In the study ‘Discipleship (1)’ we explained what it means to be a disciple of Jesus Christ. Living according to the will of God, under the authority of Jesus, is strongly emphasized in this respect.
In this study we throw light on how God comes to the aid of the disciple, by renewing his heart.
The disciple and the Holy Spirit – God who comes to the aid of weakness.
Paul exhorted the slaves of his time:
Slaves, obey your earthly masters with respect and fear, and with sincerity of heart, just as you would obey Christ. Obey them not only to win their favour when their eye is on you, but as slaves of Christ, doing the will of God from your heart. (Ephesians 6:5-6)
From your heart is the translation of the Greek: ex psuche.
Translated literally: from the soul.
Paul encourages the slaves to obey their master, not from fear, but from the soul.
I.e.: To take the decision to make the effort to carry out the work of a slave as an ambassador of Christ.
Paul calls this: living as a slave of Jesus Christ.
This is not only an instruction to the slaves, but to every ‘slave’, every disciple of Jesus.
Living as a disciple, as a slave of Jesus, is only possible with God’s help.
He promised more than 600 years before the birth of van Jesus Christ:
I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean; I will cleanse you from all your impurities and from all your idols. I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit in you and move you to follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws. (Ezekiel 36:25-27)
This promise applies to Israel, the people of God, the posterity of Abraham, but it also applies to the spiritual descendants of Abraham, the believers who have accepted Jesus Christ in their heart.
God renews the heart of the disciple who consciously places his heart under the authority of Jesus.
He replaces the natural heart, the ‘heart of stone’, which is incapable of submitting itself completely to the will of God, with a willing heart, a ‘heart of flesh’.
This is a heart that, in the spirit, is focussed on God and on Jesus, to be taught by Him and to live under His leadership.
This is how every disciple grows to adulthood, in obedience to Jesus Christ.
That does not happen automatically. It requires perseverance in continually trusting in Jesus and allowing the temperament of one’s own heart to be changed through the influence of the Holy Spirit.
The disciple and the law.
The apostle Paul writes:
We also glory (we are happy) in our sufferings (our difficulties), because we know that suffering (difficulty) produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us. (Romans 5:3-6)
God transforms the ‘heart of stone’ into a ‘heart of flesh’ through the working of the Holy Spirit.
The Holy Spirit pours the love of God out into the heart that decides to follow Jesus as a disciple.
This love of God, the ‘agape’ of God, is the love that motivates servanthood.
This love determines the disciple’s way of life.
It is a life of love for God and the neighbour, as He already indicated in the Old Testament when He said:
Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. (Deuteronomy 6:5)
Do not seek revenge or bear a grudge … but love your neighbour as yourself. I am the LORD. (Leviticus 19:18)
Jesus summarised these commandments as follows:
Love the Lord your God (serve in love) with (from) all your heart and with (from) all your soul and with (from) all your strength and with (from) all your mind; and, Love your neighbour as yourself. (Luke 10:27 / Matthew 22:37-40)
Love (agape) does no harm to a neighbour. Therefore love (agape) is the fulfilment of the law. (Romans 13:10)
Translated literally: Love is the ‘infilling’, ‘the content’ of the law.
Living under the authority of Christ, from the love that God pours out into the heart through the work of the Holy Spirit, is living according to the Divine Law.
Paul describes what this love of God, which is poured out into the heart by the Holy Spirit, brings about in the life of the disciple:
The fruit of the Spirit is love (which is perceived through:)
- forbearance (patience, perseverance)
- goodness (also: uprightness)
- faithfulness (also: trust, faith)
- self-control. (Galatians 5:22)
Paul discusses this in greater detail in 1 Corinthians 13, the chapter about love.
The promises of God.
The Bible, both the Old and the New Testament, is full of promises from God.
Moses summarised these promises as follows:
The LORD your God will make you most prosperous in all the work of your hands and in the fruit of your womb, the young of your livestock and the crops of your land. The LORD will again delight in you and make you prosperous, … if you obey the LORD your God and keep his commands and decrees that are written in this Book of the Law and turn to the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul. (Deuteronomy 30:9-10)
This is the same thing Jesus meant when He said:
I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full. (John 10:10)
The life of the disciple of Jesus Christ is characterised by relationships.
- living in a relationship with the heavenly Father
- living in a relationship with Jesus Christ.
At conversion the believer has confessed his faith, the trust of his soul in Jesus Christ, via his body, i.e. spoken out loud with his lips.
Through this confession a person, as a soul, gives himself to God through his body and is regenerated to new spiritual life by God.
Through this the soul of the believer enters into a relationship with God through his body.
At the following step, discipleship, the believer becomes a disciple of Jesus, by giving Him full authority over every area of his life.
Through this decision the soul of the disciple will listen to the teaching of Jesus Christ via the spirit.
Through this the soul of the disciple is born into a relationship with Jesus via his spirit, through the working of the Holy Spirit.
By these two steps the disciple of Jesus Christ lives as spirit, soul and body in relationship with both God the Father and Jesus Christ.
God desires a disciple to also live in a relationship with the third Person of the Divine Trinity, the Holy Spirit.
This is explained in a separate study.
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