So I tell you this, and insist on it in the Lord, that you must no longer live as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their thinking. They are darkened in their understanding and separated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them due to the hardening of their hearts. Having lost all sensitivity, they have given themselves over to sensuality so as to indulge in every kind of impurity, with a continual lust for more.
You, however, did not come to know Christ that way. Surely you heard of him and were taught in him in accordance with the truth that is in Jesus. You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness. . . .
Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children and live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God. . . .
For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light (for the fruit of the light consists in all goodness, righteousness and truth) and find out what pleases the Lord.
(Ephesians 4:17-24, 5:1-2, 8-10, NIV)
For the Apostle Paul, the Christian life is best characterized as “living in the light.” Today’s verses begin with a vivid description of how sin leads to separation from God and results in confused thinking and the gradual loss of all sensitivity. Paul explains how sin leads to “every kind of impurity” and how the desire to indulge in these impurities is never satisfied. In contrast, the life of the believer involves putting off “your old self” and putting on the “new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness” (4:24).
The verses that surround today’s devotional reading are full of practical instructions about the Christian life. The subjects covered include speaking the truth, dealing with anger, remaining sexually pure, not stealing, working hard, avoiding disruptive behavior, building others up, and being compassionate. All of these practical guidelines are, in the Apostle Paul’s judgment, the essence of living a life of love. This is the nature of peacemaking that all of us are called to. This is what it means to be “imitators of God” (5:1).
The call to be a peacemaker and a reconciler is a theme that is woven throughout the whole fabric of Scripture. The words of the wise man recorded in Proverbs to “walk the path of peace,” the counsel of the Psalmist to pray for the peace of Jerusalem and to pursue peace, the advice of the prophets Jeremiah and Habakkuk to “seek the peace of the city” and to rejoice despite the circumstances, serve as helpful guidelines for living an obedient life of faith. These Old Testament injunctions are reiterated by Jesus and his disciples as well as by the Apostle Paul. The “good news” from the “Prince of Peace” is that those who believe in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior are “born again.” They are re-deemed and re-created into children of the light. They are equipped by the Holy Spirit to be agents of the Kingdom of God, agents of peace and reconciliation. No citizen of the Kingdom of God will be unemployed. Everyone has been given a job to do – for the glory of God.
Holy and Righteous God, we praise you. Thank you for the gift of your Son and the promise that we can put off our “old self” and put on the “new self.” Help us to be imitators of you in all that we do. We desire to live as “children of light” who are committed to finding out “what pleases you” but we can do this only with the help of the Holy Spirit. Give us your benediction, O Lord, so we can “put feet” on your message of peace by “going and doing.” Amen.