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Ephesians 4:1-3 by Robert Dean
Do all believers walk worthy of their position in Christ? Listen to this message to learn that only believers who are growing spiritually are able to walk worthy. Find out the meaning of long-suffering or patience and the role of self control to produce it in our lives. See the importance of “putting up” with others, which can only be accomplished by the Holy Spirit in us. Be challenged by our need to ramp up everything in our spiritual lives in light of the times in which we live.
Series:Ephesians (2018)
Duration:43 mins 11 secs

The Worthy Walk Described Patience
Ephesians 4:1–3
Ephesians Lesson #112
July 11, 2021
Dr. Robert L. Dean, Jr.

Opening Prayer

“Father, we’re thankful that You have given us Your Word. Your Word is described in the Scripture as the mind or the thinking of Jesus Christ, that which is contained in Your Word, that which would be revealed to us was part of Your thinking from eternity past.

“There never was a time when it was not part of Your thinking, and that there is a significant design in the way that You have revealed it to us in terms of the Old Testament, then the New Testament and the progression of the literature within each.

“God the Holy Spirit breathed this out to the writers of Scripture, so that as we walk by the Spirit, the very one who revealed Your Word, that we are able through Him to understand it, and that nothing in here is by chance or by accident.

“All that is here is said in a way that is specific and was intentional, and that we are to study it, memorize it, meditate on it again and again as we go through our lives. For it is through Your Word that we are sanctified by the Holy Spirit. We pray that You would guide our thinking today in Christ’s name. Amen.”

Slide 2

Open your Bibles to Ephesians 4:1–3, where we are looking at this command that we are to “walk worthy” and just exactly what that means and what that looks like.

We aren’t to figure out what it looks like so that we can evaluate other people. There are a lot of believers who do that, and you end up with people saying things like, “Well, I don’t know how they can be a Christian. Look at what they did!”

Well, there’s so many things that are wrong with that. Aside from being judgmental, it assumes that Christians are always going to do the right thing, or that just because you’re saved, you’re no longer going to do certain things, that it would be impossible. And that’s just not what Scripture teaches.

The Scriptures do not teach that we are morally better when we trust Christ as our Savior. That’s not part of regeneration. We have new life. Remember, spiritual death means that we are alienated from the life of God. One of the things that happens at salvation is we’re given new life.

Another thing that happens is that we are made alive again spiritually, because that which was lost in Adam’s sin was that aspect of his immaterial nature that enabled him to have a walk with the Lord, to have a relationship with the Lord.

We refer to that as his human spirit, which enables us to understand God’s Word and to be able to apply it to our life in the Church Age, that is, through the ministry of God the Holy Spirit. “Walking worthy” is not something you can do before you trust in Christ as Savior, because the spiritually dead person can’t walk worthy of the Lord.

When we trust in Christ, as both deacons mentioned in their prayers, “He who knew no sin was made sin for us that we might be found with the righteousness of God in Him.” That refers to the “Doctrine of justification by faith,” that when we trust Christ as Savior, God imputes to us, He grants to us, He gives to us His righteousness.

Nothing in us is the basis for that salvation. He looks at us and sees us in possession of the righteousness of Christ and declares us righteous. That doesn’t make us any better, and unless we grow spiritually, we’re not going to get any better.

There are various theological systems that say that if you’re truly born again, you are going to live a change life; it is inevitable. Well that violates so many different things, it’s unbelievable and it’s rank heresy. There’s nothing inevitable about spiritual growth. Once we trust in Christ, the way to grow is how? Through the Word!

I just quoted from 1 Peter 2:2 that we are to desire the unadulterated milk of the Word like a newborn baby, so that we may grow thereby. Well, if you never take in the Word, then you will not grow.

And if you don’t understand principles about walking by the Spirit, you won’t ever get beyond the crawling stage. All of this is so important for us to understand because there’s so many things out there that are wrong.

Here Paul is talking about the characteristics that we should see in our life over a course of time as we are walking by the Spirit, Galatians 5:16. John 15:4 Jesus said, “Abide in Me and I in you …” Those are fellowship terms. As we abide in Him, the result is that there will be the production of fruit, more fruit, and much fruit—different amounts of fruit.

One thing I like to point out is if you ever have tried to grow a garden, especially around here people like to grow tomatoes, that there can be a lot of growth in a plant before there’s ever any fruit. Fruit is the production of a mature plant. Oak trees take some years before they produce their fruit, which is acorns.

It probably takes a year too before pecan trees can produce pecans. The fruit takes time; it is not something that just happens automatically. There has to be fertilization, there has to be water, there has to be all the right nutrients in the soil, and that’s all roughly analogous to the Word of God and the Spirit of God that provide us with that nourishment.

When we grow, we are to see God the Holy Spirit working in our lives, and over the course of time, there will be certain manifestations of that work. That’s described in Galatians 5:22–23 as the fruit of the Spirit, which are so similar to many of these characteristics that Paul is describing here in these first three verses.

The focus today will be on patience, and then we will get into love as well.

Slide 3

These are the different paragraphs in the first section. Ephesians 4:1–16 talks about our walk in unity. There is so much the last 200 years that has been shoved down Americans’ and Westerners’ throats about unity. Liberalism and liberal theology are all about unity at the expense of truth.

But the Scripture emphasizes its unity on the basis of truth, and that those who do not conform to truth—which is exemplified in the phrase used here, “the unity of THE faith,”—if they do not conform to the biblical faith, then they are the ones that are breaching the unity.

We also see that this unity described in Ephesians 4:3 is that we are to endeavor or strive or to maintain—it’s not to keep; maintain is a better term—the unity of the Spirit. That is because the unity isn’t created by us. The unity was created by the Holy Spirit at the instant of faith for every believer. We are united together on that basis, and it is sin that drives that apart, so we have to work at maintaining that and preserving that, not creating it.

Slide 4

Let’s review a few things that we’ve seen so far in Ephesians 4:1. Paul says, “Therefore I, the prisoner of the Lord, strongly urge you to conduct your life in a manner worthy of the exalted position to which you were summoned.”

That gets the point across that this is talking about our new position in Christ, our identity in Christ, as those who have been justified, those who have been adopted into the royal family of God, those who have become members of the body of Christ. And that it is an exalted position higher than any other believer in all of History has been given, and that we are to live accordingly.

It is not that we will be kicked out of the family. I think most of us can see an analogy in our own experience in our families, where we did something as a child that was viewed as a pretty serious breach of conduct by our parents.

They still fed us, they still let us sleep in the house, and they still took us to the doctor, but we had done something that needed to be taken care of. It didn’t destroy our position in the family, but it broke down the fellowship within the family. So we are to walk in light of who we are as a member of that family.

Slide 5

I pointed out that “therefore” looks backwards to what he said, and it looks forward to what he’s going to say on the basis of what he has said. In Ephesians 4:1–3 the focus is on this new walk which is the subject of Ephesians 4:7–6:9 and walking is referred to about four times in that section.

Ephesians 4:4–6 speaks of the unity that we have in the body of Christ, looking back to all of the things that were said in Ephesians 4:1–3. This is the unity between Jew and Gentile, who are now one in Christ. All other racial, cultural, language, subcultural distinctions are simply artificial distinctions created by human beings.

The one distinction God created was the distinction between Jew and Gentile, and that was necessary for a number of reasons related to the plan of salvation. It was based on the Law of Moses, and it was ended at the cross. So if that was ended at the cross, then there’s no longer an excuse for anybody to have any attitudes of superiority based on any other human factor.

Slide 6

Paul strongly urges them using the word PARAKALEO, the main verb. It’s not a command, but when you have this kind of a verb, plus the infinitive “to conduct your life” or “to walk,” that gives it an imperatival sense.

The reason I’m stressing that is because when you look at this whole sentence of Ephesians 4:1-3, the fact that this statement construction at the beginning, “I strongly urge you to walk worthy …”—I strongly urge you to conduct your lives in a worthy manner—that command impacts everything else that’s said.

In other words, it bleeds over so that everything else that is said here when it talks about “with all lowliness and gentleness,” is imperatival because it’s modifying this imperatival structure, “… with long-suffering, bearing with one another in love, endeavoring to maintain the unity of spirit …” All of that has an imperatival sense. This is mandatory; it’s not optional.

Slide 7

We are urged to walk in a manner worthy of that exalted position.

Slide 8

A review of this chart, Eternal Realities and Temporal Realities. At the instant that we trust in Christ we are identified with Him in His death, burial, and resurrection, referred to by the phrase “positional truth,” our position in Christ. At the instant of salvation, we have the baptism by the Holy Spirit.

As a preview of coming attractions, Ephesians 4:5, “one Lord, one faith, one baptism.” This is the baptism that that is referencing, and there is a significant amount of confusion about just what this baptism by the Spirit is, so we will take some time to dig into that when we get there.

The temporal realities have to do with our day-to-day walk. Walking, on the right side, within the light is based on the fact that in our position on the left side, we are sons of the light, we are children of the light. So we are to walk as children of light, coming up in Ephesians 5. This describes the two aspects of our Christian life.

Slide 9

In terms of these eternal realities, we’re now a new man, a new body, a holy temple. We’re called the body of Christ, the bride of Christ, a royal priesthood, the family of God, and we are in a new household. All of that is who we are.

Slide 10

Ephesians 4:2, “with all lowliness and gentleness, with longsuffering, bearing with one another in love.”

I pointed out that when we see prepositions that we’re used to, we should stop and think about what they mean, sometimes look them up in a dictionary.

I have observed over the years of working with people in cross-cultural, cross-language types of situations, that people with other languages will translate English prepositions differently than we would necessarily understand them. Prepositions are extremely fluid, and they overlap a lot, so it’s important to understand that.

Slide 11

You don’t have to memorize these, but these are the 10 different nuances to the preposition “with.” So when you see “with,” we as native English speakers automatically classify it because we’re familiar with it, we know what it is.

Slide 12

But when you’re looking at “with,” for example in Greek, the preposition META, it can have different senses, some which are English, some which aren’t, so you have to look at it. “With” has the idea of accompaniment, and it is often used of states of mind, such as these attitudes of lowliness and gentleness.

I talked about those, that we have such a hard time with these terms, mostly because we’re not lowly, which means humble, we’re not, and there is not a fiber of our being as a fallen creature that has anything to do with humility.

Interestingly, the word used here for humility was never used in the ancient world, before the Bible, before the first century. Pagans just don’t have any use whatsoever for humility. If you’re going to get anywhere, it has to be because you’re promoting yourself, and it’s all about self-assertion. Humility is not a virtue as it is in Christianity.

Slide 13

Also used there is gentleness, another word that we have trouble with because we think of gentleness as somebody who’s just being taken advantage of all the time, somebody who is being walked over all the time.

For men, gentleness may even involve certain effeminate characteristics, and you really don’t want to get in touch with your feminine side, so you just don’t understand what this means.

It is really the idea of a control, a manifestation of self-control and the ability to exercise power and strength under control. So you’re not angry, you’re not irritated, you’re not impatient, you’re not trying to get your way and assert yourself; you are relaxed and under control. All of those ideas are present there in that terminology for gentleness.

Lowliness is humility, which I have translated as with genuine humility.

Slide 14

Genuine humility is TAPEINOPHROSUNE. It’s translated “humility,” but we look at examples in Scripture, such as the Lord Jesus Christ and Moses.

Moses was called the most humble or meek man in the Old Testament. He was a very strong leader. If you are going to lead 3 million people through the desert for 40 years, you have to be a strong, tough leader. He was mature, he was strong; he was under control.

He would listen to people, he knew how to be patient in circumstances to arrive at the right conclusion, and he was dependent all the time on God.

When Jesus was on the earth, He used both of these terms. Philippians 2:8, “He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross.” That’s the idea of being obedient. He is under the authority of God. He is not asserting His will but following the will of God.

The idea of gentleness is not someone who is determined to get their own way, but somebody who carefully leads, somebody who’s not motivated by anger or irritation or impatience.

Slide 15

Those ideas come to us in Colossians 3:12. Paul says, “Therefore, as the choice ones of God, set apart to God, and beloved, put on tender mercies,” the word for mercy and legitimate compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, and long-suffering. Humility and meekness are the same words that we have in our passage.

Galatians 3:27 says that we have put on Christ. Paul says, “For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ.” But he is also going to say that we have to put on Christ.

Slide 16

He is not contradicting himself. It goes back to understanding our two circles here. That eternal reality is that we have put on Christ at the instant of that baptism by the Holy Spirit. Yet as we walk by the spirit, we learn to put on Christ, to live in a Christ-like way.

Positionally that’s our identity; we have put on Christ. Experientially, we have to learn to do that every day as we walk with Him.

Slide 17

Ephesians 4:2 then goes on to add something to this idea of genuine humility and genuine kindness. How do you know them? How do you know what they look like? They’re going to be accompanied by certain other characteristics. The first one is translated “patience;” often translated “long suffering.”

The Greek MAKROTHUMIA is a compound of two words: MAKRO, where we get our word “macro,” something large or big or long; and THUMIA, which relates to suffering. THUMIA basically refers to anger. It refers to somebody whose emotions are easily stirred, someone who gets excited, someone who gets angry, someone who gets passionate about things.

When MAKRO is added to that, it’s someone who has great patience. They don’t lose their temper, they don’t get out of control; they don’t get overly excited with their emotions.

Another word we’ve studied in other contexts is EPITHUMIA. Notice that THUMIA is the same, having to do with passions and desires. And EPI intensifies this as somebody who’s ruled by his passions and desires, so it’s translated as lust. Those prefixes really determine the meaning there of this particular word.

“Patience” is often used in conjunction with or as a synonym with ANEXOMAI, translated, “bearing with one another in love.” Here the emphasis is on patience, related to putting up with one another in love.

I know nobody here is married to anyone that you ever had to put up with. Nobody here has any parents that you have to put up with or any children that you have to put up with because everybody that you’re around is just perfect.

But some of us have had the occasion to be around people that were not necessarily always so lovely or enjoyable to be around, so we had to exercise some self-discipline. We had to be patient, we had to put up with them.

That takes us into this next little section, again emphasizing an aspect of the fruit of the Spirit. MAKROTHUMIA is translated “long-suffering” in these passages. We also have words related to humility.

Slide 18

Galatians 5:22–23, “But the fruit of the Spirit—notice there’s only one fruit, but that fruit has many facets that are developed by God the Holy Spirit—the fruit of the Spirit is love—first of all; the first one that’s mentioned.”

We see in the rest of this passage that we are to bear with one another, put up with one another by means of love. Well, where do we get this love? Because it’s certainly not something we can generate or manufacture on our own. It’s the fruit of the Spirit.

Galatians 5:14, Paul has quoted from the Old Testament the passage in Leviticus that we are to love one another as ourselves. Then Galatians 5:16 he says, “… walk by means of the Spirit and you will not fulfill the lust of the flesh.”

So there’s a contrast there between the flesh, which is the sin nature, and walking by the Spirit. It is one or the other, the way the construction is. It’s not something that’s blended. You’re either one or the other. It’s a binary option.

When you’re walking by the Spirit, over time the Spirit produces this fruit. It’s not all manifested in one day, and it’s slowly developed. Often we pray, “God, please give me patience now,” and we know that doesn’t happen. It takes time to develop these things as God works on our corrupt little character.

That’s why Paul starts off with love, because that’s the context of what he is talking about back in Galatians 5:14. He’s telling them they have to walk by the Spirit, and the fruit of the Spirit is first love, mentions joy and peace.

We will see peace mentioned here in Ephesians 4:3, “endeavoring—or working or striving—to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.”

This is related to this walk with the Spirit. It’s not manufactured because we just try to make ourselves do these things. These are spiritual virtues that can only be produced by the Holy Spirit. We can’t make ourselves be this way.

We have to grow in the Word. Jesus said in his prayer to the Father in John 17:17, “Sanctify them …” Sanctification is about spiritual growth, being set apart to the service of God. How are we sanctified?

In His prayer, Jesus said, “Sanctify then by Your truth. Your Word is truth.” It is the Word of God that transforms us with the Spirit of God, nothing else.

Galatians 5:22–23, the fruit of the Spirit is “love, joy, peace, longsuffering—MAKROTHUMIA—kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness …”that’s PRAUS, related to gentleness in our passage.

Slide 19

All of these different characteristics are those that are produced by God the Holy Spirit.

Slide 20

Ephesians 4:2 says that that worthy walk is accompanied by two things—that’s on the right side here in blue—“all genuine humility and gentle kindness,” and also “patience.” They are both accompanied by “with all,” “with patience.”

Then there’s a change because the next two things, “by bearing with one another in love,” and here we have the start of Ephesians 4:3. Rather than expressing them with a preposition, they’re expressed with a participle of manner. t’s describing the manner of this kind of life, “in the manner of putting up with one another by means of love.”

This is that Greek preposition EN that I usually translate “by means of.” It can mean other things, like in Christ. It can have a spatial sense. But here it’s means.

We have to grow in love, so that we can put up with people, and that love is the fruit of the Spirit. The second one is “in the manner of making every effort to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.”

Slide 21

We are to develop with patience. God the Holy Spirit develops MAKROTHUMIA in us. There are a couple of important passages I want to look at briefly.

Slide 22

James 5 uses MAKROTHUMIA the noun, then MAKROTHUMEO the verb, two or three times. Interestingly the Book of James—and if you haven’t listened to my series on James, it’s worthy of paying attention to—is one of the simplest books to outline, but so many miss it.

James 1:19, “… be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger …” is the outline of the book. The first chapter is about persevering in those things. Then there are three sections, one with being quick to hear and slow to speak, the second one having to do with speaking, and the third one having to do with setting aside these mental attitude sins, such as anger.

Quick to hear, listening to the Word, the hearer applies the Word, James 1–2. James 3 is about being slow to speak, and James 4 gets into the mental attitude sins.

Starting in James 5:7, he talks about patience. MAKROTHUMIA is often related to the word for endurance, which is HUPOMENO.

James 5:7, “Therefore—having said everything he said up to that point, he starts his conclusion—be patient, brethren—well, how long do I have to be patient? He says until Jesus comes back!—be patient until the coming of the Lord”

Well, I can be patient for the rest of the day, but I don’t know about tomorrow. I’m getting kind of tired of that person. Well, be patient until the coming of the Lord.

His illustration is from the farmer. Farmers having a tough time around Southeast Texas right now because we’ve had 40 days and 40 nights of rain, and that’s just about drowned everybody’s gardens.

I’ve lived here almost my whole life and I’ve never seen this much rain in June and July, not even with a hurricane; we just get it every day. When I was in Florida a couple of weeks ago, it rained everyday there too, but they’re used to it. That’s what it does there.

“See how the farmer waits—they develop patience—for the precious fruit of the earth—it takes time for the plants to grow and the fruit to come out—waiting patiently for it until it receives the early and the latter rain.”

That relates to agriculture in Israel because you have a rainy season in the spring, the early rain, you have another rainy season in the fall, the latter rain. You have spring crops and fall crops, because in the summer it’s hot and dry—it’s really hot and dry. I’ve been at Masada where it was 105 degrees at 8 o’clock in the morning, and there’s no shade.

You wait patiently until it receives the early and latter rain. He gives a second example in James 5:8, “You also be patient—the second time he issues this command as an aorist imperative, emphasizing the priority of this: you be patient. Establish your hearts—that is your spiritual life—for the coming of the Lord is near.”

When the writers of Scripture say, “The Lord is at hand,” it is the next thing on the timetable. That’s the next thing: Christ is coming back. We’re not looking for the anti-Christ.

Everybody gets all caught up in whatever is going on in the world, “Well, how does this fit into prophecy?” God knows, I don’t. The next thing that is going to happen on the prophetic timetable is the Rapture of the Church. Nothing else.

The anti-Christ isn’t revealed until after that. The signing of the peace treaty between the anti-Christ and Israel isn’t until after that. The sign of the beast, 666, is not going to happen when you’re mandated to get a vaccine.

We haven’t seen the anti-Christ yet. The mark of the beast doesn’t come along until the midpoint of the Tribulation. We’re at least 3½ years away from that. Let’s not get all excited about whatever we see on the horizon. We have to wait until the coming of the Lord.

James 5:10, “My brethren, take the prophets, who spoke in the name of the Lord, as an example of suffering and patience.” The prophets were patient; they were waiting and looking for the Messiah. And they never saw Him in their lifetime, until the last who was John the Baptist.

Slide 23

1 Thessalonians 5:14 Paul says, “Now we exhort you, brethren, warn those who are unruly, comfort the fainthearted, uphold the weak, be patient with—a few. It doesn’t say that—patient with all.”

“Do I have to be patient with (fill in the blank)? Are they part of the ‘all’ ”? This is a supernaturally produced thing in our life. We can’t do it. We don’t want to do it, frankly, most of the time. On a good day, we might say, “Lord, give me patience with so-and-so,” and maybe we mean it for a second or two. God the Holy Spirit produces this.

Slide 24

Hebrew 6:12–15, they are warned, “… do not become sluggish, but imitate those who through faith and patience inherit the promises.”

The first example in Hebrews 6:13 is Abraham, “For when God made a promise to Abraham …” When did He make that promise to Abraham? Back in Genesis 12:1–3, there’s the promise of a seed, of descendants. That means he is going to have a child.

Well, he’s almost too old to have a child, Sarah is almost too old to have a child, so he’s convinced that it’s going to happen, it must happen soon, but it doesn’t. He tries to make it work. He offers his servant Eliezer, saying, “Lord, I’ll adopt him, and we can do it that way. That’ll be simple.” The Lord says, “No, it’s going to be a child of your own body and Sarah’s body.”

Then later on Sarah gets impatient. She says, “Just take my Egyptian servant and make her your concubine and have a child with her.” That really messed things up. We’re still fighting the Arab-Israeli wars because of that.

It goes on and on until Abraham and Sarah are way past the age where they can have children. Now God’s going to show that it is a miracle. He’s going to inherit that promise through patience, waiting on the Lord.

Slide 25

The New King James translates Hebrews 6:14 poorly. It is not “Surely blessing I will bless you, and multiplying I will multiply you.”

I mentioned this on a Tuesday or Thursday night a couple weeks ago, I’m retaking a basic Hebrew class just to pick up lots of little interesting things and it’s taught by an Israeli, so I’m picking up new pronunciation.

As I got to the terminology for this—I’ve always known the principal, it’s a Hebraism, based on a repetition of the core words. A word like “going” has an infinitive with it. People who don’t know Hebrew translate it “Going I will go, walking I will walk, dying I will die,” but that’s not what it means.

The two words are used together in a tautology—meaning repetition—in order to emphasize the certainty of something. Hebrews 6:14–15 should be translated, “Surely or certainly I will greatly bless you and abundantly multiply you. … by being patient, he obtained the promise.”

Slide 26

1 Corinthians 13:4 gives certain characteristics of love; the first, “Love is patient, love is long suffering.” That’s why he uses the verb over here in Ephesians 4:2, you put up with one another by means of love.

Slide 27

We have dealt with patience and understand that this is characteristic of the walk that it must go along with humility and gentle kindness or gentleness. And that these two will be characterized by the manner of putting up with one another by means of love, then the manner of making every effort to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.

Slides 28–32 Skipped

Next time we will talk about love, an American English word that no one really understands unless they start in the Bible. We will look at what Scripture teaches about love next time.

Closing Prayer

“Father, thank You for this opportunity to study these things, to be reminded that these characteristics are produced by the Spirit, that this only comes if we are walking by the Spirit and walking in the light of Your Word.

“If we are studying Your Word and internalizing it as we walk by the Spirit, then over time God the Holy Spirit produces these changes. A supernatural way of life can only be produced through a supernatural means.

“Father, challenge us with our need to ramp up everything in our lives related to our spiritual growth. We are living in dark times, dark days. No one knows what the future will bring, but what appears on the horizon isn’t good.

“Father, we pray that for each one of us that we will be challenged by this to get more serious about our spiritual life than ever before, so that we are prepared to meet these difficult times.

“Father, we also pray for anyone who listens to this, who has never trusted Christ as Savior, is not sure of their salvation, that they will come to understand that we can do nothing to save ourselves, we can do nothing to make ourselves savable.

“But Jesus Christ did it by paying the penalty for our sins on the cross, so that all that is necessary is for us to trust in Him and Him alone, and on the basis of His finished work on the cross, we will have everlasting life. We pray that You would make that clear to one and all.

“Father, we pray for us as we go about our lives that we might be willing to evaluate our priorities, the way in which we spend our time and energy, that we might make You the number one priority in our life. We pray this in Christ’s name, amen.”