1 I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.
2 And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God. Rom. 12:1-2
Let us look at Paul’s words in Colossians again.
“… Christ in you, the hope of glory: 28 Whom we preach, warning every man, and teaching every man in all wisdom; that we may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus: 29 Whereunto I also labour, striving according to his working, which worketh in me mightily.”
What is Paul talking about here? He is talking about the Holy Spirit and His power in us. In other words, Paul is telling us that his striving to present every man perfect in Christ was not done by his natural ability, but by the enabling of the Holy Spirit.
Imagine that… the Holy Spirit was at work through Paul to perfect God’s people! The scriptures do not say that the power that God gave was used to do so many other things. On the contrary, Paul declares it was for the perfecting of the saints.
Think about it. Jesus gave the church the five-fold ministry to perfect it. And here the Bible makes it clear that all the five ministries (of which Paul had several) work under the power of the Holy Spirit.
I am truly grateful to God for that. We can imagine the tremendous power then that is at work when God is perfecting the church. It is not someone coming up with some human intelligence or some worldly program. (Some churches today are actually collapsing under the weight of programs!)
The early church did not have programs. But it had the Holy Spirit. And it walked victorious in the Spirit, despite the challenges (Heb. 10:32-34). They were impoverished materially, but they were rich in the Spirit. They had love, forgiveness, compassion. These things flowed like a river in their midst. Recall also the Macedonian church (2 Cor. 8:1-5). That was the power of the Holy Spirit at work.
Y’know, there are really resourceful people in this world. You and I possibly know of one or two. One example was Saul before his conversion. The man was extremely capable. God could have decided to use any one of these people to perfect the church.
In Saul’s case, God decided He would use him all right – but He first turned the guy’s brains into something resembling guacamole*. Saul, the know-it-all Jewish braggard became “a fool”! (2 Cor. 11:16,23; 12:11)
And with his wanting physique and incapacitating stammer, Paul must have become the butt of the most acerbic jokes from the Jews who opposed him. For good measure, God prepared an army of men (and sometimes even women!) in every town to physically harass and beat him up. God was bent on killing off Paul – in order to allow the Holy Spirit to be fully in control.
That is the importance that God attaches to the work that He desires to have done in us. God would not trust this work to the most elucidated Bible-college professor of our age. Instead, God has taken the controls Himself through the Holy Spirit. That is incredible importance! Whoever God used, He first killed him off – literally – so that He Himself could come to live in that person through the Holy Spirit.
This is the reason we should pay all the greater heed to the work of transformation that God desires in each one of us. God paid a great price in sending Christ to die for us. And far finer men, the true servants of God in every age, have sacrificed their lives at the altar, by living a crucified life, for our sakes. We cannot therefore use the power of the Holy Spirit for entertainment or to seek glory for our own selves.
The Holy Spirit is there so that the church may be perfected, and that through this perfecting God may be given the glory. When people see a mature church, there is no doubt about the fact that they will glorify God.
“By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another” (Jn. 13:35).
Love is the end of all perfection, for God is love.
[*”Guacamole” – Thanks for the word, Marilyn!]