LIVING A LIFE THAT CAN CARRY OUT THE WORK
OF THE MINISTRY TO BUILD UP THE BODY OF CHRIST
Verses 17-32 of Ephesians 4 is another section showing us how to build up the Body of Christ by the growth in Christ. Verse 15 says that we need to grow up into Christ in all things, and then the rest of chapter four unveils the details of this growth in Christ to have a life that is suitable and adequate for the building up of the Body of Christ. Paul tells us that we should no longer walk as the nations who walk in the vanity of the mind, estranged from the life of God (vv. 17-18). When we walk according to the life of God within us, we do not have a hardened heart, we are not in darkness, we care for the consciousness of our conscience, and we would not give place to the Devil (v. 27). We also need to walk in truth, that is, in the reality as it is in Jesus (v. 21). God is the truth, the reality. Ephesians 4 also says that we have put off, regarding our former manner of life, the old man, which is being corrupted according to the lusts of the deceit (v. 22). Deceit is personified. It refers to the deceiver, the Devil, from whom are the lusts of the corrupted old man. For the building up of the Body of Christ, we need to put off the old man and be renewed in the spirit of our mind (v. 23). This renewing is for our transformation to the image of Christ. Our regenerated spirit is mingled with the indwelling Spirit of God. Such a mingled spirit spreads into our mind, thus becoming the spirit of our mind. It is in such a spirit that we are renewed for our transformation.
In our baptism we put off the old man and the old manner of life, and we put on the new man, which was created according to God in righteousness and holiness of the truth (4:24; Rom. 6:6, 4a; Col. 2:11-12). Righteousness is being right with God and man according to God’s righteous way, while holiness is being separated unto God from anything common and being saturated with God’s holy nature. We need to live a life of righteousness and holiness. This is the way that Jesus lived on this earth to set up a pattern of One who lived a life of always doing things in God, with God, and for God, ministering Himself as grace to others. We learn from Him, according to His example, not by our natural life, but by Him as our life. We need to live a life that gives grace to others for the needful building up. This is a life that ministers Christ to others as their enjoyment and supply for the building up of the Body of Christ (Eph. 4:29). We should not let any corrupt word proceed out of our mouth but only the words that give grace to others. In all of our speaking, we should distribute the riches of Christ.
To build up the Body of Christ, we must also learn not to grieve the Holy Spirit so that He can keep sealing us for the day of the redemption of our body (v. 30). We should always make the Spirit happy. Everything in our behavior should be pleasant to Him. The sealing Spirit is continuously sealing us with the essence and element of the Triune God. When a piece of paper is sealed with a seal, the paper receives the ink essence and also the likeness and the shape of the seal. The sealing Spirit brings the essence of the Triune God into us and causes us to bear the likeness of the Triune God.
A life that builds up the Body of Christ is also a forgiving life. To practice the Body life we need to forgive one another, forgetting one another’s offending, as God in Christ forgets our offenses (v. 32b; Heb. 8:12). To forgive means to forget. Because we are still in our old man much of the time, we make mistakes and offend others. This is why we need to forgive others by the life of God in the Spirit of God.
Ephesians 4:17-32 gives us a picture of a life that can carry out the work of the ministry to build up the Body of Christ. There is much, much hope, promise, and potential that all the churches in the Lord’s recovery could be built up in this way. May the Lord bring us into the reality of the one Body built up by one ministry with thousands of saints perfected to live a life that is adequate and qualified to do the work of the building up of the Body of Christ.
(The Body of Christ, Chapter 4, by Witness Lee)