OCCUPATION WITH THE PERSON OF CHRIST
Rev. Thomas Tyree, Jr., Pastor, Grace Bible Church of Costa Mesa, California
Copyright © 1995-2014 Rev. Thomas Tyree, Jr., All Rights Reserved
Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart. (Hebrews 12:2-3)
One of the greatest components of the fellowship sphere for time (i.e., the Christian way of life or the spiritual life) is occupation with the person of Christ. It is wonderful to realize that we can enter into a personal love relationship with God. We, as Christians, can achieve this spiritually mature status by maintaining our filling of the Holy Spirit and learning the Word of God and applying the believed Bible doctrine to our lives on a daily basis. The result is consistent spiritual growth. Remember, all functions available to the Church Age believer within the Fellowship Sphere for Time are provided by God the Holy Spirit. They are all purely grace functions all the way!
The Believers Greatest Enemy in Developing Personal Love Toward God
The greatest enemy keeping the believer from developing a personal love relationship toward God the Father and resulting occupation with Jesus Christ is mental attitude sin. These mental attitude sins are the result of living our lives out of fellowship with God and functioning under the control of the Old Sin Nature. This Old Sin Nature control of the soul frustrates any spiritual thoughts as seen in 2 Corinthians 10:5. The three ways we can tell when we are not occupied with Christ are gleaned from Proverbs 6:16-19. These three ways are the sins of the mind, the sins of the tongue, and various sins of overt behavior. The greatest enemy is the sins of the mind which can involve self-pity, having our eyes on arrogant self, having our eyes on others, and being motivated from the lust pattern of the Old Sin Nature.
We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ. (2 Corinthians 10:5)
There are six things the LORD hates, seven that are detestable to him: haughty eyes, a lying tongue, hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that devises wicked schemes, feet that are quick to rush into evil, a false witness who pours out lies and a man who stirs up dissension among brothers. (Proverbs 6:16-19)
Four Components of the Fellowship Sphere for Time That Contribute to Occupation with Christ
The four components of the fellowship sphere for time which greatly contribute to our occupation with the Lord Jesus Christ are: 1) confession-repentance of sin as in 1 John 1:9; 2) the filling of the Holy Spirit as seen in Ephesians 5:18; 3) the faith-rest life as per Hebrews 4:1-2; and 4) understanding the importance of divine truth and living daily within God's Word. Occupation with the person of Christ constitutes a pre-disposition of mind that sees all of life from the divine viewpoint. This is the great application of keeping our eyes on the Lord and not self, circumstances, things, and definitely not other people!
If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. (1 John 1:9)
may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, (Ephesians 3:18)
Therefore, since the promise of entering his rest still stands, let us be careful that none of you be found to have fallen short of it. For we also have had the gospel preached to us, just as they did; but the message they heard was of no value to them, because those who heard did not combine it with faith. (Hebrews 4:1-2)
Occupation with Christ Is the Highest Spiritual Function for the Christian
Occupation with Jesus Christ is much more important than loving people, dogs, cats, or good scenery. It is based on that wonderful motivational virtue of a personal love relationship with God under which the mature believer, with Bible truth metabolized in his soul, is capable of appreciating, respecting, and loving the Lord Jesus Christ. Since our Lord Jesus Christ is the only manifest person of the Godhead, occupation with Him constitutes maximum love toward the second person of the Trinity. Therefore, occupation with Christ is the maximum expression of personal love toward God as stated in Deuteronomy 6:5. Maximum Bible truth resident in our souls gives each of us the capacity for love in many wonderful directions. Once you begin to know the Lord Jesus Christ through His word, you begin to love Him, and in turn, you develop the capacity to love others.
Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. (Deuteronomy 6:5)
Occupation with Christ reaches a maximum when the Christian becomes spiritually mature as presented in Colossians 3:16-17.
Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom, and as you sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God. And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him. (Colossians 3:16-17)
Occupation with Christ glorifies the Lord Jesus Christ as in Ephesians 3:19-21. The mature Christian glorifies God through his personal love relationship with Him. Ephesians 3:21 states, "All generations, for ever and ever." This simply means that in every generation of the Church Age, some spiritually mature Christian is occupied with Christ - that honors and glorifies God. If you become a mature believer and keep on growing in the Christian life, this personal love relationship which glorifies Christ will go on for ever and ever. You will then glorify Him to the maximum through the blessings and rewards of eternity.
and to know this love that surpasses knowledge--that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen. (Ephesians 3:19-21)
The means of occupation with Christ is the daily intake, residency, and application of Bible truth. Consistency in the intake of the Word of God produces occupation with Jesus Christ and resultant spiritual maturity. This result is from the grace of God, not from the believers abilities. As indicated in Jeremiah 9:23-24, any boasting should be because of what God has provided as part of His grace plan for each and every one of us. He has caused us to understand His plan for us through His grace only. Ephesians 3:18-19 illustrates that the personal love for God surpasses all knowledge and causes us to be occupied with Jesus Christ.
This is what the Lord says: "Let not the wise man boast of his wisdom or the strong man boast of his strength or the rich man boast of his riches, but let him who boasts boast about this: that he understands and knows me, that I am the Lord, who exercises kindness, justice and righteousness on earth, for in these I delight," declares the Lord. (Jeremiah 9:23-24)
may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge--that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. (Ephesians 3:18-19)
Occupation with Christ eliminates the superficialities of human celebrityship as presented in Philippians 3:7-8.
But whatever was to my profit I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ (Philippians 3:7-8)
Occupation with Christ also motivates the pastor-teacher to keep teaching Bible truth so the congregation can grow and reach occupation with Christ themselves as seen in Hebrews 6:10.
God is not unjust; he will not forget your work and the love you have shown him as you have helped his people and continue to help them. (Hebrews 6:10)
Perception and metabolization of Bible truth produces the dynamics of occupation with Christ as in James 1:19-24.
My dear brothers, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, for man's anger does not bring about the righteous life that God desires. Therefore, get rid of all moral filth and the evil that is so prevalent and humbly accept the word planted in you, which can save you. Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like a man who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. (James 1:19-24)
Personal love for God is illustrated in the right man-right woman relationship as presented in Ephesians 5:22-33. Husbands should have self-sacrificing lives and love for each other - not self-centeredness or their eyes on self and what each can get from the relationship.
Wives, submit to your husbands as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything. Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. After all, no one ever hated his own body, but he feeds and cares for it, just as Christ does the church--for we are members of his body. "For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh." This is a profound mystery--but I am talking about Christ and the church. However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband. (Ephesians 5:22-33)
Occupation with Christ is related to the victory in the angelic conflict as in Colossians 3:1-2.
Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. (Colossians 3:1-2)
Some of the characteristics that the believer will exhibit when they have reached the spiritual maturity stage where maximum occupation with Christ occurs are listed below.
The mature believer contributes to the blessings given from God to his or her nation as presented in Deuteronomy 30:15-17.
See, I set before you today life and prosperity, death and destruction. For I command you today to love the Lord your God, to walk in his ways, and to keep his commands, decrees and laws; then you will live and increase, and the Lord your God will bless you in the land you are entering to possess. But if your heart turns away and you are not obedient, and if you are drawn away to bow down to other gods and worship them, (Deuteronomy 30:15-17)
Occupation with Christ produces combat courage and victory in battle as in Joshua 23:10-11.
One of you routs a thousand, because the Lord your God fights for you, just as he promised. So be very careful to love the Lord your God. (Joshua 23:10-11)
Occupation with Christ is the basis for persevering during testing per Psalm 31:23-24.
Love the Lord, all his saints! The Lord preserves the faithful, but the proud he pays back in full. Be strong and take heart, all you who hope in the Lord. (Psalm 31:23-24)
Occupation with Christ is the basis for stability of mentality and great happiness as stated in Psalm 16:8-9.
I have set the Lord always before me. Because he is at my right hand, I will not be shaken. Therefore my heart is glad and my tongue rejoices; my body also will rest secure, (Psalm 16:8-9)
Occupation with Christ results in the spiritual blessings of maturity as in Psalm 37:4-5.
Delight yourself in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the Lord; trust in him and he will do this: (Psalm 37:4-5)
Occupation with Christ is the basis for strength under pressure as seen in Hebrews 11:27.
By faith he left Egypt, not fearing the king's anger; he persevered because he saw him who is invisible. (Hebrews 11:27)
Occupation with Christ frustrates "soul fatigue and soul fainting" as presented in Hebrews 12:3.
Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart. (Hebrews 12:3)