and grace until the time is full, that workers will go forth (including you) to boldly share the good news with words from God that can change hearts. I find it interesting that Paul had to pray for boldness; he was one of the most bold people I know! Maybe that’s why – he prayed to be bold and asked others to pray.

Are we faithful in prayer – not asking for our own needs to be met, but asking that God’s will be done in reaching the nations, in miraculously changing hearts and situations for His glory? It starts with prayer – asking God to motivate you to pray then making a practice of prayer and intercession so that it becomes a natural part of living. Pray without ceasing, in all circumstances, on every occasion, earnestly, with boldness knowing it pleases the Lord.



Ephesians 6:17-18 (NASB)

17 And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.

18  With all prayer and petition  pray at all times in the Spirit, and with this in view,  be on the alert with all perseverance and petition for all the saints, 


I’m told that the Greek has no sentence break between v 17 and 18 so, ‘taking up the sword of the Spirit, the Word of God’, and, ‘praying at all times in the Spirit’ go together. A sword can be used for defense but also for offense. The spiritual sword we have is the Word of God. We are to wield this powerful weapon in the midst of battle. How? Pray. Pray all the times. Pray when you are sitting or kneeling for the express purpose of prayer but also when you are walking along the way, when you encounter a sudden temptation, when you need to make a decision, and when you want to thank the Lord. This quote of John Piper helps us understand the purpose of prayer, “God has given us prayer not as an intercom for increased convenience in our secluded cottages, but as a walkie-talkie connecting the general’s headquarters with the transportation line and the field hospital and the front line artillery. Prayer is not a bell to call the servants to satisfy some desire we happen to feel, it is a battlefield transmitter for staying in touch with the general.” 

Pray in the Spirit. This may not be so much mystical charismatic utterances but more a call to not rely on our own strength in prayer, but on the Spirit’s. I’m reminded of Romans 8:26-27 (NASB) “26 In the same way the Spirit also helps our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we should, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words; 27 and He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because He intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.” Isn’t that amazing and wonderful! 

Pray for everyone. When we’re praying, be sure to pray for “all the saints”. Wow, this could take a long time. Paul lived this out. In most all of his epistles, he talks about praying for the readers – even with words like “I have not stopped praying for you”. A little tool I’ve found useful is to set a reminder on my phone to pray for someone or some group at the same time every week. When the reminder pops up, I take a quick break from what I’m doing and pray. I also try to go through a list of people I care most about each morning before I get out of bed – to at least mention them and a specific need I know they have. Whatever it takes. These practices can help take the focus off ourselves and put it on others. It can keep us connected with the “general” while we’re on the front lines of this present spiritual battle.


*helmet of salvation*

Ephesians 6:17

17 And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.


If any of you have ever played American football or ridden a bike or motorcycle, you know the importance of a helmet. In high school football, we used to do an exercise where two guys faced each other semi-squatting then on the coaches whistle, we’d spring toward each other with all our might and smack heads. Crazy! Needless to say, without a helmet we’d be in a world of hurt. I probably still suffer from brain damage. The helmet protects what’s inside. Military folks wear them to protect from bullets. In times of sword fights, it could protect from a deadly blow to the head. The brain, our mind, needs protection from wrong thinking and evil temptations. Salvation is described as the helmet, that protection. How does salvation protect our head, our mind? In Isaiah 59:17, “He [God] put on righteousness like a breastplate, And a helmet of salvation on His head;…”. I’m not sure there is a connection between salvation and the head. Salvation obviously saves us from an eternity of sin. God is the one who saves, we’re the ones needing saving. Maybe next time we hit this passage I’ll have more to share.


*shield of faith*

Ephesians 6:16

16  in addition to all, taking up the shield of faith with which you will be able to extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one.


When I was a kid in Chicago, we loved winter for snowball fights. These fights were not just a few kids but many kids. When a snowball is thrown at you, one at a time, it was usually easy to dodge them and just duck or step aside or even knock them down with your hand. However, sometimes, the other team used a strategy where they would pick one person to pelt with snowballs. That one person would receive a barrage of snowballs at once with no chance to block them all. In those cases, we’d have a garbage can lid nearby that we could pick up and hold out in front of us to block the incoming snowballs. If you had no garbage can lid, you were sunk – at least a few snowballs would connect. At least one may catch you in the face and that would hurt! A good shield, help up (not laying on the ground), can protect. In large battles of Paul’s day, the army could huddle together and interlock their shields creating a sort of impregnable wall. 

Paul says our faith is that shield to protect us from the attacks of the enemy. Sometimes the enemy sends one “flaming arrow” but notice this is plural. It probably means at the same time.

What is faith? Per Hebrews 11:1, “Faith shows the reality of what we hope for; it is the evidence of things we cannot see.”  NLT Faith is a gift of God. Our role is to put it to use, to hold it up in front of us, to trust God and believe who He is. “And without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is and that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him.” Hebrews 11:6 NASB 

To believe Him and trust Him, we need to know Him and have relationship with Him. Abide in Him. Read His Word, talk to Him, fellowship with others. 


*walk the gospel*

Ephesians 6:15

15 and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace;


Put on shoes meant for battle. This battle is spiritual so we use spiritual weapons – the gospel of peace, the good news that we can have peace with the Almighty Judge of the universe. When a soldier goes into battle, he doesn’t put on flip flops. He wants some good boots that give good ankle support, keep out water, have a solid grip and thick soles to protect from sharp objects or heat. The gospel provides good protection, shure footing, a solid grip. 

Paul’s idea here might be to take the gospel to others; share the gospel. The gospel is good news that God and man can have peace so go out and tell others. 


*loins and chest*

 Ephesians 6:14

14 Stand firm therefore, having girded your loins with truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness,


Paul now goes into detail about the different parts of the armor of God. He’s probably sitting next to a Roman soldier and observing his armor then relating it to spiritual armor for the battle. 

First is the lions – gird them with truth. The lions are below the ribs to about above the thighs, including the private parts. This was the bare minimum to cover at that time to be decent in public while also protecting the private parts. Since they usually wore long tunics down to their feet like Arabs today, girding up meant to take the lower part of the tunic, pull it up and tie it like shorts around the waist. The purpose was to make movement for work or battle easier. So to tell someone to “gird up their loins” was to tell them to get ready for hard work or battle. So Paul is calling us to get ready for spiritual battle. We prepare for spiritual battle by wrapping the truth around us. This is probably personal integrity. Earlier Paul called us to speak the truth in love (4:15) to one another. Don’t let lies creep into our language. 

The second component is a breastplate of righteousness. There are two essential organs in the body – the heart and the brain. A breastplate covers the chest to protect the organs inside, like the heart. We know the heart is the seat of our soul. Jesus said, out of the heart the mouth speaks. Protect our heart with righteousness. Since this is something we put on, this is very likely not our own righteous since that armor would fail, but is Christ’s righteousness. His righteousness is perfect and indestructible. Psalm 121 says God will “keep our soul” – He will protect it. When our soul fails and sins, His righteousness covers us, protects us. We need to put on His righteousness, to ask Him to protect us, to forgive us. Ours is to trust Him for this. 


*sitting ducks*

Eph 6:10 — Eph 6:17

10 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might. 11  Put on the full armor of God, so that you will be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil. 12 For our struggle is not against  flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places. 13 Therefore, take up the full armor of God, so that you will be able to resist in the evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm. 14 Stand firm therefore, having girded your loins with truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, 15 and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace; 16  in addition to all, taking up the shield of faith with which you will be able to extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. 17 And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.


Sitting ducks is what you call someone who has no protection from the onslaught of the enemy. That is what we are if we don’t follow these instructions. We are in a battle. Though we may not experience it daily, those attacks from the enemy do come. Daily temptations we may be able to withstand, but the enemy developes special ones targeted for our weakest point. So how do we withstand, to stand strong. 1) be every ready. Don’t let your guard down. The attack can come at any time. Nothing is more expected than the unexpected. 2) practice and use the weapons. An army man who has never picked up a gun will have no idea how to use it when the enemy suddenly attacks. 3) be strong in the Lord, not your own strength. We may gain pride in having resisted temptation in the past and rely then on our resourcefulness but we err, we will fail. 4) put on the armor, use the resources He gives us. Keep them ready at all times for use. Maintain them. You might say, abide in the vine. Don’t leave them in a pile on the floor collecting dust, put them on! Don’t be a sitting duck.


*obedient slaves*

Eph 6:5 — 9

5  Slaves, be obedient to those who are your masters according to the flesh, with fear and trembling, in the sincerity of your heart, as to Christ; 6  not by way of eyeservice, as men-pleasers, but as slaves of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart. 7 With good will render service, as to the Lord, and not to men, 8  knowing that whatever good thing each one does, this he will receive back from the Lord, whether slave or free.

9 And masters, do the same things to them, and give up threatening, knowing that both their Master and yours is in heaven, and there is no partiality with Him.


Paul is clearly writing now to slaves. We won’t address the slavery topic since Paul doesn’t. Rather, accepting that there were slaves, Paul addresses them – to submit, obey earthly masters. How? With fear and trembling – a holy fear, not of them, but of God (v21); with a sincere heart – truly desiring to obey them, regardless of how they treat you; as to Christ. I think the idea is, similar with wives to husbands (though wives are NOT slaves) is that submission is to your earthly authority because you’re under Christ, your Heavenly, ultimate authority, and protection. An unruly or mean master (or husband) can be submitted to when you know that Christ is Lord and in control. Actually, by submitting to the earthly authority, you’re submitting to Christ. Paul repeats this again… “as to the Lord” to emphasize who the real submission is to. I think of Corrie Tenboom and her sister who submitted to their evil guards and in so doing, saw Christ’s love and protection over and over. They, and all of us who submit thusly, will receive back from the Lord, kind of like a rebate (v8). 

Finally, masters must treat slaves well. They should keep in mind that Christ is Lord and will judge and reward equally; masters are not above slaves in God’s Kingdom. 


 t everyone, we’re children of God! So we what? Yes, obey God. Simple yet impossible. The more we know Him, the more we trust Him and obey. But it seems the more we know Him, the more difficult His requests and tests become. 

Those of you who are fathers, or will become fathers, two things: 1) don’t do things or say things to your kids that will lead them to become angry. For me, it was shutting them down when something went wrong. I quickly assessed the situation, passed judgment and executed judgment, sometimes in anger with yelling. Anger was one failure. The other was not listening to them, not hearing testimony from the defendant. Whether my judgment was correct or not, it was wrong and didn’t honor them. 2) bring them up in the Lord. That requires action, planning, initiative. Dads, you can’t be passive about this one. Pray for your kids. Build relationships. Be humble and open. Love your wife.  Teach them the Word…with your life mostly, but also the basic doctrines of the faith, how to study the Bible, the importance of worship as the body, how to pray and trust the Lord, etc. That’s your job. 


*a clearer mystery*

Eph 5:31 — :33

31  For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and shall be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh. 32 This mystery is great; but I am speaking with reference to Christ and the church. 33 Nevertheless, each individual among you also is to love his own wife even as himself, and the wife must see to it that she  respects her husband.


Finally, this passage makes sense. Paul talks about husbands and wives in this section of ephesians but it’s intertwined with Christ and the church. Then we get to these verses and we all understand v31 from Genesis. Husband’s must leave their family, the family privileges and protection and comfort and start their own family. Husband’s must cleave / be joined to their wives and start a new family into which they will repeat the process through children. I think I get the. But v 32 throws me for a loop every time – until today. It’s really a mystery but when we understand it in relation to husband’s and wives, here’s what it comes out as. 

The church is the bride of Christ (and also His body). Christ Jesus, the husband, left Heaven, left His home, and came to His bride. He joined to His bride, the church. The two became one. His bride’s sin, at His death, became His sin. His death became her death. When He died, the bride died, the church died, we died. Likewise, when He was raised from the dead, the church, us, was raised also, being united with Christ. I’ve always wondered how Jesus, one man, could die for us, so many. It’s still a mystery, but this new insight helps understand another piece of the majestic mystery. I’ll have to do some more thinking about it. I’d encourage you too as well. Grow in your knowledge of Him and, His mysteries. Sure puts marriage in a new light! 

And in summary, husbands love your wives as yourself and wives, respect your husband’s.  


*husbands reprise*

Eph 5:28 — 30

28 So husbands ought also to love their own wives as their own bodies. He who loves his own wife loves himself; 29 for no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ also does the church, 30 because we are members of His body.


Yes, this is a continuation of the call for husbands to love their own wives. Husbands could use the same teaching every day for a long time, and I know one in particular. But this is actually more about Christ loving the church, as Paul reiterates in v32. 

Husbands are called to love their own wives just as they love their own bodies and, as Christ loves His own body, which is us, the church. We love our own bodies (some people go too far and worship their bodies) so we take care of them (different degrees for different people). We give our bodies food, water, fitness, health, comfort, etc so it will allow us to continue on this earth, to be the transporter of our spirit. Taking care of it involves discipline and restrictions like we may (and should) get regular exercise. Times of fasting are also good. Saying, “no” to its sinful desires is a must. Husbands must do the same for their wives – look out for, care for, protect, wives. 

Yet in a larger way, Jesus cares for His body, us, His church. He wants to keep us so we can carry His Spirit and use us to do the good works He prepared, in advance, for us to do (2:10). As with our physical bodies, Jesus will take care of us. That may entail discipline and restrictions and even tests and trials. When we know that He is working this for His purpose, to care for His body, we can rest in that knowledge and give thanks – even for the difficult times. 


*now 4 husbands*

Eph 5:25 —:33

25  Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her, 26  so that He might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, 27 that He might present to Himself the church in all her glory, having no spot or wrinkle or any such thing; but that she would be holy and blameless. 28 So husbands ought also to love their own wives as their own bodies. He who loves his own wife loves himself; 29 for no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ also does the church, 30 because we are members of His body. 31  For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and shall be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh. 32 This mystery is great; but I am speaking with reference to Christ and the church. 33 Nevertheless, each individual among you also is to love his own wife even as himself, and the wife must see to it that she  respects her husband.


Let’s start by reading all the verses related to husband’s and remember, it’s under the umbrella of mutual submission (v21). Verse 25 is a great verse for husbands to commit to memory. It’s impossible – love your wife in the same way that Christ loved the church. And how, exactly, did Christ love the church? He died. He became a sacrifice. He gave up Himself. Philippians 2 describes the incarnation of Christ and His experience through death to glory. He was God from the beginning. He left Heaven and took on the nature of man; He emptied Himself (Philipians 2:7). That in itself was amazing and quite humbling. That was a sacrifice to give up what He had to come to earth. But He didn’t stop there. He humbled Himself further and died on a cross. He didn’t have to die but He became sin for us; He sacrificed Himself, He humbled Himself, and died (Philipians 2:8). His purpose (here in v26) was to sanctify the church, to set it apart as holy, a glorious bride prize, perfect. 

Husbands, there is no way we can do this! We absolutely need to cry out for help, for the Holy Spirit to fill us (remember v18) and even love our wives through us. We need to humble ourselves and become a sacrifice – allow the Spirit to work, to love, through us. So we have no excuse. We cannot say, “she’s just not loveable” because the church, you and me, were God’s enemies, sinful and rebellious, yet He still loved us. He gives us the ability, by the Spirit, to love or wives. Just do it. 


*submit 2 1 another*

Eph 5:21 — :24

21   and be subject to one another in the  fear of Christ.

22  Wives, be subject to your own husbands, as to the Lord. 23 For the husband is the head of the wife, as Christ also is the head of the church, He Himself being the Savior of the body. 24 But as the church is subject to Christ, so also the wives ought to be to their husbands in everything.


Many Bible scholars say v 21 goes with 22-24; it’s almost a heading for the section through 6:9. Mutual submission in the fear of Christ. What is fear of Christ or fear of the Lord? Some verses:

Psalm 147:11 – The LORD favors those who fear Him, Those who wait for His lovingkindness.

Psalm 33:18-19 – Behold, the eye of the LORD is on those who fear Him, On those who hope for His lovingkindness,

Psalm 115:11 – You who fear the LORD, trust in the LORD; He is their help and their shield.

Oswald Chambers is quoted as saying, “The remarkable thing about God is that when you fear God, you fear nothing else, whereas if you do not fear God, you fear everything else.”

To fear Him is to trust Him and place all your hope in Him. It’s also to recognize He is a holy and righteous judge who punishes sin. So to be subject or submissive to one another in the fear of Christ is what? As we understand who God is, as we properly fear Him, we are able to submit to others since it’s His command and we know His commands are good. We know that He is able to give grace as we submit and yield our will to each other and ultimately, to Christ. 

Paul gives special instruction to wives in relation to their husbands – to submit to them. Maybe because it is difficult to do that, maybe impossible! But if a wife fears the Lord, she can have the ability to submit to her husband as she trusts Christ will work it out. Paul then adds some punch… wives submit not just when it’s convenient or you feel like it, but in everything. 

Husband’s, don’t get in your high horse yet. Wait till tomorrow or read v25 on your own now. 


*be being filled*

Eph 5:18 — 21

18 And do not get drunk with wine, for that is dissipation, but be filled with the Spirit, 19  speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody with your heart to the Lord; 20  always giving thanks for all things in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ to  God, even the Father; 21   and be subject to one another in the  fear of Christ.


Dissi-what? Dissipation: overindulgence in sensual pleasures. That’s what drunkenness is. Most Christians know that getting drunk is wrong and not wise. Probably the ephesians also knew. I believe Paul used this law to show a contrast to filling of the Spirit. On the one hand, drunkenness occurs from filling up on alcohol, an overindulgence of alcohol which leads to a change in thinking and behavior. It’s like there is some power in the alcohol to change for the worse. Of course too much alcohol also leads to physical ailments and even death. 

On the other hand, “drunkenness in the Spirit” occurs from filling up on the Spirit. The verb used means constant filling – be being filled, continually. It also leads to a change in thinking and behavior, but for the good. There is indeed power in the Spirit. The Spirit leads to life. If we want to be like God (5:1), we need to have Him in us. This happens as we abide in Him (read His Word, obey His commands, love others and Him…), constantly being filled with Him, filled to overflowing. We’ve got to keep being filled and asking to be filled. Nothing else will satisfy. 

The result will be overflowing joy exhibited in singing to one another and to the Lord. 

It’s the power that enables us to give thanks in everything – good and bad (and know that what we consider bad from our perspective may not be bad from God’s perspective). It’s a decision we make. When good things happen, it’s easy to thank God – and be sure to do that. When things happen we consider bad, we’ve got to pray and look for the good that can come from it and/or trust that God’s good will come (Romans 8:28). In both cases, we thank God. 

Finally, it’s only by this filling that we can be subject to one another in the fear of Christ. 


*redeem the time*

Eph 5:15 —17

15 Therefore be careful how you walk, not as unwise men but as wise, 16   making the most of your time, because the days are evil. 17 So then do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is.


As you avoid evil, as you expose it, as you seek to please the Lord (these are all helping you live life carefully) be wise in how you use your time. Seek to know God’s will and you will know how to use your time. You will also avoid foolishness and foolish decisions. But how do we know God’s will? Read His Word and seek to abide in Him. Paul wrote to the Romans (12:1-2) and said, “Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.” Just do it. 


*exposed by light*

Eph 5:11 — 14

11  Do not participate in the unfruitful deeds of darkness, but instead even  expose them; 12 for it is disgraceful even to speak of the things which are done by them in secret. 13 But all things become visible when they are exposed by the light, for everything that becomes visible is light. 14 For this reason it says,

“Awake, sleeper,

And arise from the dead,

And Christ will shine on you.”


Those who are sons of disobedience do evil things. Of course we shouldn’t participate in them. They shouldn’t be even talked about. If we talk about them, we can become desensitized to them. They are in darkness since they don’t have the light of the gospel, the light of Christ. Does that mean they have an excuse – they don’t know these things are wrong? Nope. Romans 1 makes it clear that they are accountable. But it’s not our role to judge them, that’s God’s job. Ours is what? To expose the deeds, to shed light on them. We, who have the light, see that these things are darkness and we identify them as such. In one way, it’s like walking along a jungle path at night and you see quicksand with your flashlight. You, of course, avoid it, but if someone is with you, you tell them, you shine your flashlight on it, you expose it so they don’t step in it and get trapped. I don’t know if we are to expose it to the sons of disobedience per se. I think our job is just to expose them. 

Who is the sleeper who needs to awake? It’s us – the sons of disobedience who have been woken up from being spiritually dead; woken up to the truth, the light. Christ, who is the light, shines on us to bring us into the light. At conversion (and any time we sin afterward) He shines His light and exposes our sin. We respond and confess and repent.


*what pleases*

Eph 5:6 — Eph 5:10

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 be partakers with them; 8 for you were formerly darkness, but now you are Light in the Lord; walk as children of Light 9 (for the fruit of the Light consists in all goodness and righteousness and truth), 10   trying to learn what is pleasing to the Lord.


Be careful to not be deceived with lies telling you what God says is sin is not sin. Modern media is full of lies and deception. The more we take it in, the more we will succumb to the lies. The more we take in His Word, the more we will believe the truth. It’s your choice. It’s because of these sinful behaviors that God’s wrath comes. We were formerly of them so it is natural and easy to fall back into that. Be careful. 

But now we’re different, we are of light, we’re children of God. Live like that. And, like any good child, try to please your parents. We should actively think and ponder what is the way to please the Lord. For every action and thought, we can consider: Does this please the Lord? So how can we best use our time? Spend some of it considering what _not_ to do (the sins of sons of disobedient); spend much more time and energy thinking about how to please the Lord. 


*idle for idolatry*

Eph 5:3-5

3 But immorality or any impurity or greed must not even be named among you, as is proper among saints; 4 and there must be no filthiness and silly talk, or coarse jesting, which are not fitting, but rather giving of thanks. 5 For this you know with certainty, that no immoral or impure person or covetous man, who is an idolater, has an inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God.


What is idolatry? We think of a statue of a god made of special, expensive, materials that someone bows down in front of and pays homage to. An image of a god that the worshipper thinks will give them some blessing if he bows deep enough or often enough or with the right thoughts. Certainly we don’t do that! But do we? Greed and covetousness are idolatry. We desire something we don’t have and think we should. It isn’t necessarily a question of should we have it or not, like is it a sin for people to have it. The issue is, we don’t have it and we want it. So we keep thinking about that thing, about how we will gain so much pleasure or sense of purpose from it. We plan how we can get it. It may even fill our thoughts – meaning not that we think about it all the time but rather, when we take a mental break from work or the activity we’re involved in, our mind has a bit of idle time and we fill that idle time with thoughts about this thing. You might say we use the idle time for our idol. It could also be something we have _some_ of but we’re not content and we want more. 

What’s the drive behind this idolatry? We’re looking for satisfaction and contentment. We’re not satisfied with what we have. We’re not satisfied with what God has given us, we’re not satisfied with God. Danger danger Will Robinson! (look up the old TV series) 

A note about coarse jesting and silly talk. Don’t do it. Some do it to be funny. Others do it to make fun of someone or something. To me, the common thread is pride – to bring attention to self and/or make yourself look good or better than another. 

What’s the concern in all this? Those who practice this idolatry don’t trust God for daily life can’t trust him for eternal life. They don’t have faith necessary for salvation so don’t have the inheritance of the saints talked about in chapter 1.


*walk in love*

Ephesians 5:2 ESV

2 And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.


As we imitate God (v1), the key trait, and most difficult to imitate, is to love as God does – which is demonstrated in personal sacrifice for another. It’s not a feeling, though love indeed has feelings, as much as it is a decision. It’s not easy for sure. What makes it most difficult is when the other person is not lovable or worse, is your enemy (or acting like your enemy). “But God demonstrates His love toward us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” While we were sinners, enemies of God, focused on ourselves and opposed to God’s leading and Lordship. How could He love us when we were like that? He had a plan and carried it out. He knew that some He had called and predestined by grace (remember chapter 1) would turn to Him and receive His love and forgiveness and change from enemies to redeemed, adopted children. 

How can we love others and walk in love? I think we need to know we are part of a plan of God. He demonstrates that love to us so we can demonstrate it to others. I guess we really need to know the love of God. Lord, teach us to know your love so we can demonstrate it to others and walk in love. 



Ephesians 5:1

​1  Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children;


“The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree”, you might hear when a child exhibits the same qualities or character as a parent. Paul calls us to be imitators of our Heavenly Father, to “fall close to the tree” or, as we studied in John, to abide in the vine. It’s great when a child takes on the same positive traits as the parent, but not always do parents have positive traits to imitate – they (we) have sinful ones. I know of a husband who treats his wife disrespectfully sometimes. The man’s son has picked up, imitated, this behavior. Not good. On the other hand, I know a father who, when he is wrong and convicted, is quick to confess and ask forgiveness. His son has picked that up. 

God, being sinless, has only positive traits to imitate. That doesn’t mean they’re easy or fun. Let’s start with forgiveness. Our Heavenly Father forgives. Do we imitate that behavior? Do we forgive? How about love enemies? We were enemies with God and while we were enemies, He sent Christ to die for us! Can you do that? You cannot, of your own strength; but since He calls us to imitate Him, we must be able to, to at least strive for this, strive to be like Him – even holy, as He is holy. 

Know God. That’s one part of imitating Him. How does a boy pick up the qualities of his dad? By being around him all the time. How do we take on the wrong thoughts of our friends, by being around them all the time. Keep in His Word. Keep in prayer. Keep in fellowship with other believers. Become like Him. 

Be humble. The opposite of pride. To become like someone, to imitate them, we need to be humble, we need to decide that the way they do it is better than our way. 

Stick to it. It’s a decision. We need to stick to it. Don’t give up imitating Him when it gets difficult. Press on…to the high call to be like Christ, to have the mind of Christ. 

“Help!” Cry out for help to be able to imitate God. We are beloved children. He will help. The Holy Spirit, the comforter, the teacher, will aid us, and abide in us. 


*one more for chapter 4*

Eph 4:31 — Eph 4:32

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, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you.


Paul gives us one final put off/put on for chapter 4. [By the way, you know chapter and verse markings were added afterward. This was just one long letter from Paul]. So lay aside these behaviors and attitudes of the old self: don’t be bitter (and unforgiving) to one another. Don’t allow yourself to be filled with wrath and revenge (for God says, “it is mine to revenge, I will repay.”) Another call to not be angry in a sinful manner as mentioned earlier. Do not possess a spirit of anger where you’re angry about everything, angry about life, angry at the world. Clamor and slander – yelling and making false statements about another. Stop it. 

Rather, put on new behaviors and speech, which comes from the heart, like being kind, tender of heart and forgiving. These are characteristics of how God deals with us. Use the forgiveness we receive in Christ as the pattern and motivation for forgiving others. 


*grieve or sealed*

Ephesians 4:30

30  Do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.


Paul continues his list of actions to lay off the old self and put on the new self. How does this relate to the Holy Spirit? Do not grieve the Holy Spirit. Do not bring sorrow. A definition is, “to feel or express great sadness, especially when someone dies”. It shows for one that the Spirit of God has emotion, that we are made in the image of God hence we have emotions. Have you experienced grief? It’s a very strong emotion and takes a while to recover from. When we do the things Paul listed above, like use unwholesome speech, get angry in a sinful way, steal, (not to mention a whole list of other sins like drug abuse, sexual promiscuity, love of money, etc), we can cause the Spirit to feel that emotion of grief. 

What is the difference between grieve the Spirit and sin against the Spirit? Jesus mentions sin (blasphemy) against the Spirit in Mark 3:28–30, “… but whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit never has forgiveness, but is guilty of an eternal sin”. “The blasphemy of the Holy Spirit is a willful, determined opposition to the present power of the Holy Spirit.”, John Piper. Certainly this will grieve the Spirit. But what Paul is talking about here in 4:30 is not so much wilful and determined but more thoughtless, obeying our sinful nature without Spirit control. 

Finally a reminder that we are sealed with the Spirit. Think of a formal document that requires an official seal to certify its authenticity, like an automobile title or a government document or college diploma. The seal does what? It certifies that the document is authentic, genuine. I think this is part of the explanation but there’s another meaning to sealed. When you have perishable food that you want to keep for a long time, you seal it in a zip lock freezer bag so nothing can get in to spoil it. It is preserved for the time it needs to be used. The Spirit is our seal of authentication and preservation. 


*speak to encourage*

Ephesians 4:29

29 Let no  unwholesome word proceed from your mouth, but only such a word as is good for edification according to the need of the moment, so that it will give grace to those who hear.


We know from James a few months ago, and from our own experience, that controlling our speech is incredibly difficult. In fact, it’s impossible to do it perfectly and consistently. Mankind can control wild animals and huge ships but not our tongue. We’re charged here to not just control the negative that comes out but, use our speech for good, to build up the body, to edify, encourage, even giving grace. 

By saying, “let”, Paul is clearly reminding us that it’s up to us. We have the response-ability to control what we say. No excuses like, “I don’t know how, it just comes out naturally, I can’t control it”. You are correct, the old self (v22)  does not want to control the speech. It’s only the new self that wants to and can. 

What are unwholesome words? Corrupt, foul or abusive language is another way to say it. Words that destroy, defame or degrade others. Maybe they’re complaints. Maybe they tear down. Don’t allow them to come out of your mouth. But Jesus told us that out of the overflow of the heart, the mouth speaks. We only speak what is in our hearts. Evil speech, I’m embarrassed to say, comes from an evil heart. So we really need to deal with our heart. People who physically cannot speak are able to “speak” through expressions and actions and certainly, have evil thoughts in their hearts. 

Rather, take time to consider what you will say. Pray for a calm spirit, a pure heart so to not say the evil things but rather to know what positive, encouraging things can be said. The things said should be appropriate for the situation and bless those who hear. Does that mean we never confront people about sin or declare evil when we see it? Of course not, for that can be used to warn or bring about the working of the Spirit. 

I’d challenge you, along with myself, to pay close attention to our hearts and monitor what comes out through our speech. Ask for help to correct it. Maybe take a challenge to do the for 20 days. 


*work for others*

Ephesians 4:28

28 He who steals must steal no longer; but rather he must labor, performing with his own hands what is good, so that he will have something to share with one who has need.


Paul here gives some very practical advice for laying down the old self and putting on the new to build up the body: stop stealing (or whatever sinful pattern you used to have) and start doing something good, for the practical help of the body. If you used to steal, stop it and start working. Use the hands that did the stealing to work and make money – not just for yourself but to bless others. There is gratification in work. There’s even more when you can bless others. As Paul recorded in Acts 20:35 Jesus said, “It is more blessed to give than to receive.” What are some other ways we can convert or redeem old ways to new ways that bless others? If you had a pattern of lying, stop lying and use your tongue to speak the truth to your neighbor. If your hands were used to beat people, use them now to care for handicapped or abused people. If you have a quick mind that you used for cheating on taxes or shrewd business dealings, use it to run a God-honoring business and pay taxes and tithe and use the profits to bless ministries. What others can you think of? 


*be angry…*

Eph 4:26 — Eph 4:27

26  BE angry, and yet do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, 27 and do not give the devil an opportunity.


God is telling us to be angry? Isn’t that sin? Yes and, yes and no. Yes, God is telling us, I believe, to be angry when the situation calls for it. He’s the one who created us and our emotions. I don’t believe the emotion of anger came after sin entered the world. God gets angry and He’s from everlasting to everlasting. [Before the mountains were born

Or You gave birth to the earth and the world,

Even from everlasting to everlasting, You are God. Psalm 90:2] But is anger sinful? It certainly can be. When we want something against God’s will and don’t get it then get angry, it’s sin. The primary sin is not trusting Him, the anger is secondary. Deal with the primary sin and learn to trust Him by knowing Him. 

Don’t let the sun go down on your anger can be understood literally – to get over your anger (and forgive) before sundown. Or, more likely, it means to not let anger simmer. Note that anger at a person often requires forgiveness. Forgiveness is not a feeling, it’s a decision. It is often a repeated decision. We may have to choose to forgive many times over a long time (70×7 as Jesus said) and the memories may never go away. Think of Corrie Tenboom who suffered in the nazi holocaust. She had to choose to forgive and let go of the anger. The feelings and memories were still there. We rely on the Spirit for the strength. 

Don’t give the devil an opportunity (or foothold if you like climbing). We should never give the devil an opportunity. In the context here of anger, it implies when we choose to hold onto anger (and not forgive) we give the devil and opportunity to steal and destroy and lie. The anger then can be compounded with temptations and additional sins. Especially in relationships, these sins (starting with anger) will tear down the body rather than build it up. 


*speak truth*

Eph 4:25 — Eph 4:32

25 Therefore, laying aside falsehood, speak truth each one of you with his neighbor, for we are members of one another. 26  BE angry, and yet do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, 27 and do not give the devil an opportunity. 28 He who steals must steal no longer; but rather he must labor, performing with his own hands what is good, so that he will have something to share with one who has need. 29 Let no  unwholesome word proceed from your mouth, but only such a word as is good for edification according to the need of the moment, so that it will give grace to those who hear. 30  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, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you.


Paul now tells us some various things that we should do to lay aside the old and put on the new self. Let’s look at each one one at a time… 

Lay aside falsehood – parallels the previous directive to, “lay aside the old self”. Don’t do these things the old self does. The old self lies. We know that the devil is the father of lies; it’s his natural language. You may may say that when we lie, we’re speaking the language of the devil. Be careful of what you even think that may be a lie. For example, “if I only had this (fill in the blank), I’d be happy and fulfilled”, or, “if I do (fill in the blank) it’s not wrong since it doesn’t hurt anyone”. Probably lies to get what we want and sear our consciences. 

Speak the truth to each other – speak Jesus’s language for He is the Truth. Think about truthful things. Best way I know is to read His Word for therein is truth. 

We’re members of one another. We’re all connected, working together as the body of Christ to support one another so the body can grow into what it was designed to be – Christ’s body. 


*new ways*

Eph 4:20 — Eph 4:24

20 But you did not learn Christ in this way, 21 if indeed you have heard Him and have been taught in Him, just as truth is in Jesus, 22 that, in reference to your former manner of life, you lay aside the old self, which is being corrupted in accordance with the lusts of deceit, 23 and that you be renewed in the spirit of your mind, 24 and put on the new self, which  in the likeness of God has been created in righteousness and holiness of the truth.


Paul tells the Ephesians that they who believe in Christ did not learn Christ that way, which I presume is this futile, darkened way of thinking mentioned above of non-believers. Rather, they learned to put off, lay aside the old self. Elsewhere Paul’s says to crucify the flesh, the old self, the old man. Our flesh is being corrupted right now, as you read this. Not physically (though iindeed out bodies are wasting away and destined for death) but spiritually, morally, the flesh is being corrupted. It’s being slowly changed from what it was created to be to something else. We were created to worship God but we’re constantly being changed to worship anything _except_ God. So do away with this body. Be renewed in the spirit of the mind, or, Paul would say, to have the mind of Christ – to think like He thinks. Put on a new self which has been created for worship of Him; righteous and holy. So, put off the old self and put on the new. 


*walk not in worldly ways*

Eph 4:17 — Eph 4:19

17  So this I say, and affirm together with the Lord, that you walk no longer just as the Gentiles also walk, in the futility of their mind, 18 being darkened in their understanding,  excluded from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, because of the hardness of their heart; 19 and they, having become callous, have given themselves over to sensuality for the practice of every kind of impurity with greediness.


Paul, speaking on behalf of the Lord, warns the ephesians to not follow their former ways, like the nonbelievers all around them. It’s tempting to do so. Their minds are messed up regarding spiritual things. They don’t understand spiritual matters in fact they are ignorant, unaware, unfamiliar with them. They have no part of the life of God. All this because of hard hearts that constantly reject God and the truth since it doesn’t agree with their thinking, their way of life, their sinful desires. From there, with their consciousness seared and calloused, they give into all their desires, every kind of impurity and they are greedy for more. 

When you are tempted to follow their ways, say no. Think about the fact that they are separated from the life of God. They are without hope. Then pray that God who saved you by grace will also save them, that He will open their eyes and soften their hearts to the truth as He graciously did for you. Give thanks for His grace to you and share with others. 


*body building 2*

Eph 4:14 — Eph 4:16

14  As a result, we are no longer to be children, tossed here and there by waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, by craftiness in deceitful scheming; 15 but speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in all aspects into Him who is the head, even Christ, 16 from whom the whole body, being fitted and held together by what every joint supplies, according to the proper working of each individual part, causes the growth of the body for the building up of itself in love.


Not physical body building, but spiritual body building. Not our individual spirits per se but the larger body of Christ. Because we have those in the body with these gifts, we can each grow spiritually and, together, as the body. We have no excuse to be duped by false doctrines and evil scheming. Rather, we take a proactive approach and speak the truth, in love which aids us in growing up to be like Christ, even His body. V16 reads, without the parenthetical portion, as, “the whole body… causes growth of the body…”. Everyone has a role. Each joint supplies its support for the body, building on and interlocked with each other. Imagine, if you’re a guy, the kinex (or erector) set you had as a kid and how you’d build tall structures that needed each part under it to stand strong. Or the jenga block game where as each block is removed, the structure becomes increasingly unstable. 

Be your part of the body. Know your role and fulfill it for the good of the body… of Christ. 


*build up the body*

Eph 4:7-8, 11-13

7 But to each one of us grace was given according to the measure of Christ’s gift… 11 And He gave some as apostles, and some as prophets, and some as evangelists, and some as pastors and teachers, 12  for the equipping of the saints for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ; 13 until we all attain to the unity of the faith, and of the  knowledge of the Son of God, to a mature man, to the measure of the stature which belongs to the fullness of Christ.


God’s goal for the body of Christ, the church, to be unified, mature – fully developed. How does He accomplish this? First, He gives each member of the body (each of us) grace, a gift. I believe Paul says, “according to the measure” to mean each of us has been given grace. Some have more because they need more. I know from personal experience that His grace is always available, always what we need (probably more than we realize) and it’s something we need to actively, by faith, see – Hebrews 11:1 – faith is the assurance of things hoped for and the conviction of things not seen. We can’t see grace but we can see the effects – like a sudden change in circumstances that changed an outcome, even an angel that came into our life then vanished. A friend of mine was having a heart attack in a remote area of a foreign country. When they arrived at the hospital late at night, his wife was trying to find help to get him on a gurney and into the hospital. Two people suddenly appeared and helped. They spoke very good English (very rare there). As they left they told my friend they were Christians! Too coincidental. 

Second, He builds the body by giving different ones different roles and abilities. Paul elsewhere refers to these (which overlap with gifts of the Spirit – 1 Corinthians 12) or as Jesus talked about talents in the parables. Apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers are the list here. Not every single person has one of these but these are singled out for the way they are used to equip the body for good works. The end goal is unity of faith and true knowledge of the Son of God, Jesus, and to, shall we say, become all the body was intended to be. 



Eph 4:4 — Eph 4:6

4 There is one body and one Spirit, just as also you were called in one hope of your calling; 5  one Lord, one faith, one baptism, 6 one God and Father of all who is over all and through all and in all.


One. Just one. One body, not two, not one body of Jews and one of Gentiles; one body united. One Spirit. Christianity is unique in that God is a trinity of Father, Son and Holy Spirit; not a pantheism of three gods, but three are one. What if each were god? How would that work? Who’s the boss? Would there be a boss? Would there be competition among them? To which would we pray for help? Which would we serve and worship? It could be confusing. Certainly a trinity is not an easy concept either; we can’t really understand, but believe it in faith based on what the Word says and rejoice in the unfathomable wisdom of God. One hope. What if there were multiple sources of hope, of real hope, for forgiveness and restoration of relationship with God. How would we know which to choose, which to put our trust in? Thank God there is only one hope, Jesus. One Lord. How can we serve two Lord’s? Jesus asked that question – how can we serve God and money? One faith and baptism. What if there were multiple faiths? Which one would be the true faith? How could we know? What if there was a baptism of John to repentance and one into Christ, as there was at one point, and which Paul and Jesus had to clarify, that Jesus’s superceded John’s. What if there was yet another baptism? There is a baptism BY the Spirit which is the baptism of believers, into faith, through Jesus, for all believers. 

Finally, one God. He is God. There is no other. He is over all. He reigns Supreme. He works through all and is in all. Colossians 1 talks about Christ as God. One aspect is in v17, “He is before all things and in Him all things hold together,” which implies He is in everything some how. Let’s bow in awe at this One God, worship the One Lord, serve this One Spirit. 


*quirks that irk*

Eph 4:1 — Eph 4:3

​1 I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, 2 with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, 3 eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.


As I look at these character qualities again that Paul lists, doesn’t it seem like they are all related to relating with others? Humble, not proud – don’t boast before others or consider yourself better than others. Gentle – relate to others with deference and kindness, not with rudeness (I can hear someone right now saying, “practice what you preach man!”). Patience – I think most of us could use a large dose of patience, but we’ll have to wait for it 🙂 . It’s patient with situations yes, but I think it’s more patience with others that Paul is talking about here. All these are decisions. Will we choose to be humble, gentle, patient? 

Tolerance – tolerate what? Surely he’s not calling us to what the world says today – to tolerate everyone’s chosen behavior and lifestyle when it is sin. He’s not saying to tolerate sin. But we all have personality quirks that can irk others. I believe this is what Paul means – tolerate other’s quirks that irk. Some people talk a lot, (too much). Let it go, don’t let it bother you. Some don’t talk enough. It’s not sin, it’s different personalities. But if someone lives in sin and calls it good, we cannot tolerate that. We love them but not the behavior and sinful actions. He sums it up with love. The two greatest commands: love your God and love your neighbor. 


*walk worthy*

Eph 4:1 — Eph 4:3

​1 I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, 2 with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, 3 eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.


Paul identifies himself how? As a prisoner.  He was in Rome awaiting trial. But he doesn’t refer to himself as a prisoner of Rome or even of the Jews but a prisoner for the Lord. He’s there in this situation at the Lord’s bidding, for His purpose, His glory. What situation are you in? It likely is not as terrible as prison, it may actually be great. But does it matter? God is in control. We choose to serve Him here and now. 

He calls us to live our life in a way that fits the calling we have. What’s this calling? To serve Him, serve the Lord of the universe – which comes with the abundant spiritual blessings mentioned earlier like adoption and inheritance. 

How do we live? Paul gives us this list to refer to. It’s not a complete list and it’s not a set of rules we must obey. It describes a person who, well, loves the Lord with all His heart, soul and mind and loves his neighbor as himself. He starts with humility, the opposite of pride, which is I believe man’s dominant sin. He ends with unity of the spirit in a bond of peace. As the body of Christ, the church must be one. Like earlier Paul talked about Jews and Gentiles being one. 


*more abundantly beyond*

Eph 3:20 — Eph 3:21

20 Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, 21 to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.


What can God do? What can’t he do may be a better question? Is He able to change situations, circumstances, health, even hearts? Can He solve this incredibly difficult problem? Can He? Yes, and more! Whatever we can think of or ask He is able to do far more abundantly beyond it. He does it by the same power that is in us. If we’re believers saved by grace, we’re filled with the Holy Spirit of God. That’s the awesome power that is in us Paul is referring to. 

To Him, God be all the glory forever and ever. Just like revelations depicts is going on in heaven right now – glory being given to God. It will continue… forever. Join with all creation. Ask Him for the impossible and let His will, not yours, be done.


*know the power of love*

Ephesians 3:14-19

14 For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, 15 from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name, 16 that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with power through His Spirit in the inner man, 17 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; and that you, being rooted and grounded in love, 18 may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, 19 and to know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled up to all the fullness of God.


Amazing passage to pray for others and yourself. We all suffer from the ills of this world and are distracted by it and tempted by it. We sin, we doubt, we don’t trust God, we don’t love Him, we love the world. It’s not the world’s problem, it’s our problem. Do we know Him and His love? Pray to the God who has the almighty power to do something amazing and effectual for eternity. Pray He’ll do a work in the inner man and Christ may dwell by the Spirit in the heart. Ask to be like the man of psalm 1 who is like a tree firmly planted with roots that go down deep and that Christ will take deep root in our hearts. We need to comprehend how big God’s love is. An iPhone has an app that can measure a square and find the area. Pretty cool. We need a spiritual ability to help us see how big God’s love is – in every dimension, to its full extent. We can never know enough or fully but we can and should strive for it and pray others would be able to. Note that this knowledge is not head knowledge but life changing experiential, deep and true knowledge. 

Finally, beseech God who is desiring to do so – to fill up with the fullness of God. Now that will blow you away. We know from ‭‭Colossians‬ ‭2:9‬ ‭that, “For in Him {Jesus} all the fullness of Deity dwells in bodily form,” We are supposed to pray this for ourselves and others so when we work, it’s God working, when we talk and share, the Spirit inside us speaks. When we live our lives, it is Christ living through us.


*bold access*

Ephesians 3:11-13

11 This was in accordance with the eternal purpose which He carried out in Christ Jesus our Lord, 12 in whom we have boldness and confident access through faith in Him. 13 Therefore I ask you not to lose heart at my tribulations on your behalf, for they are your glory.


This manifold wisdom of God being revealed through the church, the body of Christ (yesterday’s verses) is according to God’s eternal purpose. It is His plan from the beginning and into the ages to come. His wisdom is shown in His grace given us in Christ to solve the sin problem – how to reconcile disobedient sinners without becoming overcome by sin yet still meet out His just punishment for sin. Note that He, Jesus, in fact became sin for us, but through His resurrection, He overcame death due to sin. As we grow in our understanding of salvation, we will grow in our understanding of His manifold wisdom carried out according to His eternal purpose. 

Now, through Jesus Christ, we not only have forgiveness, we can actually come before this holy, righteous God. We can even come boldly before Him. I don’t think we’ll ever grasp the depth of this glorious truth, that the enemies of God, destined for eternal damnation and separation from Him due to the rebellion of our sin, can be allowed access into His holy presence after the sacrificial blood of Christ has cleansed us from that sin.  We have reconciliation with this holy, benevolent Ruler and Heavenly Father. Thank God for His grace and wisdom!


*through the church*

Ephesians 3:7-10

7 of which I {Paul} was made a minister, according to the gift of God’s grace which was given to me according to the working of His power. 8 To me, the very least of all saints, this grace was given, to preach to the Gentiles the unfathomable riches of Christ, 9 and to bring to light what is the administration of the mystery which for ages has been hidden in God who created all things; 10 so that the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known through the church to the rulers and the authorities in the heavenly places.


The church has a broad role. As we saw in 2:7, God will use us to boast about His surpassing riches of grace in kindness toward us. Here, we see that He will use the church to show His manifold (abundant, plenty) wisdom to the rulers and authorities in Heaven. This would likely include angels (including fallen angels like the devil). Again, God wants praise and clearly deserves it. We get the blessing of being used by Him to do that. 

We also see in v8 that we have access to unfathomable riches. Unfathomable means we can’t come close to understanding or measuring the size, quantity, quality, depth, height, etc. What are these riches? He spells some of them out in chapter 1 – forgiveness, grace, predestination, adoption, and an inheritance. 

Granted, it is difficult for us to think about these things since we can’t see them or touch them. Our daily life is filled, period. We don’t have time, or we don’t set aside time, to think about these things, about Him, about His glory and these blessings, about Heaven. It would do our souls good to do so. 


*a corporate temple of God*

Ephesians 2:17-22

17 And He came and preached peace to you who were far away, and peace to those who were near; 18 for through Him we both have our access in one Spirit to the Father. 19 So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints, and are of God’s household, 20 having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus Himself being the corner stone, 21 in whom the whole building, being fitted together, is growing into a holy temple in the Lord, 22 in whom you also are being built together into a dwelling of God in the Spirit.


Christ’s death has removed the barrier between Jews and Gentiles so the two can become one. He’s made the way for us to be able to partake in the blessings of Israel. We are together being built into a glorious temple in which God dwells., We know from 1 Corinthians 6:19 that, “… your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own?” We individually are temples of the Holy Spirit. Corporately, as the United body of Christ, we are also a temple of God – Jews and Gentiles together. 

What is the purpose of a temple? It’s the place where God dwells. Do we live and act like a place where God dwells? Are we doing the good works that He prepared in advance for us to do? Are we seeking to be pure and holy as He is holy? 


*animosity gone*

Ephesians 2:11-15

11 Therefore remember that formerly you, the Gentiles in the flesh, who are called “Uncircumcision” by the so-called “Circumcision,” which is performed in the flesh by human hands— 12 remember that you were at that time separate from Christ, excluded from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. 13 But now in Christ Jesus you who formerly were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. 14 For He Himself is our peace, who made both groups into one and broke down the barrier of the dividing wall, 15 by abolishing in His flesh the enmity, which is the Law of commandments contained in ordinances, so that in Himself He might make the two into one new man, thus establishing peace,


Now Paul looks at salvation from a different perspective, from a gentile perspective in relation to Jews, in the larger context of the body of Christ. He reminds the gentiles in Rome that they were originally separate, excluded, with no hope, with a barrier of animosity between them and the Jews, God’s chosen people. In fact, they were without God. Compare this to the previous verses where he says they were dead in sin, etc. But Christ came and died. His death, his body and blood have removed this barrier, abolished it, so gentiles can partake in the blessings, the common wealth, of Israel. His death made it possible for the two to become one, for reconciliation, for peace in place of animosity. 

Why? I can only guess that since Christ has one body, He wants unity. How can one body be divided? It’s not natural. It’s certainly not healthy. As in marriage, the two become one flesh, one body: one purpose, one hope, one Lord, working together to glorify Him and be a witness. 

How does that relate to us and seeking unity among believers? That’s His desire. Not at the expense of fundamental doctrine but for His glory. How can we seek unity in the body of Christ?


*just do them*

Ephesians 2:8-10

8 For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; 9 not as a result of works, so that no one may boast. 10 For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.


If you are still not sure about how we are saved, Paul makes it crystal clear: by grace. It’s God’s doing, for His pleasure and glory. The only role we play is as beneficiaries- we receive it. We studied in James they works are involved and that is true, for if there are no works, how can you prove you have faith? We must always remember that it is by grace alone. Even the good works we do have been prepared by God in advance for us to do. Salvation is a gift of God. If we have to do anything, it is no longer a gift. If there was something we had to do, we surely would boast about it (and some people do indeed boast , but in vain). God wants, and deserves, ALL the credit for our salvation. There is no room for any of mans boasting. 

Notice these good works. We are His workmanship, His project, His workers, created to do these good works. He prepared these good works well before we were even born so that we can do them. I know a special lady who finally understood the grace of salvation based on this verse. It convinced that former catholic that works would not, could not save her. 

So what do we do? Do the good works He has already prepared for us to do. Do them in faith. Do them with rejoicing for the grace we have received to do them. Just do them. 


*But God*

Ephesians 2:4-7

4 But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, 5 even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), 6 and raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, 7 so that in the ages to come He might show the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.


This has to be one of the best “but God” verses! Paul just finished talking about how depraved we were (and all non-Christians still are), how we’re destined for wrath, indulging the desires of the flesh with no hope. But God…enters the picture. Everything changes. He not only raises us up and redeems us back to a right relationship with Him, by grace. He also goes well beyond even that; He lifts us up and places us in a seat in Heaven where He dwells. He gives us an inheritance. 

But why? This is so amazing. He does it so that He can boast about His awesome grace and kindness toward us in Jesus. Yes He loves us. Yes He cares about us. But this amazing grace is NOT about us at all. It’s all about Him. Is God proud and even selfish? Not in the way we understand these characteristics. But think of who He is. He is creator and sustainer of all. He can, and does, do whatever He likes. “But our God is in the Heavens. He does whatever He pleases.” Psalm 115:3


*natural sinners*

Ephesians 2:1-3

1 And you were dead in your trespasses and sins, 2 in which you formerly walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, of the spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience. 3 Among them we too all formerly lived in the lusts of our flesh, indulging the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, even as the rest.


This chapter of Ephesians is the gospel. It starts by reminding us of our nature, our heritage, our destiny outside of grace. Thankfully Paul adds “formerly” to give us hope. What was our condition (and the present condition of all who don’t believe)?

Dead in trespasses and sins. Walking dead. Alive physically but dead spiritually. And the spiritually dead don’t have any hope for eternity. We walked in them (lived our lives) in them following the spirit of evil which is presently working in the world, especially in those who don’t believe and haven’t received God’s grace yet. 

We lived in lust of our flesh. We indulged in, our lives were centered around, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and mind.

By nature, we were children of wrath. We were destined to receive the wrath of God for our sin and rebellion. Unbelievers today still have that destiny. Does that motivate you?

As I review my life now, I see a bit much of these same sinful desires and patterns. Paul’s not focused on this here, but rather the contrast of who we used to be with what he’ll share next. He wants us to be reminded of the hopelessness of our former state, the absolute hopelessness. It reminds me to give thanks. It reminds me to be a light and share the good news with those around me.


*no other name*

Ephesians 1:19-23

19 and what is the surpassing greatness of His power toward us who believe. These are in accordance with the working of the strength of His might 20 which He brought about in Christ, when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places, 21 far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come. 22 And He put all things in subjection under His feet, and gave Him as head over all things to the church, 23 which is His body, the fullness of Him who fills all in all.


There is no other name, no other god, no other savior, just Jesus. He has been raised by God from death and separation from God due to our sin (becoming sin for us) to be exalted above all other names and rulers and authorities (including satan) both in this age that we are familiar with and the age to come. There ain’t no one else! All things are in subjection to Him; He is Lord of all. That _should_ include us and our wills and desires. Does it? It should. And it will. 


*sealed with a guarantee*

Ephesians 1:13-14

13 In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, 14 who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory.


Allow me to continue to dwell. There’s too much packed into these verses to miss. If I were to expand this into a “Doug version” it would be something like:

You gentiles (that’s you and me) have heard the good news of God’s Word, the truth, about your salvation. You heard and chose, by faith, to believe it. In Him, Jesus Christ, not in anyone else or other god or other way, not even by your own good works, you have been wrapped up in the protective, unbreakable, wrapping of God, the Spirit who was promised. The Holy Spirit has been given to us as a promise by God so we know without a doubt, if we believe in God and know Him, that we can fully count on Him to fulfill it and that He is able and willing to fulfill – even more than a husband to his beloved wife or a bank to their CD account holder is able to and desires to fulfill their promise. The promise is an inheritance. It’s not just the inheritance of your relative when they die which could be great and help you pay off a loan or buy a house. It’s an inheritance from your Heavenly Father that is immeasurably valuable, not just for this short life but for eternity. It’s given in the context of our future redemption as part of God’s personal possession – a possession that gives Him joy and pleasure and praise for His glory. Does it get any better than that?!


*two ages*

Ephesians 1:3-8a

3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ, 4 just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we would be holy and blameless before Him. In love 5 He predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the kind intention of His will, 6 to the praise of the glory of His grace, which He freely bestowed on us in the Beloved. 7 In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace 8 which He lavished on us. 


As I reread chapter 1, I couldn’t help but dwell on these verses and let them soak in a bit more. We have _every_ spiritual blessing. You name it, we have it. Some we have access to now. Others, like our inheritance, is laid up for the future age. 

Consider this again, deeply – before creation, not just before we got saved, not just before we were born, but before God even created our universe, He chose us. He chose you. He chose you to not be a sinner and guilty but holy and blameless. As you look at yourself in the mirror, do you see a holy and blameless person? I don’t. But that is this age. In the age to come that Paul refers to later, we will indeed be holy and blameless. In fact, since Christ already died and paid the penalty for our sin, God already declares us holy and blameless. He declares us chosen. He treats us as His children, His beloved, adopted children. We are redeemed. We are forgiven. For His glory. Isn’t that good news?! Rejoice. Give thanks. Praise Him for His marvelous works. Do it now. 


*prayer for others*

Ephesians 1:15-19a

15 For this reason I too, having heard of the faith in the Lord Jesus which exists among you and your love for all the saints, 16 do not cease giving thanks for you, while making mention of you in my prayers; 17 that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give to you a spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of Him. 18 I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened, so that you will know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints, 19 and what is the surpassing greatness of His power toward us who believe. 


Ever wonder how to pray for others? It’s a good idea to pray prayers in the Bible. Here’s one Paul prayed regularly for the Ephesians. What does he pray for them?

  1. God give them a spirit of wisdom to know how to put to use / apply revelation of truth that God gives them about the knowledge of God

  2. Their eyes to be enlightened (gain spiritual insight) 

  3. To know the hope of their calling – the calling and election to adoption Paul just mentioned; the inheritance they will receive (or, the inheritance we are of God’s – see below)

  4. The vast power of God toward believers 

Regarding point 3, Bible.org says, “Paul wants us to get a glimpse of our glorious future so that we will live in light of it right now. Either way you interpret this phrase, whether we are heirs to a vast fortune in heaven or whether we are God’s special inheritance (both are true), the application is the same. We must live as citizens of heaven who belong to God. We must live as saints, God’s holy ones, separate from this evil world.” (Bible.org)

Consider this prayer of Paul’s as you pray for other believers. 


*the blessings*

Ephesians 1:7-14

7 In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace 8 which He lavished on us. In all wisdom and insight 9 He made known to us the mystery of His will, according to His kind intention which He purposed in Him 10 with a view to an administration suitable to the fullness of the times, that is, the summing up of all things in Christ, things in the heavens and things on the earth. In Him 11 also we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to His purpose who works all things after the counsel of His will, 12 to the end that we who were the first to hope in Christ would be to the praise of His glory. 13 In Him, you also, after listening to the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation—having also believed, you were sealed in Him with the Holy Spirit of promise, 14 who is given as a pledge of our inheritance, with a view to the redemption of God’s own possession, to the praise of His glory.


Picking up from yesterday, Paul gives us the rest of the list of the “every spiritual blessing” he mentioned in v3: 1) chosen before creation, 2) predestined to be 3) adopted, 4) redeemed, 5) forgiven, 6) sealed with the Spirit. Can you comprehend that? Before He started creating all we know, He had already chosen us. Not just chosen us but predestined us to be adopted as His children. Implied in this is the whole redemption narrative – meaning that even our sin and rebellion was known, the sacrifice of Christ was known before we even existed and could rebel. Knowing we would rebel and sin and reject Him, He still went ahead with creation. Knowing Jesus would have to come and die for us, He still proceeded with His plan. As Paul says in Romans 11:33 “Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and unfathomable His ways!”

Doesn’t that just cause you to be in awe of our God! Doesn’t that humble you to the core knowing it is not at all about us, it’s all about Him. Not our works but His. 


*why the blessings?*

Ephesians 1:1-6

1 Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God,

To the saints who are at Ephesus and who are faithful in Christ Jesus: 2 Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ, 4 just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we would be holy and blameless before Him. In love 5 He predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the kind intention of His will, 6 to the praise of the glory of His grace, which He freely bestowed on us in the Beloved.


Paul’s likely in prison in Rome as he writes this letter to the Ephesians to encourage them in their faith. He wants them to know that God blesses us with so many blessings. In fact, we read we have _every_ spiritual blessing. 


Simply put, its 1) according to His will, 2) by His grace, 3) for His glory. What’s our role in this? Nada. Zilch. Niet. Meiyio. Nothing. Remember that. *Nothing*. He is God. He chose to have it this way. He chose to give us all these blessings like predestination, adoption, an inheritance, to be holy and blameless and others we’ll see tomorrow. It’s all His work, His doing. 

Reread and meditate on this. Allow it to sink in and see how He works in your mind and heart. 


All Bible references are New American Standard Version (NASB) unless otherwise noted or, I forgot.

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