Title: Judges 20. The second appendix: The Benjamite War; Coming to know Christ fully through complete devotion.
The devil always sends errors into the world in pairs - pairs of opposites. And he always encourages us to spend a lot of time thinking which is the worse. He relies on your extra dislike of the one to draw you gradually into the opposite one.
This is why Satan encourages the church to argue amongst themselves about which errors are worse. Is legalism worse than licentiousness? If I say legalism is worse, I will be slowly drawn into licentiousness. We must not bother with either of them, and keep our eyes on the upward call of Christ.
EPH 6:10 Finally, be strong in the Lord, and in the strength of His might.
EPH 6:11 Put on the full armor of God, that you may be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil.
Our study has focused on full devotion to Christ. We are to entrust our entire souls to Him. When we do He will transform our minds into conformity with His own, proving what the will of God is, that which is good, well-pleasing, and perfect.
We are not called to give some of ourselves, but all of us. The old man was not tortured and imprisoned. He was crucified.
Have you ever tried to live the Christian life, be good, etc. and hold on to your own way at the same time? Your heart was centered on money, or pleasure, or ambition, in a word, on self, and you hoped that in spite of this that you would be honest, chaste, humble, strong, loving, and be overflowing with the fruit of the Spirit? If you did, you found that you worked very hard and got nothing but misery.
If we go to God for help, He will help you to become fully dependent upon Him and to become perfect. He will not help us to become somewhat dependent or partially sanctified. It's like an old car with an oil leak. If you are really going to fix the leak, you know the mechanic is going to charge you more than the car is worth, so you decide to just keep adding oil instead. God is only interested in a complete overhaul, but the good news is that He covers the cost. We must be willing.
False Christianity, and the pagan beliefs of non-believers are like this. The world is promised along with inner goodness, and all it begets is tired, miserable people, who either throw in the towel and just do what they want, or they cling very hard to the false ideal and become very hard people who are judgmental and critical.
Christianity is harder and easier than partial devotion. It is harder in that all of you has to go over to the will of Christ. Nothing can be retained for yourself.
This is "pick up your cross and follow Me."
LUK 9:20 And He said to them, "But who do you say that I am?" And Peter answered and said, "The Christ of God."
LUK 9:21 But He warned them, and instructed them not to tell this to anyone,
LUK 9:22 saying, "The Son of Man must suffer many things, and be rejected by the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised up on the third day."
LUK 9:23 And He was saying to them all, "If anyone wishes to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me.
LUK 9:24 "For whoever wishes to save his life shall lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake, he is the one who will save it."
We struggle with this, but it must be done. The sin nature and the world system under Satan's instruction has spread a lot of lies as to how a man can find goodness and peace while retaining some of his life for himself. It is a lie and Christ came into the world to dispel all lies.
If you have given all of yourself over to Him then everything becomes easier.
MAT 11:27 "All things have been handed over to Me by My Father; and no one knows the Son, except the Father; nor does anyone know the Father, except the Son, and anyone to whom the Son wills to reveal Him.
MAT 11:28 "Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest.
MAT 11:29 "Take My yoke upon you, and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart; and you shall find rest for your souls.
MAT 11:30 "For My yoke is easy, and My load is light."
Notice His emphasis on rest. When is the load heavy for us? When we try to bear some of it ourselves. The parts of our lives that we hold on to are on us to bear, and over time they become wearisome. All who believe upon Him will have eternal rest, but that does not guarantee rest in time. The context is Jesus revealing the Father to whom He wills, and He wills to show the Father to all who are His. If I hold back part of my life from Him, the aspects of the Father and His Son Jesus Christ that pertain to that part of life will be missed. If I "come to Him"; all of me, then I will see Him and I will find rest, for "all" of my life will be upon His shoulders. The giving all over is the hard part, and the rest is the easy part. This is why Christianity is sometimes described as difficult in the scripture and at other times easy.
We have a tendency to oversimplify things. Don't do it to the scripture. Simple religions are always made up. Christ is not simple, nor is His way. It is not simple because it is real. It is the only thing that is real. But Christianity can become easy for us if we allow Christ to take command over every part of our soul. If we lose it we will find it.
In the opening of the letter to the Colossians, we see Paul encourage them to continue in their increase of knowledge, power, and perseverance in the plan of God. He then reminded them of their redemption, forgiveness of sins, being delivered from the domain of darkness, and being entered into Christ's glorious kingdom. He then went into his wonderful poem about the person of Christ as both God and redeemer, in which Paul gives the motivation to keep going and to reject heresies against the gospel of Jesus.
By pressing on in this manner, it is a guarantee that the Christian will suffer in the way that Christ did, undeservedly. Yet in this way, the believer comes to know the most about Christ. A believer must see much of Christ to come to the point where he is ready to suffer for His sake, and then when he endures the suffering of Christ while entrusting his soul to a faithful creator in doing what is right, he will come to know more of the person of Christ.
COL 1:24 Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I do my share on behalf of His body (which is the church) in filling up that which is lacking in Christ's afflictions.
COL 1:25 Of this church I was made a minister according to the stewardship from God bestowed on me for your benefit, that I might fully carry out the preaching of the word of God,
COL 1:26 that is, the mystery which has been hidden from the past ages and generations; but has now been manifested to His saints,
COL 1:27 to whom God willed to make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.
Mystery: all the spiritual aspects of the New Covenant given to both Jew and Gentile in this age.
Paul was commissioned by God to preach these truths. Kingdoms and nations who lust for power and wealth and wish to enslave their people in dependence and ignorance endeavor to silence this message, and for that reason, Paul finds himself imprisoned.
COL 1:28 And we proclaim Him, admonishing every man and teaching every man with all wisdom, that we may present every man complete in Christ.
COL 1:29 And for this purpose also I labor, striving according to His power, which mightily works within me.
COL 2:1 For I want you to know how great a struggle I have on your behalf, and for those who are at Laodicea, and for all those who have not personally seen my face,
COL 2:2 that their hearts may be encouraged, having been knit together in love, and attaining to all the wealth that comes from the full assurance of understanding, resulting in a true knowledge of God's mystery, that is, Christ Himself [poem of 1:15-20],
COL 2:3 in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.
Paul loves his neighbor as himself. He wants for them just as he has wanted for himself, to attain all the wealth that comes from Christ.
COL 2:4 I say this in order that no one may delude you with persuasive argument.
Epaphras would have conveyed to Paul the forms of teaching that were attacking the teachings of Christ and tempting believers to draw away. Paul's first chapter, read and understood, would have saved them from the false doctrines of Gnosticism.
COL 2:5 For even though I am absent in body, nevertheless I am with you in spirit, rejoicing to see your good discipline and the stability of your faith in Christ.