1 Corinthians 12:3b (ESV)
No one can say “Jesus is Lord” except in the Holy Spirit.
The New Testament consistently describes confessing Christ as the declaration of His lordship. Unfortunately, the Greek words translated as “Jesus is Lord” leave some questions unanswered.
The Greek in 1 Corinthians 12:3b doesn’t exactly match the Greek in Romans 10:9, though virtually all English translations render both as “Jesus is Lord.”
But do they mean “Jesus is the Lord,” or, “Jesus is my Lord”?
The Greek has the sense of “Jesus is my Lord,” especially in Romans 10:9. Any other interpretation wouldn’t make sense anyway, given what’s in the rest of the New Testament. For example, even demons know that Jesus is the Lord.
And immediately there was in their synagogue a man with an unclean spirit. And he cried out, “What have you to do with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are—the Holy One of God.” But Jesus rebuked him, saying, “Be silent, and come out of him!” And the unclean spirit, convulsing him and crying out with a loud voice, came out of him. — Mark 1:23–26 (ESV)
You believe that God is one; you do well. Even the demons believe—and shudder! — James 2:19 (ESV)
So, it’s more precise to confess Christ by saying, “Jesus is my Lord,” though feel free to say it any way you like. There’s no need to split hairs, as long as it’s clear in your mind what you mean.
Another question is, “What do you mean by Lord?”
Lord means absolute king-boss 24/7. Lord means more than boss because He rules over more than just your work week. Lord means more than king because His rule is in every nook and cranny of your world. No moment is excluded from his rule. No place is out from under Him.
But it’s even more than that. Jesus’s lordship is more than any earthly relationship because it’s over every aspect of your life—the invisible as well as the visible. Jesus is Lord even over your thoughts.
“But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” — Matthew 5:28 (ESV)
Pledging fealty to Jesus is a huge commitment, one that grows over your whole life. It’s not that you get more serious about the pledge (though you might); it’s that you get better at it. It can be hard to know what Christ wants us to do. That puts a dent in how vigorously we pursue things.
But even when His will is obvious, we don’t always do what Christ wants us to do. That’s scary.
If your boss tells you to do something and you don’t do it, is he really your boss?
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