by Fr. Stephen Veselsky
And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God. (Ephesians 5:2)
In this passage (Ephesians 4:31-5:21), Paul continues in the admonition and instruction of Christians. This includes many “dos” and “do not’s” that all sound like another form of command. Here are several examples from the considered text: be kind (4:32), be imitators (5:1), walk in love (5:2), no sexual immorality (5:3), no filthiness (5:4), don not be deceived (5:5-6), be not partners with the sons of disobedience (5:7), walk as children of light (5:8), try to discern (5:10), take no part in darkness (5:11), look carefully (5:15), do not be foolish (5:17), do not get drunk, and be filled (5:18).
We can clearly see in the above examples that there is a line of commandments like instruction from the Apostle Paul. However, we know from our own experience and reason that Jesus Christ came to us to show us that, ultimately, we are unable to obey commandments. There is, thought, a way to deal with this situation.
Often, some Christians try to obey their own power, but that works only for a limited time and for some of the situations in their life. There is a need to make a distinction between obedience in the Old Testament sense and obedience in the New Testament sense. New Testament obedience is “revolutionary” because it acknowledges our limited capacities. New Testament obedience is through the daily power of the Cross of Christ by the Holy Spirit.
This new type of obedience through the power of the Cross can be applied in the practical life by daily acknowledgment of Christ’s sacrifice for our sins. The practice of silence and solitude are some tools that are helpful here.
For example, the aforementioned mentioned “walk in love” takes on a different dimension by practicing various spiritual disciplines in silence and solitude, depending on where the individual finds himself or herself on the path of their Christian life. A qualified spiritual director can be of a great help in this as well.
Many commandments like pronouncements in the New Testament are addressed by turning to the Cross of Christ through faith in His ultimate sacrifice. At a certain point in growth, one does not even need to consciously address being obedient because the Holy Spirit produces obedience in us as He has already directed the parts of one’s identity towards the Christ through the Cross. He knows you better than you know yourself, and He expresses His love to you daily. May you experience His guidance in a new way.
Fr. Steve serves as a missionary in the Czech Republic