These lessons are part of a series of bulletin inserts at Blainesburg Bible Church. The online versions contain minor edits for the expanded online audience. This lesson originally released on March 31, 2019.
Lesson 1 establishes who Jesus is. He spoke you into existence (Colossians 1:12-17, John 1:1-3) and established the way for your freedom from paying the penalty of sin by paying the price for your sin himself. The payment for sin is death (Romans 6:23). Not having sinned himself, death had no hold on Jesus (Acts 2:23-24). He laid his life down for us and took it back up again (John 10:17-18). Jesus is the head of the church body of his followers (Colossians 1:18, Ephesians 1:22-23, Ephesians 5:23, Colossians 1:24 partial “. . . for his body’s sake, which is the church . . . [emphasis mine]).
Lesson 2 firmly establishes that Christians must produce fruit that demonstrates their repentance. Using the example of 2 Corinthians 10:3-6 we see that Paul demonstrates that we are responsible to become obedient to the will of God, and there absolutely is church authority to punish disobedience after those who will become obedient do so. That is a tough lesson for many church folks to accept nowadays. We live in a time where too many in our culture, legal system, celebrities and celebrity politicians, peers, coworkers, family, friends, neighbors, fellow churchgoers and others proudly walk as if they can do whatever they want without facing any consequences.
. . . Punish All Disobedience
Why discuss this before getting into other details of church body ministry? Well, a body is disabled, to one degree or another, unless all of its parts are present and functioning in full health and strength. The church in America, along with our local body, is under the unction of the Holy Spirit to fall in line with obedience to God’s Word or be removed from God’s presence (1 John 2:18-20). If you want to know more about that, study the meaning of the seven candlesticks in Revelation 1-3.
For Body Ministry to work, the body must have all of its parts present and working together. In 2 Corinthians 10:6 (NIV) Paul said, “And we will be ready to punish every act of disobedience, once your obedience is complete.” Read 2 Corinthians 10 to see how Paul advised the Corinthian church that he was not trying to write letters to frighten them. However, the words in his letters would be enforced when he returned to them in person. Paul, in 2 Corinthians 10:6 was likely referring to a Roman military court analogy when he said, “ . . .punish all disobedience . . .” The Corinthian church were the soldiers, and Paul was God’s chosen training instructor and commanding officer.
Paul used Roman military references in other instances to make strong points. Rome was an occupying force where Paul traveled. The people were military conquests of Rome, and Rome had an impressive military presence to enforce subjugation. The people despised subjugation to an occupying force, but they could not deny the military might of that force. Paul used examples from things people experienced in their daily lives to make spiritual points. Read Ephesians 6:10-18 to see how Paul used the battle accouterments of Roman soldiers who were seen daily as a visual example for the spiritual Armor of God Christians should put on daily.
A favorite paraphrase of those disobedient to Christ is mentioning how we (Christians) are no longer under the law thereby classifying everything their spiritual leaders advise them against as being “legalistic.” (If you are not aware, “legalism” is a term applied to Old Testament ritual laws we no longer are in need of performing because we are under the Grace of Christ as his followers. For example, the church in Galatia was practically under siege by those who wrongly proclaimed circumcision was as necessary for Salvation as the belief in Jesus as the Messiah was. That is legalism in a nutshell.)
Understand, though, that bearing fruit meet for repentance (Matthew 3:8), doing what Jesus says to do (Luke 6:46), and presenting your body to God as a living sacrifice not conforming to the world’s standards and letting your mind be transformed by Holy Spirit renovation (Romans 12:1-2) is NOT legalism. It is the minimal level of service you should commit to God! Contrary to some opinions, the Ten Commandments are still in effect. In fact, Jesus expanded on them. Remember when he said that looking at a woman with lust is to commit adultery in your heart (Matthew 5:27-28)? How about his “new commandment” to love one another (John 13:34-35)?
Paul used a military court analogy where he declared how he would come and punish the disobedient after those who chose to be obedient to Christ fully committed themselves to doing so. In his comparative use of Roman military gear, tactics and soldier command hierarchy, he was demonstrating to the churches how they must fall in line under Christ. Jesus is the head of the church, and we must be willing to serve in true obedience to the King of Kings and Lord of Lords (Revelation 19:11-16).
Paul routinely displayed a patience in instructing and nurturing the babes in Christ until they developed into followers of Jesus who were feasting on the meat of God’s word instead of the milk (1 Corinthians 3:1-3). In the spiritual as it is in the natural, we all need to grow up at some point!
We are absolutely not supposed to continue to walk in disobedience, and this is easily proven in one short passage from God’s word spoken through Paul the Apostle. Read it for yourself. In Ephesians 2:1-3 (NIV) Paul said:
“As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our flesh and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature deserving of wrath.”
Where Do You Stand?
Are there any that are willfully disobedient? Paul firmly establishes that Satan “is now at work in those who are disobedient.” Continued willful disobedience places those who walk in that way under the threat of the wrath of God, not under the blessings of his grace and mercy. To understand the abundance of God’s mercy, it is necessary to understand the abundance of his wrath against sin. Samuel, a prophet of God, said in 1 Samuel 15:23 that rebellion is like the sin of witchcraft and that stubbornness/arrogance is like idolatry. Who that proclaims to follow Jesus would choose the risk of looming judgment by walking in disobedience?
Before next week’s lesson continues into details of biblical Body of Christ ministry, determine where you stand in Christ. It is okay to still consume the milk of the word with a heart that has determined to follow Jesus. As we move forward, the truth and power of the church body and its individual parts will shine through the scriptures shared.