Ephesians 4:3-6, Holiness in the body of Christ, part 2

Class Outline:

Title: Ephesians 4:3-6, Holiness in the body of Christ, part 2


The church is to be holy, and as compared to Israel’s holiness, it is to be the genuine article, beyond the ceremonial holiness of Israel. 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.


Israel’s ceremonial and moral 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.


The "therefore" is equivalent to, "in view of the fact that even though you are undergoing many kinds of trials (v. 6), yet because your heavenly inheritance awaits you" (vv.3-6), gird up the loins of your minds. Peter here uses an oriental expression referring to the act of gathering up around the waist, the long, loose eastern robes which would impede one's progress in running or other exertion. The recipients of this letter are reminded by the apostle in 1:1 that they are strangers, those who have temporarily settled down alongside of a pagan population, and also pilgrims as well (2:11). As such they should always be ready to move. The Israelites had orders to eat the Passover with their loins girded, their shoes on their feet, their staff in their hand, ready to move on a moment's notice (Ex 12:11). In the same way, we are to be sober and alert, girded up, for the opportunities in which we are called to action, springing to God’s works done in and through us.


Of course, Peter’s instruction to gird up is not physical, but in the mind. What might impede a man physically from running or doing is an image for what would impede us mentally - sin and distraction that is caused from the flesh, the self. Therefore, the exhortation to be sober.


Spiritual sobriety is clear and unimpeded thinking of divine truth. This separates as holy the church from the world. To maintain it, we must have self-control, a fruit of the Spirit.


We must learn to tell our thoughts of self, our distractions, our silly occupations, our sinful temptations where they get off, and by faith, know with confidence, that the Holy Spirit within us will empower us to lay them aside.


It doesn’t mean that you don’t enjoy yourself, for the Christian life is joy itself, it means that you are not mastered by any fleshly or earthly thing. If you long for Christ’s life, to follow it like a child longing for the good life, it doesn’t mean that you absolve yourself from all things material and earthly that give pleasure to mankind, it means that they are in submission, ultimately, to a higher command, a higher call, and when the former come into conflict with the will of the later, you yield all will to the Lord. This is the Amen of freedom.


GAL 5:13

For you were called to freedom, brethren; only do not turn your freedom into an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another.


The prepositional phrase “in spirit” is not in Peter’s original letter. The addition may distract, for we are not to consider where within ourselves we are to be sober, but rather we are to “be sober.”


1PE 1:13

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.


“fix your hope completely” is the verb “to hope” (elpizo) with the adverb teleios which means complete, perfect, or finished.


It is to be a hope that is complete, a perfect hope, wanting nothing, being in its character an assured expectation. One could translate, "set your hope perfectly, unchangeably, without doubt and despondency." (Wuest)


The final aspect of our salvation, “the grace brought” to us “at the revelation of Jesus Christ,” our translation into heaven and our reality in heaven that we will see, gives us perfect hope. Right now, since the moment of salvation, we have been enjoying the fruits of salvation as far as we can see it.


1PE 1:14-15

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."


What we used to be and were saved from:


EPH 2:2

the spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience


By the baptism of the Holy Spirit, all believers were entered into union with Christ. This makes us holy at the moment of salvation. The command of Peter is for us not to “be conformed,” which word means to assume an outward appearance patterned after the lust of the disobedient.


Holiness has in it the idea of separation from all patterns that Christ is not, but it is not a separation from the world as a monk. We are the light of the world. We are to shine the holiness of the Lord to the world and continually invite others to enter in through faith in the gospel. We are separate from the behavior of the world, being not of the world, but most definitely in it.


1 Pe 1:16

because it is written, "You shall be holy, for I am holy."


The pronoun is used “I”, making the statement emphatic. “I, yes I, am holy.”


The contrast between the first and second stanzas of Psa 36 reveals the great contrast between the fallen world and the redeemed children of God who seek His face.


PSA 36:1-9

Transgression speaks to the ungodly within his heart;

There is no fear of God before his eyes.

2 For it flatters him in his own eyes,

Concerning the discovery of his iniquity and the hatred of it.

3 The words of his mouth are wickedness and deceit;

He has ceased to be wise and to do good.

4 He plans wickedness upon his bed;

He sets himself on a path that is not good;

He does not despise evil.


5 Thy lovingkindness, O Lord, extends to the heavens,

Thy faithfulness reaches to the skies.

6 Thy righteousness is like the mountains of God;

Thy judgments are like a great deep.

O Lord, Thou preservest man and beast.

7 How precious is Thy lovingkindness, O God!

And the children of men take refuge in the shadow of Thy wings.

8 They drink their fill of the abundance of Thy house;

And Thou dost give them to drink of the river of Thy delights.

9 For with Thee is the fountain of life;

In Thy light we see light.


There is a similar reference to “the children of men take refuge in the shadow of Thy wings,” in Ephesians where it is the church who takes refuge in Christ.


EPH 5:29

for no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ also does the church


Nourishes - ektrepho = to nurture, to rear (as children)

Cherishes - thalpo = to keep warm (as birds covering their young with their wings)


EPH 4:4-6

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.


We are one body, which is made and given life by One Spirit, and has as its goal one hope of its calling. So then, the body has one head, one faith to sustain its journey, and one origin - the baptism of the Spirit.


If one Spirit dwells in us, it is one Lord who reigns over us. If we have one hope to reach for, we have one faith to live by. If we are one body, then we must have one baptism.


The construction of this sentence is not random. It has deep purpose and meaning for all of human history and beyond into eternity. The body of Christ, the new humanity, God’s will for mankind has ever had one source, and only one. Satan and mankind have searched for other sources, they have made strong cases for the legitimacy of the other sources, and as they have failed time and again. After the obvious failure of Satan’s schemes, he proclaims that a little change, a little tweaking, a little patch here and there, and it will all run just fine the next time. But it never does. Any human endeavor without God seems to start off okay, but in short time it starts to break down and eventually crashes. As Jesus so simply and beautifully said, “You can’t put an old patch on a new wine skin.” It will tear the patch and the wine will pour out.


So, by God’s inspiration, we have three pairs: Spirit and Lord; Hope and Faith; Body and Baptism. And then finally, the seventh part to complete God’s number: The Sovereignty of the Father over all. It’s not a coincidence that the Lord is in the center.


The Lord is in the center, the Lamb of God in the midst of the throne, Jesus in between the criminals, His cross in the center of history. He is the fulcrum upon which all things balance and move. He is the Mediator between God and man, and man and man.


Jesus Christ is the center of all things. He is Savior and Lord. We are to believe in Him for salvation and then serve Him as Lord.


Salvation is first, but that regeneration is a means to an end - serving God, as the humanity of Christ did, under the authority of all three of the one Trinity.


Some continue to treat Him as a means to an end; a means to salvation and heaven, but refuse to follow Him and yield themselves to Him, for the sake of who He is. He is the means to salvation and heaven, but to not yield to Him is like saying, “Thanks for heaven. See you then…”


Christ Jesus the Lord takes His place in the center of this list, between hope and faith, between Spirit and Father. He is the center of all, the Lamb in the midst of the throne, the Christ born at the proper time in the center of the ages. He is the Mediator, center between God and Man as the God/Man. He is the foundation and cornerstone of the church.


The Lord Jesus Christ’s present authority


Christ’s ascension marked the end of His earthly ministry. He ended His period of self-limitation. The ascension also begins His exaltation and glory in heaven. Upon His return to heaven, His preincarnate glory temporarily laid aside in earth was now to be fully manifested. He was to have the added glory now of victory over sin and death and is accordingly exalted.


He was the first to enter heaven as a resurrected Man. He is the forerunner of all believers who would follow Him. It is more than a return to His preincarnate glory, it is the glorification of His humanity along with the glory of His deity which He always had. He, as Man and God, sits at the right hand of the Father above all rule and authority. Therefore, it is not a question as to whether we who are saved should serve Him. We must serve Him, obey Him, submit to Him, adore Him, walk with Him and rejoice in Him because He is the one Lord.


Sitting at the right hand of the Father means possession of the throne without dispossessing the Father. It is a glorification, not a coup or revolution.


Satan’s attempt at revolt seems to be some kind of coup. We know little about it, and we don’t know how he thought he could be successful, if in fact he did imagine success, against almighty God.


Jesus was a revolution on earth, for He dispossessed the ruler of the world, Satan, of whom He said he would be cast out.


In heaven, all glory and power are shared by the Father and the Son. His throne is over all the universe. This throne is a heavenly one that must be distinguished from David’s throne that He will take on earth.


Although Christ in some sense is awaiting the ultimate victory over the world anticipated in PSA 110:1, He has extensive authority over the world as a whole even now.


1PE 3:22

who is at the right hand of God, having gone into heaven, after angels and authorities and powers had been subjected to Him.


HEB 1:8-9

But of the Son He says,


"Thy throne, O God, is forever and ever,

And the righteous scepter is the scepter of His kingdom.

9 "Thou hast loved righteousness and hated lawlessness;

Therefore God, Thy God, hath anointed Thee

With the oil of gladness above Thy companions."


HEB 1:6

But to which of the angels has He ever said,


"Sit at My right hand,

Until I make Thine enemies

A footstool for Thy feet "?


EPH 1:18-23

I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened, so that you may 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. 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 fulness of Him who fills all in all.


Jesus possesses all authority, and His coming to the earth to judge it was set in the decree of the Father from all eternity. This leads us to only one conclusion, that the Father is allowing the evil in this world to continue until the appointed time, and then, and only then will Christ execute His authority upon the earth, and at that time, at the second coming, He will not be laying aside His divine glory as He did in His first advent.