THE WALK OF UNITY
Unity has been sadly illusive in the body of Christ, and among all those who profess faith in Christ Jesus. Never have those who acknowledge faith in Christ been so divided as today.
Many have gone to wild extremes concerning the quest for unity. Some will simply declare that what we believe doesn’t matter and simply "throw a lasso around everyone who professes to believe in Christ. This ignores the fact that the New Testament demands doctrinal purity. On the other hand, many will demand that we "tow the line" on every matter of opinion, thus making it impossible for two individuals to agree, much less all who seek to follow Jesus.
Paul give a formula for unity in Ephesians chapter 4. The seven "ones" of this chapter, when correctly understood, will allow us to unite "in Christ." Paul begins the great chapter with three verses that describe his desire that they maintain unity in the body.
I. A WORTHY WALK (A NEED TO MAINTAIN PERSONAL PURITY)
"I, therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you to walk worthy of the calling with which you were called," (verse 1)
A. This walk is a continual, regular effort.
1. 1 John 1:7 - "If we walk in the light..." - from the Greek tense which mean continual action in the present tense. Would literally mean, "If we continually walk in the light..."
2. 1 Corinthians 15:31- "I affirm, by the boasting in you which I have in Christ Jesus our Lord, I die daily."
B. What is the calling that we are called to walk in?
1. It is the calling of the Gospel that each Christian has yielded to in becoming Christians.
2. 2 Thessalonians 2:13, 14- "But we are bound to give thanks to God always for you, brethren beloved by the Lord, because God from the beginning chose you for salvation through sanctification by the Spirit and belief in the truth, to which He called you by our gospel, for the obtaining of the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ."
3. 1 Corinthians 1:9- "God is faithful, by whom you were called into the fellowship of His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord."
C. How do we walk worthy of our Christian calling?
1. Paul is not saying that we can somehow walk so as to deserve the blessings that God has given us in Christ. The Bible clearly states that we are saved by the grace of God and not due to our righteousness. See 2:7-9.
2. We are to live in such a way as to have our lives consistent with the teachings of the Gospel, as much as is humanly possible.
a. Philippians 1:27 - Only let your conduct be worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or am absent, I may hear of your affairs, that you stand fast in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel,
3. There must be a difference in conduct between our previous life and our life in Christ.
a. Ephesians 2:1-3
II. A HUMBLE WALK (A REQUIRED ATTITUDE TO MAINTAIN UNITY)
"with all lowliness and gentleness, with longsuffering, bearing with one another in love," (verse 2)
A. Notice the three adjectives used by Paul.
1. Lowliness - Literally, "humiliation of mind, i.e. modesty:--humbleness of mind, humility (of mind)."
a. This seems to denote our attitude toward ourselves in relation to God.
2. Gentleness - It is synonymous with meekness (strength under control). This is the attitude we have toward God. We submit our lives in obedience to the precepts of God, even though we might desire to elevate ourselves.
4. Longsuffering - This carries with it the idea of patience, tolerance, and forgiveness.
5. These are Divine characteristics.
a. Matthew 11:28 - "Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 29 - "Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls."
b. 2 Peter 3:9 - The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.
B. We are to "bear with one another in love."
1. Carries with it the idea of patience with each other frailties and faults. Not winking at sin, but also not apply and haughty and vindictive attitude toward others either.
2. 1 Peter 4:8 - And above all things have fervent love for one another, for "love will cover a multitude of sins."
3. This kind of attitude of longsuffering is behind what our Lord had to say concerning judging. While he did not condemn judging by the standard of God’s word (See John 7:24), he did warn against judging by our own standards, just the opposite of longsuffering.
a. Matthew 7:1-5
4. Colossians 3:13 - bearing with one another, and forgiving one another, if anyone has a complaint against another; even as Christ forgave you, so you also must do.
III. A DILIGENT WALK (A NEED TO WORK AT MAINTAINING UNITY)
"endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace." (verse 3)
A. Unity is something that we must work at. It doesn’t come about by accident.
1. Endeavoring means, "to use speed, i.e. to make effort, be prompt or earnest:--do (give) diligence, be diligent (forward), endeavor, labor, study."
2. Romans 14:19 - Therefore let us pursue the things which make for peace and the things by which one may edify another.
B. How do we keep the "unity of the Spirit?"
1. It is not being in lock step with every opinion. We are not mindless zombie whose every action is controlled down to the tiniest detail. The New Testament recognizes a group of personal beliefs that are to be held personally.
a. Romans 14
2. The fact is that God has already given the means of unity. That is the force behind "keeping the unity of the Spirit." What is that basis?
a. John 17:17 - "Sanctify ("set apart")them by Your truth. Your word is truth.
b. John 12:48 - "He who rejects Me, and does not receive My words, has that which judges him; the word that I have spoken will judge him in the last day.
c. 1 Corinthians 1:10 - Now I plead with you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment.
3. God has given us a means of unity, His inspired Word.
a. 1 Peter 4:11 - If anyone speaks, let him speak as the oracles of God. If anyone ministers, let him do it as with the ability which God supplies, that in all things God may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom belong the glory and the dominion forever and ever. Amen.
CONCLUSION: Paul will proceed to give the great "Seven Ones" of unity beginning in verse 4. But as with every great building he begins with a foundation. Let us all maintain a worthy personal life, conduct ourselves humbly before both God and our brethren, and let us seek to work at maintaining the unity that the Holy Spirit has given to the people of God through the Inspired Word.
By Grady Scott
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