The apostle Paul gives us instruction on the true meaning of unity and what it takes to maintain it in Ephesians 4. First, he says unity is created by God and maintained by God’s people (4:3). God creates unity through the work of Jesus and the Holy Spirit. We maintain the unity God created.
The unity is real. There is only one God. There is only one faith. There is only one Lord…one Spirit..one body…one baptism, etc (4:4). God did not create our division. God unified the divided. Any division we see is the result of our effort, not God’s.
Like we say about marriage – what God has joined together, let no man separate. Division is a serious matter because we are monkeying with what God has worked so hard to establish.
How do we maintain unity? The answer to that is found in the rest of the chapter.
First, we recognize that God has graciously given us gifts through Christ (4:7) and that those gifts are to be used for the growth, maturation and unity of the body (4:11-16).
If we don’t use the gifts God has given us we will suffer from division. When God’s people fail or refuse to use the gifts He has graciously given, we will divide.
Second, we have moral maintenance. In 4:17-32 Paul reminds us that we can no longer live however we want. Then he gives us three behaviors that drive division and how we must convert those behaviors to positive activity that promotes unity. Speaking lies (which causes division and distrust) must turn into speaking truthfully. Stealing must turn into productive work, notice the focus – not so you can feed just yourself – so you can help those in need (unity)! Unwholesome talk (which promotes division) must be turned into healthy, encouraging conversation (unity). Last, forgiveness is also necessary for unity and we do it for each other because God first did it for us.