Today I was considering the way that pastors “…must not be quarrelsome but kind to everyone, able to teach, patiently enduring evil, 25 correcting his opponents with gentleness. God may perhaps grant them repentance leading to a knowledge of the truth, and they may come to their senses and escape from the snare of the devil, after being captured by him to do his will.”
It is very clear in this Scripture what is the pastor’s responsibility, and what is God’s responsibility. The pastor is responsible for how he expresses himself in the ways Paul described, no matter what response he gets from his opposition. God is responsible for granting repentance, giving knowledge of the truth, leading them to their senses, and freeing them from the devil’s snare.
With this emphasis on the pastor’s role of communicating the truth in love, there is the hope that this will result in people turning away from their opposition, and joining the church in submission to God’s word. This led to this expression from James: “Therefore put away all filthiness and rampant wickedness and receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls.”
God’s word is always significant in itself, but there are many times when it has even more significant meaning to us because of experiences we have gone through. I have often witnessed people trying to receive the word of God without first putting away the filthiness and sin that is going on in their hearts and lives. They often wonder why they are so frustrated when they are getting into the word the way the pastor has taught them. The fact is that sin-blockages must first be removed in order for us to receive the word of God as it has been planted within us.
Paul communicated this with a very easy-to-understand metaphor when he wrote: “assuming that you have heard about him and were taught in him, as the truth is in Jesus, to put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.”
Paul was reminding the Ephesians of something they had already been taught. We come into the life of Christ by first putting off the old self, the sark, the self-rule that made us live independent of God, we experience renewal in the spirit of our minds, or are “transformed by the renewal of your mind,”and then we put on the “new self” to replace the sark-self.
The wonderful thing is that, while all the descriptions of the sark-self is that it is hopelessly ignorant, foolish, and wrong; cannot do what pleases God; doesn’t know how to do what pleases God; and cannot be trained or disciplined into pleasing God; the counterpart is that the new self is “created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.” The new self is actually ready to grow up to be just like Jesus.
As short as this is, let it be an encouragement to you to follow God in both sides of his transforming equation. Put off all that is of sin and self, and receive all that is of Christ and your new heart in Christ. Then watch to see what the implanted word of God does to lead you ever deeper into the salvation that has been freely given to us through Jesus Christ our Lord.
From my heart,
© 2013 Monte Vigh ~ Box 517, Merritt, BC, V1K 1B8 ~ email@example.com
Unless otherwise noted, Scriptures are from the English Standard Version (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers.)