Summary: Paul said in Gal 2.20 that the life he lived Christ lived in him. He was telling us that we are to allow the Holy Spirit to incarnate Jesus' life in us. Our life is not our own it was bought with a price. If Jesus is living in us then His life should b

Intro: Jesus came into the world at a time similar to ours. The social setting was very complex due to the conflicting religions and philosophies of the day. This led to a very pluralistic social structure in which you could justify anything in the name of a personal god (small g).

In other words there was no one truth there was no philosophy or religion that could practically and eternally explain life. There was no absolute moral standard or truth. What’s right for me doesn’t have to be what’s right for you.

What you find with historical biblical Christianity it met the challenges of explaining life. Then and now the claim we make is that when you experience Christ a new way of thinking and new way of acting come out of this life changing experience. In the 1st and 2nd centuries everywhere Christ followers spread a sense of morality and social justice followed.

We find that what we as followers of Christ are called to do is incarnate, put flesh on the person, principles, and truths of God found in Jesus Christ.

Paul said it this way in Galatians 2.20I have been crucified with Christ; 20 and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the flesh, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.

I like the way the message says it, I identified myself completely with him. Indeed, I have been crucified with Christ. My ego is no longer central. It is no longer important that I appear righteous before you or have your good opinion, and I am no longer driven to impress God. Christ lives in me. The life you see me living is not "mine," but it is lived by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me

When you trust Christ God identifies you with Christ crucified, Christ resurrected, and Christ ascended so as Paul said it is not my life. I no longer live but the Holy Spirit is putting the life of Jesus in my flesh. When we surrender to the direction and leadership of the Holy Spirit the life of Jesus His attitudes, actions, are incarnated in our life.

One of the most needed yet possibly most difficult to put flesh on in the church in the body of believers is forgiveness. Forgiveness is faith that goes beyond formality. Forgiveness is love that costs. God did not save us by His. God loves the world and the world remains unsaved. God’s grace saves you and me. Forgiveness is then faith that goes beyond formality and love that costs.

For the next few weeks we will look at the little epistle called Philemon. In it Paul encourages Philemon and us to put flesh on our lives by practicing forgiveness. In Philemon 1.4-7 Paul says “Every time your name comes up in my prayers, I say, "Oh, thank you, God!" I keep hearing of the love and faith you have for the Master Jesus, which brims over to other believers. And I keep praying that this faith we hold in common keeps showing up in the good things we do, and that people recognize Christ in all of it.”

Paul’s letter to Philemon is a request for him and us to put flesh on our faith. It is encouragement to incarnate forgiveness in our life as believers. In this broken world with broken relationships the one place that people should be able to experience forgiveness is in the fellowship of the redeemed.

First why should Philemon or we incarnate or put flesh on forgiveness? Colossians 1.13 “accepting one another and forgiving one another if anyone has a complaint against another. Just as the Lord has forgiven you, so also you must [forgive].”

I. The background of Philemon

How could Paul have formed a relationship with Philemon if he had not visited the church at Colossai? We look to acts 19.1-8 and find that Paul taught for three months in the synagogue at Ephesus. After this time Paul met some resistance and rented a lecture hall and taught about the forgiveness and love of God in Christ. It says that Paul taught there for two years and all the Jews and Greeks in the province of Asia heard the word of the Lord.

So it is believed that Philemon heard the Gospel and received Christ at this time.

Philemon took Paul’s message of forgiveness in Christ back to Colassai. He most probably shared it with Apphia and Archipus who are believed to be the wife and son of Philemon. We know this because of the personal nature of the letter and their inclusion in Paul’s challenge to lovingly forgive Onesimus.

Philemon – Probably rich slave owner. He also had a house that was used for the church to meet. Philemon had at least one slave Onesimus. Wife Apphia, son Archippus.

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