Where’s your line?

Line Sand

Sunday 05/02/21

Series: Maintaining this hope

Message – Where’s your line?

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Where’s your line?

For the past few weeks we have had a greek word sort of woven into the fabric of our teachings. That word is Epignosis (epee- no-see) or (epi-gnosis). Knowing which comes through experience in a relational way.

Last week 

As we’ve been walking through Colossians 3, we’ve been looking for 

  • The resurrection/rapture and the effect on our lives the hope of it inspires
  • God’s passion for us
  • Our response to that passion

These have been abundant though not necessarily clear.

Our first two lessons on Chapter 3 revealed two things:

  • Our past lives where we substituted passion for God with passion for fleshly desires.
  • Then we saw that after God obtains our allegiance in the New Birth expects us to begin to love WHAT He loves – the WAY He loves.

This week we are going to look at some simple and domestic examples of what that looks like.

Now last week I ended with the question – 

 >Where’s your line in the sand?

Where is the place where God could tell you to go that you’d find yourself resisting?

THIS is where we find the three things we have been looking for…

  • The resurrection/rapture and the effect on our lives the hope of it inspires
  • God’s passion for us
  • Our response to that passion

If we died with Him -> forsook our old passions to pursue Him in passion

Then we need to rise with Him -> love what He loves the WAY He loves them!

That has EVERYTHING to do with HOW we walk!

The Grace of God does not serve as a substitution for a life well lived, it enables us to live life well-pleasing to God! Which is why deeds are brought up SO MUCH in a gospel that tells us that our righteousness is NOT from works. However, our righteousness IF real and living in vital life-giving union with Him will PRODUCE deeds which are well-pleasing to Him.

As I’ve told you before, there is a HUGE difference between being accepted in the Beloved and being Well-pleasing. [See – Acceptable & Well Pleasing]

The next words which need no explanation were Long-suffering, bearing with one another, readily forgiving and grievance against each other, being careful to PUT ON love, which is that which makes us “stick and stay” rather than get frustrated and bolt. 

Turn with me to Colossians 3:16&17 which is where we left off last week.

As we finish out this letter to the Colossians today let’s not forget what we just reviewed and keep it close in our hearts and minds.

This is where the rubber really hits the road in our walk with Christ and it is consequently where MOST Christians have drawn their line in the sand.

Paul had just told these believers to let the Peace Jesus gave us, to make all decisions in our hearts. He used a word that was common in the Greek games which essentially means “umpire or referee”. That is what the peace Jesus gave us is to do. Then Paul, KNOWING he was about to give us instructions on how this new life…this New Man we are to put on, looks and lives in our day to day lives at home and work…His intro to this were these words…

“(16)  Let the teaching concerning Christ remain as a rich treasure in your hearts. 

In all wisdom teach and admonish one another with psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs, and sing with grace in your hearts to God.  

(17)  And whatever you do, in WORD OR in DEED, do EVERYTHING in the name of the Lord Jesus, and let it be through Him that you give thanks to God the Father.”  

We have long known that ours is always a response to His advances. Which IS, by the way, the reason God created man as the initiator and aggressor in romantic relationships. But we will circle back around to that in a bit. 

Now let me clarify that statement. I do not mean that there are not women who are naturally aggressive and that find it natural and even many times easier to be the initiator of a relationship since sometimes men are a little too careful in their pursuits of a woman, due to insecurities and fear of rejection. Women often have an advantage over men in that they seem more perceptive of when a man is interested in them, so they often feel less risk. In that way it is arguably easier for a woman to encourage the advances towards relationships than it is for a man.

But as we have often discovered, God’s design and ways are not based upon personal inclinations, but upon His divine order. God knew this about women which is why after the fall, He told Eve (and all her daughters through her) that though it will be her desire to manipulate, steer and even attempt to control her husband – it is his position to be the head of the relationship.

That is where we spent a lot of time with the word Huppotasso

As you no doubt recall, this word means to voluntarily place yourself under another. 

It comes from a litany of words which vary in meaning, most of which involve slavery in which a person is subjegated contrary to their will. THIS word is a voluntary surrender.

This word choice is perfect because it says VOLUMES in one single word.

This word has IN IT the implication that the one submitting is capable of leading, but makes the moral decision to place themselves under the leadership of someone else.

This Greek word was actually borrowed from military use. It speaks of rank.

We know that in the military rank does not immediately speak to ability. A private might be smarter, faster or more skilled in any number of things than their commander, but that does NOT speak to rank and authority.

One cannot be said to place themselves in submission to someone if by nature they were followers anyway. At that point they would simply be living out of what comes naturally to them – what is first nature to them. 

God, as me referenced a moment ago, addressed Eve (and all women in her) as one who would naturally attempt to TAKE the lead, but she must not!

So all we read in the following verses is to be understood in that light – not only for wives with husbands, but in all the other examples that follow as well.

In the Home:

“(18)  Married women, be submissive to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord.”

“(19)  Married men, be affectionate to your wives, and do not treat them harshly.”  

  • Delight in her
  • Do not treat harshly or be angry with her 

“(20)  Children be obedient to your parents in everything; for that is right for Christians.”

  • Obedient = To listen to them and yield to their authority.

“(21)  Fathers, do not fret and harass your children, or you may make them sullen and morose.”

  • Do not irritate, provoke or stir them to anger
  • It leads to a loss of heart and despondency.

First I want  you to notice how each statement stands alone.

It does not say children obey your parents when your father does not harass you. It just says, Children obey your parents.

Each statement is NOT dependent upon the others, but stands alone. This fact was SO important to the Holy Spirit and Paul that he bookends these examples with it. He tells us in verse 17 leading into this and in verse 23 that our work is FOR Him, in Him and through Him. It needs to be something He could place His name on!

Secondly I want you to notice that the obligation of men is addressed twice. With greater authority comes greater responsibility and accountability. 

Now we are going to focus on the wives here – not because they are the wives, but because they are the ones called to submit. The pattern we learn here applies to all the following examples of submission as well.

Wives as an example of submission (by extension includes children, employees, citizens…all those under authority):

“…be submissive to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord.”

The words “be submissive” is that word Huppotasso we covered earlier.

The word fitting is also very important. 

Those who do not know much about the Greek will take one of the possible meanings of this word – that of “convenient” and use it as an argument for this being a cultural command, but the context and sentence development does not allow for that. In this verse, it has the meaning of what is proper and fitting – behavior that belongs to one who belongs to Christ.

After having thought through this, studied it and written all that I have already said, I thought to turn my attention to the scholarly input of others. When I got to Guzik, I thought he captured the passage well so I will read from him on this passage – though in places I paraphrase for brevity.

“Wives, submit to your own husbands”

This defines the sphere of a wife’s submission – to her own husband. 

The Bible never commands nor recommends a general submission of women unto men. It is commanded only in the spheres of the home and in the church. Though the scriptures do not specifically say that women should hold positions of political power, I believe it can be inferred by a pattern which it would seem contradictory to keep in the church and at home, but break in greater society.

“As is fitting in the Lord”

This is a crucial phrase. It colors everything else we understand about this passage. 

There have been two man “wrong” interpretations of this phrase, each favoring a certain “position.”

The interpretation that “favors” the husband says:

“as is fitting in the Lord” means that a wife should submit to her husband as if he were God himself. The idea is “you submit to God in absolutely everything without question, so you must submit to your husband in the same absolute way.” 

This approach sees the words “as is fitting in the Lord” as defining the extent of submission. But this is wrong. Simply put, in no place does the Scripture say that a person should submit to another in that way. 

There are always limits to the submission any one person may rightly expect of you.

For example

  • Employer with employees. 
  • The government with citizens.
  • Parents with children. 

In no place does the Scripture teach an unqualified, without exception, submission – except to God and God alone.

To extend that type of sovereignty to any other person violates the unique position God has over His creation and creates an unnatural form of “sanctioned idolatry”.

The interpretation that “favors” the wife says:

“as is fitting in the Lord” means “I’ll submit to him as long as he does what the Lord wants.” And then it is the wife’s job to decide what the Lord wants. 

This approach sees the words “as is fitting in the Lord” as setting the limits of submission. This is also wrong. 

It is true that there are limits to a wife’s submission, but when the wife approaches her submission to her husband in this way, it degenerates into a case of 

“I’ll submit to my husband when I agree with him.” 

or

“I’ll submit to him when he makes the right decisions and carries them out the right way. If he makes a wrong decision, he isn’t in the Lord, so I’m under no obligation to submit to him because it wouldn’t be fitting to do so.” 

Simply put, that is not submission at all. Except for those who are just plan cantankerous and argumentative, everyone submits to others when they are in agreement. It is only when there is a disagreement that submission is fully possible.

No, the phrase, “As is fitting in the Lord” does not define the extent of a wife’s submission, nor the limit of a wife’s submission. It defines the MOTIVE of a wife’s submission. 

It means, “Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands because it is a part of your duty to the Lord, because it is an expression of your submission to the Lord Himself.” 

Wives (and by extension all positions of godly submission) submit simply because it is fitting in the Lord to do it. It honors the God from which all authority comes. To fail to do so, is not only to dishonor God, but is in fact to act in full rebellion against Him. Word and His order of authority. 

The phrase ‘in the Lord’ indicates that wifely submission is proper not only in the natural order but also in the Christian order. The whole thing, then, is lifted to a new and higher level.” (Vaughan)

As such, the phrase “as is fitting in the Lord” means:

    • A wife’s submission to her husband is part of her submission to the Lord.
    • When a wife doesn’t obey this word to submit to your own husband as is fitting in the Lord, she doesn’t just fall short as a wife, she falls short as a follower of Jesus Christ.

This means that the command to submit is completely out of the realm of “my nature” or “my personality.” 

Wives aren’t expected to submit because they are the “submissive type.” They are expected to submit because it is fitting in the Lord.

    • This has nothing to do with your husband’s intelligence, or giftedness, or capability. It has to do with honoring the Lord Jesus Christ.
    • This has nothing to do with whether or not your husband is “right” on a particular issue. It has to do with Jesus being right.
    • This also gives greater weight to Paul’s admonishment to men and women to take great care in how they choose a mate. 

Remember, ladies: this is what God requires of you in marriage. This is His expectation of you. Instead of looking for an attractive man, instead of looking for a wealthy man, instead of looking for a romantic man, you better first look for a man who is easy to respect.

Submission to what extent?

As suggested earlier there are limits to human submission. Horizontal submission is never absolute!

In nearly all cases of submission, it is not required:

  • When the one in authority requires you to sin.
  • When the one in authority is medically incapacitated, insane, or under the influence of mind altering substances.
  • When the one in authority is violent and physically threatening – though this has it’s exceptions [Jesus with Pilot or Peter with Rome]
  • In marriage it is not required if the husband breaks the marriage bond by adultery without repentance, in such cases he has broken covenant. Though she should seek reconciliation and the healing of their marriage, she is not under obligation to submit to her husband – especially in the marriage bed when he has continued in absolutely known and unrepentant adultery with another woman. 

Before we continue let me just say that it is interesting, though I would not suggest looking it up due to the distorted views the world has on these matters. The search may yield some unsavory results, but even in today’s world where women are rebelling against male authority more than ever – women admit that dominance is something they look for and are attracted to in men.

Over and over again, women are attracted to men who are:

  • confident
  • Intelligent
  • Do not second guess themselves
  • Are strong
  • Decisive
  • Going somewhere
  • Not a mama’s boy

Hi my name is Mark and though I am opposed to titles, I am currently the only Pastor (shepherd/elder) serving our assembly right now.

I have been Pastoring in one capacity or another for nearly 30 years now, though never quite like I am today.

Early in 2009 the Lord revealed to me that the way we had structured our assembly (church) was not scriptural in that it was out of sync with what Paul modeled for us in the New Testament. In truth, I (like many pastors I am sure) never even gave this fundamental issue of church structure the first thought. I had always assumed that church structure was largely the same everywhere and had been so from the beginning. While I knew Paul had some very stringent things to say about the local assembly of believers, the point of our gatherings together and who may or may not lead, I never even considered studying these issues but assumed we were all pretty much doing it right...safety in numbers right?! Boy, I couldn't have been more wrong!

So needless to say, my discovery that we had been doing it wrong for nearly two decades was a bit of a shock to me! Now, this "revelation" that did not come about all at once but over the course of a few weeks. We were a traditional single pastor led congregation. It was a top-bottom model of ministry which is in part biblical, but not in the form of a monarchy.

The needed change did not come into focus until following 9 very intense months of study and discussions with those who were leaders in our church at the time.

We now understand and believe that the Bible teaches co-leadership with equal authority in each local assembly. Having multiple shepherds with God's heart and equal authority protects both Shepherds and sheep. Equal accountability keep authority and doctrine in check. Multiple shepherds also provides teaching with various styles and giftings with leadership skills which are both different and complementary.

For a while we had two co-pastors (elders) (myself and one other man) who led the church with equal authority, but different giftings. We both taught in our own ways and styles, and our leadership skills were quite different, but complimentary. We were in complete submission to each other and worked side-by-side in the labor of shepherding the flock.

Our other Pastor has since moved on to other ministry which has left us with just myself. While we currently only have one Pastor/Elder, it is our desire that God, in His faithfulness and timing, may bring us more as we grow in maturity and even in numbers.

As to my home, I have been married since 1995 to my wonderful wife Terissa Woodson who is my closest friend and most trusted ally.

As far as my education goes, I grew up in a Christian home, but questioned everything I was ever taught.

I graduated from Bible college in 1990 and continued to question everything I was ever taught (I do not mention my college in order to avoid being labeled).

Perhaps my greatest preparation for ministry has been life and ministry itself. To quote an author I have come to enjoy namely Fredrick Buechner in his writing entitled, Now and Then, "If God speaks to us at all other than through such official channels as the Bible and the church, then I think that He speaks to us largely through what happens to us...if we keep our hearts open as well as our ears, if we listen with patience and hope, if we remember at all deeply and honestly, then I think we come to recognize beyond all doubt, that, however faintly we may hear Him, He is indeed speaking to us, and that, however little we may understand of it, His word to each of us is both recoverable and precious beyond telling." ~ Fredrick Buechner

Well that is about all there is of interest to tell you about me.

I hope our ministry here is a blessing to you and your family. I also hope that it is only a supplement to a local church where you are committed to other believers in a community of grace.

~God Bless!

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