By Marvin Duncan
The Christian ministry has, for the most part, directed itself to an evangelistic ministry. That is, most of the Christian ministry has been directed to the salvation of those outside of Christ. This is surely a part of the Christian ministry, for there would be no one added to the Body of Christ were there not this emphasis on reaching the lost with the message of God’s love and the salvation that is available through the death of Christ. Yet, there is another important side of the Christian ministry that is sadly lacking in some professing churches. The side that is lacking in many churches today is the ministry to the Christians as to how they are to walk in this sin-cursed world. Too often we hear that a man needs to be saved, but then we never hear much about how he is to live once he becomes a child of God. Yes, the newly saved individual is instructed to join the local church; to become active in the different programs of that local church; even to witness to their unsaved friends, but the instructions as to HOW this new Christian is to live his new life in Christ is left pretty much up to chance. He is expected to follow the life of someone he thinks is an example of the man God has accepted. More often than not, this one who is being used as an example has copied his life after another man in his denomination rather than having conformed his life to the instructions for the Christian life as found in the Word of God given to us by the Apostle of this age, the Apostle Paul.
Today, the Christian is to follow the. Apostle Paul (1 Cor. 4:16; 11:1) because he has been set before us as our pattern (1 Tim. 1:16). Paul was instructed by our Lord as to how he was to walk in this Dispensation of the Grace of God. Having been faithful in that walk, Paul has now become the pattern for the rest of the Body of Christ to follow. This gives the saints a life to look at and to follow, but to follow Paul we have to study Paul’s writings to know what he was instructed to do, how he was to overcome the pressures of this life, and deal with the desires of the Old Nature. Here is another area where the saint of God must “RIGHTLY DIVIDE” the Word of Truth if he is to be approved of God (2 Tim. 2:15).
Knowing that the saints of God need clear instructions as to how they are to walk now that they are the redeemed of God, Paul gives the saints at Ephesus some instructions as to how the Christian is to walk in these evil days. Let us notice what the Apostle Paul has to say about the Christian walk in his letter to the Ephesians.
In chapters four and five of this Ephesians letter, the Apostle Paul deals with the activities of the saints of God. The first thing Paul tells these Ephesian saints about their walk is that they are to:
“WALK WORTHY OF THE VOCATION WHEREWITH YE ARE CALLED” (Ephesians 4:1).
To understand what Paul is telling these saints at Ephesus, we need to know what our “VOCATION” is. To most of us, we understand our vocation to be the profession we have trained for and are presently engaged in. But, what is the profession the Christian is to be engaged in and what is the Christian to do? Paul’s point is that each and every Christian has been called to be an Ambassador for Christ (2 Cor. 5:20), and we are to live the Christian life in such a way as not to bring reproach upon our office as an Ambassador, nor upon Christ. This is the Christian’s VOCATION.
When we consult our dictionary to find the definition of the word VOCATION, we find this definition: Our Vocation is A FUNCTION OR STATION IN LIFE WHICH ONE IS CALLED BY GOD. The secular work we do to support our family is our AVOCATION. An Avocation is a MINOR OR OCCASIONAL OCCUPATION; A DIVERSION OR DISTRACTION; A CALLING AWAY. Anything we do in this life other than our true calling by God is a DISTRACTION and a CALLING AWAY from our “VOCATION” as an Ambassador for Christ. This vocation of Ambassadorship is a 24 hour a day job.
Lest I be misunderstood, let me clarify what I’m saying about our vocation. We are all to work and support our families. The secular job we have is an important function in our life. BUT, the secular job we have. IS NOT our function or station in life which we have been called by God. The Christian’s main function is to be an AMBASSADOR FOR CHRIST. The thing Paul is calling to the attention of the saints at Ephesus in this first verse of chapter four is that where ever we are, or, what ever we do, we are to keep in mind that we are to be living WORTHY of our high calling as an Ambassador for Christ.
How Not To Walk
Many times a negative side of an instruction will help us see more clearly what the positive side of what God wants us to do. Such is the case with the instructions for the Christian walk as outlined in this Ephesians letter. To help the saints understand how they were to walk worthy of their vocation, Paul makes it clear they were not to walk as they once did before they were saved. To these Ephesian saints, Paul says:
“WALK NOT AS OTHER GENTILES WALK, IN THE VANITY OF THEIR MINDS, HAVING THEIR UNDERSTANDING DARKENED, BEING ALIENATED FROM THE LIFE OF GOD THROUGH THE IGNORANCE THAT IS IN THEM, BECAUSE OF THE BLINDNESS OF THEIR HEARTS: WHO BEING PAST FEELING HAVE GIVEN THEMSELVES OVER UNTO LASCIVIOUSNESS, TO WORK ALL UNCLEANNESS WITH GREEDINESS, BUT YE HAVE NOT SO LEARNED CHRIST” (Ephesians 4:19-20).
Paul’s admonition in this section is that the Christian is to recognize that there is a vast difference between the natural man and the Christian, as far as his values and activities are concerned. It’s true, the Christian had these same values and participated in the same activities before he was saved, but now that he is redeemed, things are different. The Christian is no longer to walk as those who are still outside of Christ. The Christian is not to walk in the “VANITY” of their mind. (Vanity can be understood as empty.) The natural man who has never come to Christ for salvation is walking and acting according to the EMPTINESS of their minds which have been darkened by their ignorance of God. Because the natural man does not know God, their heart is blinded to who God is and what God expects of His creation. This blindness of heart also causes the natural man to be without feeling in his dealings with other men or his anti-social behavior. He cares not what other men, or God, thinks of his actions. But this kind of activity, Paul says, IS NOT what you have learned from Christ.
Walk In Love
Instead of this kind of ungodly activity practiced by the unsaved man, Paul encourages the saints of God to walk in an entirely new way. The first change that should be seen in the Christian’s life is found in Ephesians 5:2 where Paul instructs these saints to:
“WALK IN LOVE, AS CHRIST ALSO -HATH LOVED US, AND HATH GIVEN HIMSELF FOR US AN OFFERING AND A SACRIFICE TO GOD FOR A SWEETSMELLING SAVIOR.”
Paul instructs the saints at Ephesus to completely reverse their activities from those of the natural man and from what they practiced just prior to their salvation. The natural man acts out of selfish motives. The Christian is to walk out of LOVE. The basis for this walk of love is because Christ first loved us and gave Himself as an offering and sacrifice to God to pay our sin debt. It was God’s holiness and His righteousness that had been offended by our sin. Thus, it is GOD who must be appeased and His righteousness vindicated. This vindication was accomplished, “NOT BY WORKS OF RIGHTEOUSNESS WE HAVE DONE BUT ACCORDING TO HIS MERCY HE SAVED US.” (Titus 3:5). This MERCY God extended to us was based solely upon Christ’s love for. His creation and His sacrifice of Himself for our sins. Because Christ first loved us (when we didn’t deserve His love) we are now to “WALK IN LOVE” toward others.
When considering HOW the saint of God is to walk in this Dispensation of the Grace of God, the first thing to recognize is that the saint of God is to “WALK IN LOVE” desiring the best for other person, even to the extent of our sacrificing our own desires to meet their need.
Walk As Children Of Light
The next instruction Paul gives for the Christian walk is found in Ephesians 5:8 where he tells these Ephesians:
“YE WERE SOMETIMES DARKNESS, BUT NOW ARE YE LIGHT IN THE LORD: TTALK AS CHILDREN OF LIGHT.”
The natural man is walking in darkness because he has no knowledge of Christ, who is the “LIGHT” who came into the world to lighten every man (John 1:9). Because the saints are IN CHRIST, they are now “LIGHTS IN THE LORD” (Eph. 5:8). We know what God’s purpose was for creating man and we know what man is supposed to be doing now that he is saved. Therefore, we are to “WALK AS CHILDREN OF LIGHT.” Light always dispels darkness. Therefore, as the saints of God, and as Ambassadors for Christ, we are to dispel the darkness that is in the hearts of the unsaved. We are to show him what it means to be saved. We show him by our consistent walk as a child of God. This is part of our VOCATION as the redeemed of God and Ambassadors for Christ.
The next admonition for the Christian walk is found in Ephesians 5:15. Here Paul admonished the saints at Ephesus:
“SEE THEN THAT YE WALK CIRCUMSPECTLY, NOT AS FOOLS, BUT AS WISE.”
What does Paul mean by this admonition to “WALK CIRCUMSPECTLY”? Too often we read words and never ask ourself what it is we have just read. Without our understanding this word, “CIRCUMSPECTLY,” we will have no idea of how we are to walk. We may be walking foolishly if we don’t know what the “CIRCUMSPECT” walk is. The dictionary says that CIRCUMSPECT means TO BE WATCHFUL AND DISCREET; CAUTIOUS; PRUDENT? GUARDED. To walk CIRCUMSPECTLY means to walk CAREFULLY and DISCREETLY as the children of God, being careful that we do nothing that would bring disgrace or dishonor upon our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. When I read this Ephesians 5:15 verse, I picture in my mind a cat walking on top a picket fence. He places one foot very carefully in front of the other, making sure he doesn’t misstep in any way. He walks on top of the fence VERY CAREFULLY.
The Christian walk is to be undertaken VERY CAREFULLY, making sure we do not misstep in any way. To do this, we must know how we are to walk in every situation. We need to know what to avoid in our life and what we need to include in our Christian life. We must distinguish between the walk of the natural man and the walk of the saint of God. We must also recognize that as a Child of God with a commission to be an Ambassador for Christ, we have to put aside our personal desires and determine to be the very things Christ wants us to be. This personal commitment doesn’t come naturally for any of God’s redeemed. Such a commitment comes only as the saint of God acknowledges the truth of First Corinthians 6:19-20 as being relevant for his Christian life and lives accordingly. This passage tells us:
“WHAT? KNOW YE NOT THAT YOUR BODY IS THE TEMPLE OF THE HOLY GHOST WHICH IS IN YOU, WHICH YE HAVE OF GOD, AND YE ARE NOT YOUR OWN? FOR YE ARE BOUGHT WITH A PRICE: THEREFORE GLORIFY GOD IN YOUR BODY, AND IN YOUR SPIRIT, WHICH ARE GOD’S.”
Once this truth is acknowledged, the saint of God must put Romans 12 into practice.