Jesus has made you alive even when you were dead in your trespasses, will He not even more help you now that you walk with Him?
Colossians 2:13-14 “13 And you, being dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He has made alive together with Him, having forgiven you all trespasses, 14 having wiped out the handwriting of requirements that was against us, which was contrary to us. And He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross.
With the exception of a clinically proven sociopath every human knows that they have sinned and when they have sinned. Verse 13 is simply a statement of fact, and I will go back and cover the part of, the uncircumcision of your flesh, later. “having forgiven you all trespasses”, this statement is the most powerful, and pivotal point in the book of Colossians. For starters the word “having” is a present participle, an ongoing action, but when coupled with “forgiven” a past participle a completed action, you have covered the past, present, and future in relationship to the word trespasses. Jesus’ death on the cross nearly 2000 years ago for our sins, covered those sins in our future also. Some people believe His death only covers those sins prior to a person’s born-again experience. Other people think we have to confess every sin individually for them to be covered – read John 3:16-18 for truth on that wrong thinking. Verse 13 is clear that it is ongoing; your sins were paid for past present, and future. There is not a hierarchy of sins either. With the single exception of blasphemy of the Holy Spirit, every sin is forgiven. The third word of importance in this verse is the word “all”. This does not indicate some, or just the small ones, or only the confessed ones, but all. Hebrews 10:10-14 is an establishing proof of verse 13.
I sometimes refer to myself as a walking dead man or my flesh as a walking carcass, but quickly clarify my statement in that it is my fleshly body that is dead, my spirit will live forever in Christ Jesus and in the presence of God. The “dead in your trespasses” spoken of in verse 13 is spiritual death of which every non-believer will be found. This statement is actually saying that a person still in their trespasses is absent from God and will be spiritually absent even after their natural death. There is no possible way to live in the natural the prefect requirements from God and to stand in His presence, and yet for the believer in Christ Jesus we even call Him Father and He calls us His children, Ephesians 2:4-10.
Verse 14 is referencing the Law of Moses set before the Children of Israel as their only hope of standing before God. These were impossible requirements to follow as their primary purpose was to teach man that by his own actions he would never be worthy to stand before God. This puts us in a place of hopelessness on our own efforts, but opens us up to obtain salvation through faith in Jesus. Romans 7:9 through 8:4 is, a wonderful explanation of the law and its purpose in comparison to our salvation through Jesus Christ. (Read these verses below)
Romans 7:”9 I was alive once without the law, but when the commandment came, sin revived and I died. 10 And the commandment, which was to bring life, I found to bring death. 11 For sin, taking occasion by the commandment, deceived me, and by it killed me. 12 Therefore the law is holy, and the commandment holy and just and good. 13 Has then what is good become death to me? Certainly not! But sin, that it might appear sin, was producing death in me through what is good, so that sin through the commandment might become exceedingly
sinful. 14 For we know that the law is spiritual, but I am carnal, sold under sin. 15 For what I am doing, I do not understand. For what I will to do, that I do not practice; but what I hate, that I do. 16 If, then, I do what I will not to do, I agree with the law that it is good. 17 But now, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells in me. 18 For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh) nothing good dwells; for to will is present with me, but how to perform what is good I do not find. 19 For the good that I will to do, I do not do; but the evil I will not to do, that I practice. 20 Now if I do what I will not to do, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells in me. 21 I find then a law, that evil is present with me, the one who wills to do good. 22 For I delight in the law of God according to the inward man. 23 But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members. 24 O wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? 25 I thank God-through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, with the mind I myself serve the law of God, but with the flesh the law of sin.
Romans 8:1 There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit. 2 For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death. 3 For what the law could not do in that it was weak through the flesh, God did by sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, on account of sin: He condemned sin in the flesh, 4 that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.”
The Devil has no more power of people then what they give him; he has been disarmed!
Colossians 2:15 “15 Having disarmed principalities and powers, He made a public spectacle of them,
For starters Satan was never equal to God and does not have supernatural powers to make people do his bidding. The only power he had was what Adam gave to him in the Garden of Eden. In Genesis 1:26 & 28 we read where God gave man all authority over everything on earth, but in Genesis 3:17 we read the results of Satan’s deception and the fall of man. The power of death and turmoil has been held over man’s head till Jesus died for all sins on the cross. To disarm an enemy is to take away his weapons, but Satan’s defeat was much more than that. APEKDUOMAI is a Greek word originally written by Paul and to his readers in the day of the Colossians and many of whom were Romans, it carried a heaver meaning even then just being disarmed. King James Version used the word “spoiled” which is closer to the actual meaning of APEKDUOMAI which means to “divest wholly oneself”. When food is spoiled the bacteria has grown to the point the food is worthless, the situation cannot be reversed. In Roman times when an opposing king was conquered it was said that he had been “APEKDUOMAIspoiled” by the opposing army which meant the Roman army strip away anything of power from the king and his men. Jesus did just that, He stripped away everything Satan had that could be harmful to us which takes us to the second half of verse fifteen.
Also in Roman times when a General had a great victory over a strong opposing king, the General was allowed to have a parade through the streets. The General was always in front with his men behind, followed by the king of the opposing army and any solders still alive along with all of their possessions. The conquering General was allowed to keep the “spoil” meaning all of the possessions taken during battle. The original KJV read, “He made a “shew” of them openly”. THRIAMBEUO is the Greek word used for “shew” which is, ”to make an acclamatory procession”. This is what the Romans called a “triumphant procession” as I mentioned earlier. Once again people of Paul’s day would have had a much stronger word picture than we do today because the conquered king being led in this Roman triumphant procession would have been stripped naked, tied to a horse, and most likely would have had his thumbs and big toes cut off. The purpose of this was to show the people that this king did not have any power left or he would not have allowed himself to be put in this position. By cutting off his thumbs and toes was to comfort the people in that he would never be able to hold a sword or weapon or run in battle again. Without holding a sword and leading an army he could never be a powerful king again. In fact the most he could do for the rest of his life would be to hobble as a beggar since he could not work either. This took away any fear or doubt from the people of ever being tormented by this king or his men ever again. Jesus spoiled Satan at the cross and resurrection.
The only other time THRIABEUO is used in the New Testament is in 2 Corinthians 2:14, “ thanks be to God who always leads us in triumph in Christ, and through us diffuses the fragrance of His knowledge in every place”. We are led in triumph by our King and Conqueror with our enemy “Satan” being drug behind. The problem is most of the church today has no idea the parade has already happened. What we must do today is pick up the parade and show the rest of our fellow believers that Satan is a defeated foe. And the best way to do this is to walk in this triumphant procession with Christ in our lives daily.
Today the only weapon Satan has against God’s children is doubt and deception. In Ephesians 6:11 it is called the wiles of the Devil, in 2 Corinthians 11:14 he transforms himself into an angel of light, in Colossians 1:13 he has the power of darkness which keeps us from seeing spiritually clear, and in Matthew 24:4 he can come in the form of a man with his deception. Jesus triumphed over Satan and gave us His victory. Let’s walk in that victory, let’s have our own parade today and show the world that in Him all things are possible. You can read more on what little power Satan has and who is truly is, in my book “God is Not Mad at You.”
The religion of Christianity judges the actions of a man, whereas a relationship with Christ is to have a spiritual connection with Jesus.
Colossians 2:16-a “16 a So let no one judge you in food or in drink, b or regarding a festival or a new moon or Sabbaths,
In Paul’s day the Jews had authority under the Law of Moses to judge people for their food. In fact there is provision to kill a person who openly chooses to break the Law of Moses. For Paul to make such a statement was a huge slap in the face to the Pharisee’s, but is the truth because Jesus blotted out the handwritten requirements held against us, Colossians 2:14. The statement made of freedom of choice for food and not to let people judge you is bigger than just being able to eat what you want. In Leviticus 11 and Deuteronomy 14 are the descriptions of eatable meat from animals. This was primarily a means of distinction between the Jews and the rest of the world, a form of being separated or consecrated to God. It is also a healthier choice of meat even today. But today those who are in Christ Jesus (Galatians 4:4-6), are separated unto God as His children and not because of what they eat.
The only real written word against any type of drink is for the Nazarene who cannot drink anything made from the grape “wine” (Numbers 6), and blood in Leviticus 17:10-14. There is no law in the Old Testament against the drinking of wine, but in Luke 7:34 the Pharisees accused Jesus of being a wine bibber. A wine bibber is simply a person who sips on wine. There is nothing written in God’s word against drinking wine, but man has made it a huge stumbling block primarily because of the way people become controlled by the wine itself or any drink. In Romans 14:21 Paul says he will not drink it if it causes his spiritually weaker brother to stumble, but tells Timothy in 1 Timothy 5:23 to drink a little wine for his stomach’s sake. We are told to not be drunk with wine, Ephesians 5:18. In 1Timothy 3:3 and Titus 1:7 Paul tells Bishops, and Deacons in 1Timothy 3:8, to not be “given to wine”. Biblically speaking to be “given” to something is to be controlled or owned by it and to have a compulsion to always have it. Bottom line, to drink wine is not a sin and even if it were Jesus died for our sins. However, if a person always has to have a few drinks on a daily basis or to drink to intoxication is to give oneself over to the drink. Christians are to take captive every thought that rises up against us and to renew our minds daily. Remember that by adding something into your system that causes you to loosen or even lose your faculties, also allows your mind and emotions to take control over you instead of you exercising control over them. Alcohol taken in excess or in consistency can open a person up for other problems and possible heartache. Godly wisdom is to not drink, but if you have a drink do so with reasonable limits on consumption. This is not to be Godly, but for your own protection. Remembering that to “be drunk” which for today would also include “be high on drugs” displeases God.
Jesus paid for our freedom and ability to come boldly into the presence of God, Hebrews 4:16. Paul wants us to know that there is no condemnation for our food or drink and that the requirements from the Law have been nailed to the cross. This includes festivals, new moons, and Sabbaths. None of these events have anything to do with Godliness and when they did have some importance they were simply types and shadows from the Old Testament of things to come. Observation of any specific day does not make you closer to God in His eyes; however, it can either adversely affect, or increase the awareness of God in your life. When we celebrate Christmas, Christians are mindful of the birth of our Lord Jesus. We celebrate Easter in remembrance of His triumphant resurrection. On the contrary to celebrate Halloween for what it stands for other than an opportunity of possible Christian outreach to the lost is to give glory to a defeated foe; why would a Christian want to do that? To make an effort to observe a specific day as a Sabbath day and hold people accountable to that day is to put them back under the law. In Galatians 4:8-11 Paul questions why the Galatians, after having known the truth, would put themselves under such weak and beggarly elements; which is to go back under bondage by observing days, months, seasons, and years? I wonder has a Seventh Day Adventist ever read Colossians 2:14-17; if so there must be a veil of deception still over their eyes.
What is the Sabbath and how does it apply to Christians today? The Sabbath is not just a single day as in the Old Testament; it is our season of rest from religious works because of Jesus’ perfect work on the cross.
Colossians 2:16b-17 “16 a So let no one judge you in food or in drink, b or regarding a festival or a new moon or Sabbaths, 17 which are a shadow of things to come, but the substance is of Christ.”
Most Christians can agree to some point with the first four items listed in verse 16, but there is still a split in the body of Christ over the meaning of the Sabbath and when to observe the Sabbath. In its strictest term Sabbath is a specific day of rest proclaimed by the Law of Moses in Exodus 16:26, “Six days you shall gather it, but on the seventh day, which is the Sabbath, there will be none". The seventh day of the week was originally set aside by God from His works in Genesis 2:2, “And on the seventh day God ended His work which He had done, and He rested on the seventh day from all His work which He had done”. Note of interest: When God finished His work on earth at the end of the sixth day and rested on the seventh, nowhere else in the bible does it say that God started working again on anything else here on earth. He finished and is at rest from His work leaving the rest to us. There are other references in the bible for the seventh day, seventh month, and seventh year and all are related to rest from works, but Moses was the first to declare it as a holy day dedicated unto the Lord as originally stated in Exodus 16:26. There are 61 references to the Sabbath in the Old Testament and all relate to rest from works and either indicate or point to that day as a non-work holy day to God. However, the first of 52 references in the New Testament is in Matthew 12:1 and of all people, Jesus, born under the Law allowed His disciples to break the “no work rule” by picking grain from the fields. It is obvious the disciples were not consecrating that day unto God, but did make the decision to be in the presence of Jesus. That concept was greatly misunderstood by the people in Jesus’ day and still is today. Matthew 12:8, Mark 2:28, and Luke 6:5, proclaim that Jesus is Lord over the Sabbath. To be in the presence of Jesus is to be in Sabbath, or “at rest” from your religious works to gain righteousness with God. In all four of the gospels Jesus is accused by the Pharisees of breaking the Sabbath because He “worked” by healing people on that day. For those Christians and non-Christians alike who chose to “fight” over which day is the Sabbath and consecrated to God, I have to ask, which one of you are going to join the Pharisees in accusation of Jesus? Since the resurrection of Jesus, Christians are to live daily in Sabbath which is rest from religious works in any effort to gain righteousness.
It is obvious that something has changed from the Old Testament to the New Testament and Christians to a point understand what that change is; the death of our Lord and Savior Jesus which sets us free from the bondage of the Law. The problem still lies with legalists today trying to blend both Jewish law and God’s grace into their own brand of “part work/part grace religion”. This is predominantly what Christianity looks like today, but was also a problem in Paul’s day as the Colossians were moving into Gnosticism. Those who hold the “Sabbath” today in the strictest since know that Sunday is not the true Sabbath or seventh day of the week; it is Saturday. This is even funnier in that those Christians who chose to argue that Sunday is the Sabbath day and the true day to worship God are actually “fighting” against the very Law of Moses they are trying to uphold. Sunday rest/worship started in the United States with the Pilgrims. During the Industrial Revolution when people came out of the fields of working their own land to live and into factories to earn a living, they kept the tradition thereby leaving Sunday the most prevalent day for people to attend church and have a day of rest from the factory; end of story. There is no other reason the majority of churches in the United States have their “main” services on Sunday other than that was the dedicated day of rest in this country for factory workers. The book of Acts is the last book the word Sabbath is used and it was the day the Jews went to synagogue and we read in Acts that is when Paul tried to teach the gospel of Jesus’ death and resurrection for our salvation to the Jewish people.
It is good to rest and refresh ourselves from our natural work, and therefore, to have a rest day is good. There is a day of rest for God’s people to enter into, but under the New Covenant it is not a specified day of the week. Nowhere in the New Testament is there a specific day set aside and called our “holy day” to enter into the Lord’s presence or go to church. Jesus covered this when He spoke of how we will worship God in the spirit, as He told the Samaritan woman at the well in John Chapter 4. The true Sabbath and day of rest is explained in Hebrews Chapter 4 and references to the Day of our Lord which began at the death of Jesus and was consecrated at His resurrection. The day we accept Jesus as our Lord and Savior is the day we enter into the Day of Rest or Sabbath from our religious works of trying to please God in effort to be in His presence.
Verse 16 & 17 sum up this truth; everything and every law from the Old Testament is merely a shadow of things to come. Go stand outside in the sun and try to hold on to a shadow. A shadow is not real nor does it have substance. A shadow is actually the absence of light blocked by something that is real which is in the way of the light beams. Jesus is the light, as first proclaimed by Simeon as read in Luke 2:32 when Simeon saw and held baby Jesus in his arms while in the temple, and proclaimed by Jesus Himself in John 8:12 & 9:5. Christ Jesus is the complete substance of our salvation and rest from spiritual works to please God. In Him we worship God both in Spirit and in truth. When a man stands in the presence and the light of Jesus and then tries to hold his fellow believers accountable for Laws of Moses, man’s doctrines, ways of life, and so forth, what they are actually doing is casting their shadow over their fellow Christians and blocking the true light which is from Jesus. People who do this are actually making their fellow Christians look at them instead of pointing them to the true light which is from Jesus. Go to church on Sunday and or any other day your church is open to learn more of the Word of God, but most of all learn to rest in your faith in Jesus as your Lord and savior, the author and finisher of your salvation, Hebrews 5:9, 12:2.
Every time a Christian is made to feel condemned, or unworthy, or encouraged to put more effort into their personal walk with Christ toward the “appearance” of a righteousness; their reward that Jesus paid for with His own life is being stolen from them by the Devil. This is true even if the condemnation, unworthiness, or encouragement to work harder or do more comes from the pulpit.
Colossians 2:18-19 “18 Let no one cheat you of your reward, taking delight in false humility and worship of angels, intruding into those things which he has not seen, vainly puffed up by his fleshly mind, 19 and not holding fast to the Head, from whom all the body, nourished and knit together by joints and ligaments, grows with the increase that is from God.”
We have a reward in heaven as well as here on earth for being a child of God walking by faith and not by sight. There are many people today who are no different than the Pharisees of old who lift themselves up with their preaching of humility in works, or recognition of angels or angelic teachings and imposing the same on those who chose to follow such folly. There is no spiritual fruit to self-imposed humiliation or worship of angels. In fact it will pull you from an understanding of God’s grace. Just as there is no fruit in abstinence of food or drink, or recognition of festivals, new moons, or Sabbaths as Paul spoke of in verse 16. The true biblical fact regarding worship of angels is found in Revelations 19:10, 22:8-9 which forbids worship of anything but God. Don’t confuse true humility which is godly, with false humility which is actually a prideful showing of a humble appearance.
It would be impossible for the bible to mention everything the Devil can deceive us with, but as long as we look into the perfect will of God and His word and maintain our understanding to line up with His word; staying out of gray areas we will be easy. Paul has recognized that some, and I believe many today, are going into spiritual places that they have not seen and should not go. What Paul is referencing to is preached doctrine that does not line up with the gospel of Jesus Christ and Him crucified. Without the Bible and specifically the New Testament as our guidepost it is easy for Satan to twist enough of God’s word to create another pseudo religion. Without the Holy Spirit active in a believers life, revealing God’s true written word to us, we leave ourselves open for man’s interpretation and Satan will always get in the way.
In verse 19 Paul is driving home the importance of recognizing Jesus completely for who He is; God manifest in the flesh. Without recognizing Jesus for His deity, the price He paid for our sin would not have been enough which would leave our salvation open for additional works. But since Jesus is our Lord and savior He is the Head of the body of Christ; the church. Looking to Jesus instead of doctrines of man actually knits us together where we can truly grow with increase which is from God.
If you have died with Christ from the basic principles of the world, why do you subject yourself to man’s regulations of do not touch, do not taste, do not handle, only worship on this day, only wear this type of clothes, don’t wear makeup, etc?
Colossians 2:20-23 “20 Therefore, if you died with Christ from the basic principles of the world, why, as though living in the world, do you subject yourselves to regulations-- 21 "Do not touch, do not taste, do not handle," 22 which all concern things which perish with the using--according to the commandments and doctrines of men? 23 These things indeed have an appearance of wisdom in self-imposed religion, false humility, and neglect of the body, but are of no value against the indulgence of the flesh.
Verses 20-22 present a hard question which flies in the face of many Christians holding on to the doctrines of men called denominations. All of the rules and regulations, regarding our “can and can not’s”, are man made and have not come from God. Since they came from man they came from man’s mind which is enmity to God, Romans 8:7, and therefore anti-Christ, Matthew 24:24. 1 John 3:23 – 4:3 is very clear that the only commandments for us today are to believe on the name of God’s Son Jesus, and to love one another as Jesus loves us. If we keep His commandments we abide in Him, and if we follow another doctrine with rules and regulations we are following after an antichrist. If we blend a mixture of the gospel of Jesus’ perfect work on the cross with any legalism, rules, regulations, or doctrines we are actually blending the gospel of Jesus with an antichrist. I wish I could make it softer than it is, but this is life threatening. This concept and understanding is at the crux of what Paul was confronting nearly 2000 years ago in both Galatians and Colossians, and the Devil has managed to keep it alive in the minds of spiritually weak men and women through the centuries. Many Christians fall prey to keeping up their godly appearances for other Christians and people in the world, over walking in Godly principles before their Lord. A person who confesses Jesus as their Lord and Savior with the full understanding that He died for their sins, rose again and now sits at the right hand of God, has on that belief died to their own sins. Romans 6:6, knowing this, that our old man was crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves of sin. Christians are spiritually brand new; it is our minds that need renewing daily and not our spirit. How can Christians having confessed Jesus as their Lord and Savior read these verses and count the blood of Jesus as “less than” and go back into don’t touch, don’t look, don’t listen, dress this way, say these things, worship on this day only, don’t do that, you must do this, etc, unless they have bought the deception of false teachings from the Devil delivered by a preacher. We are called to walk by faith and not by sight, (2 Corinthians 5:7).
In Galatians 2:20 Paul states, have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me. This “live by faith” Paul has mentioned is the faith that if I stumble into sin, Christ has paid the price for and the Devil cannot hold it against me to keep me from God. If the Devil can no longer hold you’re stumbling into sin against you, why are you allowing a man or man’s doctrine to do the same? Why do Christians strive to maintain their appearance of righteousness, instead of resting in Jesus’ righteousness? In fact Christians stumble into sin because of the law, but the power of God’s grace will help them live in His presence and absent from the call of sin. Christians striving to maintain an appearance of righteousness are actually putting on a show to the world around them about how righteous they “think” they are. It is all about show! There is not another price to be paid, it’s done! If you stumble all you have to do is get back up and keep walking in the faith of our Lord Jesus and trust in His love for you and stop leaning on your own works. If fact the more you lean on works the more likely you will fall into sinful actions, but if you are leaning on Jesus where do you think you will fall; into His arms.
Indulgence of the flesh is the primary reason man falls into a “works” mentality or lifestyle in effort to be godly; this will not work, even a little. If there is even the tiniest remote possibility that a person on their own can abstain from sin and thereby make themselves worthy of being in the presence of God, then Jesus died in vain and the Law of Moses would have not been replaced. Is it good to learn and practice godly habits as a Christian, yes? Will practicing Godly habits increase your faith, no? Hearing the word of God, (Romans 10:17) and looking into Jesus through studying the word of God, (Hebrews 12:2) coupled with the Holy Spirit revealing the word of God to you, (John 14:26) is the only way to increase your faith. In fact we do not need more faith, we need less doubt in our lives and sin and legalism both breed doubt. The more you learn of how much God loves you; that increase of understanding will strengthen you the next time sin tries to entice you.
I believe Christians continue to stumble and even stay in sin because they do not have the full understanding in their hearts regarding what God has done for them or the price Jesus has paid for their sins. This is nothing more than sheer spiritual ignorance which can be overcome. Living by harsh rules in effort to destroy the power of sin over oneself only increases the sin consciousness and thereby increases the strength of sin over the flesh, (1 Corinthians 15:56). Constantly looking at what you do, and do not want to do in effort to not do it, only keeps you focused on what you do not want to do and interferes with your focused on Jesus. This is summed up best through Romans 8:5-8, 5 For those who live according to the flesh (sin consciousness) set their minds on the things of the flesh (how to overcome their sin), but those who live according to the Spirit (walking by faith), the things of the Spirit (Jesus Christ and Him crucified). 6 For to be carnally minded (thinking of things in the natural) is death, but to be spiritually minded (meditating on the things of God) is life and peace. 7 Because the carnal mind is enmity against God; for it is not subject to the law of God, nor indeed can be. 8 So then, those who are in the flesh (working out their own salvation in their minds and living by their harsh rules) cannot please God. 9 But you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you. (Emphasis in bold are mine)
With God all things are possible, but I do not know how a Christian can live in the spirit without having the Holy Spirit present and allowing Him to be active in their lives. I tried for the first ten years of my born again life while attending a denomination church that did not teach about the Holy Spirit. Teaching about the Trinity and not including the power of the Holy Spirit is like trying to ride a tricycle without the front wheel. It can be done, but the rider has to stay perfectly balanced in a wheelie and constantly peddle to maintain. Where is the rest in Jesus while in that state? That is the reason works appear to be the easier way to righteousness over walking by faith because works gives you something to do, but God simply wants you to “be” in Christ
If you set your mind on things in the flesh you are living in the flesh. But if by the spirit you set your mind on the things of the spirit you are living in the spirit.
Colossians 3:1-3 “1 If then you were raised with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God. 2 Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth. 3 For you died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God”.
Here lies the answer to the question and confrontation Paul posed in Colossians Chapter 2:2023. The word raised is an important emphasis in that Paul could have just as easily said “if you are in Christ” which is also true. To be raised is to be elevated from one level to another; it is always going up to a higher level. Being raised means not staying on the same level you started, but to go up to the next level. We have been lifted out of the pit of sin and up into the presence of God through our faith in His Son Christ Jesus. Think about this in the natural; if you take an elevator to the second floor furniture department and have left the first floor clothing department, would you waste your time looking for a new coat in the sofa aisle? This may seem like a “duh” question yet Christians do this daily in their walk with Jesus. We are raised up with Christ at the right hand of God, but many are still looking down to natural understanding for worldly answers on how to live in the presence of God which they are already in. Just in case there is any doubt that Jesus is at the right hand of God, there are eleven different verses from Matthew to 1 Peter that explicitly state that Jesus is at the right hand of God. And we cannot doubt that believers are “in Christ” since there are fifteen direct verses stating we are “in Christ”; yet there is a large and possibly majority of Christians still working out their own salvation in the flesh. Sitting in the presence of God, but looking down to the beggarly elements of works and religion in effort to gain or maintain righteousness with God is sad!
Paul tells us in Romans 8:5-6, For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit. 6 For to be carnally minded is death, but to be spiritually minded is life and peace. As Christians unless we fully grasp what Jesus’ perfect work on the cross accomplished, by nature we stay carnal in our thinking.
Verse 2 is the answer to overcoming the fleshly mindset of works over sin for righteousness. Philippians 4:8 tells us this, “Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy--meditate on these things”. Paul tells Philemon in verse 6 “that the sharing of your faith may become effective by the acknowledgment of every good thing which is in you in Christ Jesus”. Paul is saying that the way our faith can be seen in our life is through our recognition and meditation on what is inside of us, Christ Jesus and Him crucified for our sins. We should be looking to the word of God to understand who we are and who Christ Jesus is in us, and not at how we have fallen short in our actions or how to naturally prevent our sin nature from taking over.
The Devil didn’t make you do it, but your lack of understanding of what God did through Jesus allows you to sin. Even if you stumble in sin you have not fallen from grace, because it was never our absence from sin that allowed us to receive grace in the first place. John 3:16 tells us that God so loved the world (a sin filled world) that He gave His only begotten Son for our salvation. Ephesians 2:8 & 9, “8 For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, 9 not of works, lest anyone should boast”. Grace comes before salvation which means sin cannot keep you from grace. Don’t let the thought of your sin keep you from living in the grace God has already extended. The more you understand how much God loves you and the full price Jesus paid on the cross for you, the less pull sin has on your life. Use the grace extended to you by God and your belief in Jesus as your Lord and Savior to strengthen you in righteousness and you will eventually stop acting out your natural sin thoughts. Who is going to accuse you before God regarding your sin when Jesus has already died and paid the price for your forgiveness?
Grace was given to us by the measure of Jesus Christ’s faith.
Ephesians 4: 4-7, 4,There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called in one hope of your calling; 5 one Lord, one faith, one baptism; 6 one God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all. 7 But to each one of us grace was given according to the measure of Christ's gift.
Verse four is the cement of truth for why we should “keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace” from verse three. There is only one body of Christ not multiple body parts of Christ called denominations. One Lord, one faith (John 14:6), “Jesus said to him, "I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me”. One baptism, (Acts 19:4, 5) 4 “Then Paul said, "John indeed baptized with a baptism of repentance, saying to the people that they should believe on Him who would come after him, that is, on Christ Jesus." 5 When they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus”. This is the baptism of salvation, and is the most important action a believer in Jesus can take. There is a second baptism which Jesus first spoke of, and Paul emphasized throughout his letters; the Baptism of the Holy Spirit. Some people believe the Holy Spirit baptism is optional for the born again believer, but according to Jesus Himself, this is necessary (John 14:16, 14:16, 15:26, 16:7, Acts 1:4 & 5). There is only one God, but the fact the He wants to be our father, as well as, our God should be very humbling and uplifting at the same time. Uplifting in that even though He is omnipotent, and above all others, He chooses to be a Father to us and have a Fathers relationship with us, His children. Humbling because He also is in all of us, “You are of God, little children, and have overcome them, because He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world”, 1 John 4:4. In 1 Corinthians 6:19, we are told that we, individually are the temple of the Holy Spirit; in 2 Corinthians 6:16 we are told that the those who gather together in Christ as a church, are the temple of the Holy Spirit; in 1 Corinthians 3:13 we are told that the body of Christ, the church, is the temple of the Holy Spirit. All three are true and confirmed by Jesus when He says, “For where two or three are gathered together in My name, I am there in the midst of them". Romans 8:11 is confirmation that individually we are also the temple of the Holy Spirit.
The greatest truth for the purpose of the body of Christ to be in unity is that God is no respecter of persons, (Acts 10:34, Romans 2:11), “But to each one of us grace was given according to the measure of Christ's gift”. Each one that accepts Jesus as their Lord and savior receives the same gift of grace according to the measure of Christ. What is the measure of Christ? He gave us His all, His life, so that we may have life and life more abundantly, (John 10:10). His gift of salvation was without restraint, and has no exceptions, it is complete. “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning”, is how James 1:17 says this. The word declares the Jesus dies on the cross for our salvations and in Ephesians 2:8 the word assures us that “by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is a gift of God”.
Why is it that God can show us this great level of grace and we show so little to our fellow brother or sister in the Lord? This is because natural human thinking is to walk by sight and not by faith, which is contradictory to 2 Corinthians 5:7. From birth through all of life we are taught what we must do to get a pat on the head and not a pat on the seat of the britches. We clearly see and know what is wrong when we look at fellow Christian’s actions, but choose to judge ourselves by our good intentions. We cannot beat ourselves up for this way of learned thinking, but we must change our thought process to line up with the word of God. We can only do this by washing our minds in the word of God. In the book of Philemon Paul is stirring up the faith in Philemon to do the right thing regarding Onesimus, a returning runaway slave who, at the hand and teaching of Paul, is now Philemon’s fellow brother in Christ. By Jewish law a runaway slave must be stoned if found; Paul having been raised by the Pharisees is painfully aware of this. Instead of keeping Onesimus, Paul uses the opportunity to help Philemon stir up his own gift of grace. Verse 4-7 reads, “I thank my God, making mention of you always in my prayers, 5 hearing of your love and faith which you have toward the Lord Jesus and toward all the saints, 6 that the sharing of your faith may become effective by the acknowledgment of every good thing which is in you in Christ Jesus. 7 For we have great joy and consolation in your love, because the hearts of the saints have been refreshed by you, brother”.
When we acknowledge everything good thing that is in us as a result of the gift given to us by the measure of Christ’s gift, then not only is our head lifted, but we are able to extend the same grace to a fellow saint who may have not done right by us. This is the unity of faith that God wants His church to walk in.
The ascension gifts of apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors, and teachers were given to men to edify the saints for the work of the ministry, not as a form of hierarchy for church government. They should be respected, but should never command respect or recognition. To edify is to lift up and encourage not put down nor tower over. As gifts to the church they should be a blessing and not a burden for upkeep.
Ephesians 4: 8 & 11, 8, Therefore He says: "When He ascended on high, He led captivity captive, And gave gifts to men. 11 And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers.
When Jesus was raised from the dead and was seated at the right hand of God he sent the Holy Spirit to all believers who would receive Him. Knowing that His church, His body, did not automatically have all the wisdom, knowledge, and understand to grasp such a precious gift, He also gave us the fivefold ministry as another tangible gift. You cannot see salvation and you cannot see the Holy Spirit, but you can see and recognize the signs and wonders that follow a Spirit filled believer.
Over the centuries these offices in the church have taken on different roles and from time to time man gets involved and turns things upside down by claiming these “gifts” to be seats of authority over the “laity”. Over the past thirty years I have watched the fivefold ministries get turned up on their edge with the gift of apostle at the top and the gift of teacher at the bottom, creating a pseudo hierarchal form of church government. This is not what Jesus gave His life for, nor intended when He gave the church these gifts. True within the church body there needs to be order because God is not the author of confusion. There also needs to be respect given to the people called into one of these ministries as they have chosen to give up their personal wants in order to be a vessel in the hands of God. But that is exactly what they are, a vessel. During the life of Paul’s ministry, he moved in each of these gifts, some, one at a time, others in conjunction with each other. Today is no different.
To understand the difference we need to look at Jewish history and the position of the Pharisee. Jesus often confronted them on their manmade form of government, and even called them whitewashed tomes. They took on positions of “seen” authority even showing honor to themselves among themselves. Paul challenges this thinking in 2 Corinthians 10:8 & 9, “For even if I should boast somewhat more about our authority, which the Lord gave us for edification and not for your destruction, I shall not be ashamed- 9 lest I seem to terrify you by letters”. Paul is recognizing that his authority is for edification and not destruction. He had written heavy letters on occasion with the intent of getting a church back on track and out of legalism or sin. He never used his authority as control or for personal recognition. He was even concerned that his letters would be seen as terrifying, when in fact without his corrections, the church would have fallen away from grace back into works. Galatians 1:6 is an example of Paul’s correction to the church. Paul further uncovers the false level of hierarchy that the Pharisees walked in and was growing within the body of Christ in 2 Corinthians 10:12-17, 12, For we dare not class ourselves or compare ourselves with those who commend themselves. But they, measuring themselves by themselves, and comparing themselves among themselves, are not wise. 13 We, however, will not boast beyond measure, but within the limits of the sphere which God appointed us--a sphere which especially includes you. 14 For we are not overextending ourselves (as though our authority did not extend to you), for it was to you that we came with the gospel of Christ; 15 not boasting of things beyond measure, that is, in other men's labors, but having hope, that as your faith is increased, we shall be greatly enlarged by you in our sphere, 16 to preach the gospel in the regions beyond you, and not to boast in another man's sphere of accomplishment. 17 But he who glories, let him glory in the Lord. 18 For not he who commends himself is approved, but whom the Lord commends.
Our glory is in the Lord not our position within the church. It is God who commends us and not on our works or position, but on our faith in Jesus and the salvation He paid for with His life.
To better understand why these gifts given to the church are not to be used in a hierarchal fashion, but are actually positions of equal servitude to the body of Christ; we need to look at what Jesus told His disciples while He was here on earth. In Matthew Chapter 20 the mother of the sons of Zebedee had come to Jesus pleading for positions of authority from Jesus when He comes into His kingdom. We further read where the other disciples became displeased with this request and this is probably because they were hoping for one of the positions themselves. In Matthew 20:25 – 28 is Jesus’ answer to their request for authority positions within His church, “25 But Jesus called them to Himself and said, "You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and those who are great exercise authority over them. 26 Yet it shall not be so among you; but whoever desires to become great among you, let him be your servant. 27 And whoever desires to be first among you, let him be your slave-- 28 just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many". (Emphasis in bold, mine) Mark 10:4245 is a similar recount of the same event in time, but Mark states that those who desire to become great among you shall be your servant.
The fivefold ministry is not an “Amway” pyramid type of hierarchy, but rather a pyramid turned upside down. Instead of having a point at the bottom there is a solid foundation of the original apostles with Jesus as the chief cornerstone, (Matthew 21:42). Those of us called into the ministry should see ourselves at the bottom of this pyramid, supported solely by Jesus and the apostolic foundation. The church was purchased by His blood. We are His “gifts given” to the church for the edification and building up of faith to all who God sends our way. Even today a person called into the ministry can and should be willing to operate in all five offices. If a church is blessed to have more than one person filling these five positions then their foundation is stronger, providing there is not a fight for position. We all have an equal opportunity to come boldly to the throne of God; we are all in Christ Jesus sitting at the right hand of God. We all must have the same faith in Jesus and the salvation He purchased with His blood. No one person is closer to God, but there is the ability to have a deeper understanding and relationship with Him. This ability is equally available to all of the saints, and in fact is the will of God. There is only one true Sheppard, Jesus. The fivefold ministry are gifts, and a gift should bring you joy, not a burden. A gift should edify you, not cause you to feel bad about yourself. The word tells us that a true ministerial gift should receive double honor, because of their hearts desire to serve, work, and build up your faith and understanding in God, not just because of their position in the church, (1 Timothy 5:17).
Yes order must remain in the church and there must be a level of authority regarding the day to day business of a church or ministry. However, God is not mocked, church leaders will be held accountable for their actions in their day of judgment (1 Corinthians 3:13-15). Honor those who bless you and toil in the word and in prayer for you knowing that this pleases God. If the body of Christ, the church, can get this deep into our understanding, allowing the Holy Spirit to truly lead, and step away from this modern day Pharisee way of life, we would be able to witness separation and strife leave the body of Christ.
History shows that man has misunderstood these gifts of the fivefold ministry since they were written 2000 years ago. Men and women continue to wear these gifted offices as monikers of hierarchy commanding respect and notoriety, instead of taking on the role of servant as Jesus did when He walked on this earth. Those who lean toward insisting on being recognized and severed instead of being the one to edify and serve others is in essence saying they are better than Jesus.
Ephesians 4: 12 – 14, 12 for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ,13 till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ; 14 that we should no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting.
In verse 11 we studied out that Jesus gave the church the fivefold ministry as gifts of apostle, prophet, evangelist, pastor, and teacher. Verse 12 tells us why this was done and confirms the fact that the fivefold ministry is not for rulership over the church, but rather for building up, edifying. In 1 Corinthians 12:28 when Paul is teaching about the spiritual gifts, he mentions “first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healings, etc. In verse 29 - 30 he indicates that not everyone is called to one of these offices, and some people use verse 12:28 to establish their take on a hierarchal church leadership. Ask yourself this, how does a church begin unless, “first”, someone hears from God to go into an area and start it, “an apostle”? How does that church grow unless someone that knows and lives the word of God, speaks into it, “a prophet”? The one starting the church could also be the one that prophesies into the church. How do the new church members grow up unless someone with the knowledge of the word of God starts teaching? What we have in verse 12:28 is the order Jesus has set forth for the building up of His church. Could someone go into an empty building and just start speaking in tongues and all of a sudden a congregation appears? If someone has a gift of administrations and there is only a couple of people attending the service of a newly started church, what church business are they going to administrate? Verse 12:28 is giving us the order of how to grow churches and get His word out to the world. Paul tells us to desire the best gifts in verse 31, knowing that through this desire Jesus will lift up people from the church to fulfill these offices as the church grows and church expansion calls for a new planting of another church. “and yet I show you a more excellent way”, In the last half of verse 31 Paul is preparing us for the true reason for the gifts given to the church, Chapter 13, “the love chapter”. We are called to love our brothers as we love ourselves, regardless of what race they were born into, or religion they came from, or what position in life a person holds, be it wealthy and powerful, or a slave, we are called to love one another. Loving one another is the “only” way the world can distinguish Christianity from any other religion. Every religion has a god, and every religion has their way to heaven that they think is the right way, whether it is here on earth or in some celestial place, but followers of Jesus, whom the world named the early Christians as a derogatory remark, are called to love one another over anything else on earth. This can only be possible through, “12 “for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ, 13 till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ”.
We will never come to a perfect man while here on earth, nor fully understand the measure of stature of the fullness of Christ. As we grow in our knowledge of the Son of God we will come into an understanding of what unity of faith truly is. That is the purpose of the gifts of the fivefold ministry. As long as we stay ignorant of the grace of God through the sacrifice of Jesus, we stay stuck in our carnal thinking we will never understand our purpose here on earth. Unity of faith is not where a congregation purposes to think and act like the pastor does, living and working for the overall good of their church. That way of thinking borders cultism. Unity of faith is understanding that if Jesus laid down his life for “everyone” in this world both born before Him and those of us born after His resurrection, then that is the kind of love we should reach for in our own walk as followers of Christ toward everyone, not just those in our church. As we grow in faith and understand of the word of God, than we will no longer be childish in our spiritual understanding. By increasing in the knowledge of the true word of God, we can no longer be swayed by the next phase of religious mumbo jumbo that comes our way. How sad it must be for Jesus to watch the children of God, whose sins were paid for by His blood, sitting in various churches dying on the vine being fed man’s doctrine instead of the true word of God. Romans 3:4 “let God be true and every man a liar”. This may seem hard to hear, but if anyone teaches that Jesus was just a man and denies that He was in fact God that came down to earth “as a man”, that His life and even more His death was to pay for our sins, and that He has been resurrected from the dead, seated at the right hand of God making intercession for us, then those people teaching against these truths are “antichrist” (1 John 2:18, 2:22, 4:13, 2 John 1:7) In Galatians 1:6 Paul confronts the Galatians for turning away from the true gospel and back into legalism and man’s wisdom. They were children being tossed to and fro by every wind and doctrine. This is sad for the Christian to turn away from the true gospel, but it is a curse on those teaching false doctrine as declared by Paul in Galatians 8 & 9, “8 But even if we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel to you than what we have preached to you, let him be accursed. 9 As we have said before, so now I say again, if anyone preaches any other gospel to you than what you have received, let him be accursed”. Paul is so strong in his stand against false doctrine that he is even adding his name to the list as cursed if he were ever to start preaching anything other than what he first preached to the Galatians, the gospel of Jesus Christ.
Paul’s word in Galatians 1:8 & 9 lines up with the verses in 1 & 2 John which is an important point to recognize. Satan is a liar and the father of all lies, John 8:44. When Satan tempted Jesus in the wilderness after He had gone forty days without food or water, he used scriptures from the word of God that were taken out of context. If Jesus had not known the truth of God’s word He could have fallen for the lies. We have to understand that even a partial truth is the same as a lie. We must remember that when we read the last half of verse 14, “by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting”, that it may not be the actual person consciously trying to trick or deceive God’s people, but rather the devil working through their misunderstanding of the word. Jesus warned His disciples in Matthew 16:6 to be aware of the leaven of the Pharisees. Paul in 1 Corinthians 5:6 and Galatians 5:9 tell us that even a little leaven, “or lie”, leavens the whole lump. (or lie, emphasis mine) Deuteronomy 19:15, Matthew 18:16 and John8:17 give us a rule of thumb for establishing the truth of God’s word, “By the witness of two or more a matter shall be established”. By understanding this concept we can better protect ourselves when we hear a preached word that does not set well with our spirit or we do not understand. We are to just sit and accept everything we hear, but are called to search the word for ourselves, one to confirm that the preached word lines up with the Spirit and two by doing so we make the true preached word our own. There is no place in the kingdom of God to ride in on another’s coattails. We will all stand before the Lord Jesus some day and He will not accept the story, “but my pastor taught me so” as we are being personally held accountable for our walk here on earth. Jesus wants us to have a personal relationship with Him so that when we do reach heaven and face Him face to face He can tell us “well done”.
Unity of faith is when we all come to the full understanding of what Jesus truly did on the cross for us 2000 years ago. As Christians we have limited understanding of just how much authority we have in the spirit realm of our lives. Nor do we fully understand that the spirit real supersedes the natural.
Ephesians 4:13 & 14, 13, till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ; 14 that we should no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting,
Till we all come to the unity of faith; this is the heart cry of our Lord and the very thing the enemy must prevent. We have no idea the power we have in the spirit world on an individual basis as children of God. John 14:14, Jesus tells us that if we ask anything in His name He will do it. When we couple this truth with the scripture which encourages us that we have the keys to bind and loose, then on those two scriptures a believer could walk in total victory. (Matthew 18:18) I know this sounds too simple to be true and on one hand it is. We have so much junk in our minds called religious doctrine the word stays distorted. But that does not deflate the fact that we are as Jesus here on earth, with the same power He had. “O you of little faith”, is the phrase Jesus used often to his disciples. He is saying that to us as well. Imagine the sadness He must have in His heart to know the price He paid for us and yet to sit back and watch us not walk in His victory as we should. This can only happen by renewing our minds. The unity of faith spoken of in verse 13 has to do with the body of Christ having the same solid truth and understanding of God’s word. This unity would be detrimental to the activity of Satan if the church could come back together. Guiding the church into this unity is the only purpose of the gifts given by Jesus to the church as spoken of by Paul in verses 11 & 12. By not settling for just listening to the preached word, but rather study and meditate on what you heard you will make the word your own. It is alive and able to separate bone from marrow. The word will change you into the Godly person your heart desires if it can only get past your mind and carnal thinking and down into your spirit. This is the very reason we are encouraged in Philippians 4:8 to meditate on whatever things are true, and pure, and lovely, and of a good report. This is how we renew our minds into the unity of the faith.
Renewal of the mind only happens as we begin and continue to grasp a solid knowledge of God. The Holy Spirit is ever ready to bring to mind those things of Jesus’ that have been promised to us, but He can only bring to mind what is already there. The main theme of Proverbs is focused on gaining wisdom, and in all of you’re getting, get understanding. (Proverbs 16:16) Just as we will never completely come into the full unity of Christ, we will never be a perfect man until we reach heaven. The same applies to the fullness of the stature of Christ, but that is no reason we should not purpose in our heart to reach toward that goal. Paul encourages us to not just run for the prize, but run in such a way that you will receive it. (1 Corinthians 9:24, Philippians 3:14) During the days of the early disciples is the same time period the Romans held their Olympic games. Since the Romans had so many gods and allowed everyone to worship these gods as they chose, the best way for a man to publicly proclaim his god as superior was to win the race in these games. Think about this, if he were to run with everything he had, and had trained himself with great diligence so he would win, then at the end of the race, in front of the thousands watching, he could proclaim his god as supreme and the one that gave him the power to win. What an awesome opportunity for anyone with a strong belief and such is the same for us now that choose to walk with Christ. We forget the hundreds of people that see us on a daily basis. We have the same opportunity to witness to them through our actions. There can and will be opportunities to use words as well. We need to remember that there are more bibles in more homes in the United States than any other book. Most of these people simply own a bible, but never open it or very little at best. Christians are the only exposure these people have to reading the bible and what they see in our actions reflects to them what they think the bible says. (Ouch) We, Christians, are living bibles to people who do not have a relationship with Jesus, what are they seeing in you. I know what they use to see in me and I am not proud of those early, not Spirit-filled days.
The purpose of strengthening our walk and renewing our minds so that we can come to the unity of faith: so that we can come to the knowledge of Christ: so that we can come to the stature of the fullness of Christ, is for one thing. “That we should no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting”. Some of the greatest tools Satan has are casting doubt, legalism, and partial or watered down truth preached from pulpits, and the separation of brothers in Christ through denominationalism. One of the terms I use is “sound biting” the bible. I heard that term first used many years ago regarding slanderous political add campaigns. When modern technologies gave us the ability to cut and paste spoken words from a person’s actual comment and twist them out of context to make it appear they said something altogether different. That is one of the primary methods of trickery used by Satan. Jesus had been in the wilderness forty days without food or water when Satan came to him with verses out of the bible to deceive Him. When Jesus knew the word and could not be deceived Satan left Him and the angels came to minister to Him. (Matthew 4:1-11) We must stay diligent in a good bible teaching church, become Spirit filled if not already, and study the word of God for ourselves. By leaving out any of these three actions we leave ourselves open for every wind and doctrine. I call it man’s hot air. This was my very Christian walk for the first ten years of becoming born again. The denomination I was raised in as a child used prayer and devotional pamphlets instead of the bible. The denomination I attended after I accepted Jesus as my Lord and savior and got baptized did not preach about the Holy Spirit and His power for Christians to walk in. Instead the pastor read many books and added a couple of scriptures to what he had read and gave it to us on Sunday followed by an alter call. When I found about the baptism of the Holy Spirit and began to attend a full gospel church, the pastor mixed legalistic doctrine from the Old Testament in with some truth found in the New. It was not until I began studying the word for myself that I was able to stop the chatter in my mind. I was no longer tossed to and fro.
Accept Jesus as your Lord and savior, if you have not; find a good church that not only teaches about the Holy Spirit, but encourages its members to receive the baptism in the Holy Spirit, and pick up the bible for yourself so you can make the word of God a part of your daily walk. It will change your life to live the fullest.
Speaking the truth in love to our brothers and sisters in Christ is not the poke in the eye as we see so often today. The word of God will knit us together in unity. But when a person allows the Devil to use him to poke others in the eye or create different doctrines of separation they are actually allowing their flesh to rule their own spirit.
Ephesians 4:15 & 16, 15, but, speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head--Christ-- 16 from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by what every joint supplies, according to the effective working by which every part does its share, causes growth of the body for the edifying of itself in love.
We all grow together. That may not sound profound to you, but when you realize that the unity of the church is where its true strength lies, then you will recognize that the church is like a chain; it is only as strong as its weakest link. Knowledge of the word of God is good, but without wisdom and understanding, the ability to speak the truth with love is not present. Sure we can see our brother in the Lord stumble and more often than not we will point out his sin to him and probably tell others in the process. We need to look at ourselves first. (Matthew 7:3 And why do you look at the speck in your brother's eye, but do not consider the plank in your own eye?) I recently heard a very good pastor visiting the US from Nigeria tell the church he was visiting, that America was not in a financial recession, but a spiritual recession which started in the pulpits. I wish I could argue with him, but knowing firsthand what I have heard from different preachers over the years, his words both hurt and made since. This is all the more reason I encourage people to study the word for themselves. Not to argue with what is preached, but to understand the truth. We must remember that all of us are broken clay vessels, pastors included. We all carry pressures of life around in us, and often pastor’s fall into the thinking that they cannot confide in or even go to be refreshed by another pastor. We can only grow up together by refilling our tanks daily. We can look at Americans and see that we do not miss many meals, but will miss church several times a week, and only carry the bible to church with little reading of it for ourselves.
Jesus paid a high price for our salvation and wants His church to grow up into a light to the world. We seem to have lost some of our glimmer. The light of the church has not gone out however; we can become that light again by fulfilling verse 16. We first must recognize that we are all one with Christ. What we bring to the table, so to speak, either builds up or pulls down the body. Every one of us supplies the church with something. If we bring in doubt, despair, anger, mocking, or any other sin into the church, than that is what we are supplying. However, even if we are stumbling in any of these areas, but bring in a heart’s desire to learn and grow up in the Lord, than we actually become partners with the pastor. A good Spirit filled pastor will always purpose to bring God’s word to the church and in their delivery they are handing it to us. Think about this, if I hand something heavy to you, at the furthest point from my body is when I am in the greatest physical strain. If you do not reach out to receive it I hold all of the weight, but if you reach out and take it from me then at that point we are joining our strength. As you pull it to yourself than I am freed up to pick up more and hand you more. The same works in church, you’re choosing to receive the preached word and go study it for yourself is partnering with the pastor. Only by growing up in the Lord can we truly encourage each other. In Ephesians 5:21, Paul tells us to submit to each other. He is not telling us to put ourselves in submissive positions to one another, but rather to share our hearts with each other so that we may pray for one another, encourage from one another, and build each other up in Christ by what each of us supplies. The more of God’s word and understanding is in you the more you can build up your brother in Jesus. The body can only grow with what “each” member supplies. 1 Corinthians 12:12-26 is a beautiful word picture of how the body of Christ supports and grows together. 1 Corinthians 13 is called the love chapter in that it teaches us that anything done without love is actually nothing at all. By building up our knowledge in the word and asking God for both wisdom and understanding we can learn to walk in the love toward each other, the same love God has for us.
When a Christian’s understanding of who they truly are in Christ is darkened or limited through legalism or lack of correct teaching, their natural tendency of going through this life is to act like the rest of the world. Self, becoming first over others; rules becoming more important than relationship; and desire to have what the things of this world has over the spiritual things what God wants them to have.
Ephesians 4:17-19, 17, This I say, therefore, and testify in the Lord, that you should no longer walk as the rest of the Gentiles walk, in the futility of their mind, 18 having their understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God, because of the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart; 19 who, being past feeling, have given themselves over to lewdness, to work all uncleanness with greediness.
These verses only make sense when you understand what a Gentile is from the Jewish perspective. In the body of Christ even those who are born Jewish, but have not accepted Jesus as their Lord and savior are as Gentiles; the uncircumcised in the heart. In the Old Testament the children of Israel were the ones chosen by God to receive the Law of Moses. It was through the tribe of Judah that their messiah, ours as well, was to be born which is Jesus. To the Jew everyone else in the world was considered a Gentile, a person without God or even access to God. Those who were not born of the children of Israel were left on their own, searching for the God hole in their hearts, but had no understanding who He was or how to look for Him. Every human has this emptiness inside which is why people, as a whole, are looking for something bigger than themselves to believe in. There are hundreds of gods worshiped in one form or another around the world, and consequently each has its own set of rules on how to worship. Walking by faith in what Jesus has done instead of a set of rules and walking in love, not only for each other but for everyone, are the two primary differences between Christianity and the rest of the religions in the world. Making up your own rules, living by situational ethics, and humanism is the futility of the mind that Paul is speaking of. We now know the truth, or at least have access to it. By building ourselves up in the Lord where we are no longer tossed to and fro by every wind and doctrine. Christians should no longer try to ascend to God in their mind or their actions which is useless. (Romans 8:7, “Because the carnal mind is enmity against God; for it is not subject to the law of God, nor indeed can be”.) A person cannot think or reason or work their way into heaven, much less into a right standing with God. Ezekiel 33:13 and Romans 3:10 assure us that there is no one righteous, not one. There is only one way to become righteous and have salvation. (Romans 10:8-10)
Why do people in the world act like they do, living only for the moment and desires of their fleeting thoughts and wants; because their conscience has been seared by the blindness of their heart. We all lived for ourselves before coming to Jesus, but once we become born again we should purpose to walk in a Christ like manor. Satan started a lie and much of the church has believed it in one form or another that we must first clean ourselves up before we can come to God. John 3:16 is the final answer to that lie. In the story of the prodigal son found in Luke chapter 15, when the father saw the son coming from afar, he ran to his son, fell on his neck and received him back. The father then put his ring and coat on his son as a sign of restoration from losing all of his inheritance from prodigal living. This is the picture of God’s love for all people. As soon as we turn toward Him and begin our journey home, He runs to us and restores us. It is God that will clean us up; all we need to do is be willing to make the small changes as He reviles them to us. We must understand that the blood of Jesus paid for all of our sins past, present, and future. Jesus is forever making intercession for us in heaven at the right hand of God. Put your hope in God and He will lift you up. (James 4:10)
Those who have accepted Jesus as their Lord and Savior should also begin to learn a new way of life. One of peace in the storm, fruit in the drought, and confidence in Jesus’ perfect work on the cross over their own actions of righteousness.
Ephesians 4:20-24, 20, But you have not so learned Christ, 21 if indeed you have heard Him and have been taught by Him, as the truth is in Jesus: 22 that you put off, concerning your former conduct, the old man which grows corrupt according to the deceitful lusts, 23 and be renewed in the spirit of your mind, 24 and that you put on the new man which was created according to God, in true righteousness and holiness.
Those who have accepted Jesus as their Lord and Savior have begun to learn a new way of life. Even those who have been born again and Spirit filled are still learning and growing in their knowledge and understanding of who Jesus is and who they are in Him. This is a process that comes in small steps which is another example of the grace of God. We may think our growth and change is too slow, but our natural thinking just takes time to change, however, in the spirit realm the change is immediate. People cannot handle immediate change in the natural, regardless which direction the person changes. Look at the lives of lottery winners. Very few actually enjoy what they have or even have anything left after a short period of time. A poor man has no idea how to handle and invest great sums of money and the natural mind is geared toward immediate satisfaction. Even people who earn their wealth, but do so quickly find themselves in an emotional turmoil. Look at the people in the movie industry, very few have peace in their heart even though they can and do buy whatever their eye sees. The same crash happens when a person loses their status in life from some kind of tragedy, most do not return from the pit. In Isaiah 28:9-13 the word tells us that our learning is slow and designed that way. In the days of Isaiah the children of Israel did not retain what they learned nor use it to draw closer to God. This is a prime example of the natural mind being enmity to God and unable to grasp spiritual things. Without the blood of Jesus to wash away our sins where God could change our stony hearts for one of flesh, (Ezekiel 36:26), we would not make the slow change either. Proof again that working toward salvation with rules and laws, or resting on good works to be better than the bad is futile. Through Jesus we find the only way to change, and those who accept the baptism of the Holy Spirit have the ultimate teacher to help with that change.
We have to be the one who changes our conduct as the Holy Spirit is a gentleman and will never force Himself or God’s ways on us. He will strengthen, guide and help us through those changes, John 14:26, but we have to put to action what we are taught and learn from our own study of God’s word. This statement of walking out our changes and resisting the actions of our old person is best described in Romans chapter six, the whole chapter. Our grace is real and salvation sure, therefore we are no longer under condemnation of death due to sin which is all the more reason to walk worthy of such a precious gift. Those who live as though they were not born again and have salvation do not fully understand the precious gift they have. When Jesus spoke to His disciples regarding the leaven of the Pharisees, He was referring to a little legalism leavens the gospel. If you apply this same statement to your personal life of living in sin, you can clearly see that even a little allowed sin will leaven your walk with Christ. We need to grasp this, “it is the goodness of God that leads you to repentance”. (Romans 2:4)
Verse 23 and be renewed in the spirit of your mind, 24 and that you put on the new man which was created according to God, in true righteousness and holiness”. Changing ourselves is not a onetime thing like our confession of salvation. Jesus died once for all of our sins past, present, and future, but our change must be practiced daily. Remember that it is our natural thinking that keeps us in a sin nature of actions. This is why we must allow the word of God to wash us from the inside out, not focus on the outside first. No one walking into a convenience store all of a sudden finds themselves robbing the store, the person meditated on it first. A man or woman will not wake up one morning and just go get in bed with someone else. They first had the thought, then meditated on the thought, then took the action when the thought reached the point of controlling the person. Our minds are like a computer that does not function well and has a continual window popping up at the wrong time. If you click off the window you can get back to what you need to be doing, if you study and give yourself over to the window you not only are off track from your original task, but will find yourself going places you never intended to go. This process is a lot like the steps of a person that has no control over their drinking. First the person takes a drink, then the drink will take a drink, then the drink will take the person. We must take control of our original thoughts and not continue in them. Just purposing to not practice the sin is not the answer. If all you are looking at is the sin action and how to stay away from it, the sin is still on your mind. This is the very reason the majority of people walking into an AA or NA meeting do not stay sober. Their sobriety is short lived in relationship to the rest of their lives. I know this first hand. I spent years calling myself an alcoholic that was sober for today and found myself constantly in fear of falling back into drinking. Drinking and not drinking was all I had on my mind. When I finally woke up and realized that “no matter where I went, there I was”, I realized it was me that needed the change, not my actions. Without salvation for cleansing of sin coupled, with the power of the Holy Spirit guiding us into all truth pertaining to God, we can never stay changed. Paul tells us how to do this in Philippians 4:6-9, with emphasis on verse 8 & 9. “6 Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; 7 and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. 8 Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy--meditate on these things. 9 The things which you learned and received and heard and saw in me, these do, and the God of peace will be with you”. The only thing that is true, noble, just, pure, lovely, has a good report or any virtue, or anything that is praise worthy, is the word of God and what He through Jesus on the cross has done for all who believe and confess Him as their Lord and savior. We must keep our mind on the word of God and this will not be possible if we only go to church and sit and listen to the preacher. Yes going to church and listening is a good thing, but only the beginning. Study the word of God and make it your own. Verse nine can actually be put into action by seeking a strong man or woman of God and learning how they live their life on a daily fashion.
Christians are human which is sometimes misunderstood. As humans we are never going to be or live perfect in this life. This does not give us the freedom to stop making every effort to grow and change. Learning to trust in Jesus’ perfect work on the cross will give us the peace and comfort to come to God for help when we do stumble.
Ephesians 4:25-32, 25, Therefore, putting away lying, "Let each one of you speak truth with his neighbor," for we are members of one another. 26 "Be angry, and do not sin": do not let the sun go down on your wrath, 27 nor give place to the devil. 28 Let him who stole steal no longer, but rather let him labor, working with his hands what is good, that he may have something to give him who has need. 29 Let no corrupt word proceed out of your mouth, but what is good for necessary edification, that it may impart grace to the hearers. 30 And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. 31 Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, and evil speaking be put away from you, with all malice. 32 And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God in Christ forgave you.
Everything in these verses is good to keep in mind during our daily walk. Since we are human we will stumble from time to time, but only those who do not pick themselves are the failures. God’s grace is just that. He is not watching us ready to zap us when we sin or stumble. The fact is it would be easier if He was that kind of God. Since we usually do not have an immediate adverse reaction to our stumbling, the devil can make us think we got by with it this time. Sin will eventually catch up with man in time and he just doesn’t know when that time is. God is after a relationship with us not our walking perfectly before Him. We couldn’t be perfect if we tried, that is why Jesus did for us. I do want to shed some light on the verse “be angry and do not sin.”
To be angry and do not sin is actually purposing to have a different mindset when something does come up that makes us angry. The emotion of anger is wired in us as a part of the “fight or flight” response. It is our first line of protection. Stress from daily life has brought out the anger side of society, but what you do with the initial thought is paramount. We can never stop a thought or emotion from coming, but we can control whether we continue thinking on it. From studying the word we understand that anger is the murder spirit and Jesus tells us that we should resist all aspects of this emotion, (Matthew 5:22). From the, “do not let the sun go down on your wrath”, Paul is telling us to resist dwelling on the event that caused the anger to come up. Forgiveness is the key to controlling this emotion. Matthew 6:14 & 15 is Jesus’ response to the model prayer He shared with His disciples, “Our Father in heaven, Hallowed be Your name. 10 Your kingdom come. Your will be done On earth as it is in heaven. 11 Give us this day our daily bread. 12 And forgive us our debts, As we forgive our debtors. 13 And do not lead us into temptation, But deliver us from the evil one. For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen. 14 "For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. 15 But if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses”. The key to letting go of anger is forgiveness. We certainly do not want what we disserve according to our past and present wrongful actions, so we need to try to see people from God’s eyes and not through our personal judgments.
We can have the best possible walk before God by looking to His word for advice in every situation in life. Two of the premier verses that have given me strength over the years are found in Philippians 4:69, and Philemon 1:6. 6 Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; 7 and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. 8 Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy-meditate on these things. 9 The things which you learned and received and heard and saw in me, these do, and the God of peace will be with you. Prayer with thanksgiving will open the door for communication with God and by meditating on Him and His word we gain strength in times of trials. All Christians want to be good witness for God, but we forget that our actions speak louder than our words. Philemon 1:6 is the very key to living a good testimony before other men, 6” that the sharing of your faith may become effective by the acknowledgment of every good thing which is in you in Christ Jesus”. In Genesis 12:2 the blessing God gave to Abraham so that he would be a blessing, extends to all of God’s children of promise. We are blessed by God so that we can be a blessing to the people God puts in our path. It is impossible to be a blessing to people when we are pronouncing curses on them while in our moment of anger, lust, stealing, or using corrupt language. “32 And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God in Christ forgave you”. This verse is for us to purpose to walk in toward everyone we see regardless of whether they are a fellow believer or not. If fact we are to build up each other with the word of God and encouragement and show the goodness of God to the world through our actions. After all it is the goodness of God that leads people to repentance.
You do not own your salvation, that was purchased by Jesus and He gave it to you. You cannot loose what you do not own, but you can give away that which you fully understand is yours.
Hebrews 6:4-6, “4 For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted the heavenly gift, and have become partakers of the Holy Spirit, 5 and have tasted the good word of God and the powers of the age to come, 6 if they fall away, to renew them again to repentance, since they crucify again for themselves the Son of God, and put Him to an open shame.”
The greatest debate within the body of Christ is actually the misunderstanding of the word of God and the Wolves in Sheep’s clothing allowing the Devil to twist the gospel of Jesus Christ into thinking one can simply “backslide to the point of losing their salvation”. Stumbling in sin or dying without confessing one’s sins is not going to send someone to Hell. Jesus in John 3:16-19 paints a clear cut path a person can take to become born again and have everlasting life. (See Hebrews 6:2-3) Romans 10:8-10 give us the simple way a person receives the salvation that Jesus’ death on the cross paid for. 8 But what does it say? "The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart" (that is, the word of faith which we preach): 9 that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.
Do you see any confession of your sins to the priest, pastor, or any other religious figure in these verses? Jesus paid the price and ALL we have to do is believe in Him and confess Him as our Lord and Savior. Jesus tells us in Matthew 10:32 that whoever confesses Him before men, He will confess before the Father. Psalms 23:7 tells us as a man thinks in his heart so is he. To think in your heart is to believe.
Once saved always saved is truer than most Christians and religious teachers want to believe. I believe all of this sin consciousness that is going on in the church today is actually from the Devil to keep God’s children thinking and living in bondage instead of the power of the gospel of Jesus Christ. So with this foundational understanding let’s look into verses 4-6 to see the five criteria a believer must fit into in order to give up their salvation.
1. For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened; PHOTIZO the Greek word for enlightened is to give light, to shine, to illumine, or to shed light on something that exists and make it become clear. In short when a person has their revelation that Jesus is truly real, loves them, and paid their sin debt they have become enlightened. Hence the born again experience or step one in the life of a believer.
2. and have tasted the heavenly gift; GEUOMAI the Greek word for tasted is to taste, try the flavor of, to partake, and to experience something personally. What this verse is saying is that the new born again believer, the one once simply enlightened to the truth of Jesus Christ has moved closer to Christ and has experienced His love for them personally. When a Christian experiences Jesus’ love personally it sets them closer in their own heart to Jesus. Not that He has been resisting them, or they are apart from Jesus in any manor, but they are learning to yield their heart over to the power of His love working in their life. Can you see the progression? The person who has tasted Jesus is also a person stronger in Jesus than a new born Christian.
3. and have become partakers of the Holy Spirit; Here is where most Christians fall short because of the misunderstood teachings about the Holy spirit that has come from the pulpit for century’s. Partakers; METOCHOS is Greek for sharing in, or partaking a partner. Jesus tells us in John 14:16 that He will pray the Father to give us another Helper and that this Helper would abide with us forever. In John 14:26 Jesus tells us this Helper will teach us all things and bring to remembrance all things Jesus has taught us. The Holy Spirit is the one who brings the Word of God to life in the heart of the believer. In John 15:26 Jesus tells us the Helper will testify of Jesus. This is greatly important in the life of a believer since the Devil’s sole purpose in life is to cause enough doubt that our unbelief undermines our faith. If he can cause us to go back into our old lifestyle, or turn to legalism, or man’s doctrine than we are no longer walking by faith where God’s power resides.
This third and progressive stage in a believer’s life is when they are taught and receive the baptism of the Holy Spirit which is the next step in drawing closer in our personal relationship with God through the blood of Jesus. The Christian begins to recognize their walk is more than just another religion, but is truly a revelation of the relationship God wants to have with us personally.
4. and have tasted the good word of God; Here is the same word tasted as in number two. To have tasted the Word of God is to have not only read it, but taken the time to meditate on it and allow it to sink in enough to become a part of who you are. Remembering that even in the natural a person is what they eat. If you eat junk food do not be surprised if you do not have the energy to fulfill your daily tasks or you become over weight. If you eat healthy food your body you can function better. When you digest the Word of God your spirit man becomes stronger, your revelation of truly what Jesus had done on the cross increases and your doubt in His power working in your life is decreased. This is of course providing you have received the Holy Spirit in criteria 3 and are being taught by someone who is also filled with the Holy Spirit. Remember that faith comes by hearing the word of God. Here is something very important to understand.
All scripture is for instruction and is from God, but all scripture does not point directly to the “gospel of Jesus Christ”. Some scripture, especially much of that found in the Old Testament only points out the impossibility of becoming righteous under human actions and therefore teaches the condemnation that comes with living against God’s will. The gospel of Jesus Christ points out His perfect work on the cross, and the complete removal of any requirement against man to be able to boldly come to God and receive His righteousness which is both complete and flawless. Hence, the gospel of Jesus Christ is scriptural, but not all scripture is about the gospel of Jesus Christ. Just because it is preached from the pulpit, does not mean the preaching is the gospel. Once again without fulfilling criteria 3 & 4, the born again Christian is left trying to understand spiritual truths with only natural carnal thinking.
5. and the powers of the age to come, The second half of verse 5 also refers back to the word tasted. Remembering the definition of GEUOMIA (tasted) one must have tried the flavor of, to partake, and to experience something personally. Think of it like this; if you have tasted or experienced the flavor of a Lemon, you know without a doubt what that Lemon tastes like when you see it. You will not look at a Lemon and wonder if it will taste the same as an Orange. The Greek word for powers is DUNAMIS, which not only means strength, but actually includes the ability and inherent power residing in a thing strictly by virtue of its nature. The Holy Spirit is powerful strictly because of who He is. The Greek word for age is AION, which means forever, perpetuity of time, and eternity. The Greek word for come is MELLO which means to be on the point of doing or suffering something. When you put all of verse 5, the final criteria together in its full Greek perspective the writer of Hebrews is stating this: And have experienced the power of the Holy Spirit, which is strictly because of who He is, in your life. And you understand that same power is in your life and is for an eternity starting from the moment you receive it and it will never end.
Can you see the progression of growth needed, for a believer to truly understand what they have? As a Christian you may have been (1) enlightened (about who Jesus is-mine) and (2) tasted the heavenly gift (received Him as your Lord & Savior-mine), but without receiving (3 partakers) of the Holy Spirit and allowing Him to help you (4) taste the good Word of God, and (5) have fully experienced the powers of the Holy spirit in your life, you as a believer are left to your own personal efforts with only natural carnal thinking to live, learn, and understand what you truly have in this life as God’s child.
The word away in verse 6 in Greek is PARAPIPTO means to intentionally deviate or turn aside from something or a specific path.
Ask yourself these three questions; 1. How can a person give away or relinquish something they truly do not possess? I cannot give your spouse, dog, money, home, or anything else away of yours because it is not mine in the first place. I don’t own it. 2. How can a person turn off a specific path if they are first on that specific path? 3. Finally if you truly know you are on the correct path to get where you need to be, and you make the conscience decision to go a different direction will you end up where you originally intended? No you end up somewhere else.
You cannot give away or lose what you do not own. Making the conscience decision to go another direction is not getting lost or stumbling, because it is a decisive action. Hence, for a Christian to stumble in sin or sit down from their walk with Christ because they have little to no strength to go on, is not making the conscience decision to go another way. That is why it is called stumbling. And to sit down is not going in a different direction; it is truly just stopped moving. And you cannot make a conscience decision to turn off of the correct path, if you actually are not on the correct path in the first place. The writer of Hebrews is telling the Jewish converts, many of whom have met all of these five criteria, that if they make the conscious decision to go back under the Law of Moses, there is no other repentance. Why is this truth? To make a conscious decision to turn away from something is to show shame to what you have turned away from. Remember Jesus telling His disciples that if they are not received by a household or a city, to dust off their feet and go on as a testimony against them, Mark 6:11.
The truth is you cannot simply slip away, stumble, or lose your salvation. If you believe in Jesus’ perfect work on the cross with your heart and confess this with your mouth you are saved, Romans 10:8-10. And the power of this statement rests in the words of Jesus as recorded in John 3:16-18.
The natural world is full of cause and effect; but Christians should have a supernatural confidence of better things that accompany salvation.
Hebrews 6:7-9, 7 For the earth which drinks in the rain that often comes upon it, and bears herbs useful for those by whom it is cultivated, receives blessing from God; 8 but if it bears thorns and briars, it is rejected and near to being cursed, whose end is to be burned.9 But, beloved, we are confident of better
We must remember several things when we read the bible. For starters most people reading the bible will stumble unknowingly over the paragraph, verse, topic, and chapter breaks that are typical in today’s bibles. Secondly it was written in ancient dead languages with sentence structure different from English. Third, with as much attention and prayer as the original translators used, our understanding of the Hebrew and Greek languages along with our computers gives us a better capability to discern a fuller. Finally to relate back to my first statement the bible was never written originally as we read it today with verse, chapters, and the topic breaks. These were added to help the modern day reader find verse and topic references easily. Even the chapter breaks were added during translation.
What does this mean? On several occasions if we read the bible and stop at the current designated verses and other breaks we can miss the full meaning or get a wrong understanding all together. Most bible translations today have such a break between verse 8 & 9. And this leads the reader to just view 7 & 8 as a topic and fail to include 9. If you just read 7& 8 together without 9 as the clarifier a reader will typically view 7 & 8's meaning along the lines that God gives everyone the same opportunity to produce good fruit and those that produce bad fruit will be removed and burned. Christians will further misunderstand these two verses with the sin/no sin or good work/bad work mentality of being a Christian and begin seeing faults in their lives, as well as others. Re read 7 & 8 by themselves and see if that is not what you would basically be left to believe or possible have believed before reading this study? It is true that God does give everyone the same opportunity to turn to Jesus as their Lord and Savior, and those that do not will one day be condemned for not believing on Jesus; we read that truth in John 3:16-18.
The main problem with this thought pattern typical of verses 7 & 8 is it does not line up with the full message of the gospel of Jesus Christ. The gospel of Christ places all of our requirements to become God's child, and receive the promised blessings as the child of the King, on Jesus' perfect work on the cross. The gospel takes those requirements out of man's hand. Why, because man cannot fulfill all of the requirements and maintain them without failure. If you are found guilty in one part of the Law you are guilty of all the Law (James 2:10). Therefore, as readers if we see bible verses that are seemingly pointing us back to something other than the true gospel of Christ, than there must be something missing. The missing piece is man's original misunderstanding of how the Greek sentence structure was. The original translators did not have the power of the computer that we have today to be able to view a verse in Greek with individual word definitions nor did they have the understanding of foreign sentence structure as precisely as today’s linguists have provided.
Now with all this said re read verse 7-9 as I have grouped them and see if you begin to understand the true meaning? The writer of Hebrews is showing his readers how God has set things up on earth in the natural way of life, but His children can be assured of a better way under our salvation through the blood of Christ. God sends the rain and good soil produces good fruit; bad soil produces bad fruit for those who work the soil. This is a true statement in the natural for man, but the writer wrote to Jewish Christians, not natural man. Also remember that these Jewish Christians were becoming weary at not seeing Christ's return as soon as they believed and were turning back under the law. The writer of Hebrews is trying to stir up their faith. Like the Jewish Christians of Hebrews, we too can get caught up in such a hope for Jesus' return or waiting for our arrival in heaven so we can have a joyful life, that we often forget that we have been given the ability to live in the blessings of God while still here on earth. We no longer have a fearful expectation of rejection if we stumble, because the love of God that draws people to repentance is the same love that gave us His only Son to pay the price for ALL man's sins, past, present, and future. The stronger we understand this love toward us from God and the sacrifice Jesus paid on the cross for us, the stronger we become spiritually to overcome the temptations that cause the carnal main to stumble.
Remember that the bible must stay in context. Verses 4-6 paint the picture of the progressive 5 criteria a Christian must have achieved; and if then they reject Christ there is no other repentance. Verses 7-9 come right after and shore up the protection from being condemned if we stumble because we are God's children and live under the New Covenant paid for by the blood of Jesus on the cross. We do not live under the Law of Moses, we live under grace which is immeasurably more powerful in the life of a Christian than we will ever understand while here on earth.
God does not see your personal works of righteousness as any gain toward salvation. However, the more you fully understand what Jesus truly accomplished by His death and resurrection your desire to enter into His work of reaching others for Christ should increase. God sees those works of labor and love.
Hebrews 6:10-12, 10 For God is not unjust to forget your work and labor of love which you have shown toward His name, in that you have ministered to the saints, and do minister. 11 And we desire that each one of you show the same diligence to the full assurance of hope until the end, 12 that you do not become sluggish, but imitate those who through faith and patience inherit the promises.
Verse 10 is an impactful statement that is often overlooked. What verse 10 is actually saying is that God is just and as such never forgets your work and labor of love that you show the saints in His name. People however are just the opposite. We tend to forget the good things we, others, or God has done and instead dwell on the bad things. In fact many Christians can remember hearing a verse or even know of the verse in the Old Testament where God says He will remember the iniquities of the fathers to the third and fourth generation found in Exodus 34:7. Therefore the typical misunderstanding even in the church today is they hope their good outweighs their bad and they will make it to heaven. But few people realize that God never makes a comment even similar to Exodus 34:7 in the New Testament. Verse 10 is actually the opposite in that God will not forget your work of love shown in His name. Later on in our study in Hebrews chapter 11 you will see how by faith so many people did great things for the Lord, but none of the evil they stumbled in is even brought up in that chapter, just their good work and labor of love by faith. This work and labor of love is not to gain righteousness or earn their salvation, but rather an extension of their love for God because they know His love for them. Today we also know of Jesus’ sacrifice to pay for our sins.
So to recap verse 10 God is just and diligent to remember their work and labor of love to the saints in His name. Now when we look at verse 11 in this new light of verse 10 we see where the author is encouraging the Hebrews and us, to show the same diligence in remembering the great work and labor of love God has done and shown to us. Recognize that God is not keeping a balance sheet of good and bad to see which weighs the most, He only keeps ledger of the good and therefore we are to maintain that same thought process of remembering the good He has done for us. Consequently our lives would be better here on earth if we chose to only remember the good we and others around us have done instead of keeping our personal file cabinet of faults of self and others. God does not ask us to do anything He has not already done for us. Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive others; sound familiar?
So why is it so important for God to go to the effort to show us how He only remembers our works and labors of love for the saints and that we should do the same toward Him? Verse 12 tells us that remembrance of God’s work and labor for us is what keeps us from getting sluggish. Do you ever get tired and sluggish in your walk with Christ? Do you sometimes, or even often, doubt His love for you? Do you ever remember or do you even know that He will go before you and be your rear guard in life? Isaiah 52:12 tells us that we will not go out in haste or in flight, but that the Lord will go before us and God will be our rear guard. Does that sound like you should have any fear of things going so wrong that God cannot fix it? What Isaiah 52:12 is saying is you will not run from your enemies or problems with haste or fear, but the Lord will go before you and God will be your rear guard. Even if you caused the problem, God’s powerful love for you will help you get through the problem. All you have to do is have the desire to overcome and ask God for His help. So how can you begin to learn this new way of living, where you are able to find strength to do what you need to do? Hebrews 6:12b, imitate those who through faith and patience inherit the promises. Find that Godly man or woman who is a spiritual leader bearing good fruit in their personal lives and watch what they do. In 1 Corinthians 4:16 Paul says, imitate me. In 1 Corinthians 11:1 he says imitate me, as I also imitate Christ. Remember God not only sets the rules, He sets the example in that He does not ask us to do anything that He has not already shown or done for us. In fact He has done more for us then He has ever asked of us. God sent His only begotten son to die for us. And this He did before we were worthy in our eyes to receive what He did.
The message of the cross, the power of grace, is not just your surety of getting out of Hell free. And it does not give you the freedom to sin nor tells you that you do not need to make effort to overcome sin in your lives. What the message of the cross does, is gives you the power of God’s grace to boldly come to Him when you do come to yourself in your time of need. We studied this back in 4:16.
So why are not more Christians living in this supernaturally powerful life of peace and abundance that we read of in the New Testament? Hebrews 3:12 & 19 tells us it is because of our unbelief which is the same reason the children of Israel were not allowed to enter their promise land the first time God took them to the border. Unbelief in our personal lives that God will do for us what He says that He loves us as much as His word says that we are truly free from any commendation of sin, is because we remember the bad things about ourselves. Another reason could be because we are still in some kind of hidden sinful life style or practice that we have not given to Him for help to overcome. If you know you doing wrong, that knowledge undermines your faith in God’s word. When you do not tithe, you undermine your belief that God will provide for all of your needs. When you allow yourself to stay in porn, you undermine your belief that God truly loves you. When you allow yourself to continually pick up the drink day after day because you find a comfort in it, you are enhancing your disbelief that God will do for you what His word says. When you allow yourself the supposed freedom to make unrighteous choices about your life for the temporary joy, fun, or relief you may find in sin, you are feeding your own conscience to fight against any faith you may have gained from your understanding of God’s love for you. By not purposing to come to God boldly, by faith and knowing that He only remembers the good you have done, then your mind will always keep you from living in true belief and therefore the Devil is stealing your God given blessings. By allowing yourself to continue to do that which you know you should not do, or by not doing that which you know you should be doing; you personally are undermining any faith you may mustered up. Remember as a man thinks in his heart so is he, Proverbs 23:7.
Believe in your heart that God only remembers your good work and labor of love for the saints, not your bad. Remind yourself to live the same as God by only remembering yours and other’s good instead of the bad; this will help you from becoming sluggish in your walk. This is the love Jesus spoke of in His new commandment from John 13:34. And imitate those around you who live Godly fruitful lives.
God made a promise of blessings to Abraham and by our faith in Jesus Christ we have entered into that promise. We no longer have to strive to gain anything from God because He has already promised to give it to us by the same faith Abraham had – belief in that if God said it, He will do it.
Hebrews 6:13-15, 13 For when God made a promise to Abraham, because He could swear by no one greater, He swore by Himself, 14 saying, "Surely blessing I will bless you, and multiplying I will multiply you." 15 And so, after he had patiently endured, he obtained the promise.
For the most part many Christians read past this verse looking for meat to chew on and often miss the meatiest portion of all which is, “when God made a promise to Abraham.” To grasp the depth of this statement we have to ask why God promised anything to Abraham in the first place. After all, man had been in a fallen state from direct fellowship with God since Adam. So why would be compelled to promise a man anything in the first place. The reason is because God saw Abraham as righteous. Our first introduction to Abram in the bible is just after God scattered the people after they built the Tower of Babble. God called Abram to come out from his father’s household and his land and follow Him. God looks at our heart to see the true part of us. The sin actions that we see are outward expressions of a good heart deficiency. Abram must have been one of the few men on earth that even looked to God with a true heart. That is why we read in Genesis and Paul tells us in Romans that Abraham believed God and it was ACCOUNTED to him as righteous.
Proverbs 23:7 tells us as a man thinks in his heart, so is he. Jesus tells us in Matthew 12:34 and Luke 6:45 that “out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks.” In fact if we were to hold the actions of Abram, before God changed his name to Abraham, up against the Law of Moses which came centuries later, Abram would have been put to death. And yet God promised He would bless Abram and did bless Abraham. God changing Abram’s name to Abraham is a reading visual that shows us that it is God who changes us from our old man of sin to the new man of righteousness in heart in Christ when we become born again.
Verse 14 is a clear example of the overabundance of love God shows those who trust him. For God to bless and multiply Abraham would have been enough. But look at the verse again. In the Hebrew language and culture of that day to speak the same thing over a person twice is an expression of extreme blessing or cursing depending on what is said. Our God is a God of abundance and He is always looking at the good we have done and for reasons to bless His children. (See the study on Hebrews 6:1012)
Verse 15 “And so after he had patiently endured, he obtained the promise.” Just as it happened with Abraham and Sarah when the original promise of a child did not come in their timeline, we also create our own Ishmael in life because we are impatient at waiting for God’s promises to come. Man is always eager to receive a blessing especially from God, but if God were to simply shower us with blessings immediately we would begin to look for the blessing instead of look to God. God is a jealous God and His jealousy is righteous and is for our fellowship. The blessings will simply come because we are His children. I tell people that God is never early, nor is He ever late; He is always right on time. We are the one with a skewed time table, and I believe Christians in the U.S. are the worse because we are so time driven. James 1:4 tells us to let patience have its perfect work. God I patient with our lives of sinful
stumbling. He waits for us to develop our relationship with Him and learn patience in our own lives. Remember that maturity in God is the ultimate blessing, not the promises of blessings themselves.
Because of God’s promise to Abraham and His Seed, we can have confidence. Not just hope, but complete confidence in that we can lay hold of that promise God made to Abraham and his Seed for ourselves because of Jesus’ perfect work on the cross.
Hebrews 6:16-17, 16 For men indeed swear by the greater, and an oath for confirmation for them an end of all dispute.17 Thus God, determining to show more abundantly to the heirs of promise the immutability of His counsel, confirmed it by an oath, 18 that by two immutable things, in which it is impossible for God to lie, we might have strong consolation, who have fled for refuge to lay hold of the hope set before us. 19 This hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and steadfast, and which enters the Presence behind the veil, 20 where the forerunner has entered for us, even Jesus, having become High Priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek.
In verse 16 the writer of Hebrews, is trying to help the Jews truly understand the power and magnitude of God's promise. By reminding them that they too swore and secured their oaths by using the name of God, their faith is being stirred up as they remember the Old Testament teachings where God swore by his own name when he made his promises to Abraham. The importance of this, rest in the wording of the promises and the Jews knew of the promises were. They knew they were the lineage of Abraham, and as a result of that lineage, they too would receive the same promises that God made to Abraham. This we see in verses 17 and 18. In the last half of verse 18 it says we might have strong consolation, who have fled for refuge to lay hold of the hope set before us. Here they are being reminded why they had to flee. Keep in mind during the first church, the church actually became the hunted. Christians had to flee sometimes even into the hills in order to worship their Lord. Being away from their family and from their normal lifestyle, hiding in caves it was easy for them to begun to lose hope. Remember that Hebrews was written to the Jews who have accepted Jesus as their Lord and Savior, but have begun to slide back into their religious laws.
As Christians today we have a tendency of going back into following the laws of Moses as some effort of trying to prove our own personal righteousness before God. Today we can learn from Hebrews, that there isn't any fruit to mix faith with the law. Paul is very clear in his statement in Galatians 4:5, "you have become estranged from Christ, you who attempt to be justified by the law: you have fallen from grace." This puts all of the weight of fulfilling His promise to us His children on God. This promise we can only receive by faith, and is never something that can be earned.
Notice in verse 19 that the writer of Hebrews says this hope we have as an anchor for our soul. He does not say our spirit but our soul. We must remember from Galatians 4:6 that we have received the Spirit of the Son crying out Abba father. Our spirit man truly is that of Jesus’ Spirit today, hence spiritually we are already 100% perfect. For we have the greatest difficulty today here on Earth is we are still under the guidance of our soul, and bound by the futility of our flesh. We cannot change our flesh, but we do have authority and power to begin to change our soul. We must first understand that our soul is actually our mores, morals, and personality which make up the essence of who we are all we are here on Earth. We do not have to hold on to God or his promises as an anchor for our spirit, the true holding on rests on the power of God promised to us. If you have accepted Jesus as your Lord and Savior, God will hold on to you. This promise from God's we have in Philippians 1:6, which tells us that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ. Verse 19 is also telling us that this hope in God for killing his promise is our authority that allows us to enter into the Holy of Holies. This statement does not mean as much to us today as it did to the Hebrews in the day of this writing. But it should be a reminder to us that even the Jews could not by choice walk into the Holy of Holies, it can only be high priest and he must live perfect before God. But today because of our faith and belief in Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior we can come boldly to God in our time of need. This truth is established in Hebrews 4:6. We also know from Scripture that after Jesus rose from the dead, that He sprinkled His blood in heaven as payment for our sins. Just as the High Priest did in the days of Moses and following the Law when he would sprinkle the blood of goats and rams on the Ark of the Covenant as a blood sacrifice for all of the Jews, Jesus sprinkled His blood in heaven for our sins. Hence Jesus has become the High Priest for us and the Jews, forever making intercession for us. The writer of Hebrews goes on in verse 20 the let us know that this priesthood is from the order of Melchizedek.
We read in Genesis and Hebrews that Melchizedek was a priest of the Most High God. We also read that Abraham believed, communicated with, and worshiped God. Christians often miss the importance of this information and here is the truth. There were a few people who worshiped God long before the children of Israel were born, or the Law of Moses was written. Their worship had to be by faith because there was no written criteria to follow. So why has the “Christian religious since Jesus’ resurrection”, created so many doctrines of how we are supposed to worship God in order to be accepted by Him? Because for some reason they were blinded to what true faith in Jesus Christ is; nor how His death and resurrection created the bridge between the great divide that was between God and man since the fall of Adam.
Hebrews 7:1-4, 1 For this Melchizedek, king of Salem, priest of the Most High God, who met Abraham returning from the slaughter of the kings and blessed him, 2 to whom also Abraham gave a tenth part of all, first being translated "king of righteousness," and then also king of Salem, meaning "king of peace," 3 without father, without mother, without genealogy, having neither beginning of days nor end of life, but made like the Son of God, remains a priest continually. 4 Now consider how great this man was, to whom even the patriarch Abraham gave a tenth of the spoils.
The first two verses in Hebrews chapter 7 are reminding the Jews of the story as we read in Genesis about Melchizedek in the first time Abraham met him. What verse three is actually reminding the Jews is Melchizedek was not a priest that came to the lineage as set forth by the law Moses. His priesthood was not a birthright, it was not something earned, and it truly was set forth by God. The reason this is a superior priesthood is because under the Law of Moses one was born into the priesthood, but Melchizedek had to have been appointed by God into his priesthood position. True the High Priest was chosen from the Levi tribe, but no one else could be a priest except a Levite, nor could a Levite be anything else but a priest. So in comparing Jesus to Melchizedek, they both were appointed by God and not born into their position.
A truth many people miss in reading these verses and the actual story in Genesis is the fact that there were people even in the days of Abraham and before who worshiped our God. Although we have no record of what was taught or how they worshiped, we do know that God tells us in Genesis 14:18 and now in Hebrews that there were some people who worshiped Him before the children of Israel were even born. I bring this up for those who insist on following the Law of Moses or at least incorporating some of the Laws of Moses into their Christian walk as the only way to worship Him. Not so! God wants a relationship with each person one on one, not for the person to just follow a set of rules. A man can follow another man’s rules and still dislike that man, this happens all the time in the work world. But you cannot have a relationship with anyone if there is not some kind of bond between the two and that bond must be established on something other than rules.
Verse three is symbolic of Jesus in a couple of ways in that we are told he had no end to his position of priest of the Most High God as is true of our Lord. His genealogy is unknown and therefore under Jewish law he could have never been a high priest. Jesus born from the tribe of Judah instead of the tribe of Levi also could have never been appointed as high priest. The third most significant point is that Melchizedek was obviously appointed as high priest by God and not elected by man as in the caser of the high priest under Mosaic Law. Although one must first be born a Levi, the high priest was actually chosen by his fellow brethren and didn’t live long.
Verse four is directed specifically at the descendants of Abraham in that Jews considered Abraham the most important man in their history and here Abraham gave tithes and honor to a priest of the Most High God who was not from the tribe of Levi. What has actually happened is the writer of Hebrews has actually elevated Jesus to back to His rightful position in the minds of the Christian Jews who had begun slipping back into following the Mosaic Law.
Just because we are under the New Covenant does not negate the need to tithe unto God. Tithing unto God through those He has chosen to fill the offices of the fivefold ministry started long before the Law of Moses. Abraham tithed unto God through Melchizedek.
Hebrews 7:5-10, 5 And indeed those who are of the sons of Levi, who receive the priesthood, have a commandment to receive tithes from the people according to the law, that is, from their brethren, though they have come from the loins of Abraham; 6 but he whose genealogy is not derived from them received tithes from Abraham and blessed him who had the promises. 7 Now beyond all contradiction the lesser is blessed by the better. 8 Here mortal men receive tithes, but there he receives them, of whom it is witnessed that he lives. 9 Even Levi, who receives tithes, paid tithes through Abraham, so to speak, 10
Although the writer of Hebrews is still elevating the importance of Melchizedek over the Levi priesthood, there is a more significant truth here for us today. Because we are under the New Covenant many “selfish” Christians tend to hold on to the fallacy that they are not required to tithe since the tithe was originated under the Old Covenant. In addition many also have resistance to give to the church since they do not see it as giving to God and because there has been so many men and women of God in pastoral positions who have abused their position and indulged in lavish lifestyles at the expense of the church.
A few things we must realize here is God will deal with those who have done wrong with the church’ money, period. Secondly clearly even the brethren of the Levi gave to the Levi, and the Levites did not do anything else to bring in any additional income. Therefore, there is nothing wrong with pastors ’you get a paycheck from the business you work at? Thirdly notice that Abraham, of who was the genealogical father of the Levites who received a tithe from their brethren, actually gave a tithe to the priest of the Most High God. Since Abraham was considered a ’ representative here on earth through the tithe. We are to show honor to Jesus, and in doing so our tithes to His church is the best way to do this. To give a tenth of your income to the church is to say you are trusting God, not you, your money, or man, to take care of your needs. If you do not fully tithe, you do not fully trust God. The final point is that blessings flow to the giver of the tithe from God through the receiver of the tithe. Supernatural blessings from God are worth far more than the dollars in your pocket, because they will bring favor and dollars into your pocket from God. The New Covenant does not abolish the tithe, it substantiates it, by giving us freedom from condemnation and the Law and an everlasting High Priest forever making intercession for us.
The Jews believed their religion was perfect since it came from God. If it were perfect then why was it prophesied that another high priest would rise according to the order of Melchizedek?
Hebrews 7:11-16 “11 Therefore, if perfection were through the Levitical priesthood (for under it the people received the law), what further need was there that another priest should rise according to the order of Melchizedek, and not be called according to the order of Aaron? 12 For the priesthood being changed, of necessity there is also a change of the law. 13 For He of whom these things are spoken belongs to another tribe, from which no man has officiated at the altar. 14 For it is evident that our Lord arose from Judah, of which tribe Moses spoke nothing concerning priesthood. 15 And it is yet far more evident if, in the likeness of Melchizedek, there arises another priest 16 who has come, not according to the law of a fleshly commandment, but according to the power of an endless life 16 who has come, not according to the law of a fleshly commandment, but according to the power of an endless life.”
Verses 11-28 re-establish the truth of the superiority of Jesus, the New Covenant, and walking by faith over the Old Covenant, the Laws of Moses, and following a man. Verses 11-16 brings to question why so many denominations within the body of Christ are still holding on so strongly to ordinances, laws, rituals, and man’s rules in effort to honor and worship God? It can only stem from a lack of understanding of Jesus’ perfect work on the cross. At this point we need to review Galatians 5:1-6 and specifically look at verse 4.
“1 Stand fast therefore in the liberty by which Christ has made us free, and do not be entangled again with a yoke of bondage. 2 Indeed I, Paul, say to you that if you become circumcised, Christ will profit you nothing. 3 And I testify again to every man who becomes circumcised that he is a debtor to keep the whole law. 4 You have become estranged from Christ, you who attempt to be justified by law; you have fallen from grace. 5 For we through the Spirit eagerly wait for the hope of righteousness by faith.”
“Galatians 5:1-6 NKJV”
The writer of Hebrews is not referencing circumcision only, but using the Law of circumcision as a representation of the entire Law of Moses in general. If you hold on to any aspect of the Law of Moses, or the laws from the book of Leviticus, you are not holding on to Jesus by faith.
Be anxious for nothing. Paul’s encouragement in Philippians 4:6-8 is the greatest guidance a Christian can understand while living here on earth.
Philippians 4:6-9 “6 Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; 7 and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. 8 Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy--meditate on these things. 9 The things which you learned and received and heard and saw in me, these do, and the God of peace will be with you.”
Here is another command in action. We are not to be anxious for anything. Paul then gives us the answer on how we can overcome this personality trait. We are to take our needs and difficulties in life to the Lord through prayer. A key point here is that going to God, just telling Him the problem is not prayer, it’s simply complaining. Christians need to realize that God already knows their needs, (Matthew 6:24-34). I am not saying we can never tell God what we are in need of. In times of severe grief that may be the only thing we can say at first, but to continually plead, and beg, and ask is the same thing as saying I don’t trust you God in the first place. Paul is telling us to let our request be filled with thanksgiving. Our requests coupled with true thanksgiving, is the added faith needed to move in the spirit realm. Remember we “Christians” have been given the keys of heaven to bind and loose, (Matthew 18:18). If we have the faith of a mustard seed we can move the mountains in our life that are between us and our God given blessings. The only thing that will get in the way of our faith is doubt and unbelief (Matthew 17:20). The best way to stay in thanksgiving, even during our trials and needs it to rejoice always. That is why Paul wrote verses 4-7 in the order he did. This is a powerful key needed in our walk as Christians that will unlock the power of God to move in our life. Nothing that happens to us here on earth is even close to the blessings of eternal life in the presence of God and Jesus that awaits us.
Jesus said to take His yoke upon us, for His yoke is easy and His burden is light (Matthew 11:2930). People misunderstand the term yoke. It is not a type of prison stocks or shackles. Oxen are yoked, coupled, together across their shoulders so that the two of them working together can get the same job done much easier and often faster. Jesus told us that His desire is for us to take His yoke alongside of Him, the One who gave His life for us, the One that conquered death and the grave, the One who raised the dead, healed the sick, gave sight to the blind, and hearing to the deaf. Jesus is telling us His desire is to help us with our burdens while here on earth, “all of them”.
As we grasp the awesome knowledge of God and His love for us coupled with the desire of Jesus to help us in this life, we begin to understand the peace of God which surpasses all understanding. See the pattern for life here on earth? If we rejoice always, purpose to let our gentleness be known to all men, be anxious for nothing, and trust in God to do what He said He will do for His children, as we tell Him of our thankfulness when telling Him our requests, “His peace” which surpasses all of our “natural” understanding will guard our hearts and minds through the blood of Jesus Christ. He is our everything!
Finally does not always mean after you have done everything else, or the last thing to do. The word finally in verse 8 is used as an adjective, giving it the same meaning as saying above all else, or unalterable, not to be changed. Paul is telling us that above all else, here is how we can live the life God wants for us. We need to remember that we are spiritual beings trapped at the moment in a natural body. This means that we cannot separate our spiritual lives into spiritual and secular. There should not be any difference in our lives at church than they are at work, school, or recreation. Here are eight principles of thought as relating to verse eight. (1) Truth is truth and not situational as the world is trying to make it. (2) Honest is genuine, honorable, and not characterized by deception. (3) To be just is to have the right conduct in all circumstances, fact or deeds. (4) Pure does not have any defilement in it (Jesus’ blood has made us pure). (5) Things lovely are areas supported by charity. Charity in the bible is the foundation of the second commandment, to love our neighbor as ourselves, (see 1 Corinthians 13:4-8). (6) A good report is always going to be constructive and up lifting, never destructive of condemning. (7) To have virtue is to have moral excellence, goodness, and right standing. (8) Praise is the expression of esteem of one’s character and virtue. Remember Paul is telling us where our thoughts should be instead of the problem at hand.
Verse nine is not the statement of an arrogant man, but the statement of a man walking in wisdom. Anyone walking in knowledge and understanding of Jesus should be able to say this. James 1:22, calls us to be doers of the word and not hearers only. If the life you are living in the word has blessed you, then you need to tell people. In telling others you will be strengthening yourself in your own walk with Christ.
Our tithes and support into fruitful ministries are as much for us as it is for the church and ministry. Paul understood this and gave praise to the Philippians for their support of Him. He knew their KONONIA with his ministry would receive the same blessings from God as if they were actually with him in person.
Philippians 4:10-14 “10 But I rejoiced in the Lord greatly that now at last your care for me has flourished again; though you surely did care, but you lacked opportunity. 11 Not that I speak in regard to need, for I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content: 12 I know how to be abased, and I know how to abound. Everywhere and in all things I have learned both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. 13 I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. 14 Nevertheless you have done well that you shared in my distress.”
In verse 10 Paul has not taken the position of a beggarly man. Verse 11-13 tells us he is capable of living in any condition. Remembering back in Chapter 1 we read that Paul praised them for being in “fellowship” with him from the beginning until now. He was not talking about having supper at each other’s house. The Greek word used was KONNONIA which is to say partnership with. The Philippians were the only church that recognized Paul’s call to the Gentiles and chose to partner with him in his evangelistic call. Paul knew of the words of Jesus written in Matthew 10:41 where partnership with a prophet receives a prophet’s reward. Paul is encouraging the Philippians and us that their support of his ministry was not for him; it was for their own reward. When we chose to support an outreach ministry we are in KONONIA with that ministry and will receive a reward as such. Every Christian is called to be in commission with Jesus and the Holy Spirit to preach the gospel to the world, but everyone cannot leave their jobs and go on the mission field. The way we can enter into this partnership and receive these blessings is through our monetary support of outreach ministries. Tithes are for your church’s needs, but offerings are for the outreach of the word of God.
Verses 11-13 are examples of a man that lives what he preaches. Remember in verse 4 of chapter 4 Paul says, Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I will say, rejoice! Once again our happiness in life’s situations is not related to our outward peace or comfort and vice versa. We learned in chapter 4:6-7 what we are to do with problems and difficulties in life and we are now reading a personal account of a man that lives by the very words he preaches. His preached word is actually an explanation of how he lives and walks with Jesus and it is working. This is why I say Paul is not an arrogant man when he says follow my example in verse 4:9.
It amazes me that so few people fully tithe into their own church and how so many outreach ministries are strapped for the money they need to fulfill the call on their lives. It was never meant for the church to sit still and let people walk in and ask for Jesus (Matthew 10:7, Luke 9:2). The church is not a drive through salvation station, and yet there seems to be a “let them come in and receive salvation” mentality. People were never meant to get saved sitting in a church, we are to go out and take salvation to the world and “then” bring them into the church for fellowship, love, support, and teaching on their new life as a son or daughter of God. Paul was painfully aware of the direction the church was going back in year 65 AD with only one church, out of all that he planted, supporting his outreach ministry. This is why he has praised the Philippians in verse 14 for re-establishing their heartfelt commitment to supporting his life as apostle/evangelist.
We will always go through difficulties in life. Being a Christian does not relieve us of the pressures of life, but it does give us the ability to seek our God and the power of the blood of Jesus for help. Verse 13 is a foundational verse for the everyday walk of believers. Paul is telling us that it is his personal relationship with Jesus that gave him the strength to be in prison and still be joyful. Paul was hungry, but pressed on through the strength he found in his Lord. I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me should be our very mindset as we walk in this life with Christ.
Our financial prosperity is actually tied into our hearts desire to joyfully tithe into our church and support of ministries who take the gospel to places we cannot go ourselves.
Philippians 4:15-19 “15 Now you Philippians know also that in the beginning of the gospel, when I departed from Macedonia, no church shared with me concerning giving and receiving but you only. 16 For even in Thessalonica you sent aid once and again for my necessities. 17 Not that I seek the gift, but I seek the fruit that abounds to your account. 18 Indeed I have all and abound. I am full, having received from Epaphroditus the things sent from you, a sweet-smelling aroma, an acceptable sacrifice, well pleasing to God. 19 And my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus.”
As mentioned earlier, the Philippians were the only church that understood outreach. It is not some modern day concept, but the original means to get the gospel to the world. Acts 20:35 tells us it is more blessed to give than to receive. I am amazed at the number of Christians that look for the blessings promised by God, but try to receive them with their hands closed. They want more from God, but are not willing to open their hearts to Him because their hands are tightly closed around their finances. If you cannot freely give what is due God, then you are in actuality saying you do not trust Him. We would think it stupid to watch a NFL wide receiver go out for a ball and try to catch it while holding tightly on to himself and yet this is what happens to Christians today. They go to church, hear God’s word, want His blessings in their life, but discount God’s blessings and live below His desired means because they hold so tightly to what money He gave them in the first place. This is a principle that God has proven to me regarding money; if He see He can get it through me to His church, He will get it to me. Being stingy with the money you have is only proving to God He cannot trust you with more. At this point you should be saying Amen or “oh my”.
Notice they sent aid once for Paul’s ministry while in Thessalonica and again to meet his personal necessities. Paul is not blessed personally because the Philippians have sent him support, but he knows God keeps account of what we do while here on earth, Philippians 4:3. Paul also knows that Godly giving with the proper attitude is actually deposits into their personal spiritual account, 1 Corinthians 13:3. Paul knows the fruit of Godly giving and that God is not slack. Giving with the right heart brings forth bountiful fruit in the givers life and bountiful fruit in the recipient’s life knowing they are supported by God through His children.
Paul is praising God thanking them for their support. It is interesting that Paul claims to be full and abound from their gifts, but remember this statement is from a man locked up on death row because of his conviction to preach the gospel of Jesus. Paul not only sees it as a gift to himself, but as their gift to God and their acceptance and partnership with the gospel. Paul knows their gift is a sweet smelling aroma to God.
“19 And my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus.” How often do Christians see God as a God of just enough? There is such doubt in the church world regarding the blessings He wants to bestow on His children. Matthew 7:11, If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask Him! I call this the convenience store verse. We often run to the church like a convenience store to pick up quick essentials, yet forgetting how close God is to us with arms of abundance waiting for us to ask Him. Jesus reminded His disciples to not act as the Gentiles did always living for their bellies, but to seek first the kingdom of God. Giving into a Godly outreach ministry is seeking first the kingdom of God. What is the outcome of this type of Godly lifestyle? Matthew 6:33, Jesus tells us “all these things will be added unto you!” This promise in verse 19 of meeting all of your needs according to His riches is for those who are in “KONONIA” partnership with God. Not all Christians will fall into this blessing because there is a prerequisite. Entering into giving and receiving, when we faithfully hear from God and inter into KONONIA with Him through His ministries, then we are open to receive from His great abundance. This is the only prerequisite I have seen anywhere in the New Testament. God’s love for us is unconditional there is no prerequisite. Our salvation is solely on our belief and confession of Jesus as Lord, there is no prerequisite. But God will not pour out His financial blessings on a stingy person because He wants His gospel to go out to the world and not be used just for personal gain. Five different verses in the KJV, two verses in 1 Timothy 3, two verses in Titus 1, and 1 Peter 5:2 God calls money filthy lucre. Can you see that holding tightly on to what God see as filthy will only keep you from receiving? Money itself is filthy, but blessing the church and ministries with what little God asks will make the 90% you have left clean and there will be great reward.
A large part of our giving glory to God our Father and Jesus Christ our Lord is actually found in our greetings, love, and fellowship with our fellow saints.
Philippians 4:20-23, 20 Now to our God and Father be glory forever and ever. Amen. 21 Greet every saint in Christ Jesus. The brethren who are with me greet you. 22 All the saints greet you, but especially those who are of Caesar's household. 23 The grace of our Lord Jesus be with you all, amen”
What an awesome position to be in having God as our Father. I am amazed at the number of people in the world that are hesitant to enter into the kingdom of God because they are afraid they will have to give up something. It actually sounds stupid when you look at it from a whole; enter into the kingdom of God and receive more blessings than you can imagine verses stay in the world and in sin holding on to what little you have.
We are to greet every saint with love and most are willing to do that, but few understand that every Christian is a saint. The church tends to hold great names high and belittle the average person in Christ, but the word of God calls all followers of Jesus; saints. Those who are sanctified in Christ Jesus are called to be saints, 1 Corinthians 1:2. When Paul adds, but especially those who are of Caesar's household, is a covert message in telling us that even the servants in the house of the man holding him in prison, have heard Paul’s message of the gospel and believed. That is a powerful statement which shows us the power of the gospel in a believer’s life. The gospel can and should go out regardless of the location or circumstances. It is not our might that makes the gospel so powerful it is the Holy Spirit working through a willing vessel, not even a perfect vessel, just a willing one. That is the Power of Grace.
Verse 23, “The grace of our Lord Jesus be with you all, amen” It is the grace of Jesus that gives us the strength we need. Without his grace we would have nothing and yet He did what He did not in pity, but to restore the ones He loves so much and bring them back to their rightful position; Children of the living God.
When Christ who is our life appears. The beginning of Colossians 3:4 is a powerful reminder that our Lord will return and that He is our true reason for living.
Colossians 3:4-5 “4 When Christ who is our life appears, then you also will appear with Him in glory. 5 Therefore put to death your members which are on the earth: fornication, uncleanness, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry.”
For starters notice Paul states that Christ is our life, in verse 4. There is an enormous difference between the person simply attending church or claiming they are saved, and the person who Jesus Christ is their life. The difference is in the heart of each person and rests on the separation between being a part of a Christian religion verses having a “personal relationship with Jesus” as your Lord and Savior. The Word of God is clear in that everyone who truly believes and confesses Jesus as their Lord and Savior have their names written in the Lamb’s Book of Life. However, the difference in your daily walk as a Christian is greatly affected on whether you are a Christian simply with a belief in Jesus, or the person whom Jesus is “their life” as He was for Paul, the Apostles, and so many believers in the First Church. The difference lies in relationship. A person who has a personal relationship with Jesus will always have more inner peace and strength even during life’s turmoil as a result of that relationship over the person who just believes, but focuses more on the religion and outward appearance of Christianity than the relationship with Jesus. Proverbs 23:7 is worth studying on this. By human nature man has a mental difficulty in grasping that he can have a one on one relationship with our God through the shed blood of Jesus. Paul confirms this when he states the carnal mind is enmity toward God in Romans 8:7. However the person who begins to grasp the power of God’s grace in a believer’s life can also begin to believe the truth that God’s desire to have a personal relationship with man is the reason Jesus came and died on the cross in the first place. Salvation and being able to enter into heaven is the icing on the cake, but life and life abundantly is for the believer while here on earth and that can only be pulled from the spirit realm into the natural life through a personal relationship with God.
Verse 4 is not something earned, but is given as a part of our salvation. Note that verse 4 says when He appears. There is not an “if” statement but a fact statement. 1 John 3:2 tells us that we will be like Him in appearance, “Beloved, now we are children of God; and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is.” Acts 1:9-11 are the first verses referencing the return of Jesus as told to His disciples by two men in white apparel at His ascension. 1 Thessalonians 4:16 gives us additional information on His return and includes the order of our ascension to meet Him; the dead first then those still alive. The Thessalonians understood that the return of Jesus would be “like a thief in the night” meaning no one would know the day or time, and all would be caught by surprise. The typical question from most newly born again Christians is when will this happen? Some want to know out of excitement and others want to know for personal preparation as if they can wait till the last moment then make the necessary heart changes for salvation. The person with the second type of question regarding the time of Jesus’ return is the one who has no idea of the blessings here on earth for God’s children; they look at heaven as the only reward. The more you know of Jesus and His love for you the more you want to live for Him here.
Paul is telling us in verse 5 that because Jesus is returning and because we are already in His presence spiritually, then we should put to death, NEKROO “to subdue, or to deaden” our sinful actions here on earth. This is a command and God would not command us to do something we could not do. Here is where Christians fall off into their rules and regulations in effort to not fall into any of these sins. Paul is not telling us to live a life of “laws”, but to destroy any of those things in our lives that would destroy us first. In the movie Fireproof these sins are described as parasites, which is probably the best description you could give for sin. A parasite attaches itself to a living thing with the purpose of sucking the life out of the thing it is attached to. Likewise according to my college microbiology class parasites cannot live outside of their attachment to their host and those that can, only live a very short time in a state of dormancy waiting to be reactivated. Parasites that are living in a body must be killed chemically and that is typically done by taking a pill. We must destroy any sin that comes up in our path, but to live by rules in effort to avoid these sins is to walk in fear and keep us sin conscious instead of Christ conscience. Christians must destroy the sin in their lives in order to experience the victory in Jesus that God wants us to walk in. The only way to truly kill sin is to daily ingest God’s pill; the gospel of Jesus Christ. Remember the beginning of verse 4? When Christ who is our life appears, is a powerful and often misunderstood statement. Is Jesus Christ your life, or simply someone you believe in?
Some Christians believe that if there is any sin in their lives then they are not holy and if they are not holy God will not answer their prayers. No; our belief in Jesus having died and risen makes us righteous, Romans 10:9, and God has already answered our prayers, made us holy, and has given us everything we need in the spirit realm, Ephesians 1:3. When we stumble or live in sin or ungodliness we are actually giving the Devil an invitation and means to interfere with the blessings God has already given. Just like your TV; the signal is already in the air from the satellite long before you turn on the set. If there is no picture than the problem is most likely your TV set. Something has interfered with your reception and your TV is broken and needs repair. With your TV it might be that you have not paid your bill, but with God your bill has already been paid for an eternity. Sin interferes and breaks your spiritual receptor; it’s just that simple. It’s not God keeping His answers and blessings from you; you are handing them over to the Devil with your sinful actions. Sin changes the channel on your God receptor.
The medication to destroy the parasite of sin in your life is not trying to live holy with rules and regulations; it is the understanding of the power of God living in you through the blood of Jesus and walking in the knowledge of that power that can set you free from sin. The putting to death your members is simply to say, destroy the sin that is in your life. If your arm has a parasite your whole body goes to the doctor not just your arm. Take your whole body to Jesus and lay it at the foot of the cross. Then pick up the medication, the gospel of Jesus, and put it in your body, it will do you good.
The reason so many Christians and Christian religions are so focused on sin and outward appearances of righteousness is because they do not understand the truth behind sin. Sin is the fruit we can see, of a deeper root we cannot see. As Christians if we spend our lives trying to remove sin from our lives or stay focused on sins of commission or omission we will never live the fullness of life God created us for in the first place. To try to change our sin behavior by just focusing on the sin itself is like trying to convert an olive into a grape by working on one piece of fruit from the vine at a time. Everyone knows the fruit of a vine depends on the type of vine. And the flavor of the fruit depends on the soil the vine is planted in, the atmosphere around the vine, and the nutrients given to the vine. But you cannot turn an olive into a grape by changing anything. Even if you graft an olive into a grapevine you will never get a pure grape, but you can get a sweeter olive. Christians were wild olives grafted into the good fruit vine of Jesus, Romans 11:17-24. Stop focusing on the fruit and start focusing on the root which is Jesus. As a onetime wild olive if all you do is focus on the fruit to try to become a grape you may eventually turn into a sour grape, but you will never become a sweet olive.
Remember that the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is salvation and life, Romans 6:23. Let “the gift of God” jump out of the page and into your heart. Say it out loud over and over so your ears can hear it, and settle this deep in your soul. Do you want the gift, then you have to come to Jesus first? You can’t get rid of the parasite first then come to Jesus, it will never work, but if you come to Dr. Jesus with your parasite He will heal your disease and set you free, Isaiah 53:4-5. Also when you become born again, it is your spirit that has been made perfect and new. Your thinking will take time to change, which is why renewing your mind is so important, Romans 12:2.
The sons of disobedience Paul references in Colossians 3:6 are not Christians who are stumbling in their walk, but are the natural descendants of Adam who have not accepted Jesus as their Lord and Savior.
Colossians 3:6-8 “6 Because of these things the wrath of God is coming upon the sons of disobedience, 7 in which you yourselves once walked when you lived in them. 8 But now you yourselves are to put off all these: anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy language out of your mouth.”
Many of the “hard line” legalists use this verse for their proof that God will punish His Children “Christians” that fall into these sins. This is impossible since Jesus dies for our sins past, present, and future. From the purest point of view, since every human is a descendant of Adam, all people are children of God, and most of them have strayed from the family. But according to Galatians 4:4-6, “at the fullness of time God sent forth His Son” Jesus to redeem us from the law. Those who become born again receive the Son Spirit which is the Spirit of Jesus thereby “God has adopted” us as His spiritual Children. In Jewish terms this is actually the public declaration of acceptance from the father of his own son. Paul is identifying the unsaved children as sons of disobedience that have not accepted Jesus as their Lord and savior. Ephesians 5:6-7 also says that God will have wrath on the sons of disobedience. This wrath will be on the sons who do not accept Jesus as their Lord and Savior, John 3:18.
“When you lived in them” from verse 7, in Greek tense is an indication of continual or habitual living. It is much the same in our language today when we say, “when we lived in our first home”. You went to that home every day and it was an integral part of your life. The Colossian believers, like many of us today, used to habitually live in the sins mentioned in verse 5. These sins were a natural part of our existence and therefore became a part of us and their pull on our flesh may not just stop automatically when we accept Jesus as our Lord and Savior. Focus on Jesus and not resisting the sin that so easily ensnares you and you will eventually stop thinking about the sin, and if the sin thought comes up you can easily resist it.
The sins listed in verse 5 are different than those in verse 8, but only in how they affect the believer. Both start in the heart and then are expressed outward, but those in verse five are actually against the sinner themselves. 1 Corinthians 6:18, Flee sexual immorality. Every sin that a man does is outside the body, but he who commits sexual immorality sins against his own body. Sins listed in verse five are more sexual in nature and separate the believer from their own communication and blessings from God. Remember that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, (1 Corinthians 6:19). Man tries to justify one sin as worse than the other, but sin is sin and with the exception of blasphemy of the Holy Spirit (Matthew 12:31) all other sins are covered under the blood of Jesus. Paul is pointing out that as far as God’s view of sin there is not a difference between sins, but that as born-again believers we need to “put off” all sins. The term “put off” is similar to taking off a coat and in verse 10 we are putting on another coat. A Christian has an immediate change in spirit when they accept Jesus into their heart as Lord and Savior, but the outward “habitual” ways and thinking of our old man is ever present until we begin to make the changes to line our natural lives up with the word of God. This change can only happen over time by renewing our minds. In verse 5-11 Paul is indicating how simple our change in life can be once we have received Christ. It does not have to be any more grievous in nature than to take off one coat and put on another. True, depending on how deep a person is in sin the more difficult it may be for that person to come out of it, but with Christ Jesus all things are possible, (Matthew 19:26).
The point here is when a believer begins to truly understand the love of God and His grace that is extended to us even when we were sinners, the less a believer falls into the same traps of sin. The more a believer fills him/herself up with the knowledge of God, and especially if they have been baptized with the Holy Spirit, the less sin has time in the mind to grow. The reason Paul is implying that change is as simple as taking off one coat and putting on another is because, all sin starts out as a thought. We cannot always control what thought comes into our minds, but we can control what we do with that thought. If we ignore it or replace it with the word of God, the sin thought goes away. If we meditate on the sin thought, even if it is to stay away from the sin, it will take us over; it’s that simple. Matthew 12:43-45 is a great explanation as to why a person who becomes born again falls so quickly back into sin and gives the answer to preventing sin from taking over. One pastor’s advice is “Put the word of God in you when you don’t need it so it will be there when you do”, excellent advice. Start putting the word of God in you daily.
To put off the old man with his deeds and to put on the new man is truly as simple as taking off your overcoat and putting on another.
Colossians 3:9-11 “9 Do not lie to one another, since you have put off the old man with his deeds, 10 and have put on the new man who is renewed in knowledge according to the image of Him who created him, 11 where there is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcised nor uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave nor free, but Christ is all and in all.”
Lies can only come from our flesh, the “old man”, since the born-again believer has the new (pure) Spirit of Christ. Our new man, according to Ephesians 4:24 was created by God in righteousness and true holiness. Notice how Paul identified “lie” separate from the sins listed in verse 5 and verse 8. It is not that a lie is the worse since all because sin is sin, but the Devil is the father of lies and the lie is what stumbled Eve in the first place. As Christians we should not lie to anyone and if lying was a part of your old man, there may be a natural propensity to fall back into lying. Paul specifically added “to one another” in verse 9 because of the position in Christ every believer is in. There should be sweet trusts between believers especially since all have the same Spirit of Jesus; however, we all have come from different walks of life and levels of depth of living in our sin nature prior to becoming born again. For some this may be more difficult, but is considered the part of the “old man” that we need to put off. Even though the old man is gone and the new man is present, there is still “the coat” of the old man hanging around, sometimes on us, sometimes in the closet, which is our attitudes and actions.
We have put on the new man and in 1 Corinthians 2:16 we are told that we have the mind of Christ. In 1 John 2:20 we are told that we have instruction from the Holy Spirit. The hinge pin that keeps us from walking perfectly in this new man is identified in Romans 2:12 where we are told to renew our minds. Romans 8:7 tell us the “natural” mind is enmity to God and in Romans 7:8 Paul states that there is nothing good in his flesh which we can say for ourselves. So here we are back to square one; there is not much visible difference between a newly born again believer and an unsaved person. Both can have the same outward actions and attitudes. The difference is the believer is forgiven for their sins and has the power to change their life providing they make an effort to learn how and what to change. The nonbeliever, even though they may be able to change their outward man, can never come into the presence of God and their change at best is only temporal. I do not like the bumper sticker “Christians are not perfect, just forgiven” for the typical reason it is used; as a “get out of jail card” for lifestyles and actions that should have been dealt with spiritually. There is great truth, however, to that bumper sticker. Christians can never live a perfect life free from sin or offence, but because of faith in Jesus and the blood He shed for our sins we are forgiven and called “Child of God”. This freedom does not give us a license to sin, but should give us the heart’s desire and power to make good effort to change our mind to line up with the word of God. By grace you have been saved, Ephesians 2:8, don’t neglect such a perfect gift; grow in it.
Verse 11 ties in with verse 9 & 10 because it is the “glue” for how we can change our minds, how we should see other Christians, and how we should show love to every believer first and then to the lost. Every believer is part of the body of Christ. He is in all of us, so why do we take Him into places we shouldn’t go or do things we shouldn’t do. How can we say harsh things about and to each other unless we do not realize we are actually saying and doing it to Jesus? In Paul’s day and before, according to Jewish law the non-Jew was considered a “dog” and unworthy of any respect. Today everyone in Christ is the same child of God. We are all “new creations” purposing to change from one old coat to the new one.
Remember this in your “born again” walk about yourself and a fellow brother in Christ. Everything about a believer is spiritually perfect on the inside, but we all have to learn how to take off the old coat “the old attitudes and actions” and put on our new clothes “righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit” (Romans 14:17).