Monday, January 10, 2011

Mourning Revilers

Paul told the Corinthians that he was a few steps ahead of them, and he intended to patiently wait for them to catch up. 1 Corinthians 5:1-2

It is actually reported that there is immorality among you, and immorality of such a kind as does not exist even among the Gentiles, that someone has his father's wife.
You have become arrogant and have not mourned instead, so that the one who had done this deed would be removed from your midst.

What does Paul mean when he says that they were arrogant?

"Your glorying is not good," it says in 5:6. This church fellowshipped with sexual immorality. They had already been warned by Paul not to keep company with sexually immoral people (1 Cor 5:9). Later, when tested with a man who debuted an unnamed perversion, they held fellowship still, and boasted in their hearts by extending tolerance amidst epic battles over men's souls. The Corinthians used the church as the grounds to entertain one faction as pitted against another and it was widespread. They had also pitted God's workers against one another in 4:6. Arrogantly, they were cheering for Apollos and Paul as a sport; one against another. Also while eating they did not listen to their stomach for discernment on when to stop, pitting their own appetites against nourishment's benefit (6:13). And they fellowshipped with brethren engaged in lawsuits against one another (6:6).

It was an innocent disobedience, in a general sense. 1 Cor 3:1-2

And I, brethren, could not speak to you as to spiritual people, but as to carnal, as to babes in Christ. I fed you with milk and not with solid food; for until now you were not able to receive it, and even now you are still not able...

Paul saw these believers' inexperience with godliness. He could have followed the same example they were showing the world - tolerance - returning likewise, with the excuse that they were still not able to receive spiritual instruction. God's mercy and patience is laced throughout the book. With longsuffering compasssion He expands their understanding to see sin from His perspective in 6:18-20,

Flee sexual immorality. Every sin that a man does is outside the body, but he who commits sexual immorality sins against his own body. Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own? For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s.

Established in grace, God commands them to mourn this stronghold, to not tolerate it. Mourning over this one sin - how much a difference can regret over one sin make for the congregation? He continues on with verses 3-5 of chapter five explaining that though he hopes for the church to be convinced, he isn't waiting on any of them. He cannot delay spiritual warfare even if that means he is alone. Before the ink of his pen dries and the letter is packed for the Aegean Peninsula, Paul has long since exposed the man's sin to the light.

For I indeed, as absent in body but present in spirit, have already judged (as though I were present) him who has so done this deed. In the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, when you are gathered together, along with my spirit, with the power of our Lord Jesus Christ, deliver such a one to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus.

For some odd reason, Paul's instruction for restoration of the man calls baptism to mind. "Destruction of the flesh" reminds the Greek word "baptizo" for baptism, a "wash of destruction" but of washing of what? Of the outward body? No: "There is also an antitype which now saves us—baptism (not the removal of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God)" (1 Pet. 3:21). Baptism is part "1,a" of the Covenant Christ makes with us in the New, and, with circumcision in the Old Covenant we recall that God commanded Abraham and his descendants to "circumcise their hearts" so that they would be sensitive to love the LORD and experience His life for them. With both baptism and circumcision, they are covenants where God says to those He has just declared His own, "I willingly chose you, and yes unconditionally; now - make a covenant in this covenant by willingly choosing me in return." What a perfect solution for the man who has a fleshly heart full of sin: circumcise your heart, and come alive to God so that you may be spared harsh judgment at the coming of Jesus our Lord.

As if the verdict has already taken place when it has not yet taken place, as if he were present when he might not be, Paul has already delivered this man to Satan in the heavenly realms. To delay would be wrong, denying the deliverance of God by first being purged of leaven. In the book of Exodus, seven days were commanded to be observed before God's saving of Israel from Egypt. They were told to sweep all leaven out of their homes and eat no leavened bread. We are still feasting on unleavened bread - Christ - and God commands the Corinthians to keep on partaking of fellowship without the old leaven (1 Cor 5:7-8).

The Corinthian church now receives the command not to keep company with anyone named a brother who practices one of six categories of sin, 1 Cor. 5:11

But now I have written to you not to keep company with anyone named a brother, who is sexually immoral, or covetous, or an idolater, or a reviler, or a drunkard, or an extortioner—not even to eat with such a person.
  • Fornication  A person who practices sex outside of marriage
  • Covetousness   A person eager to have more esp. what belongs to others
  • Idolater   To serve some thing in the place of God
  • Railer   To criticize harshly or abusively, berate
  • Drunkard   A person who practices drunkenness 
  • Extortioner   A person who charges exorbitantly

Both outside and inside the Protestant church, we hear a lot about God's standard to not commit fornication. Idolatry we hear very often at church to be sin. And depending on how official we make it to worship a god of another identity, and whether others can really know unless we tell them, it may be more difficult to detect. Covetousness is also somewhat well known - but how serious does God expect the church to respond when it says to separate from those who want what others have. How about revilers? I haven't heard too much about that. Turn on the radio however and most deejays make a living on railing others.

Proverbs 22:24-25 tells us railing others is leaven in the Body,

Make no friendship with an angry man,
And with a furious man do not go,
Lest you learn his ways
And set a snare for your soul.

And isn't a short fuse spread just like that? As soon as someone has lost their cool, doesn't it immediately make you feel totally dropped down to nothing in hotness and anger too? Yes it does. The verbally abusive draw on that power to make you fight dirty so you look just as guilty. They use it to shift blame around equally so they may continue doing as they've done. Paul's letter was an appeal to wisdom in fellowship.

The unsaved people of this world are hopelessly caught in these six strongholds. And so are believers sometimes when they first come into the faith. But as God patiently teaches the Corinthians about godliness, He simultaneously commands that those people who perpetually seek to one-up on life through these habits be betrayed and delivered to Satan. You need not lead them in desperate hope for change. They must individually engage the will, to be set free to serve Christ. This goes for not just those six strongholds, but every kind of intentional disobedience. 1 Cor 5:8,

Therefore let us keep the feast, not with old leaven, nor with the leaven of malice and wickedness, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.

Sincere people are proper fellowship. However, the Greek word "malice" is defined as "malignity, ill-will, and desire to injure" and "wickedness that is not ashamed to break laws;" that which this man with unnamed perversion demonstrated.

God's promise is: do not say the flesh is all we've known, and what we are is just fine, and take pride. Rather, mourn. And if we mourn these sins, the dwelling place for them will be removed from the fellowship. Sin will not spread throughout the whole batch if it is swept from the house all seven days of the week.

Paul immediately delivered that man who named himself a brother, who also chose the stronghold of sin over freedom in Christ. As the letter was on its way, do you think Paul hoped and prayed that the church would gather together in Jesus Christ and deliver that man to Satan too? Did they?

May the members of the Body encourage one another to do as God commands.


agent4him said...

"The heart of the wise is in the house of mourning." Eccl. 7:4a

Sanctification said...

written across the top of your book. :)

Sanctification said...

I finally edited my blogroll to update Steve Dehner's new blog, The Free Range.

Also Liam Moren, a friend to JP, has begun his blog titled, Into This Grace.

Check 'em out! ;)

Steve Dehner said...

Thanks, Michelle.

Jim, I've been living in this house for some time! It's not considered becoming to call oneself wise, but I must confess, to His praise, that that he teaches us things in our grief that we can't learn in other ways. If we could, I'm sure He would work it that way! BTW, your book is on my to-read list.

agent4him said...

Yeah, Steve, I went to your blog and read about "Marti"---blew my socks off, my friend. You are definitely trafficking in wisdom, Bro!

Sanctification said...

The Corinthian believers "called to be saints" who are not "spiritual" quite yet must be reminded that they are indeed "spiritual." We all stumble in many ways. We can see our own sins in this list from 1 Cor 5. The one who is afraid of the judgment coming in the day of the Lord is the one who is sincere and in the truth. These are fit for fellowship. The one who argue, who points the finger at others for why they've done as they have, who debates and justifies, these ones are the ones who do not align themselves with the significance of their salvation at all.

Sanctification said...

It is possible to be a citizen of heaven and be an enemy of God and His people.

James 4:1-6

Where do wars and fights come from among you? Do they not come from your desires for pleasure that war in your members? You lust and do not have. You murder and covet and cannot obtain. You fight and war. Yet you do not have because you do not ask. You ask and do not receive, because you ask amiss, that you may spend it on your pleasures. Adulterers and adulteresses! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Whoever therefore wants to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God. Or do you think that the Scripture says in vain, “The Spirit who dwells in us yearns jealously”?

But He gives more grace. Therefore He says:

“God resists the proud,
But gives grace to the humble.”

So we see that those who follow their natural passions are the ones God calls "arrogant." Maybe they don't think they need God? They think that this world will satisfy all their needs? They draw close and intimate with this world's (Satan's ) false offers of life.

Sanctification said...

How the congregation responds to sin is very important in terms of "the standard" that we are expecting others to follow. In the day of the Lord all believers will stand before Christ.

"Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, he will also reap." Gal 6:7

God created humanity for relationship. He hates a stiff-necked attitude more than He is concerned with any one sin per se.

"Blessed is he who keeps from stumbling over Me," Luke 7:23

The only way to not trip over God in His Walk is to walk along-side Him yourself (as a friend once told me).

The day of the Lord feels like Salvation to the person who has walked with Christ. To the Christian who excuses themselves from godliness, it is a reason to shudder.

Isaiah 35:3-4

Strengthen the weak hands,
And make firm the feeble knees.
Say to those who are fearful-hearted,

“Be strong, do not fear!
Behold, your God will come with vengeance,
With the recompense of God;
He will come and save you.”

Recompensation for the oppressed and persecuted. Vengeance for the wicked. God's Word is like an arrow, and His aim is True. Upon His Word, all peoples for all eternity will find that their entire being is preconceived in the purposes of Him.

We ought to warn our brothers and sisters to fear God. And it is not difficult to know who needs to be warned and saved from the error of their way.

"Now, the works of the flesh are evident...." Gal 5:19.

It should not be rocket-science. If any believer speaks Truth to Satan's stronghold, and other believers wish to ignore or silence them, perhaps it is because they have signed a peace treaty not to fight any longer against God's enemy, but to accept Satan's familiar system?

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