Struggling With All Energy

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Colossians 1, John 16, 1 Peter 1
Lesson Number: 

Lesson 6

Struggling With All Energy

(Colossians 1, John 16, 1 Peter 1)

Copr. 2022, Bruce N. Cameron, J.D. Scripture quotations are from the ESV® Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved. Suggested answers are found within parentheses. If you normally receive this lesson by e-mail, but it is lost one week, you can find it by clicking on this link: Pray for the guidance of the Holy Spirit as you study.

Introduction: Do you view living the Christian life as a struggle? Your struggle? My experience reveals what I see as two errors. On the one side are those who live in a free market economy and have learned that working harder and smarter is the key to success. They import that thinking into their relationship with God. They believe that hard, smart work brings them closer to God. The error on the other side is that righteousness by faith alone is understood to mean that we simply drift through our Christian life. A carelessness about service and behavior is fine because we have nothing to do with our salvation. Where does the line of truth lie? Let’s dive into our study of the Bible and see what we can learn on this subject!

  1. The Nature of Our Toil
    1. Read Colossians 1:18-20. What is the dispute that needed to be reconciled? And, how did Jesus take that conflict and make peace? (The conflict was between the perfect holiness of God and the sinfulness of humans. Jesus brought peace by His death on the cross.)
    2. Read Colossians 1:21-22. We started out with a hostile mind and evil deeds. How did we become “blameless and above reproach before Him?” (By what Jesus did (His death) and not what we did.)
    3. Read Colossians 1:23. Have we no role in this reconciliation? (We do have a role. We must “continue in the faith ... not shifting from the hope of the gospel.” We are also told to be “stable and steadfast.”)
      1. Is this like succeeding in our job?
      2. What is the “hope of the gospel?” (That Jesus gave us the gift of eternal life. It is not like succeeding in our job.)
    4. Read Colossians 1:24. Paul tells us that he is suffering in his “flesh.” To whom does Paul compare himself? (Jesus. Paul suggests that He is suffering things that Satan did not get around to inflicting on Jesus.)
      1. Does Paul think that he is saving us by his suffering? (He says that his afflictions are “for the sake of his body, that is, the church.” Thus, Paul believes that he is adding to what Jesus has done for us.)
        1. How can that be? Paul is not God. He cannot claim the role of Jesus. (Recall a point we have been learning about suffering. Job suffered because of the conflict between good and evil. He brought glory to God. We also saw that was true for Jesus’ disciples. That, I believe, is the point Paul is making here. His suffering at the hands of Satan is giving us an example of what is possible in the war brought by Satan.)
    5. Read Colossians 1:25-26. What is Paul’s work? (To make known this “mystery” that Jesus has come to give us salvation.)
      1. Read Ephesians 3:4-5. What does this tell us is the mystery? And what is the role of the disciples in that mystery? (That God became human to save us from sin. The disciples shared that message.)
    6. Read Colossians 1:27-28. What new knowledge is now being opened to the Gentiles? (Their hope in Jesus. Jesus living in us gives us “the hope of glory.”)
    7. Read Colossians 1:29. Paul says that his “toil” is what he has just laid out for us. What is a fair description of Paul’s toil? Is it struggling to obey the law? Is it struggling to succeed as a Christian? (No! Paul says that he deals with suffering (like Jesus), and his work is to share the mystery of the gospel - what Jesus has done for us.)
      1. Based on what Paul has described, what should be the nature of our work as Christians? (To share the gospel. To declare the mystery of how Jesus provides salvation for sinners. To realize that suffering comes from Satan and sin. Some of that suffering comes our way because we are followers of Jesus.)
  2. The Role of the Holy Spirit
    1. Read John 16:7. What advantage does Jesus find in His leaving the disciples? (That they will have a new “Helper.”)
    2. Let’s solve the mystery about this “Helper.” Read John 16:13. Who is this “Helper?” (The Holy Spirit. The Spirit of truth.)
    3. Read John 16:8-11. What is the role of the Holy Spirit? (To convict the world of sin and righteousness.)
      1. Let’s consider a very important question. Have you been given the same job as the Holy Spirit? Is this part of your toil? (I think our job is to share about Jesus and the Holy Spirit. But, it seems logical that we should not claim the job of either Jesus or the Holy Spirit. We should not claim that we have the power to reconcile others to God and we should not claim the power to convict others of sin.)
      2. What does this say about our own life? Can we through hard work and diligence turn away from sin?
      3. When John 16:8 tells us that the Holy Spirit “convicts the world concerning sin,” what is the purpose of that conviction?
        1. Would it be logical to answer, “So I can turn away from sin?”
        2. Would it be logical to answer, “So I can rely on what Jesus has done for me?
        3. Is something in between logical?
    4. Read John 16:12-15. Notice that the work of the Holy Spirit is to “guide” and “declare.” When we add this to the point that we just discussed about “conviction,” what does this suggest is an appropriate response from us? (We follow a guide. When our guide declares truth and our minds are convicted that we need to change, it seems logical that we need to follow our conviction.)
  3. The Proper Perspective
    1. Read 1 Peter 1:3-5. How are we saved? (By faith in what Jesus has done for us.)
      1. What keeps us in that salvation? (We are “being guarded through faith.”)
    2. Read 1 Peter 1:6. Why would a trial be “necessary?”
    3. Read 1 Peter 1:7. Is this the text that I have been looking for - the one that says suffering refines us? (This says suffering tests our faith. Our faith is like gold. Our gold faith might disappear in fire.)
      1. What should be the outcome of the trial? (That we give praise, glory, and honor to Jesus. This is like Job and the disciples. Trials tested them. The trials did not separate them from God, they brought glory to God.)
    4. Notice the order of things so far. We are saved by faith in Jesus. That faith may be subjected to testing by trial. Read 1 Peter 1:13-16. What does salvation by faith alone call us to do? (Be holy as God is holy, rather than being “conformed to the passions of your former ignorance.”)
      1. What does “ignorance” have to do with this? How is it relevant? (The Holy Spirit convicts you that following the path of sin is harmful to you and harmful to God’s reputation. You do not want to harm yourself or your God.)
    5. Read 1 Peter 1:17-19. This text says that we are “ransomed” by the blood of Christ. But, it also says that God impartially judges us according to our “deeds.” Is Peter saying things that are in conflict? If not, how would you reconcile them? (We are not saved by our good works. We are saved by our faith. But, in this series about suffering what did we decide is Satan’s reason to bring suffering? It is to separate us from God. That tells us that separation is possible. God will judge whether we are faithful to Him. With the guidance of the Holy Spirit we can see what promotes God and what does not. I think it is on that point that our deeds make a difference for the judgment. Our deeds do not save us. They merely reveal whether we have chosen to separate from God.)
    6. Friend, does this help you see the path of truth? Salvation is not like a business, that if you work hard and smart you will succeed. Jesus is the one who offers salvation as a free gift. At the same time someone who genuinely believes in Jesus, and relies on His death to satisfy the obligations of the law, understands that we must make choices to advance the Kingdom of God. Will you, by the power of the Holy Spirit, determine to make those right choices?
  4. Next week: Indestructible Hope.