Walking as God’s dear children worthy of God’s calling (Eph 4:1) in this world (1 Jn 5:19) is a lifestyle. Adopting and living this lifestyle is the primary way we serve as God’s workers in this world. Walking a godly life brings salt and light to our family, fellow believers, friends, neighbors and whoever we see.
“You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt should lose its taste, how can it be made salty? It’s no longer good for anything but to be thrown out and trampled on by men.
“You are the light of the world. A city situated on a hill cannot be hidden.No one lights a lamp and puts it under a basket, but rather on a lampstand, and it gives light for all who are in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before men, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven.” Matthew 5:13-16 HCSB
Walking as God’s dear children worthy of God’s calling
Paul begins his exhortation on how we should live by urging us not to live like the people of this world. Their mindsets and understanding have made them strangers to the life God gives because of their ignorance and the hardness of their heart.
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, 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; and they, having become callous, have given themselves over to sensuality for the practice of every kind of impurity with greediness. Ephesians 4:17-19 NASB
After reading that bleak assessment of the people of the world, you wouldn’t think Paul would have to exhort us not to live like them. But, many American Christians do live like heathens live. Even though around 72% of Americans consider themselves Christians, our American society is more worldly than godly. That means, a lot of the redeemed live like the people of the world.
The people of the world are deceived and deceptive. They make setting our minds on worthless things look like the enlightened and socially adept thing to do. Humanists, narcissists, new age thinkers, psychics and other pagans are strangers to the life God gives. Like big babies, they glory in their own sensuality, demand their own way and assert their own rights and ideas. Yet, they are deceptive enough to lead many Christians to give them credibility. We even see such pagan leaders and celebrities in what goes as Christianity (Jude 1:12-13).
We hear a lot about values. Values are substitutes for God’s truth as to what is good and acceptable. Values are made up by people who regard their own ideas more highly than God’s truth. We need God’s restoration to His truth. We are as exiles that need to help set one another free from worldly invasions into the body of the Messiah. Incorporating world values and ways into our own way of life presents the forces of darkness with big openings to capture and spoil us.
In contrast to the mindset, hardheartedness and ways of the world. Paul urges us to become new in the spirit of our minds and put on the new self.
That is the difference between the unregenerate and the regenerate lifestyle. We are to live as Jesus lived. He had presence, the presence of the Holy Spirit. He walked among the tainted without becoming tainted. People instinctively knew He was a noble person. Those who opposed Him feared Him. Those who were hurting knew He would help them. Those who sought Him knew He loved them. Where He walked, He brought grace and truth. He always did His Fathers will. Now, He leads us in the kingdom of the Son. We are to, be renewed in the spirit of our mind and to put on the new self, to which God has given life, in righteousness and a true and holy way of living.
But that is not what you learned when you got to know Christ, if you have heard Him and in Him have been taught the truth as it is in Jesus. Strip off your old self, which follows your former ways of living and ruins you as it follows the desires that deceive you. Become new in the spirit of your minds, and put on the new self, to which God has given life, in righteousness and a true and holy way of living. Ephesians 4:20-24 AAT
In view our renewed minds (Ro 12:2) and regenerated being (Titus 3:5), Paul gives us some don’ts and do’s for living right and holy.
So don’t lie any more, but tell one another the truth, because we are members of one another. Be angry but don’t sin. Don’t let the sun go down on your anger. Don’t give the devil a chance to work. Anyone who has been stealing should not steal any more, but instead work hard, doing something good with his own hands so that he has something to share with anyone in need. Don’t say anything bad but only what is good, so that you help where there’s a need and benefit those who hear it. And don’t grieve God’s Holy Spirit, by whom you were sealed for the day when you will be set free. Get rid of all bitter feelings, temper, anger, yelling, slander, and every way of hurting one another. Be kind to one another and tenderhearted, and forgive one another as God in Christ has forgiven you. Ephesians 4:25-32 AAT
The following instruction are very clear. First of all, Paul urges us to try to be like God and live in love as Christ loved us. In view of that, he gives us more don’ts and do’s.
As God’s dear children try to be like Him and live in love as Christ loved us and gave Himself for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.
Sexual sins, anything unclean, or greed shouldn’t even be mentioned among you. This is the right attitude for holy people. No shameful things, foolish talk, or coarse jokes! These aren’t proper. Instead give thanks. Be sure of this, that nobody who is immoral, unclean, or greedy (a greedy person worships an idol) has any share in the kingdom of Christ who is God. Don’t let anybody fool you with meaningless words. These things bring God’s anger and punishment on those who don’t obey the truth. So don’t share their ways. Ephesians 5:1-7 AAT
But, living as God’s dear children is not easy. Our natural old self-inclinations are always ready to cause us to slip, flounder, and fall. On top of that, people who encourage our old self-attitudes with meaningless words surround us. They uphold the right to practice sins. The world is ready and willing to accept the values and adopt the political correctness allowing such reasoning. But, the people of the world are very short sighted. Their hearts are set on instant gratification of the flesh and they are unwilling to look at the long-term consequences, either for the individual or for society. See Prov 6:27, 1 Cor 6:15-20, Gal 6:8, 1 Cor 5:9-12
In, What Ever Became of Sin, Sept 1973, Dr. Karl Menninger traced resistance to the word, “sin,” in America. He wrote that without moral restrainers, sin rapidly spread through our culture and brought bondage. He pointed out, the last American President to use the word, “sin,” in a public speech was Eisenhower in 1953. Since the time his book was published, several have.
Now, Paul contrasts our old way as darkness and urges us to live as children of light. We are to make the most of our opportunities. People who see us living as children of light will seek us out when they have had their fill of the hurts and wounds and futility of the world. When anyone wants to partake of the inheritance we have in the Messiah, we should be ready, willing and able to share.
Once you were darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light, since light produces everything good and righteous and true. And test things to see if they please the Lord.
Don’t have anything to do with the works of darkness, from which no good can come. Instead show that they are wrong. We’re ashamed even to mention what such people do secretly. When you show that anything is wrong, it is seen in the light; anything you can see is as clear as light. So it says: “Wake up sleeper! Rise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.” Ephesians 5:8-14 AAT
Paul concludes his exhortation for us to walk as God’s dear children worthy of God’s calling in the world.
Be very careful, then, on how you live. Don’t be unwise but wise. And make the most of your opportunities because these are evil days. So don’t be foolish, but understand what the Lord wants. Don’t get drunk on wine, which means wild living. But let the spirit fill you as you speak psalms, hymns, and songs to one another, and with your hearts sing and play music to the Lord, always thanking God the Father for everything in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. Ephesians 5:15-20 AAT
It is time for each of us to stand up for Jesus—in family, in fellowship and in society. As each of us is working properly, in the salt and light mode (Mt 5:13-16), our lives make a difference. This salt and light mode can change America.