Tags: 1 Corinthians 5, Christian friendship, church discipline, commentary on 1 Corinthians, judgmental people, shunning, Sunday School lessons on 1 Corinthians
Your glorying is not good. Know ye not that a little leaven leaveneth the whole lump?
I Corinthians 5:6
Leaven works secretly. It spreads through the whole lump. It puffs up. When Knows get puffy (and true Christians DO struggle with pride), they sometimes have to be purged. This is different from how the Know-Nots are to be treated. False professors do not just contain leaven; they themselves ARE leavened.
I Corinthians 5:7
And the only reason the Knows can have it purged is because our Passover was greater than the original Passover (Exodus 12). Our Passover has already been sacrificed, and His sacrifice was spiritual and actual, not partial and figurative.
I wrote unto you in an epistle not to company with fornicators:
I Corinthians 5:9
Yet not altogether with the fornicators of this world, or with the covetous, or extortioners, or with idolaters; for then must ye needs go out of the world.
I Corinthians 5:10
This is one of many of the Bible’s admonitions to Christians, telling us to separate ourselves from this world’s system, while remaining actively involved in hands-on ministry IN the world itself.
But now I have written unto you not to keep company, if any man that is called a brother be a fornicator, or covetous, or an idolator, or a railer, or a drunkard, or an extortioner; with such an one no not to eat.
I Corinthians 5:11
To “eat with” someone in Bible times had a connotation of forming a covenant-type relationship of trust, assistance, and approval. Those who openly and unrepentantly practice fornication, covteousness, idolatry, railing, drunkenness, and extortion must not have their behavior condoned by Christians, even if the people doing these things choose to identify themselves as fellow-Christians.
For what have I to do to judge them also that are without? do not ye judge them that are within? But them that are without God judgeth. Therefore put away from among yourselves that wicked person.
I Corinthians 5:12-13
The Corinthians believers were proud of being “nonjudgmental” when it came to those within their ranks who lived just like the open sinners without, while at the same time enthusiastically judging the Know-Nots who never claimed to be Knows. Such judgment is hypocritical and pointless. Sinners who sin egregiously are just doing their job, in a sense. They are powerless to stop their behavior. God is the One Who will judge them unless they repent and turn to Christ. When it comes to the Knows judging the other Knows within a church body, such judgment is not wrong IF:
1. It is done in love.
2. It is done in the hope of restoration.
3. It is based on the actions of the offenders, not suppositions or conjecture.
Tags: Biblical Parenting, Christian parenting, commentary on Mark, disgusting habits, gross sin, lifeguards, loving sinners, Mark 2, parents, Sunday School lessons on Mark
A third is:
3. We have to love people who do disgusting things.
Jesus loved the people who didn’t love Him and who did the things He didn’t like. We have to do that, too.
And when the scribes and Pharisees saw him eat with publicans and sinners, they said unto his disciples, How is it that he eateth and drinketh with publicans and sinners? When Jesus heard it, he saith unto them, They that are whole have no need of the physician, but they that are sick: I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.
Given a limited choice we would rather our children be grossed out by sin than attracted to it. However, we do not want them to be grossed out by sinNERS to such an extent that they are unwilling to love them. Jesus went to where the sinners were. He was not friends “with them” in the sense that He disguised what He thought of their sins, but He was a friend “to them” in the sense that He got very hands-on in their environment and lives.
Christian parents want their children to be surrounded by good influences, and that’s great, but a truly “good” influence is someone who encourages them to love people who are deeply mired in sin – even people who hate their Jesus, and who hate His Word. You can’t simultaneously show kindness and love to someone while giving them the impression that you are disgusted by who they are as a person. Lifeguards don’t swim out to a drowning person flailing in the sea, and immediately start telling him what an idiot he is for going swimming after eating a bucket of fried chicken and drinking a two-liter Pepsi.
Tags: children's church, commentary on Psalms, corporate worship, family worship, integrated family worship, praise and worship, praise the Lord, Psalm 148, Sunday School lessons on Psalms
Psalm 148 is a psalm which commands us to praise the Lord.
Praise ye the Lord. Praise ye the Lord from the heavens: praise him in the heights.
In fact, it commands all of creation, the whole universe, to praise the Lord.
Praise ye him, sun and moon: praise him, all ye stars of light. Praise him, ye heavens of heavens, and ye waters that be above the heavens. Let them praise the name of the Lord: for he commanded, and they were created.
Kings and rulers, “ordinary people,” men and women, the young and old, all types of people are commanded to praise the Lord. This makes sense, but it is not limited to those with any sort of advanced understanding of how they are to worship. No one is exempt, regardless of maturity level or even sentient intelligence, for that matter. We would do well to remember this in our corporate worship services. There can be a temptation for those of a more advanced understanding to seek to eliminate the distraction of those who might not worship with the same mindset, decorum, or sophistication. However, it is clear that the Bible would not have us give in to this temptation. If even the seas, mountains, birds, and cattle can praise the Lord, how much more should we encourage our children to worship alongside us!
Both young men, and maidens; old men, and children:
Why should the Lord be praised by so inclusive a throng? Because:
Let them praise the name of the Lord: for his name alone is excellent; his glory is above the earth and heaven.
Tags: alliteration, commentary on Mark, handwashing, Mark 7, Pharisees, sanitary practices in the Bible, Sunday School lessons on Mark
Chapters 7 and 8 are sections in the Gospel of Mark which highlight the teaching ministry of Jesus and some of the responses to it. The Pharisees wanted to attack Jesus, so it was natural that they went to what they perceived as one of their greatest strengths: tradition. Jesus was not opposed to traditions UNLESS they were traditions that were contrary to the Word of God.
The Pharisees had taken God’s Levitical laws about cleanliness, which God had given to separate the Jewish people from the Canaanites, and to help keep His people healthy, and had completely stripped them of their spiritual meaning. The Pharisees placed all their emphasis on the outward appearance, and none on the inward heart.
They saw some of Jesus’s disciples eating without washing their hands.
Then the Pharisees and scribes asked him, Why walk not thy disciples according to the tradition of the elders, but eat bread with unwashen hands? He answered and said unto them, Well hath Esaias prophesied of you hypocrites, as it is written, This people honoureth me with [their] lips, but their heart is far from me.
As a parent, you probably make your children wash their hands before they eat, and that’s a good idea. But would you let your children get away with lying, as long as they washed their hands first? If you caught your child with his hand in the cookie jar after being forbidden from taking a cookie, and the child said, “It’s okay that I’m disobeying you, because I washed my hands first,” would you accept that as a valid excuse?
Making the word of God of none effect through your tradition, which ye have delivered: and many such like things do ye. And when he had called all the people [unto him], he said unto them, Hearken unto me every one [of you], and understand: There is nothing from without a man, that entering into him can defile him: but the things which come out of him, those are they that defile the man.
It’s not that Jesus was interested in stopping people from practicing basic hygiene, or even in changing their diets to more risky fare in terms of “clean” and “unclean” meats. What He was stressing to them was that physical cleanliness and eating healthy foods did not matter if the attitude of their hearts was not right.
And he saith unto them, Are ye so without understanding also? Do ye not perceive, that whatsoever thing from without entereth into the man, [it] cannot defile him; Because it entereth not into his heart, but into the belly, and goeth out into the draught, purging all meats? And he said, That which cometh out of the man, that defileth the man. For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders, Thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lasciviousness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness: All these evil things come from within, and defile the man.
Now contrast the attitude of the Pharisees, and their pride, with the attitude of the gentile woman who wanted Jesus to cast a demon out of her daughter.
But Jesus said unto her, Let the children first be filled: for it is not meet to take the children’s bread, and to cast [it] unto the dogs. And she answered and said unto him, Yes, Lord: yet the dogs under the table eat of the children’s crumbs. And he said unto her, For this saying go thy way; the devil is gone out of thy daughter. And when she was come to her house, she found the devil gone out, and her daughter laid upon the bed.
Remember, Jesus always taught with great authority. He was not a mealy-mouthed teacher. It’s almost as if the crowds who followed Jesus were becoming very divided. There were those who pridefully felt they should have some control over the miracles He was doing, and there were those who very humbly and with great urgency tried to fight through the onlookers and the skeptics and the proud observers because they truly believed Jesus was their only hope. We have this same type of people with us today. Will we block their way? Or will we usher them to Jesus?
Tags: 1 Corinthians 5, 2 Corinthians 2, Body of Christ, church discipline, commentary on 1 Corinthians, Leviticus 18, local church, Sunday School lessons on 1 Corinthians
Paul had received the true report of gross sin being tolerated in the church at Corinth.
It is reported commonly that there is fornication among you, and such fornication as is not so much as named among the Gentiles, that one should have his father’s wife.
I Corinthians 5:1
This may or may not have been technically considered what we call “incest” (sexual relations between blood-relatives) if the “father’s wife” was not the son’s biological mother, but it was legally considered to be incest, and it was a violation of the law of God.
The nakedness of thy father, or the nakedness of thy mother, shalt thou not uncover: she is thy mother; thou shalt not uncover her nakedness. The nakedness of thy father’s wife shalt thou not uncover: it is thy father’s nakedness.
Most Bible commentators believe that this was a a step-mother/step-son relationship, but it was still considered wrong (sinful), even among the gentiles, and the worst thing about this behavior was not even that it was occurring (Paul was not shocked to hear of sinners sinning), nor even even that it was being allowed to go unchecked among the Knows (confusing the Knows and the Know-Nots), but that the church members were PROUD OF IT!
And ye are puffed up, and have not rather mourned, that he that hath done this deed might be taken away from among you.
I Corinthians 5:2
They were congratulating themselves on how nonjudgmental they were. They should have been grieved as though someone had died, but instead they were bragging about their liberality and tolerance!
Today’s pop culture Christianity would ask: “So, why is this such a big deal? Shouldn’t a Christian church be just the place for the very worst sinners? Isn’t it a hospital for sinners, not a showplace for saints? Who are we to judge? Jesus didn’t tell anyone to be mean – ever.”
The reason it is so serious is because open undisciplined sin practiced openly by members of a Christian church, and allowed to go unchecked by the leaders and the congregation, affects more than just the specific sinners involved. Consider some of our metaphors for the Church:
1. The body
a. An infected hand must be taken out of general service.
b. It must be especially tended to.
c. It must be watched closely.
d. If the infection can’t be cured quickly, it needs to be cut off to prevent the whole body from becoming infected.
e. Amputation is harsh – mean – no one wants to be the “ax-man.”
f. But it is sometimes necessary for the preservation of the rest of the body.
2. The family
a. A family member must be loved.
b. But also corrected
c. Sometimes not allowed to take part in every family activity
d. If you won’t set the table, you can’t eat with the rest of us.
e. If you are hurting the family, sometimes, for the good of the rest of the family and your own good, you must be kicked out of the house
3. A business enterprise
a. Like a bank teller whose drawer keeps coming up short
b. May have to be demoted to parking lot security guard for a while
c. And, ultimately, may have to be fired
Church discipline can be a tricky and a messy business, but these things are not to be done out of malice, spite, or joy. They are done with broken hearts and trepidation, but they are to be done decisively.
For I verily, as absent in body, but present in spirit, have judged already, as though I were present, concerning him that hath so done this deed, In the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, when ye are gathered together, and my spirit, with the power of our Lord Jesus Christ,
I Corinthians 5:3-4
The Corinthian church could administer discipline in this particular case by explicit Apostolic authority. Today, in a case like this, where the sin was being indulged openly and unrepentantly, we would have authority to administer the discipline publicly within the church – not hatefully, but harshly, and, yes, decisively: “taken away from you” (V. 2); “purged” (V. 7); “put away” (V. 13).
This is how extreme the matter was:
To deliver such an one unto Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that the spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus.
I Corinthians 5:5
This may sound, upon a superficial reading, like they were trying to take away his salvation, but it was just the opposite (notice the woman is not dealt with at all – because she was apparently not a Christian). This was an attempt to (1) prove his salvation, for the Holy Spirit’s seal may never be broken; (2) to aid in his sanctification by drastic means, knowing that the destruction of the flesh was the most loving thing they could do. The hope was that this man would learn the error of his ways, and it seems to have worked.
For out of much affliction and anguish of heart I wrote unto you with many tears; not that ye should be grieved, but that ye might know the love which I have more abundantly unto you. But if any have caused grief, he hath not grieved me, but in part: that I may not overcharge you all. Sufficient to such a man is this punishment, which was inflicted of many. So that contrariwise ye ought rather to forgive him, and comfort him, lest perhaps such a one should be swallowed up with overmuch sorrow. Wherefore I beseech you that ye would confirm your love toward him.
II Corinthians 2:4-8
Tags: commentary on Psalms, desperate prayer, Heman, intimacy with God, obstetrics, prayer, prayer in suffering, Psalm 88, Sunday School lessons on Psalms, wrestling with God
“Obstetrician” is from the Latin term for a midwife, obstetrix, which has the same root from which we get words like “obstacle.” It has the literal sense of “standing in opposition to,” and you can picture a midwife’s position, “standing against” (literally, of course, not figuratively) a woman in the process of giving birth.
Heman was not afraid – as bizarre as this sounds, in a sense – to stand “in opposition to” God. However, as is the case with a midwife, he was not actually opposing God with his prayer. He was trying to “bring forth” – to bring forth from pain a “delivery/deliverance.”
Heman wrestled with God for healing, deliverance, or at least understanding.
Wilt thou shew wonders to the dead? shall the dead arise [and] praise thee? Selah.
Heman rhetorically asked God, “How will I praise you if I die?”
Shall thy lovingkindness be declared in the grave? [or] thy faithfulness in destruction?
This kind of praying sounds foreign to our ears, but it is not all that uncommon in the Bible, where the petitioner in extreme circumstances sounds as if he’s trying to bargain with God. Abraham did this for Lot as he tried to persuade God to spare Sodom. Moses did this for the people after their idolatry with the golden calf. Here Heman seeks to do it for himself, but he frames it as an opportunity for God to get glory.
Shall thy wonders be known in the dark? and thy righteousness in the land of forgetfulness?
Heman also prayed obstetrically not just in bargaining with God for his life, but in the sense of wrestling with God. This kind of praying does not displease God if we are sincere, and if our heart still retains a reverence for Him and a desire to truly know Him, to know His will, and to receive His blessing. Jacob did it. Job did it. Asaph did it in Psalm 73. Habakkuk did it.
Questioning God’s judgment, wisdom, knowledge, or faithfulness can be a dangerous thing, but He may allow it if, through it, we have a true desire to draw closer to Him.
I [am] afflicted and ready to die from [my] youth up: [while] I suffer thy terrors I am distracted. Thy fierce wrath goeth over me; thy terrors have cut me off. They came round about me daily like water; they compassed me about together. Lover and friend hast thou put far from me, [and] mine acquaintance into darkness.
In the darkness we are driven to root out the sins that may have caused our suffering, and this brings us to an intentional spending of time with Him in the awareness of His presence. Even if our suffering is not being caused by specific sins, the Lord’s painful, but gracious, isolation of us from the presence and succor of our friends and loved ones can force us (or free us) to seek Him as the only Light that can shine into, and light our way out of, the deepest midnight darkness of our circumstances or our souls.
Tags: 1 Corinthians 15, Biblical Parenting, Christian parenting, Genesis 2, Genesis 6, Genesis 7, Genesis 9, Noah's Ark, Romans 5, talking to kids about death
Last time we talked about a key Bible theme that must not be ignored by parents when teaching the Bible to our children. In fact, it must be emphasized. Here is another:
2. Death is real.
It is also scary.
And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment:
Death should be scary because it is a result of sin, and God absolutely hates sin.
But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.
Sadly, when we teach the standard “children’s” Bible stories – baby Moses in the Nile, the parting of the Red Sea, Jonah and the big fish/whale, Daniel in the lion’s den – we tend sanitize them and gloss over their fuller meanings, when, if we look at them faithfully, the fact of death comes up organically and realistically.
Look at the story of Noah’s ark, for example. What must we do to make this a happy children’s fairy tale? Well, to start with, you have to skip the prologue.
And the LORD said, I will destroy man whom I have created from the face of the earth; both man, and beast, and the creeping thing, and the fowls of the air; for it repenteth me that I have made them.
And most of the actual story, for that matter.
And they that went in, went in male and female of all flesh, as God had commanded him: and the LORD shut him in.
All in whose nostrils was the breath of life, of all that was in the dry land, died.
To make it what our modern culture thinks of as “child-friendly,” you have to limit it mainly to just talking about a few animals, and cut straight to the rainbow.
I do set my bow in the cloud, and it shall be for a token of a covenant between me and the earth. And it shall come to pass, when I bring a cloud over the earth, that the bow shall be seen in the cloud:
And even then you have to be careful about reading too far!
And I will remember my covenant, which is between me and you and every living creature of all flesh; and the waters shall no more become a flood to destroy all flesh.
The story of Noah’s ark is not a Disney story. It’s not like the man who tied balloons to his house so he could float away from death to magical place.
Noah and his family were not in there petting kitty cats and singing rain rain go away, little Japheth wants to play. They were probably covering their ears against the screams of terror outside… and they were resting wholly in one thing and one thing only for their salvation: God and His Word.
Have you ever told the children that God has entrusted into your care that the only reason Dad and Mom can laugh and smile and play with them – the only reason that they are looking forward to getting older instead of dreading it – is because Jesus has defeated death for all – BUT ONLY FOR ALL – those who have trusted Him?
Then cometh the end, when he shall have delivered up the kingdom to God, even the Father; when he shall have put down all rule and all authority and power. For he must reign, till he hath put all enemies under his feet. The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death.
I Corinthians 15:24-26
Tags: Biblical evangelism, Biblical hope, Biblical patience, Biblical waiting, evangelism, farming, Isaiah 40, Lamentations 3, soulwinning
In a comparison between the principles of farming and the principle of Biblical evangelism, we have noted the importance of planting, watering, weeding, and watching, all of which are necessary if we are to see an agricultural harvest OR a spiritual harvest of souls brought to Christ. Now we will deal with possibly the most difficult task for a farmer who is zealous and anxious to reap the fruit of his time and labor: the waiting.
For a farmer, obviously, every day is not harvest day. And, although harvest day is a day of great rejoicing and satisfaction, the experienced farmer will learn the principle of patience while he is waiting for it to arrive. In the same way, those who wait upon the Lord’s salvation, rather than getting frustrated, must learn to adopt an attitude of expectancy tempered by contentment. It is also important to remember that Biblical “waiting” is often “active waiting,” as paradoxical as that might sound. Waiting upon the Lord is more like the waiting done by a waiter in a busy restaurant than the waiting done by an exasperated patient in the waiting room of a medical office three hours after the appointment time while the doctor finishes a round of golf.
But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.
“Waiting” upon the Lord involves walking, running, and even soaring, as we look forward with Biblical hope (a knowledge-based AND faith-based assurance that He will keep His promises in His perfect timing).
The Lord is good unto them that wait for him, to the soul that seeketh him. It is good that a man should both hope and quietly wait for the salvation of the Lord.
Tags: commentary on Mark, Jesus Christ, Jesus's miracles, Mark 5, miracles of Jesus, power of faith, Sunday School lessons on Mark, terminal illness
But the woman fearing and trembling, knowing what was done in her, came and fell down before him, and told him all the truth. And he said unto her, Daughter, thy faith hath made thee whole; go in peace, and be whole of thy plague.
Jesus responds to people without worldly hope. He responds to even the smallest measure of faith. He made time to help others even when it seemed to interfere with His schedule. Jesus can “make people whole,” which is a greater blessing than physical, mental, or emotional healing. Are we sensitive to those who are afraid to come to Jesus? Are we remembering our prime objective in ministry? Jesus told the woman to “go in peace.” We have the ministry of reconciliation in His name. That is the greatest need of every person – to be reconciled to God – to be at peace with Him – true salvation.
While he yet spake, there came from the ruler of the synagogue’s house certain which said, Thy daughter is dead: why troublest thou the Master any further? As soon as Jesus heard the word that was spoken, he saith unto the ruler of the synagogue, Be not afraid, only believe. And he suffered no man to follow him, save Peter, and James, and John the brother of James. And he cometh to the house of the ruler of the synagogue, and seeth the tumult, and them that wept and wailed greatly. And when he was come in, he saith unto them, Why make ye this ado, and weep? the damsel is not dead, but sleepeth. And they laughed him to scorn. But when he had put them all out, he taketh the father and the mother of the damsel, and them that were with him, and entereth in where the damsel was lying. And he took the damsel by the hand, and said unto her, Talitha cumi; which is, being interpreted, Damsel, I say unto thee, arise. And straightway the damsel arose, and walked; for she was of the age of twelve years. And they were astonished with a great astonishment.
Don’t give up on those who haven’t been healed for a long time. Even if “death” is the end, death is not final for a believer. Death is like sleep for believers. That’s one of the reasons the Resurrection is so important. Jesus demonstrated His power and victory over death. Belief keeps fear at bay, and perfect love casts it out completely. Giving up on the co-called terminally addicted, the terminally sinful, the permanently mentally ill, the permanently physically ill, is not really giving up on THEM. It’s really giving up on GOD (unbelief).
Jesus told the damsel to “arise.” Arise is a command to active, moving faith. The faithless are sleep-walking through life, and we are supposed to “wake them up” – to call them to “arise.”
Tags: Biblical faith, blasphemy of the Holy Spirit, commentary on Mark, Mark 6, overcoming obstacles, Sunday School lessons on Mark, the unpardonable sin, true faith, unbelief
If you are familiar with modern television or movie tropes, then you might call this passage in Mark 6 a “flashback sequence” where we learn what happened to John the Baptist.
For Herod feared John, knowing that he was a just man and an holy, and observed him; and when he heard him, he did many things, and heard him gladly.
Herod feared John the Baptist, but not enough to repent and “believe” his message. He had John the Baptist killed for his wife’s sake.
And the king was exceeding sorry; yet for his oath’s sake, and for their sakes which sat with him, he would not reject her.
Herod feared God a little, but he feared men more. He loved God’s messenger a little, but he loved himself more. This is unbelief, and this was the first step on the way to the unpardonable sin, which the Jewish leaders committed, and into which they led many of their people. They rejected God (John the Baptist, His prophet). They rejected Jesus, God’s Son (consenting to, and helping to instigate, His Crucifixion). And they blasphemed (rejected, always resisting) the Holy Ghost – God’s final witness – when they stoned Stephen.
Even the Disciples – Jesus’s closest followers – had trouble with unbelief.
And Jesus, when he came out, saw much people, and was moved with compassion toward them, because they were as sheep not having a shepherd: and he began to teach them many things. And when the day was now far spent, his disciples came unto him, and said, This is a desert place, and now the time is far passed: Send them away, that they may go into the country round about, and into the villages, and buy themselves bread: for they have nothing to eat.
Jesus was moved with compassion for people. Do we, as followers of Jesus, have genuine compassion? If we do, we will move toward, not away from, people who are suffering. The Disciples saw only the problem. Seeing only the problem is a symptom of unbelief. Jesus saw the potential. Seeing the potential is evidence of faith. False faith sees only problems for God to solve; true faith sees opportunities to minister IN problems. False faith sees only obstacles to be removed, and calls on God only to move us over, past, or around the obstacles without having to deal with them; true faith sees opportunities to stand on the obstacles and get close to God. True faith calls us to stand on the obstacles and proclaim His worth to others.
And straightway he constrained his disciples to get into the ship, and to go to the other side before unto Bethsaida, while he sent away the people.
Jesus did not send away people who were needy; He sent away people who were greedy. For His Disciples’ sake, He also He sent them away to help them avoid a false “spiritual high.” We often want the excitement of religion. We call it God “moving” or we say we are “experiencing the presence of God” when things tend to get hyped up and emotional during a corporate worship service, but sometimes the best place to experience the presence of God is alone in a quiet place AFTER serving Him publicly, and with the intention of going back to serve Him again.
And when he had sent them away, he departed into a mountain to pray.
Jesus, the Divine Servant, came to serve men – but only as He served God. We must never forget why we’re serving others. It’s because we serve HIM.