Ephesians 4:3-6, Holiness in the body of Christ

Class Outline:

Title: Ephesians 4:3-6, Holiness in the body of Christ


LEV 20:26

“Thus you are to be holy to Me, for I the Lord am holy; and I have set you apart from the peoples to be Mine.”


The Lord spoke clearly to them about the commonly accepted culture and lifestyle of the nations that inhabited the Middle East at the time. God’s nation Israel was not to be like them in marriage, sexual behavior, in management of material and wealth, in social interaction, in government, and even in basic things down to how they dressed, cut their hair, and what they ate.


We must ask ourselves, what does it mean to be holy as the one body of Christ. What does our one calling call us to be?


In history, the church is distinct from Israel though they share many things in common. The church is to be holy also, but for us holiness is to be the genuine article, beyond the ceremonial holiness of Israel. How we dress, cut our hair, or what we eat is not particularly important. They can become important when our freedom to dress and eat impedes or hurts the spiritual life of another.


1CO 8:9-13

But take care lest this liberty of yours somehow become a stumbling block to the weak. 10 For if someone sees you, who have knowledge, dining in an idol's temple, will not his conscience, if he is weak, be strengthened to eat things sacrificed to idols? 11 For through your knowledge he who is weak is ruined, the brother for whose sake Christ died. 12 And thus, by sinning against the brethren and wounding their conscience when it is weak, you sin against Christ. 13 Therefore, if food causes my brother to stumble, I will never eat meat again, that I might not cause my brother to stumble.


In Israel, these outward things represented the separation of the divine from the carnal, but now in the church, which is the very body of Christ, we possess the genuine separation that is divine love (“A new commandment I give you, that you love one another as I have loved you.”), virtue (“to a mature man, to the measure of the stature which belongs to the fulness of Christ.”), the morality of heaven (“Be perfect as your Father in heaven is perfect.”), the ethics of Christ (“to know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge.”), the fruit of the Spirit are what we are to be.


It’s not that the holy demand from God in Israel was only ceremonial and ritualistic; there was much to it that stemmed from a true love of God and neighbor; as in giving to the poor, not defrauding your neighbor, caring for him and loving him, and loving God so as to follow His law. Still, their holiness was a foreshadowing of the holiness demanded of us who are baptized by the Spirit into union with Christ, made the new humanity, under the New Covenant, indwelt by the Holy Spirit and the Son of God, not going to a holy temple to worship, but being made the holy temple ourselves.


1PE 1:13-21

Therefore, gird your minds for action, keep sober in spirit, fix your hope completely on the grace to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ. 14 As obedient children, do not be conformed to the former lusts which were yours in your ignorance, 15 but like the Holy One who called you, be holy yourselves also in all your behavior; 16 because it is written, "You shall be holy, for I am holy." 17 And if you address as Father the One who impartially judges according to each man's work, conduct yourselves in fear during the time of your stay upon earth; 18 knowing that you were not redeemed with perishable things like silver or gold from your futile way of life inherited from your forefathers, 19 but with precious blood, as of a lamb unblemished and spotless, the blood of Christ. 20 For He was foreknown before the foundation of the world, but has appeared in these last times for the sake of you 21 who through Him are believers in God, who raised Him from the dead and gave Him glory, so that your faith and hope are in God.