1 Corinthians 5:1-8
This next few chapters of 1 Corinthians are dealing with some very strong correctives Paul is writing to the church. There is some sin and dysfunction among them and how they are dealing with those things is demonstrating that they are not a healthy church. The kind of things going on in Corinth go on in every church that has people in it. The issue, and our focus, is not on the sin or error itself, so much, as it is on how we are viewing and responding to those things.
in v. 1-8, Paul addresses the church's response to a man among them who is openly invovled in incest. They seem to pat themselves on the backs and feel good about the grace they display by not saying or doing anything but letting that man and his relationship be. They're even boasting about it.
Remember, Paul is not just writing this to the leaders or pastors of the church, but to the church itself. Meaning that the whole church has some pat to play in disciplining itself. If a church tolerates public and persistent sin among itself and it's members without addressing it, it is not to their credit but to their shame. Such sin, v. 6-7, indicate, if unaddressed, will spread dysfunction and destruction through the whole church.
Paul calls us back to the gospel... "for Christ our passover lamb, has been sacrificed." We are a blood bought people, belonging to Christ, purchased by his own life. Grace for guilty sinners is not to enable a life of sin. Grace for guilty sinners is to empower us to walk away from a life of sin.
Lastly, back in v. 5, Paul says that they should turn this man over to Satan for the destruction of his flesh. For the record, what he means is that they are to remove him from fellowship with God's people, and release him back into the world which is under the rule of the Devil, that he may yet come to place of conviction for his sin, where he may put his sin to death. This action is aimed at his restoration and reconciliation to God and the Church. That is the aim of church disicpline. More on this tomorrow.
v. 25 - We all carry different anxieties with us and they weigh on us all differently as well. But we all struggle with some uncertainties surrounding us and insecurities within us. And Solomon says those realities are like weight on us. Your’s may be heavy, they may be light, but any weight carried for a period of time has a depleting impact on us. Our anxieties may not be eliminated, but they can be alleviated. But notice Solomon’s prescription is not medication or therapy. His wisdom suggests that our greatest need is encouragement. Your body may benefit from the medicine and your mind may be helped by counseling, both of real value, but your heart needs is encouragement. The ministry of encouragement is one of the most needed functions of the church. We love and serve and care for one another by verbally encouragement grounded in the truth of the gospel and according to every good thing we have in Christ.
Be intentional in encouraging someone today (via text, email, phone call, face to face conversation, etc.).
1 Corinthians 5:9-13
I hope we are seeing this clearly. We are to judge one another in the church. Our collective holiness matters. Our shared pursuit of Christ matters. When not-yet-believers live in sin and immorality we should not be upset, offended or surprised. Why wouldn't they? We cannot try to hold people without Christian faith accountable to Christian morality. But we must hold our Christian borthers and sisters accountable.
Too often, we've made this mistake in the Church: we are really harsh toward unbelievers who are sinning, and really soft on Christians who are sinning. And Paul is clear that this is backwards. Again, the whole church is supposed to play a role in discipline of believers in the church. When professing Christians who belong to the church with us are living in open and unrepentant sin, it is the responsibility of their fellow church members make that an issue. How we do this matters, though Paul doesn't address that here. He is addressing the shared responsibilities we have for one another and for the whole church together to create a climate where sin and holiness are taken seriously.
Are there any not-yet-believers in your life who you have been judgemental and harsh toward? Might you need to repent to God and to them for that?
Are there any brothers or sisters who you are concerned are walking in patterns of unrepentant and open sin?
I'll put out a blog this week on how we go about addressing sin in each other's lives.
v. 13 and 20 - These two verses carry warnings that we should pay attention to. We should have some fear of living with a disregard or low regard for God’s word. And we should have some fear of having our closest friends be fools. Both cause destruction and bring harm.
Are you closest friends characterized by wisdom? Who are your closest friends that are? Should you reprioritize relationships and time spent with people based on this?
Do you love the word of God? Is your life conforming to the word of God? Or do you only take parts seriously that reinforce your personal values? Should you reprioritize your time and energy to better know and understand the word?
1 Corinthians 6:1-11
v. 1-4 We will judge the world. This means that how we handle conflict now is preparation for our responsibilities when Christ returns. We are interns today, essentially, for a job we'll have in the Kingdom. How we handle that has great signifacnce.
v. 5-8 - Apparently, the church in Corinth had a lot of disputes between people that were ending up in court. Rather than settling matters within the family of God, according to the wisdom of the Spirit and the pattern of the gospel, they were suing each other. Paul's point is clear... we have a higher authority. We have a higher law. The church has jurisdiction in the lives of her members, over and above the earthly legal system. Paul goes so far as to say that we should be willing to be defrauded (the word means to be robbed) and wronged, rather than take our dispute to a lower court with a different value system. Being part of the Kingdom of God means taking seriously the our citizenship there in every aspect of life.
I don't know a lot of poeople at Generations suing each other, but neither do I know a lot o Christians anywhere in our culture seeing themselves as primarily under the jurisdiction of the church. People see the church as a place of encouragement, community, support and spiritual growth, but not a place of authority conflict resolution and peace making. I'm not sure church leaders see their responsibilities this way or that church members see there role in one another's lives this way.
How do you see the role of the local church in your life and relationships? Do you see church as a reliable place to go work through the most complicated relational issues in your life? Why or why not?
How do you react to the fact that you are a part of the church, and being trained and raised up to judge the whole world? Does seeing yourself in that role change your mindset at all as it relates to dealing with your own conflict and the conflict of others around you?
Brothers and sisters, with the Word of God in our hands, and the Spirit of God in our hearts, we have all we need to wisely and winsomely resolve conflict in our lives and among our church body. But we must seek understanding and lean into the wisdom of God and the guidance of the Holy Spirit.
That's what v. 9-10 remind us of... we have been brought out our old ways of life. We've been redeemed from those ignorant ways of thinking and living, and God is perfecting us. We are justified before him by grace, and we're being sanctified by him through faith. And our frustrations, our irritations, our relational strife and conflict, is a part of that process. And His Spirit equips us to walk through such challenges in a redemptive way, not as adversaries but as family.
v. 2 tells us the fear of the Lord is reflected uprightness. We’ve made a big deal in our church about differentiating between the gospel and moralism. I wonder if in our warning against settling for morality, we’ve undermined the importance of morality. I read this verse this morning and thought, fearing the Lord is not all about our morality. But it certainly isn’t less than that. Christian faith produces Christ-like character. Not perfectly. But visibly.
v. 26-27 both speak of the fear of the Lord as well, saying that it leads to a “strong confidence” and a “fountain of life.” For some of us, maybe the personal benefits of fearing the Lord aren’t enough, but the Solomon mentions here that our children will be safer and more secure as well. Consider this…
What are the family benefits, the blessings our children receive from us fearing the Lord?
Do those benefits for them make fearing the Lord worth it to you?
1 Corinthians 6:12-20
v. 13 -15 - Paul is essentially taking aim at our most natural and instinctive appetites. People then, as people do now, believe and claim that God wouldn't give them such strong desires if he didn't want them to be satisfied. Paul is specifically addressing sexual immorality - which includes fornication (sex outside of marriage), adultery, the practice of homosexuality, pornography, etc. - and he's saying that just as you shouldn't feed your body with every kind and amount of food you want, neither should you indulge every sexual appetite you have. Christians are supposed to be distinct in how they conduct themselves sexually, reserving sexual intimacy for marriage between a husband and wife.
v. 16-20 - Paul distinguishes sexual sin from all other sin by the particular damage it does to our own bodies and souls. All sin separates. All sin deserves God's wrath. But not all sin is equal in it's effects. And sexual sin is particularly damaging and enslaving. There is only one right response to sexual sin... FLEE! Run as fast and far away as you can.
Unfortunately most of us look to get as close to sexual sin as we can without falling into sexual sin, and because of it's intense temptation and enticements, this usually results in our diving head long into sexual sin. Brothers and sisters, we are not to approach the flame of sexual sin and hope to not get burned. We are to distance ourselves from sexual sin as agressively as possible.
3 things to note regarding the "why" behind Paul's instructions here.
- Your body is not your own. It belongs to Christ. He purchased it with his own blood and he has authority of what you do with it.
- Your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit. Not only do you belong to Christ, but you are inhabited by Christ.
- Because of sin, your body is subject to decay, death and sinful desires. You aren't meant to satisfy every impulse your body awakens. You are meant to glorify God with every opportunity you've been given.
Question: How are you doing stewarding your body and fleeing sexual sin? Confess to the Lord and to a brother or sister where you are not walking uprightly before the Lord. That is the first step to turning away and walking away from what will ensalve and destroy you.
v. 33 suggests that fearing the Lord doesn’t just listen to instruction… it is instruction in and of itself. Fearing the Lord is itself an act and posture of humility, and it allows our awareness of God, our Christ-consciousness, to guide and instruct us. What this makes me think of us is this… even if you don’t know the Scriptures clearly and thoroughly, even if you are brand new to Christianity and you feel ignorant. Even if you are theologically disoriented still and you don’t have deep doctrinal understanding, just fearing the Lord will be sufficient to instruct you. As you grow in these other area, and pursue wisdom by these other means, the fear of the Lord is sufficient to give you wisdom and guard your ways. You need not feel discouraged or threatened or like a failure… fear the Lord and you’ll walk in wisdom and acquire still more wisdom along the way.
1 Corinthians 7:1-5
We shift our focus from sexual immorality, outside of God's intended design, to sexual intimacy within God's design, the context of marriage between one man and one woman for one lifetime.
Paul affirms in this passage, once again, that your body is not your own. In the previous verses he emphasized God's ownership of our body, and in this passage, he emphasizes that for married people, spouse's have a claim on each other's body. This is dangerous territory because of how people, men in particular, have abused this text. So let's be clear... Paul is not urging men to make unwholesome, unhealthy or unequivocal demands on their wives for sexual pleasure. Men, we do not demand pleasure from our wives, we take pleasure in our wives.
But we can't ignore what Paul is saying. This isn't so that a spouse can claim authority over their marriage partner. It's so that as a spouse you would willfully serve your marriage partner. We don't make demands husbands and wives... we surrender rights.
Sexual intimacy is not the most important part of marriage, it is to our peril to neglect that aspect of marriage. God has given sexual intimacy as a gift to nurture oneness, procreate, to enjoy and serve one another in the context of marriage. It is a means, and an important means of fostering connection in marriage. We should take it seriously.
- If there is dysfunction in this aspect of your marriage, please talk to someone about that... a trust friend, counselor or spiritual leader. Get wise council.
v. 5 and 18 - The clear warnings again against arrogance and pride. We have to pay attention to this because it is repeated so often in so many different ways throughout Scripture. Arrogance will be punished by God. Pride will lead to destruction. The only scenario in which pride and arrogance doesn’t ruin your life is if it is repented of. I pray that I and we will take this seriously, for pride is the root of all other sin. May we never take it lightly or minimize it. Wage war on your pride… violently fight your arrogance… pursue humility. It is a matter of life and death.
v. 5 - This passage reminds me of God’s heart for the poor, the marginalized, the lowly. To think little of the poor, the insult those we see as beneath us, to despise those in need around us, is to insult and despise God himself. Our privilege is to restore dignity to those who have been robbed of, to speak value and worth into those who have been overlooked, and to honor and care for those have suffered and been disgraced. The attitude that so many of us have, that, “oh they deserve that, or they had that coming” as if we are only worthy of blessing and favor and not ourselves guilty of folly and sin, is ridiculous and sinful. God’s heart is turned the poor. God is full of compassion. If we are against them and look down on them, we are opposing the very heart of God.
Find a verse in todays chapter that speak to you personally.