Pride and Humility — CBCD | Center for Biblical Counseling & Discipleship (thecbcd.org)
The prophet Zephaniah has much to teach us about pride and humility. In the book, he exhorts the humble of the earth to seek further humility (Zephaniah 2:3), and God promises His judgment will come upon proud nations (Zephaniah 2:8, 10, 15). On the coming Day of the Lord (Zephaniah 1:7, 14-16, 18; 2:2-3; 3:8), God will remove all the proud and haughty, and leave for Himself a people humble and lowly (Zephaniah 3:11-12).
The prophet Isaiah foresaw the same. Isaiah warned, “the Lord of hosts has a Day against all that is proud and lofty” (Isaiah 2:12). At that time, “the haughty looks of man shall be brought low, and the lofty pride of men shall be humbled, and the Lord alone will be exalted in that day” (Isaiah 2:11).
As these prophets denounce human pride, they also describe the essential nature of the sin. It could be argued that the quintessential utterances of sinful pride are found in these books: in Zephaniah, the proud superpower Assyria “lived securely [and] said in her heart, ‘I am, and there is no one else’” (Zephaniah 2:15); in Isaiah, the proud superpower Babylon “sits securely and says in her heart, ‘I am, and there is no one besides me’” (Isaiah 47:8).
If you are familiar with the Bible, when you hear these words you should say in your heart, “Wow, that sure sounds like something God would say about Himself!” That’s exactly the point. The prophets are teaching us something very important: pride puts self in the place of God.
Assyria and Babylon’s words echo God’s own claims about Himself in the book of Isaiah. For example, in Isaiah 45 God says, “I am the LORD, and there is no other, besides me there is no God…there is none besides me; I am the LORD, and there is no other” (Isaiah 45:5-6). There are many other such statements in Isaiah, where the Lord asserts His own holy uniqueness as the only God. He is the only self-sufficient one. He is the only self-existing one. He is the only one whom there is none beside.
But Assyria and Babylon, in their carefree, jubilant confidence, say to themselves (about themselves), “I AM, and there is no one else.” There is no other like me. I need no other. I am self-secure, self-sufficient, self-satisfied. It’s almost as if they said, “From me, and through me, and for me, are all things” (Romans 11:36). As the Puritan Thomas Watson put it, “Pride seeks to ungod God.”
Sinful pride is assuming for oneself the prerogatives that should be God’s alone, or grasping for oneself the glory that should be God’s alone. It is looking to self, instead of God, as the ultimate source of what is needed, and/or boasting in self, instead of God, as the ultimate accomplisher of what is good. Pride trusts in self as the ultimate provider, sustainer, blessing-bestower, protector, or savior somehow, or pride treats self as the ultimate master, lawgiver, or judge somehow (cf. James 4:12, in the broader context of pride/humility: 4:6, 10, 16). The proud do not seek God, which is a hallmark of the humble (Zephaniah 2:3, 3:12), because they have themselves to rely on.
Of course, most of the sinful pride we see around us and in us is not as blatant and egregious as the words of ancient Assyria and Babylon. It is almost frightening how subtle sinful pride can be! Nevertheless, we must recognize that all sinful human pride, when you dig down to the root of it, is an effort to deify self. Every single proud thought, word, and deed of ours in some way usurps for self what belongs to God alone, or claims for self what is true of God alone.
Pride is at play wherever there is self-reliance, self-promotion, and self-service, instead of relying on God, exalting God, and serving God (which we do by serving others). We don’t often consider these ugly true colors of pride, but this is what pride really is, at the bottom: seeking to put self in the place of God, somehow.
So we see that pride is not just rebellion against God. It is actually a kind of rivalry with God. And God treats the proud in kind: He opposes the proud (James 4:6, 1 Peter 5:5). He must. That is what is right and good, because He is, and there is none beside Him. He is God alone.
If the essential nature of sinful pride is usurping prerogatives or positions that belong to God, then true humility must, first and foremost, express itself by acknowledging God, trusting in God, and seeking to exalt God. If someone is not actively depending on God and living for His glory, he cannot be seen as a truly humble person. People who are self-sufficient and God-ignoring are proud, no matter how mild-mannered they might be. Before anything else, pride and humility are defined by how one relates to God.
Furthermore, if pride takes for self privileges and positions that are not actually one’s own, then the highest form of humility must include a willingness to set aside the rights and honors that are truly one’s own, for the good of others. The glory of this high humility has never shined brighter than at the cross of Christ.
God’s Son and King rode humbly into Jerusalem (Matthew 21:1-7) on a mission that was more astonishingly humble than Assyrian and Babylon were astonishingly proud. The people of Assyria and Babylon, though they were just men, boasted in their hearts as if they were gods. But Jesus, though He was God, actually became a man! In humility, He did not count His rightful equality with God a thing to be held on to just for His own advantage (Philippians 2:6). He emptied Himself, and being found in human form He lived like the lowest servant, humbling Himself even to the point of death…even the lowly, humiliating death of a cross, as if He was a sinner cursed and rejected of God (Philippians 2:7-8, Isaiah 53:3-9). The King of glory humbly set aside His glory (2 Corinthians 8:9) to save His people from their sinful pride. He laid down His life to make them God’s special people, instead of God’s opponents. God’s purpose of grace is to transform all those whom Christ saved into a people humble and lowly (Zephaniah 3:12), thus conformed to the image and glory of the Lord Jesus (Matthew 11:29).
"A Prayer for Knowledge, Wisdom, & Understanding in The Church" Colossians 1:9-12
The Pilgrim’s Progress Mr. Worldly Wiseman " . . . Listen to me—for I am older than you. On that narrow way—you are sure to meet with weariness, pain, hunger, peril, sword, lions, dragons, darkness—and what not! In a word, you will meet with death! These things are certainly true, having been confirmed by many testimonies. And why should you so carelessly cast yourself away—by giving heed to a stranger?" . . . And at the end “"Then," said Evangelist, "stand still a little, that I may show you the Words of God." So Christian stood trembling. Sufficiency of The Person and Work of Christ For All Explained Chapter One. The prayers of Paul in verses 3-8 and verses 9-12. It is Christian to give thanks to God in our prayers. It is Christian to be praying for others. His prayer of thanksgiving about them leads him to his prayer of intercession for them. The title of the message this morning is “A Prayer for Knowledge, Wisdom, and Understanding In the Church.” We study the prayers of Paul. Such studies are helpful in painting for us a picture seeing details of prayers. Spiritual progress connected with prayer and praying for spiritual growth. This prayer by Paul in verse 9-12 is specific, personal, and important. As some have described this prayer “Pray As An Apostle Prayed” or “How to Pray for Believers.” In this passage Paul is Praying for Others Asking God for The Knowledge of His Will.
First, Simple Practical Action of This Christian Prayer in verse nine. “For this reason also, since the day we heard . . .” [see 1:4, 6] “ . . . we have not ceased to pray for you and to ask . . .” Pray and ask are the actions describing this matter for Paul as he prayed on their behalf and for them in his intercessory prayer. Praying for others because of Christ. The word ask reminds us of the exhortation and instruction of the Lord Jesus in the Gospel of John to ask the Father in praying to Him as disciples of Jesus [John 14:13-14; 15:16; 16:23]. A man under house arrest and probably chained to a guard intercedes for these Christians in Colossae. This is important for we often don’t pray or won’t pray because of things going on in our personal lives. This didn’t stop the apostle Paul as demonstrated here in this first chapter. The aim of his prayer is for all for these Colossians in Christ. Repeated phrases and emphases refuting the false teaching of the Colossian heresy diminishing the sufficiency of Christ. These repeated words include “all . . . all . . . all . . . all . . .” and “full knowledge . . . full knowledge.”
Second, One Personal Petition of This Christian Prayer beginning in verse ten. Paul writes, “that you may be filled with the full knowledge of His will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding . . .” As one commentator wrote, “The definition of epignosis is ‘almost a technical term for the decisive knowledge of God which is involved in conversion to the Christian faith’. It is just because, in Christ, the Christians already have access to the privilege of this ‘full knowledge’ of God, that Paul can pray for them that they may be filled with it. If conversion to Christ had not brought with it this decisive understanding, then it would be reasonable to teach the need for some further initiation, and thus to occupy the same sort of ground as the new teachers. Paul does not ask for the Christians a new knowledge, however, but rather the proper use of what is already theirs in Christ, so that they can the better discern the will of God for their lives.” (Lucas, Fullness & Freedom) At the end of this epistle Paul describes this again. “Epaphras, who is one of your own, a bond-servant of Christ Jesus, sends you his greetings, always striving earnestly for you in his prayers, that you may stand mature and fully assured in all the will of God” [4:12]. The verb here means become full, be filled with; with reference to the will of God carry out, perform, and accomplish. So Paul is petitioning that they would be filled completely, totally, entirely, and fully. He is praying for the total will of God in every area of their lives and not their own wills and desires for the actions and decisions. Throughout the New Testament people are described as filled with different attitudes, emotions, and things others than the will of God. Such examples would be filled with fear [Luke 5:26], sorrow filled their hearts [John 16:6], filled with anger [Acts 19:28], filled with jealousy [Acts 5:17], filled with joy [Acts 15:22; 2 Timothy 1:4], filled with confusion [Acts 19:29], and be filled with the Spirit [Ephesians 5:18]. And the emphasis in all spiritual wisdom and understanding meaning the Spirit of god revealed in the Word of God as the word of truth [1:6] and the Spirit of truth. Wisdom is knowledge which makes possible skillful activity in real life. Understanding is the ability to apply principles to any given situation in life. As one pastor stated, “understanding so that wisdom can go to the treasure vault of the knowledge of His will.” All three important & needed & available for the Christian because of Christ so Paul does pray for them in these matters. Also Wisdom in the Scriptures seen in a few Scriptures to present this morning. “Take care that no one deceives himself. If anyone among you thinks that he is wise in this age, he must become foolish, so that he may become wise. For the wisdom of this world is foolishness in the sight of God.” [1 Corinthians 3:18-19] And “For our proud confidence is this: the testimony of our conscience, that in holiness and godly sincerity, not in fleshly wisdom but in the grace of God, we have conducted ourselves in the world, and especially toward you.” [2 Corinthians 1:12] And finally, “This wisdom is not that which comes down from above, but is earthly, natural, demonic.” [James 3:15 cf. 2 Timothy 3:14-15; 1 Corinthians 2:12-14]
Third, The Purposeful Direction for This Christian Prayer in verses ten through twelve. Paul writes, “. . . so that you may walk in a manner worthy of the Lord to please Him in all respects . . .” [cf. 2:6 Remember Ephesians 4:1] This means that we should walk in a way that reflects or displays how much He is worthy of such obedience, service, and dependence. This phrase might be translated ”to please Him in all aspects” or "living a certain way that seeks to please Him in everything.” So many other people so many of us are seeking to please. For some it is others, coworkers, boss, friends, leaders, or self. Who are you seeking to please? Who is pleased with the way you walk? This worthy walk because who the Lord Jesus Is & what the Lord Jesus deserves in my life and in the life of His church.
At the end of this prayer Paul would reveal the Characteristics of Such A Walk of Life Which Is Worthy of the Lord. These characteristics demonstrate spiritual progress and development with four participles [cf. 1:6-8] the four elements of the Gospel]. Walk in Manner Worthy of the Lord is Greater Abundance of Good Deeds. See the first participle “bearing fruit in every good work . . .” The phrase teaches “all kinds of good deeds.” How this walk would be lived. Walk in A Manner Worthy of the Lord is Bigger Presence of the Knowledge of God in verse eleven. See the second participle “and multiplying in the full knowledge of God . . .” This phrase might teach ‘knowledge about’ then ‘you will know more and more about God,’ but if to be understood ‘to experience knowledge’ then ‘you will know God more and more’ or ‘you will come to know more and more what God does.’ Everyone in the Biblical record showed their growing knowledge of God as they understood in a bigger way the presence of the knowledge of God. Walk in a manner worthy of the Lord is also Stronger Dependence upon The Power of God in verse eleven. See the third participle “being strengthened with all power . . .” This could also be translated “by every enabling power being constantly strengthened.” And the emphasis “according to His glorious might . . .” With the goal “for the attaining of all steadfastness and patience joyously . . .” Both with difficulty circumstances and difficult people. This would mean strength to hold position, stay faithful, and endure as one would persevere through suffering and bear up under hard times. This phrase might be translated, “all the power you need according to God’s glorious strength in whatever you experience and whoever you face.” Something else to see is the teaching “not makes us powerful, but in no power we need does God leave us deficient.” How this walk would be achieved. And Walk in a manner worthy of the Lord is Larger Confidence in The Grace of God in verse twelve. See the fourth participle “giving Thanks to the Father . . .” [cf. 1:2-3] And “who has qualified us to share in the inheritance of the saints . . .” What a statement of thanksgiving to the Father for who he is and what he has done! These characteristics demonstrate spiritual progress and development with four participles: bearing fruit, increasing in the knowledge of God, being strengthen, and giving thanks to the Father. This walk worthy of the Lord and pleasing Him in aspects includes greater abundance, bigger presence, stronger dependence, and larger confidence.
These three points for this prayer by Paul in Colossians chapter one: Practical Action, Personal Petition, and Purposeful Direction. Praying and Asking as Christians for the spiritual progress and development of other Christians in the church body. Let us be praying this prayer for those in this church body! Memorize this prayer so that you would pray for any believer in any situation for all that they need in every need for prayer. Read this epistle again and again this week.
Now as Christian was walking by himself—he spotted someone afar off, traveling over the field—and they happened to meet just as they were crossing each other's path. The gentleman's name was Mr. Worldly-wiseman. He dwelt in the town of Carnal Policy—a very large town, close by the City of Destruction, from whence Christian came. This man, meeting with Christian, had some knowledge of him—for Christian's leaving the City of Destruction was much talked about, not only where he had lived—but also, it was the talk of the town in other places. Mr. Worldly-wiseman, therefore, beholding Christian's difficult journey, and observing his sighs and groans, and the like—began to enter into conversation with Christian.
"Say there, friend—where are you going in this burdened manner?" asked Worldly-wiseman.
"A burdened manner, indeed, I think—as any poor creature ever had!" replied Christian. "And since you ask me where I am going—I will tell you. Sir, I am going to yonder narrow-gate which is ahead of me. There, I am informed, I shall be instructed how to be rid of my heavy burden."
"Have you a wife and children?" asked Worldly-wiseman.
"Yes," replied Christian "but I am so weighed down with this burden on my back—that I cannot take pleasure in them as I once did. In fact, it is now as though I had no family at all."
"If I give you counsel—will you take my advice?" asked Worldly-wiseman.
"If it is good counsel, I will," replied Christian, "for I am in need of good advice."
"I would advise you, then," responded Worldly-wiseman, "that you rid yourself of that burden on your back, as quick as possible! For you can never have happiness or peace of mind until you do!"
"That is what I am seeking for," answered Christian. "I desperately want to be rid of this heavy burden—but I cannot get it off myself! Nor is there any man in our country who can remove it from my shoulders. Therefore I am going this way, as I told you—that I may be rid of my burden!"
"Who told you that this was the way to rid you of your burden?" replied Worldly-wiseman.
"A man who appeared to be a very noble and honorable person," answered Christian. "His name, as I remember, is Evangelist."
"I curse him for that counsel!" snarled Worldly-wiseman. "There is not a more dangerous and troublesome way in all the world! You shall find this out for yourself—if you follow his advice. I see that you have met with trouble already—for I see that the mire from the Swamp of Despond is upon you. That swamp is just the beginning of the sorrows which attend those who continue in that dangerous way.
"Listen to me—for I am older than you. On that narrow way—you are sure to meet with weariness, pain, hunger, peril, sword, lions, dragons, darkness—and what not! In a word, you will meet with death! These things are certainly true, having been confirmed by many testimonies. And why should you so carelessly cast yourself away—by giving heed to a stranger?"
"Why, Sir," answered Christian, "this burden upon my back is more dreadful to me—than all the things which you have mentioned! Indeed, I don't care what danger I meet with along the way—as long as I get deliverance from my burden!"
"How did you get your burden, in the first place?" questioned Worldly-wiseman.
"By reading this Book in my hand," answered Christian.
"I thought so!" snapped Worldly-wiseman, "and it has happened unto you as to other weak men—who, meddling with things too high for them—do suddenly fall into the same bewilderment that you now suffer. In this perplexing state, they undertake dangerous ventures, to obtain—they know not what."
"I know what I want to obtain," asserted Christian, "ease from my heavy burden!"
"But why do you seek for ease in this perilous way," asked Worldly-wiseman, "seeing that so many dangers attend it? Especially since, had you but sense to listen to me—I could direct you how to obtain what you desire, without all these dangers! Yes, and with my remedy, you shall gain much safety, friendship, and happiness!"
"Please, Sir—reveal this secret to me!" begged Christian.
Worldly-wiseman began, "Why, in yonder village named Morality—there dwells a gentleman whose name is Legality. He is a very sensible man, having a good reputation—who has ability to help remove such burdens like yours. Yes, to my knowledge, he has done a great deal of good this way—and besides, he has skill to cure those who are somewhat crazed in their minds, because of their burdens. To him you may go, and be helped in a very short while. His house is not quite a mile from here; and if he should not be at home himself—his handsome young son, whose name is Civility, can help you as well as the old gentleman himself!
"There, I say, you may be eased of your heavy burden; and if you do not want to return to the City of Destruction, and I encourage you not to return—you may send for your wife and children to join you in this village. In the town of Morality, there are many vacant houses—one of which you may have at a reasonable rate. It is inexpensive to live there—and all the neighbors are honest and fashionable. To be sure—this will make your life more happy."
Now Christian was somewhat in a dilemma; but he shortly concluded, that if what this gentleman had said was true—then his wisest course was to take the advice of Worldly-wiseman.
So Christian inquired, "Sir, what is the way to this honest man's house?"
"Do you see yonder hill?" asked Worldly-wiseman. "Yes, very well," replied Christian. "You must go by that hill," directed Worldly-wiseman, "and the first house you come to, is his."
So I saw in my dream, that Christian turned out of the narrow way, to go to Mr. Legality's house for help. But, behold, when he got near the hill—it was so high, and it so hung over him—that Christian was afraid to venture further, lest the hill should fall on his head! Flashes of fire also came out of the hill, which made Christian afraid that he should be burned alive!
Therefore he stood still—and did not know what to do. His burden now seemed even heavier to him—than when he was in the narrow way. He was so frightened, that he trembled with fear! He now began to be very sorry that he had taken Worldly-wiseman's counsel.
Just then, he saw Evangelist coming to meet him—at whose sight, he began to blush with shame. So Evangelist drew nearer and nearer; and coming up to Christian—he gazed upon him with a solemn countenance, and thus began to address Christian.
"What are you doing here, Christian?" asked Evangelist.
Christian did not know what to answer—and stood speechless before him.
Then Evangelist continued, "Are you not the man that I found weeping outside the City of Destruction?" "Yes, kind Sir, I am the man," replied Christian.
"Did I not direct you to the way which leads to yonder narrow-gate?" questioned Evangelist. "Yes, dear Sir," Christian said.
"Why is it, then—that you have so quickly turned aside?" asked Evangelist, "for you have now gone out of the narrow way!"
Then Christian explained, "Soon after I had gotten over the Swamp of Despond, I met a gentleman who persuaded me that in the village of Morality, I would find a man who could take off my burden."
"What did this man look like?" asked Evangelist.
"He looked like a gentleman," replied Christian, "and talked much to me, until he persuaded me to leave the narrow way. But when I saw this hill, and how it hung over the path—I could proceed no further, being afraid that it would tumble down on my head!"
"What else did that gentleman say to you?" inquired Evangelist.
"Why, he asked me where I was going—and I told him," responded Christian.
"And what did he say then?" asked Evangelist.
"He asked me if I had a family? And I told him yes, but I was so weighed down with the burden on my back, that I could not take pleasure in them as formerly," responded Christian.
"And what did he say then?" inquired Evangelist.
"He entreated me to get rid of my burden as fast as I could—and I told him that this was the very thing I sought—and that I was going to yonder gate, to receive further direction how I may get to the place of deliverance. Then he said that he would show me a better way—much shorter, which was not so attended with difficulties as the narrow way in which I was going. He said that this new way would bring me to a gentleman's house who had skill to take off my heavy burden. So I believed him, and turned out of the narrow way—hoping that I might soon be eased of my burden. But when I came to this place, and beheld these dreadful things—I stopped for fear of the danger—and now I do not know what to do!"
"Then," said Evangelist, "stand still a little, that I may show you the Words of God." So Christian stood trembling.
Counseling One Another - Founders Ministries
“I myself am convinced, my brothers, that you yourselves are full of goodness,
complete in knowledge and competent to instruct one another” (Romans 15:14).
. . . Counseling one another involves not only dealing with sin, but also encouraging those who are suffering from depression, discouragement, loss, or grief. Paul demonstrates this aspect of counseling in 1 Thessalonians where he encourages those who have had family members and friends who have died. (See 4:13–5:11; see also 1 Corinthians 15 where he talks about the resurrection and the fact that death no longer has a sting for the believer.) Peter closes his letter with wonderful words of comfort to those who, as a result of their faith, have been scattered, with these wonderful words of comfort: “And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast” (1 Peter 5:10). Paul gives words of comfort about the suffering we must undergo as believers. He tells us that we should rejoice in our suffering, because “suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us” (Romans 5:3–5).
Our roles, therefore, as counselors to one another are not only to deal with sin, but also to offer comfort and cheer. Further, we are to train and instruct others in righteousness (see 1 Timothy 3:16 quoted above). Our counsel has both a corrective purpose and a training process. Admonition by itself can create serious relational problems. It is when we take the time to gently train others in the way of righteousness that we complete the God-ordained cycle.
Here are some practical suggestions as to how we should counsel one another (though this is not to be construed as a complete list):
• Make sure that our own lives are exemplary. Not perfect! No one is! But our overall lives should be such that the people whom we are counseling have respect for us. Christ is clear (Matthew 7) that we should first clean up our own lives before we correct someone else.
• Always pray before approaching another person and when possible, pray with that person. Remember that God is the one who changes people.
• If there is a sin involved, we need to know clearly what the Bible has to say about it. We must make certain that it is a sin, not something that we must learn to forbear.
• If a fellow member is discouraged we need to find out the basis of that discouragement and talk with that person about the provisions and promises which our Lord has given to us in His Word.
• Often we will deal with people who have lost hope. Those people must be helped to see that through the power of the Spirit of God their lives and their outlook can be changed.
• We must encourage those whom we counsel to be in the Scriptures frequently. Leave with them directions to those specific portions of the Word of God which address their situations.
• We need to encourage those whom we counsel to regularly spend time in fellowship with and in service to a caring, local church.
• Enlist the help of others who will also come alongside them and who will befriend, counsel and encourage them.
• When there are matters to which they need to attend, check up on them to make sure that they are doing their part. If they have sinned against someone, direct them to seek that person out and ask for forgiveness. If they are spiritually lazy, remind them of their obligations as believers. Get involved with them, showing not only by words, but also by example how one serves the Lord. If they are depressed or discouraged, spend time with them; do not allow them to sit alone at home enumerating their problems. Talk to them about their responsibilities, but also help them to see their unnoticed blessings.
• Always be truthful with them and urge them to be the same with you. Unless you know the real problems with which you are dealing, you are stumbling in the darkness as you try to help them.
• Encourage them to take steps toward progress—not perfection. Notice their progress and encourage them that they are making progress. It is sometimes difficult for people with problems to take giant strides. Remember and remind them, that many small steps ultimately measure up to real changes.
What We Learned Together on Sunday September 10, 2023
“To any astute observer of the contemporary scene at least in the West but not limited to the western world, most acknowledge that the church is facing challenging times. Living in an increasingly pluralistic and postmodern society where truth and morality are up for grabs, the church is facing incredible pressure to com promise in a whole host of areas including the theological and practical. However, for the most part, the kind of compromise we face is not an outright rejection of the truth of the gospel but a temptation to mix or blend biblical, orthodox Christianity with the current Zeitgeist, that is, the thought, mindset, and “spirit of the age.” The result is a syncretism—in doctrine and practice—which attempts to extract truths from the Bible, divorced from the entire framework and context of Scripture, and then attempts to mix these truths with alien, contradictory viewpoints so that the end result is a compromised gospel and a muting of the Word of truth. [“The Glory of Christ in Colossians” Stephen J. Wellum].
A man prayed several hundred years ago, “Pray to See Christ More Clearly, Love Christ More Dearly (Christian Devotion), and Follow Christ More Nearly (Christian Duty).” There is the emphasis of Christian Doctrine, Christian Devotion, and Christian Duty.
Let’s look at Colossians chapter one verse one to four as we begin an overview of the epistle to the Colossians written by the Apostle Paul by inspiration of the Holy Spirit for the church to learn.
“Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, and Timothy our brother To the saints and faithful brothers in Christ in Colossae: Grace to you and peace from God our Father. We give thanks to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, praying always for you, since we heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and the love which you have for all the saints . . .”
In these verse there is emphasized Writer . . . Readers . . . Greetings. First, we see the Identity of the Writer and Authority of the Writing [cf. 1:4; 2:1; 4:18]. Verse one, “Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God . . .” Paul would emphasize his position as an apostle [Acts 9, 13, 28]. The authority of God in this letter upon the life of the church and Christians. Throughout this epistle several words and phrases place Christ in His rightful place [Christ [11x], Jesus [7x], “in Him/with Him” [10x] “He” 13x]. These first few verses teach the focus and emphasis of Christ “Jesus . . Christ . . . Lord . . . Jesus.” Ans then Paul writes, “ . . . and Timothy our brother . . .” Timothy was his companion in ministry [Acts 16]. Second, Identity of the Readers and Necessity of the Writing. Verse two says, “To the saints and faithful brothers in Christ in Colossae” Look at this map of the area where Colossae was located. And finally, “Grace to you and peace from God our Father.” Both benefits and blessings from God.
Lightfoot says of the Epistle to the Colossians, “The doctrine of the Person of Christ is here stated with greater precision and fulness than in any other of Paul’s epistles.” And also, “Without doubt Colossae was the least important church to which any epistle of Paul is addressed." Several people written about by the Apostle Paul demonstrating the place Christ has in their lives and ministries: Epaphras [4:12] . . . Tychicus [4:7-9] . . . Archippus [4:17]. This clearly shows how the Supremacy and Sufficiency of Christ directs the service of His disciples who serve the Lord Jesus as His slaves.
The reason for this is that the Colossian heresy attacked the Person of the Lord Jesus. Combination of legalism and mysticism in this Colossian heresy with elements of humanism [intellectuals], ceremonialism [rituals], asceticism [externals], and legalism [rules]. Recognize and Identify in our culture false teaching according to Scripture. This what Paul is teaching in this writing of this epistle [2:4, 8, 16, 18, 20]. You can find each of these elements throughout chapter two. With humanism presented by intellectuals in the form of philosophies of men this is stated in verse four and verse eight. Colossians 2:4 says, “I say this so that no one will delude you with persuasive argument.” And Colossians 2:8 says, “See to it that no one takes you captive through philosophy . . .” With ceremonialism taught through rituals in the form of religions of men this is stated in verse sixteen, “Therefore, no one is to judge you . . .” With ascetism taught by externals in the form of disciplines of men this is stated in verse eighteen, “Let no one keep defrauding you . . .” And finally with legalism taught by rules in the form of moralities of men this is stated in verse twenty, “ . . . why, as if you were living in the world, do you submit yourself to decrees . . .” With each of these elements Paul states clearly how Christ is the antidote for the poison of these false teachings. And also to degree Christ is in His rightful place in the life of the Christian and the life of the church such false teachings will not be convincing or tempting.
“Specifically, this is true for the Colossian church. This church, founded by Epaphras and situated in the Lycus Valley, knew what it was like to live in a pluralistic and relativistic age. The Roman Empire harbored every ideology and religion imaginable, united in ultimate allegiance to the Roman Emperor. In such a situation, this church not only knew the pressure to compromise and the pull of syncretism but she had also experienced false teachers in her midst. From the letter, we know that Epaphras had visited Paul while he was in prison in Rome and informed him of the state of the church. Even though much of the report was encouraging (1:8; 2:5), he also reported the rise of false teaching within the church, which if not countered, would undermine the gospel and return the people to spiritual bondage and darkness. In fact, it is to counter such false, aberrant teaching that Paul’s letter was probably written.” [“The Glory of Christ in Colossians” Stephen J. Wellum].
One writer said, “Paul wrote this letter while he was in prison for the sake of the gospel (see Col 4:3, 10, 18), hence its categorization as one of Paul’s captivity letters alongside Philippians, Ephesians, and Philemon. For many reasons, throughout the ages, this letter has served the church well. Probably the most significant reason is due to its great and glorious subject matter: the Lord Jesus Christ. From the incredible Christological text or hymn of Colossians 1:15-20, and in every subsequent chapter, the person and work of God’s own dear Son, Jesus Christ our Lord, is unpacked and unveiled before our eyes. Colossians, like no other Pauline letter, from beginning to end, presents the glory, supremacy, preeminence, and sufficiency of Jesus, the incarnate Son, as Lord of creation, redemption, the church, and every principality and power, not only in this age but also in the age to come (see Col 1:15-20; 2:8-15).” This could be explained by the phrase Christianity Centered in Christ. In our culture we often have to place the word biblical before the word Christianity to emphasize what we mean, where we stand, and what we believe. Another commentators said, “From these facts, it seems clear that the Colossian heresy was an eclectic blend of Jewish legalism, Greek philosophic speculation, and oriental mysticism combined together with a Christian flavor or element. In other words, like many of the cults and the eclecticism of today, it wore the mask of Christianity, but it was totally false. It used Christian words and Christian phrases, but with different meanings. It claimed to have something for everybody, but in essence provided only a delusion. It was a satanic deception in the following way: “While at its heart it was a combination of Judaism and paganism, it wore the mask of Christianity. It did not deny Christ, but it did dethrone him. It gave Christ a place, but not the supreme place. This Christian facade made the Colossian error all the more dangerous.” In other words, it taught that Christ was insufficient and that one must go beyond Christ into the fullness of what they had to offer. We find the same thing happening today with many of the cults that will likewise use some Christian terminology, but with completely different meanings. All the features found in this cult at Colossae would later be found in full-blown Gnosticism. So it may have been an incipient form of Gnosticism combined with elements of Judaism.”
The broad outline of The Epistle to the Colossians written by the Apostle Paul by inspiration of the Holy Spirit can be presented in different ways. One such outline would divide the entire epistle into two parts: Preeminence of Christ [Chapters 1-2] and Practice of the Christian [Chapters 3-4]. The Preeminence of Christ meaning surpassing all others, or superior to all others. This is stated in verse eighteen, “And He is the head of the body, the church; Who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, so that He Himself will come to have first place in everything.” The Practice of the Christian is stated in chapter three verse 15-17. These verses state, “And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts . . . Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly . . . And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.” Colossians teaches both the Supremacy and Sufficiency of Christ.
Here is another proposed outline for the Epistle to the Colossians containing three parts emphasizing the Sufficiency of Christ. First, Sufficiency of The Person and Work of Christ For All Explained Chapter One. This chapter would teach His Supremacy Over All [READ 1:15-20, 28-29]. Paul would state his points “Christ . . . He . . Him . . . He . . . Him.” In this section of the epistle we are taught and learn He Is Lord of Creation and Lord of the Church. Second, Sufficiency of The Person and Work of Christ in All Christians Examined in Chapter Two. This chapter would teach we are Complete in Christ [READ 2:4-7, 8-12, 17, 19]. There Paul writes the truths “Christ . . . in Him . . .with Him.” In this section of the epistle we are taught and learn His Is Lord of Salvation and Lord of the Christian. Third, Sufficiency of The Person and Work of Christ in All Matters Experienced in Chapters Three and Four. These chapters would teach our adequacy in Christ [READ 3:1-4, 11,15-17, 24; 4:7, 9, 11-12]. In these chapters Paul would present our relationship with Christ with the emphasis “Christ . . .Christ is all and in all . . . all in the Name of the Lord Jesus . . .” In this section we are taught and learn He Is Lord of My Life & Lord of My Christian Ministry.
Both the supremacy and sufficiency of Christ. Christianity Centered in Christ. So let us conclude this introduction with a few points of application. First, Putting Jesus Christ in the right place in your life and the life of this church body because of the Book of Colossians being centered in Christ. Second, Let each of us have many conversations and personal discussions about the sufficiency of Christ because of our teaching through this epistle. Third, With this epistle will encourage one another here in this church body as we grow in our knowledge of Christ together and teach each other more. Fourth, receiving this teaching and having this correction in our lives and life of the church body so that we are more and more centered in Christ. And Fifth, Each week read the entire epistle throughout our time studying together.
Background on Colossians | Bible.org
From these facts, it seems clear that the Colossian heresy was an eclectic blend of Jewish legalism, Greek philosophic speculation, and oriental mysticism combined together with a Christian flavor or element. In other words, like many of the cults and the eclecticism of today, it wore the mask of Christianity, but it was totally false. It used Christian words and Christian phrases, but with different meanings. It claimed to have something for everybody, but in essence provided only a delusion. It was a satanic deception in the following way: “While at its heart it was a combination of Judaism and paganism, it wore the mask of Christianity. It did not deny Christ, but it did dethrone him. It gave Christ a place, but not the supreme place. This Christian facade made the Colossian error all the more dangerous.” [Curtis Vaughn, The Expositor’s Bible Commentary, New Testament, Frank E. Gaebelein, gen. ed. (Zondervan, Grand Rapids, 1976-1992), electronic media]. In other words, it taught that Christ was insufficient and that one must go beyond Christ into the fullness of what they had to offer. We find the same thing happening today with many of the cults that will likewise use some Christian terminology, but with completely different meanings. All the features found in this cult at Colossae would later be found in full-blown Gnosticism. So it may have been an incipient form of Gnosticism combined with elements of Judaism.
So, what are some things we can learn from this?
1. We see that false doctrine or theology is not only the product of Satan’s deceptions, but it leads one deeper and deeper into his delusions both in theology and practice.
2. There can be no neutrality toward God, the Bible, and Christ for neutrality leads to hostility.
3. There can be no morality and no genuine, lasting, and real humanism or true concern for man without sound theology. The idea that you can have morality without the absolutes of Scripture is a myth, a satanic delusion.
4. Without the absolutes of God’s Holy Word as our foundation, we end up with a world-view that will in some way distort and undermine the being and character of God and His salvation for man in Jesus Christ. The product of this is some from of idolatry, mysticism, agnosticism, pantheism, monism, atheism, or dialectical materialism. When that happens, there is no end to the moral breakdown and degeneracy in humanity for false theology leads to ungodliness.
Do we have any of this heresy today? Yes, we do; and it is just as deceptive and dangerous! When we make Jesus Christ and the Christian revelation only part of a total religious system or philosophy, we cease to give Him the preeminence. When we strive for “spiritual perfection” or “spiritual fullness” by means of formulas, disciplines, or rituals, we go backward instead of forward. Christian believers must beware of mixing their Christian faith with such alluring things as yoga, transcendental meditation, Oriental mysticism, and the like. We must also beware of “deeper life” teachers who offer a system for victory and fullness that bypasses devotion to Jesus Christ. In all things, He must have the preeminence! [Warren W. Wiersbe, Be Complete (Victor Books, Wheaton, Ill., 1981]
Because of the rising tide of human philosophies confronting us today, no New Testament book speaks with more relevancy than does the epistle to the Colossians. Not only do we live in an atomic and space age, but in the most technologically advanced age of all time. As in the past, this is a day where, duped by the age-old lie of Satan, man still continues to believe in himself and his ability to solve his problems apart from God as He is revealed in Scripture. Through one avenue or another, man continues to offer his own manmade solutions for the ills of society whether in the form of secular humanism or religious syncretism. But it appears many are becoming discontented over the futility of materialism and somewhat dissatisfied with the idea that life is but a cosmic accident. As a result, many are turning to the New Age movement that has been growing by leaps and bounds. This new movement claims we stand at the brink of an entirely new age of human achievement and potential, one that will unify the world and bring an end to war and an end to hunger through a redistribution of the world’s resources and population control. It will lead to the conservation of the earth’s environment, result in genuine equality among all races and religions and between men and women, and provide a global ethic that will unite the human family. But at the center of this movement is a religious syncretism that rejects the biblical revelation of God as revealed in Christ. According to this movement, Christ is only one of many religious leaders or influences that man may turn to because there are other ways that are equally valid. Increasingly our generation wants to take religion out of the realm of rational discourse and relegate it to the area of personal preferences and opinions. If there are thirty-one flavors of ice cream, why can we not have similar variety in religions? The gods of the New Age Movement are always tolerant of sexual preferences, feminism, and hedonistic pleasures at almost any cost. Why shouldn’t we each choose a religion that is compatible with our private values? In order to have a meaningful faith, it must agree with our deeply held beliefs. What works for you might not work for me. Erwin W. Lutzer, Christ Among Other gods, A Defense of Christ in an Age of Tolerance (Moody Press, Chicago, 1994), 22.
Thus, Colossians is a book that speaks to our cosmic age and to this New Age movement. But let us not miss the fact that this movement has its source in the occult (though hidden under new names) and in Eastern religions that go all the way back to the beginnings of history with the fall of man. The New Age movement is not new; it is the most recent repeat of the second oldest religion, the spirituality of the serpent. Its impulse is foreign to none of us. The appeal is ancient indeed; its rudiments were seductively sold to our first parents in the garden. Human pride was tickled, and it jumped.
The New Age movement promotes a belief in monism. Monism is the belief that all is one, that everything is interrelated, interdependent, and interpenetrating. It promotes the hideous idea that humanity, nature, and God are not separate from each other, but are one. Douglass Groothius, Confronting the New Age (InterVarsity Press, Downers Grove, Ill., 1988), 17
What We Learned Together This Sunday September 3, 2023
Today is the third message of this short series in this season for New Life Fellowship. We have seen Being Members of the Body of Christ in First Corinthians 12. We have seen Christian Call of Unity for the Church Body in Ephesians 4. The message today in Philippians chapter one “Only Conduct Yourselves In A Manner Worthy of the Gospel of Christ.” All that the message of the Gospel proclaims and means, calls us to be as His people and His church. The message of the Gospel is salvation, reconciliation, and transformation. The emphasis on sacrificial love and humble service, including repentance and obedience, seeing abundant grace and abounding mercy. There is the perfect righteousness of Christ and the holiness of God. Both forgiveness of all our sins and kindness of God toward sinners. A message of substitutionary death, the Lamb of God who dies for our sins, the Son of God who lived and died for our rescue and salvation, and the Spirit of God regenerates, renews, and restores.
First, Choose To Live Your Life in A Manner Worthy of the Gospel [1:27a]. Here is both PERSONAL DIRECTION and PERSONAL DECISION. The first word only places importance and significance in this matter for the church. And also consider all of the things which the Apostle Paul had going on in his life [1:12-14, 21-23]. The gospel emphasized here in this verse twice and in this first chapter in the book of Philippians [cf. 1:5, 7, 12, 16]. Here Paul begins “Only conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ . . .” Different translations: only conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ [NASB] . . . only let your manner of life be worthy of the gospel of Christ [ESV] . . . only let your conduct be worthy of the gospel of Christ [NKJV] . . . But whatever happens, make sure that your everyday life is worthy of the Gospel of Christ [Phillips]. This first command in this epistle [verses 27-30 one sentence]. The Gospel of Christ meaning Gospel truths, Gospel blessings, and Gospel promises. Believe the truth of the Gospel, and also behave in a manner worthy of the Gospel. Believe God the Father and Provider! Believe Jesus is Savior and Leader! Believe the Spirit is our Comforter and Teacher! Such a threefold teaching with the will of God, the work of God, and Word of God! Choice made by you because of the change within you by His grace, so that the Gospel is lived in my life as a testimony of the salvation by God. Paul emphasizing living together with a people with responsibilities of belonging there and being here in this body. One commentator wrote, “but the word Paul uses in Philippians speaks of one’s manner of life seen as a duty to a body or group of which one is a member, and to the head of that group to whom he is responsible. It is a more inclusive word.”
“But in the form in which Paul gives the exhortation, the person exhorted is to recognize his position as a citizen of a heavenly kingdom, and while obeying the exhortation as a matter of obligation to God, yet at the same time realize his responsibility to obey it because of the privileged position he occupies, and literally exhort or charge himself to do the same. One could translate therefore: “Only see to it that you recognize your responsibility as a citizen and put yourself to the absolute necessity of performing the duties devolving upon you in that position.” [Wuest Word Pictures]
And there is this point by Paul in the middle of the verse, “so that whether I come and see you or remain absent, I will hear about you . . .” What are people hearing about us here at New Life Fellowship? What will they be talking about in regard to us here? We want them to say there they only conduct themselves in a manner worthy of the Gospel.
Here is the first of two measurements of conducting ourselves in the manner worthy of the Gospel. The Standing In Unity with Others in the Gospel. Here is the PRESENT ACTION for the church body. Paul writes “that you are standing firm in one spirit . . .” The same wording used in chapter four [cf. 4:1]. Standing Firm for the Gospel which means “unyielding in battle” giving imagery of soldiers. Who we stand with and why we stand here. Where I stand my ground including convictions and commitments with military imagery. Stephen Davey states, The verb here for standing firm, is a military metaphor that pictures the Philippian believers serving in the same army, battling the same foe – which in this word picture would represent disunity. He says, stand firm in one spirit. And he knew they knew – and we might not – that the Roman ground troops fought their enemy not as single soldiers, but in densely packed rows, eight soldiers deep. They moved forward in step – they even moved sideways and backward together – by trumpet or voice commands.” Its that season again, and you know what I mean. Its Fall so its football season! Defense and Offense and Special teams for good football. Here is the defense of the Christian unity when we gather with other soldiers with our shields protecting others from the enemies and warfare against us. Here at New Life Fellowship joining with other soldiers in discipleship meetings, Bible Studies, and Community Groups bringing our shields with other brothers and sisters in Christ. Sad that sometimes we need shields because of other Christians in the church body turning against their fellow soldiers. In words of criticism and bitterness, or attitudes of self-righteousness and pride, so that the one spirit of not evident and present in the body.
Here is the second measurement of conducting ourselves in the manner worthy of the Gospel. The Striving for Partnership with Others with the Gospel. Here is the PRESENT PARTICIPATION. Paul writes, “with one mind striving together for the faith of the Gospel.” Striving Together for the Gospel which means “undivided in strategy” giving imagery of athletics. This is a present active participle meaning present participation as our character describing the present activity in our lives. What we are striving for and why we are working together. In this context Paul would expand teaching on the humility as he adds more teaching and the example of Christ as support [cf. Philippians 2:1-5; 3:12-14]. Here is the offense of the Christian unity when we work with other athletes with our efforts and ministries with others for the mission for us as a church body. Serving in unity in ministry together for the faith of the Gospel. Here at New Life Fellowship joining with other athletes serving, helping, ministering, working in different ministry plans bringing our efforts with other brothers and sisters in Christ. Here at New Life Fellowship praying for the 27 fellow workers in the AWANA ministry “with one mind striving together for the faith of the Gospel.”
Here is a summer of this verse by one commentator. “Only (since my only reason for remaining on earth is for your progress in the Christian life), see to it that you recognize your responsibility as citizens (of heaven), and put yourselves to the absolute necessity of performing the duties devolving upon you in that position, doing this in a manner which is befitting to the gospel of Christ, in order that whether having come and having seen you, or whether being absent I am hearing the things concerning you, namely, that you are standing firm in one spirit, holding your ground, with one soul contending (as a team of athletes would) in perfect co-operation with one another for the faith of the gospel.” [Wuest Translation]
We Choose To Live our Life in A Manner Worthy of the Gospel with both PERSONAL DIRECTION and PERSONAL DECISION, so that PRESENT ACTION and PRESENT PARTICIPATION be the character of our ministry and the quality of our testimony. First,The power of the Gospel should be demonstrated in our conduct together. Let our church body not merely be what men can do but how God does work through the Gospel! Second, Confess sins in our lives hindering the Gospel ministry and testimony. Communion Sunday the time for us all to take inventory and seek inspection of our lives as Christians. Strengthen our partnership & fellowship we have in the Gospel together. What will people be hearing about New Life Fellowship? How will we be obeying this command and fulfilling these responsibilities as a church body? May we each commit to standing firm for the Gospel and Striving Together for the Gospel. May they say of us in this community . . . “Only conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ . . . I will hear about you that you are standing firm in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel.” [Philippians 1:27].
Gospel was adopted as a technical term for the Christian message which is succinctly stated by Paul in 1 Cor 15:1-4 (notes 1Co 15:1; 15:2; 15:3; 15:4) and finds complete expression in the four Gospels and the epistle to the Romans. Succinctly stated, the Gospel is not just "getting saved" as so many believe, but it is "progressing in salvation" (growth in Christ-likeness).
The writers of the New Testament adapted the term Gospel as God's glorious message of salvation for lost otherwise hopeless, helpless sinners. Euaggelion is found in several combination phrases, each describing the gospel like a multifaceted jewel in various terms from a different viewpoint (from the NASB, 1977):
Pastor Timothy J. Atkins
Husband, Father, Grandfather, Pastor, Teacher, Discipler, and Follower of Jesus.