Robert R. McLaughlin Bible Ministries
The Tree of Life is a weekly teaching summary.
From the week ending 8/29/04
Spiritual Metabolism.
Jeremiah 15:16

As we continue our verse-by-verse study of the book of Philippians, we have now covered PHI 4:8 in detail. Our corrected translation reads: “From now on, members of the Royal Family of God, whatever is true [doctrinal], whatever is honorable [noble or worthy of respect], whatever is just [fair and right], whatever is pure [of proper motivation], whatever personal loves exist, whatever is commendable, if there is any virtue [and there is], and if anything worthy of praise [and there is], be concentrating on these things.” We are now ready for PHI 4:9.

PHI 4:9 The things you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, practice these things; and the God of peace shall be with you.

In verses 9-10, we will see the true means of spiritual advance-the function of perception, metabolization, and application of Bible doctrine. Once doctrine becomes your number one priority, you must then find the place where doctrine is taught. In order for doctrine to be taught correctly and accurately there must be two factors-a right pastor and a right congregation; they must meet on a common meeting ground, the classroom of the local church. In verse 9, we will see the congregation, and in verse 10, the pastor.

In PHI 4:9 the phrase “the things” is the Greek relative pronoun ha’, which refers to doctrine. It refers literally to the doctrines, principles, concepts, and policies of God, preserved in the canon of scripture. These are the doctrines that have been transferred from the Bible to the hearts of believers through the function of perception, metabolization, and application of Bible doctrine. After the relative pronoun ha’ comes the conjunction kai, and since this word is used twice in the sentence, it should be translated “also.”

PHI 4:9 These things [doctrinal principles] also you have learned&ldots;

The Greek verb for “have learned” is emathete, meaning to learn from someone who has the authority to teach, to learn under strict academic discipline. It has many other meanings such as to increase one’s knowledge, be increased in knowledge, and to learn by examination or observation. It also means to learn by use and practice, to acquire the habit of something, and to be accustomed to something. The mature believer has learned the things mentioned in this epistle that Paul has been teaching.

Traditional forms of education do not prepare people to deal with the issues of the day. Those with a high IQ and an impressive educational background often do not have the answers to life’s problems, because those answers are found only in the pages of God’s Word. Emathete means “disciples,” an old English word for a person learning doctrine under discipline. The twelve disciples were under the Lord’s discipline; some of them were weirdo’s, and one of them was an unbeliever, but they were under His authority and they were under strict discipline. Therefore, no pastor should ever be shocked with the kind of students sitting in his congregation. After years of faithful Bible teaching, every congregation will have personalities like these:

” Peter – impulsive
” Andrew – open minded
” James – fanatical
” John – passionate
” Philip – inquisitive
” Bartholomew – composed
” Matthew – humble
” Thomas – pessimistic
” James – quiet
” Simon the Zealot – strong-willed
” Judas, the son of James – intense
” Judas Iscariot – the traitor

We should never be shocked at the different types of individuals in any local assembly. This is why the Bible warns us against those who subtly and quietly sow discord and spread strife among brothers, PRO 6:19.

PHI 4:9 These things [these doctrinal principles] also you have learned [from a teacher, under strict academic discipline] and received&ldots;

“Received” is the Greek verb paralambano; para means beside or by the side of, and lambano means to take or receive to one’s side, to take or to receive to one’s self. This word implies agreement and approval, and therefore acceptance, and is correctly translated here to receive, or to accept. It reveals the difference between gnosis (knowledge) and epignosis (metabolization of gnosis, resulting in wisdom).

 Gnosis means academic knowledge, and it refers to knowledge in the left lobe of the soul, which is called the nous (the mind) in the Greek New Testament. Epignosis means metabolized doctrine, and it refers to doctrine in the right lobe of the soul, called the kardia (the heart).

 Just as the physical heart processes the blood, so the right lobe processes knowledge, doctrinal information. It is one thing for a believer to know doctrine, but it is another thing entirely to truly understand it and have it ready for use at any time. Knowing is never enough; before you can grow in doctrine, you must understand it. In other words, you cannot grow from what you know; you can only grow from what you truly understand. You can only apply what you understand, and you can only teach what you understand.

Understanding is epignosis; knowledge is simply gnosis. Gnosis is the staging area, but it is not the utilization of doctrine. Some doctrinal believers can “parrot back” certain things they have heard, but this does mean they have any understanding. It is when we receive epignosis doctrine in the right lobe that we are understanding it and using it.

The Doctrine of Spiritual Metabolism

Point 1: Definitions.

1. Metabolism is defined the system of physical and chemical processes occurring within a living cell or organism that are necessary for the maintenance of life.

2. In metabolism, some substances are broken down to yield energy for vital processes, while other substances that are necessary for life are produced.

3. Metabolism is the chemical changes in living cells by which energy is provided for vital processes and activities. Through the metabolism of food and oxygen, new material is assimilated to repair waste material in living cells.

4. Metabolism refers to both intake and absorption of food, as well as the process of respiration by which oxygen is made available to tissues for the multiple chemical transformations needed for the physical body to function properly.

We do not earn or deserve this process taking place in the natural realm, nor do we earn or deserve it in the spiritual realm. It is strictly a matter of the grace of God allowing this process to work for all mankind, believers and unbelievers.

 There are two functions of metabolism in the natural realm, which have application in the spiritual realm.

1. Anabolism comes from the Greek word anabole, which refers to the process of building up, as in 2CO 10:8, “For even if I should boast somewhat further about our authority, which the Lord gave for building you up and not for destroying you, I shall not be put to shame.”

2. Catabolism comes from the Greek word katabole, which refers to the process of tearing down, as in 2TI 4:2, “Preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort, with great patience and instruction.”

Metabolism as a medical term includes all the body processes by which matter, either organic or inorganic, is utilized for growth, repair, and maintenance. In spiritual metabolism, we have the process by which Bible doctrine is utilized for growth, repair, and maintenance.

” For growth: 2PE 3:18, “But grow by means of the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.”

” For repair: PSA 19:7, “The doctrine of the Lord is perfect, restoring the soul.”

” For maintenance: PSA 40:11, “Thy lovingkindness and Thy truth will continually preserve me.”

The metabolic processes by which oxygen is supplied to the neurons of the brain is what enables us to think. This a fantastic analogy to the enabling power of the Holy Spirit. Physical metabolism is analogous to the different stages of perception and metabolization of Bible doctrine in operation.

To survive spiritually, we must “eat” the Word, Jer 15:16, “Thy words were found and I ate them, and Thy words became for me a joy and the delight of my heart; for I have been called by Thy name, O Lord God of hosts.” Just as in physical metabolism, the same processes take place in spiritual metabolism. In anabolism, the building-up process, doctrine provides momentum in our spiritual lives. In catabolism, the tearing-down process, doctrine tears down our flesh, providing discernment, challenging us, and destroying the human viewpoint in our lives. As we can see, metabolism is an excellent analogy to the perception and metabolization of Bible doctrine to the spiritual life.

There are two categories of metabolism in medicine. First, there is the metabolism of air, in which air is carried into the body through inhalation. Air hits the epiglottis, where it triggers the traffic system that opens the trachea and shuts off the esophagus (which leads to the stomach). Air is not metabolized in the stomach but in the lungs, therefore the esophagus is shut off. In the metabolism of air, oxygen is taken from the air and entered into the bloodstream, while carbon dioxide is exhaled. This occurs even while you sleep, because you have an involuntary respiratory center where carbon dioxide builds up in the blood and pulls the trigger, causing you to inhale air. This automatic breathing device is located in the brain stem, so that even in your sleep, the grace and protection of God is at work. And spiritual metabolism is no different, Pro 3:21-24, “My son, let them [principles of doctrine] not depart from your sight; keep sound wisdom and discretion, so they will be life to your soul, and adornment to your neck. Then you will walk in your way securely, and your foot will not stumble. When you lie down, you will not be afraid; when you lie down, your sleep will be sweet.”

Whether in the natural realm or the spiritual realm, this is all courtesy of the grace of God, for there is no talent, ability, or credit on the part of man to produce this function. It is a system provided by God and therefore a provision from the grace of God. It all began with the first mention principle in GEN 2:7, “Then the Lord God formed man of dust from the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being.” It is the breath of God that created this function in man.

Just as physical metabolism is non-meritorious, so is the metabolization of Bible doctrine; faith is a non-meritorious system of perception. This is why the Bible says in 2TI 3:16, “All Scripture is God-breathed and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness”; and in EPH 4:23, “That you be renewed by means of the breathing of your soul.”

 When a person takes a deep breath, he can inhale as much as 300 CC’s of air. With maximum effort, he can exhale about half of this (150 CC’s). What remains in his lungs is called “residual oxygen,” i.e., metabolized air. In the spiritual analogy, there is always a certain amount of doctrine you hear that is not immediately metabolized at the time you hear it. You can only take in so much information at a time, which is why doctrines have to be repeated. So, the metabolism of air is analogous to the enabling power of God the Holy Spirit inside the predesigned plan of God, metabolizing doctrine in our souls. Just as the Holy Spirit metabolized the gnosis gospel you heard, so He metabolizes the gnosis doctrine you learn.

Perception of doctrine is the function of the believer in his own mentality with the help of his mentor God the Holy Spirit, but the metabolizing of that doctrine is the function of the enabling power of the Holy Spirit. Grace is involved in both air and food metabolism just as grace is involved in spiritual metabolism. Oxygen and other gases reside in stable form in the atmosphere around us, which is analogous to logistical and undeserved grace.

In the metabolism of food, food enters the mouth and hits the epiglottis. This time the traffic signal closes the trachea, and the esophagus is opened and food enters the stomach. In the stomach, sugar is broken down into various materials necessary for sustaining energy in life, such as glucose, fructose, and dextrose, and these travel to the brain and provide energy for the brain to print out information on the neurons. And this is all grace.

 Metabolism is the sum total of the process in the building up of protoplasm and its destruction, necessary to sustain life. It is the chemical changes in living cells by which energy is provided for vital processes and activities, and new materials are assimilated to repair waste material. Like a good doctrinal sermon, food on the table can be prepared magnificently. But the food on the table must be eaten and metabolized to sustain life and create energy.

For a more detailed study, order tapes 0190-1201 to 0190-1204.

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