Posts Tagged ‘Bible’

1 Corinthians 7

1 Corinthians 7 has Paul responding to specific questions about marriage from the church at Corinth.  Paul tackles the question of sex and submission head on.  “For the wife does not have authority over her own body, but the husband does. Likewise the husband does not have authority over his own body, but the wife does”.  When we are married, we need to understand that God’s plan for marriage is not about self, but giving to our spouse.  We aren’t in control of what we want, but need to be subject to what our partner wants.  Sex is God’s plan, not man’s.

Since the beginning of time, sex has been misused by people.  There is power in how we control our bodies and our interaction with each other.  Paul makes it clear that sex is part of a normal healthy marriage.  “Do not deprive one another, except perhaps by agreement for a limited time, that you may devote yourselves to prayer; but then come together again, so that Satan may not tempt you because of your lack of self-control”.  Sex is part of God’s plan for a healthy and thriving marriage.  We should never use it as a club or way to manipulate one another.

Paul makes a case both for being married, and for staying single.  It somewhat appears that being single is less complicated, but he doesn’t discount marriage.  What he does say is that “Only let each person lead the life that the Lord has assigned to him, and to which God has called him.  This is my rule in all the churches”.  We need to seek God and understand what His will is for our life regarding marriage.  God has a perfect plan for us.  We merely need to seek and understand what that looks like in our situation.

He reminds us that we need to remember that we are not our own but were bought with a price, and a might steep price at that.  It cost God the life of His only Son, Jesus Christ, to redeem us from our sin.  “You were bought with a price; do not become slaves of men”.  It’s easy to fall into temptation and become trapped by any number of things that will cause us to fall into slavery.  We can quickly lose our way and become consumed with the ways of man.  But Christ died for us, and we need to remember that He alone is our Lord.

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1 Corinthians 6

1 Corinthians 6 has Paul dealing with misunderstandings in the church.  People were suing one another and Paul challenges them to stop and consider the impact it was having on others around them.  Our witness as a Christ Follower is an important thing to think about.  Paul says “To have lawsuits at all with one another is already a defeat for you”.  When we act selfishly with one another, it tarnishes the name of Christ and His church.  We need to realize that our witness is one of the most important things we have to protect and live out transparently.

When we came to know Christ, our life was changed forever.  “But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God”.  Coming to Jesus changes everything.  We need to realize that through His shed blood, we have been freed from sin.  And as such, Paul reminds us that “All things are lawful for me, but not all things are helpful. All things are lawful for me,” but I will not be enslaved by anything”.  There was a four question test as to whether an activity or action would be right to do:

  1. Is it helpful? (1 Cor 6:12)
  2. Will it enslave me? (1 Cor 6:12)
  3. Could it cause another to stumble? (1 Cor 8:13)
  4. Does it glorify God? (1 Corinthians 10:31)

Four great questions we can ask ourselves before making a decision.

Paul ends by reminding us that as Christ Followers, our body is not our own.  “The body is not meant for sexual immorality, but for the Lord, and  the Lord for the body”.  We were bought with a price and belong to Jesus.  But it goes further.  Paul says “do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body”.  How do we do that?  By living in obedience to His commandments and obeying His Word.  God owns us, and we need to walk in submission to Him!

1 Corinthians 5

1 Corinthians 5 has Paul addressing one of the major areas of contention in the church then (but also now) – sexual sin.  “It is actually reported that there is sexual immorality among you, and of a kind that is not tolerated even among pagans”.  The term for sexually immorality is the ancient Greek word ‘porneia’ which broadly refers to all types of sexual activity outside of marriage.  It often appears first on many New Testament “sin lists” but not because the first Christians had a lot of “hang ups” about sex. Instead, it is because the area of sex was one of the most dramatic places where the ethics of Greek culture clashed with the ethics of Jesus. Sexual immorality was an accepted fact of life for the common person in Greek culture, but it was not to be so among the followers of Jesus.

Paul makes that very clear.  And while he is not happy about the sin happening, it is bigger than that.  “And you are arrogant! Ought you not rather to mourn”?  As bad as the sin itself was, Paul was more concerned that the Corinthian Christians seemed to take the sin lightly, and they were unconcerned about this behavior.  The church was justifying the actions of sin, rather than recognizing that their moral problems came because they weren’t thinking right about God and His world.  If God is not on the throne in the bedroom or around sex, we justify whatever we want.

Paul makes it clear that there is a leadership presence even if he is physically not there.  They don’t have free reign to do whatever they want.  “For though absent in body, I am present in spirit”.  His leadership transcended whether or not he was in their presence.  That is one sign of a true leader, when those who follow continue to do so even when the leader is absent.  Paul challenges them to clean out the bad things among them.  “Do you not know that a little leaven leavens the whole lump? Cleanse out the old leaven that you may be a new lump….with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth”.  We must put aside the old and take on the new.

Paul tells us to deal with the way Christ Followers are living. We must hold each other accountable in the body of Christ. “For what have I to do with judging outsiders? Is it not those inside the church whom you are to judge? God judges those outside”.  His instructions are direct and strong: “I am writing to you not to associate with anyone who bears the name of brother if he is guilty of sexual immorality or greed, or is an idolater, reviler, drunkard, or swindler—not even to eat with such a one”. Harsh words about just how accountable we need to be as Christ Followers to obeying God’s commandments.  And Paul tells us to stay away from bad influences so we will not be pulled into their sin, and that our willingness to overlook sin be viewed as acceptance.  We have an important role to play as Christ Followers to hold each other to God’s standards, not as judge and jury as God alone does that, but as encouragers of the faith that can help each other stay the course and walk with Jesus!

1 Corinthians 4

1 Corinthians 4 has Paul telling the church about life as an Apostle.  “This is how one should regard us, as servants of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God”.  The Apostles were held with esteem, although most all gave their life for their faith in Christ.  They were leaders and teachers of the faith, and Paul is clear that “it is required of stewards that they be found trustworthy”.  Leaders in the church have a responsibility to be true to God’s truth.  God holds a leader to a higher standard.  Scripture tells us that in a number of places.

But the truth is that it doesn’t really matter what others think or say.  “It is the Lord who judges me….who will bring to light the things now hidden in darkness and will disclose the purposes of the heart”. God is the judge and determines the future.  We’ll stand before Him someday, every one of us, and give account to what we’ve done with His Son Jesus to deal with our sin, and how we’ve walked in obedience to His commands as a Christ Follower which will determine our eternity. That day is coming for each of us. “Then each one will receive his commendation from God”.

We tend to think that the life of an Apostle would be pretty cool.  Paul paints a very different picture. “For I think that God has exhibited us apostles as last of all, like men sentenced to death, because we have become a spectacle to the world, to angels, and to men. We are fools for Christ’s sake, but you are wise in Christ. We are weak, but you are strong. You are held in honor, but we in disrepute. To the present hour  we hunger and thirst, we are poorly dressed and buffeted and homeless, and we labor, working with our own hands.  When reviled, we bless; when persecuted, we endure; when slandered, we entreat. We have become, and are still, like the scum of the world, the refuse of all things”.  Still want to be a spiritual leader in the church?  It’s not a glamorous role.  Paul and his co-workers endured much for the sake of the gospel.

But Paul doesn’t share that to dissuade us from leading and investing in others. In fact, he challenges us to do what he did – to trade life for the gospel.  “For though you have countless guides in Christ, you do not have many fathers. For I became your father in Christ Jesus through the gospel. I urge you, then, be imitators of me….to remind you of my ways in Christ, as I teach them everywhere in every church”.  Paul became father to many, and a role model for everyone to imitate.  We need to have that mindset – to live life day by day in a way that if others imitate and follow us – they will get to the Cross and see Jesus Christ through us.  That’s the role each of us must live as Christ Followers.  We are examples of the faith.  What if someone follows yours?

1 Corinthians 3

1 Corinthians 3 has Paul addressing the church based on their level of spiritual maturity, which is pretty low.  “But I, brothers, could not address you as spiritual people, but as people of the flesh, as infants in Christ”.  How’s that for a direct opening statement?  I’d give you some meat to eat, but you are immature and not ready.  “I fed you with milk, not solid food, for you were not ready for it. And even now you are not yet ready, for you are still of the flesh”.  Paul wants the church in Corinth to grow and mature, and they certainly haven’t done that.  Why?  Because they are focused on arguing about things that don’t matter – who they came to know Christ through.

Paul explains the reality of the roles we play in building God’s Kingdom.  “I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth”.  Paul is clear that living as a Christ Follower is not about how we came to faith, but about growing in that faith.  It’s not based on who led us to the Cross, but that we do something to grow once we receive God’s grace.  “So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth”.  The focus is not on the journey to salvation, but what we do after we meet the Savior.

That was Paul’s frustration.  The church was focused on how they came to know Jesus, not what they were doing to grow as Christ Followers.  “He who plants and he who waters are one, and each will receive his wages according to his labor”.  God takes care of how the laborers along the journey to salvation are treated.  As Christ Followers, we need to be focused on how we will grow and become like Jesus.  Those who minister to others, which should be all of us, will receive our just rewards at judgment day.  “For we are God’s fellow workers. You are God’s field, God’s building”.  The journey to Christ is much like planting and harvesting a crop.  There are many steps, but the focus is on the harvest and what happens after that.

Paul teaches a very important concept – the truth about caring for ourselves.  “Do you not know that you are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in you”?  We are not our own.  We were bought with a price.  God sent His Holy Spirit that lives inside of each of us as Christ Followers.  And we need to realize that our body is a temple for the Holy Spirit that needs to be cared for.  We must take care of ourselves knowing we are God’s instrument.  Part of that care is realizing that on our own we are nothing.  “Let no one deceive himself. If anyone among you thinks that he is wise in this age, let him become a fool that he may become wise. For the wisdom of this world is folly with God”.  God is the source of truth.  We need to be plugged into Him!

1 Corinthians 2

1 Corinthians 2 has Paul reminding the church at Corinth why he came.  Remember, he was there for about a year and a half teaching and preaching.  Paul didn’t come as a philosopher or a salesman; he came as a witness.  “And I, when I came to you, brothers, did not come proclaiming to you the testimony of God with lofty speech or wisdom”. Paul was certainly a man who could reason and debate persuasively, but he didn’t use that approach in preaching the gospel. He made a conscious decision to put the emphasis on Jesus Christ and Him crucified. Paul was an ambassador, not a debator.

He was single minded in how he shared.  “I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified”.  That is the only answer to life and the sin problem we all face.  Jesus alone is Savior for the world.  He alone can free us from the penalty of sin.  Paul doesn’t want to muddy the waters with any other message.  It was Jesus Christ and Him alone.  No more, no less, just Jesus.  If we are not careful with what we say, we can obscure Jesus by our preaching, either in the presentation or the message.  Jesus is enough, so there is no reason to share more.

Paul doesn’t teach based on being smarter or better trained.  “I was with you in weakness and in fear and much trembling, and my speech and my message were not in plausible words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, that your faith might not rest in the wisdom of men but in the power of God”.  Paul didn’t want to get in the way of the message of Jesus.  He didn’t tout his position or power.  He merely preached Christ crucified.  He simply taught Jesus.

Paul would not cater to the Corinthian love of human wisdom, but that does not mean his message had no wisdom.  “But we impart a secret and hidden wisdom of God, which God decreed before the ages for our glory”.  God’s wisdom is so far beyond anything we can ever find in the human world.  The reality is that “What no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man imagined, what God has prepared for those who love him”.  God has a plan.  He prepared a way through Jesus.  We’ll never understand it until we experience it.  But God has prepared for our eternity, and we merely need to receive His gift of grace through Christ!

1 Corinthians 1

1 Corinthians 1 has Paul speaking to the church in Corinth.  He gives a long list of things that describe the church and its people:

  • sanctified in Christ Jesus
  • called to be saints together
  • of the grace of God that was given you
  • enriched in him in all speech and all knowledge
  • the testimony about Christ was confirmed among you
  • not lacking in any spiritual gift
  • wait for the revealing of our Lord Jesus Christ
  • who will sustain you to the end
  • guiltless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ

Wow, now here is a church that has quite a foundation in Christ.

Even with all of that, Paul points them to God.  “God is faithful, by whom you were called into the  fellowship of his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord”.  This is all God’s idea.  We do nothing beyond receive the free gift of grace that God offers to us through Jesus.  Yet the church was having arguments about things of less importance.  “I appeal to you, brothers, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree, and that there be no  divisions among you, but that you be united in the same mind and the same judgment”.  Unity is what God expects from us in the church.  One God, One Savior, One body!

Paul says it clearly – what we believe makes no sense to many.  “For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God”.  It man not makes sense, but that doesn’t change the fact it is true.  He was facing two expectations from the people of his day.  “For Jews demand signs and Greeks seek wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles….For the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men”.  It doesn’t matter what people think, or how they view God.  The truth is that he is God and is wiser than all of us combined.  He sets the agenda.  He makes the rules.  And we must decide how we will respond to that reality.

Paul boils it down this way.  “God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, so that no human being might boast in the presence of God”.  God created the world and has executed His plan.  He will continue to execute and do as He wills for eternity.  We have a choice of how to respond.  We can resist and pretend that God doesn’t exist, but what if we are wrong.  God will still be sitting on the throne and we’ll be the ones who stand before His judgment seat unprepared.

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