Submission

“And further, submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.”
Ephesian 5:21

Here’s a difficult verse. At the very mention of the word “submission” people’s hackles start to rise. We ask ourselves did Paul really get this right. Did he really mean that we should submit to someone else in the church family, perhaps someone who might be younger or less experienced than us? Mutual submission is an important component in church unity, because it takes out the “it’s all about me” factor. Instead, selfishness is replaced by an appreciation that, regardless of how we perceive another person, we treat them with respect and courtesy, listening to what they have to say and considering it carefully. After all, what they say could be the Holy Spirit speaking through them. A poet called John Donne is reputed to have written, “No man is an island, entire of itself“. And that is particular true in our church communities – we individually don’t have all the knowledge and abilities required to build the church. Corrie Ten Boom once said (my paraphrase), “I can do things that you cannot, and you can do things that I cannot. But together we can do great things for God“. And that is really the essence of why we must submit to each other. The church model where the minister does everything and the congregation sit in the pews will never be able to build the church of Jesus Christ. As we submit to one another, different gifts and abilities come together and generate a powerful community. 

But there are two other phrases in the verse worth considering. The first is “one another”. This two word phrase crops up about 100 times in the New Testament, and almost always in a context of relationships. How we relate to each other in extremely important. Modern television presents a corrupted view of relationships, with fighting, verbal abuse, suspicion, manipulation, lies, slander, divorce, and gossip as the norm. But as God’s “one anothers” we know a better way. A way based on love and mutual submission. A way of looking out for one other, helping one another, praying for one another, being a true “one another” to our Christian brothers and sisters.

And then we have a second phrase in this verse that is very important. That is, we submit to one another “out of reverence for Christ“. We submit to one another because Jesus wants us to. That’s good enough for me.

Giving Thanks

“Don’t be drunk with wine, because that will ruin your life. Instead, be filled with the Holy Spirit, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs among yourselves, and making music to the Lord in your hearts. And give thanks for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
Ephesians‬ ‭5:18-20‬ ‭NLT

Paul wrote that we should give thanks for everything. Hang on a minute – everything? For that unexpected bill that has just fallen through the letter box? For the dressing down we have just had from the boss? Surely he meant just the good things that have happened to us. 

Perhaps the key words are “in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ”. Why should Jesus’ name matter? In faith we should call on Jesus with a thankful heart, grateful for the good things that we have experienced and in faith that He will come through for us when bad things are in danger of overwhelming us. Paul wrote in 1 Thessalonians 5:18, “Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ“. God wants us to be a thankful people. Not people who look at their circumstances and go down the tubes, ending up in misery and depression. 

Pilgrims look at, and live in, the world around them. The bad news is that faith in Jesus, being a Christian, will not prevent the problems rolling in. After all, Jesus said in John 16:33,“I have told you all this so that you may have peace in Me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.” 

So we can give thanks in everything, because even when the bills are stacking up, when inflation is eroding our income, when sickness is dragging us down, we know that through Jesus we have the strength to overcome them all. So in faith-filled prayer we present our needs to Jesus and thank Him that the answers are coming. The scoffers and cynics dismiss our faith as just a deluded form of escapism and predict our ruin. But the God I worship made a promise to me – in Philippians 4:19 we read, “And this same God who takes care of me will supply all your needs from his glorious riches, which have been given to us in Christ Jesus”. God has more than enough resources to go round and He knows what we need.

God will sometimes have other plans for us. I love the story in Daniel where the Jewish lads refused to bow down before a statue of Nebuchadnezzar. We read in Daniel 3:17-18, “If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God whom we serve is able to save us. He will rescue us from your power, Your Majesty. But even if he doesn’t, we want to make it clear to you, Your Majesty, that we will never serve your gods or worship the gold statue you have set up“. There is a dear young Christian woman I know who lost her husband, at the age of 37, to cancer. Two young children under 5. How will she ever be able to thank God in her circumstances? I don’t have an answer other than we live in a sinful world and the devil’s wickedness will take its course. But I do know that our loving Heavenly Father is there for her and will provide for her. And one day He will wipe away her tears. Sometimes the answer to our prayers won’t be realised until we are in God’s presence.

So the brotherhood (and sisterhood) of pilgrims walk on together, our eternal home in sight. And together with thankful hearts we reach out to our loving Heavenly Father, secure in our status as sons and daughters of the greatest family that there has ever been.

Singing Spiritual Songs

“Don’t be drunk with wine, because that will ruin your life. Instead, be filled with the Holy Spirit, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs among yourselves, and making music to the Lord in your hearts. And give thanks for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
‭‭Ephesians‬ ‭5:18-20‬ ‭NLT

Paul continues with the thought that being “filled with the Holy Spirit” leads on, in a natural way, to singing. But not any old song. There is no value in worldly songs with their inane lyrics. Paul’s world of song included Psalms and Hymns. Songs of the Spirit. God-songs. There is something about singing spiritual songs that leads to a connection to God. Almost as though spiritual songs are keys that unlock the door into God’s presence, into His zone. 

One of the keys to a successful spiritual song, in my opinion, is spontaneity. Singing a well worn hymn can of course be a blessing. There is something special about being in the presence of strong singers belting out “Thine Be the Glory” or “Praise My Soul the King of Heaven”. Or joining with the choirs of the terraces in the hymn “Abide with Me”. But a soulish response is only part of the way into the God-zone. It is far better to allow the infilling of the Holy Spirit to lead to a spiritual response. It might be in our native tongues. But it might too be in the Heavenly language that is ours for the asking (1 Corinthians 14, particularly 14:15). And in the process of aligning our spirits with God something significant happens. I have been in worship services that have continued for an hour or two, lead by the Holy Spirit into Heavenly places, all sense of time abandoned. 

How creative are we with “making music to the Lord in [our] hearts”? We probably say we don’t have a clue where to start. But it’s uncanny that repeating a phrase from a Psalm, or some prayer we have made up, can lead on to the development of a melody. Just a simple tune. It may not even be anything original. But before we know it the music welling up in our hearts connects with the Lord. Amazing. And the Author-Composer turns out to be the Holy Spirit, who we have just been filled by. 

As pilgrims we must never gloss over this verse written by Paul. He knew all about what he was writing. He too was a pilgrim and I can just imaging him singing his heart out in that prison cell, driving his guards nuts. But he wouldn’t have been bothered by that – he was in the God-zone. And we can join him there, from wherever we are. Or in whatever we are doing.

Being Filled

“Don’t be drunk with wine, because that will ruin your life. Instead, be filled with the Holy Spirit, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs among yourselves, and making music to the Lord in your hearts. And give thanks for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
Ephesians‬ ‭5:18-20‬ ‭NLT

What was in Paul’s mind when he compared an alcohol-induced drunkenness with an infilling of the Holy Spirit? Was he implying that the same “high” could be achieved with the Holy Spirit? Whatever his thoughts, the comparison is striking – the destructive effects of alcohol as against the constructive effects of living a life filled with the Holy Spirit. 

What does it mean to “be filled with the Holy Spirit”. Apparently the original meaning was that we must be continually filled with the Holy Spirit. Just as the effects of alcohol will disappear from our bodies, so too will the impact of the Holy Spirit, as we use His power within our daily lives. But there the analogy must end because there is no real comparison. 

The Bible is rich with verses extolling the benefits of a life filled with the Holy Spirit. For example, Galatians 5:22-23 reads, “But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control…“. We need the Holy Spirit to help us in our pilgrimage through life – don’t we just! As we encounter daily interactions with those around us, being filled with the Spirit can make the difference between worldly and Godly responses. As we constantly give of our emotional and spiritual resources to those around us, we need to constantly call upon the Holy Spirit to replenish us with His power.

Jesus taught His disciples much about the Holy Spirit – one such example was in John 14:16-17, “And I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Advocate, who will never leave you. He is the Holy Spirit, who leads into all truth…”. “Truth” is something much lacking in life today, as it was in the First Century. During Jesus’ mock trial, Pontius Pilate himself confessed to not knowing what truth was (John 18:38). But through the power of the Holy Spirit we know the Truth that matters. 

Part of my testimony is about the time I saw Christians working together and relating with each other in a community setting. They had something shining through them, that I now know was the outworking of the Holy Spirit, filling their lives. And I have over the years experienced help and love from other Christians, many of whom I hardly knew, but who have ministered to my situation through the power of the Holy Spirit.

So on our life-pilgrimage we too have an obligation to obey Paul’s call to “be filled with the Holy Spirit”. Daily getting on our knees before Him, asking for more of His presence and resources in our lives. Father, fill us afresh today, we pray, and again tomorrow, and again … Amen.

Getting Drunk

“Don’t be drunk with wine, because that will ruin your life. Instead, be filled with the Holy Spirit, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs among yourselves, and making music to the Lord in your hearts. And give thanks for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
Ephesians‬ ‭5:18-20‬ ‭NLT‬‬

Drunkenness. As Paul wrote, it ruins lives. But not only the lives of the drunk but the lives of those in their families and communities. Health destroyed. Destitution probable. The future for an alcoholic is bleak except for the fact that there is a loving Heavenly Father. There are many testimonies from men and women who have found healing and a new life through the power of the Holy Spirit, prayer and care leading to salvation and freedom. And it started with a pilgrim introducing a drunk to Jesus. But from those who don’t find God, the slippery slope can end in an early death with the final years blighted by illness and misery. I know because that is what happened to my sister-in-law. 

On my early morning prayer walks, there is a man I occasionally meet who is an alcoholic. The ravages of drink are clearly visible in his face. His unsteadiness on his feet, even first thing in the morning, betrays a legacy of inebriation. He is usually locked into his own world, but I try and speak with him, desperately trying to find common ground over which we can walk and talk together. Always looking for an opportunity to share the love of God. One day, when he was more lucid than usual, he opened up and shared how he would love to get a job. But in the natural world he was a reject. A man to be managed, rather than helped, by the society around him. But in God’s kingdom there is a place for him. God will never turn away a repentant sinner. I’ll keep trying to introduce him to the love and forgiveness of God. And I’ll pray for him in the meantime.

A dear lady I know is a very committed Christian in a family blighted by alcohol and drug addiction. It’s a family where misery and devastation is constantly knocking at the door. She is a lung cancer survivor but suffers from constant ill-health. Her brother, a lovely Christian man who I once had the privilege of knowing, died in his forties from lung cancer – he was a very heavy smoker. Her husband, died young, what of I don’t know because she doesn’t speak of him. This lady had four children – three boys and a girl – but sadly in the past year or so the two oldest boys have died in their forties of substance misuse – alcohol and drugs. A family destroyed. A family devastated.

So Paul was right when he advised not to get drunk on wine. I would add to his list beer, and anything else containing alcohol, while we’re at it. And I’m sure if drugs were available in his day he would have been writing about them as well. He wasn’t advocating teetotalism. He was just saying that we must stop drinking wine before we get drunk. I personally have no objection to drinking wine. It can be a pleasant companion to a good meal. Or perhaps something that would be appropriate in a social setting. But like many things in life, an alcoholic beverage is good in small quantities, dangerous if taken to excess. And potential addiction is always lurking in dark corners.

As pilgrims in our societies, moving slowly but surely through the corridors of life, alcohol will never be far away. Premises dispensing alcohol are ubiquitous, at least in Western societies. So as Christians we cannot avoid contact with drinks that contain alcohol. Of course, we can exercise our right to free choice, and replace them with soft drinks. And alcohol-free wines and beers (and even gin I understand) is available. Drunkenness is a dark place for many but we can shine our light into the lives of needy people who have been seduced by an alcohol-fuelled lifestyle. We can show a better way. And we can share God’s love and compassion with people who have been left to their fates by institutions and governments who seem powerless or unwilling to get involved in their misery. 

Paul goes on to write about being filled with the Holy Spirit, but more of that in tomorrow’s blog.

Be Careful

“So be careful how you live. Don’t live like fools, but like those who are wise. Make the most of every opportunity in these evil days. Don’t act thoughtlessly, but understand what the Lord wants you to do.‭‭
Ephesians‬ ‭5:15-17‬ ‭NLT

I’m sure we all take care in the way we live. After all, we are wired to keep ourselves safe from danger, and that basic instinct increases, and becomes more important somehow, as we get older. But there are adrenalin junkies who take on incredible tasks, performing feats of courage and ignoring danger. I’m thinking of people like mountain climbers, or single-handed Atlantic rowers. Perhaps those who fly hang gliders or head for the breakers to surf their way ashore. There are also those who engage in more insidious tasks, taking illicit drugs of unknown content or purity, or those who deliberately head for temptation, trying to determine how strong they really are.

But this is a worldly perspective. As Christian pilgrims, we take seriously Paul’s instructions about the way we live. Not for us the way of fools, exploring places where we should never go. Instead we must seek out the ways of wisdom. True wisdom has its source in God. In James 1:5, we read, “If you need wisdom, ask our generous God, and he will give it to you. He will not rebuke you for asking”. There is another helpful verse in James 3:17,  “But the wisdom from above is first of all pure. It is also peace loving, gentle at all times, and willing to yield to others. It is full of mercy and the fruit of good deeds. It shows no favouritism and is always sincere”. Following this advice will help us live like wise pilgrims.

In our verse today, Paul continues by encouraging us to make the most of our lives. He was right, when he wrote this Epistle, by discerning that the days were evil. And our days in the 21st Century are still evil. Nothing has changed over the centuries. The media is full of reports of crime, drug taking, wars and so on. An evil world where our enemy, the devil, prowls around causing mayhem and distress. An evil world where sin is endemic. But as we read in a recent blog, we are light in this dark and evil world, and must be opportunistic in shining our light into dark places. We must be counter-cultural pilgrims walking against the tide of those of humanity who are sadly and unknowingly heading for a lost eternity. And we must be diligent in aligning our lives to the true Way, avoiding the false and evil ways of darkness. Thinking clearly. Remaining focused on our assignment, doing God’s work. True in His service.

Worthless Deeds

“Take no part in the worthless deeds of evil and darkness; instead, expose them. It is shameful even to talk about the things that ungodly people do in secret. But their evil intentions will be exposed when the light shines on them, for the light makes everything visible…”
‭‭Ephesians‬ ‭5:11-14‬ ‭NLT‬‬

In the work place I made no secret of my faith. There was a cost involved of course – I was no longer included in the social set, you know, the “cool” group, that got involved in chats around the coffee machine or the photocopier, chewing over “the worthless deeds of evil and darkness”. Sometimes there was an awkward silence in a meeting room when I arrived. The occasional apology when an expletive was inadvertently uttered. I often wondered that my work colleagues somehow felt that their behaviour was incompatible with my faith in Jesus. It was of course – they obviously knew what the “light” was. And that they behaved in a way that was different. But I sometimes had an opportunity to include myself in the office chatter – I can remember a discussion on life insurance where costs and benefits were being discussed. My contribution was to remind them that worldly life insurance, was costly, and only paid out in death, but eternal life insurance was far more important, it was free, and paid out with life. There were a few embarrassed coughs followed by a change of subject. Light exposing “worthless deeds” perhaps? I suppose I was grateful to be excluded from the sordid discussions about things of a dark world that I once knew, but had been redeemed from, by the blood of Jesus.

But how should a 21st Century pilgrim allow God’s light to shine out into the dark and evil world around us? Over the past centuries, there have always been a small number of men and women who have cut themselves off from society, to avoid contaminating themselves by contact with the darkness. They live in monasteries and nunneries, spending their time in prayer and working in their gardens, in a life devoted to God. But is that the answer to God’s call to holiness? In 1 Peter 1:15-16, we read, “But now you must be holy in everything you do, just as God who chose you is holy. For the Scriptures say, “You must be holy because I am holy.”“. A monasterial lifestyle may be the way for some, but for me there is that difficult balancing act between being in the world but not of the world. In Jesus’s amazing prayer to His Father in Heaven, in John 17, He said, “I have given them Your Word. And the world hates them because they do not belong to the world, just as I do not belong to the world. I’m not asking You to take them out of the world, but to keep them safe from the evil one.” We pilgrims have a mission in life, folks. In this dark world, not apart from it. Our service to God includes telling those who live on the dark side about the hope we have for a future with God in Heaven. It includes being a light shining in the darkness around us (Matthew 5). We are salt savouring a tasteless society. The story of Sodom and Gomorrah, when Abraham pleaded with God not to destroy these wicked towns if any righteous people lived there, is perhaps a warning that God’s patience with a dark society will one day expire. Perhaps our presence in the darkness of our age is turning way His wrath.

But on a more positive note, we know the love of God. We know what He has done for us. We know that one day we will be in His presence. And as we trudge through life we share our messages of hope, our testimonies of what God has done for us, with those around us. Sharing in the dark places where we find ourselves, our schools, workplaces, communities and families. But all the time being conscious of our call to holiness and the love of our wonderful God.

Pleasing the Lord

“Carefully determine what pleases the Lord.”
Ephesians‬ ‭5:10‬ ‭NLT‬‬

We want to please the Lord. Why would we want to make the Holy Spirit sad? Why would we not want to please God? We think back to the point when we realised that through Jesus’ sacrifice at Calvary, when He gave His life for ours, when He traded His righteousness for our unworthiness, when we realised how much He must have loved us, then we, from our knees, can only respond with a thankful heart, brimming over with a desire to please Him. We realised that our pre-Christian lives didn’t please Him one little bit; in fact God turned His back on our sins. But in the light of God’s presence, now being aware of a new dimension of living, we want to please the Lord. 

So what pleases the Lord? We know what doesn’t – worldliness manifesting in our thoughts, our speech, our behaviour, our deeds. It’s called sin. But Paul wrote verses elsewhere in his epistles that help. In one of them, Romans 12:1, we read, “And so, dear brothers and sisters, I plead with you to give your bodies to God because of all he has done for you. Let them be a living and holy sacrifice—the kind he will find acceptable. This is truly the way to worship him.” There’s another relevant verse in Colossians 1:10, “Then the way you live will always honour and please the Lord, and your lives will produce every kind of good fruit. All the while, you will grow as you learn to know God better and better.” From these two verses we get a complete answer to our question about pleasing the Lord. It’s all about living a surrendered life, surrendered to God and His ways. Sounds simple on paper, doesn’t it? But the reality of living a surrendered life is far from easy. You see, there is a basic desire within us to live a sinful life. Paul articulated the problem we face in Romans 7, “I have discovered this principle of life—that when I want to do what is right, I inevitably do what is wrong. I love God’s law with all my heart. But there is another power within me that is at war with my mind. This power makes me a slave to the sin that is still within me.”‭‭ But thankfully, Paul gave us the answer in the first two verses of the following chapter in Romans, “So now there is no condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus. And because you belong to him, the power of the life-giving Spirit has freed you from the power of sin that leads to death.” 

The Holy Spirit will help us lead a surrendered life that pleases God. And notice that the presence of the Holy Spirit is not benign; He has the power to transform our lives, if we let Him. And in the transformation we please the Lord. 

Light Life

“For once you were full of darkness, but now you have light from the Lord. So live as people of light! For this light within you produces only what is good and right and true.”
Ephesians 5:8-9

“But you are not like that, for you are a chosen people. You are royal priests, a holy nation, God’s very own possession. As a result, you can show others the goodness of God, for he called you out of the darkness into his wonderful light.”
1 Peter 2:9

Paul and Peter picked up the same theme, which is the fact that as Christian pilgrims, we no longer have the option of living in the darkness of worldliness, but instead must take up the opportunity to live in the light of God’s presence. But why is there such a stark difference, literally black and white, between the two? Why should the way we once lived be so different to the way we should now live, as pilgrims of light? After all, much of what we do – for example, working for a living, caring for a relative, doing chores around the house and garden – won’t change, whether or not we are living in God’s presence. 

Paul said in his Ephesian letter that living God’s way is marked by “only what is good and right and true”. In the verse from Peter, living in the light leads to others seeing the goodness of God. So there is something about living in God’s presence, full of His light, that will be visible to those around us. I suppose we could use the analogy of looking at a light bulb. With it switched off, there is nothing to see. But when powered up, it is very visible. As we pilgrims journey through life, do our fellow travellers see a light bulb stitched on, or off? 

So living in the light will impact our behaviour; the way we do our job in the workplace, the way we interact with others on-line, the way we do our chores around the home, the way we care for someone who is less able than we are. Jesus gave us a hint of what this behavioural change means. In Matthew 5:41, Jesus said “If you are sued in court and your shirt is taken from you, give your coat, too. If a soldier demands that you carry his gear for a mile, carry it two miles.” There is something counter-cultural here, something that highlights the difference between the two domains in which we live, the kingdom of darkness and the Kingdom of Light. You see, we know what we do but living in the light brings in another dimension – we then know why we do it. Paul wrote in his Colossians epistle, “Work willingly at whatever you do, as though you were working for the Lord rather than for people.” (‭‭Colossians‬ ‭3:23‬ ‭NLT‬‬).

To live in the light is not an option for devoted Christians, but we don’t have to stress and strain to make “only what is good and right and true“ happen. Just by living close to God will produce a refining of our characters. Imagine a new Christian venturing forth on his pilgrimage, still wearing his old clothes. But amazingly, step by step, the old is replaced, thread by thread, by the new. The change is so gradual that we will probably not be aware of it, but those around us will start to see a royal priest emerge, like a butterfly from a chrysalis. Something of beauty rising from the ashes of the mundane. All due to our wonderful Heavenly Father, illuminating our lives with His presence. 

Empty Words

“Let no-one deceive you with empty words, for because of such things God’s wrath comes on those who are disobedient. Therefore do not be partners with them.”
Ephesians‬ ‭5:6-7‬ ‭NIVUK‬‬

What is an “empty word”? The word “empty” would imply nothingness. So an empty glass is devoid of anything, except for air of course. But regarding words, I can remember some years ago, we had a laugh in the office about a literary device consisting of a number of columns, each containing words or phrases. If a word or phrase was taken from each column at random and strung together to form a sentence, the result was grammatically correct but had no meaning. Gobbledegook. Sometimes our politicians are guilty of “empty words“. One such example is the frequently used and often meaningless phrase, “lessons will be learned”.  But perhaps I’m just feeling a bit cynical today.

In the Epistle of James, we find the following verse, “Suppose you see a brother or sister who has no food or clothing, and you say, “Good-bye and have a good day; stay warm and eat well”—but then you don’t give that person any food or clothing. What good does that do?” (James 2:25-16 NLT). Was James writing about the problem of empty words? Did the phrase “Good-bye and have a good day; stay warm and eat well” fall into the category of empty words?

But “empty words” can be deceptive, according to Paul. In Paul’s day there was a danger that people could fall into error, because there was no Canon of Scripture to provide New Covenant guidance. That came a few hundred years later. Of course there were various Epistles but Godly information was often lacking, heavily dependant on word of mouth, and movements such as the Gnostics, sprung up with their equivalent of “empty words“. Even today, it is possible to fall victim of false teaching – it is very easy to be plausible in what we say, allowing subtle shifts in emphasis to divert us from the purity of the Gospel. And before we know it we are into “empty words” territory. In Acts 17:11, we read “And the people of Berea were more open-minded than those in Thessalonica, and they listened eagerly to Paul’s message. They searched the Scriptures day after day to see if Paul and Silas were teaching the truth.” This is the key – if what someone is saying cannot be backed up by Scripture then what they are saying can be “empty words“. Over the years I have been a Christian, I have heard messages from the pulpit that don’t sit easily with me. Not often, I should say, but the result is that I seek the counsel of the Bible and of other trusted Christians, and discard or at least ignore, messages that are in danger of being deceptive.

God takes a dim view of erroneous or meaningless words. Words that would seek to divert His children away from the purity of His ways. The Psalmist expressed the situation well in Psalm 24:3-4 (ESV), “Who shall ascend the hill of the Lord? And who shall stand in his holy place? He who has clean hands and a pure heart, who does not lift up his soul to what is false and does not swear deceitfully.” The word “false” implies that we have access to the truth, and, of course, we do. 

In the nineteenth century two cults sprang up, both claiming that through the revelation given to their founders they were the true Christian church. I am of course writing here about the Mormon and Jehovah Witness churches. Their beliefs challenge the basic tenets of the Christian faith – for example, the Jehovah Witnesses do not believe that Jesus is the Son of God, in spite of the Scriptural references to the contrary. I would suggest that what Paul was writing about in this verse was a warning to all who would try to add or subtract something from the purity of our faith. As pilgrims we need to be constantly on our guard, resisting the devil’s ploys, never deviating from the path before us, even though the “empty words” coming from those around us sound so good and plausible.