Y O U A R E N O T Y O U R
O W N
A Look at the Teaching of Scripture about the
Personal Rights of the Believer
F. Wayne Mac Leod
Light To My Path Book Distribution
Copyright © 2016 F. Wayne Mac Leod
All rights reserved.
No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means without the
written permission of the author.
The Holy Bible, English Standard Version® (ESV®) Copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing
ministry of Good News Publishers. All rights reserved. ESV Text Edition: 2007
A Special thanks to Diane Mac Leod for proofreading this text.
CONTENTS
Title Page
Copyright
Preface
Chapter 1 - You Are Not Your Own
Chapter 2 - His by Creation
Chapter 3 - His by Provision
Chapter 4 - His by Salvation
Chapter 5 - His by Law
Chapter 6 - Stewards of His Resources
Chapter 7 - Our Response
About The Author
W
PREFACE
e live in an age where the rights of the individual are often the
centre of attention. In western society, where I currently live,
the mother is said to have the right over her own body, thus
justifying abortion. The rights of the child can strip away the parent’s ability
to punish or discipline his or her own child. Individual rights affect our
sexual orientation or when we choose to die. The assumption is that each
person has the right over their own bodies to do what they do with them.
How do these ideas line up with the teaching of the Scripture? In particular,
with what the apostle Paul said in 1 Corinthians 6:19-20:
19 … You are not your own, 20 for you were bought with a price. So
glorify God in your body. (1 Corinthians 6)
Paul’s words here are an affront to the idea that we have the right to do with
our own bodies as we please. In fact, Paul tells us here that we do not even
belong to ourselves. Using this passage as a springboard, the attempt of this
study is to examine Scripture’s teaching about the ownership of our bodies.
If we in fact, as Paul says, we do not belong to ourselves, then we are
accountable to God for our actions and everything that happens in these
bodies.
The idea that we do not belong to ourselves is a hard truth to swallow but it
is a very central truth of the Scripture. It is because of this truth that we are
accountable to God for our lives. It is also because of this truth that we have
great hope and confidence in the plan of God for our salvation. I trust that
this study will not only reinforce in our minds our God-given responsibility
to care for and use our bodies for the glory of His name but also remind us
of the tremendous grace of God in purchasing us a such a cost for Himself.
I know there is much that can be said on this topic. My purpose is not every
aspect of this important issue but rather to communicate the basic truth of
Scriptures and presented by Paul in 1 Corinthians 6:19-20. It is my hope the
simplicity of this study will not reduce its importance or hinder the message
of Scripture from speaking to the heart of each reader. May God give us
grace to understand the simple truth Paul speaks about here and the strength
to submit to its teaching.
F. Wayne Mac Leod
R
CHAPTER 1 - YOU ARE NOT
YOUR OWN
19 ...You are not your own, 20 for you were bought with a price. So
glorify God in your body. (1 Corinthians 6:19-20)
eading these verses some time ago, I was struck by the power of
what the apostle Paul was saying. I began to reflect on what he
was teaching when he said that we were not our own. What did
the apostle mean by this statement and what is our response to this truth?
These are the questions I want to examine in the course of the next few
chapters. This is a study of Paul's statement in 1 Corinthians 6:19-20.
The context of this statement is found in 1 Corinthians 6:12-20. In these
verses, Paul was addressing the matter of sexual immorality. It appears that
the region of Corinth was filled with wickedness and this was spilling into
the church. This is evident in Paul's rebuke to the church in the previous
chapter:
1 It is reported that there is sexual immorality among you, and of a
kind that is not tolerated even among pagans, for a man has his
father's wife. 2 And you are arrogant! Ought you not rather to
mourn? Let him who has done this be removed from among you. (1
Corinthians 5)
From this verse, we understand that the sexual immorality of Corinth had
made its way into the church. In this case, we have a man in the church who
was having a sexual relationship with his father's wife. The church had
failed to discipline him for this evil.
Later in 1 Corinthians 5 Paul would remind the church of how he had
already written to them about not associating with people who were
sexually immoral:
I wrote to you in my letter not to associate with sexual immoral
people. (1 Corinthians 5:9)
Obviously, these believers were living in a city filled with immoral
practices. It had become so common that even the church was accepting it
as normal behaviour. Here was a case where the culture of the day was
determining the morals of the church. Paul speaks out against this and calls
the church back to the principles of God's Word. As Paul addresses this
matter of sexual immorality, he reminds the believers of three very
important details.
Your Body is Meant for the Lord (1 Corinthians 6:13)
"Food is meant for the stomach and the stomach for food"—and
God will destroy both one and the other. The body is not meant for
sexual immorality, but for the Lord, and the Lord for the body. (1
Corinthians 6:13)
The first principle Paul brings to the attention of the Corinthians is that the
body was not meant for sexual immorality but for the Lord. There were
people in Corinth who taught that the body and soul had nothing to do with
the other. If I have a bowl of rice for breakfast, what impact will that have
on my spiritual life? Will the food I put in my stomach draw me any closer
to the Lord? The people of Corinth took this a step further. They felt that
just as the food they ate had no impact on their relationship with God so it
was with anything else they did with their bodies. They saw no connection
between sexual relationships and their spiritual relationship with God. They
separated their spiritual life from their physical life to such an extent that
they felt they could do anything with their physical bodies and it would
have no impact on their relationship with God. They believed that a sexual
relationship with a prostitute would have no more impact on their soul than
what they ate for breakfast that morning.
Paul addresses this philosophy of life in 1 Corinthians 6:13 when he says:
"The body is not meant for sexual immorality, but for the Lord." By telling
the Corinthians that the body was meant for the Lord, Paul is removing this
separation between body and soul. Yes, the body and the soul are two
distinct parts of our being, but both belong to the Lord. In saying that the
body was meant for the Lord, Paul is saying that what we do with this body
does have an impact on our relationship with God.
We have been given these earthly bodies for a purpose. That purpose is to
serve and honour the Lord. When we use these bodies in ways God never
intended, we dishonour the Creator. Our bodies are the instruments God has
given us to accomplish His purpose on this earth. Paul makes it clear that
the purpose of God for our bodies is not sexual immorality.
If you belong to the Lord Jesus today, your body was given to you for a
very particular reason. We must learn to use this body and all its parts to
bring glory and honour to the Lord our Creator. Our mind needs to be
trained to discern and know His purpose and plan. Our hands and feet must
be used to minister in His name. Our words must speak His glory and
encourage others in their walk with Him. Certainly, how we use our
physical body with all its capacity will have an impact on the kingdom of
God and our relationship with Him. Our bodies were meant for the Lord
and when they are used for the Lord, we know the fullness of purpose and
the smile of God's approval.
Your Body is a Member of Christ (1 Corinthians 6:15)
The second point Paul makes about the body is that it is a member of
Christ:
Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ? Shall I
then take the members of Christ and make them members of a
prostitute? Never! (1 Corinthians 6:15)
What is important for us to understand as believers is that the Lord Jesus is
pleased to call us His own. As we live on this earth we walk in earthly
bodies. The apostle Paul marvelled at the fact that the Lord Jesus would
choose to reveal Himself in these earthly bodies:
7 But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the
surpassing power belongs to God and not to us. 8 We are afflicted in
every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; 9
persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; 10
always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of
Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies. (2 Corinthians 4:7-10)
There are some very important details Paul brings out in these verses in 2
Corinthians. He reminds us that while these earthly bodies are merely
fragile "jars of clay", they contain the rich treasure of the presence and
power of Jesus. Jesus has chosen to make His presence known in these frail
bodies. These bodies are His instruments in this world. He has made us one
with Him in this purpose of extending His kingdom. He has chosen to place
His Spirit in us to empower and enable us to be effective in service. It is not
just our souls that are part of the purpose of God, but our bodies also. As
sinful and as frail as these earthly bodies are, they are the instruments
through which He has chosen to extend His kingdom on this world.
Paul would go on in 1 Corinthians 6:15 to say, "Shall I then take the
members of Christ and make them members of a prostitute? Never!" We
have been set apart and joined with Christ in His great overall purpose for
this world. Our bodies are the instruments He chooses to use to accomplish
this great purpose. Paul could not imagine how anyone who understood this
wonderful truth could ever defile his or her body. Our bodies are part of
Christ's great work. They have been set apart and sanctified by Christ for
this great purpose. To mistreat the ambassador is to insult the king who sent
him. In a similar way, to misuse or abuse the body Christ has chosen to be
part of His purpose is to insult the King of kings. These bodies are
instruments chosen by God to accomplish His holy purpose on the earth.
Your Body is the Temple of the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians
6:19)
There is one final point Paul makes in 1 Corinthians 6:19 about our physical
bodies.
Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit
within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own.
Our bodies, as frail and weak as they are, are temples of the Holy Spirit,
who lives in us. Because we belong to God, our bodies are not our own.
When we came to know the Lord Jesus, we surrendered the control and
ownership of our lives to Him. He is Lord of our lives. At that point in
time, the Holy Spirit took up residence in our lives. He is not just a tenant
but the actual owner. Our bodies are no longer ours–they house God’s Holy
Spirit. This means that we do not have the right to do as we please with our
bodies. The Holy Spirit is the owner and master of our bodies and we are to
walk in tune with Him and His purpose for those bodies.
This is a point that we do not always understand. At times we continue to
live as if our bodies were ours to do with as we please. Paul reminds us,
however, that we no longer have this right. The Holy Spirit is now the
master of our bodies. We must seek Him and His will for how we use those
bodies.
Glorify God in Your Body (1 Corinthians 6:20)
What is Paul's word to those who say that what I do with my body is my
own business and has nothing to do with my walk with God? He makes it
quite clear that our role and purpose as believers on this earth is to glorify
God in our bodies which belong to Him.
For Consideration:
What was the condition of the church in Corinth in the days of Paul
according to the verses we have examined in this chapter? To what extent
was the community influencing the morals of the church? What impact does
your society have on the state of the church today?
The church in Corinth seemed to be influenced by those who taught that
what I do with my body has nothing to do with my relationship with God.
How does Paul address this teaching in 1 Corinthians 6?
What is the purpose of our body according to 1 Corinthians 6:13?
How does God reveal Himself through our human bodies? How does He
use them for His glory?
Do we have any true right to our bodies? What did Paul mean when he told
the Corinthians that their bodies were the temple of the Holy Spirit and that
they were no longer their own?
Have you come to a place of surrender in your life? Have you given to
Christ what is already His or have you been fighting for possession and
your own right to do what you want with your body?
For Prayer:
Ask the Lord to help you to seek His will first and foremost, even when this
goes against what our society considers normal.
Ask the Lord to show you more fully what His purpose is for you and your
body.
Take a moment to confess that there have been times when you have not
been completely surrendered to the Lordship of Christ over your life and
body.
Commit yourself afresh to walk in obedience and submission to the work
and call of God on your life. Surrender your body to Him to use as He
pleases.
I
CHAPTER 2 - HIS BY
CREATION
n 1 Corinthians 6:12-20 Paul addressed the issue of sexual immorality
in the church of Corinth. He reminded the Corinthians that by virtue
of the fact that their bodies were meant for the Lord, were members of
Christ and the temple of the Holy Spirit, they no longer had the right to do
as they pleased with them. He told them plainly in 1 Corinthians 6:19: "You
are not your own."
This phrase: "you are not your own" seems radical in our day. We live in an
age that asserts independence and personal rights. In the country where I
live we are told that a woman has the right over her own body. The legal
implication of this is that she has a right to terminate a pregnancy through
abortion. If she doesn't want the baby in her womb, she has the right to
destroy it.
Even Christians struggle with this idea that they are not their own. We like
to think that we can decide our own course in life. The idea that God has
authority over every part of my life is a hard one to swallow. Not many of
us have ever come to a place of absolute surrender to God and an
acceptance that we belong to Him in every aspect of life.
If there is one thing that is quite clear in the Scripture, it is the fact that we
were created by God. We are His by means of creation. Adam was formed
from the dust of the ground and God breathed the breath of life into Him.
He had nothing to do with this creation—it was all of God. What was true
of the first man is also true for each one of us. While we may not have been
formed from the dust of the ground like Adam, we were nonetheless still
individually created by God. The Psalmist understood this when he said:
13 For you formed my inward parts;
you knitted me together in my mother's womb.
14 I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.
Wonderful are your works;
my soul knows it well.
15 My frame was not hidden from you when I was being made in
secret,
intricately woven in the depth of the earth. (Psalm 139:13-15)
The psalmist tells us clearly that God formed us in our mother's womb.
There we were shaped and given life by the Creator Himself. We are the
work of His hands –evidence of the creative genius of the Lord God.
We had nothing to do with our creation. God shaped us individually,
endowed us with personality and individual characteristics. God does so
with a particular purpose in mind. The Psalmist would continue in his
reflection of how God knitted him together in his mother's womb by saying:
Your eyes saw my unformed substance;
in your book were written, every one of them,
the days that were formed for me,
when as yet there was none of them. (Psalm 139:16)
Consider what the Psalmist is saying here. Not only did God form our
body, mind, and spirit in the womb of our mother but he also determined
the days that I would live. He shaped each day for me. Each of my days
would have a purpose. He would bring the right circumstances into those
days and use them to shape and use me for His glory. I was formed for a
purpose.
In the days of the apostle Paul, this idea that God had a specific purpose for
each believer was difficult for many to accept. Writing to the Romans Paul
would address this issue when he said:
20 But who are you, O man, to answer back to God? Will what is
moulded say to its moulder, "Why have you made me like this?" 21
Has the potter no right over the clay, to make out of the same lump,
one vessel for honourable use and another for dishonourable use?
(Romans 9:20-21)
God has the right, as the creator, to make whatever type of vessel He needs,
just as a potter has the right to do what he wishes with the clay on the
potter's wheel. Each of these creations has a particular purpose. The clay
does not determine what it will become. This is in the hands of the potter.
Writing to the Ephesian church the apostle would say:
For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good
works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in
them. (Ephesians 2:10)
Notice what Paul tells the Ephesians here. He told them that they were
created in Christ Jesus for good works. They were created with a purpose in
mind. Notice also that those good works were prepared beforehand. In other
words, God had a particular purpose in mind for us when He created us.
Paul experienced this personally in his own life. Speaking to the Galatians,
the apostle would write:
15 By when he who had set me apart before I was born, and who
called me by his grace, 16 was pleased to reveal his Son to me, in
order that I might preach him among the Gentiles, I did not
immediately consult anyone. (Galatians 1:15-16)
Paul understood that God had set him apart before He was born for the
purpose of preaching among the Gentiles. This was in the heart of God as
He formed Paul in the womb of his mother. What is true of Paul is true for
each of us today. God created us in our mother's womb knowing fully the
purpose He had for our lives.
There is something else we need to understand about being created by God.
Not only do we have a purpose, but we belong to the one who created us.
The Creator owns His own creations. In the passage quoted above from
Ephesians 2:10 Paul tells us that we are God's workmanship. As His
workmanship, we belong to Him. Listen to what God said through the
Psalmist in Psalm 50:10-11:
10 For every beast of the forest is mine,
the cattle on a thousand hills.
11 I know all the birds of the hills,
and all that moves in the field is mine.
Every beast of the field, the cattle on the hills and the birds of the air all
belong to the Lord God who created them. What is true of the animals of
this earth is also true of human beings. Speaking through the prophet
Ezekiel, the Lord God says:
Behold, all souls are mine; the soul of the father as well as the soul
of the son is mine: the soul who sins shall die. (Ezekiel 18:4)
We are the Lord's by virtue of the fact that He has created us. We do not
belong to ourselves. It is true that God has given us free will by which we
can make our own decisions. The ability to make decisions, however, does
not prove ownership. Large companies hire directors and executives to
make decisions for them. These individuals are given the freedom to make
the decisions necessary for the good of the company. While they make
decisions on behalf of the company, they do not own the company. They are
held accountable by the owners for their actions. God gives us the freedom
to make decisions in life but this does not mean that we can do what we
want. Yes, He has given us freedom, but we still belong to Him and are
accountable to Him for how we live our lives and use what He has put in
our hands.
There is one final point I would like to make in this regard. Speaking
through His servant Jeremiah, the Lord God says:
It is I who by my great power and my outstretched arm have made
the earth, with the men and animals that are on the earth, and I give
it to whomever it seems right to me. (Jeremiah 27:5)
He who created and owns this earth with its men, women, and animals has
the right to do with it as He sees fit. He has absolute authority over all of
His creation. If He chooses to take from one person and give to another, He
has the right to do so. If He chooses to bless one person and not another He
has the right to do so. He has this right because He is the Creator of all
things.
As a creation, I am subject to the Creator. I have been created for a purpose.
I did not choose that purpose myself—it was chosen for me. As the Creator,
God has the right to do as He pleases with my life. I belong to Him and was
created Him and His purpose. In accepting this I will find my highest
delight and satisfaction in life.
I am not my own because I was created by God. I am His and He has every
right over my life and time. What will be my response to this? Will I resist
and fight for the right to do what I want with this life and body or will I
submit and become all He has called me to be?
For Consideration:
Why is Paul's statement, "You are not your own" so difficult for us to accept
in our day?
Does God, as our Creator have the right to determine His will for us as His
creation?
Does the fact that we were created with a free will mean that we can do
what we want with the lives God has given us? Who is the rightful owner of
our lives and time?
How does understanding that we belong to God by means of creation
impact how we live and make decisions?
For Prayer:
Take a moment to recognize God as the Creator of your life and time?
Thank Him for the gift of life.
Ask the Lord to help you to accept His purpose for your life. Ask Him to
help you to find deep fulfilment in that purpose.
Thank the Lord that your life has purpose and meaning because you were
created by Him.
Take a moment to confess that you have not always lived your life in the
will of your Creator. Ask Him to forgive you and help you to learn to walk
in deeper submission to Him.
I
CHAPTER 3 - HIS BY
PROVISION
n the previous chapter, we examined the fact that we are not our own
because we are the creation of God. I would like to take this a step
further. Not only are we created by God and for God but we are
completely dependent on Him for every breath we breathe. Consider the
prayer of David in 1 Chronicles 29:14:
But who am I, and what is my people, that we should be able thus to
offer willingly? For all things come from you, and of your own have
we given you.
Notice what David is saying here. He is telling us that everything we have
is from God –"for all things come from you." Let's consider this for a
moment.
We owe our lives to the Lord who formed us in the womb. Now that we
have been given life, how is that life sustained? To answer this question, we
need to consider what would happen if God ceased to provide for our needs.
If God ceased to provide what we need, we would perish. He holds this
universe together and gives it life. This is the clear teaching of the apostle
Paul to the Colossians when he wrote:
16 For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth,
visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or
authorities—all things were created through him and for him. 17
And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together.
(Colossians 1:16-17)
Notice in particular the phrase: "and in Him, all things hold together." It is
by His genius and power that everything in this universe is held together
and works in harmony. The writer of the epistle to the Hebrews, speaking
about Jesus, says this:
He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his
nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power.
(Hebrews 1:3)
The word "uphold" gives us the idea that He carries the weight of the
universe on His shoulders. He gives life and without Him, nothing would
exist.
Writing in the book of Revelation the apostle John said:
Worthy are you, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honour and
power, for you created all things, and by your will they existed and
were created. (Revelation 4:11
It is by the will of God that all things exist. They continue to exist only
because He wills it and because He holds them together. Without His
provision and blessing, all things would cease to exist.
We are absolutely dependent on God for everything we have. Every breath I
breathe and every beat of my heart is because He sustains me and keeps me
alive. I have nothing that I cannot trace back to God and His provision.
Jesus illustrates this quite clearly in the parable of the vine and the branches
in John 15:5:
I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in
him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do
nothing.
Jesus compares us here to a branch on a vine. The life of the branch is in the
vine. The moment the branch is disconnected from the vine it begins to die.
It cannot survive apart from the vine. Let's consider this illustration for a
moment. Imagine that a branch on the vine was to say: "I belong to myself.
I'm not going to remain on this vine. I'm going to leave the vine and do
things my own way." What would happen to that branch? It would surely
shrivel up and die. It needs to be in constant connection with the vine if it is
to survive. The branch is dependent on the vine.
If you think you belong to yourself, then try separating yourself from God
and His provision. Like that branch on the vine, you will soon find out how
dependent you are on Him for everything. You only exist because you
belong to Him—apart from Him you perish. Can we say that we belong to
ourselves if apart from God we cannot even take a single breath? It is only
because the branch belongs to the vine that it can survive.
What is true of ourselves is true also of our belongings. What do you have
that does not come from God? Listen to what the apostle James had to say
about this:
Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down
from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow
due to change. (James 1:17)
Every good and perfect gift we have ever received is from the Father in
heaven. He is the giver of all good. Can I ever pat myself on the back and
say: "Look at what I have done?" What could I have accomplished were it
not for God, His strength and His provision? I offer to Him only what I
have received from Him.
In the book of Hosea, the prophet accuses the people of his day of
forgetting the source of their blessings:
8 And she did not know that it was I who gave her the grain, the
wine, and the oil, and who lavished on her silver and gold which
they used for Baal. 9 Therefore I will take back my grain in its time,
and my wine in its season, and I will take away my wool and my
flax, which were to cover her nakedness. (Hosea 2:8-9)
Consider what the Lord was saying through Hosea. God was accusing His
people of forgetting that their grain, wine, oil, silver, and gold had all come
from Him. Somehow they began to feel that they could do what they
wanted with these objects. Because they had failed to recognize these gifts
as being from God and used them instead in Baal worship, God would take
them back. What is particularly interesting in these two verses is the
repetition of the word "my" in reference to God. Notice what God says: I
will take back my grain, my wine, my wool, and my flax. It could not be
any clearer. The grain, wine, wool, and flax all belonged to God. All of
these blessings were from God, who had the right to give and take back all
that was not used for His glory.
The book of Job describes a man who lost everything. Satan stripped away
Job’s wealth and killed his children. When news of this came to Job he
responded:
20 Then Job arose and tore his robe and shaved his head and fell on
the ground and worshiped. 21 And he said, "Naked I came from my
mother's womb, and naked shall I return. The Lord gave, and the
Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord" (Job 1:20-
21)
Here was a man who understood that when he was born on this earth he
came with nothing. Every blessing he received came from the Lord, but
God also had the right to take those blessing from him. In taking away these
blessings, God was not guilty of any crime. He had the right to do what He
wanted with all that belonged to Him. Job belonged to God but so did
everything he owned.
Consider for a moment that you own a small store. In order to keep the
store open, you hire someone to work with you. Imagine now that this
worker came in one day and decided to help himself to the supplies in your
store. Imagine that he needed some money for personal reasons so he took
money from the store. What would you think of this man? He has access to
all the supplies in your store. He is required to handle the money, but these
responsibilities do not give him ownership of these things. The finances and
the items in the store are not his to do with as he pleases. These things
belong to the owner who alone has the right to use them as he sees fit.
Let's use the illustration of the vine and the branches again. If the branch
belongs to the vine and cannot survive without that vine, what about the
fruit it produces? Can the branch say, "Okay, I accept that I belong to this
vine and I can't survive apart from it but the fruit that is produced on my
branch belongs to me?" Wouldn't it be foolish for the branch to think this
way? What applies to the branch also applies to the fruit on the branch. If
the branch belongs to the vine, so does the fruit on the branch. Neither one
could survive without the vine. The principle is this: If I belong to Christ
then everything I have belongs to him also.
Paul tells us in 1 Corinthians 6:20 that we are not our own. We are not our
own because we cannot exist without God. We are dependent on His
provision and blessing. We cannot survive apart from Him. Every good and
perfect gift we have ever received comes from Him and belongs to Him. We
own nothing that is truly ours to do with as we please. At best we are
managers of the blessings God has put at our disposal. We are His because
apart from His provision, we could not survive.
For Consideration:
Can we offer to God anything that does not already belong to Him?
How dependent is this universe on God? Could it exist without His ongoing
provision and blessing?
How does the parable of the vine and the branches show us that we are not
our own? What is the connection between provision and belonging in this
parable?
Can we who belong to Christ claim any right to do as we please with what
He has given us? Explain.
For Prayer:
Take a moment to recognize God as the provider of all good gifts. Thank
Him for His wonderful provision.
Thank the Lord that He continues to sustain you every day.
Ask the Lord to help you to realize that you are His because apart from Him
you can do nothing. Ask Him to help you to embrace this dependence on
Him and trust Him more fully.
Ask the Lord to forgive you for any time you may have believed that you
had any real claim on the good things He has given you. Take a moment to
surrender afresh all that you have to the Lord for His use and purpose.
T
CHAPTER 4 - HIS BY
SALVATION
o this point in our study, we have seen that we belong to God by
means of His creation and provision. He created us and provides
everything we need for life. One would have thought that those
who belong to God would recognize this and commit their lives to Him as
the source of life. This was not the case, however. Humankind turned its
back on its Creator and fell under His condemnation and judgment. The
punishment for this sin was death (see Romans 6:23). Throughout the Old
Testament, we read of countless sacrifices being made to pay for the sins of
God’s people. These animals died on behalf of God’s people for the
forgiveness of their sin.
A wonderful thing happened, however, when the Lord Jesus came to this
earth. Listen to what the writer to the Hebrews tells us:
11 But when Christ appeared as a high priest of the good things that
have come, then through the greater and more perfect tent (not
made with hands, that is not of this creation) 12 he entered once for
all into the holy places, not by means of the blood of goats and
calves but by means of his own blood, thus securing an eternal
redemption. (Hebrews 9)
The writer speaks of Jesus entering into the holy places in a more perfect
tent not made with human hands. Old Testament sacrifices were made in
the earthly tabernacle where the priests would enter to make an offering for
the sins of the people. Notice, however, that Jesus entered holy places not
made with hands. The holy place He entered was not in the tabernacle on
this earth but in heaven. Just as the priests of the Old Testament would offer
a sacrifice for the forgiveness of sin and then enter the presence of God to
minister on behalf of the people, so Christ, after offering Himself as a
sacrifice, entered the presence of God to minister on our behalf. In other
words, the Lord Jesus laid down His life to pay the penalty for the sins that
separated us from the Father and held us under condemnation and eternal
judgment.
Paul told the Colossians:
13 And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the
uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him,
having forgiven us all our trespasses, 14 cancelling the record of
debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside,
nailing it to the cross. 15 He disarmed the rulers and authorities
and put them to open shame, by triumphing over them in him.
(Colossians 2:13-15)
Paul told the Colossian believers that they had been dead in their sins, under
the judgement of God, and bound to be separated from Him for all eternity.
Jesus, however, paid their debt by his death on the cross. The payment of
this debt to God now gives us new life and hope.
Listen to what Paul told the Corinthians in 1 Corinthians 15:22:
For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive.
Because Jesus paid our penalty we now have life and hope. All who accept
this payment can know the forgiveness of sin and enter the presence of the
Father without guilt.
Speaking to the Ephesians the apostle would say:
4 But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which
he loved us, 5 even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us
alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved—6 and
raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places
in Christ Jesus, 7 so that in the coming ages he might show the
immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ
Jesus. (Ephesians 2:4-7)
What do we see from these verses? We were under the control and power of
sin. Sin had destroyed us and our relationship with God. We were under its
condemnation and destined for an eternity of separation from God. Jesus,
however, came to this earth, laid His own life down on the cross to pay the
price for our salvation. He paid that debt we could not pay. He gave us new
life and hope. He seated us with God in heavenly places. He secured our
eternal salvation. He disarmed those enemies that had us in their grip and
set us free forever from their control and domination. He rescued us by
giving His own life and restored us to the Father who adopts us as His own
children.
It is important to note here that it was a legal transaction that took place on
the cross. Scripture speaks of this transaction as a legal and binding
purchase. In 1 Corinthians 6:20 the apostle tells us that we were "bought
with a price." This same phrase is used in 1 Corinthians 7:23:
You were bought with a price; do not become bondservants of men.
This idea of a legal purchase is repeated in 2 Peter 2:1 when he said:
But false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will be
false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive
heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, bringing upon
themselves swift destruction.
Notice the phrase "denying the Master who bought them." It is quite clear
from Scripture that what took place on the cross was payment for a legally
binding contract. On the cross, Jesus paid the supreme price to purchase us
from the devil to whom we belonged. This transaction rescues us from the
hands of our enemy and brings us into the kingdom of God as His children
and heirs.
The implication of this purchase, according to Paul, is that we are not our
own. We have been purchased at the cost of Jesus' life and so we belong to
Him. As those who belong to the Lord Jesus, we are now under legal
obligation to Him. There is an interesting passage in the book of Hosea that
illustrates this.
1 And the Lord said to me, "Go again, love a woman who is loved
by another man and is an adulteress, even as the Lord loves the
children of Israel, though they turn to other gods and love cakes of
raisins." 2 So I bought her for fifteen shekels of silver and a homer
and a lethech of barley. 3 And I said to her, "You must dwell as mine
for many days. You shall not play the whore, or belong to another
man; so will I also be to you." (Hosea 3:1-3)
Hosea's wife Gomer was an unfaithful wife. The Lord had asked Hosea to
marry her to illustrate His relationship with His people. Like Gomer, Israel
had been unfaithful to her God. On this occasion, we see that Gomer was
with another man. God speaks to Hosea and tells him to go and get his wife
back from this man. In Hosea 3:2 that Hosea literally bought his wife back.
The process of bringing her back to live with him cost Hosea something. It
was, however, a legal transaction. Because this was a legal transaction,
there were certain obligations attached. Notice in Hosea 3:3 that the prophet
tells his wife that she was to dwell as his for many days and she was not to
play the whore or belong to another man. These were the legal requirements
attached to this transaction. What is true of Hosea's transaction is also true
of our transaction with the Lord. Let's consider the agreement between
Hosea and His wife and compare this to our relationship with the Lord.
First, Gomer was to dwell as Hosea's wife for many days. Because Hosea
paid the price to get his wife back, she was under a legal obligation to dwell
with him. To dwell with him implied that she was to remain in his home
with him. She was to make it her commitment to always remain with him
and never leave him.
Second Gomer was not to play the whore or belong to any other man. This
meant that she was to be faithful to Hosea alone. She was not to turn to any
other man. All her devotion and attention was to be given to him alone.
These obligations were on her because she had been legally bought back by
Hosea. In a similar way, we too are under a legal obligation toward our
Lord. We are to remain with Him. We are to serve Him, honour Him and
make Him our priority in life. We are to turn from every other god and all
other distraction to commit ourselves to Him and to Him alone.
It is possible for us to wander from the Lord, but the purchase of our
salvation by the Lord Jesus places us under a legally binding agreement
with Him. Imagine that you were living in a home for which you could no
longer pay. A friend takes pity on you and decides to buy the home and let
you live in it for the rest of your life. We live in this home now, but it no
longer belongs to us. The fact that we live in it doesn't make it ours. All the
paperwork shows that the house now belongs to your friend. Because we no
longer own the home, we are responsible to care for it. We do not have the
legal right to do with it as we please.
In a similar way, the Lord Jesus has bought us. We live now as one who
belongs to another. We are no longer our own. We are no longer free to do
as we please. Because we have been bought with a price, we are under
obligation to the one who bought us. This is both a tremendous privilege
and obligation. We are His because He purchased us at the cost of His own
life. He holds the deed and title to our bodies and souls. He is the legal
Master and Owner.
For Consideration:
What was our condition before we came to Christ?
How did the Lord Jesus purchase us? What was the cost of that purchase?
What does the Scripture teach about the legal transaction that took place on
the cross?
What is our obligation now that we have been purchased by Christ?
Can we legally do as we please with our lives now that we belong to Christ?
For Prayer:
Take a moment to thank the Lord that He willingly laid down His life for us
to ransom us from the devil.
Ask the Lord to help you to understand your legal requirements now that
you belong to Him.
Ask the Lord to teach you to live your life as one who belongs to the Lord
Jesus.
Ask the Lord to forgive you for the times you have failed to walk in
obedience to Him.
I
CHAPTER 5 - HIS BY LAW
n the last chapter, we touched briefly on the matter of the price that
was paid for our salvation and how the Lord God paid the ransom for
our freedom. This was a legal transaction.
One of the most difficult things for us to understand is this matter of legality
in the spiritual realm. Just as this world is run by legal obligations so it is in
the spiritual realm. From creation, this law is evident. Consider when the
Lord put Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. There in the garden, the
Lord also put the Tree of the Knowledge of God and Evil. Listen to the
command of God with regard to this tree:
16 And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, "You may surely
eat of every tree of the garden 17 but of the tree of the knowledge of
good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you
shall surely die" (Genesis 2:16-17)
Right there in the Garden of Eden God began by letting Adam and Eve
know that there were rules and laws to be obeyed and consequences for
disobedience. In this case, eating fruit from the Tree of the Knowledge of
Good and Evil would result in death. The Old Testament is filled with laws,
regulations, covenants, and vows. The people of Israel were under the Law
of Moses and were required to live in accordance with the laws God had
given. To disobey His law was to suffer the consequences. These laws
covered everything from sexual behaviour and health to relationships with
people and animals in the land or what they could or could not eat as the
people of God.
While we are no longer under the Law of Moses in our day, this does not
mean that God no longer has a standard for us to live by. God is certainly a
God of law and order. Listen to what Paul tells us in Romans 6:23:
For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life
in Christ Jesus our Lord.
There is a law against sin and those who continue in sin will be punished.
Sin is a crime punishable by death according to the law of God. This is not
just an Old Testament principle, but one that is very clear in the New
Testament as well. God binds Himself to this law of sin and death. It is by
this law that He governs the world. It was because of this law that the Lord
Jesus had to come to earth to die.
Consider this for a moment. Why did Jesus have to die? He had to die
because the law of God stated that sin was punishable by death. God took
this law very seriously. A penalty needed to be paid if we were going to be
freed from the sentence of death. Out of love and compassion for us, the
Lord God sent His Son to take our place as the perfect, sinless sacrifice so
that the legal requirement of the law would be met. Only when our debt was
paid could we be freed from this terrible sentence. This law of sin and death
is key to understanding what took place for our salvation. There was no
other way for our salvation to be procured because this universe is bound to
the law that states that the soul that sins will die.
God is a God of law, and the world in which we live is bound by those laws.
Not only does God obligate Himself to His laws, but even the powers of
hell are bound by these same laws. Satan and his demons will be punished
by the law of God. They cannot take what has been legally purchased and
redeemed by Jesus.
Consider what the apostle Paul had to say to the believers about what the
Lord Jesus had done for them on the cross:
13 And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the
uncircumsicion of your flesh, God made alive together with him,
having forgiven us all our trespasses, 14 by cancelling the record of
debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside,
nailing it on the cross. (Colossians 2:13-14)
Notice the language used here. Paul speaks of trespasses and of those who
were under the judgement of death because of their sin. He reminds us that
we were forgiven by means of the cancelling of debt that stood against us
with its legal demands. The law demanded payment of our debt or else we
would suffer the consequences. Jesus paid this legal penalty by dying in our
place. He met the legal requirement for us to be forgiven our debt.
The apostle Paul would remind us that what Jesus did for our salvation
upheld the Law:
27 Then what becomes of our boasting? It is excluded. By what kind
of law? By a law of works? No, but by the law of faith. 28 For we
hold that one is justified by faith apart from the works of the law. 29
Or is God the God of the Jews only? Is he not the God of the
Gentiles also? Yes, of Gentiles also, 30 since God is one –who will
justify the circumcised by faith and the uncircumcised through faith.
31 Do we then overthrow the law by this faith? By no means! On the
contrary, we uphold the law (Romans 3:27-31)
While there is much we could say about this passage, notice what Paul tells
us in Romans 3:31. He reminds us that God did not overthrow the law when
He provided salvation by faith. In fact, He upheld the law. How did He
uphold the law? He did so by requiring that the full penalty for sin be met
through the death of His Son.
1 There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in
Christ Jesus. 2 For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in
Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death. 3 For God has done
what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending his
own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, 4 in order that the righteous
requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not
according to the flesh by according to the Spirit. (Romans 8:1-4)
The condemnation of the law has been removed by the Son of God who
took on human flesh in order to meet the "righteous requirements of the
law" by dying in our place. Is it not clear that God binds Himself to this law
of sin and death? The penalty had to be paid for salvation and forgiveness to
be possible.
Indeed, under the law, almost everything was purified with blood,
and without the shedding of blood, there is no forgiveness of sin.
(Hebrews 9:22)
Now that the penalty for sin has been paid by Christ, all who accept this
payment are forgiven by means of the work of Christ on their behalf. In
fact, God has entered a new and legally binding covenant with us promising
us forgiveness and eternal life through the work of His Son Jesus.
15 Therefore he is the mediator of a new covenant, so that those
who are called may receive the promised eternal inheritance since a
death has occurred that redeemed them from the transgressions
committed under the first covenant. (Hebrews 9:15)
It is in this context that we need to understand 1 Corinthians 6:19-20. Paul
tells us in those two verses that we are not our own because we were bought
with a price. That purchase of God was a legal transaction and had legal
implications for us. Writing to the Colossians Paul told them:
13 He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred
us to the kingdom of his beloved Son 14 in whom we have
redemption, the forgiveness of sins. (Colossians 1:13-14)
The price paid by Jesus transferred us from one kingdom to another. We
were purchased from the kingdom of darkness and now belong to the
kingdom of God's beloved Son. By His death, we have become children of
God with all the rights and privileges. We no longer belong to this world of
sin and darkness. Our obligations are now toward God and the kingdom of
His Son. To live and walk as men and women of this world and give our
allegiance to this world is to betray our true kingdom and allegiance.
We have been given a free will, but that freedom does not give us the legal
right to betray our calling and obligations in this new kingdom. As
members of this new kingdom, we are to uphold the standards that God has
set out in His Word. As believers, we need to understand the difference now
between our freedom and our legal right. A person is free to take the life of
another human being, but they do not have the legal right to do so. This is
true in our walk with God as well. When we were transferred into the
kingdom of God's Son, we were placed under a legal obligation to walk as
children of that kingdom. We have the freedom to rebel and sin against God
but we do not have the legal right to do so.
Notice how Paul introduced himself in Romans 1:1:
Paul, a servant of Christ Jesus, called to be an apostle, set apart for
the gospel of God.
Paul calls himself a servant. The Greek word used in Romans 1:1 is the
word "doulos" and refers to a slave who is either voluntarily or
involuntarily in service to another. He is subject to the will of the master.
Paul saw himself as a slave to the Lord Jesus. He did not see this in a
negative way but in a very positive way. He delighted to serve the Lord but
saw it as his obligation as one who had been purchased with a price. He
challenged every believer to live as a servant of God and to present
themselves as living sacrifices to God:
I appeal to you, therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to
present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to
God, which is your spiritual worship. (Romans 12:1)
As those who have been purchased by Christ and transferred into His
kingdom, we are now to present ourselves to Him as His servants. We are to
offer ourselves completely and entirely to Him and to honour Him with our
bodies and minds. This is our legal obligation.
We who were once slaves to sin have now become slaves to righteousness:
17 But thanks be to God, that you who were once slaves of sin have
become obedient from the heart to the standard of teaching to which
you were committed, 18 and having been set free from sin, have
become slaves of righteousness. (Romans 6:17-18)
We may not like the idea of being a slave but the reality of the matter is that
we legally belong to God and His kingdom. We have the ability to do as we
please but we do not have the legal right to do so. As servants of God, we
are now subject to Him and His will. Our legal obligation now is to Him
and His purpose.
I want to emphasise this point once again. We can walk away from God and
do what we please with our lives. God does not force us to walk in
obedience. He calls us to walk willingly in submission to Him. While the
freedom is there for us to walk away, we are held legally accountable for
our actions. When we disobey God and walk in our own way, we are
violating our privilege as a citizen of His kingdom. He has purchased us by
His blood to give us a hope and an eternity in His presence. He paid the
highest price possible for our redemption. He transferred us from the
kingdom of darkness to the kingdom of God with all its rights, privileges
and obligations. He legally bound us to Him and we are His servants. The
decision now is for us to decide if we are going to walk in that calling or if
we are going to resist and demand our own way.
Many have rebelled against their spiritual obligations to God. We will not
take the time in this study to examine the many stories in Scripture of those
like King Saul, Jonah, the apostle Paul (then Saul) or the entire nation of
Israel who chose for a time to rebel against God and their obligations to His
kingdom. Each of these individuals discovered that the cost of this rebellion
was more than they had bargained for. Full surrender to God and the
principles of His kingdom is the only way to know His blessing and true
satisfaction in life.
We are no our own because we have been legally purchased by God and
transferred at the cost of His Son into His kingdom. That transaction legally
binds us to Him and the principles of His kingdom. This is to this kingdom
we are subject to today. This is both our legal obligation and privilege.
For Consideration:
God is a God of law and order. He binds Himself to legal relationships and
covenants. How does this fact give us assurance and hope in this life and
the life to come?
In Romans 6:23 Paul tells us that the wages of sin is death. Does God hold
Himself to this spiritual law? What did He do to pay the penalty for our sin?
Colossians 1:13-14 reminds us that we have been transferred from the
kingdom of darkness to the kingdom of God's Son. What was the cost of
this transfer? What are the implications for those of us who have been
granted citizenship in the kingdom of Jesus?
Paul calls himself a servant or slave of the Lord Jesus. He challenges all
believers to offer their bodies as living sacrifices to God? What does this
tell us about our legal obligation to God?
Does our freedom to rebel mean that we have the right to rebel? What is the
difference between freedom and right?
Is there any true contentment and satisfaction apart from submission to
Christ and His will?
For Prayer:
Thank the Lord that He binds Himself to us in a covenant relationship that
He will not break. Thank Him for the assurance that this gives.
Thank the Lord that He upheld the law and offered His Only Son to pay the
penalty for your sin and mine.
Take a moment to praise the Lord that He transferred your citizenship from
the kingdom of darkness to the Kingdom of His Son.
Ask the Lord to give you the grace to accept the privilege of being His
servant. Ask Him to help you to willingly offer yourselves to Him as a
living sacrifice.
Thank the Lord that in Him there is full assurance of eternal life and
blessings forevermore.
Ask the Lord to give you the grace to accept your obligations to Him.
Thank the Lord that these obligat ions are not a burden but a tremendous
privilege.
W
CHAPTER 6 - STEWARDS OF
HIS RESOURCES
The Lord God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to
work it and keep it. (Genesis 2:15)
e have seen that we belong to the Lord by creation, provision,
salvation, and law. Though we belong to God, He has blessed
us in many wonderful ways. What do we have that has not
come from this wonderful Provider? The question I want to address in this
chapter, however, is this: What is my obligation to God and the blessings
He has given?
To answer this question let's begin with Genesis 2:15 as quoted above. Here
we see how God, after creating man, put him in the garden. Notice the
reason the Lord put Adam in the garden “to work it and keep it." The
word "keep" can be confusing. It is often used to speak of something that I
possess and can do with as I please. This is not the sense of this word here.
The sense here in Genesis 2:15 has more to do with the upkeep and care of
the garden. To keep the garden was to guard and protect it. It was to nurture
it to assure its productivity.
What is important for us to note here is that when God put Adam in the
garden and gave it to him as his home, God put an obligation on him. He
was to care for this garden. He was to nurture it and guard it by hard work.
Adam was not free to do as he pleased with this garden. In fact, we read in
Genesis 2:17 that there was a tree in the Garden that he was not to eat from
lest he die. When Adam and Eve ate from that tree, God took the garden
from them.
What do we understand from this account of the Garden of Eden? We
understand that the Garden of Eden was God's to do with as He pleased. He
chose to put Adam and his wife in that garden and gave them the
responsibility to care for it. He set the rules for living in the garden and
reserved the right to remove them from it if they did not walk in obedience
to His commands. Adam and Eve were blessed to live in this Garden but
they did not own it. They experienced the delights of this garden but did not
have the right to do as they pleased in it.
Probably no one in the Old Testament understood this principle better than
Job. In Job 1 we meet a man who had been richly blessed by God. Job had
seven sons and three daughters (Job 1:1). He was a very rich man with
7,000 sheep, 3,000 camels, 500 yokes of oxen, 500 female donkeys and
very many servants. He was considered to be the "greatest of all the people
of the east" (Job 1:3).
Job 1 recounts the story of how Satan came to God and asked permission to
tempt him. He told God that the only reason Job feared Him was because of
all the blessing He had given him. Satan believed that the moment those
blessings were removed Job would curse God to His face (Job 1:11). Listen
to the response of God to Satan in Job 1:12:
And the Lord said to Satan, "Behold, all that he has is in your hand.
Only against him do not stretch out your hand." So Satan went out
from the presence of the Lord.
This verse is very important. It shows us how God gave Satan permission to
do what he wanted with the blessings of Job. God has the full right to give
and to take away blessings. If these blessings were ours He would not have
this legal right. The fact of the matter, however, is that none of the blessings
of God are truly ours. They have been loaned to us for a time and a purpose.
God is the legal and rightful owner of every blessing you have and has the
right to give and take them back as he sees fit. In the case of Job, God gave
Satan permission to strip Job of his blessings.
Over the course of time, Satan killed Job's children and took away all his
wealth. Everything he had was stripped from him. Notice the response of
Job to this:
20 Then Job arose and tore his robe and shaved his head and fell on
the ground and worshipped. 21 And he said, "Naked I came from my
mother's womb, and naked shall I return. The Lord gave, and the
Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord." 22 In all
this Job did not sin or charge God with wrong. (Job 1:20-22)
That day, standing before this total loss of everything he had, Job bowed
down and worshipped the Lord. He recognized that when he was born he
came into the world with nothing. Everything he had came from God and
God reserved the right to take everything back.
Verse 22 is particularly significant in this regard. "In all this Job did not sin
or charge God with wrong." The implication in this verse is that Job would
have sinned had he accused God of wrongdoing by taking his children and
his wealth from him. God was not guilty of wrongdoing in taking these
things. They were God's possessions. They did not belong to Job. He was
merely a caretaker of all these blessings.
In the New Testament, the Lord Jesus told a parable about a master who
was going away on a journey. Jesus introduced the parable in Matthew
25:14 by saying:
For it will be like a man going on a journey, who called his servants
and entrusted to them his property.
There is an important detail we cannot miss in this verse. Notice that the
man entrusted "his" property to these servants. The property that was given
to them was not theirs. The man maintained his ownership of the property
that was entrusted to these servants. They were accountable to care for this
property during his absence. When one of the servants proved unfaithful the
master said to him:
Then you ought to have invested my money with the bankers, and at
my coming, I should have received what was my own with interest.
(Matthew 25:27)
Notice the words the master uses here. "You ought to have invested my
money." "I should have received what was my own with interest" The
question of ownership is very clear in this passage. The money belonged to
the master. The servants were caretakers and investors of that money but
they did not own it themselves.
The apostle Paul, writing to the Corinthians compares the Christian life to
the building of a great house.
10 According to the grace of God given to me, like a skilled master
builder, I laid a foundation, and someone else is building upon it.
Let each one take care how he builds upon it. 11 For no one can lay
a foundation other than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. 12
Now if anyone builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious
stones, wood, hay, straw—13 each one's work will become manifest,
for the Day will disclose it, because it will be revealed by fire, and
the fire will test what sort of work each one had done. 14 If the work
that anyone has built on the foundation survives, he will receive a
reward. 15 If anyone's work is burned up, he will suffer loss, though
he himself will be saved, but only as through fire. (1 Corinthians
3:10-15)
According to Paul, each of us is accountable to God for the use of the
blessings, gifts, and talents He provides. The day is coming when we will
be called to give an accounting like the servants in the parable of Jesus in
Matthew 25. The fact that we are held accountable for the use of what God
gives to us shows that we are not free to do as we please. All we have has
been entrusted to us. It has been loaned for a time and a purpose. While we
have been given a free will, we do not have the legal right to do as we
please with these blessings.
This truth is not an easy one for us to accept. We like to believe that we
have the right to do as we please with what has been given to us. We pat
ourselves on the back for giving a portion of what God has given us back to
Him, while we are merely giving to God what is His anyway. We must learn
to live our lives with the reality that everything we have belongs to Him and
has been given to us to be invested for the purpose of His kingdom. Like
Adam and Eve, we are caregivers of what God has blessed us with. All I
have belongs to God. How will I invest these resources? What kind of a
caregiver will I be?
For Consideration:
Why did God put Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden? Did this garden
belong to them?
What was the response of Job to the loss of his family and wealth? What
does his response teach us about the rightful owner of these possessions?
In the parable of the talents, to whom did the money belong? What was the
responsibility of the servants?
What blessings have you received from God? How have you been using
these blessings for the sake of His kingdom?
For Prayer:
Take a moment to thank the Lord for the many blessings He has given to
you.
Ask the Lord to forgive you for assuming that these blessings were yours to
do with as you please. Ask God to help you to see that you and all that God
gives belong to Him.
Ask the Lord for wisdom to seek Him more about how He would have you
use the resources He has given you.
Take a moment now to recognize before God that all you have belongs to
Him. Ask Him to help you to be a good caretaker of these things.
I
CHAPTER 7 - OUR RESPONSE
n this final chapter, I would like to conclude with some simple
reflections about our response to the truth we have examined in this
study. We have seen that we are not our own. All we have comes from
the Lord and is His to do with as He pleases. What should be our attitude
and response to this reality?
Responsibility, not Right
Because nothing is truly ours to do with as we please, we are responsible to
God for how we use everything He has loaned to us. We are accountable to
God for the life we live. We are answerable to Him for the way we use our
gifts and talents.
There can be no true growth in our spiritual lives until we understand this
important reality that we are not our own. We are servants of God, called to
do His will and purpose on this earth. It is only as we surrender our
perceived rights to Him that we can truly walk in victory.
Those who assert their right to do as they please will build a barrier
between themselves and God. Only when we accept our responsibility to be
caretakers of the resources of God can we truly reach the potential to which
He has called us.
His Will, not Our Own
How easy it is to talk about doing the will of God, but living out this reality
is not so easy. Our sinful and selfish nature is at war with God. The lusts of
our flesh and the temptations around us are often more than we can handle
in our own strength.
Understanding that my body and mind belong to God, helps me to realize
that I cannot do as I please with what does not belong to me. I am a
caretaker of my body and mind. I must set up a guard against anything that
would come in and defile the temple of God or the mind of Christ in me.
If we are going to grow in our relationship with the Lord, this question must
be settled. We are not our own. Our lives and all we have belong to Him. It
is our purpose in life to walk in His will. It is not for me to assert my own
will and do what I want with what belongs to God. If I am to walk in
harmony with Him I must commit myself to this reality—His will not my
own.
Privilege, not Obligation
For some people, the idea that they are a servant to someone else is nothing
less than slavery. They resent the fact that God claims everything they have.
What we need to understand, however, is that belonging to God and living
our lives for Him alone is a wonderful privilege. What honour is there in
selfishness and self-centeredness? What honour is there in thinking only of
ourselves or doing only what we please in life?
God knows that there is more blessing in giving than in receiving. He
knows that there is more satisfaction in serving than in being served. He has
our best interest at heart when He calls us to look beyond ourselves, die to
ourselves and minister in His name. There is more satisfaction and joy in
serving God and surrendering to His will than in doing everything we want
in life.
Beyond this, however, consider the fellowship we have with God as we
surrender to Him. As we move in His will to do His purpose, He fills us
with His strength and power. As we face the obstacles before us He imparts
His wisdom. When the storms of life surround us He releases His comfort
and assurance. As we walk in His will we know His presence. This is not a
presence we can know if we are outside His purpose and plan. God keeps us
close to Him so that we can fellowship and enjoy Him. It is not an
obligation to serve the Lord and surrender to His will—it is a tremendous
privilege.
Acceptance, not Complaining
I am thankful that God always has my best interest at heart. I praise Him for
the love that willingly sacrificed His Son for me on the cross of Calvary as
a proof of that love. The One who knows the number of hairs on my head
knows what I can handle and what is best for me.
Why should God claim us as His own? What is there in us that would make
Him desire us? What qualities do we have that make us good servants of the
Almighty? If we are honest with ourselves, we would have to agree that we
are weak and lack the wisdom we need to do the work of God on this earth.
We have often failed our Lord and hinder the work of His kingdom.
Nothing but love could explain why the Creator of this universe would
choose to partner with us in the expansion of His kingdom.
Knowing this love ought to give us great confidence in His purpose for our
lives. The Creator knows what is best for me. His love for me is beyond
question. This means that as I walk in obedience I can trust Him with
whatever He brings my way. I can know for sure that He is working out all
things for my good.
Complaining and grumbling about our lot in life is not an option for those
who understand this loving care of God. Those who understand God's love
for them will trust His purpose and accept what He brings their way. They
willingly surrender to this love without complaining. They trust Him in all
things because they know He has their best interest at heart.
One of the key battles in the Christian life is the battle between ourselves
and God. The truth of this study is not an easy one for us to accept. We live
in a society that wants to assert its rights. We are bombarded on all sides by
those who teach that we need to put ourselves first and do whatever we
want in life. With all of this focus on self, we have not produced a better
society. God's way is very different. It is a way of self-denial. It is a way of
surrender to His purpose. What would happen in our churches and society if
we all chose to live in the reality that we are not our own but belong to God
for His purpose? What would happen if we surrendered to His will? Would
this world not be transformed? Would relationships not be healed?
The God who created us wants to use us for His glory and the blessing of
this world. Only in surrender to Him can we become all we were designed