A Struggle I Have

Tuesday, June 16, 2015, 7:47 a.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song, “Pray, Pray, Pray.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read Colossians 1:21-2:7 (NASB).

Reconciled Through Death (vv. 1:21-23)

And although you were formerly alienated and hostile in mind, engaged in evil deeds, yet He has now reconciled you in His fleshly body through death, in order to present you before Him holy and blameless and beyond reproach— if indeed you continue in the faith firmly established and steadfast, and not moved away from the hope of the gospel that you have heard, which was proclaimed in all creation under heaven, and of which I, Paul, was made a minister.

When we are born physically into this world, from within our mother’s wombs, we are born with sin natures due to the fall of Adam (See: Romans 5:12-21; 1 Corinthians 15:44-50). We are separated from God, without hope, and doomed to spend eternity in punishment in hell. Nonetheless, I do believe that scriptures seem to teach that small children, who have not yet reached the age where they can discern truth from error, and wrong from right, are in heaven with Jesus should they die before they reach the age of accountability. I believe that is one reason why Jesus used small children as examples of those who have come to him with child-like faith, as those who have the promise of eternal life in heaven (See: Matt. 19:14). Unless we come to him like little children, we will not see heaven.

Yet, while we were still sinners Jesus Christ died for us (all of humankind). When he died, our sins died with him and were buried with him, but when he was resurrected from the dead, he rose victorious over sin, hell, death and Satan. By his stripes we are healed! The reason he died was not just so we could escape the punishment of hell and have the promise of heaven when we die, though. He died that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. He died so we would no longer live for ourselves, but for him who gave his life up for us. He died so we would no longer conduct our lives according to our sinful flesh, but so we would live our lives according to the Spirit who now lives within those who believe on Jesus for their salvation. He died so that sin would no longer be our master, but so we could now become slaves (servants) of righteousness (Ac. 26:16-18; Ro. 6:1-23; 8:1-14; 2 Co. 5:15; Gal. 2:20; Eph. 2:8-10; 4:17-24; Tit. 2:11-14; 1 Pet. 2:24-25; & 1 Jn. 1:5-9).

So, when we believe in Jesus Christ to be Lord and Savior of our lives, we die to sin so that we can live to righteousness. We are transformed in heart and mind of the Spirit of God away from sin and to new lives in Christ Jesus, “created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness” (Eph. 4:24). Yet, this is not the end of it all until we reach heaven. We must continue in that faith, firmly established and steadfast, and not moved away from the hope of the gospel, or else we have believed in vain (John 8:31-32; Romans 11:17-24; I Co 15:2; Col 1:21-23; II Tim 2:10-13; Hebrews 3:6, 14-15; 2 Pet. 1:5-11; I John 2:24-25). We who have believed in Jesus have been saved (past), we are being saved (present – ongoing), and we will be saved (future) when Christ returns. It is the one who is believing (present – ongoing) in Jesus Christ who has the hope of eternal life with God in heaven.

For This Purpose (vv. 1:24-2:5)

Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I do my share on behalf of His body, which is the church, in filling up what is lacking in Christ’s afflictions. Of this church I was made a minister according to the stewardship from God bestowed on me for your benefit, so that I might fully carry out the preaching of the word of God, that is, the mystery which has been hidden from the past ages and generations, but has now been manifested to His saints, to whom God willed to make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory. We proclaim Him, admonishing every man and teaching every man with all wisdom, so that we may present every man complete in Christ. For this purpose also I labor, striving according to His power, which mightily works within me.

For I want you to know how great a struggle I have on your behalf and for those who are at Laodicea, and for all those who have not personally seen my face, that their hearts may be encouraged, having been knit together in love, and attaining to all the wealth that comes from the full assurance of understanding, resulting in a true knowledge of God’s mystery, that is, Christ Himself, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. I say this so that no one will delude you with persuasive argument. For even though I am absent in body, nevertheless I am with you in spirit, rejoicing to see your good discipline and the stability of your faith in Christ.

When we believe in Jesus Christ to be Lord and Savior of our lives, the Spirit of God (the Holy Spirit) comes within us to live (dwell). He is the one whom Jesus promised to his disciples before he left this earth. Now, indwelt by the Holy Spirit, we have open access to the Father, we have the hope of heaven, we have been given eternal life beginning right now, we have been forgiven of our sins, and we have been given new lives in Christ Jesus to be lived in his righteousness and holiness in the power of the Spirit within us. As well, we have each been given spiritual gifts by the Spirit, and we have each been assigned specific roles (parts, tasks) within the body of Christ, by God, which he intends us to do (fulfill).

Paul’s assignment was to preach the Word of God in its fullness both to Jew and to Gentile wherever God sent him. He was to open (spiritually) blinded eyes, turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God, so that they could receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in Christ Jesus (See: Ac. 26:16-18). Yet, all of us have been called of God/Christ to make disciples of Christ of people of all nations, baptizing them, and teaching them to obey all that Christ commanded us. Empowered of the Spirit, we are to be his witnesses throughout the world. We are the light of the world and the salt of the earth, and we are not to hide our lights, but we are to let them shine before mankind. We are to rescue those who walk in darkness, and turn sinners from the error of their ways, and snatch people from the flames of hell and save them.

When we teach the truth of the gospel, which is that Jesus died that we might die to sin and live to righteousness, we will be persecuted, though, just as Paul was, and as Jesus was, yet we should rejoice that we are counted worthy to suffer for the sake of the gospel of Christ, and for the benefit of the body of Christ, his church. Although we won’t all be gifted as Paul was, and we won’t all be given the exact assignment he was given, and we can’t all be in positions of spiritual authority over other people, we, as the body of Christ, are to work together toward the mutual encouragement, strengthening, maturity and edification of the body of Christ, using the gifts we have been given, and fulfilling the roles we have been assigned within the body by God (See: Eph. 4:1-16; Ro. 12:1-8; 1 Co. 12:1-31).

And, we should do so, not just because we are supposed to, but because we love our brothers and sisters in Christ, and we care about them, and we are concerned that they walk according to the Spirit and no longer according to the flesh. We should do so because we want to see our brothers and sisters in Christ grow in their relationships with Christ, and live Christ-like lives, and walk in freedom from sin, and live in spiritual victory. We should all struggle (strive, endeavor) with all Christ’s energy within us so see our fellow believers in Christ become mature and steadfast followers of Jesus Christ.

So Walk in Him (vv. 2:6-7)

Therefore as you have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him, having been firmly rooted and now being built up in Him and established in your faith, just as you were instructed, and overflowing with gratitude.

So many people today get this notion that we are saved (past), we live our lives, and then one day we get to go to heaven when we die, and that that is the totality of our salvation. Many teach that, beyond that initial prayer to receive Christ, nothing is required of us. Some even teach that we can sin as much as we want and it doesn’t matter because we are saved (past), and thus heaven is guaranteed when we die and no one can take that away from us.

So, what do they believe they are saved from? They believe they are saved from the punishment of sin because of what Jesus did for us in dying on the cross for our sins, but many ignore the fact that he died so we might die to sin and live to righteousness. If all we are saved for is just so we can go to heaven when we die, and escape hell, that is pretty sad indeed. It isn’t grace if we are still left under the power and control of sin while we still live on the earth. True grace teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, godly and upright lives while we wait for Christ’s return. Jesus died that the righteous requirements of the law might be fully met in us who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. They seem to miss that part, too.

Therefore, if we have received Jesus Christ, by God’s grace, through faith, then we need to walk (conduct our lives) in him. Our lives are no longer our own to be lived how we want. We were bought with the price of Jesus blood shed on the cross for our sins. Life for the believer in Christ should not be about self-gratification and a consuming desire for self-pleasure (entertainment). We should follow the instructions given us by Christ and the apostles, not as works to earn our salvation, but out of honor, reverence and obedience to the one who loved us so much that he gave his life up for us. And, we should be the people of God he has called us to be, and fulfill the role he assigned us within the body, and we should struggle (strive) for our fellow believers to also walk in him and in his love.

Pray, Pray, Pray / An Original Work / September 6, 2012
Based off Various Scriptures

Pray that eyes may enlightened be,
So they may know Christ.
Pray that they may Him better know,
Strengthened by His pow’r.
Pray that they may grasp
How wide and long
And high and deep
Is Christ’s love.
Pray that they may be filled
To the fullness of God’s love.
Pray with thanksgiving.

Pray for an open door for me,
So I may share Christ.
Pray when the gospel is proclaimed –
Shared with clarity.
Pray words are given me so
I declare the gospel fearlessly.
I pray for you to be active
Sharing your faith, too.
Pray continually.

We oft not know for what to pray,
So we ask for help.
The Spirit intercedes for us –
Words cannot express.
Just keep on praying for the saints
With all kinds of requests to God.
Pray they may have faith to
Please their God in ev’ry way.
Pray with joyfulness.