Our Divine Calling
1As a prisoner of the Lord, I plead with you to walk holy, in a way that is suitable to your high rank, given to you in your divine calling. 2With tender humility and quiet patience, always demonstrate gentleness and generous love toward one another, especially toward those who may try your patience. 3Be faithful to guard the sweet harmony of the Holy Spirit among you in the bonds of peace, 4being one body and one spirit, as you were all called into the same glorious hope of divine destiny.
5For the Lord God is one, and so are we, for we share in one faith, one baptism, and one Father. 6And He is the perfect Father who leads us all, works through us all, and lives in us all!
The Grace-Gifts of Christ
7And he has generously given each one of us supernatural grace, according to the size of the gift of Christ. 8This is why he says:
“He ascends into the heavenly heights
taking his many captured ones with him,
and gifts were given to men.”
9He “ascended” means that he returned to heaven, after he had first descended from the heights of heaven, even descending as far as the lowest parts of the earth. 10The same one who descended is also the one who ascended above the heights of heaven, in order to begin the restoration and fulfillment of all things.
11And he has appointed some with grace to be apostles, and some with grace to be prophets, and some with grace to be evangelists, and some with grace to be pastors, and some with grace to be teachers. 12And their calling is to nurture and prepare all the holy believers to do their own works of ministry, and as they do this they will enlarge and build up the body of Christ. 13These grace ministries will function until we all attain oneness into the faith, until we all experience the fullness of what it means to know the Son of God, and finally we become one into a perfect man with the full dimensions of spiritual maturity and fully developed into the abundance of Christ.
14And then our immaturity will end! And we will not be easily shaken by trouble, nor led astray by novel teachings or by the false doctrines of deceivers who teach clever lies. 15But instead we will remain strong and always sincere in our love as we express the truth. All our direction and ministries will flow from Christ and lead us deeper into him, the anointed Head of his body, the church.
16For his “body” has been formed in his image and is closely joined together and constantly connected as one. And every member has been given divine gifts to contribute to the growth of all; and as these gifts operate effectively throughout the whole body, we are built up and made perfect in love.
Our New Life in Christ
17So with the wisdom given to me from the Lord I say: You should not live like the unbelievers around you who walk in their empty delusions. 18Their corrupted logic has been clouded because their hearts are so far from God—their blinded understanding and deep-seated moral darkness keeps them from the true knowledge of God. 19Because of spiritual apathy, they surrender their lives to lewdness, impurity, and sexual obsession.
20But this is not the way of life that Christ has unfolded within you. 21If you have really experienced the Anointed One, and heard his truth, it will be seen in your life; for we know that the ultimate reality is embodied in Jesus!
22And he has taught you to let go of the lifestyle of the ancient man, the old self-life, which was corrupted by sinful and deceitful desires that spring from delusions. 23Now it’s time to be made new by every revelation that’s been given to you. 24And to be transformed as you embrace the glorious Christ-within as your new life and live in union with him! For God has re-created you all over again in his perfect righteousness, and you now belong to him in the realm of true holiness. 25So discard every form of dishonesty and lying so that you will be known as one who always speaks the truth, for we all belong to one another.
26But don’t let the passion of your emotions lead you to sin! Don’t let anger control you or be fuel for revenge, not for even a day. 27Don’t give the slanderous accuser, the Devil, an opportunity to manipulate you! 28If any one of you has stolen from someone else, never do it again. Instead, be industrious, earning an honest living, and then you’ll have enough to bless those in need.
29And never let ugly or hateful words come from your mouth, but instead let your words become beautiful gifts that encourage others; do this by speaking words of grace to help them.
30The Holy Spirit of God has sealed you in Jesus Christ until you experience your full salvation. So never grieve the Spirit of God or take for granted his holy influence in your life. 31Lay aside bitter words, temper tantrums, revenge, profanity, and insults. 32But instead be kind and affectionate toward one another. Has God graciously forgiven you? Then graciously forgive one another in the depths of Christ’s love.