And he is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn for the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent. – Colossians 1:18
If the body of Christ in it’s local expression… is in anyway disconnected from the head, is in any way doing anything other than submitting to the headship of Christ, then it will become apparent in:
1. It doesn’t move easily or with confidence and authority in ministering with relevance to godless world.
Disconnected from the head, you will not speak freely and relevantly and impactfully to your pagan friends and neighbors because you’ve lost the connection necessary.
2. Such a church will constantly display a frustration at a gap of what it should be doing and what it is actually doing.
3. It will seem to take forever to respond to and complete even the most straightforward of tasks.
Sometimes I wonder, why does it take so long to get anything done around here. If this was any other place, this thing would be bankrupt, you know. What is going on here? Well it’s not the only answer, but one of the answers is that there’s a disconnection, you see. The information is not flowing from the head in a way that it needs to flow.
4. The communication of such a fellowship will often be vague and jumbled. No one will actually know what it’s saying or even if it’s saying anything at all. And after any unusual exertion, it will be exhausted and protest that it needs time to be given to it to recover.
Now all of this is a failure on the part of the body to submit to the head.
It would be nice somehow or another if we could go in and then give a variety of explanations as to why the body and the head would be disconnected. There is never any possibility of disconnection from the head to the body in relationship to the headship of Christ. Therefore, it is all from here to there and it is all addressed in one simple word – sin. If I am disconnected from the headship of Christ the answer is sin. If you doubt that, read your Bible.
When you think of the word sin, most of us are so familiar with it we say “Sin… what is sin?” First of all, sin is not a deed, it is a condition. It’s a state of being. It’s a mentality. It’s an approach to things. But it expresses itself in a variety of different ways, and that is why in the New Testament we are given all kinds of words to indicate the nature of sin:
1. hamartia (English transliteration) – it’s a shooting term, from archery. We’re familiar with it. We know it to be that missing the mark. We all fall short of the glory of God. We miss the mark. We know we are not what we ought to be. Sin.
2. parabasis (Eng. transliteration) – it means to step across the line. Those of you who fought your friends at school and then made up very quickly will remember those times on the playground when some character determined that he would dare you to step across the line. And then he made a line, often drawing it in the dirt with his foot, and he says I dare you to step across it. And ever so often we were foolish enough to step across it and we live with the consequences as we clutched our noses and ran home to tell our mothers about the evil that had been done to us. But we stepped across it deliberately, intentionally, premeditatively. Listen, and listen real carefully – when you and I look at the instruction of the headship of Christ straight-on, when we understand where the lines are drawn and we say, “I know I shouldn’t say this, I know I shouldn’t do this, I know I shouldn’t be there,” and we say it, do it, and go there, then we engage in willful sin and the idea of being able to enjoy the full flow of the communion and guidance and growth of the headship of Christ simultaneous with that is a feat uncountenanced in the whole Bible. Anybody stepping over the line willfully?
3. paraptoma (Eng. translit.) – means to slip across the line. This is something that is impulsive, it is unpremeditated, it is unintentional. We find ourselves saying, “I have no idea why I did that. I didn’t mean to say that. I didn’t want to do that.” And we didn’t.
4. anomia (nomos – Greek for law, a – the prefix as in anomoly) – lawlessness. I’ll do what it want. I’ll think what I want. I’ll go where I want. Just total rebellion.
5. opheilema – a debt. When I fail to give God and other people what is their due.
Now do you understand this? It is very simple, isn’t it? If there is any disconnection between the head and the body, it is a result of sin. Sin that works its way out in my life in lawlessness, in stepping over the line, in slipping over the line, in incurring a debt to God that should be dealt with as I come to him in confession. And you can’t take the cumulative impact of that amongst the company of God’s people and expect that the power of the Spirit of God will be pulsing throughout the body you see. That’s why our sins as individuals are not individual sins, for none of us sins to ourselves no more than we live to ourselves or we die to ourselves but we live and die to the Lord and we sin and it impacts everybody else.
Alistair Begg, “exert from sermon “Who’s in Charge of the Church?“, October 22, 2000.