Ephesians 4-6 The Message Bible

The Unity of the Spirit

4 1  In light of all this, here's what I want you to do. While I'm locked up here, a prisoner for the Master, I want you to get out there and walk - better yet, run! - on the road God called you to travel. I don't want any of you sitting around on your hands. I don't want anyone strolling off, down some path that goes nowhere.

2  And mark that you do this with humility and discipline - not in fits and starts, but steadily, pouring yourselves out for each other in acts of love, 3  alert at noticing differences and quick at mending fences. 4  You were all called to travel on the same road and in the same direction, so stay together, both outwardly and inwardly. 5  You have one Master, one faith, one baptism, 6  one God and Father of all, who rules over all, works through all, and is present in all. Everything you are and think and do is permeated with Oneness. 7  But that doesn't mean you should all look and speak and act the same. Out of the generosity of Christ, each of us is given his own gift. 8  The text for this is, He climbed the high mountain, He captured the enemy and seized the booty, He handed it all out in gifts to the people. 9  It's true, is it not, that the One who climbed up also climbed down, down to the valley of earth? 10  And the One who climbed down is the One who climbed back up, up to highest heaven. He handed out gifts above and below, filled heaven with his gifts, 11  filled earth with his gifts. He handed out gifts of apostle, prophet, evangelist, and pastor-teacher 12  to train Christians in skilled servant work, working within Christ's body, the church, 13  until we're all moving rhythmically and easily with each other, efficient and graceful in response to God's Son, fully mature adults, fully developed within and without, fully alive like Christ. 14  No prolonged infancies among us, please. We'll not tolerate babes in the woods, small children who are an easy mark for impostors. 15  God wants us to grow up, to know the whole truth and tell it in love - like Christ in everything. We take our lead from Christ, who is the source of everything we do. 16  He keeps us in step with each other. His very breath and blood flow through us, nourishing us so that we will grow up healthy in God, robust in love. The Old Way Has to Go

The New Life in Christ

17  And so I insist - and God backs me up on this - that there be no going along with the crowd, the empty-headed, mindless crowd. 18  They've refused for so long to deal with God that they've lost touch not only with God but with reality itself. 19  They can't think straight anymore. Feeling no pain, they let themselves go in sexual obsession, addicted to every sort of perversion. 20  But that's no life for you. You learned Christ! 21  My assumption is that you have paid careful attention to him, been well instructed in the truth precisely as we have it in Jesus. 22  Since, then, we do not have the excuse of ignorance, everything - and I do mean everything - connected with that old way of life has to go. It's rotten through and through. Get rid of it! And then take on an entirely new way of life - a God-fashioned life, 23  a life renewed from the inside 24  and working itself into your conduct as God accurately reproduces his character in you. 25  What this adds up to, then, is this: no more lies, no more pretense. Tell your neighbor the truth. In Christ's body we're all connected to each other, after all. When you lie to others, you end up lying to yourself. 26  Go ahead and be angry. You do well to be angry - but don't use your anger as fuel for revenge. And don't stay angry. Don't go to bed angry. 27  Don't give the Devil that kind of foothold in your life. 28  Did you used to make ends meet by stealing? Well, no more! Get an honest job so that you can help others who can't work. 29  Watch the way you talk. Let nothing foul or dirty come out of your mouth. Say only what helps, each word a gift. 30  Don't grieve God. Don't break his heart. His Holy Spirit, moving and breathing in you, is the most intimate part of your life, making you fit for himself. Don't take such a gift for granted. 31  Make a clean break with all cutting, backbiting, profane talk. 32  Be gentle with one another, sensitive. Forgive one another as quickly and thoroughly as God in Christ forgave you.

Walk as Children of Light

5 1  Watch what God does, and then you do it, like children who learn proper behavior from their parents. 2  Mostly what God does is love you. Keep company with him and learn a life of love. Observe how Christ loved us. His love was not cautious but extravagant. He didn't love in order to get something from us but to give everything of himself to us. Love like that.

3  Don't allow love to turn into lust, setting off a downhill slide into sexual promiscuity, filthy practices, or bullying greed. 4  Though some tongues just love the taste of gossip, Christians have better uses for language than that. Don't talk dirty or silly. That kind of talk doesn't fit our style. Thanksgiving is our dialect. 5  You can be sure that using people or religion or things just for what you can get out of them - the usual variations on idolatry - will get you nowhere, and certainly nowhere near the kingdom of Christ, the kingdom of God. 6  Don't let yourselves get taken in by religious smooth talk. God gets furious with people who are full of religious sales talk but want nothing to do with him. 7  Don't even hang around people like that. 8  You groped your way through that murk once, but no longer. You're out in the open now. The bright light of Christ makes your way plain. So no more stumbling around. Get on with it! 9  The good, the right, the true - these are the actions appropriate for daylight hours. 10  Figure out what will please Christ, and then do it. 11  Don't waste your time on useless work, mere busywork, the barren pursuits of darkness. Expose these things for the sham they are. 12  It's a scandal when people waste their lives on things they must do in the darkness where no one will see. 13  Rip the cover off those frauds and see how attractive they look in the light of Christ. 14  Wake up from your sleep, Climb out of your coffins; Christ will show you the light! 15  So watch your step. Use your head. 16  Make the most of every chance you get. These are desperate times! 17  Don't live carelessly, unthinkingly. Make sure you understand what the Master wants. 18  Don't drink too much wine. That cheapens your life. Drink the Spirit of God, huge draughts of him. 19  Sing hymns instead of drinking songs! Sing songs from your heart to Christ. 20  Sing praises over everything, any excuse for a song to God the Father in the name of our Master, Jesus Christ.

21  Out of respect for Christ, be courteously reverent to one another.

Be Subject to One Another

22  Wives, understand and support your husbands in ways that show your support for Christ. 23  The husband provides leadership to his wife the way Christ does to his church, not by domineering but by cherishing. 24  So just as the church submits to Christ as he exercises such leadership, wives should likewise submit to their husbands. 25  Husbands, go all out in your love for your wives, exactly as Christ did for the church - a love marked by giving, not getting. 26  Christ's love makes the church whole. His words evoke her beauty. Everything he does and says is designed to bring the best out of her, 27  dressing her in dazzling white silk, radiant with holiness. 28  And that is how husbands ought to love their wives. They're really doing themselves a favor - since they're already "one" in marriage. 29  No one abuses his own body, does he? No, he feeds and pampers it. That's how Christ treats us, the church, 30  since we are part of his body. 31  And this is why a man leaves father and mother and cherishes his wife. No longer two, they become "one flesh." 32  This is a huge mystery, and I don't pretend to understand it all. What is clearest to me is the way Christ treats the church. 33  And this provides a good picture of how each husband is to treat his wife, loving himself in loving her, and how each wife is to honor her husband.

6 1  Children, do what your parents tell you. This is only right. 2  "Honor your father and mother" is the first commandment that has a promise attached to it, namely, 3  "so you will live well and have a long life." 4  Fathers, don't exasperate your children by coming down hard on them. Take them by the hand and lead them in the way of the Master. 5  Servants, respectfully obey your earthly masters but always with an eye to obeying the real master, Christ. 6  Don't just do what you have to do to get by, but work heartily, as Christ's servants doing what God wants you to do. 7  And work with a smile on your face, always keeping in mind that no matter who happens to be giving the orders, you're really serving God. 8  Good work will get you good pay from the Master, regardless of whether you are slave or free. 9  Masters, it's the same with you. No abuse, please, and no threats. You and your servants are both under the same Master in heaven. He makes no distinction between you and them.

The Whole Armor of God

10  And that about wraps it up. God is strong, and he wants you strong. 11  So take everything the Master has set out for you, well-made weapons of the best materials. And put them to use so you will be able to stand up to everything the Devil throws your way. 12  This is no afternoon athletic contest that we'll walk away from and forget about in a couple of hours. This is for keeps, a life-or-death fight to the finish against the Devil and all his angels. 13  Be prepared. You're up against far more than you can handle on your own. Take all the help you can get, every weapon God has issued, so that when it's all over but the shouting you'll still be on your feet. 14  Truth, righteousness, 15  peace, 16  faith, 17  and salvation are more than words. Learn how to apply them. You'll need them throughout your life. God's Word is an indispensable weapon. 18  In the same way, prayer is essential in this ongoing warfare. Pray hard and long. Pray for your brothers and sisters. Keep your eyes open. Keep each other's spirits up so that no one falls behind or drops out.

19  And don't forget to pray for me. Pray that I'll know what to say and have the courage to say it at the right time, telling the mystery to one and all, the Message that I, 20  jailbird preacher that I am, am responsible for getting out.

Final Greetings

21  Tychicus, my good friend here, will tell you what I'm doing and how things are going with me. He is certainly a dependable servant of the Master! 22  I've sent him not only to tell you about us but to cheer you on in your faith. 23  Good-bye, friends. Love mixed with faith be yours from God the Father and from the Master, Jesus Christ. 24  Pure grace and nothing but grace be with all who love our Master, Jesus Christ.


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