Unity in the Body of Christ
4 As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. 2 Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. 3 Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. 4 There is one body and one Spirit— just as you were called to one hope when you were called— 5 one Lord, one faith, one baptism; 6 one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.
Unity is such an important theme and such a big challenge. The key is to make sure we’re unified on the essentials of the faith – the deity of Christ, the Trinity, the physical resurrection, the exclusivity of Jesus (i.e., He is the only way to salvation), etc. We don’t have to agree on every minor point. And we should be humble and gentle with each other when disagreeing. I’m convicted by that as I write this!
You don’t have to know the essentials to be saved (see the criminal on the cross in Luke 23), though it helps. But if you are really saved you shouldn’t be denying them as so many false teachers do.
As Augustine said, in essentials – unity, in non-essentials – liberty, and in all things – charity.
Those who deny the essentials are “saved and confused” at best and probably false teachers.
7 But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it. 8 This is why it says:
“When he ascended on high, he led captives in his train and gave gifts to men.”
9 (What does “he ascended” mean except that he also descended to the lower, earthly regions? 10 He who descended is the very one who ascended higher than all the heavens, in order to fill the whole universe.) 11 It was he who gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers, 12 to prepare God’s people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up 13 until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.
14 Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of men in their deceitful scheming. 15 Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will in all things grow up into him who is the Head, that is, Christ. 16 From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work.
This is an area in the U.S. churches where so many have derailed. They didn’t do the hard work of study and so they believe all sorts of the enemies lies — including the false idea that we can’t know what is true. False teachers who say that the Bible supports abortion and oxymoronic “same-sex marriage,” among other things. People who teach the fake prosperity gospel. And so many others.
Living as Children of Light
17 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. 18 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. 19 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.
20 You, however, did not come to know Christ that way. 21 Surely you heard of him and were taught in him in accordance with the truth that is in Jesus. 22 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; 23 to be made new in the attitude of your minds; 24 and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.
25 Therefore each of you must put off falsehood and speak truthfully to his neighbor, for we are all members of one body. 26 “In your anger do not sin”: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, 27 and do not give the devil a foothold. 28 He who has been stealing must steal no longer, but must work, doing something useful with his own hands, that he may have something to share with those in need.
Anger can become sin and give Satan an entry into our lives. Don’t overreact to every slight against you. We should probably just let 90% of negative things bounce off us and/or just hand them over to God. With the other 10% we may need to address the situation with the person and not let the problems fester.
29 Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. 30 And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. 31 Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. 32 Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.
The Holy Bible : New International Version. 1996, c1984. Grand Rapids: Zondervan.
We can grieve or quench the Holy Spirit by sinning or ignoring his work in us. Bad ideas!
Note how the Holy Spirit “seals” us for the day of redemption. He is our guarantee and comfort of our salvation.