Introduction: Do you view living the Christian life as a
struggle? Your struggle? My experience reveals what I see as
two errors. On the one side are those who live in a free
market economy and have learned that working harder and
smarter is the key to success. They import that thinking
into their relationship with God. They believe that hard,
smart work brings them closer to God. The error on the other
side is that righteousness by faith alone is understood to
mean that we simply drift through our Christian life. A
carelessness about service and behavior is fine because we
have nothing to do with our salvation. Where does the line
of truth lie? Let’s dive into our study of the Bible and see
what we can learn on this subject!

I. The Nature of Our Toil

A. Read Colossians 1:18-20. What is the dispute that
needed to be reconciled? And, how did Jesus take
that conflict and make peace? (The conflict was
between the perfect holiness of God and the
sinfulness of humans. Jesus brought peace by His
death on the cross.)

B. Read Colossians 1:21-22. We started out with a
hostile mind and evil deeds. How did we become
“blameless and above reproach before Him?” (By
what Jesus did (His death) and not what we did.)

C. Read Colossians 1:23. Have we no role in this
reconciliation? (We do have a role. We must
“continue in the faith … not shifting from the
hope of the gospel.” We are also told to be
“stable and steadfast.”)

1. Is this like succeeding in our job?

2. What is the “hope of the gospel?” (That Jesus
gave us the gift of eternal life. It is not
like succeeding in our job.)

D. Read Colossians 1:24. Paul tells us that he is
suffering in his “flesh.” To whom does Paul
compare himself? (Jesus. Paul suggests that He is
suffering things that Satan did not get around to
inflicting on Jesus.)

1. Does Paul think that he is saving us by his
suffering? (He says that his afflictions are
“for the sake of his body, that is, the
church.” Thus, Paul believes that he is adding
to what Jesus has done for us.)

a. How can that be? Paul is not God. He
cannot claim the role of Jesus. (Recall a
point we have been learning about
suffering. Job suffered because of the
conflict between good and evil. He
brought glory to God. We also saw that
was true for Jesus’ disciples. That, I
believe, is the point Paul is making
here. His suffering at the hands of Satan
is giving us an example of what is
possible in the war brought by Satan.)

E. Read Colossians 1:25-26. What is Paul’s work? (To
make known this “mystery” that Jesus has come to
give us salvation.)

1. Read Ephesians 3:4-5. What does this tell us
is the mystery? And what is the role of the
disciples in that mystery? (That God became
human to save us from sin. The disciples
shared that message.)

F. Read Colossians 1:27-28. What new knowledge is now
being opened to the Gentiles? (Their hope in
Jesus. Jesus living in us gives us “the hope of

G. Read Colossians 1:29. Paul says that his “toil” is
what he has just laid out for us. What is a fair
description of Paul’s toil? Is it struggling to
obey the law? Is it struggling to succeed as a
Christian? (No! Paul says that he deals with
suffering (like Jesus), and his work is to share
the mystery of the gospel – what Jesus has done
for us.)

1. Based on what Paul has described, what should
be the nature of our work as Christians? (To
share the gospel. To declare the mystery of
how Jesus provides salvation for sinners. To
realize that suffering comes from Satan and
sin. Some of that suffering comes our way
because we are followers of Jesus.)

II. The Role of the Holy Spirit

A. Read John 16:7. What advantage does Jesus find in
His leaving the disciples? (That they will have a
new “Helper.”)

B. Let’s solve the mystery about this “Helper.” Read
John 16:13. Who is this “Helper?” (The Holy
Spirit. The Spirit of truth.)

C. Read John 16:8-11. What is the role of the Holy
Spirit? (To convict the world of sin and

1. Let’s consider a very important question. Have
you been given the same job as the Holy
Spirit? Is this part of your toil? (I think
our job is to share about Jesus and the Holy
Spirit. But, it seems logical that we should
not claim the job of either Jesus or the Holy
Spirit. We should not claim that we have the
power to reconcile others to God and we should
not claim the power to convict others of sin.)

2. What does this say about our own life? Can we
through hard work and diligence turn away from

3. When John 16:8 tells us that the Holy Spirit
“convicts the world concerning sin,” what is
the purpose of that conviction?

a. Would it be logical to answer, “So I can
turn away from sin?”

b. Would it be logical to answer, “So I can
rely on what Jesus has done for me?

c. Is something in between logical?

D. Read John 16:12-15. Notice that the work of the
Holy Spirit is to “guide” and “declare.” When we
add this to the point that we just discussed about
“conviction,” what does this suggest is an
appropriate response from us? (We follow a guide.
When our guide declares truth and our minds are
convicted that we need to change, it seems logical
that we need to follow our conviction.)

III. The Proper Perspective

A. Read 1 Peter 1:3-5. How are we saved? (By faith in
what Jesus has done for us.)

1. What keeps us in that salvation? (We are
“being guarded through faith.”)

B. Read 1 Peter 1:6. Why would a trial be

C. Read 1 Peter 1:7. Is this the text that I have
been looking for – the one that says suffering
refines us? (This says suffering tests our faith.
Our faith is like gold. Our gold faith might
disappear in fire.)

1. What should be the outcome of the trial? (That
we give praise, glory, and honor to Jesus.
This is like Job and the disciples. Trials
tested them. The trials did not separate them
from God, they brought glory to God.)

D. Notice the order of things so far. We are saved by
faith in Jesus. That faith may be subjected to
testing by trial. Read 1 Peter 1:13-16. What does
salvation by faith alone call us to do? (Be holy
as God is holy, rather than being “conformed to
the passions of your former ignorance.”)

1. What does “ignorance” have to do with this?
How is it relevant? (The Holy Spirit convicts
you that following the path of sin is harmful
to you and harmful to God’s reputation. You do
not want to harm yourself or your God.)

E. Read 1 Peter 1:17-19. This text says that we are
“ransomed” by the blood of Christ. But, it also
says that God impartially judges us according to
our “deeds.” Is Peter saying things that are in
conflict? If not, how would you reconcile them?
(We are not saved by our good works. We are saved
by our faith. But, in this series about suffering
what did we decide is Satan’s reason to bring
suffering? It is to separate us from God. That
tells us that separation is possible. God will
judge whether we are faithful to Him. With the
guidance of the Holy Spirit we can see what
promotes God and what does not. I think it is on
that point that our deeds make a difference for
the judgment. Our deeds do not save us. They
merely reveal whether we have chosen to separate
from God.)

F. Friend, does this help you see the path of truth?
Salvation is not like a business, that if you work
hard and smart you will succeed. Jesus is the one
who offers salvation as a free gift. At the same
time someone who genuinely believes in Jesus, and
relies on His death to satisfy the obligations of
the law, understands that we must make choices to
advance the Kingdom of God. Will you, by the power
of the Holy Spirit, determine to make those right

IV. Next week: Indestructible Hope.

Copr. 2022, Bruce N. Cameron, J.D. Scripture quotations are
from the ESV Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard
Version ), copyright 2001 by Crossway, a publishing
ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All
rights reserved. Suggested answers are found within
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but it is lost one week, you can find it by clicking on this
link: Pray for the guidance of the
Holy Spirit as you study.