Day 320 – Thru the Bible
Today we complete Ephesians. Well done!
Ephesians 5 – Paul grounds this series of moral imperatives (chiefly regarding sexual purity) in two realities: our present identity in Jesus, and the future judgment of Jesus. Regarding the former, Paul tells the Ephesians to act as saints (v. ) and to walk as children of light (v. ). Concerning the latter, he admonishes them based on the coming wrath of God (v. ) and the coming light of Jesus (vv. ).
Both realities (present identity and future judgment) are connected to the Gospel. The gospel connects to our present identity because it is the good news of our changed allegiance; the Gospel connects to future judgment because it gives a gracious warning for those who profess the lordship of Jesus with their mouths but deny Him by their works (Matthew ). Grace covers all the sin of those who trust in the finished work of Jesus upon the cross. Judgment does not await those who are united to Jesus, but an unrepentant life turned from God has no assurance of that union.;
Because we live in dark times, we need frequent reminders to wake up (v. 14) and to watch out (v. 15). This means discerning what bring glory to the Lord (v. 10) and walking in countercultural obedience to Him: not unwise, but wise (v. 15); not foolish, but understanding (v. 17); not drunk on wine, but filled with the Spirit (v. 18). The world wants to press us into its mold (Romans 12:2), but we have been given a different pattern.
While the wrath of God is not in the future for any true Believer, we should not presume that ungodly pursuits will have no effect upon us or our loved ones. God loves us enough to tell us of the safe path of godliness, and He loves us enough to warn us of the consequences of wandering from that path.
Paul explains the “filling” in verse 18 with four participles in verses 19–21. To be under the sway of the Spirit (instead of intoxicated by strong drink) leads to speaking in song, singing in your heart, giving thanks to God, and submitting to one another out of reverence for Jesus. All are called to live sacrificially for the sake of others in their lives, a theme that will get much expression in the following verses, even for those in authority. Being “Spirit-filled” has less to do with spontaneity and exuberance, and more to do with living a life marked by the ordinary and glorious fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22–23).
Jesus Christ is the focal point of history and the reference point for all our obedience. Husbands find in Jesus a model for sacrificial, loving, strong, tender headship. Wives find in the church’s submission to Jesus a model for intelligent, gracious, trusting, respectful submission. Though these commands may be designed to reverse the sin of Eden (where the woman usurped her husband’s authority and the man relinquished his sacrificial leadership), the Bible never roots these gender roles in the fall, let alone in a certain cultural context. Instead, these roles are meant to be an expression of the unchanging Gospel dynamics of Jesus’ relationship to the church and the church’s relationship to Him.
How do you keep Jesus at the center of all your relationships?
Ephesians 6 – These household instructions, though common in the ancient world, are given a new Gospel twist. Children obey parents because of Gospel promises; bondservants obey masters from a Gospel heart; masters do not relinquish authority but use it (as should husbands and parents) for the good of those needing Gospel expression; and Believers do good deeds because of Gospel hope. There is no area of life too big or too mundane that the person and work of Jesus cannot sanctify and empower it. The Gospel is not an ethereal formula unrelated to daily living. The Gospel informs and transforms all of life.
God does not send us into battle against Satan without divine assistance. In fact, he dresses us in His own armor. The imagery comes from the book of Isaiah, where the Lord and his Messiah are arrayed for battle (Isaiah 11:4–5; 52:7; 59:17). We war against the Devil’s lies and accusations with the truth of the Gospel, fighting the fight of faith to believe that the cross brings us peace, our salvation is secure, and the Lord is our righteousness. Our posture is almost entirely defensive. We are told to “stand”, knowing that Jesus has already won the victory. Our one offensive weapon is the sword of the Spirit.
But all of this instruction for spiritual battle begins with the reminder to “be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might.” We do not win any battle against evil in our own strength, but only with the spiritual resources provided by our Savior, the One who is “far above all rule and authority and power and dominion” (Ephesians 1:21). In the words of a hymn by Martin Luther, “The prince of darkness grim, we tremble not for him. His rage we can endure, for lo his doom is sure. One little word shall fell him.”
Having already prayed for the Ephesians to know the love of Jesus which surpasses knowledge (Ephesians 3:19), Paul concludes his letter with a reference to the Ephesians’ incorruptible love for Jesus. This impossible sounding love has already been fleshed out in many practical ways in chapters 4–6. To guard our tongues and protect our purity and honor our spouse and obey our parents and stand against the Devil—this is what it looks like to love Jesus (John 14:15, 23–24). The God who blesses us in the Beloved is a God worthy to be loved.
In the midst of life’s battles, how do remember you’re secure I the victory Jesus has already won?
What other thoughts or questions does today’s reading bring up?
Some of these notes are from the ESV Gospel Transformation Bible study notes. We highly recommend this study Bible.
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