and do not give the devil an opportunity.Ephesians 4:27(NASB)
It is encouraging to read through the privileges and promises that are ours in Christ Jesus, in the first three chapters of Ephesians, and know God is able to do abundantly above all we ask or think. But with great privilege comes great responsibility, and in chapter 4, Paul goes through the responsibilities of believers, and what our daily practice should be.
At first he makes an appeal for Christian unity in every sphere of life and urges each of us to walk worthy of our calling. We should demonstrate genuine humility of heart and a gentleness of spirit. We should be long-suffering and make allowances for the faults and failures of others and we should endeavour to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.
Each member of Christ's body is to carry out their service to the glory of God, by using their spiritual gifts and graces wisely, within the wider Church community. Each is to guard against traits that mar their testimony, such as immaturity, instability and gullibility.
Paul then makes an appeal for Christians to clothe themselves in a new morality that reflects the righteousness of Christ by putting off their old, pagan practices and putting on the New Man, which is created in Christ Jesus, and expressed in holy living and righteous acts. And we do this by abiding in Him, walking in spirit and truth and taking every thought captive to Christ.
He is calling for every member of His body to put away deceit and lies by clothing themselves in truth. We are to keep a check on all forms of fleshly anger, which can manifest itself in explosive rage, smouldering resentment or even a display of smug self-righteousness. We are to eschew all forms of jealousy, vindictiveness and vengeful thoughts - for resentment and bitterness can give the devil an opportunity to shipwreck a life, tarnish a believer's testimony or stunt a Christian's spiritual growth.
"Do not give the devil an opportunity.." is Paul's plea to these Christians in Ephesus - and his earnest appeal to each member of the body of Christ. When we are walking worthy of our calling and demonstrating genuine humility of heart, that comes from the Spirit of God, we will apply the Word of God in our lives - we will put on the New Man and use our spiritual gifts and graces wisely and in line with Scripture.
When we take responsibility for our daily practice; clothe ourselves with the new nature of Christ, and apply the Word of God in everything we do, we will find we are walking in spirit and truth. When we clothe ourselves with Christ by putting on the whole armour of God, we are protected against spiritual wickedness and the devil has no opportunity to deceive our heart, shipwreck our soul and cause us to stumble in our Christian walk.
Let us rejoice in the enormous privileges that are ours in Christ Jesus, but let us also take on board the great responsibility we have for living a life that honour the Lord - by putting off the old man and putting on the new.
Let us carry out our service to God in the power of the Spirit and use our gifts and graces wisely and for the benefit of the wider Body of Christ.
Heavenly Father, thank You for the many privileges that are mine in Christ Jesus and that in Him I have all that I need for life and godliness. Help me take responsibility for living my life in a way that honours You - through the power of the indwelling Holy Spirit, so that the devil has no opportunity to deceive me with His lies and cause my testimony to be shipwrecked. Thank You that I am a new creation in Christ Jesus. Keep me from the deceitful lies of the enemy and help me remain in Christ moment by moment, as I take every thought captive to Him and walk in spirit and truth for Your greater glory. This I ask in Jesus' name, AMEN.