Taking a Cloose Look at Our
...as Our Eyes Are Opened to the Possibilities that Are Ours in Christ
Oh, LORD, I stand in awe of You and Your Kingdom's power.
The prayer for this month deals with what one preacher calls “where the rubber hits the road.” It's about the living of a life that is pleasing to the Lord, all the while growing in our knowledge of Him. It follows what we learned to pray last month.
In the high understanding given Paul of Kingdom mysteries, he always came around to how we live among others. He frequently called this outward expression of faith our walk. This month's prayer calls for our walk to become worthy of the Lord. The way we live before others reflects our relationship with Him and determines whether we bring honor to Him. Worthy is from the Greek word, áxios, a word of honor. It means to have nothing in one's conduct or character that will bring dishonor to the Name of the Lord.
Passages from Paul’s Epistles speaking of the walk of a believer become good points for praying. They lead to the working of honor into our own lives as well as in those we hold before the Lord in prayer.
The first point to be settled regarding the way we live, or walk, comes out of Romans 6:4, where Paul relates our walk to the Resurrection of Christ. He said…Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.
Our relationship with the living Christ can become so close that the power of His resurrection will come over on the way we live. We are holding ourselves, and others, before Him as this becomes reality in our daily living.
In Romans 13:13, Paul calls for a break with all deceit and wild living. Let us walk honestly, as in the day; not in rioting and drunkenness, not in chambering and wantonness, not in strife and envying.
In II Corinthians 4:2, Paul spoke of allowing our lives to be open and honest for the examination of anyone....renouncing the hidden things of dishonesty, not walking in craftiness (the cunning trickery of a dishonest person ready to do anything for his own profit), nor handling the Word of God deceitfully; but by manifestation of the truth commending ourselves to every man's conscience in the sight of God.
In II Corinthians 5:7, he said, For we walk by faith, not by sight. This is a walk of close and unbroken fellowship with the Lord, even over a rough path where many of the steps cannot be discerned.
In Galatians 5:16, he said, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh. This calls for the presence and work of the Holy Spirit in our day by day lives. Intercessors move in this and draw others with them.
In Ephesians, Paul said much about the walk that comes out of a relationship with the living Christ. The following passages are good checkpoints for our lives as believers and prayer points for intercessors. We paraphrase each passage.
Ephesians 4:1—Walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called, “Walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you were called.” Conduct the daily affairs of your life in a manner that gives honor to your calling in Christ.
Ephesians 4:17—Walk not as other Gentiles walk, in the vanity of their mind, Do not conduct the affairs of your life like people who know not Christ.
Ephesians 5:2—And walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us, and hath given himself for us an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweetsmelling savour. Carry out your relationships with others in a way that puts them first just as Christ put you first.
Ephesians 5:8—Walk as children of light. Let your manner of life be completely free of dark and shady dealings.
Ephesians 5:15—Walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise. Give careful attention to your personal life, especially with regard to your spouse, your children, and your employment.
Colossians 4:5—Walk in wisdom toward them that are without, redeeming the time.
Going back to our prayer from Colossians 1:10, we find that our walk is to be worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing. Pleasing is from the Greek word, areskía, a word describing the quality of someone who does everything for the pleasure of someone else. It describes a slave serving his master, doing everything in a way that is pleasing and with absolute submission to what the master wants.
Colossians 1:10 is the only verse using areskía, but Romans 15:1-3 has a word similar in meaning. From this passage we find what it means for a believer to demonstrate this “pleasing” quality. We then that are strong ought to bear the infirmities of the weak not to please ourselves. Let every one of us please his neighbor for his good to edification. For even Christ pleased not himself.
When the above quality works in us, it does not take away our right to be free persons. Instead, it brings us into line with what is right and proper for a believer living in close relationship with the Lord Jesus. There is no bondage, only perfect freedom.
When the parts of a well-made machine are put together according to the directions of the maker, it runs well and is pleasing to its maker. When the Holy Spirit does a similar thing with our lives, working the quality of areskía, into us, we become pleasing to our Maker. What a joyful direction the above passages bring to those who pray!
Next, we consider becoming fruitful in every good work. The Lord Jesus spoke often of fruit in the lives of His disciples. In His parable of the soils in Matthew 13:3-23 and Luke 8:4-15), He told what will hinder the bearing of fruit. These scriptures are clear and provide some good points for prayer.
Note carefully what becomes of the Word of the Kingdom in Matthew 13:19, When any one heareth the word of the kingdom, and understandeth it not, then cometh the wicked one, and catcheth away that which was sown in his heart… When the Word of the Kingdom is planted as a seed in the good soil of a heart it produces good fruit.
Souls overcome by the distractions of the world, the deceitfulness of riches, and the lusts of the flesh, seldom bear fruit (Mark 4:19). It is here that people who pray can find much fertile soil for their spirits as they hold both themselves and others before the Throne of God's grace.
It was in this month of November that Glenda and I were dealing with the fact that she had been diagnosed with cancer. We were apart for a few days during this time, but my intercession for her increased. Through it all—even in dealing with the emotional drain that tried to come—I felt I was to stick right to the prayer that comes out of Colossians 1:10. I wanted what she was going through—and the way we handled it—to be worthy of the Lord.
I wanted the time both of us might be called aside because of the trial to be a time of bearing fruit in every good work. You can know very well that what Jesus said in John 15:2 became very real in our thinking and understanding. Every branch in me that beareth not fruit he taketh away: and every branch that beareth fruit, he purgeth it, that it may bring forth more fruit.
Most of all—maybe because I was hurting for her—I wanted her to increase in her knowledge of God, as this month's main prayer from Colossians 1:10 was directing us to pray. I prayed that very thing for her and saw the remarkable answer of the Lord. After that, she and I together were allowed to spend nearly ten years in fruitful ministry for the Lord.
We will start our “prayer-starters” with the first two chapters of the Epistle of Colossian and finish it next month as we make the last month in our discipline of intercession a month of praying about joy.
The resurrection of the Lord Jesus released for us an ability whereby we can walk worthy of Him. See how Paul leads us toward praying ...that ye might walk worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing (pleasing Him in all You do), being fruitful in every good work, and increasing in the knowledge (the acknowledgment) of God…Colossians 1:10.
Psalm 119, the longest of all the Psalms, leads us into praying along the same line as the Colossians prayer. Nearly every verse in this Psalm has a word in it that relates to the Word of the Lord. We underline them in these three verses.
Paul’s Great Statement about the Resurrection and Us
In Paul’s writing he used the word dúnamis to describe the power that brought the Lord Jesus forth from the grave. While this word is generally translated power, it comes from a word that means, to be able. Because of this, we may interpret it as enabling power. See what this will mean in some verses taken from the Gospel of Matthew, each of which has the word dúnamis in it.
No unclean spirit could withstand an order coming from Jesus when they were commanded to depart. Of course, when the disciples did this, they had to do it all in the Name of the Lord Jesus. There would be no sickness or disease able to remain when the appointed, and anointed, disciples of Jesus ministered healing to the suffering and afflicted.
Before the Lord Jesus returned to His Father in Heaven, He charged those same disciples with a commission they were to pass on to others as it reaches all the way to us.
Learning to Grow in Adversity—II Cor 2:3-10
Nearly every letter we receive from inmates begins with words of ...blessing in the Name of the Lord Jesus. Paul was also a prisoner when he wrote Colossians. It too begins with an opening blessing. Although he included Timothy in his opening to Colossians, there is no evidence that he added anything to the body of the Epistle. But, it is an indication that Paul was not alone in the revelation of Truth that was coming from him.
As we see the following, we can only imagine where Timothy might have been, for it was Paul who was the prisoner. We can be grateful, however, that he stood with Paul and encouraged him. We draw an example from Timothy in this. To the best of our ability, let each one of us ...remember them that are in bonds, as bound with them—Hebrews 13:3a.
Take note here in Paul’s opening words that, instead of complaining about his condition, he pronounced grace and peace on those who were free. What an example of grace this was in his life! Colossians 1:1,2—Paul, an Apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, and Timotheus (Timothy) our brother, to the saints and faithful brethren in Christ which are at Colosse: Grace be unto you, and peace, from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
How Paul and Silas Responded to Life in Prison—Acts 16:25-31
As Paul began this Letter to some people he had never met, he went right into what he called ...the hope which is laid up for you in Heaven, whereof ye heard before in the Word of the truth of the Gospel—Colossians 1:5.
This was, indeed, a major emphasis of the message he preached. It is also an important factor on which we should train our souls as—very soon—may face a time when all hope and freedom will come under attack.
Paul reminds us in Colossians that the Gospel, which had come to them, had come for all the world. It carries within it the power to bring forth fruit, particularly to those who, when they hear it, will receive it as ...the grace of God in truth (Colossians 1:6).
In Colossians we will find Let us never forsake the way of life in the Kingdom of God’s dear son for any distant and corrupt hope that might try to approach us.
Learning More from Paul about Being in Prison because of the Gospel—II Timothy 1:3
Paul learned of the Church in Colosse from Epaphras. We discover this as he spoke ...of Epaphras our dear fellowservant, who is for you a faithful minister of Christ; who also declared unto us your love in the Spirit—Colossians 1:7,8. Take note of what Paul said of Epaphras near the conclusion of Colossians. He said, Epaphras who is one of you, a servant of Christ, who saluteth you, who is always laboring fervently for you in prayers, that ye may stand perfect and complete in all the will of God—Colossians 4:12.
What a commendation of a believer who served as part of a ministry team in a local church! Seeing the brief mention of this man causes us to believe there were many faithful saints whose names we will never know this side of heaven, but who helped give birth to the powerful movement that has reached unto us today. What might happen if more men like Epaphras were on the scene today in churches across the land? It can start with someone like you beginning right where you are.
One of our greatest examples of intercession for others may be seen in Daniel who identified with his people Israel and labored fervently for them in prayer.—Daniel 9:3-19
What Paul prayed for the Colossian believers has become our own powerful pattern for praying. Let’s see it here again from the King James Version, then we will learn what we can from the more simple wording found in the New International Reader’s Version.
The Greatest Prayer ever Prayed—Matthew 26:39
As we move on, gently and with much left to be said, we find some unusual insights popping out in this letter from Paul to the people he only knew as fellow believers. It’s really amazing that he could write to them as he did, having had no personal contact with them. But now, as I think on this—though by no means do I compare myself with Paul—I am writing to most of you with the same sort of relationship. I know hardly any of you personally. But, I do feel I know you with a spiritual intimacy that can only be brought about by the Holy Spirit.
Let’s take note again of what Paul wrote in Colossians 1:9-11. What a rich string of words! Just to keep us on track, let us see verse 9 by itself.
For this cause we also, since the day we heard it, do not cease to pray for you, and to desire that ye might be filled with the knowledge of His will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding...
See this verse with me as translated from the Received Text of the Greek New Testament. Its words are rich, oh, so rich! For this cause we also, from the day we heard, do not cease praying and asking that you might be filled with the acknowledgment of His desire, in all wisdom and spiritual understanding.
The word understanding comes from the Greek sunesis and carries with it the meaning of being able to put matters together, matters that could otherwise leave us floundering as we try to walk in God’s will. We really do need the understanding that only the Holy Spirit can give as we walk in God’s ordained will. Thus, we pray.
It’s God Who works in us to perform His will.—Philippians 2:12-16
We have gone over the prayers from Paul’s Letter to the Colossians many times. But, as long as they continue to speak new things to my heart, I believe they could do the same for you. So—let’s see what might come to us from the next verse from which we’ve been taking guidance for praying through nearly a quarter of a century.
Colossians 1:10—That ye might walk worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing, being fruitful in every good work, and increasing in the knowledge of God...
Sometimes God’s will has seemed unlikely and hard to understand. But, we are learning that our every act and motive contributes to the working out of the high purpose the Lord has for each one of us.
Let us walk ...worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing, even when we don’t understand every step we’re required to take. If we preach what is right, if we say “amen” to what we believe is right, if we are faithful in attendance and in fulfilling whatever responsibility is laid upon us, and yet allow some attitude to creep through that is not worthy of the Lord or pleasing to Him, then we do damage to our own spirit as well to those little ones—in the faith—who are observing us.
We are learning that the Gospel is spread by more than words spoken or written. The lives we live do much to spread the pure Gospel of Christ. That is one of the reasons we are maintaining a discipline in praying, both for ourselves and for others.
See the prophetic insight that came to David with regard to God’s Kingdom in the earth.—Psalm 132:8-18
There is something so powerful and vital in the passage that belongs to next month, that we can well spread some of it out for this month. Colossians 1:11 is loaded with the light and power of God’s Kingdom as it moves on into our lives.
Just remember, what we quote here needs what comes before and after it to make the statement complete. We’re drawing the verse out alone because some of the words in it can use our special attention. See this verse 11 by itself:
...Strengthened with all might, according to His glorious power, unto all patience and longsuffering with joyfulness... There’s a lot of God’s “government” in this verse!
The Greek word dúnamis relates strongly to the words strengthened and might. When they are used together it very literally means, “enabled with all enabling power.” This is the kind of power Jesus promised the disciples in Acts 1:8. He said they would receive this power when the Holy Spirit came upon them from the eternal Throne of God in Heaven. It is the power by which His Kingdom operates on earth.
Then, we have the string of words according to His glorious power. This should read, “according to the dominion of His glory.” The word power is from the Greek krátos, which means, “force, sway, dominion.” The might with which we are to be strengthened is according to the dominion of God’s glory. The word translated “glory” is from the Greek dóxa meaning, the high dignity of God’s Kingly rule. Through us He will give expression to the dominion of His glory as it spreads throughout the earth.
There could be no Word in Scripture more clear in defining how the redemption through His blood brings us into His Kingdom. In the Colossians passage for today we see three distinct actions of God’s grace that take place when we receive the redemption through Christ’s blood.
Recall the words of the preceding verse 6 that speak of acknowledging the grace of God in truth. It is His grace that has brought us into an effectual place in His Kingdom from which we shall share with Him in His Government on the earth.
See these words from Colossians 1:12-14—
Those of us who have given ourselves to the purpose and calling of the Lord Jesus, what Paul has laid out in this Colossian passage will draw our spirits on, “enraptured” with the purpose of the redemption that is ours by His blood.
Take these words from John and, as it were, eat them like the Prophet of old. —Revelation 5:9,10; Jeremiah 15:15
Colossians 1:14,16 gives us some detail as to exactly what has taken place that gives Christ His absolute authority to reign on earth. Oh, how full these two verses are! See them as they occur in the King James Version. Then let us see them in J.B. Phillips’ interpretation.
There are those who disregard. In this Colossians passage J. B. Phillips has failed to include that it was through His blood that we have the redemption. Other than that, it captures the essence of what Paul expressed. For it is by His Son alone that we have been redeemed and have had our sins forgiven. Now Christ is the visible expression of the invisible God. He existed before creation began, for it was through Him that every thing was made, whether spiritual or material, seen or unseen. Through Him, and for Him, also, were created power and dominion, ownership and authority. In fact, every single thing was created through, and for Him. He is both the first principle and the upholding principle of the whole scheme of creation.
All things were created ...by Him, and for Him. Thrones, dominions, principalities and powers were created by Him and for Him. Oh, what a right He has to rule—and we with Him!
A Psalm of David to Bring Us onward in Kingdom Authority.—Psalm 47:1-9
The following verses are so full that our hearts could take days just soaking in them. As we study what Paul has laid out, we see, in ever increasing measure, where God’s Kingdom will reach. And, we’ll see where we can reach with Him as we become part of His Kingdom. We’ll also see that it’s about the reconciliation that is ours through the redemption. Take note of the frequent occurrence of the word all.
Upon studying this verse in the Received Text of the Greek New Testament, it becomes evident that the ALL things of verse 20 refers to the realms of government named in verse 16 that were created by Christ and for Christ. The last chapter of Ephesians has made it clear that these realms are presently under occupation by evil forces with whom we are called into combat. In the final conflict, the principalities and the powers that oppose the rule of Christ shall be reconciled unto Him.
There is not a person in the world toward whom the Gospel of Christ does not reach. The purpose of the Gospel is that we might be reconciled to God through the death and resurrection of Christ Jesus. Being reconciled, the continuing purpose is that we might be presented unblameable and unreproveable before the Father. But, there is an, if in this statement.
Colossians 1:21b-23—And you, that were sometime alienated and enemies in our mind by wicked works, yet now hath He reconciled in the body of His flesh through death, to present us holy and unblameable and unreproveable in His sight: if we continue in the faith grounded and settled, and be not moved away from the hope of the Gospel, which we have heard, and which was preached to every creature which is under heaven; whereof I Paul am made a minister.
We must understand that the message Paul is presenting here is a message of preparation for reigning with Christ in His Kingdom. Can we allow our hearts to pursue this? Can we perceive that reigning with Christ will require that we be pure in heart, mind and motive, lest the enemy overtake us and bring us down in defeat? Can we not understand what Paul was presenting in I Corinthians 6:9,10?
Opening ourselves to God’s grace while maintaining even a secret connection with the works of the flesh that Paul listed will result in our being blocked from God’s Kingdom. We must come to the understanding that while we are saved by grace apart from works, we must be qualified for the Kingdom?
As I was looking into the Greek New Testament at yesterday’s Scripture, it caught my eye that there were three negatives all in a row. They are to be worked out in us after we have been reconciled to God by the death of His Son. We don’t see these in the translation, but they are evident in the Greek.
Let’s view Colossians 1:21,22 again:
These three words, holy, unblameable and unreproveable, all begin with a Greek negative indicating that something must take place in us after our reconciliation with God that will make us acceptable in His presence.
We might not immediately think of holy in this group, but in actual fact it means, separated from common condition and use. If we allow our lives to remain open and available for common use, then whatever comes along might find easy access. Hágios, the word translated holy, is the same word elsewhere interpreted as “saint.” It is the saints who shall possess the Kingdom (Daniel 7:18).
The word unblameable, from amómos means, without a stain on one’s character, without disgrace. How important this is for one who will inherit the Kingdom with Christ. The word unreproveable is from the Greek aneģkletos, which means, having no ground in one’s life for dispute, without reproach, having no complaint from any quarter. These three negatives mark the lives of those who will reign with Christ.
Similar requirement are made of a Bishop.—I Timothy 3:1-7
A prophetic Word regarding Paul came from the Lord to Ananiasto tell him ...how great things he must suffer for My Name’s sake (Acts 9:16). Now, in Colossians 1 we have Paul telling of the Gospel whereof he was made a minister. See these unusual words from him as he speaks of himself in this calling:
What character had been worked in Paul that he could actually rejoice in suffering for the Gospel! We have been a soft lot who have looked for joy along easy paths. The difficulties we might have could work for us a ...far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory (II Corinthians 4:17).
It becomes apparent that suffering works a quality into our character that will make us more useful for God’s eternal Kingdom purposes.
The Glory of Suffering for Christ—Romans 8:16-18
See Colossians 1:24 with me as it comes from Paul who said,
Adam Clarke, my 18th century friend, gave one of his most valuable insights when he commented on this verse. He understood Paul; in general, as saying, “I have yet some afflictions to endure before my race of glory is finished. They are afflictions, which fall on me on account of the Gospel. They are similar to those Christ bore from the same kind of persecuting people.”
Though Paul spoke of his own sufferings, he did not say he had entered into the sufferings of Christ. He spoke, rather, of bringing to completion that which was lacking of the afflictions of Christ. This was a different matter. Through the centuries, many who have served Christ have endured their share of afflictions. This continues, and will only increase. But of the sufferings, only Christ could bear those. None could share with Him, nor have they ever, before or since He died. As with many of the words uttered by Jesus in His passion, we have the following declared for Him by that Prophet who saw details of His suffering, even beyond what the New Testament writers recorded. Take Isaiah 53, for instance.
But, now, note this: I have trodden the winepress alone; and of the people there was none with Me—Isaiah 63:3. Afflictions on Paul and us for the sake of His body, ok, but of the sufferings? they were on Jesus alone, in our behalf—and there was none with Him when He bore our sin and our sickness.
Suffering was part of the price those early men of the Gospel paid.—Acts 4:33-41
Paul spoke of Christ’s body, the Church whereof he had been ...made a minister, according to the dispensation of God, which was given to him to fulfill the Word of God (Colossians 1:25).
Three words in Paul’s statement take our attention. First, he had been made a minister. This is from the Greek diákonos, a word generally meaning, a servant, someone who sees to the needs of others and hastens to their aid. This word was even used in Matthew 20:28 to speak of the ministry of Jesus.
The second word taking our attention is dispensation from the Greek oikonomía. This word carries the basic meaning of, one who manages a household. It speaks of one who has a ministerial commission to make known the Gospel of Christ. Both words apply to one who serves others.
The third word is fulfill. It would seem there was something in Paul’s ministry that was necessary to bring the Word of God to completion. In one great sense this would be true, for there was much to come through him in his Epistles that would accomplish that very thing. But in the context of its use in this statement here, he referred to the responsibility on him to declare all the counsel of God, as he had done toward the people at Ephesus (Acts 20:27).
Though there are some points in J. B. Phillips interpretation of the New Testament text that might be questioned by some, much that he has given us is valuable. See here his interpretation of Colossians 1:24-25. In this, Phillips is able to express what I would have liked to say.
How Paul Ministered at Ephesus—Acts 20:17-36
What Paul ministered was clearly in line with what Moses and the Prophets had told. But there was a difference; Paul ministered after God’s Son paid the ransom for the redemption of our souls. What he told was in large measure the unfolding of what had been a mystery, sometimes hidden in laws and ceremonies that pointed to the Good News the Apostles of the Lord Jesus were commissioned to make known. Paul’s mission was different from theirs in that he was commissioned especially to the Gentiles.
See this now as we continue in Colossians 1:26-28:
Paul’s responsibility in ministering thus was that he might present the company of those under his charge as complete for the purposes of God. It was to Him, and Him alone, that he was answerable for the quality produced in those to whom he ministered.
We never cease holding regard for the Great Commission Christ gave His disciples
that reaches all the way through the ages to us today. —Matthew 28:18-20
Paul ministered the Gospel with so strong a desire to present those to whom he ministered complete in Christ, that he spoke of it as striving. This may seem foreign to many of us today because we have the desire to minister out of our rest in the Lord. But, we learn from Paul there is also a labor in ministering the Gospel. It is interesting to note the particular word he used in this concluding verse of Colossians 1. He spoke of his desire to present every man...perfect in Christ, whereunto I also labor, striving according to His working, which worketh in me mightily—Colossians 1:29.
What a loaded string of words. What was it that drew Paul on in ministering even after all he suffered because of the very thing he ministered? There was a strong desire present in him to present every person perfect in Christ. Because of this he labored. This labor was a striving. This striving was according to Christ’s working. This working was accomplished in him mightily. Thus, we have these four words into which we need insight.
What an Early Prophet Learned.—Isaiah 40:28-31
Paul was concerned that the people know how much he cared for them. It was not to build up his own ego, but that they might know the value placed on them because of the suffering of the Lord Jesus. Let us see the opening words of this second chapter in his Letter to the Colossians 2:1-3—
Being Established according to the Revelation of the Mystery.
Even though Paul had never been with the people of Colosse, he still held a concern for them. Remembering what kind of man he was before his conversion, we can well know that a heart like we see in him now could only have come from the Lord Himself. This gives us a confidence that anyone we know can become a new person in Christ.
See now these words: Colossians 2:4,5—
And this I say, lest any man should beguile you with enticing words. For though I be absent in the flesh, yet am I with you in the spirit, joying and beholding your order, and the stedfastness of your faith in Christ.
Paul held a similar concern for the people in Rome. This sets an example for any of us who minister the Gospel. Let us learn to hold concern for all those for whom we care. In these days that are closing in upon us it is urgent that we all become grounded in the truth of the Gospel, with a hope that is sure. See how this passage from the Roman Epistle exemplifying Paul’s continuing concern.
Paul gives the following admonition:
Paul used a double metaphor here, taken partly from the growth of a tree and partly from the increase of a building. He wanted the seed of the Gospel planted in the people of Colosse to take root. He wanted the seed to grow and bear good fruit. He also wanted them to be grounded with a foundation, like that of a strong building that would stand and enable them to become a habitation of God through the Spirit. He considered them to be...
It is important that believers know themselves to be the habitation of God through the Spirit. The above word, translated Temple is from the Greek náos, a word signifying the most holy place of the Temple, the Holy of Holies. The whole Body of Christ is being fitly framed together and groweth to become God’s habitation in the earth. Can we but believe this to be so?
We can understand fully where the Lord has His dwelling? In His Temple… In us…
A Psalm of David to Bring Us onward in Kingdom Authority
In the fellowship that was growing in Colosse, there were signs that some believers were being seduced. Paul gave strong warning with regard to the deception that was coming among them. Wherever people are opening themselves to the Truth regarding Christ, the enemy often brings in those who will seek to seduce them from what is wholly true. One thing for which we must be on the watch is, those who come with a great deal of truth, but seasoned with a small amount of deception.
See these words of warning from the Apostle in Colossians 2:8—
See this now from J. B. Phillips: I write this to prevent you from being led astray by someone or other’s attractive arguments. For though I am a long way away from you in body, in spirit I am by your side, watching like a proud father the solid steadfastness of your faith in Christ. Just as you received Christ Jesus the Lord, so go on living in Him—in simple faith. Grow out of Him as a plant grows out of the soil it is planted in, becoming more and more sure of the faith as you were taught it, and your lives will overflow with joy and thankfulness.
Be careful that nobody spoils your faith through intellectualism or high-sounding nonsense. Such stuff is at best founded on men’s ideas of the nature of the world and disregards Christ!—Colossians 2:4-8
Being Careful to Receive the Love of the Truth.
The warning that Paul gave in the preceding verse (Colossians 2:8) leads us to one of the most profound statements in the whole of God’s Word. Paul has just warned believers against the philosophy and empty deceptions that were encroaching upon the Colossian believers. Enshroud in what seemed to be statements of Christian faith, there came the teaching of the Gnostics. “The Gnostics generally believed not in a Jesus who was a Divine Person with a human nature, but in a spiritual Christ who indwelt Jesus.” (Wikipedia )
Gnosticism—from the Greek ginośko, to know—may be found in mystical Oriental religions to whom many are being drawn. The new age movement is moving in upon countless unsuspecting souls. This is particularly so among super-spiritual “Christians” who find delight like the Athenians to whom Paul ministered and who ...spent their time in nothing else, but either to tell, or to hear some new thing (Acts 17:21). Gnosticism was deceptive and confusing—then and now, by whatever name it may be called.
Just as many new believers today become fertile ground for deception, so was true of the Colossians. They saw Jesus as a model for their path to God. With Him as their “spirit guide” they supposed they might find God within themselves. The problem was: they missed the redemption from sin’s bondage. They missed the propitiation for their sins and were thus left to face God’s wrath, unable to declare His righteousness for the remission of their sins. They failed to discover the justification from the Law’s demands that only God’s grace could offer. They failed to know the reconciliation with God that could only come through Christ Jesus.
Becoming Thoroughly Furnished—II Timothy 3:13-17
Borrowing the last Word of the preceding verse and adding verse 9 we have. …Christ. For in Him dwelleth all the fullness of the Godhead bodily—Colossians 2:9. We make that same powerful confession now—with Paul—and join him in letting it enter our lives. Instead of trying to make it a profound matter, we just let our hearts go there—and believe.
There was a symbol of the divine presence in the Tabernacle of Moses, and so also in the Temple that Solomon built. But in Christ Jesus, God Himself dwelt in bodily form. This was necessary if the redemption was to come to its completion, rather than remain a dim confession, looking forward to a Redeemer that would come.
No more would any Israelite have to lay his hands upon the head of a lamb that was about to be slain. The Lamb of God came (John 1:29), was recognized by the few (Matthew 27:54), was slain (Luke 23:33), was raised from the dead (Mark 16:6), ascended back into the heavens (Acts 1:9), is seated on the right hand of the Majesty on high (Hebrews 8:1), where He ever lives to make intercession for us (Romans 8:34), from whence He shall come again (I Thessalonians 4:16). And, as the kingdoms of this world become His kingdoms, He shall reign forever and ever (Revelations 11:15).
All the divine majesty dwelt in Jesus. The Godhead, Deity itself, the fullness of Him Who God was and is and is to come became known in a humble man. Oh, glorious mystery! Who can fathom the depths?
The Divine Mystery Made Known and Confessed
The following verses lead us to the most valuable place—or position—any of us could ever know, our completion as persons who can have value in God’s Kingdom. Becoming spiritually complete is more important than any other dimension of life. Soak in the following three verses. Let the Holy Spirit bring the energetic force of them into your spirit, leading you in living your life out of their resource.
Colossians 2:10-12—And ye are complete in Him, which is the Head of all principality and power: In Whom also ye are circumcised with the circumcision made without hands, in putting off the body of the sins of the flesh by the circumcision of Christ: Buried with Him in baptism, wherein also ye are risen with Him through the faith of the operation of God, Who hath raised Him from the dead.
A song was sung long ago among believers who had a deep revelation of our identification with Christ in His death, burial and resurrection. The words went something like this: “Are you in your coffin? Is the lid nailed down tight?” It seemed a little humorous, but it reminded us that we need to stick with the confession that when Christ died, we died. When He was buried, we were buried. And—as that dear friend reminded me years ago—we were also raised with Him to walk in newness of Life. See the following words as they come from the King James Version. Then, we’ll take a look again at J. B. Phillips.
This is what we call “positional truth.” It is laid out for the purpose of becoming the reality of our lives. See now the somewhat simpler reading from Phillips: You, who were spiritually dead because of your sins and your uncircumcision (i.e. the fact that you were outside the Law), God has now made to share in the very life of Christ! He has forgiven you all your sins: Christ has utterly wiped out the damning evidence of broken laws and commandments which always hung over our heads, and has completely annulled it by nailing it over His Own head on the cross.Hallelujah! Let our hearts reach for it and believe.
An Exhortation to a Young Preacher—II Timothy 1:6-10
Let’s get it down pat. The determination of the enemy to ensnare us may continue long. We learn from a certain word Paul used in Ephesians 6:12 that the contest with spiritual forces opposing us may continue long.
We must learn to keep a hold on the principalities and powers that rise up with the intention of defeating us in our walk with the Lord as they use circumstances and people in their deception. See the following from Paul’s Epistle to the Colossians. They were under subtle attack from the principalities.
From this, we learn there will be those who try to impose laws and ceremonies on us that belong to the Old Covenant, but were fulfilled in the Work of the Lord Jesus. If these deceivers can get us back under the Law, they can succeed in removing us from our place of triumph in the Lord Jesus. What was used against the Colossians was a combination of Old Covenant Truth mixed with the mysticism of the Gnostic heresy. It was subtle and deadly and is still here today. It’s evident in many forms of religious circles today.
Take note of the word beguile in verse 18 above. It’s from an ancient word from the athletic field, referring to an umpire who hands down a wrong ruling in a contest. As Paul used it here, he refers to someone trying to get you to “play the game” by submitting to the rules of another game. As you grow in your relationship with the Lord, just be aware there may be those who, with subtlety and deceit, will attempt to divert you from the prize, which can only be yours in Christ.
What the Holy Spirit Will Do for Us—John 16:7-13
Colossians 2:19 continues on from what we saw in yesterday’s Scripture where we were given warning with regard to those who might try to rob us of the prize that is ours in Christ. Paul turns from the analogy of the athletic field to the physiology of the human body.
In speaking of not holding the Head, Paul clearly refers to the Head of the Body, which is Christ, the Head of the Church. Any success a seducing spirit has in removing us from our relationship with Him as our Head is a strike of victory for the enemy.
Years ago I had a roommate whose left arm had lost its connection with his brain. Unless he used his right hand to hold his left hand down, it would flail about. What a hindrance that was to him! Part of his body was not under the government of his head. The word holding in the above verse is from the Greek kratéo. It means, “to be under the government of.”
In the Body of Christ, when any of us are moved away from the governing power of Christ, we become like that young man’s arm, having the tendency to move about in senseless and non-productive ways for God’s Kingdom. We may even do harm, and knock things out of order around us. So, today, it is our purpose to present ourselves before Christ for a miracle of spiritual healing. Let this healing bring us into harmony with our Head and with the rest of His Body. Then, His Kingdom’s purpose can come to pass without a being hindered by carnality.
How members the Body of Christ May Work Together
What we have seen in the first two chapters are in preparation for some very amazing and practical aspects of spiritual understanding that will help make us useful to the Kingdom of Christ.
Most rules can be kept by the flesh. But, they don’t get inside and change the person. This means that when the person keeping the rules grows tired, or becomes discouraged, the old man who has lived inside them will inevitably rise back up and take over. Then, what do we have? A backslider? This kind of person can never function acceptably in the Kingdom of God. When they succeed in something, they become proud. When they fail, they think they’re of no use at all and just go away.
But, when we come under the Government of Christ as our Head, everything becomes different. Our life, our strength, our direction, our ability to walk in the paths of difficulty and impossibility become His to do in us. It really does become ...Christ in you, the hope of Glory.
Having been reconciled to God by Christ’s death,