340. Praying Through Ephesians. Eph 5:17-16:9. Being Filled With The Spirit And The Possible Consequences In Lives Lived In Mutual Submission

What Does Living In The Will Of God Really Involve?

Eph 5:17 “Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is.”

It means being constantly filled with the Holy Spirit and living under the ongoing influence of the Spirit in every area of life. St Paul wrote, “And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit.” He, of course, meant being filled with the Holy Spirit. Eph 5:18.

What should be the outcomes, the corollaries, the inevitable results of being filled with the Spirit? What Paul does next is very instructive. He introduces one long sentence joined by a series of participles, rather than verbs, to show that each section is dependent on the main verb, “be filled.” The verb “be filled” is a present tense, imperative [or command] so it could be translated as “keep on being filled with the Holy Spirit.“  It means then that the phrases which follow are not separate commands based on verbs such as “address”, “sing”, “make melody”, “give thanks”, “submit!” That is important to note when we come to the word “submit” later in the chapter. Rather they are participles connected to the main verb, “be filled.” It gives the sense that if the command “to be filled” is continuously obeyed, then the outcomes in verses 19-21 can characterise the life of the person who is open to God filling him or her with the Holy Spirit.

The Vertical And Horizontal Consequences Of Being Filled With The Spirit. 5:19-21

  • “addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs,
  • singing and making melody to the Lord with your heart, Eph 5:19,
  • giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, Eph 5:20.
  • submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ.” Eph 5;21.

We note from the above, that being filled with the Spirit has both vertical and horizontal outcomes.

* The vertical [to God] outcomes and responsibilities are singing and making melody to the Lord and giving thanks to Him for everything.

*The horizontal [to one another] outcomes and responsibilities are addressing one another in Psalms, hymns etc and submitting to one another in Christ. We could summarise these verses 19-21 in this way,

  • Ministering To One Another While Focussed On Praise To God, Eph 5:19 “addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs”,
  • Ministering To The Lord In Praise And Thanksgiving. “singing and making melody to the Lord with your heart, 20 giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ”, 5:19-20.
  • Ministering To One Another, In Mutual Submission to one another and to Christ, Eph 5:21 “submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ.”

Mutual Submission In Practice, In The Body Of Christ. 5:22-6:9

The passage from 5:22 to 6:9 really follows on from the main command in verse 5:18 “to be filled with the Spirit.” It spells out in detail what mutual submission should look like in its practical application. There is some conjecture as to whether verse 22 begins a new sentence, or is a continuation of the wording in verse 21 such as “submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ, wives to husbands as to the Lord.” However what is more certain, is that there is no verb in many Greek manuscripts, so that the verse reads, “wives to husbands as to the Lord”. That is less confronting to many people than the “Wives be subject to your husbands” found in many translations.

We note in passing that it is not the subjection of women as a class to men as a class. Rather it refers to the relationship of husbands and wives as they live in mutual submission to one another as part of the general command to believers to be subject to one another out of reverence for Christ.

Because I have written previously about this latter part of Ephesians chapter 5, I will not dwell on it here. You can see my previous article No 045 on this link

https://jimholbeck.blog/2011/11/22/045-outline-of-ephesians-521-33-mutual-submission-in-the-body-of-christ/

However, we need to see that the theme of mutual submission continues into chapter 6 of Ephesians.

Mutual Submission. Children and Parents. 6:1-4

Children and parents. 6:1-3

The obedience that children are to render to their parents has a context. It presupposes that both parents and children are “in the Lord” and all are submitted to His rule over their lives. Eph 6:1 “Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right.” If parents are exercising their God-given privileges and responsibilities, then the children should feel safe and secure to submit to them in obedience.

The obedience required of children is also based on God’s revealed will in His word in the Decalogue [the Ten Commandments] quoted here by Paul. Eph 6:2 “Honour your father and mother” (this is the first commandment with a promise), 3 “that it may go well with you and that you may live long in the land.” The basis for rendering obedience is here seen as the need for the relationship to go well for both parties, and for the future protection and welfare of the children.

It has to be noted of course that the children’s submission to Christ may sometimes have to overrule their submission to parents when the latter refuse to be submitted to Christ themselves and in doing so, abrogate their responsibility as Christian parents.

Parents and children. 6:4

The responsibility of mutual submission is applicable also to the parents. Here Paul demands that fathers not provoke their children to anger, Eph 6:4 “Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.”  The word for “provoke to anger” is [parorgizō, παροργίζω] which is only used twice in the New Testament as a verb and once as a noun, as in Eph 4:26, “Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger.” The latter verse gives an indication as to what is involved in the submission of parents to their children. There may be cause for parental anger at times, as the word for “be angry” [ὀργίζεσθε be angry or as NIV translates, In your anger ] suggests. However prolonged unrepentant anger [parorgizō, παροργίζω] later in the verse, is not appropriate for Christian parents. Misplaced anger can be a provocation for children to respond inappropriately.

The appropriate model for child-raising is then introduced by Paul, “but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.”  6:4. The word for “discipline” is [paideia; παιδεία] which is used in relation to children and to adults. For example, the writer to the Hebrews wrote of discipline using this same word, Heb 12:9 “Besides this, we have had earthly fathers who disciplined us and we respected them. Shall we not much more be subject to the Father of spirits and live? 10 For they disciplined us for a short time as it seemed best to them, but he disciplines us for our good, that we may share his holiness.” True discipline always has a positive motivation in the one exercising it, leading to a beneficial result for the person being disciplined.

“Instruction” is [nouthesia; νουθεσία] and is only found twice elsewhere. In 1 Cor 10:11, “Now these things happened to them as an example, but they were written down for our instruction, on whom the end of the ages has come” and in Titus 3:10 where it is translated as warning, “As for a person who stirs up division, after warning him once and then twice, have nothing more to do with him.” We can learn a lot from the successes and failures of those in the past, including our own. On the basis of what we have learned we are able to warn others of the consequences of behaviours that we know will be detrimental to those behaving in such a way.

No wonder Paul advises his readers to bring up children in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.

Mutual Submission. Bondservants and Masters to each other and to God as Master of all. 6:5-9

Paul is saying that everyone is accountable to God, including masters and bondservants.

He addresses first of all, the accountability of bondservants to masters but in doing so shows that their service, is in reality, to the Lord as master, and not just to their human masters. Notice these phrases in the following verses, “as you would Christ”, “bondservants of Christ”, “as to the Lord.” Eph 6:5  “Bondservants, obey your earthly masters with fear and trembling, with a sincere heart, as you would Christ 6  not by the way of eye-service, as people-pleasers, but as bondservants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart, 7  rendering service with a good will as to the Lord and not to man, 8  knowing that whatever good anyone does, this he will receive back from the Lord, whether he is a bondservant or is free.”

Paul then addresses the masters and reminds them that they too are accountable to God and have responsibilities to their bondservants. Eph 6:9 “Masters, do the same to them, and stop your threatening, knowing that he who is both their Master and yours is in heaven, and that there is no partiality with him.” There is One master for bondservants and their masters, who shows no partiality. The masters in the treatment of their bondservants must not be threatening to them because the One true master now in heaven did not threaten, even in extremely difficult circumstances, [“When he was reviled, he did not revile in return; when he suffered, he did not threaten, but continued entrusting himself to him who judges justly.” 1 Pet 2:23]

A Suggested Prayer Based On Ephesians 5:17-16:9

How can one condense all the teaching in this passage into one simple prayer? Not easily! The passage began with the need to understand what the will of the Lord is. It then moved on to the need to keep on being filled with the Spirit to be motivated and enabled to fulfil our responsibilities to God and to one another in Him. A major part of that was living in submission to Him and to one another, in Him.

‘Heavenly Father, I want to live in the centre of Your will for me. I open every area of my life to You, and ask that You might keep on filling me with Your Holy Spirit so that I can submit myself to your rule over my life.  I want to be motivated and empowered by Your Spirit to humble myself in my family and working life, in ways that will be a blessing to others and will bring glory to You. I ask these things in Jesus’ name, and for His sake. AMEN.”

Blog No.340 posted on www.jimholbeck.blog on Monday 6th January 2020

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339. “A New Beginning! When The Eternal ‘I Am’ [Jesus, The Son Of God] Became Something He Never Was Before- A Human! Because Of Us, And For Us!” John 1:1-18

The Challenge of Jesus Christ to every person ever born into this world

The Prologue in John’s Gospel [1:1-14 especially] describes firstly just who Jesus is, and later what He became. In this first section of the Prologue, we find that the word “was’ is often used in regard to Jesus. Then comes a change in verse 14 where the word “became” is introduced  to describe Jesus. The One who eternally “was,” now “became ” something else at a certain point in history. Jesus at his birth “became” a human or took on human flesh. [NOTE 1]

What John does in this Prologue is to give the reader a wonderful overview of the majesty of Jesus as the eternal, pre-existent Son of God responsible for everything in creation. This is outlined as follows for your convenience. Bible verses in Bold print. 

A}.      WHAT JESUS “WAS” FROM ETERNITY

  1. JESUS PRE-EXISTED BEFORE HIS BIRTH ON EARTH, Joh 1:1  In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God,
  2. JESUS WAS PART OF THE ETERNAL GODHEAD [TRINITY] Jn 1:1 and the Word was God. 2 He was in the beginning with God.
  3. JESUS WAS GOD’S AGENT IN CREATION, THE CREATOR OF ABSOLUTELY EVERYTHING. Jn 1:3  All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made.
  4. JESUS IS THE SOURCE OF LIFE AND LIGHT, Joh 1:4  In him was life, and the life was the light of men. 5  The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.
  5. JOHN [THE BAPTIST] CAME TO PREPARE PEOPLE FOR JESUS’ COMING, Joh 1:6 There was a man sent from God, whose name was John 7 He came as a witness, to bear witness about the light, that all might believe through him. 8 He was not the light, but came to bear witness about the light.
  6. JESUS THE TRUE LIGHT WAS COMING INTO THE WORLD. Joh 1:9 The true light, which gives light to everyone, was coming into the world.
  7. JESUS CAME INTO THE WORLD AS ITS CREATOR, BUT WAS NOT RECOGNISED AS SUCH BY THE WORLD. Joh 1:10 He was in the world, and the world was made through him, yet the world did not know him.
  8. JESUS CAME TO HIS OWN CREATION AND TO HIS OWN PEOPLE, Joh 1:11 He came to his own, and his own people did not receive him. [NOTE 2]. It was not a total rejection, as the next verse indicates.
  9. JESUS WAS RECEIVED BY SOME AND REJECTED BY OTHERS, Joh 1:12 But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name.” Believing in” is a decision of the mind when confronted with the truth. “Receiving” is an act of the will. Both are needed to be born again. One can believe that Jesus is the Saviour of the world and is its Lord but every individual has to receive Him as such, personally, in receiving Him as their own Saviour and in submitting to Him as Lord and Master of their lives.
  10. JESUS GAVE THOSE WHO BELIEVED AND RECEIVED HIM, THE RIGHT TO BECOME CHILDREN OF GOD,Joh 1:12 But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, 13 who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God. [NOTE 3]

B}.       THE NEW EVENT THAT DIVIDED HISTORY! WHAT JESUS BECAME AT HIS BIRTH

Joh 1:14 And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.  

Jesus became a human, lived as human and died as a human! For us! During His ministry, in John 14, he told His followers that He would leave them. But He would send them another [allos = another of the same kind] Comforter who would remain with them for ever. His “tabernacling” [“dwelt” in Jn 1:14] among them as a human was for a limited time but His presence by His Spirit would be with them forever. John 14:16-17. [NOTE 4].

 C}.       WHY HIS BECOMING HUMAN IS SIGNIFICANT FOR US

Why would the eternal Son of God, the Creator of all things, want to come down from glory to visit the universe He created and sustained?  The angelic message to Joseph who was betrothed to Mary, gives the answer, Mat 1:21 “ She [Mary] will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.” In brief, He came to be the Saviour of the world by dying for the sins of the whole world.

So you and I are involved! We cannot escape the fact that Jesus died for all the sins of all the people who ever lived and that includes you and me. As the wonderful old hymn “There is a Green Hill far away” put it, “There was no other good enough to pay the price of sin. He only could unlock the gate of heav’n and let us in.”

D}.      WHAT SHOULD BE OUR RESPONSE TO WHAT HE DID FOR HUMANS (including me)?

A previous verse from the hymn “There Is A Green Hill Far Away” succinctly put it, “He died that we might be forgiv’n, he died to make us good, that we might go at last to heav’n, saved by his precious blood.” Unless He had come and died as a human for humans there would be no forgiveness, and no new quality of life to be lived! It was achieved through His death for us on the cross.  It was the process known as “salvation” accomplished for us by our Saviour Jesus Christ.

Or in the words of St Paul in 2 Cor 5:14-15, “For the love of Christ controls us, because we have concluded this: that one has died for all, therefore all have died; 15  and he died for all, that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised.” He died for us back then! We are meant to live for Him now!

There may be those who say, ”Well it doesn’t affect me in any way. I am an atheist and all this is nonsense to me.” Unfortunately you can’t reverse or deny reality. Jesus DID come and die for the sins of the whole world, including the sins of every atheist, agnostic and any other xxx-ist or xxx-tic that ever lived!

There may be others who say, “I want my freewill! I don’t want anything forced on me. I didn’t ask Jesus to die for me, nor do I want to go to heaven.” Well, the “good news” for you is that you have a choice. You can’t change the fact that Jesus died in Your place to pay the penalty for your sins, but you can refuse to reject the offer of forgiveness and eternal life He offers to you in Himself. The bad news is that if you refuse to receive Him and to believe in Him, you do miss out on all He offers you in Himself. So you miss out on being forgiven of anything! You miss out on receiving eternal llfe which is life in abundance [God’s life in you] from the moment you receive Christ into your life! You miss out on sharing in His love and His joy and ultimately on entering into heaven when you die.

So there is the choice every human must make in every generation. John put it like this, “Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him. “John 3:36. I know what choice I would make, and DID make, way back on New Year’s Eve in 1958.  I began to really live that night and to enjoy the Lord’s blessing as a child of God! If you are interested I have told my story in articles Numbers 248, 307and 338 on this blogsite. [You can  just click on the numbers to be taken to them or you can find them in the Index on the right.]

I encourage you to read the articles and to see if they are a challenge to you.  I would love you, the reader, to become a brand new creation in this New Year of 2020! It is your choice! “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.” 2 Cor 5:17.

____________________________________________________________________________

NOTES:–

NOTE 1. Jesus ‘was’ many things before he came to earth at His birth in Bethlehem. The word used several times in this passage is [ēn; ἦν]. It is the Imperfect tense form of the verb ‘to be’, [eimi; εἰμί] and is usually translated as “was.” However it could also be translated as “was always being” to denote its continuous aspect.

For example, Jesus as The One who was always being with God, always being the creator, always being the light and the life etc, but at a certain point in time Jesus “became” something He had never been before.

The word ‘became’ is from a different Greek root and is [ginomai; γίνομαι] to ‘cause to be’ or ‘to become.’ It is called in theology, the “Incarnation”, when Jesus was born as a baby. He ‘became’ a human and took on human flesh to live as a human.

NOTE 2In this verse John shows that Jesus came to His creation, His own things, [the neuter, ta idia;  τὰ  ἴδια  is used].  He then adds that His own people did not receive Him [the masculine oi idioi; οἱ ἴδιοι is used here]. Joh 1:11 He came to his own, and his own people did not receive him.

NOTE 3. In earlier translations of this verse, there was cause for some misunderstanding. For example the Authorised Version [AV] put it as, “to them gave the power to become the sons of God.” That could cause some folk to believe that God gave power to people to live in such a way that they could eventually, through a process of improvement, become the children of God.

However the word here for ‘right’ is exousia; ἐξουσία] ‘he gave the right to become children of God.” It means “authority” or “delegated power.” Receiving and believing in Jesus brought the status and experience of being a child of God as a privilege conferred, rather than being an honour earned! It is God’s grace at work, for and in the believer! As St Paul wrote, Eph 2:8 “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, 9 not a result of works, so that no one may boast.”

NOTE 4.  John affirmed that Jesus became human and also lived as a human. Joh 1:14 “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us.” However there is an interesting aspect to the word “dwelt”. It is the Greek word [skēnoō; σκηνόω]. meaning to “tent” or “to tabernacle” or to “reside” (as God did in the Tabernacle). It is used only by John in the New Testament writings.  Jesus indicated that he would be with them for a short time but when He left, He would send them another Comforter [allon paraklaton: ἄλλον παράκλητον] who would be with them forever. Many will recognise here a version of the word “Paraclete” a name for the Holy Spirit often translated as Comforter, Advocate, Helper, Counsellor, Strengthener. It comes from para = beside and kaleo = to call, literally “one called to the side of.”

Blog No.339 posted on www.jimholbeck.blog on Thursday 2nd January 2020.

 

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338. New Year’s Eve Greeting, 2019 from Jim Holbeck

In a couple of hours, at midnight, on New Years Eve, it will be 61 years since it took place. “It” being the most momentous decision and action of my life. I wrote about that incident in my life in an article I posted on New Year’s Eve 2018. This is the link to that article No.307 if you would like to read it.

https://jimholbeck.blog/2018/12/31/307-people-really-can-change-new-creatures-for-a-new-year-2-corinthians-517/

“It” was the time on New Year’s Eve in 1958 in which I knelt beside my bed in our holiday accommodation at Coolangatta and asked Jesus into my life to be my Saviour from sin and to be the Lord and Master of my life. I really had no idea what life might be from that point, having made myself vulnerable in handing my life over to Someone whom I had never seen. But what a wise decision! What a privilege to be guided by Him and to know His blessings since that time.

It was only weeks after that encounter with the Lord that I was led to the church where I would meet Carole, the love of my life and ultimately my very best friend who would later become my wife for almost 54 years before cancer struck its final blow just 2 months ago.  I am amazed at the number of people who have since remarked, “You two were really meant for each other!” I suppose it is only naturally supernatural when the Lord is in control of two lives He wants to bring together. What joy, What blessing when He is in control of our lives.

Wishing every reader a very “Happy New Year!” and  may the Lord bless you “real good” [as the late Billy Graham used to say] in the coming year of 2020.

Blog No.338 posted on http://www.jimholbeck.blog on New Year’s Eve 31st December 2019

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337. Honouring Jesus at Christmas! And All Year Round! Affirming More Of The Truth About Jesus During Holy Communion Services. Hebrews 12:2.  

I was thinking today! About the Christ of Christmas! About whom St Paul wrote, in simple but all-encompassing words in Rom 11:36 “For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever. Amen.”  He is the Beginning and the End, the Alpha and the Omega!

The Holy Communion service from the 2nd Order for Holy Communion in the APBA [A Prayer Book for Australia] also has majestic encompassing words. They are to be affirmed by every person present at the service. They are,

“Christ has died

Christ is risen

Christ will come again”

I personally love affirming them with all who are present at a Communion service.

However wouldn’t it be helpful and ‘nice’ if we added some additional words so that the affirmation became the following, [even if only as an addition in the Advent-Christmas season.]

“Christ was promised

Christ was born

Christ has died

Christ is risen

Christ will come again”

This would give a more meaningful narrative about the Person of Jesus, His promised role as The Christ [Messiah, Anointed One] and would tie in the truths about

  • all the promises regarding His coming at that first Christmas [as seen in Old and New Testament passages]
  • His Birth in humility as a human
  • His Death as a human
  • His Resurrection, Ascension and Session [His sitting down at the right hand of God] and the subsequent pouring out of the Holy Spirit on the people of God
  • His coming again in glory.

Anyway, I thought it would be a helpful thing to do! Do I expect the Liturgical Commission in Australia to suggest shredding all the existing copies of the ABPA prayer books in order to include my suggestion? Oh, me of little faith! NO!

Perhaps I might just think about the words when I am present at Communion services in the future, whilst “looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.” Hebrews 12:2. Joy for Him was fulfilling the Father’s purpose for Him! Our joy, because of all Jesus has done for us, is to live for Him and to endeavour, by the grace of God, to fulfil the Father’s purpose for us! What an exciting prospect! To be doing what God wants us to do!

The Promised Christ who was born at that First Christmas is worthy to be praised, all the time! By all His people! To His everlasting glory!

May you know the Lord’s richest blessings in this Christmas-New Year season.

Blog No.337 posted on http://www.jimholbeck.blog on Monday 23rd December 2019.

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336. Christmas! The Good News That Can Overcome The Bad News! Victory!

Christmas! A time of great joy and peace! As it should be! “Joy to the world, the Lord has come, let earth receive her king!” But not everyone experiences joy at Christmas! I have found in ministry over several decades that it can be, for many people, a time of deep sadness, intense emotional pain and a feeling of isolation.  It can be a time when we see the best of humans as they take the time to get together as families, expressing love to family members and becoming more friendly to those around them.  Some would say that we see the best of human nature at such a time as Christmas. Yet for some people it is a time when they are forced to deal with memories of experiences of the worst of human nature.

One of the articles I wrote on this blogsite way back in 2012 is being looked at more frequently in the last couple of years. I have some idea of why that is so. It was No. 089 titled, Humans. Basically Good? Or Prone To Evil? Mark 7:20-23.”  As we see so much evil taking place in the world around us we are forced to wonder why it is that humans can be so unloving towards their fellow humans. So inhumane! Are humans basically good or do they have an inbuilt bias towards evil? The above-mentioned article gives many clues towards an answer.

Jesus’ View Of Human Nature

Let’s start with Jesus’ view of human nature, recognising He is the Creator of humankind.  As the eternal Son of God He knows what took place at the fall of humankind and the disastrous results for humankind and the world that ensued. He is the One who came at that first Christmas to become a human so that He could live as a human and ultimately die as a human for humans. When He was asked what it was that defiled a person He replied, “What comes out of a person is what defiles him. 21 For from within, out of the heart of man, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, 22 coveting, wickedness, deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride, foolishness. 23 All these evil things come from within, and they defile a person.” Mark 7:20-23.

Every human has that propensity to do evil as well as doing what outwardly seems to be excellent and ‘good.’ We need to remember that behind every human action is a motivation. Sometimes motivations can be pure and loving and kind seeking the best interests of the other person. Sometimes seemingly good actions or attitudes may have a different motivation, based more on what one can gain by the action rather than what one can contribute willingly and selflessly to the other person!

St Paul’s View Of Human Nature

St Paul in Romans chapter 1 wrote of what happened when humans turned away from God in rebellion at the Fall. Humans became involved in idolatry, sexual impropriety and many other forms of sin. He described such behaviour in verses 29-32, “They were filled with all manner of unrighteousness, evil, covetousness, malice. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, maliciousness. They are gossips, 30 slanderers, haters of God, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, 31 foolish, faithless, heartless, ruthless. 32 Though they know God’s righteous decree that those who practice such things deserve to die, they not only do them but give approval to those who practice them.” In other words, they broke God’s requirements for living as His creatures in his world. Note how many of the Ten Commandments are broken in the list above.

Paul also put it clearly when he wrote of the difference between the new Spirit nature given to humans at conversion [their new birth] and the nature they inherited as humans. He wrote of the characteristics of the old flesh nature as being “the works of the flesh,” in this way, “Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality,  idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, 21 envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.” Galatians 5:19-21. In other words the outworking of our fallen nature can result in any or all of these sinful manifestations.  As I mentioned in that article No 089 above, even believers who have been born again of the new nature by the Holy Spirit can allow the old nature tendencies to be manifest in their lives at any time.

What denominations believe about our fallen nature!

The old flesh nature never leaves the believer.  The Anglican Church 39 Articles of Religion state in Article 9 [which is titled, “Of original or Birth sin”] “Man … is of his own nature inclined to evil. … This infection of nature doth remain in those who are regenerate (born again). The Presbyterian Westminster Confession article [V] agrees, “This corruption of nature, during this life, doth remain in those that are regenerated.”  It means this proneness to do evil is characteristic of all people. All born-again people still possess this old nature with its bias towards evil and can give way to it unless they are careful. That’s why they are to sow to the Spirit and not to the flesh (the old nature). Gal 6:8 “For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life.”

What that means in practice

It means that any human can commit sin at any time. St Paul warned about that in 1 Cor 10:11-12 where having shown that the people of God in the Old Testament initially followed God, later many departed from their trust in God, “Now these things happened to them as an example, but they were written down for our instruction, on whom the end of the ages has come. 12 Therefore let anyone who thinks that he stands take heed lest he fall.” Paul uses the failure of the Old Testament people of God, to warn that presumption can sometimes over-ride an ongoing confidence in God. It is when you think you are strong in your own resources and certainly beyond temptation, then you can fall.

  • The businessman talking things over deeply with his secretary feels she “understands him” more than his wife does. He begins to spend more time with her. An affair begins. He never thought he was capable of being unfaithful. But he was human. With a fallen nature.
  • The Treasurer of a group is meticulous with his handling of finances. But one day he makes a mistake. No one notices.  Later he is a bit short of money and makes the same “mistake”. A pattern begins. A meticulous treasurer with a developing flaw. Human. With a fallen nature.
  • The empathetic counsellor feels deeply for the woman he is counselling who has been neglected and sometimes abused by an inattentive husband. He gets too close, in his attempt to help her. Two marriages come to an end. Human. With a fallen nature.

One could give many examples one has come across personally where a person with the highest set of morals was tempted and suddenly fell. They did not “take heed” lest they fall. They were human. With a fallen nature. But all of them were accountable to God. They couldn’t say, “I did the wrong thing, but that is who I am! I have a fallen nature!” That is why I often sin!” That is excusing one’s sin, not repenting of it!  Repentance means saying to God, “Lord, I confess what I did was wrong in Your sight. Please forgive me and give me the grace never to do it again!” When we realise how much God hates sin, we would want to be honest in confessing it to Him, and utterly sincere in asking Him to empower us by His Spirit to have victories, rather than ongoing defeats, in that area of our lives!

Dangerous Human “Solutions’ To Complex Problems

One of the problems regularly reported on in the news these days is that of domestic violence. There are some who feel they know the reason for it and also an answer to it. The reason for violence as they see it, is “toxic masculinity” or “patriarchy”.  Males are the problem! So putting down men or building up antagonism towards men or trying to exclude men, becomes their answer to the problem. In the process they build up a tendency for females they influence, to see all men as evil and never to be trusted.

However they fail to recognise that the females of the species can be violent as well. Violence is not confined to the males of the species. It is not masculinity as such but the fact that all humans both male and female have a fallen nature that is prone to sin. Any human being can begin to entertain angry, hurtful or even murderous thoughts when under great pressure by another person or persons or in challenging circumstances. How males and females respond to such situations may differ but the negative response is not just due to some external factor. Rather they have been tempted from within as James indicated about temptation in his epistle, “ Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am being tempted by God,” for God cannot be tempted with evil, and he himself tempts no one. 14 But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. 15 Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death.” James 1:13-15. Anyone, at any time, can begin to follow the dictates of their fallen nature. As Jesus said, these wrong attitudes and behaviour come from within, not just from an external influence, though the words or actions of others may help to trigger off a negative or inappropriate response!

A “Walking Civil War?”

It is the testimony of most believers that there is a tension within them as they seek to live sincerely for the Lord. Paul expressed it thus, “For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing. 20 Now if I do what I do not want, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me. 21 So I find it to be a law that when I want to do right, evil lies close at hand. 22 For I delight in the law of God, in my inner being, 23 but I see in my members another law waging war against the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members. 24 Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?” Romans 7:19-24. One writer many decades ago described the believer as being a “walking civil war!” In the words of Paul in Gal 5:17, “For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do.”

Having read those words, one could wonder if there could be any victories in life. But Paul continues on in a triumphant note, “Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself serve the law of God with my mind, but with my flesh I serve the law of sin. 8:1 There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. 2 For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death.” Romans 7:25- 8:2. Not only are believers set free from condemnation. They are also set free to live victoriously in the power of the Holy Spirit, having ongoing victories over their fallen flesh nature [that still remains within them.]

Christmas?

What has this got to do with Christmas? Everything! If Jesus had not come at that first Christmas there would be no forgiveness of sin, no eternal life to be enjoyed and no victory over the power of sin. But His coming at Christmas led to forgiveness and eternal life becoming available to those who trusted in His sacrifice for them on the cross.  His resurrection and ascension and His sitting down at the right hand of God meant that He could send His Holy Spirit to indwell His people, to enable them to live in the power of His Spirit and to have victory over the dictates of their lower flesh nature. As new creatures in Christ, they would be able to obey the promptings of the indwelling Holy Spirit to live lives of genuine love expressed in sacrificial service to others.

The bad news is all about the inability of humans to live as they should.]

The GOOD NEWS [the Gospel] is that when Christ came at Christmas He set into motion the plan and purpose of God [through His death, resurrection and ascension] to set His people free to live and love as they should! Praise God for our Redeemer whom Paul described as the One “who gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works.” Titus 2:14.

Good news to receive with thanksgiving! Good works to flow from hearts filled with thanksgiving to God , as Paul expressed it, “Thanks be to God for his inexpressible gift!” 2 Cor 9:15.

The best Christmas gift that could ever be given! CHRIST HIMSELF! To be received by faith!

Blog No.336. Posted on www.jimholbeck.blog on Saturday 21st December 2019.

 

 

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335. Jesus Did Tell Us Why He Came To Earth At That First Christmas! Now Is A Great Time To Reflect Personally On Why He Came!

Much has been written over the ages trying to explain why Jesus came from heaven to earth. Whole books of theology have been written on what is called the Incarnation, Jesus taking on human flesh. This article tries to show what Jesus Himself said about His coming to earth. Let Jesus tell us, in His own words, why He came to earth, so we can reflect on their significance for the world in general, and for ourselves in particular.

He Came Into The World In His Father’s Name To Do The Father’s will, Not His own Will

It was in the Father’s plan and purpose for Jesus to come to earth.

  • Joh 5:43 “I have come in my Father’s name, and you do not receive me. If another comes in his own name, you will receive him.”
  • Joh 6:38 “For I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will but the will of him who sent me.”
  • Joh 7:28 ‘So Jesus proclaimed, as he taught in the temple, “You know me, and you know where I come from. But I have not come of my own accord. He who sent me is true, and him you do not know. 29 I know him, for I come from him, and he sent me.”’
  • Joh 8:42 Jesus said to them, “If God were your Father, you would love me, for I came from God and I am here. I came not of my own accord, but he sent me.”
  • Joh 12:27 “Now is my soul troubled. And what shall I say? ‘Father, save me from this hour’? But for this purpose I have come to this hour.”

He Came Into The World As The Light Of The World, To Dispel Darkness

  • Joh 3:19 (The words are attributed to Jesus) “And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil. 20 For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his works should be exposed.”
  • Joh 9:39 ‘Jesus said, “For judgment I came into this world, that those who do not see may see, and those who see may become blind.”’
  • Joh 12:46 “I have come into the world as light, so that whoever believes in me may not remain in darkness. 47 If anyone hears my words and does not keep them, I do not judge him; for I did not come to judge the world but to save the world.”

He Came Into The World To Call To Call Sinners To Repentance

  • (Mk. 2:17) ‘And when Jesus heard it, he said to them, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. I came not to call the righteous, but sinners.”’

He Came Into The World To Fulfil the Old Testament Law And Prophecies and To Establish The New.

  • 5:17, “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfil them”.
  • Joh 10:10 “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.”

He Came Into The World To Kindle A Fire .

Luk 12:49-50, “I came to cast fire on the earth, and would that it were already kindled! 50 I have a baptism to be baptized with, and how great is my distress until it is accomplished!

He Came Into The World As The Prince Of Peace, But His Coming Would Bring Division! (People would respond differently to His message. Same message! Different responses!)

Mat 10:34  “Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I have not come to bring peace, but a sword. 35 For I have come to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law.”

Luk 12:51 “Do you think that I have come to give peace on earth? No, I tell you, but rather division. 52 For from now on in one house there will be five divided, three against two and two against three. 53 They will be divided, father against son and son against father, mother against daughter and daughter against mother, mother-in-law against her daughter-in-law and daughter-in-law against mother-in-law.”

He Came Into The World, But He Alone Knew Where He Had Come From. Others Only Thought They Knew.

Joh 8:14 ‘Jesus answered, “Even if I do bear witness about myself, my testimony is true, for I know where I came from and where I am going, but you do not know where I come from or where I am going.”’

Joh 12:27  “Now is my soul troubled. And what shall I say? ‘Father, save me from this hour’? But for this purpose I have come to this hour.”

Joh 16:28 “ I came from the Father and have come into the world, and now I am leaving the world and going to the Father.”

He Came Into The World To Be A Witness To The Truth

  • Joh 18:37 ‘Then Pilate said to him, “So you are a king?” Jesus answered, “You say that I am a king. For this purpose I was born and for this purpose I have come into the world—to bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth listens to my voice.”’
  • Joh 15:22 ”If I had not come and spoken to them, they would not have been guilty of sin.”

He Came Into The World To Search For And To Save The Lost.

  • 19:10, “For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.”

He Came Into The World To Serve People And To Give Up His Life To Ransom Many.

  • 10:44-45), “and whoever would be first among you must be slave of all. 45 For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”

Many decades ago I heard a statement like this. “If you had been the only person in the world, and committed only one sin in your whole lifetime, Jesus would still have needed to come, to die for you.”  The famous hymn, “There is a Green Hill Far Away” has these words which echo that truth, “There was no other good enough to pay the price of sin, He only could unlock the gate of heaven and let us in.” Jesus was the only one equipped to be the Saviour from sin. Any sin! All sin!

  • It is comforting to know that Jesus came at that first Christmas to later die willingly for the sins of the whole world.
  • It is challenging to know that He came and in His amazing love for individuals, died for you and me. What should be our response to His sacrificial love on our behalf? Paul gives us the answer, “For the love of Christ controls us, because we have concluded this: that one has died for all, therefore all have died; 15 and he died for all, that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised.” 2 Cor 5:14-15.

You might ask, “I understand that Jesus came and died for me, but how can I now live for Him?” It is possible by praying to the Risen Lord Jesus, a prayer such as this one, “Dear Lord Jesus, I thank You that you died on the cross to take away my sin. Come into my life in the power of Your Holy Spirit and enable me to live for You for the rest of my life. AMEN.”

I believe that if you pray a prayer such as this one, that God will take you seriously and will begin to transform you inwardly by His Holy Spirit, to become more like Him.

This Christmas 2019 could be your very best yet. I pray that it will be so, for your sake, and to His glory.

Have a truly Blessed Christmas, in Him!

Blog No.335 posted on www.jimholbeck.blog on Monday 16th December 2019.

 

 

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334. Why Jesus came at Christmas. The Unimaginable, Unappreciated Depths Of The Christ Of The Christmas Message.

It seemed to me, as I thought about another coming Christmas season when Christmas is being overlooked, or not being observed by many folk, and when Jesus [whose birth we celebrate at Christmas] is being ignored, that we should think a bit more deeply about why we celebrate Christmas at all.  After all, as a saying from decades ago put it, “HE IS THE REASON FOR THE SEASON.” If it is all about Him, then why is He [and Christmas] being ignored by so many?

This year, my thoughts went in this direction.

  • A shallow appreciation of the severity of the wrath of God comes from a
  • A shallow appreciation of the sinfulness of human sin in the sight of God, which leads to
  • A shallow appreciation of the grace of God which He showed in in sending Jesus to pay the penalty sinners should have paid for their sin, resulting in
  • A shallow appreciation of the person of Jesus, who came from heaven as the eternal Son of God, at that very first Christmas, to live as a human, that He might die as a human, for humans, and
  • A shallow appreciation of the ministry of Jesus who came not only to die for sinners but to give them forgiveness of sins, peace with God and eternal life in Himself.

Whoa?

Some might say, “Whoa! You mustn’t mention the wrath of God at Christmas! Christmas is all about love. It’s entirely inappropriate!“ But what is love? the apostle John answered that question when he wrote, “In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins,” 1 John 4:10. We note the following about that verse,

  • True love is seen in God’s love for us when He sent His Son into the world at that very first Christmas. What a wonderful Christmas gift! We love Him because He first loved us.
  • Why was He sent into the world? That He might be “the propitiation for our sins.” The word is found only once more in the New Testament in 1 John 2:1-2, “My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. 2 He is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world.” The word means appeasing, appeasing the wrath of God. It is deeper than another translation often used for the word which is “expiation.” I read decades ago a simple explanation of the difference. We expiate a crime, but we propitiate a person. That is why Jesus can be our advocate because He stands before God on our behalf, by His very presence pleading His death on the cross for sinners, as satisfying the wrath of God.
  • Paul also wrote of the love of God in sending Jesus to die for sinners, when he described the latter in Eph 2:1-2 as “you were dead in the trespasses and sins 2 in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience—3  among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind.” The behaviour coming from unregenerate human nature meant they deserved His wrath. BUT!!! Paul added the good news, “But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, 5 even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved.” God so loved! He sent His Son into the world! Those who trusted in Him would not perish. In fact they would have life! {Exactly what the most well-known verse in the Bible [John 3:16] says!}

Love! God’s love!

It’s not a love that smiles benignly at human sin or is indifferent to human suffering. It is a pure love that wants the best for every human individual ever born. It’s a love that is offended when people hurt one another in any way and when they don’t care about what they said or did.  It is a just love that demands that justice is done and injustice must be punished. It is a forgiving love that makes provision for sinners to escape their just punishment for not loving and not trusting as He has commanded them to do. It is a self-giving love that meant that Jesus had to be born at Christmas, to die on that first Good Friday, for sinners, because “there was no other good enough to pay the price of sin!” It is not a sickly, soppy, sentimental, syrupy, shallow, self-seeking love. Rather as the world’s most well-known Bible verse I mentioned above says, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” John 3:16. He saw humans perishing because of their sin and in love did something about it to meet their need and to satisfy His justice. That is why there HAD TO BE a first Christmas!

  • As one song puts it so well, “Oh the deep, deep love of Jesus -Spread His praise from shore to shore – How He came to pay our ransom- Through the saving cross He bore-How He watches o’er His loved ones-Those He died to make His own -How for them He’s interceding – Pleading now before the throne.”
  • God’s love then at the first Christmas! Seen in sending Jesus to live and die for us, as Paul wrote, “but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Rom 5:8.
  • God’s love now at this Christmas! Can be seen in the Spirit of His Son coming to live in and through us, to His glory, as we open our lives completely to Him.

Why There Is A Christmas!

Of course we shouldn’t emphasise the wrath of God at Christmas!  We would be foolish to do so when people have no understanding of what His wrath means! But we need to remember that it was the wrath of God needing to be satisfied, that made it necessary for there to be a Christmas!

Every Christmas is a celebration of His birth which led to His necessary death, for US!

Having ministered to hundreds of people individually since my conversion almost 61 years ago, I have become increasingly aware of the sinfulness of sin. Many of the things people shared with me have been horrific. I certainly won’t be sharing any of them in this Christmas season. Other things have been far less horrific in human terms but still had a deep effect on the person involved. One example that came to mind was ministering to a woman in her 90’s. She was a timid soul with no confidence at all. She shared with me what her mother had said to her about 90 years before. It had crippled her emotionally from that time. By the grace of God she learned to forgive her mother and we prayed that she might be set free from the power of those damaging words. Over 90 years of bondage came to an end and she began to blossom emotionally and spiritually from that time! We often fail to realise that a few ill-chosen words can lead to a lifetime of hurt and pain in those who hear them!

Inappropriate Words Can Cause Deep Damage

Words have power and inappropriate words can cause tremendous damage to individuals. It’s no wonder Jesus warned about the danger of careless words, “I tell you, on the day of judgment people will give account for every careless word they speak” Mat 12:36. [I found it interesting that the word for “careless” is ‘argon’, the opposite of ‘ergon’ meaning work. It could mean words that we haven’t ‘worked on’ before we said them.] It was the sort of thing Paul warned against when he wrote, “Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.” Eph 4:29. Suitable speech is that which builds people up or strengthens them, is appropriate for the occasion, not inappropriate, and is motivated to lead to positive outcomes in the lives of those who hear such speech.

Making This The Best Christmas Yet, For us And For Others

What a wonderful Christmas it would be for us and for others, if we could speak to one another in that positive way outlined in Eph 4:29. An encouraging word! The right words for the right occasion! Coming from the right motivation! To positively bless those who hear them!

What a wonderful Christmas it would be for us and for others, if we could allow God to remind us of hurtful or inappropriate words we have uttered to others that He knows brought hurt, pain or any damage to them, and if we asked Him for the grace and strength to say “SORRY! Please forgive me!” to those individuals. What a wonderful releasing healing gift it would be for someone we had hurt in any way, to hear our words this Christmas, ““SORRY! Please forgive me!” Unexpected Christmas “gifts” from “unexpected” people, at an unexpected time, are always a great blessing.

God’s Christmas gift to to the world was His Son whom He gave, so that we might have the gifts of forgiveness, peace with God and eternal life. My late wife Carole understood this. She knew that she had been died for, by Jesus. She chose beforehand a song to be sung at her Thanksgiving Service just over a month ago. We did indeed sing these words, which remind us that Jesus came at that first Christmas, to die, for us, so that we might live, [as she does now with Him]

“Amazing love, O what sacrifice-

The Son Of God given for me

My debt He pays and my death He dies

That I might live,

That I might live!”

May each one of you know the real joy and peace of Christmas as you remember that God sent Jesus to die for you, so that you might have life, in abundance, in Him!

Blog No.334. Posted on www.jimholbeck.blog on Friday 13th December 2019.

Posted in BIBLE PASSAGE OUTLINES, Bible verses. Comments, Christmas, Forgiveness, Healing, Judgement, Justification, Prayer, Real Life Stories, Salvation, Second coming of Jesus | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment