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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 1:10-13).

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 2:26).

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 Cor 14:26).

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 others?

It should be the latter – to edify them.

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 utter sinlessness.

If they did, they would follow Paul’s admonitions to:

  • 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 needy (4:28).

  • 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 Spirit (4:30).

  • 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 covetousness (5:5).

For the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness, righteousness, and truth (Eph 5:9).

  • 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 Spirit (5:17,18).

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 prayer!

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).

Truth: 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 too much.

Righteousness: Ditto.

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 this simplicity!

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 (Heb 13:14,15).


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 5:10-12.)

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 his responsibility.

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 of us:

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 5:19,20).

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 the Body!

Malcolm B Heap

Further Reading: Why Love? (75p)

Copyright: Midnight Ministries, PO Box 29, Aylesbury, HP17 8TL, UK