Spiritual Body Shaming

March 27, 2017 at 1:15 pm | Posted in I Corinthians | Leave a comment
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I Corinthians 5 moves from an up-close view of a specific instance of church discipline to a big-picture view of how pride can infect an entire local church body.

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.

Purge out therefore the old leaven, that ye may be a new lump, as ye are unleavened. For even Christ our passover is sacrificed for us:

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

This verse does not teach us never to be in the presence of fornicators, but it does warn us not to form a bond of approval with them.

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 Corinthian 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.

The Know-Bodies

March 13, 2017 at 11:06 am | Posted in I Corinthians | 2 Comments
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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.

Leviticus 18:7-8

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) 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

Pride Is Everywhere

July 2, 2014 at 12:56 pm | Posted in I Corinthians, Social Media Shares and Mass Emails | 9 Comments
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Pride is ubiquitous in a fallen world inhabited by fallen people. The Bible compares pride to leaven because leaven has a way of secretly working its way into a lump of dough, and affecting the whole thing.

Your glorying is not good. Know ye not that a little leaven leaveneth the whole lump? Purge out therefore the old leaven, that ye may be a new lump, as ye are unleavened. For even Christ our passover is sacrificed for us:

I Corinthians 5:6-7

“Glorying” is another word for bragging. Could there be a simpler way to state it? Bragging is not good. Why not? Well, there are a variety of reasons, but, obviously, because God – our Maker and eternal Judge, the Author of life and truth – says it’s not good!

But bragging is what proud people are compelled to do. This phenomenon is especially prevalent on social media outlets such as Facebook. There is a certain (imagined) level of comfortable anonymity that comes from sitting in front of a keyboard or cell phone screen, which we would not necessarily feel standing face to face with an audience. This gives people the boldness to let everyone know just how pleased with ourselves we are, while at the same time giving us a chance to carefully craft our words before hitting “send” or “post” so that we don’t (at least we think we don’t) sound too obnoxious.

So, you get ridiculous statements like these:

“Y’all, I’m the most nonjudgmental person I know!” This statement mixes boasting with hypocrisy. How can you be the “most nonjudgmental” when you’ve just judged everyone else you know as being more judgmental than you?

“I’m one of the most humble people you’ll ever meet.” Really? Because you just bragged about your humility in front of everyone.

“I can honestly say that I don’t care what anyone thinks about me!” Except for everyone who reads this, right?

Then, there is the whole “role-reversal” of pride, where we have somehow redefined it to be a good thing. So we get folks who are proud of their country, proud of their kids, proud of the U.S. Soccer team, proud of their family or last name. And then we get upset when the blatant God-haters have a “Gay Pride” parade. At least they’re being honest about how their sins are related!

If you claim to be a Christian, try to think like a Christian for a minute. Christians are supposed to think Biblically, remember? God does not just frown upon pride or categorize it as “less than the best.” He actively hates it.

The fear of the Lord is to hate evil: pride, and arrogancy, and the evil way, and the froward mouth, do I hate.

Proverbs 8:13

A man’s pride shall bring him low: but honour shall uphold the humble in spirit.

Proverbs 29:23

These six things doth the Lord hate: yea, seven are an abomination unto him: A proud look, a lying tongue…

Proverbs 6:16-17

Ever since Adam and Eve sinned in the Garden of Eden there has been something in our human hearts that wants to take credit away from God in order to give it to ourselves. We invent ways to glorify ourselves, and we disguise our boasting with cunning words, or we just say what we have heard, and we think it’s okay because it’s what everyone else says. God hates this, and we will give an account for idle words one day. The solution is to remember the truth that we have nothing at all to brag about it, if we really think about it.

For who maketh thee to differ from another? and what hast thou that thou didst not receive? now if thou didst receive it, why dost thou glory, as if thou hadst not received it?

I Corinthians 4:7

Let’s slaughter our pride on the altar of God’s glory, and stop speaking like fools.

Beware the Fight with the Flesh

September 9, 2013 at 12:30 pm | Posted in I Corinthians, The Fives | 2 Comments
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I know a number of Christians who have devoted the majority of their lives to the ministry of delivering their fellow human beings from the power of Satan. This is certainly a noble vocation. In fact, it was one of the chief objectives of the incarnate Lord.

He that committeth sin is of the devil; for the devil sinneth from the beginning. For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that he might destroy the works of the devil.

I John 3:8 (emphasis added)

Given the prevalence of “deliverance” ministries in the modern church, and the ubiquity of “seeker-sensitive” ecclesiology in recent years, the idea of delivering someone to Satan instead of from Satan probably sounds especially abhorrent to you. However, that is precisely what the Holy Spirit through the Apostle Paul adjured the church at Corinth to do.

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

What was the offender’s crime? It was brazen sexual sin, practiced openly and unrepentantly.

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

Church discipline can be a touchy subject, and we see precious little of it practiced these days. It is a grievous measure which must be done with mourning and severity, and not motivated by any sort of a personal grudge. The idea that a believer would be sent out to deal with Satan apart from the accountability, encouragement, and exhortation of the brothers and sisters of Christ which make up his local church family should definitely give us pause. True Christian fellowship is possible only when we are on the same page concerning the fight against our sinful flesh. If we can, through the conquering power of Christ, keep our sinful physical desires in subjection, we can stand together, unified in our desire to bring glory to God.

For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing: for to will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good I find not.

Romans 7:18

But I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway.

I Corinthians 9:27

Leavenless Lump

October 10, 2011 at 1:02 pm | Posted in A Little Alliteration, Bible Studies, I Corinthians | 9 Comments
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Purge out therefore the old leaven, that ye may be a new lump, as ye are unleavened. For even Christ our passover is sacrificed for us:

I Corinthians 5:7

The Passover feast was Christ’s appointed time – the time when the spotless Lamb of God would shed His blood for the sins of the world. A little over 2000 years later, under the New Covenant, we remember this occasion by observing the ordinance of the Lord’s Supper.

At the Jewish Passover there was to be no leaven in the lump of dough used to make the bread. Leaven is a picture of sin in a congregation. Leaven may be small, but it is powerful. It works secretly. It “puffs up.” It spreads.

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 idolater, or a railer, or a drunkard, or an extortioner; with such an one no not to eat.

I Corinthians 5:11

Sometimes the Lord’s Supper is called “Communion,” a word which speaks of common unity. When a group of New Testament Christians assembles to observe the ordinance of Communion, one the worst instances of “leaven” would be feelings of hatred among different members of the body.

Therefore let us keep the feast, not with old leaven, neither with the leaven of malice and wickedness; but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.

I Corinthians 5:8

The Last but Not the Least – Part 1

August 9, 2010 at 1:53 pm | Posted in Bible Studies | 25 Comments
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Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content. I know both how to be abased, and I know how to abound: every where and in all things I am instructed both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.

Philippians 4:11-13

To covet is to have a sinful desire directed toward what someone else has. Is it a sin? Yes (“Thou shalt not covet“), but let’s be honest – how many of us have coveted at least once this past week? Most, if not all.

If you are not covetous, what are you? What is the opposite? To not be covetous is to be content. It is to be satisfied with what God has given you and done for you.

Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content.

Philippians 4:11 (emphasis added)

In the Old Testament, priests and Jewish scholars, and those serious about obeying God, bound the Word of God on their arms, on their foreheads, on their chests. It might be good for us to put Philippians 4:11 on our refrigerators, on the dashboards of our cars, on your coffeemakers, on our bathroom mirrors, on our alarm clocks, on the covers of our Bibles.

What is the opposite of contentment? It’s covetousness. Covetousness is a sin. It’s not one of the 10 Suggestions; it’s one of the 10 Commandments. It’s number 10. It comes after commandments like, “Thou shalt not commit adultery.” Most people won’t voluntarily admit it if they commit adultery – or murder – but if you ask a group of people, “Come on, how many of you have coveted this week?” most will be willing to raise their hands. We consider covetousness to be, not only the last of the 10 Commandments, but also the least – thus the title of this message: “The Last but Not the Least.”

Is it really that bad to covet? Let’s look at a few places in the Bible and see how God looks at the “little” sin of covetousness:

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.

Mark 7:21-23 (emphasis added)

And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient; Being filled with all unrighteousness, fornication, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, debate, deceit, malignity; whisperers, Backbiters, haters of God, despiteful, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents, Without understanding, covenantbreakers, without natural affection, implacable, unmerciful:

Romans 1:28-31 (emphasis added)

But fornication, and all uncleanness, or covetousness, let it not be once named among you, as becometh saints;

Ephesians 5:3 (emphasis added)

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 idolater, or a railer, or a drunkard, or an extortioner; with such an one no not to eat.

I Corinthians 5:11 (emphasis added)

How does God classify the sin of covetousness? He classifies it along with murder and fornication and theft and extortion and adultery and all the worse types of behaviors that sinful man can dream up in his sinful heart. “Thou shalt not covet” is not the 10th Commandment because it’s the 10th in importance. It’s the 10th Commandment because it is the sin that leads men to break all the nine other ones. It’s the last, but not the least.

“I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content.” Treat it as a command. BE content. We’ve been led astray by psychology. We’ve been taught to think we have no control over our feelings or our emotions. So we say, I either am content, or I’m not – I can’t just make myself ‘be’ content.”

But we can:

… bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ;

II Corinthians 10:5

Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus:

Philippians 2:5

“Let” in that verse means “make” or “cause.”

Being content brings generosity.

Jesus Christ had the right to act like God – to take control and enjoy everything He owned. But He took on the form of a Servant and He was content. There is a freedom that comes with wanting good things for others, and not for ourselves. Children think they will be happy if they win the fight they are having over who will get the front seat of the van, or who will get to use a toy over the exclusion of his brother or sister, but that type of squabbling really enslaves them and makes them miserable. The world says that if you do not covet – that if you don’t make sure you get what’s coming to you – you won’t get anything good. But as Christians, we don’t want “what we have coming to us,” anyway. We don’t want what we deserve. God gave His Son for me. How freeing it is to remember that, and to try to be like Him – to get excited about giving instead of getting. There are bumper stickers that say, “He who dies with the most toys wins,” but that’s not true. Life is not a race to see how much we can get. It’s a race to see how much we can give. It’s not, “He who gets the most, wins.” It’s, “He who gives the most, wins.”

Life is for living, not for making.
Life is for giving, not for taking.

(Couplet I made up, which proves I stink at writing poetry, but which helps me to remember a Bible principle)

Being content brings generosity, but being covetous brings greed.

How many sermons have you heard about supposed solutions for the problem of how “empty” we are? I said earlier that Christ Jesus took on the form of a Servant, and was more of a giver than a taker – and yet, according to Scripture, He was not empty. Up until the days when He was preparing to go to the Cross, He was full. He was constantly full. I’m not one of those “prosperity” preachers, but from what I can see in Scripture, the Lord wants us to be continually full. We are to be like Christ. Why are we so empty, and always trying to get more things, and always wanting more and better? Why are we not full? It’s not because we don’t have enough. It’s because we have too much: too much vanity.

Thus saith the LORD, What iniquity have your fathers found in me, that they are gone far from me, and have walked after vanity, and are become vain?

Jeremiah 2:5

The Lord is telling these people that their fathers became vain because they walked after vanity. Jesus was never empty because He never walked after emptiness. His meat was to do the will of His Father. (John 4:31-34) When I am vain – when I am empty – it’s because I’ve been walking after vanity – after emptiness. When I am walking after the things of God, I am content – I am full. And when I am full, I not only have the ability to bless others, but I am reminded to be grateful to God. This point will be developed more in Part 2.

Delivery and Birth

September 3, 2009 at 8:42 am | Posted in Eternity, I Corinthians | 3 Comments
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How often we pray for people to be delivered from the bondage of Satan, the evil one! However, there is at least one occasion in the Bible where the Lord commanded that a Christian be delivered to the devil.

In the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, when ye are gathered together, and my spirit, with the power of our Lord Jesus Christ, 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 5:4-5

This was an extreme measure spurred by one of the Corinthian believers’ extreme sin: He was openly committing brazen fornication with his father’s wife.

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

There are times when God may allow Satan to have power over Christians in order to cause them financial devastation, severe trials, and physical illness. There can be little doubt that Satan would like to drag these believers down to the very pit of hell itself, which is the devil’s eternal destination. He may not do so, however.

The reason is that when someone is saved by God’s grace, through faith in Jesus Christ, he or she is “born” again. (I Peter 1:23) A person who has been truly born may struggle, suffer, fail to properly grow, and even die. But a person who has been TRULY BORN may never, ever be UNBORN.

We must be thankful that God loves His children enough to chasten them. A father who indulges his children, even in the things that harm them, cannot be said to truly love them. The love of God for His children, however, is a perfect love. The evidence of that love is both kindness and chastening.


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