What Are Our Duties To The Body Of Christ?
Do not be unwise, but understand what the will
of the Lord is (Eph 5:17).
Shortly before Peter died (he was martyred for the faith), he wrote:
Therefore, brethren, be
even more diligent to make your call and election sure, for
if you DO these things you will never stumble; for so an
entrance will be supplied to you abundantly into the
everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.
For this reason, I will not be negligent to remind you
always of these things, though you know and are established
in the present truth. Yes, I think it right, as long as I am
in this tent, to stir you up by reminding you (2 Pet
Peter was reminding other believers
about their duties. There are spiritual duties we all have to
perform as followers of Jesus. You can’t just accept Him on your
lips, ‘confess’ that He is your Saviour, and think that your
entrance into Paradise is assured. You have got to DO what He commands. The DOING assures you
of your place. It doesn’t earn it, but it is the evidence of
the genuineness of your faith.
Faith without works is dead (Jas
So, like Peter’s reminder, here is a
short list of our duties that we should fulfil as Christians.
1. Edify Others
How is it then brethren?
Whenever you come together, each of you has a psalm, has a
teaching, has a tongue, has a revelation, has an
interpretation. Let all things be done for edification (1
Jesus gives spiritual gifts to each
one in His body – IF you are taught to accept such things by
receiving a baptism in the Spirit (many churches just don’t teach
it, and even teach AGAINST it!). But what do you want such gifts
for? And how do you use them? Selfishly? Or for the benefit of
It should be the latter – to edify
That’s how God works, in dispensing
His gifts. He gives them “as He wills” (1 Cor 12:11), that is,
according to His wisdom, for maximum benefit to all concerned – “for
the profit of all” (1 Cor 12:7). The list of His spiritual gifts is
in 1 Corinthians 12:8-10.
2. Put Off The ‘Old Man’
How have you ‘learned Christ’? Some
think that they have ‘learned’ about Him so that they can be ‘free’
– free to do as they like!
But you have not so
learned Christ, if indeed you have heard Him and
have been taught by Him, as the truth is in Jesus; that
you put off, concerning your former conduct, the old man
which grows corrupt according to the deceitful lusts, and be
renewed in the spirit of your mind (Eph 4:20-23).
Those who think that they have
received grace so that they can indulge in wrong behaviour because
“God is merciful” and “He forgives”, have NOT been taught that by
Him! They have not met the Jesus whose eyes blaze with the fire of
fury against sin!
You have a duty to:
...put on the new man,
which was created according to God, in true righteousness
and holiness (Eph 4:24).
Holiness is the complete absence of
sin. It is something that is so alien to humans! That’s why so many
Christians have not come to KNOW the true Jesus. They have heard
about Him. They know OF Him, but they don’t really know
HIM, because they don’t share the same aspirations for complete and
If they did, they would follow Paul’s
Put away lying, deceit and
pretence (Eph 4:25).
Not let anger against others
fester without your willingness to forgive (4:26).
Vigorously fight the devil so
that he does not have an opportunity to cause you to sin (4:27).
Work hard (manually, physically)
in order to be able to share what you have produced with the
Control your tongue; putting away
corrupt and offensive speech; and uttering only what is edifying
to others (4:29).
Be careful not to grieve the Holy
Put away bitterness against
others who wrong you. Be willing (wanting) to forgive them.
Likewise deal properly with anger, and wrath; and banish
quarrelling and evil speaking (gossiping, tale- bearing) (4:31).
Do not grumble against one
another, brethren, lest you be condemned. Behold, the Judge
is standing at the door! (Jas 5:9.)
Be kind and tenderhearted.
Forgive others in the body of Christ – when they are contrite
and apologetic (Eph 4:32).
Walk in love (5:2).
Let no sexual uncleanness be held
to your account (5:3).
Nor filthy talk. Replace it with
a different mindset – one of genuine thankfulness (5:4).
Root out of your spirit all
For the fruit of the
Spirit is in all goodness, righteousness, and truth (Eph
Find out what is acceptable to
God (5:10). That takes study of His Word. Don’t neglect it. Know
what He requires of you, live by it, and be filled with the
3. Live For God’s Glory
...whatever you do, do all
to the glory of God (1 Cor 10:31).
Such an approach is one of complete
surrender to the will of God. It’s the ideal to aim for. I don’t
think any of us can claim to have ‘arrived’. We are all still on the
journey. So we must press on:
Not that I have already
attained, or am already perfected; but I press on, that I
may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has laid hold of
me (Phil 3:12).
Why has Jesus laid hold of you? So
that you can become spiritually perfect like Him (Matt 5:48) – holy
(Heb 12:10,14). That’s the goal.
If you are going to reach your
destination, you don’t set out without knowing where you are going,
and you keep going till you get there. So it is in your spiritual
journey, you must have the same motivation, know the correct route,
and not deviate from it.
Therefore let us, as many
as are mature, have this mind; and if in anything you think
otherwise, God will reveal even this to you (Phil 3:15).
4. Pray and Pray... And Pray
You are commanded to pray. It is a
duty. Jesus said so (Matt 6:5-9; Mark 13:33; Luke 18:1). Paul said
so (Rom 12:12; Eph 6:18; Phil 4:6; Col 4:2; 2 Thes 2:11; 1 Tim
2:1,8). James said so (James 5:13-16). Peter said so (1 Pet 4:7).
Judas said so (Jude 20). John said so (1 Jn 5:14-16).
Every true saint knows the power of
I remember hearing an account about a
little old Christian lady in North Korea. She couldn’t be a
Christian openly, because of the political regime, but she sure made
up for it in prayer! She had a tiny little cubicle, just big enough
for her to stand up in, where she would dutifully pray. As she
interceded for others, she would rock back and forth from one foot
to the other on the bare floorboards. She may have prayed in
tongues, I don’t know. But her prayers were unrelenting. She wore
those floorboards down, till there were two deep depressions in them
where she had stood.
She fulfilled the command:
Praying always with all
prayer and supplication in the Spirit, being watchful to
this end with all perseverance and supplication for all the
saints (Eph 6:18).
There are not many gems like her!
For all seek their own,
not the things which are of Christ Jesus (Phil 2:21).
5. Be Steadfast
Therefore take up the
whole armour of God, that you may be able to withstand in
the evil day, and having done all, to stand (Eph 6:13).
It’s ironic, but many Christians,
though they know those words above, do NOT take the whole armour of
God. They don’t want it all! They only want some of it. But it’s
pointless trying to fight a battle without the necessary equipment.
You’re destined to fail!
Stand therefore, having
girded your waist with truth, having put on the
breastplate of righteousness, and having shod your
feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace; above all
taking the shield of faith... and take the helmet of
salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of
God... (Eph 6:14-17).
The problem with many is that they don’t want all available truth.
They only want what suits them, so they don’t upset their lifestyle
But the Sword of the Spirit (the Word
of God) doesn’t work too well without its cutting edge! So, don’t
choose a blunt instrument. Take the real thing, the more pure the
Word of God that you accept, the more sharp and incisive is your
ability to deal with the enemy.
“The ‘helmet of salvation’ (perizosamenoi,
Gk) ...literally ‘means around the head’’; a soldier who had lost
his helmet was in danger of receiving severe head wounds which would
(at the least) disorient him and render him ineffective. Similarly,
a Christian who has no assurance of salvation cannot be bold in
resisting Satan, in strengthening believers, or in sharing Christ
with nonbelievers. The three witnesses to the believer concerning
assurance are: 1) the witness of the Word of God (1 Jn 5:13), 2) the
witness of the Holy Spirit (Rom 8:16; 1 Jn 5:10), and 3) the witness
of good works as a result, not a cause, of salvation (Matt 5:16; 1
Jn 2:3-5). The ‘sword of the Spirit’ (machaira, Gk) is the
only offensive weapon Paul lists. The machaira was a short,
two-edged sword carried by Roman legionaires, who wielded it with
deadly accuracy. This word is also used in Heb 4:12, where the Word
of God is said to be ‘sharper than any two-edged sword’. Jesus used
the Word of God defensively and offensively against Satan in Luke
4:1-13 (see Rev 2:12). It was extremely difficult to approach a
soldier well trained in the use of the machaira; the sword
was short and could be moved rapidly... its razor sharp point could
pierce armour. Proper use of Scripture in spiritual warfare enables
the Christian to stand fast ‘against the wiles of the devil’
(6:11).” (NKJV footnote on Eph 6:17.)
Notice in Ephesians 6:14-17 that the
several duties mentioned are not optional. They are requirements.
You are required to buckle yourself with the belt of truth, and
protect your heart by righteousness.
You are required to put on your shoes
and ‘go’, taking to others what Jesus has given you. And you are
required to take His faith and assurance with you as you pray and
wield the Sword of the Spirit.
A requirement is a duty to be
exercised. That requires self-discipline.
So don’t accept these commands
halfheartedly but “be strong in the Lord and in the power of His
might” (Eph 6:10).
Thanks be to God, who
gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.
Therefore my beloved brethren, be steadfast,
immovable, always abounding in the work of the
Lord, knowing that your labour is not in vain in the
Lord (1 Cor 15:57,58).
5. Be Content
When you are ‘going’ for Him,
listening to His Spirit and following His commands, He leads you in
triumph (2 Cor 2:14), albeit in humility. But those who are on the
devil’s wavelength are proud, and from such pride come envy, strife,
reviling, evil suspicions, useless wranglings of men (1 Tim 6:4,5).
Constant friction is not what you want, but it accompanies those
with selfish ambition (Phil 1:16), who peddle the Word of God for
gain (2 Cor 2:17).
When you die to self, you don’t want
acclaim, or to be lifted up. You just want the Word of God to be
lifted up. You are content with that. You don’t want money. You just
want enough (Prov 30:8,9) to do the task He has assigned you,
because that’s all that really matters.
For we brought nothing
into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out.
And having food and clothing, with these we shall be content
(1 Tim 6:7,8).
Now godliness with
contentment is great gain (1 Tim 6:6).
O that all could see the power in
Paul knew it. He had learned in
whatever state he was, to be content (Phil 4:11). Here’s why:
For here we have no
continuing city, but we seek the one to come. Therefore by
Him let us continually offer the sacrifice of praise to God,
that is, the fruit of our lips, giving thanks to His name
Let your conduct be
without covetousness; be content with such things as you
have. For He Himself has said, “I will never leave you nor
forsake you.” (Heb 13:5.)
6. Be Unselfish
We then who are strong
ought to bear with the scruples
[weaknesses] of the weak,
and not to please ourselves. Let each of us please his
neighbour for his good, leading to edification [building
up]. For even Christ did not please Himself; but as it is
written, ‘The reproaches of those who reproached You fell on
me’ (Rom 15:1-3).
We have a duty to bear persecution
for Christ’s sake, but there is great blessing in it! (Matt
Owe no man anything except
to love one another, for he who loves another has fulfilled
the [purpose or
intent of the] law (Rom 13:8).
For none of us lives to
himself, and no one dies to himself (Rom 14:7).
We need to remember that, because we
are part of one body (Rom 12:5), we affect others either positively
or negatively. So, Paul exhorts, let us use the gifts God has given
us for the good of others (Rom 12:6-21). Notice that the outworking
of these gifts (in Romans 12) has a very practical emphasis.
Take a look at them and see how your
life is reflected there – or not, as the case may be.
7. Be Practical
Look at Matthew 24:45-51. It’s not
what you know that counts with God, but what you DO with what you
know. Service is practical. We’ve all got two hands and two feet,
but only one bottom and one mouth.
God did not make us to sit on our
behind and do nothing while we watch the world go by. Nor did He
intend us to use our mouth more than our hands. He put Adam in a
garden to tend and care for it. That took active work. He didn’t
tell him to give orders to others to take care of it. That was
Each Christian likewise has a
responsibility in working out his or her Christian life in very
practical ways. Look at Dorcas (Acts 9:36,39). I wonder why God
raised her up from her deathbed? (9:40.)
Jesus says plainly in His assessment
For I was hungry and you
gave Me food; I was thirsty and you gave Me drink; I was a
stranger and you took Me in; I was naked and you clothed Me;
I was sick and you visited Me; I was in prison and you came
to Me (Mt 25:35,36).
You know the rest of that chapter,
but is it your life? If it is, you will be rewarded greatly.
It’s not your Bible knowledge that
will count for anything on that Day, but your good deeds. They are
what He is looking for. He will reward us all according to our
works, not merely for our words (Rev 22:12).
We are to rescue the wayward (Jas
We have a duty not to think highly of
ourselves (Rom 12:3), but to be open and candid (Jas 5:16).
Let love be without
hypocrisy. Abhor what is evil. Cling to what is good. Be
kindly affectionate to one another with brotherly love, in
honour giving preference to one another, not lagging in
diligence, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord; rejoicing in
hope, patient in tribulation, continuing steadfastly in
prayer (Rom 12:9-12).
These are all our duties as a part of
Malcolm B Heap
Why Love? (75p)