Wednesday, July 22, 2020

The Law and the Christian (Eph. 4:29-5:21)

"For of this you can be sure: No immoral, impure, or greedy person—such a man is an idolater—has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God" (Ephesians 5:5)

Paul has been discussing the implications of our unity in Christ. We are to live charitably and in harmony with one another. It is interesting to see that when he lays out the implications of this truth, Paul seems to use as his guideline the Ten Commandments. Note how many of the Ten Commandments we can discern in Ephesians 4:25–6:9.

“Therefore each of you must put off falsehood and speak truthfully” (4:25). Here is the nineth commandment: “Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor.”

“He who has been stealing must steal no longer” (4:28). This is the eighth commandment. Paul says that the former thief must work and earn money to be given as charity to others, transforming his former way of life.

“Get rid of all bitterness, rage, and anger” (4:31) refers to the sixth commandment, for Jesus said that unrighteous anger in the heart is a kind of murder. Here again, Paul says to transform anger by making an effort to be kind and forgiving.

“But among you there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality” (5:3), referring to the seventh commandment. Paul says that thanksgiving will keep our minds on God and off our neighbor’s spouse.

Paul’s statement that no greedy (covetous) person will enter the kingdom (5:5) refers to the tenth commandment.

Paul summarizes his exhortation to follow the law of God by saying that believers are children of light who should have nothing to do with the works of darkness, but rather should expose them, so that men will be forced to come to grips with their sin and perhaps may convert to Christ (Ephesians 5:8–14).

The first four commandments, concerning worship of God, seem to be alluded to in Ephesians 5:15–20. Notice the reference to making good use of time (fourth commandment), to worship (first and second), and to the name of the Lord (third).

Finally, Paul tells us to submit to one another, honoring those in authority or in subjection to us in various spheres of life (Ephesians 5:22–6:9). This discussion concerns the fifth commandment.

When God called out Israel and created them as a nation around Himself, He gave them the Ten Commandments. These laws were designed to help them live in community. They haven’t changed. Today consider how each of the commandments here is designed for the building up of believers’ unity in Christ.