When the Lord gives us the new birth from above, he calls us individually to himself. However, he does not save us to be individuals, but to belong to his people, his new family. In this way, our lives are forever intertwined, not only with the Triune God, but with each other!
The idea of “one another” is at the core of the true Christian way of life. We are to express this partnership in many ways. Today, I decided to provide a list of the twenty-seven various kinds of one another relationships everyone who follows Jesus should be developing with others. The actions listed below make up a very significant part of what it means to follow Christ. To neglect these actions is to miss what the Christian life really is!
Love one another (Jn 13:34-35; 15:12, 17; Rm 13:8; 1 Th 3:12; 4:9; Heb 13:1; 1 Pt 1:22; 4:8; 1 Jn 3:11, 23; 4:7, 11, 12; 2 Jn 1:5)
Encourage one another (Rm 1:12; 1 Th 4:18; 5:11; Heb 3:13; 10:25)
Be devoted to one another (Rm 12:10)
Honor one another (Rm 12:10)
Live in harmony with one another (Rm 12:16; 1 Pt 3:8)
Instruct (admonish) one another (Rm 15:14; Col 3:16)
Greet one another with a holy/loving kiss (Rm 16:16; 1 Cor 16:20; 2 Cor 13:12; 1 Pt 5:14)
Agree with one another (1 Cor 1:10; Ph 4:2)
Serve one another (Gal 5:13)
Bear with one another (Eph 4:2; Col 3:13)
Be kind to one another (Eph 4:32; 1 Th 5:15)
Be compassionate to one another (Eph 4:32)
Forgive one another (Eph 4:32; Col 3:13)
Speak to one another with psalms, hymns and spiritual songs (Eph 5:19)
Submit to one another (Eph 5:21)
Spur on one another (Heb 10:24)
Offer hospitality to one another (1 Pt 4:9)
Clothe yourself with humility toward one another (1 Pt 5:5)
Wait for one another (1 Cor 11:33)
Have equal concern for one another (1 Cor 12:25)
Build up one another (Rm 14:19; 1 Th 5:11)
Confess your sins to one another (Js 5:16)
Pray for one another (Js 5:16)
Think the same thing with one another (Rm 15:5)
Accept one another (Rm 15:7)
Bear one another’s burdens (Gal 6:2)
Consider one another better than oneself (Ph 2:3)
Comments on the above list:
Some of these “one another” imperatives and exhortations can be done in large public gathering, but only in a very limited sense.
Most of these require you to be an active part of a small group or accountability group or one on one situations in order to fulfill the expectations. You cannot do these alone!
As you can see, the practice of these one another imperatives and exhortations will transform our church experiences. They will become much more than sitting in a big room with others. We will share a rich and joyful experience of life.
The Holy God has provided a way that people can approach him and have their guilt and guilt feelings cured. First, we must understand the cure for guilt. God offers the cleansing of the conscience. Let’s briefly review the problem that had to be dealt with.
There is a three-part true guilt because of sin: just condemnation because of Adam’s sin (Romans 5:18), righteous judgment due to personal disobedience (Ephesians 5:6), and a holy verdict of wrath because of not believing in Christ (John 3:18). Linked to this true guilt is a conscience that produced acts that lead to death: because the sinner is dead in sin (Ephesians 2:1), because death cannot produce life that God accepts (Romans 6:21), and because the wages of sin is death (Romans 6:23).
During the time of the law or old covenant, there was an incomplete solution to the problem of guilt. The true believers before Christ came were truly saved. Their sins were forgiven and they were right with God, because they believed that God would provide a perfect offering for sin. They were right with God (Romans 4:1-8). But their consciences were not cleared (they still felt guilty for their sins), because Christ’s better sacrifice had not yet been offered (Hebrews 9:9-10; 10:1-4).
Now we have the better blessing of the new covenant (10:22). The blood of Christ has been sprinkled on our hearts to cleanse us from a guilty conscience. Our sins are forgiven and God and his law are satisfied. “What Christ has done in liberating us… is… to set our conscience free from the guilt of sin… [The Christian has] freedom of conscience, freedom from the tyranny of the law, the dreadful struggle to keep the law, with a view to winning the favour of God. It is the freedom of acceptance with God and of access to God through Christ” (Stott, Galatians, p. 132). We have this actual cleansing as a reality in our lives. We are not guilty, but right with God. We are free people.
However, many encounter difficulties in applying this to their lives: “But I still have a sense of guilt!” This is a common affliction that afflicts many. This should caution us against giving quick, simplistic answers that pertain to all. In different people the problem may spring from one or multiple sources. Having given that caution let us think about some of these in the form of questions.
Are you really right with God? Perhaps you feel guilt because you are guilty. Your problem might be that you have never trusted in Christ to have your sins forgiven and to have his righteousness credited to your account.
Do you understand the gospel of Christ? You might be truly saved, but either you have been poorly taught or have been taught much error with the truth. When such afflicted people learn the truth and grab hold of it, it can be like “getting saved all over again!” Of course you are not, but the resulting liberation as you lay hold of Christ with a clearer understanding can make it feel that way.
Is there unconfessed sin in your life? I mean sin that you know about, sin that you indulge in, though you know it is inconsistent with whom you are in Jesus Christ. Have you sinned against God the Father in heaven (1 John 1:9)? Sin is not trivial and should not be played with. As you confess your sins, you will discover his faithfulness in Christ.
Is law in your conscience? By law I mean the ten commandments of the law covenant, human religious standards or rituals that function like law, or a wrong view of law during this new covenant age. Do you have the idea that “God will accept me or sanctify me if I keep the law?” Some imagine that God doesn’t really like them unless they are perfect. I realize that many would vehemently deny that this is true about them, yet they still feel this way inside “when other Christians aren’t looking.” The doctrinal paths into this swamp of depression are numerous, and we cannot deal with them now. But listen to the words of John Bunyan: “I may not, will not, cannot, dare not, make it [the law] my saviour and judge, nor suffer [allow] it to set up its government in my conscience; for by so doing I fall from grace, and Christ Jesus doth profit me nothing” (Treasury of Bunyan, p. 924).
Are you living by faith in Christ? We plan to talk about this in our next article. But for now, I want to say this: You cannot strip faith out of the Christian way of life and still call it Christian. True Christianity asserts that the supernatural is a necessary part of how we live. Faith in God through Christ by the power of the Spirit of God is essential. True confidence before God comes by his action in us. Our faith is part of this relationship.
The Bible was not written for the Christian to sit and read in an armchair and then do nothing. Instead, God gave it to us to help us in our lives. He speaks in the word to us, because we are his dearly loved people. Both the doctrinal and the practical sections were written to help us live. In a general sense the doctrinal sections help us understand God and ourselves, and how to relate to God; the practical sections help us please God in our relationships with other people and with the world. To look at this from another angle, the Bible in a way is the Christian’s “battle plan”, because we, whether we like it or not, are part of a war. We are in a tough fight, a terrible conflict. All followers of Jesus Christ must confront enemies that totally hate us, and we are called to engage the enemy. For this reason, I thought it would be wise for us to consider this spiritual warfare and how we ought to conduct ourselves in the war.
Let’s start with the form of this verse. The Holy Spirit presents a way of life that will please the Lord. God’s commands describe how his obedient children are to act. Military commands are not options; neither is God’s word! “Be strong” is in the imperative mood. You must be strong. This command flows from the teaching of Ephesians 4:1,17, which flows from the prayer of 3:14-21, which flows from the reality of relationship with the living God presented in 1:3-2:22. (In other words, remember the context of the whole letter. Think of how you are richly blessed in Christ. Our way of life develops from who we are in Christ.)
The Holy Spirit directs us to precise activity: “be strong in the Lord”. However, we can too easily be diverted from the Spirit’s guidance. One diversion is to seek strength in our natural abilities and achievements. We wrongly suppose we can figure out “how to live a successful Christian life” and once we know that, we assume we have the capability to do it. Neither should we be diverted to seek strength in our spiritual growth, nor to seek strength in our spiritual gifts. Both are traps to those who rightly sense that they are growing in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior (2 Peter 3:18). You must not depend on your progress or gifts. You need what is much more powerful.
We must only seek strength from the Lord. Compare John 15:5. (Yes, Mission FifteenFive.) How do we receive strength? Since we are united to Christ through faith, we also receive strength from the Lord Jesus through faith—not through works, rituals, or “spiritual disciplines”. Rely on his more than sufficient resources; commit yourself to him (2 Corinthians 12:9). You might be in a very hot part of the battle at this moment. Evil desires might be alluring you, while you’re trying to focus on Christ. You might feel that you can’t cope, that it’s easier to yield to them. I understand, and so does our Lord. Yet the Spirit appeals to you through his word to “be strong in the Lord”. Go to the Ascended Jesus and draw from him by faith the strength you need.