Tuesday, March 31, 2009

This Do In Remembrance of Me

I Corinthians 11:17-34

"I don’t like going to Fishgrab family gatherings, They all talk and pretend like they love each other and are enjoying themselves. My family’s gatherings are a lot more real.” That was a comment by my ex-sister in law shortly before leaving my brother. She didn’t allow her two sons to come to any of our get-togethers while they were kids.

Twenty years later, at his half sisters wedding, one of her sons told us about her comments at the end of the time together. He said he didn’t know whether the love was real or not, but even if it was a pretense, it was much nicer than her family’s gatherings. It was obvious they didn’t like each other, fighting continually. The only reason anyone came was because his Great Grandmother told them to come and they knew that she wouldn’t give them an inheritance unless they did what she said, They didn’t want someone else to get their share.

The church at Corinth had fallen into the same attitude of bickering over everything from who was the best pastor to whether it was right for a man to wear his hair long and whether a woman must wear a hat to church. Their meeting did not strengthen, but rather tore down the church with their unspiritual standards and attitudes. He rebukes them for this attitude.

“Now in this that I declare unto you I praise you not, that ye come together not for the better, but for the worse. For first of all, when ye come together in the church, I hear that there be divisions among you; and I partly believe it. For there must be also heresies among you, that they which are approved may be made manifest among you.” (I Corinthians 11:17-19)

Many people today develop that same attitude of trying to make sure everyone knows they are right, and cause conflict in the church. The conflicts clearly show that the people involved are not walking in the Spirit and thus are not pleasing God, although it seems as if they think they are more spiritual than those who are not fighting.

Paul was especially concerned that the conflicts were affecting their observation of the communion service. Jude describes the communion as a feast of charity, or love feast. Paul said they should not observe the Lord’s Supper when there was conflict among them, because of the attitude it produced, the wanting to set one above another.

“When ye come together therefore into one place, this is not to eat the Lord's supper. For in eating every one taketh before other his own supper: and one is hungry, and another is drunken. What? have ye not houses to eat and to drink in? or despise ye the church of God, and shame them that have not? What shall I say to you? shall I praise you in this? I praise you not.” (I Corinthians 11:20-22)

The Communion is not the time to straighten out conflicts, nor is it to be a time of satisfying fleshly desires, whether of pride or of physical hunger. The focus is to be on what Christ did for us, and in us. It is to be done as a reminder to us of those things, however often we do it. Anything which takes away from that focus needs to be eliminated.

“For I have received of the Lord that which also I delivered unto you, That the Lord Jesus the same night in which he was betrayed took bread: And when he had given thanks, he brake it, and said, Take, eat: this is my body, which is broken for you: this do in remembrance of me. After the same manner also he took the cup, when he had supped, saying, This cup is the new testament in my blood: this do ye, as oft as ye drink it, in remembrance of me. For as often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do show the Lord's death till he come.” (I Corinthians 11:23-26)

To partake of the communion in a manner which detracts from it’s meaning is to make a mockery of Christ’s sacrifice. Focusing on ourselves, for what ever reason, whether about strife with others, or our business, or anything else can keep us from taking the communion properly. Partaking when one has not accepted Christ implies that one does not consider his sacrifice that important. Paul warns of the results of this.

“Wherefore whosoever shall eat this bread, and drink this cup of the Lord, unworthily, shall be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord. But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of that bread, and drink of that cup. For he that eateth and drinketh unworthily, eateth and drinketh damnation to himself, not discerning the Lord's body. For this cause many are weak and sickly among you, and many sleep.” (I Corinthians 11:27-30)

To avoid bringing God’s judgment on ourselves, it is imperative that we examine ourselves and our heart attitude before we partake of the Communion.

“For if we would judge ourselves, we should not be judged. But when we are judged, we are chastened of the Lord, that we should not be condemned with the world.” (I Corinthians 11:31-32)

Make sure that observing the Lord’s Supper is in a manner that focuses on the Lord, not on the flesh.

“Wherefore, my brethren, when ye come together to eat, tarry one for another. And if any man hunger, let him eat at home; that ye come not together unto condemnation. And the rest will I set in order when I come.” (I Corinthians 11:33-34)

Monday, March 30, 2009

Your Hair's Too Long

I Corinthians 10:32-11:19

“Give none offence, neither to the Jews, nor to the Gentiles, nor to the church of God: Even as I please all men in all things, not seeking mine own profit, but the profit of many, that they may be saved. Be ye followers of me, even as I also am of Christ. Now I praise you, brethren, that ye remember me in all things, and keep the ordinances, as I delivered them to you.” (I Corinthians 10:32-11:2)

Christians are not to be offensive to anyone, whether saved or unsaved, Jew or Gentile. Our goal is to bring them to Christ, not drive them away. Paul went out of his way to be accommodating to all around him. He asks that Christians follow him, and praises them for having followed his example and obeyed the commands in other areas. But…

“But I would have you know, that the head of every man is Christ; and the head of the woman is the man; and the head of Christ is God. Every man praying or prophesying, having his head covered, dishonoureth his head. But every woman that prayeth or prophesieth with her head uncovered dishonoureth her head: for that is even all one as if she were shaven. For if the woman be not covered, let her also be shorn: but if it be a shame for a woman to be shorn or shaven, let her be covered. For a man indeed ought not to cover his head, forasmuch as he is the image and glory of God: but the woman is the glory of the man.

For the man is not of the woman; but the woman of the man. Neither was the man created for the woman; but the woman for the man. For this cause ought the woman to have power on her head because of the angels. Nevertheless neither is the man without the woman, neither the woman without the man, in the Lord. For as the woman is of the man, even so is the man also by the woman; but all things of God.

Judge in yourselves: is it comely that a woman pray unto God uncovered? Doth not even nature itself teach you, that, if a man have long hair, it is a shame unto him? But if a woman have long hair, it is a glory to her: for her hair is given her for a covering. “ (I Corinthians 11:3-15)

All of the above statements are true. The long haired man and the woman with short hair do portray a rebellious attitude. In spite of that fact, the Apostles did not set such a standard, and neither did God’s churches. There was no reason for contention because there was no such standard set.

“But if any man seem to be contentious, we have no such custom, neither the churches of God. Now in this that I declare unto you I praise you not, that ye come together not for the better, but for the worse. For first of all, when ye come together in the church, I hear that there be divisions among you; and I partly believe it. For there must be also heresies among you, that they which are approved may be made manifest among you.” (I Corinthians 11:16-19)

As we saw in I Corinthians 3:1-3, conflict and contention resulted from an unspiritual attitude. Setting a standard that caused contention indicated an unspiritual state in the one setting the standard, as well as the one who was offended by it. For this, Paul says “I praise you not. Their coming together under those conditions was not to benefit everyone, but to impose their will on others.

The conflict shows who is actually approved to God, not what the argument is about. People who allow the Holy Spirit to teach them will all come to a unity of doctrine. That is why God gave each of the different offices according to Ephesians 4:11-15.

“And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ: That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive; But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ:”

Growth takes time, and is the product of the Holy Spirit, not human standards. It will not be produced by conflict. Patience is part of the fruit of the Spirit.

Well Why Not?

I Corinthians 10:25-31

Almost all the grocery stores in north western New Mexico sell alcohol. About the only ones that do not are located on the Navajo Indian Reservation. The closest is about 25 miles away. It doesn’t have a great variety, and is quite expensive compared to stores in Farmington.

I can choose to drive the extra distance, pay the extra price, and do without what they don’t have, or I can shop in stores that sell liquor. By law, the liquor is separated in a special section. When I go into Walmart, no one assumes I am there to buy liquor. If they see me in the liquor section, however, they might since nothing else is sold in that section, and there is no need to pass through it to reach another area. Maintaining my testimony is simply a matter of staying out of the alcohol section.

In Corinth, the market was much like modern flea markets, and Paul refers to it as the shambles. All the animals were slaughtered and brought to the market. Which ones had been offered as sacrifices was not specified. People went to buy there food. They were not concerned about that. It was just a piece of meat. It was in that setting that Paul makes the following comments.

Whatsoever is sold in the shambles, that eat, asking no question for conscience sake: For the earth is the Lord's, and the fulness thereof. If any of them that believe not bid you to a feast, and ye be disposed to go; whatsoever is set before you, eat, asking no question for conscience sake. “ (I Corinthians 10:25-27)

Just as no one assumes I am buying liquor when I go into Walmart, no one would assume that a person buying in the shambles was worshipping idols, unless they make a point of asking. Since the idol really isn’t a god, and God created the animal, there is no reason not to eat it. Don’t make an issue of the matter. The same is true when you go to someone’s house. Just go ahead and eat.

If some one else brings up the issue, however, you need to handle it a different way. Obviously, he is concerned about the matter or he would not bring it up. He has not matured to the point of understanding that what he eats has nothing to do with his Christianity. As Romans 14 tells us, he is spiritually weak..

“But if any man say unto you, This is offered in sacrifice unto idols, eat not for his sake that showed it, and for conscience sake: for the earth is the Lord's, and the fulness thereof: Conscience, I say, not thine own, but of the other: for why is my liberty judged of another man's conscience? For if I by grace be a partaker, why am I evil spoken of for that for which I give thanks? Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God.” (I Corinthians 10:28-30)

You know that there is nothing wrong with eating the food. The weak brother doesn’t. He believes that to eat it in some way worships the idol, though id doesn’t. As the stronger Christian, you should not do anything that might cause him to sin. Because you are strong, it will not hurt your faith to yield in this matter, and you will protect his conscience. To go ahead and eat might destroy your testimony to him.

Romans 14 tells us not to judge him. It also says he ought not to judge either. He may judge, because he is weak, and that is wrong. By not eating, perhaps you can prevent his doing so. He will glorify God because you didn’t, and you can glorify God that you were able to prevent his sin.

Friday, March 27, 2009

But I Wasn't Worshipping Their God

I Corinthians 10:13-24

In the previous verses, Paul has stressed how all the Israelites experienced the same things. The ones who sinned had no more temptation than the ones who didn’t. They had no less experience of God’s power than the ones who did not sin. They chose to sin while the others did not. The same is true today.

“There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it. Wherefore, my dearly beloved, flee from idolatry.” (I Corinthians 10:13-14)

God can be depended on to prevent us from ever facing anything that we cannot handle through his Spirit. He has provided a way whereby we can bear it. We have no excuse for sin. We can simply turn and walk, or run, away from idolatry. There is no reason to continue to loiter near it. Paul next uses the Jewish sacrifices and the communion service to understand what he is talking about.

“I speak as to wise men; judge ye what I say. The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not the communion of the blood of Christ? The bread which we break, is it not the communion of the body of Christ? For we being many are one bread, and one body: for we are all partakers of that one bread. Behold Israel after the flesh: are not they which eat of the sacrifices partakers of the altar?” (I Corinthians 10:13-18)

When we partake of the communion service, we portray ourselves as accepting the sacrifice of Christ’s body and blood for our sin. Each one who partakes portrays themselves as sharing the same belief. To eat the same bread and drink from the same cup at a party would not signify the same thing at all. Before a Jew could partake of the food from a sacrifice, they had to participate in offering that sacrifice, either as the priest, or as one of the donors. The same lamb or other food could have been eaten outside the temple with no religious significance. The difference is the setting in which it is taken.

Neither the idol, nor the sacrifice to it are evil in themselves. Every form of false religion, on the other hand is a form of devil worship, although most will not be as ready to acknowledge it as one native American medicine man was. A friend of mine, Bernedette, had been raised in a Christian home. In College, their professors encouraged them to go back and learn as much about their religion as possible.

Because her grandfather was a Medicine Man, popularly called a Shaman now, she began to question him about what he believed. His answers were very superficial, and she pressed for more. He refused to give in depth information because she was not really into believing the religion. When she continued to push for more, he told her that the one they worshipped was the one Christians called Satan, and he was forbidden to tell her more about their religion.

What say I then? that the idol is any thing, or that which is offered in sacrifice to idols is any thing? But I say, that the things which the Gentiles sacrifice, they sacrifice to devils, and not to God: and I would not that ye should have fellowship with devils. Ye cannot drink the cup of the Lord, and the cup of devils: ye cannot be partakers of the Lord's table, and of the table of devils. Do we provoke the Lord to jealousy? are we stronger than he?” (I Corinthians 10:19-22)

Although the idol itself is of no significance, and thus the food offered to it is of no special significance, devil worship is. Several years ago, there was a definite Satan worship movement in our area. One of the authorities said that since there wasn’t any Satan, he didn’t see any reason to worry about it. Somebody pointed out that whether Satan was real or not, the Satan worshippers were killing things to worship him and that was what they were worried about. Though the idols are not gods, people are worshipping the devil through them, and participating in their ceremonies is partaking of the Idolatry.

You cannot believe that God is the only God and worship other gods. You cannot place your faith in Christ’s sacrifice and hedge your bets by also praying to demons. To worship both says that we do not believe he is who he says he is. We are calling him a liar. I wouldn’t dare do that, nor would I want to encourage others to do so by participating and inferring that I do. It would not destroy my salvation, but it might prevent others from being saved. As a Christian, I need to strengthen others, not satisfy myself.

“All things are lawful for me, but all things are not expedient: all things are lawful for me, but all things edify not. Let no man seek his own, but every man another's wealth.” (I Corinthians 10:23-24)
It will provide no real benefit to me to participate in a false religious ceremony, and it will not strengthen the faith of others, so satisfying my curiosity is not a good enough excuse to risk confusing or weakening other’s faith. Other people can’t see what is in your heart, and participation implies that you are part of and approve what is going on..

Play By The Rules

I Corinthians 9:24-10:12

We have seen a number of Olympic athletes stripped of their medals in recent years. Some were for using illegal performance enhancing drugs, or for various other rule violations. Even though they outperformed the one who received the medal, they were not allowed to keep it because they broke the rules. The same possibility exists in the Christian realm.

“Know ye not that they which run in a race run all, but one receiveth the prize? So run, that ye may obtain. And every man that striveth for the mastery is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a corruptible crown; but we an incorruptible. I therefore so run, not as uncertainly; so fight I, not as one that beateth the air: 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 9:24-27)

To win an earthly contest, it is necessary to exercise self control to complete the competition, and to keep within the rules, whatever the sport. Cheating is grounds for disqualification. People learn to meet those rules to earn a title as the best at the sport. They will have to compete again to keep the prize for a second period, and only one individual or team wins the big prize.

As Christians, we are not competing against one another. Everyone who completes the course can receive an award. There are no rewards for not completing the course. To be eligible, it is necessary, not only to do the job, but to do it in accordance with the rules. It would be horrible to disqualify oneself after doing the entire job and earning the reward, yet Paul describes it as a possibility. The word translated “castaway” actually means “unapproved” or “rejected”. I would not loose salvation, but I might well disqualify myself for rewards.

This was what the Children of Israel who came out of Egypt experienced. Everyone had the opportunity to go to the promised land, with all the promised blessings. They all experienced the same problems and blessings along the way, as Paul describes, but not all received the reward.

“Moreover, brethren, I would not that ye should be ignorant, how that all our fathers were under the cloud, and all passed through the sea; And were all baptized unto Moses in the cloud and in the sea; And did all eat the same spiritual meat; And did all drink the same spiritual drink: for they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them: and that Rock was Christ. But with many of them God was not well pleased: for they were overthrown in the wilderness.

Now these things were our examples, to the intent we should not lust after evil things, as they also lusted. Neither be ye idolaters, as were some of them; as it is written, The people sat down to eat and drink, and rose up to play. Neither let us commit fornication, as some of them committed, and fell in one day three and twenty thousand. Neither let us tempt Christ, as some of them also tempted, and were destroyed of serpents. Neither murmur ye, as some of them also murmured, and were destroyed of the destroyer.

Now all these things happened unto them for ensamples: and they are written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the world are come. Wherefore let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall.” (I Corinthians 10:1-12)

Every Israelite had the same opportunity to get to Canaan. They all heard God’s word. They all enjoyed the same food and water and went to the same places. The same cloud and pillar of fire lead every one of them. Some put forth the effort to serve God, while others were focused on the pleasures and problems of the moment. As a result, the majority of them died without getting to the land.

It is a warning to us not to get complacent and think we have it made. We have to continue to follow the rules to the end to win the prize. Don’t let down now.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Why Would You Want to Preach

I Corinthians 9:16-23

Several years ago, I heard a missionary say “If I could find another job where I could make as much money as I do as a missionary, I’d quit.” A church in Farmington, NM called a man as pastor, and he refused to come unless they’d guarantee him at least $150,000 per year. They managed to come up with the money, by eliminating their missions program and a building fund.

Clearly, this was not Paul’s attitude. He’d physically worked to support himself, and tells us there were times when they were actually short of food and clothing. He had no sure place to stay, and frequently spent time in prison. With his education, and training as a tent maker, Paul was well equipped to earn a living for himself in whatever he chose to do. Instead, he chose to preach, even without pay.

“For though I preach the gospel, I have nothing to glory of: for necessity is laid upon me; yea, woe is unto me, if I preach not the gospel! For if I do this thing willingly, I have a reward: but if against my will, a dispensation of the gospel is committed unto me. What is my reward then? Verily that, when I preach the gospel, I may make the gospel of Christ without charge, that I abuse not my power in the gospel.” (I Corinthians 9:16-19)

Paul could not be proud that he was preaching the gospel, God had given him the job. No matter how well he might do it, he would still only be doing his job. It was not based on his skill or his wisdom, but only on God’s word, and any glory had to go to the Lord.

Because God had given him that job, Paul could not conscientiously neglect it. He would have to stand before God for being disobedient, Doing it willingly, would result in a reward, but he was to do it whether he wanted to or not. For Paul, however, it was more than an obligation. He would be miserable if he were not preaching the gospel. I know that feeling. Simply being able to teach or preach is it’s own reward. If necessary, you’d pay for the privilege. The best teachers and preachers all have that feeling. To see people learning and growing is that thrilling.

Like the best teachers, Paul was concerned that he could begin to abuse his position to make himself rich, or to gather a following to himself. His goal was to give the best to his hearers, and changing the focus to himself would detract from accomplishing the goal.
He describes his efforts to accomplish that goal.

For though I be free from all men, yet have I made myself servant unto all, that I might gain the more. And unto the Jews I became as a Jew, that I might gain the Jews; to them that are under the law, as under the law, that I might gain them that are under the law; To them that are without law, as without law, (being not without law to God, but under the law to Christ,) that I might gain them that are without law. To the weak became I as weak, that I might gain the weak: I am made all things to all men, that I might by all means save some. And this I do for the gospel's sake, that I might be partaker thereof with you.” (I Corinthians 9:19-23)

A Filipino man who used to attend our church described his experience wit missionaries in the Philippines. Most of the missionaries he knew lived in the wealthy sections of Manila, and kept numerous servants to do their menial tasks. Many Filipinos would flock to them, hoping they could get one of the jobs. One missionary moved into one of the poorer areas. He and his family lived in a home much like the people used. He did his own work and welcomed the people into his home as equals.

Of all the missionaries that Levy had known, he said that this man commanded the most respect from the Filipino people, and had the greatest impact, with probably the lowest income. Having experienced the same thing on the Navajo reservation, I have no doubt that it is true. The more like the people one is, the easier it is for them to identify with you, and to believe you might understand their problems. Paul practiced this same principle in his ministry. Giving up his standards opened doors to minister. He could not retain his Jewish standards to reach gentiles. Wealth would prevent reaching the poor, and power would isolate him from the weak.

I recently read an article condemning those who had adopted more casual wear in their churches to better reach the unsaved. Paul would have approved the practice that the article condemned, so long as it did not involve doctrinal compromise. Unspiritual men set standards of dress, of titles and lifestyles that hinder the spreading of the gospel. Some of the standards are contradictory to the scriptures themselves.

Accomplishing God’s purpose must take precedence over my standards.

God Ordained that the Church Support the Pastor

I Corinthians 9:1-15

Some questioned Paul's apostleship for various reasons. He was not married. He and Barnabas both worked at secular jobs. They got support from other churches, but were not supported by the local church. Other teachers required the church support them fully. Like all the other issues addressed in I Corinthians, this issue arises in modern churches.

Some people feel that the church is always asking for money, and some are. Some really get upset that a pastor doesn't quit all outside work and depend on the church. At least one group teaches that it is wrong for the pastor to be paid by the church. Paul has been questioned on several of these points.

"Am I not an apostle? am I not free? have I not seen Jesus Christ our Lord? are not ye my work in the Lord? If I be not an apostle unto others, yet doubtless I am to you: for the seal of mine apostleship are ye in the Lord. Mine answer to them that do examine me is this, Have we not power to eat and to drink? Have we not power to lead about a sister, a wife, as well as other apostles, and as the brethren of the Lord, and Cephas? Or I only and Barnabas, have not we power to forbear working?

Who goeth a warfare any time at his own charges? who planteth a vineyard, and eateth not of the fruit thereof? or who feedeth a flock, and eateth not of the milk of the flock? Say I these things as a man? or saith not the law the same also? For it is written in the law of Moses, Thou shalt not muzzle the mouth of the ox that treadeth out the corn. Doth God take care for oxen? Or saith he it altogether for our sakes? For our sakes, no doubt, this is written: that he that ploweth should plow in hope; and that he that thresheth in hope should be partaker of his hope.

If we have sown unto you spiritual things, is it a great thing if we shall reap your carnal things? If others be partakers of this power over you, are not we rather? Nevertheless we have not used this power; but suffer all things, lest we should hinder the gospel of Christ.

Do ye not know that they which minister about holy things live of the things of the temple? and they which wait at the altar are partakers with the altar? Even so hath the Lord ordained that they which preach the gospel should live of the gospel. But I have used none of these things: neither have I written these things, that it should be so done unto me: for it were better for me to die, than that any man should make my glorying void." (I Corinthians 9:1-15)

Paul had the same qualifications as the other apostles, in that he had seen and been taught by the Lord himself. He was not less qualified than any of the others according to II Corinthians 11:5. Those who had never known Paul might well question his authority, but those at Corinth should not, having received the Lord through his ministry, experiencing the Holy Spirit working in their own lives, and seeing him act in those around them.

I have become concerned how often we try to give assurance of salvation. That assurance is the Holy Spirit's job, according to Romans 8:16. "The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God." If the Holy Spirit is not there to do the job, they are not saved, as Romans 8:9 makes clear. "But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his." False assurance may well prevent a person from understanding their need of salvation and hinder their being saved. Having experienced the Holy Spirit in their own lives, the Corinthian Christians were themselves evidence of Paul's apostleship.

As an apostle, Paul had the same physical needs as any other person. Food and drink is essential. While neither he nor Barnabas were married, both had the right to be, and if they were, their wives would also have physical needs that must be met, and they had the same right for the church to support them as any other apostle. When someone does work that is of value to another, they deserve reward for doing it. Only if there is no real benefit of what one hears should there be no pay. Even an ox should profit from his efforts, and God planned that those who do his work should reap the physical benefits as well.

As a missionary, Paul's needs would continue, and he did not want his need for an income to stand in the way of the Corinthians receiving Christ. It could well appear to unbelievers that his teaching was just a scam to receive money without work. As a result, he worked at a secular job, and accepted help from other churches, to prevent this from being an issue with those who were not saved. He declares that in receiving help from those other churches, "I robbed other churches, taking wages of them, to do you service," in II Corinthians 11:8.

For those who have been saved and begun to understand the benefits of salvation and teaching, it should be no big deal to share their physical blessing in return fotr the spiritual blessings they have received. Paul's not demanding that the church pay him in no way reduced the church's responsibility to support those who ministered to them. We would not expect the army to serve without charge, and we should not expect the pastor to do so either.

Those who receive the benefit should foot the bill. Getting others to foot the bill is cheating them, whether it is an unpaid pastor, or other churches, though they may, and should, be willing to help. The church should not shirk it 's duty, and Paul expresses concern that his action may have encouraged them to do so in II Corinthians 11:7-8.

It is not wrong for a missionary starting a new church to get financial help to get the church started, or for a pastor to work while he is getting one started. It is wrong for the church to depend on others to continue to pay what they could do themselves. Just as efforts to help the poor can do more harm than good, so can efforts to help other churches. Scriptural guidelines need to be followed in both cases to avoid such harm.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

The Responsibility of Liberty.

I Corinthians 8:9-13

Knowing that an idol is not a god at all, and knowing that there is no food that can interfere with my Christian life, it would be easy to conclude that there are no constraints on me. Paul points out that weak Christians may not be aware of these things, and that it is the strong who must yield their position for the sake of the weak.

"But take heed lest by any means this liberty of yours become a stumblingblock to them that are weak. For if any man see thee which hast knowledge sit at meat in the idol's temple, shall not the conscience of him which is weak be emboldened to eat those things which are offered to idols; And through thy knowledge shall the weak brother perish, for whom Christ died?

But when ye sin so against the brethren, and wound their weak conscience, ye sin against Christ. Wherefore, if meat make my brother to offend, I will eat no flesh while the world standeth, lest I make my brother to offend." (I Corinthians 8:9-13)

My knowledge can become a stumbling block to others. It is my responsibility not to act in such a way as to cause others to be drawn into sin. As a strong Christian, it is my job to teach others God's way, patiently recognizing the weaknesses of others, and giving up my liberty for their benefit. Destroying another's faith by my actions is wrong.

Today, there are those who say it is wrong to celebrate Christmas or Easter, or to eat certain foods, or to dress a certain way. Some of these issues are addressed in Romans 14. Notice that Paul says that those with the most restrictive position are the weak ones.

"Him that is weak in the faith receive ye, but not to doubtful disputations. For one believeth that he may eat all things: another, who is weak, eateth herbs. Let not him that eateth despise him that eateth not; and let not him which eateth not judge him that eateth: for God hath received him. Who art thou that judgest another man's servant? to his own master he standeth or falleth. Yea, he shall be holden up: for God is able to make him stand.

One man esteemeth one day above another: another esteemeth every day alike. Let every man be fully persuaded in his own mind. He that regardeth the day, regardeth it unto the Lord; and he that regardeth not the day, to the Lord he doth not regard it. He that eateth, eateth to the Lord, for he giveth God thanks; and he that eateth not, to the Lord he eateth not, and giveth God thanks.

For none of us liveth to himself, and no man dieth to himself. For whether we live, we live unto the Lord; and whether we die, we die unto the Lord: whether we live therefore, or die, we are the Lord's." (Romans 14:1-8)

The strong are not to make issues of these things. Each person is responsible to God for his actions, and we are not to judge others, whether they do these things or don't do them. Both may be doing it to please God. Notice that this is for things that God has not given specific directions about. It is not talking about the things God has commanded us to separate ourselves from. It is sin for us to condemn a Christian for celebrating or not celebrating a particular holiday or eating certain foods. He is free to choose not to do this as part of his worship of God, or he can give praise to God for allowing him to do it. He has that freedom.

"For it is written, As I live, saith the Lord, every knee shall bow to me, and every tongue shall confess to God. So then every one of us shall give account of himself to God. Let us not therefore judge one another any more: but judge this rather, that no man put a stumblingblock or an occasion to fall in his brother's way.

I know, and am persuaded by the Lord Jesus, that there is nothing unclean of itself: but to him that esteemeth any thing to be unclean, to him it is unclean. But if thy brother be grieved with thy meat, now walkest thou not charitably. Destroy not him with thy meat, for whom Christ died. Let not then your good be evil spoken of: For the kingdom of God is not meat and drink; but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost. For he that in these things serveth Christ is acceptable to God, and approved of men.

Let us therefore follow after the things which make for peace, and things wherewith one may edify another. For meat destroy not the work of God. All things indeed are pure; but it is evil for that man who eateth with offence. It is good neither to eat flesh, nor to drink wine, nor any thing whereby thy brother stumbleth, or is offended, or is made weak. (Romans 14:11-23)

We are not to allow our stance on any point that is not specifically directed by God to become a stumbling block to others. If I believe I am strong, I must yield to the weaker brother. I cannot impose my standards on him, nor can I allow myself to be offended by his weakness. Doing so shows my lack of love, and thus my unspiritual state. Only a perfect person has the right to demand perfection from others. Christ, our example, was perfect, and does not demand it of us. As Romans 15:1 tells us, "We then that are strong ought to bear the infirmities of the weak, and not to please ourselves."

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

The Kingdom of God is Not Meat and Drink

I Corinthians 8:8

But meat commendeth us not to God: for neither, if we eat, are we the better; neither, if we eat not, are we the worse." (I Corinthians 8:8)

The food we eat is irrelevant to God. There is no food that makes more or less pleasing to God. Jesus is very specific about this in his teaching in Matthew 15:7-20. "Ye hypocrites, well did Esaias prophesy of you, saying, This people draweth nigh unto me with their mouth, and honoureth me with their lips; but their heart is far from me. But in vain they do worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men.

And he called the multitude, and said unto them, Hear, and understand: Not that which goeth into the mouth defileth a man; but that which cometh out of the mouth, this defileth a man. Then came his disciples, and said unto him, Knowest thou that the Pharisees were offended, after they heard this saying?

But he answered and said, Every plant, which my heavenly Father hath not planted, shall be rooted up. Let them alone: they be blind leaders of the blind. And if the blind lead the blind, both shall fall into the ditch.

Then answered Peter and said unto him, Declare unto us this parable. And Jesus said, Are ye also yet without understanding? Do not ye yet understand, that whatsoever entereth in at the mouth goeth into the belly, and is cast out into the draught? But those things which proceed out of the mouth come forth from the heart; and they defile the man. For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies: These are the things which defile a man: but to eat with unwashen hands defileth not a man."

As Jesus said, those who don't have any understanding of spiritual matters think the food will make them more pleasing to God, and lead others into trouble. They replace God's commands with those of some man. Paul tells Timothy that those who are forbidding others to eat certain foods have departed from the faith.

"Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils; Speaking lies in hypocrisy; having their conscience seared with a hot iron; Forbidding to marry, and commanding to abstain from meats, which God hath created to be received with thanksgiving of them which believe and know the truth.

For every creature of God is good, and nothing to be refused, if it be received with thanksgiving: For it is sanctified by the word of God and prayer." (ITimothy 4:1-4)

God intended us to thank him and eat whatever is set before us. It is sanctified by God's word and prayer, and as God commanded Peter in Acts 10:15, "And the voice spake unto him again the second time, What God hath cleansed, that call not thou common." God rebuked him for refusing to eat, even though it was something the jews were not to eat, because God had cleansed it. As Paul tells Timothy, nothing is to be refused. "For the kingdom of God is not meat and drink; but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost." (Romans 14:17)

Those who are teaching that these things are relevant to being a Christian have departed from the faith. They are blind leaders of the blind, and will cause those who follow them to fall into a ditch. Unfortunately, they have convinced their followers that they are right, and are leading them astray as well.

Spiritually immature Christians may easily be led to believe that such teachings are valid. Unlike their leaders, they may not deliberately be accepting false doctrine. Spiritual people will recognize and adjust to that in an effort to lead them into a spiritual walk. The strong must adjust his demands to meet the capabilities of the weak, since the weak can't meet those of the strong. Paul will address how to do that in the next few verses.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Basis of Dietary Standards

I Corinthians 8:1-7

Many of those who had come to Corinth after Apollos left had brought in new standards of conduct. Surrounded by idolatry and heathen practices, spiritually weak people didn’t know what to accept or reject. Chapters 8 through the first part of chapter 11 are devoted to those standards that are pleasing to God, and how they are to be set. These guidelines for setting standards are not based on Paul’s opinion, but on Gods commands.

We are told that Corinth was an idolatrous city. The people would take food offerings to their various idols to obtain favor and worship them. The food would then be taken to the market and sold for money for the priests and the temples. Some of the teachers who came to Corinth were apparently teaching that it was wrong to eat food sacrificed to idols, and thus they should not buy in the market because they didn’t know if it had been offered to idols or not. Paul addresses the issue.

Now as touching things offered unto idols, we know that we all have knowledge. Knowledge puffeth up, but charity edifieth. And if any man think that he knoweth any thing, he knoweth nothing yet as he ought to know. But if any man love God, the same is known of him.

As concerning therefore the eating of those things that are offered in sacrifice unto idols, we know that an idol is nothing in the world, and that there is none other God but one. For though there be that are called gods, whether in heaven or in earth, (as there be gods many, and lords many,) But to us there is but one God, the Father, of whom are all things, and we in him; and one Lord Jesus Christ, by whom are all things, and we by him.

Howbeit there is not in every man that knowledge: for some with conscience of the idol unto this hour eat it as a thing offered unto an idol; and their conscience being weak is defiled.” (I Corinthians 8:1-7)

Christians know that idolatry is wrong. That is not the question. The problem is that that knowledge, about any subject, can lead to pride, setting ourselves above others, rather than a desire to help others attain their maximum potential. When we start with the idea that we have the answers, we only demonstrate our ignorance, because we have not yet begun to learn. Even if we take the right position, it is not based on sound premises, and may be improperly applied. Even those things we are convinced are right need to be carefully studied to be sure they are actually true, and that we apply them properly.

God knows who loves him and is trying to serve him. They do not need to do something to show him. They are accountable to him according to Romans 14:4, and it is God’s place to judge, not ours. Our standards need to reflect that.

Talking about the specific question of eating what has been offered to idols, there are some things that need to be recognized, Though others think of that idol as a God, he isn’t. He has no power, and worshiping him gives him none. There is only one God, and one saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ. Our salvation is through him. Food offered to some other God is simply wasted food.

Unfortunately, some people do not know this, And when they eat that food, they are thinking about it as a sacrifice to some god. In their minds, they are worshipping that god, rather than God. and for them it is sin to eat that food, though there is nothing wrong with the food. It is the heart attitude that matters.

A Life Time Commitment

I Corinthians 7:35-40

Paul summarizes his answers to the church's questions about sex and marriage in the last few verses of chapter 7. His intention is not to burden the church, but to free them to serve God in a manner which is pleasing to God.

"And this I speak for your own profit; not that I may cast a snare upon you, but for that which is comely, and that ye may attend upon the Lord without distraction. But if any man think that he behaveth himself uncomely toward his virgin, if she pass the flower of her age, and need so require, let him do what he will, he sinneth not: let them marry.

Nevertheless he that standeth stedfast in his heart, having no necessity, but hath power over his own will, and hath so decreed in his heart that he will keep his virgin, doeth well. So then he that giveth her in marriage doeth well; but he that giveth her not in marriage doeth better.

The wife is bound by the law as long as her husband liveth; but if her husband be dead, she is at liberty to be married to whom she will; only in the Lord. But she is happier if she so abide, after my judgment: and I think also that I have the Spirit of God." (I Corinthians 7:35-40)

If a person is troubled at not having a family, or sexual desires, he is free to marry, provided he is not already married to someone else. To marry will not prevent his serving God, and those who forbid marriage have departed from the faith according to I Timothy 4:1-3. If it frees that person from struggling with temptation and longings, it is better for them to marry.

On the other hand, a person who is not troubled by the thought of being alone will have greater freedom in serving the Lord, and thus will be better off single. He or she may actually serve God more because of that state, doing better than the married person. The demand that a person be married, or not married is evidence of an unspiritual state, not recognizing the freedom we have in Christ, nor God's ability to work in different ways. It demonstrates an attitude that we know more than the Apostle Paul about what is best.

Marriage is for life, and we are bound to the one we marry as long as both lifes continue. Death frees one from that responsibility, as it does not continue in heaven. We need to reslize that even death leaves remnamts of that original bond, and if the widow or widower is troubled by being alone, they are free to remarry, although the baggage they brng into the marriage may make it harder. If they can, without distress, they would be better off to remain single. The situation is different for those who are divorced, as death has not freed them, and man does not have that authority.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Removing Distractions to Service

I Corinthians 7:25-35

Paul is very specific that he has no command from God concerning whether virgins are to marry or not. The preceding instructions are for those who are not virgins. He is going to give his opinion, as one who has earned the right to be heard by his faithful study and service.

"Now concerning virgins I have no commandment of the Lord: yet I give my judgment, as one that hath obtained mercy of the Lord to be faithful. I suppose therefore that this is good for the present distress, I say, that it is good for a man so to be. Art thou bound unto a wife? seek not to be loosed. Art thou loosed from a wife? seek not a wife. But and if thou marry, thou hast not sinned; and if a virgin marry, she hath not sinned. Nevertheless such shall have trouble in the flesh: but I spare you." (I Corinthians 7:25-28)

We ought to be like Paul in being content in whatever state we are in. God has not commanded that we marry, nor has he forbidden it. Whatever our state, it has served God's purpose to this point. Whether married or not, we should not be trying to change the situation. If God wants the situation changed, he will show what he wants. It is not sin to marry, if one is free to do so, but it is not sin to stay single either, and there will be problems in a marriage. There are no perfect marriages. Good marriages accept the problems, and in love overlook them. Bad marriages dwell on the problems.

"But this I say, brethren, the time is short: it remaineth, that both they that have wives be as though they had none; And they that weep, as though they wept not; and they that rejoice, as though they rejoiced not; and they that buy, as though they possessed not; And they that use this world, as not abusing it: for the fashion of this world passeth away.But I would have you without carefulness.

He that is unmarried careth for the things that belong to the Lord, how he may please the Lord: But he that is married careth for the things that are of the world, how he may please his wife. There is difference also between a wife and a virgin. The unmarried woman careth for the things of the Lord, that she may be holy both in body and in spirit: but she that is married careth for the things of the world, how she may please her husband.

And this I speak for your own profit; not that I may cast a snare upon you, but for that which is comely, and that ye may attend upon the Lord without distraction." (I Corinthians 7:29-35)

Paul's primary concern is that Christians be able to concentrate on serving God. Married people have a responsibility to a proper relationship with their spouse. When our relationship is not right to our spouse, our relationship with God is also hindered, as I Peter 3:7 tells us. A controlling husband or wife frequently demands attention and obedience that distracts from serving God, and causes conflict. I Corinthians 3:1-3 makes it clear that conflict between Christians demonstrates an unspiritual state, even when it is between husband and wife.

Unmarried people can be so caught up in sexual lust that they are distracted from serving God as well. Constant focus on sex, even in an effort to overcome it, such as what is portrayed in several books on getting victory over the sin only distract from serving God. Simply walking in the Spirit will keep us from falling into sin. Marrying may relieve that distraction for some. As a result, Paul gives tha following advice in I Timothy 5:14-15. "I will therefore that the younger women marry, bear children, guide the house, give none occasion to the adversary to speak reproachfully. For some are already turned aside after Satan."

Because the time is so short, and "they neither marry or are given in marriage" in heaven, marriage, like other earthly things should not consume our attention. Matthew 6:33 describes where our focus should be. "But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you."

Unspiritual people do not recognize how unimportant these things are. Which will least distract you from serving God is more important than whether you are married or not.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Let Every Man abide in the State Wherein He Was Called

I Corinthians 7:12-24

"But to the rest speak I, not the Lord: If any brother hath a wife that believeth not, and she be pleased to dwell with him, let him not put her away. And the woman which hath an husband that believeth not, and if he be pleased to dwell with her, let her not leave him. For the unbelieving husband is sanctified by the wife, and the unbelieving wife is sanctified by the husband: else were your children unclean; but now are they holy.

But if the unbelieving depart, let him depart. A brother or a sister is not under bondage in such cases: but God hath called us to peace. For what knowest thou, O wife, whether thou shalt save thy husband? or how knowest thou, O man, whether thou shalt save thy wife? But as God hath distributed to every man, as the Lord hath called every one, so let him walk. And so ordain I in all churches." (I Corinthians 7:12-17)

Paul has now come to an area where God has not given specific direction, and he will give his opinion, based on the word of God, and the Holy Spirit's leadership. The same standard of marriage and staying with your mate applies if the unsaved one desires to keep the marriage despite the others Christianity. This is not different.

Certain religious and ethnic groups teach theirmembers that if a member of their family leaves their group for a different one, they are to cut off all ties and refuse to associate with them. When a member of these groups become a Christian, their mate, and their family may well leave them for their Christianity. God is not willing for us to sacrifice our relation to him to maintain peace in such a situation. If they threaten to leave because you serve God, allow them to go. Don't stop serving God to keep them. They have made the choice.

On the other hand, the Christian is not to break the bond God has created just because the other is not a Christian. Christians need to avoid involvement with non christians, according to II Corinthians 6:14. "Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness?" Nevertheless, this does not set aside the action of God in bonding them in marriage. God will sanctify the offspring, so that they are not a product of sin. Once God has joined them, separating them is sin. The Christian should not be the one committing the sin.

There is the possibility of the Christian winning the unsaved to Christ, which needs to be taken into account. I Peter 3:1-2 stresses the wife's opportunity. "Likewise, ye wives, be in subjection to your own husbands; that, if any obey not the word, they also may without the word be won by the conversation of the wives; While they behold your chaste conversation coupled with fear." By yielding to her husband, and living a Godly, pure life, and being respectful, she may win her husband. To do so will require learning to walk in the Spirit, not in the flesh, not focused on the things of the world, and giving no inkling of infidelity.

The husband has the same opportunity, as I Peter 3:7 informs us. "Likewise, ye husbands, dwell with them according to knowledge, giving honour unto the wife, as unto the weaker vessel, and as being heirs together of the grace of life; that your prayers be not hindered." He needs to recognize that physically she is not as strong as he is, and that as a Christian she3 is his equal, not his slave. They should function like a team of surgeons, each having his own area of expertise, and each able to function independently, but working together to accomplish something greater than either could accomplish alone. By treating his wife in such a fashion, He may win her to Christ. Failure to treat her this way, whether Christian or not, is sin.

Whatever ones situation may be, we need to recognize that God has brought us to that point, and rejoice that he is in charge. Whether we got to this point as a result of our own actions, or the actions of others, God has caused it to turn out this way. Rather than rebelling, trust him and allow him to have his way. Don't try to force change. Our salvation is not dependent on our physical state, and neither is our spiritual walk.

"Is any man called being circumcised? let him not become uncircumcised. Is any called in uncircumcision? let him not be circumcised. Circumcision is nothing, and uncircumcision is nothing, but the keeping of the commandments of God. Let every man abide in the same calling wherein he was called.

Art thou called being a servant? care not for it: but if thou mayest be made free, use it rather. For he that is called in the Lord, being a servant, is the Lord's freeman: likewise also he that is called, being free, is Christ's servant. Ye are bought with a price; be not ye the servants of men. Brethren, let every man, wherein he is called, therein abide with God." (I Corinthians 7:18-24)

If we have the opportunity to make a change that would free us to serve God more freely, we should take it, but we should not make changes that reduce our freedom to serve God. Having your own business, for example, may reduce rather than increasing your freedom.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Divorce and the Christian

I Corinthians 7:10-11

The Shakers did not believe in marriage, and the founder left her husband in order to found the sect. Through the years, many others have left their husband or wife to be free to "serve the Lord." Passages such as Matthew 16:24-27 have been used to support this doctrine. Some such teaching was apparently showing up in the church at Corinth as well, as a result of their unspiritual state, and Paul responds to their questions.

And unto the married I command, yet not I, but the Lord, Let not the wife depart from her husband: But and if she depart, let her remain unmarried, or be reconciled to her husband: and let not the husband put away his wife." (I Corinthians 7:10-11)

Spirit led Christians should not be separating from or divorcing their mates. If they do so for whatever reason, they are not to marry someone else. They are to remain celibate, or be reconciled to their mate. This is God's command. It recognizes that a mate can be so abusive that one cannot remain in the relationship, but that does not free one to go elsewhere.

This is exactly what Jesus teaches in Matthew 19:3-9. "The Pharisees also came unto him, tempting him, and saying unto him, Is it lawful for a man to put away his wife for every cause?

And he answered and said unto them, Have ye not read, that he which made them at the beginning made them male and female, And said, For this cause shall a man leave father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife: and they twain shall be one flesh? Wherefore they are no more twain, but one flesh. What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder. They say unto him, Why did Moses then command to give a writing of divorcement, and to put her away?

He saith unto them, Moses because of the hardness of your hearts suffered you to put away your wives: but from the beginning it was not so. And I say unto you, Whosoever shall put away his wife, except it be for fornication, and shall marry another, committeth adultery: and whoso marrieth her which is put away doth commit adultery."

Marriage is an act of God, and mankind does not have tha authority to separate them. This was never God's intent, but the law recognized the wicked nature of humanity and provided a meanas of escape. It is adultery to leave one mate, even though a divorce has been obtained, and marry some one else, unless that mate has been sexually involved with someone else. In the Old Testament, that would have called for their execution. In the New Testament, That is the only grounds for more than a legal separation, which is the Meaning of the Greek word for divorcement.

Jesus had said pretty much the same thing earlier, in Matthew 5:31-32. "It hath been said, Whosoever shall put away his wife, let him give her a writing of divorcement: But I say unto you, That whosoever shall put away his wife, saving for the cause of fornication, causeth her to commit adultery: and whosoever shall marry her that is divorced committeth adultery." Separation, for any reason except fornication by the other party, exposes them to temptaition to adultery. As previously stated in I Corinthians, marital relations are the best way to prevent sexual misconduct. Here he says that we are accountable for the other's sin if we separate or otherwise fail to live up to our sexual responsibility.

Separation is not to be lightly entered into, as it is a definite rejection of God, and his perfect will. It is not grounds for excluding one from the church, however, and once the separation has occurred, the person can stay separated or return to their mate, as they choose. The choice is not limited to the man, as some have taught, as Paul specifically speaks of the woman in this passage.

Jesus' teaching in the preceding passages infer that fornication, (actual physical sex outside marriage, whether homosexual, or heterosexual), is grounds for divorce, and appears to infer that the injured party is free to marry someone else. Under the Old Testament law, if one of the couple married someone else, they were forbidden to return to the original mate, even if the the second mate died. It raises doubt about reconciliation for adultery or other sexual sin being practical or desirable. It is definitely not required, and in some cases is forbidden

Just as in the Corinthian church, divorce is a problem in todays church, and for the same reason. There are few spiritual Christians in the church. As a result, unscriptural positions have been adopted, and the problem grows year by year. The solution is to learn to walk in the spirit.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

It Is Better To Marry Than To Burn

I Corinthians 7:6-9

Paul made it clear that sex is not essential for an individuals life, and thus a person can choose not to get involved in sexual sin, in I Corinthians 6:13. As Christians we have a responsibility to live in a way that pleases ansd glorifies God, rather than ourselves. He starts off Chapter seven with the statement that it is good for a man not to touch a woman. The reasons will be discussed later in the chapter. He then instructs that marriage is a way of preventing fornication and thus is a good thing. His advice makes it clear that taking responsibility can prevent temptation.

Paul also wants us to know that what he said does not make it a requirement to be married. Just as some have taught that to serve God, one must not marry, a second group has taught that marriage is essential to serve God. both positions are equally unsound.

"But I speak this by permission, and not of commandment. For I would that all men were even as I myself. But every man hath his proper gift of God, one after this manner, and another after that. I say therefore to the unmarried and widows, It is good for them if they abide even as I. But if they cannot contain, let them marry: for it is better to marry than to burn." (I Corinthians 7:6-9)

As he says, we have permission to marry, it is not a command. He himself would rather that everyone be single, just as he was. God , however has given different ones different gifts, and different jobs, and we cannot demand that others live by what we think is ideal, since God has a different plan for them. As Romans 14:4 says, "Who art thou that judgest another man's servant? to his own master he standeth or falleth. Yea, he shall be holden up: for God is able to make him stand." Their responsibility is to God, not to us.

As a result, it is good if a person stays single, just as Paul did. If it is or becomes a problem keeping ones thoughts pure, however, it is better to go ahead and marry than to struggle with lust. This applies equally to unmarried and to those who's mates have died.

The goal is to avoid sin in the church. A person may not commit the physical act, but as Matthew 5:28 tells us, "But I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart." It is better to marry, than to struggle with the lust and temptation. For those who are not married, the choice is theirs.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Defraud Ye not One Another.

I Corinthians 7:1-5

The church at Corinth had not matured spiritually, and many problems had arisen as a result. Some things were being accepted that are not acceptable for Christians. Paul has dealt with these things already. Things were being taught that some of the older members were unsure about, and they had written to Paul, asking what was right. Most of the rest of I Corinthians is to addressing those teachings, and how we should treat them.

There had been some questions about marriage, including whether it was right to mrry at all. Apparently, some of the teaching was like that Paul warned Timothy about in I Timothy 4:1-3. "Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils; Speaking lies in hypocrisy; having their conscience seared with a hot iron; Forbidding to marry, and commanding to abstain from meats, which God hath created to be received with thanksgiving of them which believe and know the truth."

Since these doctrines are Satanic in origin, we know that they are for the purpose of turning people away from God. Truths will be used and misused to propagate falsehood. It will be neccessary to look deeper into the word of God to answer the questions. Failure to do so will lead to false doctrine, misleading people from the truth. Paul starts with questions about marriage.

"Now concerning the things whereof ye wrote unto me: It is good for a man not to touch a woman. Nevertheless, to avoid fornication, let every man have his own wife, and let every woman have her own husband. Let the husband render unto the wife due benevolence: and likewise also the wife unto the husband. The wife hath not power of her own body, but the husband: and likewise also the husband hath not power of his own body, but the wife.

Defraud ye not one the other, except it be with consent for a time, that ye may give yourselves to fasting and prayer; and come together again, that Satan tempt you not for your incontinency." (I Corinthians 7:1-5)

Paul says that it is good for there to be no sexual contasct. Humans have a God given desire for sex, however, and marriage is desireable because it serves to satisfy that desire in an acceptable manner, preventing sin. Each one is to have their own husband or wife. While polygamy is not expressly forbidden, it is clearly implied that it is not desirable. It is expressly forbidden for church leaders in I Timothy 3:1-13 and Titus 1:5-11.

Regular sexual activity is required to maintain the bond that God establishes between husband and wife. Each has a right to regular enjoyment of the others body. In fact, to deprive ones mate is to defraud or cheat them. Adultery is not cheating on your mate, it deserves the death penalty, seriously damaging or breaking the bond God has established.

The only valid excuse for withholding sexual relations, other than actual physical constraints, is to devote oneself to fasting and prayer. Even this is only acceptable by mutual consent, and only for the duration of the fasting. Those church leaders and college professors who tell people thay are there to serve the Lord and their mates will just have to accept it have placed themselves in direct opposition to God.

God wants his children to support and strengthen what he has done, not weaken or destroy it. A desire not to express our love by meeting the desires and longings of ones mate indicates that we are not walking in the Spirit. Both I Timothy 3 and Titus 1 state that a person who cannot maintain aproper relationship to their family is spiritually unqualified to lead a church.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Ye Are Not Your Own

I Corinthians 6:19-20

What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God's." (I Corinthians 6:19-20)

Imagine buying a house. The contract stipulates that the former owner is to be moved out and allow you to move in by a certain date. On the specified date you arrive with your stuf, to find that he still has not moved all his stuff, but he assures you he'll get it out. Months later, you come home to find that he is using your washer and dryer, and hanging his clothing in your closet. He has even moved back some of the furniture he had moved out. What would you do?

When you bought the house, he gave up his right to it. Anything he does in the house after the sale must be approved by you. You would not allow things which prevent you from using the house freely or which you did not want in your home. If neccessary, you would contact the police or the court to force him out.

When we accept Christ, we give up our rights, and allow him to buy us. Matthew 16:24-26 says we have to give up our desires. "Then said Jesus unto his disciples, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me. For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it. For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul? From verse 26, it is clear he is talking about being saved.

Luke 14:26, talking about the same thing, states that it is impossible to be his disciple without giving up our own will. "If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple." This is re-iterated in verse 33. "So likewise, whosoever he be of you that forsaketh not all that he hath, he cannot be my disciple." Many try to skip that commitment, but Jesus says it is impossible to be saved without it. Saving faith believes to that point, and makes that commitment, even though it may be unspoken. Salvation is not just a fire escape, and you can't just try Jesus.

To go back into sin after salvation is like moving back into a house we no longer own and beginning to change things to suit ourselves. We are obligated to allow him control, letting him decide what is done, and how. Our relationship to other Christians, our sex life, our marriage, and everything else is to be for his glory, not our pleasure.

Flee Fornication.

I Corinthians 6:18

Flee fornication. Every sin that a man doeth is without the body; but he that committeth fornication sinneth against his own body." (I Corinthians 6:18)

Don't ever run away, it proves you're a coward. Stand up like a man. That's the philosophy most of us were raised with, and it is the approach we take to overcoming temptation. To run from a dog encourages him to attack you, but to run from an impending explosion is the only intelligent choice. An old soldier told his son how to be truly brave. "Size up the enemy, decide what the best solution is, and act accordingly." That might include running.

With the dog, convincing him that you will fight, but are not agressive is the best choice. Sizing up the explosion, on the other hand, tells you that the best solution is to be far enough away. Fornication is like the explosion, If you are there, you will be hurt. There is no way to convince it not to hurt you. Many were saying that drugs were beneficial during the 60's, even though all of them are known poisons. Ingesting them weakens your health, and excessive use is usually fatal. To use them is deliberately allowing them to have that effect on our body.

Fornication refers to promiscuous sexual activity, never to the physical relationship between husband and wife. It does refer to all sexual activity outside marriage, and the particular form used here refers especially to prostitution, either as prostitute, or client.

There is an old saying that when you sleep with someone, you sleep with everyone they have slept with. You are, by having sex, exposing yourself to the possibility of contacting every sexually transmitted disease they may have come in contact with, as well as any other contagious disease. These can range from mononucleosis and herpes, to full blown AIDS. Since the symptoms of most diseases take a while to develop, the carrier may not be aware that they have been infected, and some don't care. It is foolish to take that risk. Continued promiscuity almost guarantees that one or more will eventually occur.

The physical and emotional joining, on the other hand, will certainly occur with every sexual encounter. Initially, breaking that bonding is, according to Psychiatric studies, nearly as devastating as having an arm amputated. Each additional joining interfers with each of the others, weakening the ability to bond fully, thus preventing ever experiencing a fully satisfying relationship. This is irreversible and greatly reduces the possibility of a good marriage. You have literally sinned against yourself.

Promiscuity, like any other sin, can lead to loss of pleasure in normal sexual acts and into various perversions, including homosexuality, abuse, and masochism. Serial torture, rape amd murder are ultimate outcomes of such yielding to sin. Paul describes this in Ephesians 4:19. "Who being past feeling have given themselves over unto lasciviousness, to work all uncleanness with greediness." They become so desensitized that what is to others the extreme in pleasure or pain is meaningless to them. They have destroyed their own sense of pleasure.

There are a lot of books about dealing with sexual temptation. Several deal with it as battle for your mind. A great deal of emphasis is placed on controlling your mind, because Jesus said in Matthew 5:28, "But I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart." As James tells us, we are tempted when we let our lusts entice us to do sin. That lust, when allowed to continue, results in sin. Self control is about facing and standing up to the problem. The battle is already lost, if we depend on self control. Every dieter can tell how often they fell back when depending on self control.

Christ has already won the victory. We are no longer controled by sin. We have a new mind. It is not about self control. Paul tells us in Galatians 5:16, "This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh." Walking in the Spirit will prevent lust from enticing us. The lust will not concieve, and sin will not result. Attaining victory is actually quite easy. When the Holy Spirit is in control, it is automatic.

Nancy Reagans's "Just Say No" program was probably the most effective anti drug program ever used. Drug use declined steadily during the time the program was in place. Because it was "too simple to work", it was replaced with much more expensive and powerful programs. Drug use has mushroomed since the program was dropped.

Paul is instructing us to just say "NO" to fornication. We have the neccessary power. Flee. Unlike the dog, it won't chase you down. Run to Christ and allow the Holy Spirit to take over. Instead of you controlling your mind, let him control it. Fornication will no longer be a temptation.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Two Shall Be One Flesh

I Corinthians 6:15-17

Know ye not that your bodies are the members of Christ? shall I then take the members of Christ, and make them the members of an harlot? God forbid. What? know ye not that he which is joined to an harlot is one body? for two, saith he, shall be one flesh. But he that is joined unto the Lord is one spirit." (I Corinthians 6:15-17)

As Christians, we are spiritually members of the body of Christ. Paul uses this imagery repeatedly to help us understand our relationship to Christ, and to one another. The image he portrays here is similar to a modern day transplant. It does not make sense to transplant organs from a healthy person to one who has damaged organs, except in cases where the healthy person will not be seriously harmed by having the organ removed. The risk of failure, and the extreme difficulty of the process makes transplanting parts which are not essential for survival, even from terminally injured patients, almost pointless, even with modern technology.

To transplant an arm or a leg from one person to another will very probably destroy the arm or leg, and will definitely seriously handicap the donor. It is unlikely to be benefit the recipient to the maximum benefit due to the likelyhood that if it survives, it probably will never attain full strength or function, and may be totally useless. By becoming sexually involved with a prostitute, Paul says, we are effectively transplanting a part of the body of Christ to a prostitute.

Sexual intercourse, Paul says under inspiration of the Holy Spirit, joins us to that other person. He then quotes Adam's statement about marriage as proving the validity of that statement. The statement is the basis for godly marriage and is as follows: "And the rib, which the LORD God had taken from man, made he a woman, and brought her unto the man. And Adam said, This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh: she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man. Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh." (Genesis 2:22-24)

Jesus states that that joining is caused by God, and that once accomplished, no man has the authority to separate them. He also quotes Genesis 2:24 as the basis. The person officiating at the marriage does not in fact, join them in marriage, nor does the state or church have jurisdiction over marriage. Matthew 19:3-6makes this clear. "The Pharisees also came unto him, tempting him, and saying unto him, Is it lawful for a man to put away his wife for every cause? And he answered and said unto them, Have ye not read, that he which made them at the beginning made them male and female, And said, For this cause shall a man leave father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife: and they twain shall be one flesh? Wherefore they are no more twain, but one flesh. What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder."

As Christians, we are not under the law, but Paul tells us, in I Corinthians 10, that those things were given as an example for us. Deuteronomy 22 gives us God's command to israel in the law regarding sexual behaviour. It shows us how God wants such behaviour dealt with. I would like to examine it in reverse order, starting with what is commonly called pre-marital sex.

If a man find a damsel that is a virgin, which is not betrothed, and lay hold on her, and lie with her, and they be found; Then the man that lay with her shall give unto the damsel's father fifty shekels of silver, and she shall be his wife; because he hath humbled her, he may not put her away all his days." (Deuteronomy 22:28-29)

If a guy had sex with a girl, he was obligated to claim her as his wife, taking all the responsibilities associated with marriage. If rape were suspected, he could never divorce her. In certain situations, too young or fear of abuse for example, the parents might refuse to allow her to live with him, but technically they were still married, according to Exodus 22:16-17. "And if a man entice a maid that is not betrothed, and lie with her, he shall surely endow her to be his wife. If her father utterly refuse to give her unto him, he shall pay money according to the dowry of virgins." This was not optional.

Sex with a someone who was joined(married) to another, on the other hand, required a mandantory death penalty. Consensual sex required the execution of both parties. Rape required the execution of the rapist. Consider the following.

If a man be found lying with a woman married to an husband, then they shall both of them die, both the man that lay with the woman, and the woman: so shalt thou put away evil from Israel.

If a damsel that is a virgin be betrothed unto an husband, and a man find her in the city, and lie with her; Then ye shall bring them both out unto the gate of that city, and ye shall stone them with stones that they die; the damsel, because she cried not, being in the city; and the man, because he hath humbled his neighbour's wife: so thou shalt put away evil from among you.

But if a man find a betrothed damsel in the field, and the man force her, and lie with her: then the man only that lay with her shall die: But unto the damsel thou shalt do nothing; there is in the damsel no sin worthy of death: for as when a man riseth against his neighbour, and slayeth him, even so is this matter: For he found her in the field, and the betrothed damsel cried, and there was none to save her." (Deuteronomy 22:22-27)

This is the standard that God set, and it clearly is in conflict withe the traditions of most Americans. Spiritual people will recognize God's standard, while those who are carnal will retain their traditions, as Paul tells us in I Corinthians 14:37-38.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

The Body Was Not Made For Fornication

I Corinthians 6:13-14

Corinth, from the descriptions Paul gives, and those by historians and commentators, was very much like our modern world. Sex was apparently viewed as a neccessity, especially for guys. The temple of Aphrodite provided prostitutes for their worshippers, and even married women were expected to occasionally serve in that capacity as part of their worship of the Godess. Promiscuity was rampant, and marriage was considered somewhat foolish for young people. Divorce was commonplace and considered normal.

The Corinthian Christians had grown up with this same teaching about sexual behaviour and, like every other culture, had brought some of these traditional teachings with them into the church. As a result of their carnality, they had not matured properly to recognize that these teachings were contrary to what God wanted. They probably thought of them as only a minor problem, not to be taken too seriously. Their attitude was much like that of the pastor in Farmington, New Mexico, who said "You young ladies need to keep yourselves pure, but we can't really expect these old rough boys to."

Some groups insist that it is not right to change the culture of those we preach to. It is true that changing the culture is not the goal, but when a person becomes a Christian, he becomes a part of a different culture, a citizen of heaven. As such, some parts of his old culture are not acceptable, regardless what culture he is from. Unfortunately, many missionaries and teachers try to convert them to their own old culture, rather than to what God desires.

Paul does not attack their old culture, but focuses on what God has specified. It is very different from what they have accepted, and in many cases different from what many of us have been taught as well. He begins by contradicting a widely held opinion, common in our day.

"Meats for the belly, and the belly for meats: but God shall destroy both it and them. Now the body is not for fornication, but for the Lord; and the Lord for the body. And God hath both raised up the Lord, and will also raise up us by his own power." (I Corinthians 6:13-14)

Food (meats) is essential to the body. The digestive system is designed solely for the purpose of digesting food efficiently, extracting needed nutrients in useable form, and eliminating waste. Foods are designed to provide neccessary nutrients in a manner to be readily extracted and used. These nutrients vary with the type of animal eating them and the digestive system matches the food eaten. They are neccessary for survival, but both the body and the food are perishable, and will die and decay.

Sex, or fornication, on the other hand, is not essential for the survival of the individual, or for his physical health. Most are only capable of procreation at certain stages in their lives, under certain conditions. Theit lives continue whether those conditions are met or not. Humans are less bound by such constraints, and are much freer to choose whether to indulge in sexual activity or not. Sex is not a primary purpose of our body, not what it was made for.

Humans were made for God's pleasure according to Revelation 4:11. "Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honour and power: for thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created." We were not designed to please ourselves, but God. As such, the greatest joy and pleasure will be found in fulfilling that purpose. Paul's teaching in the next verses and through chapter seven will explain how to please God in this area.

The results will be both temporal and eternal, producing immediate benefits, and eternal rewards. The body will be destroyed, but God will raise us up. As Hebrews 9:27 tells us, "And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment." For our own spiritual welfare, we need to learn and follow God's plan. As Jesus said in John 14:21, "He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me." He goes on to say that the person who does not keep his commands does not love him. His blessings, and his filling are for those that love and obey him. "Jesus answered and said unto him, If a man love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him. He that loveth me not keepeth not my sayings: and the word which ye hear is not mine, but the Father's which sent me." (John 14:23-24)

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

All Things are Lawful Unto Me, But...

I Corinthians 6:12

"All things are lawful unto me, but all things are not expedient: all things are lawful for me, but I will not be brought under the power of any." (I Corinthians 6:12)

There is no sin that I can commit, that can cause me to lose my salvation. All is lawful unto me. Why? "For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast. For we are his workmanship," (Ephesians 2:8-10). My own works had nothing to do with my salvation. It was God's gift. It was done so that I could not take pride in my own efforts. I am his workmanship. I cannot claim to be self made. What I am is what he has made me to be. My actions cannot change who or what I am. I am not what I do, but what I do will usually reflect who and what I am.

It is not my own works that keeps me, any more than it was I who saved me. I Peter 1:5 tells us, "Who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. It is the power of God that keeps me saved, through faith. As Paul asks in I Corinthians 10:22, "Do we provoke the Lord to jealousy? are we stronger than he?" Unless we are, nothing we do can break his power to keep us.

So what does it matter what I do? If I cannot lose my salvation, doesn't that mean I am free to do any thing? As one lady said, "If I believed that, I'd kill my husband."Such an attitude ignores who and what we are. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them." (Ephesians 2:10) We were saved with the intent tha we would do good works. It is part of our new nature, as we have seen from our study of I Corinthians 6:9-11.

We choose to yield unto God rather than to the carnal nature. As Paul describes in Romans 7:14-25, The only way to obtain victory over that sin is through faith in Jesus Christ. This is where James 2 fits into the picture. The devils believe. They also believe that they can overcome God, so ignore his commands. We demonstrate our faith in his power by acting according to his word. The actions do not save us or keep us saved, but they demonstrate the reality of our faith.

As I Corinthians 6:12 says, there is nothing that can send me to hell, but there are things that I can do that are not beneficial to me or to the cause of Christ, and may be actually harmful to my relationship to him, or to my physicasl wellbeing. I Corinthians 10:23 clarifies this. "All things are lawful for me, but all things are not expedient: all things are lawful for me, but all things edify not." A lot of things I can do will not strengthen me or other Christians. Many will serve to hinder my testimony to the unsaved, or even driuve them away.

There are also things that Satan uses in an effort to gain control of my life. Paul Says that he refuses to allow them to gain control. as they then prevent freedom in his relationship to Christ. Such things can include alcohol, drugs, gambling, and sex are some of the more commonly recognized as evil. All the action listed as works of the flesh fall into one of these categories.

A less commonly recognized source of control is debt, but Proverbs 22:7 tells us, "The rich ruleth over the poor, and the borrower is servant to the lender." Employers, political leaders, religious leaders, marriage partners, and parents can all attempt to attain control. While all have some authority, their authority is limited, and all tend to try to gain greater power. That attempt to exceed their authority is Satanicly inspired.

While it is good to participate in sports, to have a job, to care for children, and many other things, these things should never be allowed to control our life. When they prevent us obeying God, they are sin.

Note again Paul's statement: "All things are lawful unto me, but all things are not expedient: all things are lawful for me, but I will not be brought under the power of any." (I Corinthians 6:12) As the Apostles told the council in Acts 5:29, "We ought to Obey God rather than men." Allowing anything or anyone to have excessive power over our lives prevents us from obeying God fully. Anything that hinders my relationship with God, or that of others should be avoided.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Ye Shall Not Fulfil The Lusts of The Flesh

I Corinthians 6:9-11

"Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind, Nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you: but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God." (I Corinthians 6:9-11)

The Corinthians, in trying to defraud others by lawsuits, were in effect extorting others. Their behaviour was a result of their unspiritual state. They were doing this and other things that were typical of those who were not saved. People who live in such a manner are not saved. Galatians 5: 19-21 reinforces this. "Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, Idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, Envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God."

When a person becomes a Christian, these things are taken out of our lives, we are pure before God. We become a new person, according to II Corinthians 5:17, "Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new." It is not just our standing before God that is changed, but our attitude, our desires, and our understanding according to Ephesians 4:24, and Colossians 3:10.

Galatians 2:20 states that we are dead with Christ, so that Our life now is to be controlled by Christ by faith. "I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.

Romans 6:6-14 re-iterates this, and says that we need to recognize it as a truth, that sin no longer has power over us. We do not need to allow sin to control our lives. "Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin. For he that is dead is freed from sin. Now if we be dead with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with him: Knowing that Christ being raised from the dead dieth no more; death hath no more dominion over him. For in that he died, he died unto sin once: but in that he liveth, he liveth unto God.

Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord. Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, that ye should obey it in the lusts thereof. Neither yield ye your members as instruments of unrighteousness unto sin: but yield yourselves unto God, as those that are alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness unto God."

We must simply yield ourselves to God, letting him take control. Faith that does not enable this is dead faith, and cannot save, as James 2 tells us. As Galatians 5:25 tells us, "If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit."

Recognizing what we have and acting on it will prevent falling into sin. Paul says "This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh." We are no longer those adulterers, or drunks , or other things, and should not continue in them, if we have recieved the Holy Spirit. Romans 8:8-10 sums it up, "So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God. But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his. And if Christ be in you, the body is dead because of sin; but the Spirit is life because of righteousness." If the Holy spirit is not there, the person is not a Christian, not saved.

Friday, March 6, 2009

No Job for Lawyers

I Corinthians 6:1-8

Several years ago, a new Baptist church moved into a town. The old Baptist church, more than 100 years old, was named the First Baptist Church. The new church was associated with a group which has often used the name on their churches, and has claimed the name as their denomiations property. They proceeded to sue the old church for using the name, even though the older church was in fact the first Baptist church in town.

The suit made national news, and many people were disgusted by the petty attitude displayed. It brought a reproach on the cause of Christ and made Christians, especially Baptists, look quite petty. Apparently, the church at Corinth was having some similar strife, although we do not know the details. It was obviously a result of their unspiritual condition, just as the suit between the two Baptist churches was. Paul addresses the issue in I Corinthians 6.

"Dare any of you, having a matter against another, go to law before the unjust, and not before the saints? Do ye not know that the saints shall judge the world? and if the world shall be judged by you, are ye unworthy to judge the smallest matters? Know ye not that we shall judge angels? how much more things that pertain to this life?

If then ye have judgments of things pertaining to this life, set them to judge who are least esteemed in the church. I speak to your shame. Is it so, that there is not a wise man among you? no, not one that shall be able to judge between his brethren? But brother goeth to law with brother, and that before the unbelievers.

Now therefore there is utterly a fault among you, because ye go to law one with another. Why do ye not rather take wrong? why do ye not rather suffer yourselves to be defrauded? Nay, ye do wrong, and defraud, and that your brethren." (I Corinthians 6:1-8)

To bring such matters to the world's courts clearly demonstrated a lack of unity, and of Christian love before the world. I also implied that there was no one of sufficient common sense among them to settle even minor disputes. One day Christians will be in a position of judging very important matters. It would be wise to practice a little before the time comes.

For the matters pertaining to this life, the weakest and most unqualified Christian should be able to make a valid judgement. It should not be neccessary for one of the leaders to deal with such issues. Most of the issues that arise, such as the church name, really make very little difference, and are not worth the cost or the noteriety. It would be far better to forgive and forget, even if you are right, and are losing something as a result. God has promised to straighten out these things, and repay those who have suffered for doing right. The strife is proof, once again carnality.

Most lawsuits are more about taking advantage of the other person, than about correcting a wrong. Rarely does one sue for the damage one has suffered, but for more as a way of getting even. The defendant usually ends up trying to get out of any compensation. A prime exampl of this is the case of the woman in albuquerque who spilled coffee on herself and sued McDonalds for 4 million dollars. Even if it had been McDonalds fault, her damages were not more than a few hundred dollars. Her lawyers ripped off McDonalds. using the courts. This is what was happening in Corinth. They were using the courts to cheat each other. There is nothing Christian about such behaviour, it is Satanic.

The case of the two churches fighting over the church name clearly illustrates the lack of spirituality in many churches today, and the resulting lack of interest in what God has directed us to do in the Bible. It shows in every area of modern Christianity. Paul explains how to deal with each of the situations in a Godly, spiritual manner. As he says in I Corinthians 14:37-38, a truly spiritual person will recognize these things as being God's commands. Anyone who does not is ignorant of the things of God.

Spiritual people, following the teachings of God, will never have a conflict requiring a court action between them.