Posted: July 28, 2006
A Study of Positional Truths
Our IN CHRIST study
takes us this week to the book of Philemon. It is here that Paul deals
with a very touchy subject. The subject is that of a runaway slave who
robbed his master and has now been gloriously saved. He wants to return
and make restitution.
It is in this book that
Paul uses three IN CHRIST phrases in verses 6, 8, and 23, which say,
communication of thy faith may become effectual by the acknowledging of
every good thing which is in you IN CHRIST JESUS. Wherefore, though I
might be much bold IN CHRIST to enjoin thee that which is convenient,
There salute thee Epaphras, my fellow-prisoner IN CHRIST JESUS.”
Paul uses the
sandwich technique here to present these touchy truths. In verses 6 and
23 there are blessed thoughts for Philemon the reader, but sandwiched
between in verse 8 is the touchy subject of Onesimus the run away slave.
In verse 6 Paul commends
Philemon for his effectual communication of his faith. He reminds
Philemon every good thing has come from being IN CHRIST. Many believe
Philemon was saved through Paul’s ministry. The church at Colosse
started and met in Philemon’s home.
He reminds him in verse
7 how often he has refreshed other believers by his Christian life so
boldly lived out.
In verse 23 Paul
mentions Epaphras, one probably well known to Philemon, who is now a
fellow-prisoner with Paul in Rome. Paul began this book reminding
Philemon in verse 1 that we are all prisoners of Christ, if we, are IN
HIM. We are not our own but we have been bought with a price.
Paul says in verse 8 he
comes in the boldness of love to deal with a touchy subject. In verse
10 he lays it on the table when he says, Onesimus robbed you and ran
away to Rome where he got saved and now wants to make restitution.
In laying Onesimus’ case
for forgiveness before Philemon Paul brings up for great truth before
his readers. The first is mentioned in verse 11, which is
TRANSFORMATION. It is here Paul plays on Onesimus’ name, which
means unprofitable. Paul says he has been transformed and is now
profitable. What assurance the radical change in the life of a
believer gives. In verse 18 Paul brings up the truth of IMPUTATION.
Paul tells Philemon whatever Onesimus owes you put it on Paul’s
account. So it was in my salvation that Jesus took my sin and imputed
His righteousness to me. Jesus became all that I was that I might be
made all that He is. In one of my favorite Tom Haye’s songs he sings
Christ said, ‘Put that on my account…and settled all the debt…my sins
where oh so much…but when placed on Christ’ account…it settled all the
In verse 19 Paul brings
up the truth of MEMORIZATION. Paul reminds Philemon he owes his
own spiritual life to Paul’s faithfulness to tell the story of the
In verse 21 Paul brings
up the truth of SANCTIFICATION. Because of Philemon’s growth in
Christ Paul is confident that he will do more than he asks.
How can the redeemed of
Christ do less than forgive those who have offended us? They could
never offend us as much as we have offended Christ and yet He forgave us
all our sins!