As Becoming Of The Saints

Ephesians 4:25-5:3

 

As we begin this morning, I want to place two verses before you,  for consideration:   The first of these is found in Ephesians 4:1

            I therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you that ye walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called,  

 

The other from our text  Ephesians 5:3

3But fornication, and all uncleanness, or covetousness, let it not be once named among you, as becometh saints;

 

 In his  epistle to the Ephesians,  Paul reaches the height of his great system of teaching, along with the teaching of Colossian letter.  In Ephesians, he presents the Church as  God's great masterpiece, not revealed perfectly in the Old Testament,  but more wonderful than any temple made with hands, constructed of living stones.   In 1 Peter 2:5 we read

            5Ye also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ.

 

In the Colossian letter Paul presents Christ as the Head of the Body.  Two supreme verses   19For it pleased the Father that in him should all fulness dwell .  Col. 1:19   —and again   9For in him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily. 10And ye are complete in him, Col. 2:9-10

 

In some senses the letter to the Ephesians is one of the simplest of the apostolic writings,  yet  in other ways it  is one of the most profound. Paul describes the Church as to its nature and calling  in the first three chapters.  These chapters are doctrinal.  In chapter 1, Paul presents the  church as the body of Christ,   in chapter 2 the church is a temple, and in chapter 3 it is a great mystery. 

 

Chapters four through six, most regard as the practical section.  In chapter 4 the church is a  new man. In chapter 5, the church is the bride of Christ, and in chapter 6 the church is a soldier.  Now there are just a lot of marriages on earth, where as soon as the wedding ceremony is over the fighting begins. But that is not what Paul has in mind here.  There is an enemy to be fought, a battle in progress, the bugle has sounded and the child of God, is a Christian Soldier who is encouraged to put on his apparel and stand for Christ. Ephesians 5:10-18.

 

Paul turns to the application of this great calling of the Church to present her life, he does so in these words the first of which I read before you this morning —

"I therefore… beseech you to walk worthily of the calling wherewith ye were called."  Ephesians 4:1

 

As we consider the calling that we are to walk worthily of, I remind you that Paul is writing to "the saints in Ephesus",  and one of the great burdens of the letter is to  encourage and exhort this body of people  that they should live "as becometh saints." Our theme then is "BECOMING OF SAINTS".

 

Let me say to you at once, that we are still suffering from mistaken ideas of what saint-ship really is. We are still in darkness as to what a saint really is, and we can discover this in our arts,  and poetry but also conversing with  Christian people. Today a Christian looks at you and says, "Brother, I'm no saint."  What does he mean? Well he means that he is no special "holy Joe." 

 

The concept of a saint was and remains,  a person separated from the ordinary. In our arts he is seen as one with a halo above his head. The idea of saint-ship was that of  a vocation granted to the few rather than  the calling of all who belong to Christ.  One writer, and I feel sure he was from Texas stated it this way; "There are only two kinds of folks in the world today, the SAINTS and the AIN'TS.  Now you are a saint or you're an ain't.  Saints are those redeemed by the blood of Christ, the ain'ts are sinners."

 

The word translated saint is aJgivoi" which means holy or separated. The primary intent of this word is "set aside for use of God,  dedicated to God's purposes". The pots and pans in the tabernacle were called holy vessels. Why?  Not that they were all nice and clean, I think that they were probably all beaten up and  battered, after  that long wilderness journey. They were holy, because they were dedicated  to God for use.

 

A saint today is one who is separated, and dedicated for God's service.  Like the pots and vessels of the tabernacle had to be dedicated by the blood of animals, so the saint today is dedicated by the blood of Christ. In Hebrews chapter Nine,  the  Hebrew writer speaks of these very things stated:  Concerning Moses  then Hebrews 9:21 he writes:

            21Moreover he sprinkled with blood both the tabernacle, and all the vessels of the ministry. 22And almost all things are by the law purged with blood; and without shedding of blood is no remission. 23It was therefore necessary that the patterns of things in the heavens should be purified with these; but the heavenly things themselves with better sacrifices than these.

 

And again in  Hebrews 10:19-23

            19Having therefore, brethren, boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus,  20By a new and living way, which he hath consecrated for us, through the veil, that is to say, his flesh;  21And having an high priest over the house of God; 22Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with pure water. 23Let us hold fast the profession of our faith without wavering;

 

Please allow me to ask you then remember that a saint is one who is united with Christ,  cleansed by His blood,  a Christian. In the first Ephesians 1:1 we read  the following words: "1Paul, to the saints which are at Ephesus,"  they are very illuminating words followed by  this qualifying statement,  "and to the faithful in Christ Jesus "

 

Let us then inquire a little more in detail what this letter teaches concerning the nature of saint-ship, remembering that Paul charges the church  Ephesians 4:1

            I therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you that ye walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called,  and again.   Ephesians 5:3  3But fornication, and all uncleanness, or covetousness, let it not be once named among you, as becometh saints;

 

The teaching of these passages is that there is therefore a code of conduct, a certain behavior that we might say Becomes Saints.

 

Does the book of Ephesians give us clues as to what it means to act as "becometh saints?" I believe so, there are three illuminative, descriptive terms used of Christians, that I believe reveal to us,  WHO WE ARE and WHAT WE ARE, therefore revealing HOW WE ARE TO WALK.

In the first chapter Paul prays for the  Ephesians Christians.  that they might understand and know the Hope of God's calling  Ephesians 1:18  and what the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints,  A little further over  in chapter  2:10 Paul declares that: 10For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus   And then in the same chapter  Paul declares verse 22 that we are  builded together for an habitation of God.  Take these phrases as descriptive phrases of what saints are: God's inheritance, God's workmanship, and God's habitation.

 

First the saint is the inheritance of God, His property.  I am His absolutely by creation.  But because of sin I had lost the sense of that relationship, but now I am His by redemption. In 1 Corinthians 6:19-20 we read:

            19What? 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? 20For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s.

 

As a saint I belong to Him. I may be using these hands contrary to His will, I may be using these feet to take me some journey that is away from His appointment of me. I may be robbing God…… but I belong to Him. The sin of the prodigal son in the far country was that he wasted his father's substance in riotous living. I belong to God.

 

Now that is the first fact of saint-ship.  Beloved I would to God, that I might weigh that upon every heart in this assembly. Every professing Christian. You are His, I am His,

            19What? 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? 20For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s

 

I AM GOD'S INHERITANCE, GOD'S PROPERTY

 

 

 But let us probe deeper into these texts, next I am His workmanship Ephesians 2:10.  If we speak of the saint as simply the property of God, we recognize the imperfection of that property. But as a workmanship of God, that property has been refined, made into a work fitted for God's purpose.  God takes that which imperfect and perfects it. Not in a moment, not by some mechanical re-adjustment, but by the processes of time, by teaching, discipline, through pain affliction,  

 

The first thing is I am His, the second thing is that I am His workmanship.  I can never read this word   without thinking of the Greek term that  Word  comes from  poivhma— poem, not necessarily a thing of rhyme but a creation of one's heart. 

 

I cannot read this word workmanship without the familiar figure of the Bible  coming to mind. The figure of the Potter and clay. There is no finer teaching of this passage than that.  The lesson is this, I am His, a thing without fashion, without beauty, I am His,  see the Potter, He takes the clay, places it upon the wheel,

 

4- The process is an old one, what is He doing? His feet are pumping the wheel,  His hands are upon the clay, it yields to the pressure. God's hand is upon the saint. perfecting, molding, making what He sees in His vision of what it can become.  I AM HIS WORKMANSHIP.

 

We go one step further, we hear the apostle saying  Ephesians 2:19-22

            19Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellowcitizens with the saints, and of the household of God; 20And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone; 21In whom all the building fitly framed together groweth unto an holy temple in the Lord: 22In whom ye also are builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit

 

The figure has changed, more beautiful, saints are built together "for an habitation of God" The habitation of God is the church, made up of living stones. The church is the HOME of God. His Habitation.

 

Let us define home. We sing of home, we write of it in our  poetry. Home, cannot really be defined, but hear this definition. Home is home. ….I can do no better, for home is a place where we must never keep up appearances, except when company is there.  Home is a place where we are conscious that we have the right of way. Every door swings open to you. The pictures on the wall are those of your doing that welcome you each time you enter that  room. The flowers that are placed there breathe an atmosphere.  HOME… our habitation, our castle. The old cliché  "A man's castle is his home."

 

The Church is the home of God made up of living stones. The saint is God's property, by means of redemption. "19and ye are not your own? 20For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s. " 

 

The saint, God's workmanship,  feeling the pressure of His hands at times, disciplined, but knowing the Potter,  In Romans chapter 8 Paul enlarges upon this Hear it:

            28And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose. 29For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren.

 

This is not teaching that everything that happens is good, the NIV states it this way:

            28 And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.      I believe that more nearly expresses the Greek text .  God  takes those things that happen to us, and uses them to mold and make us what He sees we can become..  What is God's goal for us? Again see the hands of the Potter applying the pressure of His hands, what is He doing conforming us into the image and likeness  of His dear Son.   Romans 8:29

 

Finally I am God's habitation. He has purchased me by means of redemption, for a habitation.

            and ye are not your own? 20For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s.  1 Corinthians 6;19-20

 

It seems to me now that we may read the passages  of our text now almost without a word…. Hear them again:

 

 I therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you that ye walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called, Ephesians 4:1

 

                3But fornication, and all uncleanness, or covetousness, let it not be once named among you, as becometh saints.    Ephesians 5:1-3

I am God's property. How shall I live as becomes that fact?  By seeing to it that all I am is His, that I am not robbing Him of that which is His. To walk as a saint is to recognize that every fiber of my physical  life, every power of my complex is His,          and TO HAND OVER TO HIM HIS PROPERTY.

 

I am God's workmanship. What's the lesson intended?  Simply this that the true attitude of every Christ  is that of yielding to the will, to the wish, to the mastery of His will.   To me that is the profoundest thing in life is SUBMISSION TO GOD'S WILL.  It is the last thing. It is the rock foundation of my being.

            13Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man. Ecclesiastes 12:13

 

Finally I am the habitation of God, the home of God. Have I any room where He is locked out? Are there doors that do not open to Him. Are there rooms in my heart where He does not belong?   That is not saint-ship.

 

                36Master, which is the great commandment in the law? 37 Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. 38This is the first and great commandment. 39And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. 40On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.

Matthew 22:37-40

 

When God posses the entire heart, when all rooms are open  we will become the salt of the earth,  purifying, healing the nations.. We will light illuminating the vast darkness around us.

            1Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, to the saints which are at Ephesus, and to the faithful in Christ Jesus     Ephesians 1:1

               

May God help us to live as BECOMING OF SAINTS. Saints are those purchased for His possession. And this in Christ. Are you in Christ? Not if you have not repented of your sins, and had them washed away by baptism. 

           

Galatians 3:26-27        2 Corinthians 5:17

contact:: Ron Cope minister

email:  RonCope@chestnutmtchurchofchrist.com

phone:  (678)617-9658