Life-Study of Ephesiansby Witness Lee
Printed Copy: Available Online from Living Stream Ministry
Printed Copy: Available Online from Living Stream Ministry
In this message we come to 4:25-32. In 4:17-24 Paul gives us the basic principles for the living needed in our daily walk. In verses 22 and 24 we see that the condition for learning Christ is having put off the old man and having put on the new man. Once this condition is met, it is possible for us to live a life of truth, which is the expression of God in the shining of light.
In verses 25 through 32 we have a description of the practical daily life in the learning of Christ. In covering the daily life of learning Christ, Paul goes into a lot of detail. He mentions things such as anger, stealing, bitterness, wrath, clamor, evil speaking, malice, tenderheartedness, and forgiveness. Although these details are easy to see, it is more difficult to discern two important matters that Paul’s speaking is based upon. These matters are truth and grace. The apostle’s exhortation in verses 17 through 32 takes truth and grace as its basic elements (vv. 21, 24, 25, and 29). He wants us to live as Jesus did, a life full of grace and truth (John 1:14, 17). Grace is God given to us for our enjoyment, and truth is God revealed to us as our reality. When we live and speak truth (Eph. 4:21, 24), we express God as our reality, and others receive God as grace for their enjoyment (v. 29).
In the New Testament grace and truth are a pair. John 1:14 says that the Word became flesh and tabernacled among us, full of grace and truth, and verse 17 says that grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.
Just as grace and truth are a pair, so love and light are also a pair. In the Gospel of John we have grace and truth, but in the First Epistle of John we have love and light (4:16; 1:5). Grace is the expression of love, and love is the source of grace. In the same principle, truth is the expression of light, and light is the source of truth. In God’s heart there is love. When this love is expressed, it becomes grace. Likewise, with God there is light. When the light shines forth, it becomes truth. When we trace grace and truth back to their source in God, we are in love and light.
We have pointed out that Paul’s exhortation in 4:17-32 covers both truth and grace. Truth is clearly mentioned, but grace is somewhat hidden, being especially implied in Paul’s mention of the details related to daily living. If we are short of grace, we cannot meet the standard in relation to these details. The principles for our learning of Christ are related to the truth, whereas the details are related to grace. If we would be conformed to the image of Christ, that is, if we would learn Christ, we need both the principles and the details. If we have the truth, we have the principles. If we have grace, we shall succeed in meeting the standard in all the details.
Paul says that we learn Christ as the truth is in Jesus (4:21). The pattern, the mold, set up by the Lord Jesus is the truth. The truth is the principle, the principle is the pattern, and the pattern is a matter of having put off the old man and of having put on the new man. In verses 17 through 24 we have the principle of our renewed daily living for the learning of Christ. This principle is the truth, the living of the Lord Jesus when He was on earth. The Lord’s living was that of always putting off His own life and of putting on the Father’s life. This is the life of Jesus, and this life is the truth that is the principle of a life of learning Christ. According to this principle, we have put off the old man and have put on the new man.
Every aspect of our daily living should be governed by this principle, not by a standard of ethics. For example, our conversation should be governed not by a standard of ethics, but by the New Testament principle of having put off the old man and of having put on the new man. Even how much we laugh or cry should be determined by the principle of having put off the old man and of having put on the new man. This principle is much higher than any ethical standard.
In baptism we put off the old man and put on the new man, which is the church life. Now our daily living in the church life is to be according to the principle of truth, according to the pattern of the life of truth set up by the living of the Lord Jesus. We have been taught according to this principle as the truth is in Jesus.
The details of our daily living are related to grace. In every aspect of our daily living, we need grace. Grace is God Himself in Christ as our enjoyment. We need to allow this enjoyment to remove from us the negative elements mentioned in verse 31. One of these negative elements is bitterness. Without grace, we cannot let go of our bitterness. But when we have God in Christ as our enjoyment, our bitterness will disappear. When we have sufficient grace, we can say, “I am filled with Christ as my enjoyment. Because I am filled to the brim with grace, there is no room in me for bitterness of any kind.”
Only when we are filled with grace will the negative things be removed from us. Take gossip as an example. We enjoy gossiping because we are short of grace. If we are filled with grace, we shall not seek satisfaction in gossiping. On the contrary, we shall be content with the satisfaction that is in Christ. When we are filled with grace and when Christ is everything to us, we have no need to find satisfaction in other things.
Only by grace can we have a life that is according to the divine standard in all the details mentioned by Paul in these verses. If we are filled with grace, then in the place of bitterness, wrath, anger, and clamor, we shall have kindness, patience, mercy, forgiveness, and love. These qualities come not from self-effort, but from Christ as our enjoyment. When Christ is our enjoyment, we have no appetite for bitterness, wrath, anger, or clamor. Instead, we desire to have kindness, patience, endurance, gentleness, mercy, love, and various other virtues and qualities. What a difference it makes in our daily living when we are happy and satisfied through the enjoyment of God in Christ as grace!
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