The Church: Body Parts Working Together, Pt. 4
Study Guide, October 3, 2021
Pastor Clay Olsen
We’re looking forward to sharing in the Communion together in just a bit, as fittingly enough, the Lord’s Supper is a key worship experience of the body of Christ. Recently we have been focusing on the essential part we each have as ‘body parts’ of the Church of the Lord Jesus Christ. When it comes to the essential things in the life of a Disciple of Christ, the holy habit of worshipping and serving together is one of them.
And, of course, these strange times of the pandemic have certainly interrupted that holy habit in many Christians lives of the assembling of the body of Christ together. And we, along with other churches, are still recovering from that as believers slowly return to the gathering of the body for worship and fellowship. Some are still not able to do so, and that is understandable, and some have other health reasons as well. But when believers are able, then the Lord calls for His people to the assembly of themselves before Him for corporate worship and for body life service.
Again, there are specific habits that God has called His disciples to practice in their lives. And we have studied them before, but since we are in a period of recovering or regrouping as the body of Christ, it’s great to at least list them again, so that we can clearly think about them and then reinforce the practice of them in our lives. We’ll list them in the study guides, too, so you can each have them for your own use and benefit. They are the Six holy habits of Discipleship…six habits that saved followers of Jesus Christ are called to practice as essential habits in their lives. And we’ll give the Scripture references for them as well.
- Surrendering to the Lordship of Christ. Mark 8:34- “”If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me.” NASU (The Lordship of Christ is to be central in the life of every believer. And it really does require a daily surrender, because without it our old self-nature has this persistent habit of crawling back onto the throne of our lives. So remember to daily surrender the throne to your King Jesus.)
- Studying God’s Word. 2 Tim 2:15- “Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.” KJV (The only way to reshape your mind is to renew your mind day by day by partaking of the Daily Bread of God’s Word… and then dwelling on what God’s Word reveals about life…about your life.)
- Sowing Biblical Truths in word and in deed. (Witnessing and making disciples) Matt 28:19-20- “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” NASU (As Sowers of the Word, we are to find ways to sow seeds of truth and find ways to share the Gospel with others, either in spoken or written form. But, remember, we are Christ’s witnesses and we are under His commission to be so…and so we need to do so.)
- Serving as a New Testament Priest in intercessory prayer and sacrificial works. 1 Peter 2:5- “And now you have become living building-stones for God’s use in building His house. What’s more, you are His holy priests; so come to Him-[you who are acceptable to Him because of Jesus Christ]-and offer to God those things that please Him.” TLB (As a New Testament priest, we are each duty bound to pray for others and to also offer sacrificial service to one another. That’s just what priests do…and you are a priest in the service of our Great Hight Priest!)
- Sharing in fellowship with a local church family of God. Heb 10:25- “…not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another; and all the more as you see the day drawing near.” NASU ( To ‘not forsake’ is to ‘make it so’…make the assembling together with a local body of believers for worship and service be an essential practice of your life!)
- Stiving to become more like Christ in character and conduct. Gal 2:20-21- “I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me.” NASU (Our independent life was crucified with Christ. The life which you and I now have is a ‘shared life’ in union with Jesus Christ. However, even though we now share our life with Christ we do not share in ownership or rulership of our life. That belongs to Christ alone. Remember, He be the Shepherd…we be the sheep. Christ’s part is leading…our part is following His lead. And as our beloved song says… “…and there’s no other way to be happy in Jesus, but to trust and obey! Remember, the key to happiness in life is obedience to Christ! It’s not complicated, but it is very precise!)
It’s interesting that one discussion in our society has been about what is essential or not. As the Scriptures point out, for followers of Christ, these six holy habits are totally essential. These habits are to mark our lives as servants of the King of kings and Lord of lords. Plus, it’s these very habits that distinguish us from the world, and actually shows the world that although we live in this world, we do not belong to this world…no, we belong to another world…another kingdom, the Kingdom of Christ, which is soon to be imposed upon this world.
These essential habits are holy habits that cause us to become conformed more and more to the image of our Savior rather than just defaulting to becoming conformed more and more to the image of our society. Which, again, conformity or deformity to the culture will happen to any believer who does not consciously and repeatedly make these holy habits become your own personal habits. As history says to us: “Show me your habits and I’ll show you who you are.” We all have habits…the question is: “Are they holy habits?” Do your habits make you more surrendered to the Lordship of Christ? Do your habits take you deeper into the understanding and the accurate handling of the Word of God? Do your habits help you share the truths and the Gospel of Christ more and more to a lost and dying world? Do your habits guide you in your duty of prayer and sacrificial service as a New Testament priest? Do your habits show the world that you are a part of the family of God that assembles regularly for worship to God and service for God? Do your habits cause you to not only think about what Jesus would do, but to also then actually do what Jesus would do? Remember: “Sow a thought…reap a habit…Sow a habit…reap a life…Sow a life…reap a destiny.”
Psychologists have observed that it takes six weeks of practicing a mental or physical activity in order to make it become a new habit. Certainly, these six habits have been essential parts of the lives of many in the Chapel family. And God bless you for your commitment and your essential service for God to His body and His ministry. But what if we each were to commit anew to consciously practicing these six habits for six weeks for the purpose of making these habits become essential holy habits of our lives? Are you up for a ‘Six week – Six holy habits’ challenge? Mark it on your calendar, and for a six-week period, consciously seek to put into your practice the six holy habits borne out of these six passages of the Scriptures…these disciplines of a disciple. Make yourself duty bound to act on these six habits for six weeks… and then see what difference it makes in your life – mentally, emotionally, spiritually, socially, and even physically.
And actually, it’s just like God said to us about His commandments to us: He reminded us that His commandments to us are designed to be His protection for us and His provision for us…mentally, emotionally, spiritually, and even physically. God’s instructions for us are, in fact, the most healing things that exist. Do you remember what Jesus said about that? John 8:31-32- “So Jesus said to the Jews who believed in him, “If you continue to accept and obey my teaching, you are really my followers. You will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.” ERV Real freedom is knowing and doing the truth revealed to us by Jesus Christ. You are only as personally free as you are personally faithful to Jesus Christ. And when we both know the truth and then do the truth, that is what frees us from those things which bind up so many in the world around us, both of the unsaved and even many of the saved, in many ways.
How about this? Have you ever known a time when people were so bound up with angst and strife and malice and slander and judgmentalism toward one another in our society? Talk about a prophetic sign…Jesus said the end times would be marked by cold hearts…calloused hearts and minds, where formerly caring people become spiteful and critical and uncaring toward others. It’s apparent that we are certainly in those times. We live in a self-centered society that is now dominated by judgmentalism and hate. The Pharisees would feel right at home even in many of America’s churches now.
Again, history tells us: “Show me your habits and I’ll show you who you are…Tell me your habits and I’ll tell you who you are.” Our country is now bound up in the practice of ‘Hateful habits’. No doubt we are living in one of the most ‘hate-filled’ times in our history. And it’s going to get worse, unless people change their habits…starting with a surrender to the Lord Jesus Christ in repentance and faith for the unsaved, and with a surrender to the Lordship of Christ for the saved. Even for believers, the only hope of breaking free from hateful habits is by committing to the practice of Holy habits. Otherwise, they will be overtaken with a root of bitterness that will defile their lives.
Note the warning of Heb 12:14-15- “Pursue peace with all men, and the sanctification without which no one will see the Lord. See to it that no one comes short of the grace of God; that no root of bitterness springing up causes trouble, and by it many be defiled….” NASU Remember, peace is like manna…you can’t gather it once and then think you can store it up…no, it will decay and rot away. You have to pursue it…you have to gather up ‘peace’ day by day in order to keep it fresh and satisfying and ready to share with others. On the other hand, bitterness only needs to be planted in our soul…to be given a place in our mind and emotions, and then like a root, bitterness will continue to grow like a creeping vine, and will wind itself around our heart and our mind and will choke out the goodness and kindness from of our character and our conscience, until we are defiled and become hard of heart.
The strange thing is…most people don’t recognize bitterness in their life. By the time bitterness has taken root in their minds they are deceived into thinking that they are justified to talk and treat others the way they are doing. They think it’s ‘justice’, when it is simply ‘judgmentalism’. We dare not trifle with hateful habits because hateful habits are hard to break, since they feed off of our old sin nature. The only way to break hateful habits is by the day-to-day practice of ‘holy habits’…because holy habits feed off of our new spiritual nature. And our new spiritual nature is rooted in the fruit of the Holy Spirit…of love, peace, joy, self-control, and so on. Again, it’s not complicated IF you are seeking to live under the control of God the Holy Spirit. But it is very precise: Eph 4:29-32- “Don’t use foul or abusive language. Let everything you say be good and helpful, so that your words will be an encouragement to those who hear them. And do not bring sorrow to God’s Holy Spirit by the way you live. Remember, He has identified you as His own, guaranteeing that you will be saved on the day of redemption. Get rid of all bitterness, rage, anger, harsh words, and slander, as well as all types of evil behavior. Instead, be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you.” NLT Think about it: Whenever a person will not forgive another, they are saying that although God should forgive their sins that caused the death of Jesus Christ, that neither God nor they should forgive the person who sinned against them…essentially making themselves out to be more important than God! But that kind of thinking is a far greater sin against God than whatever the sin was against them.
Friends, be careful in your treatment of others…be Biblical in your treatment of others…or you will find yourself fighting not only against others, but against God Himself. Instead – trust and obey…it will set you free! Practice holy habits and it will free you from hateful habits, as well as any other bad habits that have taken root in your life. Holiness cuts out harmfulness. Holy habits will not only produce personal holiness in your life, but they will also produce happiness in your life. Oh sure, you are still called to fight the good fight of faith as a Warrior for Christ for justice and against injustice…a Warrior for Christ for righteousness and against unrighteousness. But if you practice holy habits as you fight the good fight of faith, you will be able to fight it as a Happy Warrior for Christ instead of a Hateful Warrior for yourself. The Happy Warrior is a win-win result. The Hateful Warrior is a lose-lose result. Holy habits make Happy Warriors for Christ!