Home Bible Study ©
Established November 2008
Rightly Dividing the Word of Truth
(2 Timothy 2:15)
This is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. 1Timothy 2:3-4
Welcome to HBS and thanks for being here today.
Scripture teaches us an individual is justified once they trust in Jesus Christ (through faith in the God’s Gospel – Romans 3:24-25, 4:5, 5:1). This is a legal declaration giving the saved individual a “right standing” before God (Psalms 50). It’s a onetime event.
Sanctification begins with justification. It means to separate oneself unto the Lord Jesus Christ’s service. It is the continual work of the Holy Spirit in the life of the Believer with but one goal – to conform them to the image of God’s Son. The Holy Spirit works to bring about “practical” holiness and produces the fruit of the Spirit in their life. Sanctification is a lifelong process.
Just because we’re saved does not mean we no longer sin; we’re still children of the “flesh,” which means old Adam still exists within each one of us. (1 Corinthians 3:3) There is a continuous Spiritual battle raging (or there certainly should be) between our new nature and old Adam; the mind and the members of every Believer in Christ Jesus (Romans 7).
I took the opportunity to point this out to you in last week’s lesson: The Spiritual battle ground between conforming to the world and being transformed is within the mind of the Believer - we must think differently than the (unsaved) world thinks and acts. Believers are not to fashion themselves after the Satanic “order of things,” which the god of this age (Aion) has corrupted (poisoned), but are to be transformed by the renewing of their mind.
This is where the saved person enters into the area of the Holy Spirit’s ministry, as they elect to follow the Lord Jesus Christ, which means He becomes our Boss, so to speak. He’s the Lord of our lives in every respect and not just in some respects (Romans 10:9; 1 Corinthians 12:3). Every choice, every decision we make is filtered through the written Word of God with the goal of glorifying Him in everything we do and say (1 Corinthians 10:31).
Considering the mercies of God, we Believers should be striving to please Him in everything – all this is accomplished as we allow the Holy Spirit to have complete control of every area of our lives (Ephesians 5:18); for He explains the Scriptures to us, empowers us with Spiritual gifts (1 Corinthians 12:4-11), comforts us (John 14:16; 2 Corinthians 1:4), and guides us (John 14:26). To follow Jesus Christ means we apply the Truths we learn from His Word and live our lives as if Jesus Christ Himself were walking beside us every day.
Please open your Bible at Romans 12:3
3: For through the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think more highly of himself than he ought to think; but to think so as to have sound judgment, as God has allotted to each a measure of faith.
For the grace given to me – Paul had received God’s undeserved favor (Grace) while traveling on the road to Damascus to persecute the Messianic Believers residing there (Acts 9). He was called to be an apostle of Jesus Christ (Romans 1:5); and as an apostle he now writes to these Roman Believers concerning humility, commanding them: not to think more highly of himself than he ought to think; (or keep old Adam in check, please).
In other words, Paul says we must think of ourselves appropriately, so as to have sound judgment, and not be arrogant (puffed-up) with an exaggerated and unrealistic view of our own authority and/or self-importance. With our heads “out of the clouds,” so to speak, and both of our feet planted firmly on terra firma, we need to view ourselves as God the Father does… soberly – sensibly, seriously, and with a sound mind. Consider Paul’s comment in Galatians 6:3: For if anyone thinks he is something when he is nothing, he deceives himself.
The proud person discounts the blessings of God in their life. They seek to be credited for things they alone could not have accomplished such as their abilities; health, intellect, talents, and life itself for these are all gifts from God.
Apart from our Lord and Savior we can amount to nothing; we’re all zeroes not heroes. But here’s some good news! God in His Grace is able to make something out of nothing. God created the heavens and the earth out of nothing. Do you seriously think for one second He’s incapable of making something wonderful out us? Reflect on what he accomplished through the Apostle Paul. God took this zealous Jew who intended to stamp out Christianity wherever he found it and transformed him into the greatest missionary for Jesus Christ of all time, he planted more churches than all the apostles combined, and he wrote over half of the New Testament. He preached a simple, clear, and passionate gospel message. Paul followed Jesus Christ and was Spirit led (Acts 16:6-10; Romans 1:1; 1 Corinthians 11:1-3).
However, the Believer who thinks too highly of himself is actually comparing himself with others and exalting himself above them, as he proudly thinks himself (or herself) to be more important than someone else. This “feeling” of self-importance must be overcome. Our Apostle Paul writes: For who regards you as superior? What do you have that you did not receive? And if you did receive it, why do you boast as if you had not received it? (1 Corinthians 4:7)
Paul warned this assembly in Rome not to think too highly of themselves because the sin of pride could destroy them and this church. After all, God didn’t create Satan. Lucifer became the devil because of his pride; the rest is history.
Our Apostle Paul addresses the need for unity and love in this assembly (and yours too) in his letter to the Ephesians: Therefore…I implore you to walk in the manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called, with all (what) humility and gentleness, with patience, showing tolerance for one another in (what) love, being diligent to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. (Ephesians 4:1-3)
Each member of Christ’s body is to be about the business of preserving the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. Since Believers have been commanded to protect the unity of the church, then church unity must be a very fragile thing.
Here’s another thought to consider. Since people make up the church and are commanded to guard the unity of the church, then it stands to reason that we cause the unity of the church to become splintered – “We have met the enemy and he is us.”
I say to everyone among you not to think more highly of himself than he ought to think - because of self-pride we’re the greatest threat to church unity; hence the warning and the command to maintain church unity from the Apostle Paul.
Paul points out the path to unity in Ephesians 4:1b: walk in a manner worthy (Axios: pronounced: ax-ee’-oce: meaning - to balance the scales) of the calling with which you have been called.
Believers are to live their lives marked by the characteristics listed by Paul in verse 2. The first one to appear is humility (Tapeinophrosune: pronounced: tap-i-nof-ros-oo’-nay – meaning: lowliness of mind). This word, in its Greek form, was never found in secular writing. It is a word coined by Christians. Roman and Greek society had no concept of humility. Anyone who placed others ahead of self was considered weak or a coward and unnatural. So, when Paul wanted a word to describe the humble person, he had to invent the word. This word was eventually picked up by some of the secular writers and used in a derogatory fashion to describe Christians as weak and perverted.
The unsaved world still views Believers in this light. However, even though they determine humility to be a weakness it is the most fundamental of Christ-like virtues. Without humility we can never please the Lord Jesus Christ. (Philippians 2:5-8)
It’s been said humility is an elusive thing. When you reach the place where you think you’ve attained it, you just lost it.
For example: a youth pastor was given an medal one Sunday morning after the service ended in front of the entire congregation. The medal was for being the most humble person on his staff. The young man came forward and graciously accepted his award with a few words. Later that week the award was taken away from him when he chose to wear it… that’s how elusive humility can be.
Humility is something we never see in ourselves, yet it is a quality that others see in our lives, when it is visible. If you or I were to mention our humility, then we’d be acknowledging it and that would be pride.
This brings me to Paul’s comment in verse 3: a measure of faith. Paul’s not talking about one’s salvation here, and he’s not saying each Believer is given a different amount of faith at the moment of their salvation. He is talking about particular and various gifts which God has gifted to each Believer and the faith necessary to exercise those gifts (see verse 6). Our gifts cannot be exercised rightly apart from faith and trust in the Lord Jesus Christ.
I’ll illustrate: everyone who entered my classroom came in and sat down in a chair.
They didn’t pace around the room fretting over the ability of the chair to support their weight. No lab tests were performed and there were no surveys taken. They just came in and sat down, which means they trusted (had faith) in the chair to bear their weight. In so doing, each one of these students exercised their faith and not their “feelings.”
When people base their actions and their activities solely on their “feelings,” or their “senses,” they’re elevating their emotions above the promises of God found in Scripture. This is how the world behaves. Believers are not to fashion themselves after the standards of this world.
Case in point: I served alongside several gentlemen in BSF who couldn’t believe they were standing in front of a classroom and teaching God’s Word week after week, considering the anxiety they experienced when it came time to recite an oral book report while in school. Not one of them believed God gave them the gift of public speaking, and you can include me in this group. I dreaded those days in school when I had to face my classmates and recite something from memory or give a speech on current events. What made this work for my friends and for me in BSF was our faith; and allowing the Holy Spirit to work in us and through us.
That last thought brings me to verses 4-5.
4: For just as we have many members in one body and all the members do not have the same function,
5: so we, who are many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another.
Paul in Romans 12:4-5 wants every Believer to know not only do they have a special place in the Body of Christ they also possess a God-given gift (or gifts) which is for the benefit of the entire body. (1 Corinthians 10:17, 12)
People have told me they don’t have a gift or if they have a gift they can’t find it... However, no Believer has been left out in the gift-giving process there is only the failure of the individual to exercise or recognize the gift (or gifts) God has allotted to each.
I knew one individual who thought God’s gifts were limited to being a preacher or teacher. I explained not everyone is called to be a Louie Giglio, a Ravi Zacharias, or a Les Feldick for that matter, but there are many gifts just as there are many members. This book says: there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; (1 Corinthians 12:4).
Maybe you’re a prayer warrior like my mother. If a prayer request comes her way, she’ll add it to her list and pray for it and the person in need. I know some couples who opened up their homes on a regular basis for a Bible study and provided delicious food and drink for the attendees. There are volunteers who knit lap blankets and gave them to the paralyzed veterans at the hospital. Others spend hours each day giving their time and talents in various ways serving the veterans and the hospital staff. Maybe you visit the shut-ins or folks bedridden in nursing homes. Maybe God has blessed you with a lot of money and you give to worthy causes continuously. All these examples represent a variety of gifts but the same Spirit.
I know an individual who failed to recognize their gifts. They work in a hospital lab providing vital data to physicians and nurses in the treatment of their patients. On many occasions their findings helped save a patient’s life. But it’s their opinion that lab personnel are unappreciated. I disagreed.
I said the data you provide to the physician gives them the information they need to properly treat the patient. So, ask the patient how they feel now that their life has been saved or their illness was cured because of your conscientious efforts in the lab? Your willingness to go to work every day to perform your assigned tasks at the professional level, and exercise your God-given talents and abilities for the good of others is a gift. The person’s life that was saved could possibly grow up to be a concert pianist, the physician that cures breast cancer, or the next Billy Graham.
This person is also a mother. They home-schooled their children and raised them in a Christian home along with Christ-like values in a world that not only opposes God but hates Him. This woman continues to be a shining example of what it means to stand for what you believe. Parenting children is also a gift.
However, instead of recognizing her gifts and giving God the glory she picture’s herself serving in the mission field, working against Planned Parenthood and the abortion industry in this country because this is where her heart is. I’m sure God acknowledges this but this may not be God’s plan for her. It could become God’s plan for her one day, but if the “door” hasn’t opened in all these years, I’d stopped trying to slip in through the window… As one pastor said one Sunday morning, “Bloom where you’re planted.”
Learn to exercise your faith where God has placed you, use your God-given talents to the best of your ability, and give God the honor and the glory.
(To be continued)
© Copyright 2011
GJ Heitzman’s Ministry
All Rights Reserved