Building Up

Wednesday, September 20, 2017, 10:59 p.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “When in The Stillness.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read 2 Corinthians 13 (Select vv. NASB).

Test Ourselves (vv. 5-6)

Test yourselves to see if you are in the faith; examine yourselves! Or do you not recognize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you—unless indeed you fail the test? But I trust that you will realize that we ourselves do not fail the test.

What is the test to see if we are in the faith? It is the Word of God, and what it teaches us with regard to our salvation from sin and God’s “eternal gospel” (Rev. 14:6). So, what is this gospel? It is that Jesus Christ, the Son of God, the second person of our triune God – Father, Son and Holy Spirit – left his throne in heaven, humbled himself, came to earth, took on human flesh, and was crucified on a cross for our sins, although he had done no wrong. He who knew no sin became sin for us on that cross so that we might become the righteousness of God. By his stripes we are healed. Yet, he was also resurrected from the dead, so that in Him we might have life! He died that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. So, by faith in him, we are crucified with him in death to sin, and we are resurrected with him to newness of life, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.

So, what should this new life in him look like? Well, if we have been crucified with him in death to sin, it means we have been delivered out of slavery to sin, so sin should no longer be our master. We must no longer be addicted to any sin, because Jesus set us free! So, we ought to consider ourselves to be dead to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus. And, we should no longer walk (in lifestyle) according to our sinful flesh, but we must walk (conduct our lives) now according to (in agreement with) the Spirit of God. For, if we continue in (walk in) sin, and we make it our practice, we don’t know God, we don’t love God, and we don’t have the hope of eternal life with God, but only a fearful expectation of judgment (See: Ro. 6:1-23; Ro. 8:1-14; Eph. 4:17-24; Lu. 9:23-25; Gal. 5:19-21; Eph. 5:3-6; 1 Jn. 1:5-9).

We must understand that God’s grace to us is not free license to continue in sin without guilt, and without remorse. This is not to say that we will never sin again (See: 1 Jn. 2:1-2), but that sin should no longer have rule and rein in our lives, but we should now live to give honor and praise to God by our lifestyles. We must understand here that God’s grace, which brings salvation, instructs (commands) us to say “NO!” to ungodliness and worldly passions (lusts) and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives while we wait for Christ’s return. When we believe in Jesus, our lives are no longer our own, to live how we want, but Jesus bought us back for God with his blood, so he is now to be our Lord and master and us his bond-servants. Yet, if we do sin, we repent, and we continue to walk in the Spirit.

Do What is Right (vv. 7-10)

Now we pray to God that you do no wrong; not that we ourselves may appear approved, but that you may do what is right, even though we may appear unapproved. For we can do nothing against the truth, but only for the truth. For we rejoice when we ourselves are weak but you are strong; this we also pray for, that you be made complete. For this reason I am writing these things while absent, so that when present I need not use severity, in accordance with the authority which the Lord gave me for building up and not for tearing down.

Appearances can be deceiving. We may be doing right, but appear to others as though we are failing, or we may be failing miserably, but appear to others as though what we are doing is right. So, it isn’t how we look to others that is critical, but it is what is truly in our hearts, and which is reflected by how we live, that absolutely matters to God. What matters is that we do right, not that we look good on the outside and that other humans approve of us. And, doing right is doing what God’s Word teaches us we must do, not merely hearing the Word, but doing what it says. But, our obedience to God and his Word may meet with disapproval of others who don’t understand God’s Word or who misinterpret what it says.

Yet, we should be able to say, with Paul and the other apostles, that we can do nothing against the truth, but only for the truth. Amen! We should be people of integrity, honesty and purity, and have nothing shady about us. We ought not to have any secret sins we are holding on to, but we should be completely transparent about what we do when no one else is looking. We must know the truth through the study of God’s Word, but also through obedience to what it teaches us, and then we can live the truth consistently. And, living the truth will often mean that we will meet with rejection, misunderstandings, disapproval and persecution from those who reject the truth, because they want to live however they want and not how God wants them to live.

So, we need to encourage one another in the faith through building one another up in Christ, so that we are not led astray by sin’s deceitfulness. And, the end goal is that we may all become mature in Christ and no longer live like we have not been set free from sin. Yet, encouragement (building one another up) is not merely just for cheering others on or giving them a pat on the back or a boost to their self-esteem. It is to promote spiritual health and strength by inspiring and urging them to walk in the Spirit and no longer according to their flesh. And, it is by ourselves doing nothing against the truth, but only for the truth, so that we set the example for how one ought to live. For, we lead by example more than we do by words only.

Made Complete (vv. 11-14)

Finally, brethren, rejoice, be made complete, be comforted, be like-minded, live in peace; and the God of love and peace will be with you. Greet one another with a holy kiss. All the saints greet you.

The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit, be with you all.

Twice in this passage of scripture is the encouragement to “be made complete.” This has to do with our lives being in good working order, in proper spiritual condition, through conformity to Christ’s likeness. It has to do with the adjusting of our lives to be in conformity with God’s Word via repentance and via obedience to God’s Word and Christ’s instructions to us, his church, all in the power and working of the Holy Spirit now at work in us and through us. We no longer willfully hold on to any sins, but we are daily putting to death, by the Spirit, the deeds of the flesh, so that we can walk daily in the Spirit in Christ’s righteousness and holiness, with all integrity.

So, if this is not where you are, and you have failed the test as to whether you are in Christ (in the faith) or if you are not being “made complete” because you are willfully holding on to any pet sins, then I pray today that you will repent of any known sins, and that you will determine to follow your Lord in obedience from this day forward, not holding anything back, and that daily you would be putting to death, by the Spirit, the deeds of the flesh so that you can walk in the Spirit in Christ’s righteousness and holiness. I pray that this is the way all of us would live in the power and working of God’s Holy Spirit, who is at work in our hearts in conforming us to Christ’s image.

When in The Stillness / An Original Work / September 26, 2011

When in the stillness of this moment,
Speak to me, Lord, I humbly pray.
Be my desire, set me on fire,
Teach me to love always.
Help me to walk in fellowship with You,
Listening to You; sit at Your feet.
Whisper Your words to me,
Oh, how gently, guiding me in Your truth.

While we are waiting for Your blessing,
Lord, in our hearts be King today.
Help us to live for you ev’ry moment,
List’ning to what You say.
May we not stray from your word within us,
Help us obey You, Lord, in all things,
Walking each moment, Lord, in Your presence,
Our offerings to You bring.

Help us to love You, Lord, our master;
Be an example of Your love,
Helping the hurting, lift up the fallen,
Showing them Your great love.
Teach them to love You, follow You always,
Bearing their cross and turning from sin;
Walking in daily fellowship with You,
Making You Lord and King.

 

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