One body, One head
Let no man beguile you of your reward in a voluntary humility and worshipping of angels, intruding into those things which he hath not seen, vainly puffed up by his fleshly mind,
And not holding the Head, from which all the body by joints and bands having nourishment ministered, and knit together, increaseth with the increase of God.
So far we have considered that false humility, worshipping of angels and looking into things we should not will rob us of the prize in Christ. The reason being that these things take our eyes off Christ. Paul now expounds this idea further in saying: not holding the head.
In Ch.1:18 we read: He is the head of the body the church. Now Paul returns to this theme of the head of the body. These people going after these mystical experiences are not holding the head. What does this mean and what are we to learn from it?
Further in Ch.2:16 under the danger of legalism we had;
Let no man therefore judge you in meat or in drink or in respect of a holy day or of the new moon or of the sabbath days, which are a shadow of things to come but the body is of Christ.
E7.1 One Body
For by one Spirit are we are all baptised into one body whether Jews or Gentiles whether bond or free and have been made to drink into one Spirit.
On new birth we are baptised, or immersed, into the body of Jesus Christ. We are no longer ’ in Adam’ but ‘in Christ’. Every born-again believer is joined into one spiritual body, the body of Christ. That there is only one body is clearly stated in Ephesians.
There is one body, and one Spirit even as ye are called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all who is above all and through all and in you all.
Paul here is exhorting the brethren to keep the unity of the Spirit, and this because of the unity of these seven fundamental truths. Paul says there is one God. If Paul means that there is only one God then it is clear that the other six truths are one and only one of its kind.
There is one and only one body. There is no separate body for the Jews, and one for the Gentiles. No, there is only one body. We are all one in Christ, there are no racial barriers at all. When we are born again our earthly heritage means nothing in the body.
This truth is seen throughout the NT, eg. Acts 10-11; Eph.2:11-22; I Cor.12:2 ( note the ye WERE Gentiles).
E7.2 One head
For as the body is one and hath many members and all the members of that body being many are one body so is Christ
In this chapter Paul uses the metaphor of the physical body to explain truths regarding the body of Christ. His main point is that just as the human body has many different members working together for the good of the body at large, so too the body of Christ has many members all working together for the edification of the body.
Now there are diversities of [free] gifts but the same Spirit. There are differences of administrations but the same Lord. And there differences of operations but it is the same God which worketh in all.
The one body has the same, one Lord. Or to put it terms of the metaphor, one head. The body has one head, it is that head that gives instructions to and regulates the different parts of the body. The members don’t instruct each other, the hand doesn’t tell the foot what to do, or vice versa. for example. It is the head that sends the instructions to each individual member and they respond accordingly.
Likewise in the body of Christ, of which we are all members, it is our head, the one Lord Jesus Christ, who controls the body. It is He who instructs His members. It is not for each member to control one another. We are not here talking about being in subjection to those whom God has put over us, that is a different issue. Rather we are referring to those who would control people’s lives, and sadly it may sometimes mean the leaders!
E7.3 One Master
But be not ye called Rabbi [=my Master] for one is your Master even Christ.
In the previous verses of Mtt.23 Jesus was warning the disciples of the Pharisees who added burdens on the people. They were trying to regulate people’s lives. God’s law wasn’t enough, they had to add to it. But worse still they would not lift their fingers to do what they command others to do. They lorded it over people and Jesus spoke strong words of rebuke to them.
There is only one Master, and that is the Lord Jesus Christ. It is from Him that we take our instructions, directly from the head.
In some so called, or miscalled, Christian circles what is known as ‘heavy shepherding’ can be seen. Believers are not allowed to live any sort of life unless sanctioned by the ‘shepherd’. In such set ups there have been testimonials by people that their lives were controlled by such men.
Examples include, are not allowed to marry unless it was sanctioned, because it was in their ‘best interests’. Some are told what house to buy, and when to. Even what job to have, or even being told to give up their particular job because the shepherd had a word from the Lord on it!
This heavy shepherding and similar practices make the ‘shepherd’ a go between the believer and the Lord. The believer in question may think it is humble of him/her to allow such people to instruct them on how to live; they think these shepherds are so spiritual they have God’s word whereas they don’t and are not good enough. But it is false humility, and in doing so they cut themselves from Christ, they are not holding the head.
Each believer has access directly to the Lord for themselves, and no one has the right to take that away from any brother or sister.
Christ alone is our Master and we are all connected to the head directly, and have access to the throne of grace without any go between. These self-proclaimed shepherds, who say we have to get our instructions from them, for they have the word of the Lord, are at best misguided. It sets up an hierarchy in the body, which Jesus forbids, Mk.10:42-45.
E7.4 The word is near
For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth. For Moses describeth the righteousness which is of the law, That the man which doeth those things shall live by them. But the righteousness which is of faith speaketh on this wise, Say not in thine heart, Who shall ascend into heaven? (that is, to bring Christ down from above:) Or, Who shall descend into the deep? (that is, to bring up Christ again from the dead.) But what saith it? The word is nigh thee, even in thy mouth, and in thy heart: that is, the word of faith, which we preach;
And Jesus answered and said unto them, Take heed that no man deceive you. For many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and shall deceive many… . And many false prophets shall rise, and shall deceive many. And because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold. But he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved.. Then if any man shall say unto you, Lo, here is Christ, or there; believe it not. For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall shew great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect.
Christ warned His disciples of false Christs and false prophets that would come. Reading the NT we see that from practically the beginning there were such people about. Let us no forget that most of the NT epistles were written to counter falsehood either in teaching or practice.
In this warning Jesus said if anyone should say that Christ is in such and such a place then don’t believe them! Even if they show great signs. Paul quoting Moses says that the word of faith is near even in your mouth. Don’t go up to heaven to bring Christ down, nor go to the depths to bring Christ up. In other words don’t go about working yourself up to try and get Christ’s presence.
In Athens Paul said that we should seek the Lord yet he is not far from us Acts. 17:27. There is no need to travel the length and breadth of the earth to some so called revival meeting; no need to work oneself up into a frenzy as the prophets of Baal did, I Kgs. 18:26, and certainly not go seeking forbidden means, as Saul did, to find God’s message, I Sam.28:7-14.
The word is near even in thy mouth and in your heart, God is not far from any of us. It is by faith, in His word as revealed in scripture, that we approach and receive from God. All other ways are of the flesh and not of faith. Using the metaphor of the body the hand, for example doesn’t work itself up to receive messages from the head, it just remains in communion with the head and simply receives. So too we are to continue as we begun in faith, walking in Christ and and by abiding in Him we will hear the voice of our Great Shepherd.
E7.5 Not holding the head
If believers go after these mystical (and/or legalistic) ways, they will find that they become disconnected from Christ the head. Instead of the individual member receiving from Christ directly they will allow these things to take His place in their lives and so become disconnected from Him.
Instead of Christ being their Lord, Mysticism becomes their Lord and Master. Experience, rituals, codes of behaviour become the commanding force instead. Even in solid Christian churches and assemblies this can become a real danger.
We need to be aware not only of being sucked in to having Christ replaced in our lives, but also that we do not do the same to other brothers and sisters.
Not for that we have dominion [=lordship] over your faith but are helpers of your joy. For by faith ye stand.
II Cor 1:24
Paul refused to Lord it over the Corinthians even though they were in a mess! He sought to be a helper of their joy. May we be likewise minded, See also I Pet.5:1-4.