I, therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you to walk worthy of the calling with which you were called.
Thanks be to God who always leads me on from place to place in the train of His triumph to celebrate His victory over the enemies of Christ.
2 Corinthians 2:14 (Conybeare)
What an amazing conception of himself – was this label Paul adopted personally: “The Prisoner of the Lord” – a Captive of Christ. Paul was not a reluctant prisoner nor was he press-ganged into service. His was a life that willingly and cheerfully walked the way of the cross. He was not captive to jail or jailer; dungeon or detention; Caesar or Rome. His captivity was God’s foreseen and foreordained purpose and divine plan. His body may have been in chains, but his spirit was in heavenly places. He may have been under lock and key, but he boasted the truest liberty of all. For in all situations he lived and worked and had his being in the Spirit of God.
Living in spirit and truth does not limit, but multiples spiritual effectiveness, and Paul was able to say in all situations: “I am content..” even in incarceration. I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content. Phil.4:11 Paul is the most astonishing example of a man that was utterly dependent on God, He is an example and sign that his life was not his own, but hid with Christ in God. Both his physical body and inner being depended on the quickening of the Spirit. The Spirit of Life that raised Jesus from the dead, was Paul’s total dynamism.
This prisoner of the Lord had no life of his own – the sentence of death was on him. The enemy sought to destroy him at every step but he was energised by the risen Lord. His life becomes the typical example.. of those prepared to be prisoners of God. Trials; tribulations; distresses and death will shadow all who follow this path. Indeed, it seems that all whom the Lord uses greatly, must shadow this standard.
But there are guiding principles for all who willingly become – prisoner of Christ. And over and again Paul points out the dark and difficult way – is by death to self. So much has been written of Paul’s amazing intellect; powers and purposefulness. No-one but a man like Paul could have walked this painful path through life – yet Paul himself would vehemently argue that all his strength was drawn from above.
He of all men would discriminate between man’s reason and God’s revelation. He of all disciples would distinguish between man’s reasoning and God’s wisdom. He of all apostles would cry out – it was not he that worked but Christ working in Him. He is the one that penned: I can do all things through Christ Who strengthens me.” He is the one that wrote: It is not I that live but Christ that lives me.” He is the one that cried: "If God be for me who can be against me.”
God is no respecter of persons and He will work through all willing captives. The one that is prepared to adopt Paul’s attitude will be used mightily of God. Paul demonstrated through his life a total abandonment to the Lord. Revelation only came as human reason and self-reliance was unreservedly rejected.
Paul established the only principle, upon which the prisoner of Christ can stand – complete and utter imprisonment and abandonment to the Lord Jesus and His will.. so that every word that is spoken – is as from Him.. so that every step taken is guided from above – so that every undertaking shall be out from Him and not of ourselves.
This is not the path for one that is fearful of the uncertain future. This is only for the one that is prepared to live each day in utter reliance upon Him, no matter what the circumstances – no matter how dark the way ahead. This is not the route for the one that is discouraged by mountainous problems. This is the course for one that is prepared to take God literally at His Word – no matter what storms are brewing – however hard the path may be.
God’s will, God’s plans, and God’s purposes will be carried out to completion. If we are not willing to be His prisoner, He will find other willing captives, He will enlist another one who will trust Him entirely and follow Him completely. But we must beware, lest the challenge thrown at Esther – is levelled at us, for who knows whether we have been called to the kingdom for such a time as this?”
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