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Ephesians 4:3: The Unity of the Spirit


Ephesians 4:3
[3] eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. (ESV)

“There can be union without unity: tie two cats together by their tails and throw them over a clothesline.”

God calls us to much more than union.  He calls us to unity.  I think that for far too many churches they have union, but no unity.  In fact, they act like cats tied together by their tails.  It brings disgrace to the Church and to the name of Christ.  In today's verse Paul says that we are to be eager to maintain unity.

What are you eager to do? It will speak volumes as to where your heart is. A child can claim all day long that they would like to please their parents, but if you want to check their sincerity in the matter, look at what they actually DO!!! It breaks my heart as I look at my own walk with the Lord sometimes. I say that I want to spend more time with the Lord. I pray about reading more of the Word of God. But, I wake up and start my day, demonstrating by my actions that I am not eager about those things.

As we seek to live out this life in a manner “worthy of the calling,” we need to evaluate what we are eager to do. Our text reminds us that we are to be eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of Peace. This is an indirect command. Now, the significance of unity and God’s Spirit is great. I want us to spend a few minutes looking at the book of Galatians. As we read from Galatians 5, please take notice of the relationship of being under the power of God’s Spirit and the unity that flows from that vs. being led by our flesh.

Galatians 5:13-26
[13] For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another. [14] For the whole law is fulfilled in one word: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” [15] But if you bite and devour one another, watch out that you are not consumed by one another. [16] But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. [17] For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do. [18] But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law. [19] Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, [20] idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, [21] envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. [22] But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, [23] gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. [24] And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. [25] If we live by the Spirit, let us also keep in step with the Spirit. [26] Let us not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another.

The works of the flesh will flow from a person who is not eager to maintain the unity of the spirit in the bond of peace. If we are not willing to be filled, or controlled, by the Spirit, we can be sure that the works of the flesh will raise their ugly heads. Now, we see all kinds of immoral behaviors listed as being of the flesh. The list that Paul gives are: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these.

We read these things and what do we do? We focus on the things that we think are the most outrageously sinful and pat ourselves on the back and say, “Whew, good thing I don’t do that.” But, I want you to look at this list again. In the midst of sins like sorcery, idolatry, orgies and sexual immorality are a few that we might want to pay more attention to.

Have you ever been guilty of these?

- Enmity
- Strife
- Jealousy
- Fits of anger
- Rivalries
- Dissensions
- Divisions
- Envy

OUCH! We can say that we are “Spiritual.” We can claim to be led by the Holy Spirit. But if we allow ourselves to act in enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, and envy we are kidding ourselves and destroying one another. And the terrible thing about that is that when we destroy one another we are hurting the Lord Jesus Christ.

Galatians 5:15
[15] But if you bite and devour one another, watch out that you are not consumed by one another.

I am hoping, that if you are acting out in these fleshly ways, another member of the body of Christ will hold you accountable and remind you that we are to be eager to maintain the unity of the spirit in the bond of peace!

So, how will we accomplish this awesome task of being eager to maintain the unity of the spirit in the bond of peace? The answer is found in Galatians 5

Galatians 5:22-26
[22] But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, [23] gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. [24] And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. [25] If we live by the Spirit, let us also keep in step with the Spirit. [26] Let us not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another.

Have you crucified the flesh with its passions and desires? That is what those who belong to Jesus are to do. It is only as we put to death the flesh that we can allow the Spirit to bear his fruit in us. The great A.W. Tozer gives us some insight on this.

“Has it ever occurred to you that one hundred pianos all tuned to the same fork are automatically tuned to each other? They are of one accord by being tuned, not to each other, but to another standard to which each one must individually bow. So one hundred worshipers [meeting] together, each one looking away to Christ, are in heart nearer to each other than they could possibly be, were they to become 'unity' conscious and turn their eyes away from God to strive for closer fellowship.”
- A.W. Tozer, The Pursuit of God.

What are you eager to do?  Are you eager to maintain unity?  If not, why not take a moment and ask the Lord to help you? He will hear your prayer.  He wants unity even more than you do!

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