That’s A Good Question – 1 Corinthians 6

As we look at 1 Corinthians 6, we’ll see a repeated question. “Do you not know?” Paul is talking to the believers at Corinth and is trying to help them understand the truth about certain matters. Jesus used a similar question in his teaching in Mark 4:13 and 8:21. Paul teaches the believers about:

Lawsuits

The Greeks were known for their courts. Litigation was a part of everyday life. People would sue over nothing. Sounds like our day today! In verses 1-6, Paul addresses the believers who were doing business together and then suing each other. The church was losing its witness. This passage has been abused and misunderstood so let’s look at what it does and does not say. Paul says that the church should seek to settle family matters. Believers will one day judge the world. Jesus will rule and reign, and according to Daniel 7:22, Revelation 2:26-27 and 3:21, we will rule and reign with Him. We will also judge the angels (2 Pet. 2:4, Jude 6). If we will one day judge the world and angels, don’t you believe God has given us the wisdom, truth, justice, love, equity, and kindness needed to settle the “smallest matters”? These are matters that are trivial, frivolous, pretty. The context is believers taking each other to court for personal gain or revenge. This verse does not mean a Christian can never go to court. Some matters are not small or trivial and they have to be handled by a court. Additionally, the church should not try to handle matters that are crimes. We have to balance 1 Corinthians 6 with Romans 13, that government and courts are used by God. Verses 7-8 lead us to ask the question, “Is it worth it?” What will suing a fellow believer do to the name of Jesus? It is better to lose financially than to lose spiritually. Believers should settle out of court whenever possible.

Lostness

The next subject Paul addresses is lostness. In verse 9 he gives a long list of sins/unrighteous ways of living. People are not lost because they live this way. They live this way because they are lost. Paul urges the believers to “not be deceived.” Don’t get suckered in to believing a lie. Don’t think there is no heaven, no hell, and no judgement day. Paul is not talking about people who have ever committed one of these sins, but those are practicing these things. It is their habitual lifestyle. If you are a Christian, you have been washed! You have been cleansed and given a new start! He’s urging them to live like it.

Liberty

In verse 12, Paul addresses Christian freedom. Believers were using their freedom as a license to sin. “All things are lawful” was a common saying. Sin is never to our advantage! “Is it lawful?” is not the right question. “Is it helpful and beneficial?” is the right question. Sin will always bring you under its control. It will enslave you. If you can’t stop doing it then you are in bondage. Those who are free have self-control.

Lordship

As Paul concludes the chapter, we read that these matters and more are all a matter of lordship. In verses 13-20 he’s talking about sexual immorality. Believers can’t use the excuse that we all have needs. When you get hungry you eat. When you get thirsty you drink. When you get the biological urge you act on it. No! We are made in the image of God. A Christian cannot do anything that does not involve the Lord.  Wherever you go, you take the Lordwith you because you are indwelt with the Holy Spirit of God. Think about this question: If Jesus was standing right beside you… would you do it? He is there! Our bodies belong to God. He created us and redeems us. We should flee anything that goes against His plan for us. Flee means run like crazy!

Jesus died and rose from the dead to be Lord of all. He is Lord over our business matters, legal matters, sexual matters, relational matters, physical matters, spiritual matters. Is he Lord over your life? One day every knee will bow and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God the father. On that day it will be too late to change your mind. Confess Jesus as your Lord today.

 

 

 

Act Like Men – 1 Corinthians 16:13-14

In light of Father’s Day, our passage for this week is a point where Paul speaks from his heart to men. In 1 Corinthians 16:13-14, he says, “Be watchful, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong. Let all that you do be done in love.” His word of encouragement shows us five characteristics of a godly man.

Be Watchful

As men, we have to be aware of what is going on around us. Jesus said, “If the blind guide the blind, both will fall into a pit” (Matt. 15:14). Most men are asleep. We need to be attentive. We need to know the condition of our life, our family, and the world around us. We need to know what is going on in our wife’s life and kid’s lives. If you continue the road you are on, what will your marriage and family look like in five years? There are many passages in Scripture that tell us to be watchful. Run from anything that tries to rob you of your vision. Jesus gave sight to the blind! You need to see spiritually. Without vision people perish. Where are you going? Through the good times and bad, maintain your focus.

Stand Firm

The second thing listed in 1 Corinthians 16:13 is to stand firm. Don’t ride a spiritual rollercoaster. High/low, up/down, on/off, hot/cold. Don’t waver or retreat. Specifically, Paul says to stand firm in the faith. Real men read the Word of God daily. We build our lives on the Word of God. There are ten doctrines in the Bible: Bible, God, Jesus, Holy Spirit, Sin, Salvation, Church, Christian Life, Angels/ Demons, and End Times. We need to know what we believe about these things. Leaders take a stand.  We must have compassion and love for those we disagree with. Compassion is not compromise. We should show respect and love to everyone, but there are some basic truths on which we stand.

Grow Up

The next phrase is “act like men.” Some translations say, “be courageous” or “be brave. What is a man? Doing what you say you will do. Not making excuses. The word used in the original Greek means to behave like a man. The only place it’s found in the New Testament is here. As the context suggests, the idea has to do with courage and bravery. Manhood is about responsibility. Men are given a charge to lead, provide for, and protect women and children. Jesus came to this earth as a man. He grew in wisdom, stature, in favor with God and man. As a man, Jesus exemplifies and empowers us to walk in His steps, to live as He lived, to act like a man. Jesus is a man’s man. He made a whip and drove out the con artists and swindlers. He stood up for a woman caught in adultery. He called the Pharisees snakes. In the book of Revelation, Jesus is riding a white stallion, with a sword and a robe dipped in blood. His name is called The Word of God and all the armies in heaven follow Him. He will strike the nations and He Himself will rule them with a rod of iron.

Be Strong

Some men think that being a man means bench-pressing 300 pounds, dunking a basketball, or killing a bear with your bare hands. 1 Corinthians 10:12 says,“Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall.” Godly men admit their own weaknesses and are strong in the Spirit. Jesus does not just give us strength, He is our strength. We all have weaknesses. It is not a sin to be tempted. Sin is when you yield to temptation. We have to be strong. The devil knows what “Delilah” to send your way. Real men exercise self-control by being under the Spirit’s control.

In Love

Verse 14 says, “Let all that you do be done in love.” We need real men who are in love with Jesus, their wife, their kids, God’s Word, the church, and things of God. Men who are not angry, violent, crude, rude, or abusive. Tell your wife, son, daughter, you love them. Some men say, “The Bible, Jesus, and church is for women and children.” The Bible is for men. Jesus is the ultimate man. Jesus was compassionate and courageous in all that He did. Tough and tender. In 1 Corinthians 13, the love chapter, Paul says, “If I have not love I am nothing.” Without love you would become militant.

Jesus is the perfect example of a godly man. God became man. He faced work, fatigue, rejection, religion, friends, was misunderstood by family, etc. Jesus was tempted, and He overcame!

 

 

Sin in the Church – 1 Corinthians 5

The benefit and blessing of preaching through books of the Bible is you cover all subjects, even ones that may be hard to talk about. Corinth was a populated port city where people came and went from around the world. It was known for sexual perversion and promiscuity. As we look at 1 Corinthians 5, we’ll read Paul’s message to the church regarding this; a message that is likely more needed that wanted.

The Report of Sin

Verse 1 says, “It is actually reported that there is sexual immorality among you, and such sexual immorality as is not even named among the Gentiles—that a man has his father’s wife!” The word for immorality is a junk-drawer, catch-all word for any and all sexual sin. It is also the Greek word from which we get the word pornography. Did you know that Americans spend $10-14 billion every year on pornography? That is more than the combined revenue of pro baseball, basketball, and football combined. Paul says the immorality going on in the Corinthian church was common knowledge. The example he gave was of incest. The reports we hear of sexual misconduct today are all too common. Just look at the news headlines in a week! We must address the problem. Awareness is necessary.

The Response of Action

Paul says the church was “puffed up” about what was going on instead of “mourning” over it (v. 2). We expect the world to boast about sin and be proud of sin, but the church should mourn over sin. We should not gloat or gossip when a believer falls, but we should mourn. In this passage, the Corinthians were boasting that their church was open-minded and tolerant. Maybe they rationalized it, “After all, they both were consenting adults. They love each other. The other person did not say stop.” You can rationalize anything and call evil good. All believers struggle with sin daily. Paul is talking about those claiming to be believers who feel no guilt, do not repent, and are proud and public with their sin. When he says he judges them and that they should be delivered to Satan (v. 3-5), he is calling on the church to carry out Jesus’ teaching in Matthew 18. When we find out a brother or sister is living in sin, we are to first talk to them privately. Stop talking about them and start talking to them. If that does not work, take some believers with you privately. If that does not work, have a family intervention and get the church involved. Finally, if that does not work, turn them over to Satan and sin. There is a certain protection from Satan and the world by being in the local church. You are under God’s protective umbrella. When you live in sin, you get out from under the Lordship of Jesus Christ and you are fair game for the enemy.

The Reason for Correction

In verses 6-8, we read that those who continue in sin should be separated out from the church. Family and home should be a safe place. The church should be a safe place. Leaven is a picture of sin. Sin spreads like yeast in bread. It is like cancer in the body. It spreads, and it kills. One bad apple can spoil the whole bunch. In verses 9-13, Paul makes it clear he is not talking about an unbeliever, but believers. We cannot avoid contact with sin, but we can avoid contamination. Don’t ever get mad or upset with the world for living like the world. Sinners are going to sin and be proud. We are never to isolate ourselves from the lost or judge them, but we are to confront sin in our own lives and in the family of God. The purpose is always to bring the sinner to repentance. The goal of church discipline is always restoration. It is never to punish or banish, but to comfort, reprove, correct, and restore.

Since our passage is on sexual sin, while it may not be pleasant to talk about, I wanted to share with you some staggering facts: 1 out of 4 girls and 1 out of 6 boys will be sexually abused before age 16. There are 730K sex offenders registered in the US. Of those convicted who prefer boys, they have an average of 150 victims before conviction. Of those who prefer girls, 52 victims before conviction. 90% of children are abused by someone they know and trust.* Paul says sexual sin was happening in the church. We hear the same reports today. If a child reports to you that they have been abused, report it immediately! Report it to your supervisor and to authorities. Jesus said that it would be better to put a millstone around the neck and drown in the sea than to hurt one of his little children (Mt. 18:6, Lk. 17:2). The church has to take action. I mentioned on Sunday steps Liberty has taken when it comes to preventing abuse. The church must show the world in a courageous and convincing way that we not only support the sanctity of human life but also the dignity of human life. We must show them that they can count on the church to be safe and to do what is right.

As your Pastor, I pray for you and I use spiritual weapons for you every day! We have to guard against sin in our own lives and we have to be aware of what is being reported around us. If it’s abuse, we must do all we can to prevent it and to report it. If it’s other sin, we must confront our brothers and sisters in love, the goal being their restoration, for the glory of God.

 

*Statistics from Ministry Safe

 

 

Found Faithful – 1 Corinthians 4

Memorial Day is a time for honoring the men and women who died while serving in the U.S. military. These men and women were faithful to the end. In light of what we learned in 1 Corinthians 3 (that every believer will stand before the Judgment Seat of Christ) and what we observe through Memorial Day, we too should desire to be found faithful to the end. In 1 Corinthians 4, we see that we should be faithful as:

A Steward

Jesus taught His followers to be humble servants and faithful stewards (v. 1-2). Everyone wants to be a star, and no one wants to be a servant. Servants do not do what they want to do. They do not march to their own drumbeat. Their theme song is not “I Did It My Way.” As servants of Jesus Christ we do not live our lives our way, but God’s way! The word steward means one who manages everything for his master. When the master returns, the steward will give an account. The steward is held responsible. Our gifts, talents, abilities, real estate, opportunities, and potential do not belong to us, but to Jesus. You are a steward of your life, time, money, influence, kids, etc. In verses 3-5 we are reminded that it’s not our place to judge others. The one who judges is the Lord. Only God knows what is in a person’s heart and He is the only one who has the right to judge. Likewise, we shouldn’t live our lives for the opinion of others. Ultimately, there is only one opinion that matters. It is not the court of public opinion, or even our own personal opinion, but we answer to God. Paul says we shouldn’t think “beyond what is written” (v. 6). The bible is our final authority. Stewardship is about responsibility and requirements. God’s word gives us some requirements – faith, baptism, attending church, giving, witnessing, prayer, bible reading, daily devotions. God requires faithfulness. Whatever your stage of life, wherever you serve, keep the future, final judgement in mind. We want to hear Jesus say, “Well done, thou good and faithful servant.”

A Spectacle

In verse 9, Paul uses the word “spectacle.” No matter the translation you read, it’s the same word. We are fools for Christ (v. 10). This world will look at us as foolish. Rome had amphitheaters where they would bring Jews, Christians, and prisoners to fight wild animals. They had dirt floors to soak up the blood. The world would watch. We must be willing to suffer for Christ. Pastor Brunson, who was imprisoned in Turkey for two years for his faith, said we in America are not prepared. We don’t have the mindset. 1 Peter 4:12-13 says, “Beloved, do not think it strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though somestrange thinghappened to you; but rejoice to the extent that you partake of Christ’s sufferings, that when His glory is revealed, you may also be glad with exceeding joy.” The disciples were martyred as spectacles before a hostile world. They were beheaded, crucified upside down, stabbed, stoned, boiled in hot oil. How did Paul respond to persecution? With endurance and grace (v. 12-13). Life is hard. The Christian life is not easy, but it is worth it. God has not called us to be popular, but to be faithful. 

A Student

Paul says he teaches everywhere he goes (v. 17). We too are teaching everywhere. Not only are we teaching, but leaders are lifelong learners. The Bible says, “Study to show yourself approved unto God, a workman that needs not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth” (2 Tim. 2:15). No one has arrived. If we are not going to go “beyond what is written”(v. 6), we have to know what is written! Paul could only say, “Follow me,” because he was following close to God, spending time in the word and time in prayer. He was a student as well as a teacher. Timothy had traveled with Paul on his second missionary journey. In verse 17, we read that Paul had sent Timothy to them to teach them. We need the help of others to get the job done. The teachers who meant the most to us were like a loving parent. They warned us, loved us, poured into us, set an example for us, taught us. They made practical application and they disciplined us. We wanted to imitate them! Paul encouraged the Corinthians to imitate him (v. 16). Are we being faithful stewards, spectacles, and students? Be faithful and finish well!

 

 

 

A Wise Builder – 1 Corinthians 3

We are all building a life. As we move to 1 Corinthians 3, we will see what it means to be a wise builder. Maybe you are building a career, reputation, marriage, or a home. At Liberty, we are building a church. Building takes teamwork. We are partners and co-laborers with GodThat is what it means when Paul says, “God’s fellow workers” (v. 9). To be a wise builder, we must examine three aspects of building:

Building Foundation

A building is only as strong as the foundation it is built on. Paul says that because of God’s grace, he is a wise master builder who has laid the foundation, which is Jesus Christ (v. 10-11). The church is built on Jesus. We can do nothing apart from the grace of God. Paul says he’s laid the foundation, and we should “take heed” how we build on it (v. 10). We must take heed to our attitude, what we value as important, how we spend our time, what we read, what we watch and put in our mind, the friends we hang out with, and the words we speak. To build a church or a life on anything other than Christ is to build a sandcastle. Jesus talked about this in Matthew 7:24-27. The house built on a rock withstood the storm, but the house built on the sand fell, “and great was its fall.” In an ancient building, the cornerstone was the main foundation stone, the big stone where all the walls met. The cornerstone held it all together. Jesus is the cornerstone. Jesus holds it all together.

Building Construction

In verse 12 Paul lists some materials that we can build with – “gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw….” Gold, silver and precious stones are lasting, beautiful, and valuable. You have to dig to find them. Hard work is involved! Wood, hay, and straware temporary, ordinary, cheap, and easy to find. When building your life, build with things that will last, that have eternal value. More buildings are destroyed by termites than tornados!It is usually not the big things but the little things that tear us down. In verse 6, Paul says, “I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the increase.” In verse 8 he says that each will receive his own reward. We don’t all do the same job or have the same gifts, but each is just as important. God wants to use you! Paul and Apollos are humans. God uses human instruments to be His hands and His feet. Jesus used ordinary men and women, and God wants to use you!

Building Inspection

Anyone who has built knows what a home inspection is. It’s what it sounds, right? All the work is examined by an inspector. People have a strange view of judgement. They picture a long line in eternity and a set of scales. All your good works on one side and all your bad deeds on the other. If the good outweighs the bad, you go to heaven. If the bad outweighs the good, you are sent to hell. That is not what the Bible teaches. There are two great judgements – the Great White Throne Judgement for unbelievers (Rev. 20:11) and the Judgement Seat of Christ for believers (Rom. 14:10, 2 Cor. 5:10). For believers, the purpose of judgement is not to determine whether or not you go to heaven. Your eternal destiny is determined before you leave this earth. The purpose is to give an account for our lives.The things done for Christ will last. The things not done for Christ will burn up (1 Cor. 3:13-15). Nothing is hidden from God. Every secret will be brought to light and disclosed. Apologizing for sin does not do away with accountability. Confession restores fellowship, but we will still have to answer for how we treated others, used our gifts, abilities, and talents, for every word spoken, how we used our money, time, and how we ran our race. When we build our lives, we must remember inspection is coming!

Satan is the Accuser of the Brethren, bringing up our sins. Praise God at the Judgment Seat of Christ every shameful thing we have ever done will be burned up never to be brought up again. Jesus paid the punishment we deserve. He will wipe the tears from our eyes and we will be like Him. He will have finished what He started. He will present us blameless before the Father. Hallelujah!

Some believers, those who invested in eternity, will have a lasting inheritance. Some will not have treasure in heaven because they wasted their lives. Paul urged us to take heed. What are you building? Are you building wisely?

 

 

 

 

Three Levels of Living – 1 Corinthians 2

As we continue our study on 1 Corinthians 2, we are reminded again that Jesus is the only answer. Today there all kinds of preachers and preaching, but the preaching that we need, and that God honors, is the preaching of Jesus and Him crucified (v. 2). Paul was not a rock star or impressive. Even he felt weak, inadequate, and insecure with fear and trembling (v. 3).But, when Jesus is preached, and Him crucified, it is more than information, it is transformation! People are changed, marriages are changed, families are changed. There is power in the name of Jesus! Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life.

The Natural Life

Those who don’t believe in Jesus for salvation do not understand spiritual things. Verse 14 says spiritual things are “foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.” It is normal and natural for unbelieving family members, friends, classmates, co-workers, and neighbors to not understand why you go to church, read your Bible, pray, give, and believe like you believe. They don’t understand our commitment, convictions, or our compassion. Believers however have the wisdom of God, which the world does not know (v. 6-8). The natural person listens to the wisdom of this world– the counselors, politicians, pundits, celebrities, professionals, experts. They think the Bible is foolishness because it’s counter-cultural. Getting upset when an unbeliever doesn’t understand the things of God would be like going up to a dead corpse in a casketand saying, “Hey, you want to go have lunch?” Then getting offended when they don’t respond. You can’t argue someone into the kingdom of God. Be patient, loving, and pray for them that God would open blinded eyes.

The Spiritual Life

What does it mean to be spiritual?  If you go to the Spirituality section of any book store you will see all kinds of answers. Yoga, meditation, eat a certain diet, etc.Paul cleared it up by saying it is simply being filled with, guided by and empowered with the Holy Spirit of God.In verse 12 Paul reminds the church that they have received the Holy Spirit and because of that, they can know the things freely given by God. You can know God! Beyond that, Paul quotes Isaiah 64 in verse 9. “Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor have entered into the heart of man the things which God has prepared for those who love Him.” This is one of most misquoted passages in the Bible. It does not refer to heaven (although we certainly can’t comprehend what God has in store for us there!), but to the here and now! For the spiritual person, there is no much more to this life than this life! We have supernatural wisdom and power that comes from God.

The Carnal Life

The third person we read about in this passage is saved, they are a believer, but they are living in sin. They are carnal, fleshly, and have unconfessed sin in their life. They are double-minded, trying to hold on to God in one hand and hold on to the world with the other hand. They are not hot or cold, but lukewarm. They have been born again but remain a spiritual babe (1 Cor. 3:1-4). God has more in store for you! Babies are self-centered. The get upset easily. They fuss and fight, chose sides, saying you can’t be on my team or in our club. Like we read in chapter 1, some were saying they were “of Paul” and others “of Apollos.” It is not about your favorite preacher or Bible teacher. It is not about personalities, programs, or preferences. It is all about Jesus.

What kind of life are you living? If it’s a natural life or carnal life, move to a spiritual life! Go all in and let the Holy Spirit have control of your life. Recently the Notre Dame cathedral was destroyed by fire. When the dust settled, the cross was still standing. When all is said and done, and the dust settles on your life, it is still the cross that matters – Jesus and Him crucified.

No Division – 1 Corinthians 1

On Sunday we started a new series in 1 Corinthians. Corinth was a prominent city known for its wealth and immorality. Paul visited Corinth (for a year and a half) on his second missionary journey, and three years later, on his third missionary journey, while in Ephesus, he wrote two letters to the Corinthian congregation. The church was fascinated with personalities and preferences, which caused strife. They had lost sight of what is most important. Some followed Paul, some Apollos, and some Peter. Paul reminds them that it is not about personalities, programs, or preferences, it is about Jesus. Jesus Christ is mentioned ten times in the first ten verses. The church gets divided and distracted when we are:

Filled with Pride

We did not call God, He called us. Look at verses 1, 9, and 26. Notice the repeated use of the word “called” or “calling.” I often hear people say, “I found God.” I know what they mean but God was not lost. We were! Salvation is a gift. There is nothing we could do on our own to deserve or earn it. When pride walks in, God walks out. Proverbs 6:17 says the Lord hates a proud look. We live in a selfish society that is consumed with self-centeredness, self-confidence, and self-importance. We should nots wallow our pride, we should spit it out! Don’t put your confidence in or be arrogant over where you went to school, your educational degree, pedigree, resume, or accomplishments. Apart from Him we can do nothing! The last verse of chapter 1 says, “He who glories, let him glory in the Lord” (v. 31).

Focused on Personalities

In verse 10 Paul pleads with the church to let no divisions be among them. He elaborates in verses 11-13, referencing how they’d sided with personalities. They got their eyes off Christ and on cliques. Jesus is the great unifier. Christ is not divided. The Trinity is not divided. Division is of the devil! His strategy is to divide and conquer, to drive a wedge between relationships. We can have honest differences without division. Unity is not uniformity, but when it comes to doctrine and decisions the church has to be united. On secondary issues we will differ. If it is not a moral issue or a doctrinal issue it is not worth fighting about! John Wesley said it best, “In essentials, unity; in non-essentials, liberty; and in all things, charity.” We need to cry out for God’s love because without it we cannot love one another. The church must confess the sin of division, jealousy, envy, anger, bitterness, hatred, racism, unforgiveness, and comparison. We are told to endeavor to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace (Eph. 4:3). The bible says, “How good and how pleasant it is for the brethren to dwell together in unity… for there the Lord commanded the blessing, life forevermore” (Ps. 133:1, 3). Should we have diversity? YES. Division? NO. We don’t have to drink the same coffee or drive the same car, but we do have to follow the same Christ!  We must resist anything that threatens our unity.

Forget our Purpose

Don’t get tripped up over methodology. The purpose of the church is to share the message of the gospel. We must not let any other message get in the way of the only message that saves! In verses 18-21, Paul reminds the Corinthians of the cross. The message of Christ crucified is what saves. “Christ is the power of God and the wisdom of God” (v. 24). “There is power, power wonder working power in the precious blood of the Lamb.” There is also wisdom. The experts, intellectuals, philosophers and debaters have not found the answer to the world’s problems. They cannot help us know God in a personal way. The answer is the cross. Salvation will come to you when God calls and when you believe.

We have all seen children fight over a ball or toy. I mean, swinging fists at each other over it! We think, how ridiculous, childish, immature! That is what God must think when he looks down from heaven at some of the things we argue and get divided over at home, work, and church. Like I prayed last week at a National Day of Prayer gathering, “God forgive our wicked hearts. Forgive us for being self-indulgent and self-sufficient. Forgive us of our pride. Forgive us for seeking power, pleasure, position, prestige, political correctness, and seeking the praise of man. You must increase and we must decrease.”