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The Unity of the Body
1I am in prison because I belong to the Lord. Therefore I urge you who have been chosen by God to live up to the life to which God called you. 2Always be humble, gentle, and patient, accepting each other in love. 3You are joined together with peace through the Spirit, so make every effort to continue together in this way. 4There is one body and one Spirit, and God called you to have one hope. 5There is one Lord, one faith, and one baptism. 6There is one God and Father of everything. He rules everything and is everywhere and is in everything.
7Christ gave each one of us the special gift of grace, showing how generous he is. 8That is why it says in the Scriptures,
“When he went up to the heights,
he led a parade of captives,
and he gave gifts to people.”#Psalm 68:18
9When it says, “He went up,” what does it mean? It means that he first came down to the earth. 10So Jesus came down, and he is the same One who went up above all the heaven. Christ did that to fill everything with his presence. 11And Christ gave gifts to people—he made some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to go and tell the Good News, and some to have the work of caring for and teaching God’s people. 12Christ gave those gifts to prepare God’s holy people for the work of serving, to make the body of Christ stronger. 13This work must continue until we are all joined together in the same faith and in the same knowledge of the Son of God. We must become like a mature person, growing until we become like Christ and have his perfection.
14Then we will no longer be babies. We will not be tossed about like a ship that the waves carry one way and then another. We will not be influenced by every new teaching we hear from people who are trying to fool us. They make plans and try any kind of trick to fool people into following the wrong path. 15No! Speaking the truth with love, we will grow up in every way into Christ, who is the head. 16The whole body depends on Christ, and all the parts of the body are joined and held together. Each part does its own work to make the whole body grow and be strong with love.
The Way You Should Live
17In the Lord’s name, I tell you this. Do not continue living like those who do not believe. Their thoughts are worth nothing. 18They do not understand, and they know nothing, because they refuse to listen. So they cannot have the life that God gives. 19They have lost all feeling of shame, and they use their lives for doing evil. They continually want to do all kinds of evil. 20But what you learned in Christ was not like this. 21I know that you heard about him, and you are in him, so you were taught the truth that is in Jesus. 22You were taught to leave your old self—to stop living the evil way you lived before. That old self becomes worse, because people are fooled by the evil things they want to do. 23But you were taught to be made new in your hearts, 24to become a new person. That new person is made to be like God—made to be truly good and holy.
25So you must stop telling lies. Tell each other the truth, because we all belong to each other in the same body. 26When you are angry, do not sin, and be sure to stop being angry before the end of the day. 27Do not give the devil a way to defeat you. 28Those who are stealing must stop stealing and start working. They should earn an honest living for themselves. Then they will have something to share with those who are poor.
29When you talk, do not say harmful things, but say what people need—words that will help others become stronger. Then what you say will do good to those who listen to you. 30And do not make the Holy Spirit sad. The Spirit is God’s proof that you belong to him. God gave you the Spirit to show that God will make you free when the final day comes. 31Do not be bitter or angry or mad. Never shout angrily or say things to hurt others. Never do anything evil. 32Be kind and loving to each other, and forgive each other just as God forgave you in Christ.
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The Holy Bible, New Century Version, Copyright © 2005 Thomas Nelson. All rights reserved.