“Who Are the “Unrighteous?” It’s a Divine Identity Question

A Question of Identity: Who Are the “Unrighteous?”

© 2024 C. O. Bishop

1st 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, 10 Nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God.

11 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.

Introduction

People often take this passage to prove that “sinners can’t get to heaven,” (thus making salvation dependent upon our works.)

There is no one here who does not confess that he or she is a sinner. In fact, had I not confessed that I am a sinner, unable to save myself, I could not have been saved. I had to place my full trust in Jesus, His Blood, and His completed work at the Cross: not in any works of my own!

So, when we read this stark condemnation, that “the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God,” we have to ask, “Then, who are the unrighteous?” The world would reply that the answer is obvious: “The next sentence lists them by their sins.” And that begs the question, “Well, then: who are the righteous?” And that is the question we truly need to address.

Definition of Biblical Terms

We need to define some central terms, here.

Righteous: “Having a right standing with God.”

Unrighteous:Not having a right standing with God.”

Notice that both of these ideas have a “positional” character: “Where are you with God? What is your standing before Him?” And, what does it take to achieve or receive such a right standing?

In verse 9, the opening statement is that “those who do NOT have a right standing before God” will not “inherit the kingdom of God.” Then Paul goes on to list the general characteristics of the lost, Christless world. He lists things that demonstrate an unregenerate heart: the character of one who has not been “born from above.”

Defined by God: Observed by Behavior and Character

In general, we expect the character of those who have been born from above…born again…to be different from that of the unregenerate world.

But, is this right standing something we “achieve” by strength of character, by “persistence in well-doing,” or through “heroic service” of some sort? Or is it something that we must receive?

An inheritance usually depends upon the written will of someone who died… and no effort by those not included in that will can put them into it so that they can claim that inheritance. Either the Testator wrote them into that “Last Will and Testament,” or He did not.

We may observe that the “worldly heir” of some vast “worldly fortune” may seem to be an undeserving wretch. They may be selfish, spoiled, and vain… and possibly grossly immoral, as well. That does not change the written will that caused them to inherit.

One might protest, “But isn’t that unfair?” Maybe it is! But like it or not, it is reality. We need to embrace reality. We have to accept the fact that life is frequently “unfair.” Sin has ruined the world in which we live. God has not yet lifted the curse. The Psalmists saw this reality and warned us to not fret over the apparent injustice in the world. God’s Justice is supreme, and He sees all of what is happening. As His “born ones,” we need to learn to trust in Him for the eventual outcome. He has “written into His Will,” as His born-again offspring!

Our Past

Paul has cited a list of gross sins. He stated that the people characterized by that list are not God’s heirs. Then he says, “And such were (past tense) some of you!” Your past includes all of your old way of life. Perhaps it did include some of the sins listed here, perhaps it did not. But, if I trust in my own righteousness, then the smallest sin is sufficient to condemn me.

Ezekiel 33:13 says, “When I shall say to the righteous, that he shall surely live; if he trust to his own righteousness, and commit iniquity, all his righteousnesses shall not be remembered; but for his iniquity that he hath committed, he shall die for it.”

My past, whether checkered with sins of every kind, or seemingly pure, in the eyes of humans, is all under the Blood of Jesus Christ at the Cross.

In John 5:24, which we frequently quote, Jesus said, “Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth My Word, and believeth on Him who sent Me, HATH everlasting life (present tense,) and SHALL NOT come into condemnation (future tense,) but IS PASSED from death into life (past perfect tense!) All of my past is under the blood of Jesus. His promise guarantees my future is. And, in the here and now, I already have eternal life! Jesus says so!

So…What Changed?

Just for the record, my past was anything but “pure.” I was an atheist, I was immoral, and I was a total rebel against God. I was on God’s Death Row. Ezekiel 18:4 says, “The soul that sinneth, it shall die!That is where I was. That was my position, as a lost sinner. And I was cocky and proud, and I had no concept of my peril. There was nothing I could have done to save myself. I had already utterly broken God’s Law. I was guilty.

Potentially, I might have tried to do “good deeds” to earn God’s approval. But my sin contaminated them all! That is why, in Isaiah 64:6, it says, “…all our righteousnesses are as filthy rag.” Our ever-present sin has already contaminated anything “good” we can do, as natural humans. So, what had to change?

But Ye Are Washed!

There is the beginning of the change: He washed us! How did that occur? Jesus spoke of it in John 13:10. He said the disciples (not including Judas) were “washed.” But He did not say by what means He had washed them. In John 15:3, after Judas had departed, He told the remaining disciples, “Now ye are clean through the Word which I have spoken unto you.”

And in Ephesians 5:26, Paul said that Jesus cleansed the church. He made it holy through the “washing of water by the Word.” That is both a one-time occurrence and a continuing process. Your initial cleansing occurred the moment you believed the Gospel: the moment you placed your sole trust in the Person and Work of Jesus at the Cross for salvation. You were made positionally clean. At that moment, you became one of His heirs, in writing! (Because it says “Whosoever believeth in Him!”)

Remember that Jesus declared that Peter was clean, in John 13 and John 15. Peter’s sin in denying the Lord occurred later that same night! Did that change Peter’s position? Was he no longer “cleansed by the Word?”

No! It changed his condition. He was miserable and despairing and guilty. He was not in fellowship with Jesus or even with the other disciples. Effectively, until that rift was healed, Peter lived as if he was “spiritually dead.” His position had not changed. He was still clean in Christ. But he desperately “needed his feet washed.” He had been in some deep mud!

If you have chosen by faith to place your trust in the cleansing blood of Jesus, then you “are washed!” That is a permanent reality. What else has changed?

Ye Are Sanctified!

“Sanctified” means “made holy.” It means “set apart” for God’s use, as His personal property.

God says you are now Holy! He has permanently declared that you are his child by rebirth. (Not by “adoption:” Biblical adoption comes later… see Romans 8:23.) He declared you to be clean through having believed His Word. He has now declared to be holy unto Him.

As you may remember, the Babylonian army stole the holy vessels of God’s temple in Jerusalem and took them to Nebuchadnezzar’s treasury in Babylon. But a later king, Belshazzar, took those vessels and used them in a worship service to his numerous false gods.

Did that deliberate misuse by Belshazzar and his officials defile those vessels? Yes, it did! They truly needed cleansing, and re-consecration to the service of God! But were they any less Holy? No! They still belonged to God! They were still “set apart for His specific use, in the temple of God.” God says that you now are His own treasure, and you are “set apart” for His use!

Ye Are Justified!

We posed a question, back in the introduction: “Who are the Righteous?” This is the answer! So, here is another term to define:

“Justified” means “declared righteous.” It is obvious, then, that it truly matters who “declared you to be righteous.” If I declare myself righteous, then we call it “self-justification,” and the only possible result is “self-righteousness.”

No one likes self-righteousness, but we all tend toward self-justification. We protest our excuses for our failures and we bolster our fragile egos, usually, by self-justification. Romans 10:3 says, “For they being ignorant of God’s righteousness, and going about to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted themselves unto the righteousness of God,”

Yes, Paul was specifically referring to the Jews in that passage, but it has general application to all those who “justify themselves” at any level. When we self-justify, we fail to avail ourselves of God’s Righteousness.

How Can We Avail Ourselves of the Righteousness Of God?

In 2nd Corinthians 5:21, God says, “He hath made Him to be sin for us, who knew no sin, that we might be made the righteousness of God, in Him.

In Genesis 15:6, it says Abram believed God and God reckoned it to him as righteousness. (I can hear legalists howling, “But that’s “easy believe-ism!” Sorry: it is God’s Word, telling the means by which GOD declared Abram to be a righteous individual. Like it or not, that is what it says!)

Paul reiterates this concept in Romans 4:1-3. He emphasized that Abraham was declared righteous on the basis of Faith, alone: before any “religious works” were recorded. He cites Psalm 32:1, 2, where David confirmed that the real issue is whether God counts you as righteous.

If God has called you Righteous, based on your faith in Him, then you stand Righteous before Him forever! In Romans 11:29, we read that “the gifts and the calling of God are without repentance”…(without revocation.) He will not “repent,” or change His mind about you. Jesus said, (John 6:37) “He that cometh unto Me, I will in no wise cast out!” In John 10:27, 28, Jesus confirms His promise, saying, “I give unto them eternal life, and they shall never perish!

Do You Desire to be Declared Righteous by God?

If you have not placed your faith in Jesus Christ as God’s chosen sacrifice for your sins, then this is your path! Jesus said, “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life: no man cometh unto the Father but by Me.” He also said (in John 10:7), “I am the Door of the Sheep!”

If you “want in,” He is the “way in.” And you “access Him” simply by believing Him: By taking Him at His Word and receiving Eternal Life, as a gift from Him to you. You cannot “achieve” Eternal life! You can only receive it. God says, “The wages (earned and deserved) of Sin is Death, but the gift of God (unearned, and undeserved) is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.”

As a believer, you have received that gift of eternal life. You are eternally secure in Christ. He has already “declared you Righteous” in Him through Faith. God now calls you to live for Him. He says we no longer belong to ourselves (as if we ever truly did.) He says that, as those risen from the dead through His authority, we should be living in the newness of His Resurrected Life. We are to live as a light to the world around us and as a continual act of worship to Him!

The Resulting Reward

This is the sort of life that results in hearing, “Well done, thou Good and Faithful Servant!” That honor is truly the best any believer can hope for. And, it is something we achieve: it is still done by faith, simply by walking with Him and allowing Him to live through us. But the walk with Jesus is not easy: it is impossible, apart from His continued control: It is not just difficult, it’s impossible! “Walking on Water” is not “difficult:” It is impossible, unless Jesus enables us! And that is what Jesus said! “Apart from Me, ye can do Nothing!”

No one had to “explain” to Peter that “walking on water is impossible!” He knew it, and he got out of the boat, knowing that unless Jesus backed him, it was a fatal error! But…he walked! And when he took his eyes off of Jesus, he sank! That is as clear a lesson as we can ask for! You are declared righteous by Faith. But you are also called to walk in Him by faith.

Lord Jesus, teach our hearts to believe in You and to focus on You so that we can faithfully walk with You, in all circumstances. We know hard times are coming, and we want to honor You with our lives through those hard times; not to fail through lack of faith. Make us the Men and Women of God that You have called us to be.

Fail to Address Sin? Pride is Still the Root of the Problem

Pride is Still the Root of the Problem

© 2024 C. O, Bishop

1st Corinthians 5:1-13

1 It is reported commonly that there is fornication among you, and such fornication as is not so much as named among the Gentiles, that one should have his father’s wife. And ye are puffed up, and have not rather mourned, that he that hath done this deed might be taken away from among you.

For I verily, as absent in body, but present in spirit, have judged already, as though I were present, concerning him that hath so done this deed, In the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, when ye are gathered together, and my spirit, with the power of our Lord Jesus Christ, To deliver such an one unto Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that the spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus.

Pride was the Problem!

Your glorying is not good. Know ye not that a little leaven leaveneth the whole lump? Purge out therefore the old leaven, that ye may be a new lump, as ye are unleavened. For even Christ our passover is sacrificed for us: Therefore let us keep the feast, not with old leaven, neither with the leaven of malice and wickedness; but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.

I wrote unto you in an epistle not to company with fornicators: 10 Yet not altogether with the fornicators of this world, or with the covetous, or extortioners, or with idolaters; for then must ye needs go out of the world.

11 But now I have written unto you not to keep company, if any man that is called a brother be a fornicator, or covetous, or an idolator, or a railer, or a drunkard, or an extortioner; with such an one no not to eat. 12 For what have I to do to judge them also that are without? do not ye judge them that are within? 13 But them that are without God judgeth. Therefore put away from among yourselves that wicked person.

Introduction:

This is a very uncomfortable passage to study: The immoral behavior of the persons in question repulses us, and the response of the assembly perplexes us. But then, we are also uncomfortable with the response of the apostle in calling for judgment.

The simple fact is, we are uncomfortable “talking about sin,” as sin! We are conscious of our own fallibility: and due to our fragility, we are reluctant to judge sin in others. A friend once encouraged me to sing some sacred songs to a group of hardened unbelievers. I told him I thought it would be inappropriate, as Jesus had said (in Matthew 7:6) “Do not cast your pearls before swine, neither give that which is holy to the dogs, lest they trample them underfoot and turn and rend thee.”

He said, “But, are we supposed to judge such things?”

I retorted, “Of course we are! How else could we obey the command?” He said, “I never thought of that!”  You see, we have to “use good judgment!”

Things to Bear in Mind

There are several points of which we should take note, as we seek to understand this passage: First, simply as a foundation for reading, we need to see that this is not about “condemning” believers. Romans 8:1-4 teaches that “there is now therefore no condemnation to them that are in Christ.”

In John 5:24, Jesus promised that “he that heareth my Word and believeth on Him that sent Me, hath everlasting life and shall not come into condemnation, but has passed from death into life.” (Again, no condemnation!)

Second, we need to see that, while the correction God extends to his saints may seem harsh, at times, His only goal is to teach us to walk with Him.

Third, we need to remember that Jesus is the Judge, here. This is not an encouragement for believers to attack believers. The only goal is restoration.

Finally, the twin purposes of this chapter are (a) to protect the church by removing someone who was badly affecting the other believers, and (b) to bring that sinning believer to repentance and restore him to a walk with Christ.

What Do We See in 1st Corinthians, chapter 5?

There is a fairly obvious “outline” we can discern as we read through the chapter:

This Was Open, Public, Flagrant Sin

The sin in question was open, flagrant, and unbelievers universally condemned it. Thus, it was truly affecting the testimony of the whole church. This was not some “quiet” thing, that was affecting no one else. Everyone already knew about it. It affected the whole church.

In the past, unmarried couples have attended here and in other churches. They were quietly living in error. But we did not reject, judge, or condemn them. We taught the Bible as the Word of God, and the scriptures soon convicted them. They asked the church to marry them. And we rejoiced with them!

The situation in this chapter was not that sort of thing. Unbelievers universally condemned the sin, and it could not be rectified except by confession and repentance. It had to stop, not just change. Technically, it was incest. Virtually all cultures forbid this sin: usually by law.

This Was Not a “Questionable” Issue

Virtually every culture has things largely disapproved, but which have no bearing on the teachings of the Bible at all. This is not such a thing. Some people think it is sin to subscribe to a Sunday newspaper. Others think it is sin to wear colorful clothing. Some judge others for their haircut, their personal hygiene, or their grooming. This is not that sort of thing.

We have had members who truly desire to stop a bad habit, such as smoking. The Bible does not touch on that at all, yet some people condemn it as a sin, as if it were a definite moral issue. But it is not. Is it unhealthy? Surely, it is! So is welding; as are most heavy construction jobs. So is overeating. So are many other societal patterns. We do not condemn such a person.

If they need help, we offer our support. We pray for one another. In some cases, we go to such a person privately, and we intervene at one level or another, encouraging them to drop the self-destructive behavior and to follow Jesus. But there is no condemnation.

God condemned this particular sin and the unbelieving world rejected it, as well. Everyone knew it was wrong. The man involved was not ignorantly sinning, nor did he just “innocently fall into a bad pattern.” It was not just a “lifestyle choice.” It was open rebellion and sin.

Pride is Still the Root of the Problem

We saw back in the first chapters of the book, that pride was dividing the church and demonstrating the carnality of the church. And pride was still the root of the problems. The believers at Corinth were “proud of their tolerance.” They were “puffed up.” They did not mourn the sin; nor did they consider the damage to their testimony. They approved of the sin and thought they were “spiritual” for doing so!

Romans 1:32 concludes, “Who, knowing the judgment of God, that they which commit such things are worthy of death, not only do the same but have pleasure in them that do them.” They approve of the sins that God condemns. In Romans, Paul was addressing the sins of the unbelievers.

We still see the same patterns today as those spelled out in Romans chapter one. For example, the movies that receive the highest ratings in terms of popularity are always the ones with the most sin in them, whether violence, nudity, vile language, or immoral sexual behavior. Even when a society “claims to reject such behavior,” they vote with their feet and pocketbooks, and those movies show the overall approval of the population.

Unfortunately, when we tolerate flagrant sin, as believers, one of the possible results is that we can become “proud” of it. We are proud of our reluctance to “judge sin.” But God commanded us to judge sin. Pride has led us astray once again! We are “proud of tolerating evil” and “proud of not admitting that evil is evil.”

And, it still is the problem, today!

This is becoming a very current issue, today, in the modern church: There is a local church group here, who are quite proud of their sin, and they no longer see it for what it is. There are no Bibles in their building. Their teacher no longer addresses the Word of God at all. They have forgotten the repeated teaching in the Bible that Jesus is the Living Word of God. They still claim the name of Christ, but they have turned away from Him entirely, and they have dragged His Name into such deep shame, by their uncleanness, that they are truly a dead church.

In Revelation 2:20, Jesus condemned the behavior of the Church at Thyatira, specifically because they tolerated the sin of the woman he called “Jezebel.” She was teaching believers to commit immorality and idolatry. Yes, He judged the sin of that person and those who followed her into sin, but He also judged the Church for tolerating the sin.

Why is it such a problem? Because it infects the whole Church, one way or another. Verse six compares sin to leaven or yeast. It does not stay in one spot. It spreads and grows until it permeates all of the bread dough it can reach.

What is the Goal of this Warning?

The purpose or goal of this warning, which required the church to unanimously judge sin, was twofold:

  1. to purge the church of that specific uncleanness, or wickedness, and
  2. to restore the sinning believer. (Verse 5)

This is in keeping with Galatians 6:1-5…the purpose of “church discipline” is always restoration, not condemnation of the believer. And, again, notice that the judgment is not directed toward unbelievers: this is about those who call themselves believers, but who are polluting the church by open rebellion against God.

We treat unbelievers kindly: they are welcome here, but they are not allowed to teach, nor to create division. This church does not ask for money from visitors, at all, lest anyone think that contributing to a church brings a right relationship with God. We cannot become a “monastic” society, closing ourselves off from the World. We are here to reach out to the world. Verse 10 points out that we would have to “leave the planet” to achieve such separation.

But a believer, who is bringing shame to Christ by his or her behavior, is in a different category. Those are the ones regarding whom this warning is given.

No Hierarchy of Sin

Finally, when we look at “sin” as a general topic in scripture, we cannot discern a “hierarchy” of sin. God lumps them all together as condemned by His Righteousness. In Proverbs 6:16-19, the one “list” where God says, “these things the LORD hates,” Pride is listed, along with gossip, lying, and talebearing: But sexual immorality is NOT. Does that mean God does not hate all sin? No…but the heart issues that cause all the others are where God points out the root of the outward sins…the heart is the source, and pride is frequently the root.

Everyone sins. There are no exceptions, except for Jesus, who was God in the Flesh. We confess to everyone that we are saved sinners. We continually confess our sins to God, to maintain a fellowship relationship with Him. So, this is not an invitation to a “feeding frenzy” of believers attacking other believers for perceived faults. (Remember, in Revelation 12:10, we see that Satan is the “Accuser of the Brethren.” We do not want to do his “dirty work!”)

The Church at Corinth was in trouble. And the issue was their pride in their tolerance of open rebellion and sin. Not simply that there was “sin in the camp.”

What is the Real issue?

The church can be seen as a “hospital for saints and sinners.” We are not surprised that the “hospital has sinners:” That is why we are here! We confess that Jesus died for our sins. And, yes, our sins grieve us, and our failures grieve us. We are not “surprised that it happens.” We are simply grieved that it continues!

But consider again the “illustration” of a hospital ward. A “patient” may come in with zero desire for healing. Also, he is preventing others from healing. Such a patient is to be quietly and kindly ushered back outside. They do need help, but we can’t help them when they reject the help.

We want them to know we care about them. We assure them that, if they repent, and come back to submit to the Great Physician, desiring to be healed, they will be welcomed with open arms. There is no condemnation. It is simply a matter of protecting the church from those who turn others away from the Christ who bought them with His Blood.

Lord Jesus, help us to read your Word, understand it, and take it to heart. Help us to apply it with the Love and Mercy that You offered through the Cross.

Judgment, Justice, Grace, and Mercy in the Resurrection

Judgment, Justice, Grace, and Mercy

© 2019 C. O. Bishop (Revised 2024)

Introduction:

How does Easter show the Judgment and Justice of God?

We frequently consider what the Bible calls the Day of the LORD: It is the terrible Judgment of God (followed by great blessing) which is to be poured out upon the whole World, but especially upon Israel, since they had the most information, and they failed to respond. We saw how the final warning was given to Israel by Jesus, in His “Palm Sunday” entrance into Jerusalem.

Judgment on Jerusalem

The crowd of disciples who had worshipped him as the King, as he rode into Jerusalem, were not the ones screaming for his death, three days later. Rather, the citizens of Jerusalem rejected their King. We also saw that, since they rejected the King, they inherited the promised Judgment.

The Judgment described thereafter (specifically the fact that not one stone of the temple, proper, would be left standing on another) definitely includes the destruction under the Roman general Titus, in AD 70, but it also includes the Great Tribulation, which has not happened yet. Judgment is definitely coming!

Judgment on Jesus

However, we seldom think of the Judgment that fell upon the Lord Himself that Wednesday: Isaiah 53:4, 5 says, “He bore our griefs, and carried our sorrows…but we thought he was smitten by God (as an evildoer). But (in contrast): He was wounded for our transgressions, and He was bruised for our iniquities…”  The Scriptures make it clear that He didn’t die for anything He had done. He died in the place of the whole World, for all that we have done, or failed to do.

Most Easter sermons focus either on the Lord’s sufferings, in gory detail, or upon the facts of the Resurrection, and the effects it had on the lives of all those who were actually there. I would like to focus, instead, on the reason for His suffering, and the result of His resurrection, for us, who were not there!

The Specific Reasons for The Crucifixion

There were many ways in which prisoners might have been executed in those days. Some were relatively quick, others were deliberately slow and agonizing. The Cross was one of the latter: it usually took several days of torturous struggling to breathe and straining against the spikes holding them to the cross. We can compare crucifixion with the Old Testament law regarding “hanging a criminal on a tree,” which was actually only done to a criminal who was already dead (usually by stoning,) to signify God’s curse on that particular criminal:

The Scriptures had to be Fulfilled

  • According to Deuteronomy 21:23 they were not to be left hanging overnight. They had to be cut down before sundown, according to the Mosaic Law.
    • Jesus was taken down before sundown, though Crucifixion usually took days!
  • When they wanted the execution shortened, they accomplished that end by breaking the legs of the condemned individual, so that he could no longer lift himself to breathe. Thus, he died in minutes, instead of days. (John 19:31)
    • But for the Passover Lamb, which was a picture of Christ, it was specifically forbidden that any bone be broken (Exodus 12:46.)
    • Why did Jesus choose to “cut the suffering short” and “lay down his life?” (Remember, in John 10:18, He specifically said that no man could take his life: He would lay it down of His own accord.) When they came to break the legs of the criminals, he was already dead. Thus, though they broke the legs of the other two men, they did not break a bone of the Messiah…our Passover Lamb!
  • The scourgings and beatings were described in Isaiah 53 (bruised, stripes, etc.)
  • The crucifixion was described in Psalm 22:7-18 (Read it!)
  • The fact that he was to be crucified at Jerusalem, by the Jews, is given in Zechariah 13:6 What are these wounds in thine hands? …Those with which I was wounded in the house of my friends.”
  • The fact that it is the eternal God who was wounded for our transgressions is given in Zechariah 12:1-10…and it was God the Son!
  • The Old Testament sacrifices were tied to the altar by the four horns of the altar… they were held by four points, just as in the crucifixion.
  • The Original Passover predicted the crucifixion, in that the people were commanded to kill the lamb, catch its blood in a basin, and to dip a bundle of Hyssop into that blood, and then strike it on the lintel and the two doorposts. The physical action of striking the lintel and the two doorposts physically described a bloody cross in the air across that doorway. Those frightened Jews believed God’s Word regarding the imminent destruction of the firstborn. They obeyed the command of God by faith, and chose to accept the blood sacrifice that HE would accept. And, as a result, they were huddled under the blood of the Cross, just as we do today. The difference is that they expressed that faith 1500 years before the Crucifixion, while we do so 2000 years after it.

He Fulfilled the Prophecies!

God’s Judgment for the sins of the whole world fell upon Jesus at the Cross. How do I know? Jesus said so! John 3:16-18 says,

16 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. 17 For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved. 18 He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.

Notice the parallel with what we just saw, regarding Palm Sunday: Jerusalem rejected her King, and inherited the Judgment. All those who do not believe the Gospel, inherit judgment because they, too, reject the Savior, the King. Also, notice that it does not say they “will be judged,” or “will be condemned:” it says that they are already condemned because they do not believe in the Name of the only begotten Son of God.

So: How does that apply to me? For the first eighteen years of my life, I was on God’s “death row,” as an unbeliever; and as a natural-born rebel against God. I was already condemned. Had Jesus not stepped in and died in my place, I would still be headed for Hell. (That is the “Bad News” of the Gospel! And it is the reason for the “Good News” of the Gospel!)

So, What is The Good News of the Gospel?

According to 1st Corinthians 15:3, 4, the Good News is divided into three parts:

  • The Death of Christ, fulfilling God’s Prophecies
  • The Burial of Christ, also fulfilling His Prophecies (including the time-lapse.)
  • And, the third-day Resurrection: God’s confirmation that the sacrifice was accepted!

Why is His Death Good News?

1st John 2:2 clearly states that Jesus is the satisfactory sacrifice for the sins of the whole world. “And He is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world.”  (“Propitiation” means the sacrifice that satisfies the Justice and Righteousness of God.) The fact that it was for the sins of the whole world is especially reassuring: if God had named a list of people, ethnic groups, or whatever, there is a chance I might not be on that list. If I were called by name, it is still possible that it meant someone else with that name…not me.

But he included the whole world…so I am “on the list.” John 3:16 says “…whosoever believeth in Him…” You see, “whosoever” includes me!ThatBlood Sacrifice, ordained by God the Father, offered by God the Son, and administered by God the Holy Spirit, is full payment for all my sins, past, present and future. All the work of Salvation and Redemption was finished by Jesus at the Cross. All that’s left for me to do, is to place my faith in His finished Work.

Why is His Burial Good News?

The fact that Jesus died on the evening of Passover, as our blood sacrifice—our Passover Lamb—is significant enough. But why do I say he was crucified on Wednesday, when tradition has always held out for Friday? The tradition that Jesus was crucified on a Friday is patently false.

In Matthew 12:39, 40 Jesus Himself said that Jonah, being three days and three nights in the belly of the great fish, was a specific prophecy that He, Himself, would be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth. Between Friday evening and Sunday morning, there are two nights and one day! But, if He was Crucified on a Wednesday, then any time after sundown Saturday, by Jewish understanding of time and days, Jesus was free to leave the Grave. This was another sign that He was the Messiah! It had to be that specific time frame.

He also had to have died with criminals, (as in the crucifixion, with thieves beside Him) but also with the rich (Isaiah 53:9)…which would usually be a total paradox. The bodies of criminals were cast into the city dump, and left for the scavengers, vultures, flies, etc., as a statement of the result of their evil deeds.

But rich people had hand-carved stone tombs for their graves. So, this seemed a contradiction, perhaps, or at least very puzzling. But, two rich men (Nicodemus and Joseph of Arimathea,) asked for the body of Christ, and they buried it in the tomb that Joseph of Arimathea had prepared for his own burial. So, Isaiah 53:9 was fulfilled, just as it was written!

And, The Best News of All: The Resurrection!

So, three days and three nights later (Wednesday night, Thursday, Thursday night, Friday, Friday night, and Saturday: three days and three nights!) Jesus left the grave behind, forever! Mary Magdalene and the other women showed up at the tomb long before daylight, Sunday morning, and He was already gone. The angels had rolled away the stone for the express purpose of letting the women and the disciples see that He was already gone.

What is The Result of the Resurrection?

Remember the result of the Crucifixion: The disciples (all of them, not just the eleven), were scattered, just as Jesus predicted, fearing that they were “next on the list;” slated for execution. When Jesus appeared, the Eleven were hiding; locked in an upper room, fearing the Jews.

But what was the result of the Resurrection, in the lives of those same believers? Confusion and disbelief, initially! But, as they gained confidence that Jesus was really alive, and that He was really all He had claimed to be (literally God in the Flesh,) they became completely bold, where they had previously been in hiding. They committed their lives to His service, as those alive from the dead, as they began to recognize that:

  1. His death was in place of their own deaths;
  2. And, His righteousness had been credited to their own accounts, and that
  3. His resurrection was the guarantee of their own resurrection.

Thus, they had no further fear of death. Their life took on a sense of Eternal Purpose, as they began to allow the Lord to live through them (Galatians 2:19-21; Philippians 1:21,) and their priorities were completely rearranged, as Jesus became the center of their existence.

But, What about Repentance?

We are often told, “Yes, but you have to repent!” That is surely true! But what does that mean? Does it mean “groveling on your knees begging for forgiveness”? Or, “renouncing sin forever?”

The word translated as “Repentance” is the Greek word, “metanoia.” It literally means to change your mind. Change your mind regarding Jesus. Who was He, to you, before you believed the Gospel? A myth? Just a Man? A Prophet? Or, did it even really matter to you? (It didn’t matter to me: I was lost, and I didn’t know it, or even care.) So, when you believed the Good News of Jesus’s Death, and Burial and Resurrection, you “changed your mind” regarding all that you had previously thought about Jesus.

You also “changed your mind” regarding all that you previously thought about sin. Somehow, you came to realize that you, personally, were a lost sinner, and you feared the judgment of God. You changed your mind regarding Jesus’s work, realizing that you could not save yourself, and, at some point, you threw yourself upon the Mercy and Grace of God!

The Result of that Repentance

At that moment, according to Jesus’s promise, in John 5:24, you received eternal life. (That is Grace!) You will never face judgment again. (That is Mercy!) You permanently crossed over from being spiritually dead, to being spiritually alive. Yes, you were truly born again! You received a new nature, and you were permanently indwelt by the Holy Spirit! All these are true, even if you were not aware of any of these things, as they happened!

This is why the Resurrection is such a huge joy and relief to all of us. We weren’t there to see the Crucifixion, the Burial, or the Resurrection of the Lord, but those three together still make the best News in history! He is Risen! And we have been forgiven and set free, through Faith!

Lord Jesus, teach us the importance of the facts of the Gospel, especially the fact of Your Resurrection, and make them a living reality in each of our lives.

Jesus Said, For Judgment I am come into this World

I came into this World For Judgment

© 2022 C. O. Bishop (revised 2024)

John 9:39-41

Introduction:

As we read this passage, please remember, that Jesus had just healed a blind man, who was born blind. He miraculously gave the man his sight. The Jews persecuted the man, afterward. They did not persecute him because his blindness had healed, but because he credited Jesus with the miracle. And they cast him out of the synagogue….essentially, they “excommunicated” him, for confessing that Jesus had healed him, and for refusing to recant his testimony.

When Jesus found him again and introduced Himself as the Son of God, the formerly blind man spontaneously worshipped Him. We still have people today who resent those who worship Jesus…or anyone who prays to Him. I once had a pastor tell me that he did not want people praying to Jesus. Such people reveal their hearts by their attitude. They reveal what they think of Jesus. And the next verse is what Jesus said in response:

39 And Jesus said, For judgment I am come into this world, that they which see not might see; and that they which see might be made blind.

What a strange thing to say! And, who was He talking to? His disciples were there with him…the healed man was there…and some Pharisees were there. Those are the only ones we know of, for certain.

Context

Remember the context: Jesus had been under attack for the last two days. In John 8:1-11, He dispersed the men who wanted to stone the woman caught in adultery. In John 8:12, He introduced Himself as the Light of the World. The Jews tried to stone Him, when He announced His own eternality, in John 8:58, and the fact that He preexisted Abraham. Then, immediately after miraculously escaping the mob in the temple, he went out of His way to heal a man who had been born physically blind.

This Blindness was not Judgment

In John 9:1, 2, The disciples asked Jesus whether that man or his parents had sinned, to bring this “judgment” of congenital blindness upon the man. Jesus said that neither had sinned…God had prepared this man for the purpose of showing His own mighty works. (Unlike Bartimaeus, this man had not even asked Jesus for healing. He knew nothing about Jesus before this day.)

But, Jesus explained His identity. And this man fell down and worshipped him! Jesus took away not only his physical blindness but also the spiritual blindness of his soul. He saw Jesus for who He was!

Jesus remarked on the irony that His presence gave sight to the physically blind but also revealed the spiritual blindness of those who rejected His light. Remember John 3:19And this is the condemnation; that light is come into the world and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil.”  

The people had an issue with the light, there, too. They rejected the Light of Christ.

Blindness Can be Judgment for having Disregarded the Light

Samson and others ignored the light of God’s direction and His Word. Samson’s enemies physically him, and enslaved him

Romans 11:25 also records that “…blindness in part has happened to Israel, until the fulness of the Gentiles be come in.”

Most of the Jews rejected Jesus at that time. (And they have done so, ever since then.) Those few Jews who believed became the foundation of the church. (Along with the Jewish proselytes on the day of Pentecost.) They taught the Gentile believers who believed afterward.

When Jesus confronted Saul of Tarsus on the Road to Damascus, two things happened. He fell to the ground, along with the others in his group, and he (alone) became blind. Three days later, Jesus sent another disciple, Ananias, to restore his sight. Saul then changed his name to “Paul.” Jesus healed his physical and spiritual blindness, and He saw Jesus for who He was.

The rest of Israel remains partially blinded, to this day, and in Romans 9:1-3, Paul grieved their loss. But God promises to restore their sight, as a nation, and they will see Him, physically, and, for the first time recognize Him for who He is.

Zechariah 12:10 says “…They shall look upon Me whom they have pierced, and shall mourn for Him as one mourns for his only son, and be in bitterness for Him as one is that is in bitterness for his firstborn.”

For Judgment I am Come

Jesus had earlier said that He had come to save the lost.  But, in the same verses (John 3:18, 19) He had said that condemnation was already there in the World. He said, “He that believeth not is condemned already…and this is the condemnation… that light is come into the World, and Men loved darkness rather than light.”

Many people teach, that “if you don’t stop sinning, you’re going to be condemned!” But the truth is, we can’t stop sinning, and we are already condemned! The whole human race was in this same trap of sin…every single one of us was guilty and lost. Our only hope is in Jesus!

Romans 1:21, 22, tells us how that happens. “When they (the human race) knew God, they glorified Him not as God, neither were thankful, but became vain in their imaginations and their foolish heart was darkened. Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools.”

By choosing darkness, we, as a race, were filled with darkness, and we perpetuated our role as children of darkness. All that we do, as humans, confirms what God had said from the beginning. He said, “In the day that you eat thereof, you shall surely die!” Adam ate, and all his progeny (including Eve) were instantly plunged into the darkness of sin: spiritual separation from the Light of God. We became spiritually blind and spiritually dead!

Jesus is the Light of the World (John 8:12)

His presence revealed the hearts of everyone who came in contact with Him. Those who rejected light rejected Him. Those who yearned toward the light turned to Him in faith. Even today, the same truth applies.

The Light of Christ appears in the World, through his servants, the believers. People will either turn toward that light, in faith, or they will reject that light, and even attempt to extinguish it.

The Blindness of “Religion”

Romans 2:19 tells us that the Jews saw themselves as being “…a light of them which are in darkness.” But Judgment was about to fall on them, because, in truth, they were the opposite of a “light to those in darkness:” They shrouded the light with their corruption, and their hypocrisy, to the extent that no one could see the Light of God in them at all. And they tried to extinguish the Light of Christ when He was there among them. They revealed who they truly were!

40 And some of the Pharisees which were with him heard these words, and said unto him, Are we blind also? 41 Jesus said unto them, If ye were blind, ye should have no sin: but now ye say, We see; therefore your sin remaineth.

It is easy for us to sneer at the Pharisees and say, “Yeah, those bad old Pharisees!” But, we are always in danger of doing something similar! We can become so self-satisfied and smug in our “good doctrine,” or our “healthy church,” that we close ourselves off from the unsaved world.

At that point, we are no longer allowing the Holy Spirit to reach out through us to the world around us. We would be “just a bunch of religious folks.” That is what had happened to the Pharisees, and to a certain extent, to the entire nation of Israel. They were “very religious” people, but they denied the reality of the Love and the Power of the God they claimed to serve.

A Modern Example:

Years ago, I visited a church, which was so ingrown and exclusive, that when a shabby-looking stranger arrived on Easter Sunday, they didn’t know what to do. (I was the “stranger!” My car was a beat-up old Toyota, and I was wearing clean, but older, inexpensive clothing.) The four “greeters” looked like “deer in the headlights,” clutching their church bulletins against their suit-clad chests. They stared at me, wide-eyed, but they did not greet me at all. They offered no handshake, nor asked my name: Never offered me a bulletin, nor asked whether I knew the Lord: they said nothing. As “ambassadors,” they had become irrelevant.

The Pharisees had become blind to the light of God. That was Jesus’s judgment of them: He revealed their true blindness. In Revelation 3:19 the church at Laodicea as a group, had become blind, as well, and Jesus shut them down! He still invited them to fellowship with Him, individually, but as a church, He completely shut them down.

Professing themselves to be Wise, they Became Fools

Because the Pharisees still claimed to “see,” and even claimed that they saw better than others, they were under the Judgment of God. In John 5:22, we see that Jesus, alone, as God the Son, is the “Judge of all the Earth,” and He is the One they were rejecting and slandering!

Less than 40 years later, the Romans would destroy the entire temple and everything they held precious. Through repressing a series of bloody revolts, over 70 years, the Romans killed hundreds of thousands of Jews. The Romans eventually eradicated Israel, as a nation. They renamed it “Palestine,” to exterminate the memory of Judaism. And, it stayed that way until 76 years ago, when it was reborn as “Israel,” on May 14th, 1948. But the spiritual blindness remains, even today.

The Assignment of the Church is to Represent Jesus

God called us to be Ambassadors of Christ…we are to represent Him before the World. But the way we apply God’s Word in our daily lives and the way we respond to others because of His presence in our lives will determine the result of our service.

He told us to testify to His Love and His Grace. Our job is to demonstrate His Love and His Mercy. As His Body, we become His hands and feet. God calls us to function as His voice, speaking His Righteousness, Love, and Mercy into the ears of the lost World.

When we partake in communion, we testify before one another that His blood was shed for us, and that we are trusting in His Grace, and looking forward to His return. But the result of that Sacred Relationship should be that we willingly, voluntarily reach out to the people around us, too. This isn’t all about us! Jesus’s agenda reaches out to the whole world.

Changed Lives

The result should be that we desire His righteousness and His wisdom. It means that we should want to see our lives transformed, to be like Him. We should be concerned that the “grime” in our lives does not shroud the light of His presence. The sin in our lives should grieve us as deeply as it does Him. We should want what He wants.

As ministers of the light…servants of the light, we need to make certain that the light we shine is clean and clear. We mentioned some time ago that the headlamps of a vehicle can become so encrusted with road grime that the light burning within seems very dim as seen from the outside.

He wants our lives to be clean enough and clear enough that anyone looking our way will see the light of Jesus. He wants us to “Glow in the dark.” He told us to “shine as lights, in a corrupt nation.” No nation in history has been completely free of corruption, but God’s people are to shine through that darkness, drawing people to Jesus: (not “to church:” to Jesus!)

A Fragrance of Christ

In 2nd Corinthians 2:14-16, we are called to “smell like Jesus.” The Fragrance of Christ is to emanate from our lives at all times. The only way that will happen is if we allow Him to live through us, and allow His presence to permeate our lives.

As we celebrate communion together, please be thinking about what that may mean, to allow Jesus to live through you.

Lord Jesus, we know that we are blind to so much of the truth of God. We yearn to experience Your light in such a way that it transforms us into Your likeness. Let us be true children of the light, and not limit Your light in any way.

How To Understand the Coming Judgment

The Coming Judgment

© 2023 C. O, Bishop (Revised 2024)

2nd Thessalonians 1:4-12

So that we ourselves glory in you in the churches of God for your patience and faith in all your persecutions and tribulations that ye endure: Which is a manifest token of the righteous judgment of God, that ye may be counted worthy of the kingdom of God, for which ye also suffer: Seeing it is a righteous thing with God to recompense tribulation to them that trouble you; And to you who are troubled rest with us, when the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with his mighty angels,

In flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ: Who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power; 10 When he shall come to be glorified in his saints, and to be admired in all them that believe (because our testimony among you was believed) in that day.

11 Wherefore also we pray always for you, that our God would count you worthy of this calling, and fulfil all the good pleasure of his goodness, and the work of faith with power: 12 That the name of our Lord Jesus Christ may be glorified in you, and ye in him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ.

Introduction:

We have talked about Judgment as a general Principle, but we only briefly touched upon the Coming Judgment. Some time ago, we studied this passage in 2nd Thessalonians. I’d like to review it so that we can see the broader sense of Judgment, from God: not just between humans.

(Notice that it says in verses six and seven that God will “recompense tribulation to them that trouble you,” and (in contrast,) to you who are troubled, rest, with us.”The believers will receive rest from the harsh realities of living among hostile nations. Those who were their antagonists will face judgment.

There are Five Judgments we should address:

  1. The General Judgment (condemnation) of the World. (John 3:18, 19; Romans 1:18, etc.)
  2. The Judgment of Sin at the Cross. (Colossians 2:14; 1st John 2:2)
  3. The Judgment Seat of Christ (believers) (2nd Corinthians 5:10; 1st Corinthians 3:10-16)
  4. The Judgment of Living Nations (believers and unbelievers Matthew 25:31-46)
  5. The Great White Throne Judgment (unrighteous dead only) (Revelation 20:11-15)

This list is not exhaustive…looking back in time, we can see many judgments. It is important for us to remember that Jesus is always the Judge. He is not “just the Savior:” He is also the Judge. He gave His life to prevent our destruction in the Judgment which His Righteousness requires Him to bring upon the World. But the five I have listed are the judgments we can see ahead of us and which we might be worried about.

Please bear in mind the two promises of God:

  • John 5:24, which says believers will not come into condemnation, and
  • Romans 8:1, 2, which says we have been set free from the Law of Sin and Death, and that “there is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus.” (these are positional truths. We are “In Christ.” That is our position!

Which of these Five Judgments Affect Believers?

The General Condemnation

Clearly, the General Condemnation of the Human Race once affected every one of us, directly. We all were lost sinners, regardless of our individual qualities or actions. But that is why Jesus went to the Cross! He freed us from that condemnation. It still affects us indirectly, as all the troubles, evil, sickness, suffering, and pain in the world still exist because of the curse that fell in Genesis 3, …and which still has not been lifted. We all die!

The Judgment of Sin at the Cross

Jesus lifted the Judgment of the Curse, by bearing the Judgment of the Cross! Colossians 2:14Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross.His blood paid the sin-debt for all humans, past, present, and future. 1st John 2:2 spells it out: “And He is the propitiation for our sins: and not for our sins only, but also for the sins of the whole World.”

But the General Condemnation remains for those who reject His sacrifice. (John 3:18 says they are condemned already, because they “have not believed in the only begotten Son of God.”) All that is required of them to escape that Judgment is to choose the Judgment of the Cross, where Jesus bore the judgment of our sins. And the consequence of sin still remains for the whole creation. (See Romans 8:21, 22)

The Judgment Seat of Christ (the “Bema Seat”)

All believers face the Judgment Seat of Christ. (2nd Corinthians 5:10) But this judgment is concerning the works of believers. It is an “awards ceremony.” We can read some details about it in 1st Corinthians 3:10-16. Our works will be evaluated for their lasting, eternal value. Reward for service will be awarded on the basis of that Judgment. And it is for believers only.

When workers “line up for their pay” in a large factory, or in a military organization, perhaps, they have to already be an employee, or already a member of the armed forces. Working without having been an employee does not bring reward: rather, it brings punishment for trespassing, or for impersonating a member of the military. People claiming to be believers who are not are in serious trouble! Until they choose by personal faith, to place themselves under His Blood, for salvation, they are still under His condemnation.

But, a believer’s works can lack eternal value, too. In John 15:5, Jesus said, “Apart from Me ye can do nothing.” So, if we are not walking with Him, and are not working with Him, then our works may “look good,” outwardly, but their value is questionable.

The Judgment of the Living Nations

Matthew 25:31-46 gives us the most details about this judgment. It includes the survivors of the tribulation, both believers and unbelievers. They are all in their natural bodies and all are facing judgment. They will either enter the Millennial Kingdom alive, right then, or enter eternal punishment as enemies of God…right then!

There are numerous mentions of this “division of the people by the omniscient Judge,” but this passage allows us to see when it will happen (at the end of the Tribulation, immediately after Jesus’s physical return to earth. Compare Revelation 19.) It tells us where it will occur: on planet Earth…and, very likely at Jerusalem, as it says, “He shall sit upon the throne of His Glory.” He will be reigning from Jerusalem, so the Judgment will likely take place there.

This Judgment, as usual, will be based upon faith or the lack thereof; but, in this case, that faith will have been evidenced by how the people treated the Jews. The Tribulation saints, people who believed in Jesus as their Savior, will have expressed that faith by caring for His people. People who do not believe will not care for His people. The determining factor is always faith.

The Great White Throne Judgment

Remember that the Judge, in all the cases we have listed, is Jesus Christ. John 5:22 says He is the only Judge. Jesus said, “The Father judgeth no man, but has committed all judgment unto the Son.” (That means the “Judge of all the Earth” in Genesis 18:25, with Whom Abraham spoke face-to-face, was also Jesus!) So, the One sitting on the Throne, in Revelation 20:11, is Jesus, in His full Glory.

It is interesting to see that in Genesis 3:8 in the Garden of Eden, where Adam and Eve heard “the voice of the LORD God walking in the Garden in the cool of the day,” they fled at the sound of His voice, and they hid. (That was Jesus, too! God the Son is the Member of the Trinity who always shows up to walk and talk with humans.)

So, now, at the very end of time, Jesus shows up on the Great White Throne as the Eternal Judge. And all the progeny of Adam and Eve respond the same way they did! It says, “Heaven and Earth fled from before His face.”

And that is when the Judgment of 2nd Peter 3:10 will also occur: “The heavens and earth shall pass away with a fervent heat and a great noise.” (Revelation 21:1confirms this connection.)

What About the Church?

So where will the church-age believers be, during that judgment? We will be with Him on that throne! According to Ephesians 2:6, we are already there. And Jesus promised, saying “…that where I am, there ye may be also.” (John 14:3)

Will we be “happy” to be at that judgment? No! It will be a terrible tragedy, worse than any tragedy in human history! But we will absolutely know and agree that God the Son is doing right, by making that judgment. And it is after that judgment that He says, “He will wipe away all tears from their eyes.” (Revelation 21:4 “And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away.”

You see, that will be the final Judgment and the end of all death, sorrow, crying, and pain.

Psalm 30:5 says, “…weeping may endure for a night, but Joy cometh in the Morning!” Jesus is called the Morning Star, and His Day is eternal. That is the “Morning” we all long to see!

Why are Believers Excluded from these final Judgments?

(2nd Thessalonians 1:10)

“…because our testimony among you was believed…”

We are saved by Grace, through Faith, plus Nothing! The Thessalonian believers were saved sinners, just like us. But Paul said that the Lord will be worshipped and admired by all those who believe in Him, and then he specifically reminds them of how they became believers. Paul and Silas had brought the message of Salvation to Thessalonica, in Acts 17. Those who became believers did so because they believed the testimony of Paul and Silas. They believed the Gospel!

The long-term effect of believers’ faith is the eternal worship of Christ, as our Redeemer. And, when He returns, believers who are still in their natural bodies (those in Matthew 25:31-46) will, for the first time, be seeing Jesus in His full glory!

What Should be the Result of all this “Positional Truth?”

All of the things we have talked about so far, (except the results of the Judgment Seat of Christ) have been positional Truths. They are true because we are “In Christ.” That is our location: our position. But positional truths should result in conditional changes!

Wherefore…

11 Wherefore also we pray always for you, that our God would count you worthy of this calling, and fulfil all the good pleasure of his goodness, and the work of faith with power: 12 That the name of our Lord Jesus Christ may be glorified in you, and ye in him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ.

Paul says that he was praying for the believers that their lives would be pleasing to God so that He would agree that they lived up to their calling: That they were acting in a manner worthy of their family connection to Him.

The Result

And the result in their lives was that God would fulfil the Good Pleasure of His Goodness in them, and that His Grace would be manifested in their lives and that others would Glorify God because of what they could see happening in the lives of those believers. They would see the power of God working in the lives of the believers and the work of faith being done by the believers.

This is why we take seriously His commands that we are to love one another and to work together to glorify Him. We avoid criticizing one another for things that God does not call “sin,” and we collectively avoid doing or saying things that dishonor the Lord.

It requires that we “use good judgment” as we discussed last week, and avoid “bad judgment.”

And the result? “That the name of our Lord Jesus Christ may be glorified in you and you in Him”…all according to the Grace of the Father and the Son. We are not to fear condemnation from God, but it is healthy to fear displeasing Him because it means we are missing out on our only opportunity to serve with Him.

We want to reflect His glory, and not shroud it with our own folly and sin. He has called us to shine in this sin-dark world, as we reflect His light.

Lord Jesus, we desire to see you as our Savior and our Lord; We know we will stand before you at the Judgment seat to receive reward, and we desire to be worthy of that reward. Teach us to consistently walk with you, and let our daily behavior have eternal worth.

What Does The New Testament Say About “Judging?”

What About “Judging?”

© 2024 C. O. Bishop

Introduction:

As a matter of course, this Sunday we would have gone forward into 1st Corinthians 5, simply because last week we completed chapter four. However, the various subjects of chapter 5 are fairly uncomfortable for most people. They include the concepts of sin and judgment, as well as some things such as polygamy, which is illegal in our culture, but fairly common in other cultures. Finally, it deals with “church discipline” which is a very uncomfortable idea for most people.

In particular, Paul names a specific sin of sexual immorality involved, which we may feel is not an appropriate subject for a Church service. But he deals with the subject of judgment rather strongly, there, as well, and not in a “negative” sense. In that passage, he commands the Church to judge something.

Since our modern society tells us that “judgment is a bad thing,” we need to study what God says about judgment and make our best determination about what we are to do. (Are there other things we should consider? Under some circumstances, God commands us to not judge. Under some circumstances God commands that we must judge! And under some circumstances He simply advises us to use good judgment, or to judge carefully what we should do.)

What Can We Learn About Judgment?

We usually think of “judging, and judgment,” only in a negative sense: The unbelieving World acts as if “all judgment is bad.” (But is it?)

Jesus is the Judge of all things, and over all the World. Genesis 18:25, says Abraham recognized Him, face to face, as the Judge of all the earth. And, in John 5:22 Jesus confirmed that He, Himself, God the Son…is that Judge!

So, it follows, at the very least, that not all judgment is “bad.” Further, we use the same word,  saying, “One has to exercise good judgment, to avoid the snares and bad decisions in life!” So, we admit, by our words, that there is such a thing as “good judgment.”

But then we insist that “there must be a different kind of judging, that Jesus condemned!”

Perhaps we need to examine the various Greek words used in the New Testament, and translated as “judge, judging, or judgment,” to see what Jesus truly said about the matter:

Several Greek Roots for the New Testament Passages about Judgment:

Primary Greek Root: Krinō

Krinō is the infinitive verb, “to judge.” It includes, but is not limited to, the concept of condemning. It also includes the concept of making a good decision or discerning between good and bad.

Krinō can also include making an authoritative decree as a Judge, in a civil matter, or making a weighty decision in church matters, that calls for “good judgment.” Or it can even mean just “stating an opinion.” (Krinō is used 110 times in various grammatical forms, and it is translated as “judge” 87 of those times.)

Secondary Greek Root: Krima

This means to judge or condemn. (This is where we get our English words, “crime,” “criminal,” and “incriminate.”.) (It is used only 29 times…and it is translated as “judgment” 13 of those times. The other uses are mostly “condemnation” or “damnation.”)

So, in the following passages, we hope to examine examples of each of those ideas and the particular grammatical changes in the Greek root.

Four Other Greek Roots:

Hegeomai: This means “to consider.” It is only used once in the New Testament, and it carries the idea of “regarding,’ or ‘considering” Hebrews 11:11 (about the faith of Sara) “…because she judged Him faithful Who had promised.” We rarely use this form in modern English, but it was once quite common. (“We judged that a quart of water ought to be enough to prime the pump…”)

There are others: (dikē) is related to the concept of the judgment of a ruler. (It is only used in that way nine times.)

A few other examples related to the concept of knowledge or thinking: (three from the Greek root “gnosko.”) Or the concept of perception, (one from the Greek word “aesthesis.”)

The Majority of Biblical Examples Come from “Krinō”

The majority of the occurrences of the English words, “judge,” or “judgment” in the New Testament are from the root “Krinō,” in various grammatical forms. Here are five examples:

Matthew 7:1  “Judge not, that ye be not judged.” (This verse is most commonly quoted.) (krinete with negative prefix “.”) but “krima” (condemnation) appears in the very next verse: “with what judgment (krima) you judge (krinō) ye shall be judged (krinō)….” So, the “krinō” judgment, in this context, is connected to “krima,” implying condemnation.

Matthew 19:28 Judging, as righteous, ordained Judges… (Jesus said that the apostles would serve as judges over Israel.”…ye also shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.”) (krinontes…judging)

Acts 13:46 Judge: (krinō, krinete) (meaning, to “give an opinion:” especially an authoritative opinion…a judgment) “…ye put it from you and judge yourselves unworthy of eternal life…, and

Acts 15:19 “Wherefore my sentence is that we trouble not them which from among the Gentiles are turned to God.” (“Sentence,” here, is from the word “krinete”… meaning “judgment.”)

John 18:31 “Pilate said, take Him and judge Him according to your law.” (“Judge,” here, is from “krinate” meaning “to sit in Judgment”…in court)

There are Various Concepts of Judgment

1st Corinthians 6:1-8 is a very good passage within which to see the various uses of the verb “krinō.

1Dare any of you, having a matter against another, go to law (krinesthai) before the unjust, and not before the saints?  Do ye not know that the saints shall judge (krinousin)the world? and if the world shall be judged (krinetai) by you, are ye unworthy to judge (kritērion)the smallest matters? Know ye not that we shall judge (krinoumen) angels? how much more things that pertain to this life?

If then ye have judgments (kritēria) of things pertaining to this life, set them to judge (the word “judge” is not in the original, it is only implied by the context…it literally just says, “set them up”) 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 (diakrinai) between his brethren?

But brother goeth to law (krinetai) with brother, and that before the unbelievers. Now therefore there is utterly a fault among you, because ye go to law (krinata) 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.

Multiple Uses: Multiple Implications

We can see that there are ten different uses, with six or eight different implications, all lumped under the Biblical word “judgment,” just in that one passage!

  • Go to judgment in a legal court
  • Judge over the world, in righteousness.
  • To Judge as an arbiter of justice between people of the world
  • Judge as one having to make decisions by good judgment: discernment.
  • Judge over angels (!) No idea where that takes place.
  • Judgments as court cases…civil disagreements.
  • Judge as an arbitrator.
  • Take to court, as opponents

Not all of these examples are negative. God advises some, and commands others, while He prohibits still others. We must read carefully and understand the context, to know what kind of “judgment” is in question.

Another Example:

Romans 14:1-4 gives a pair ofconflicting opinions that may arise between believers. And Paul says that they are not to “judge” each other over such issues.

1 Him that is weak in the faith receive ye, but not to doubtful (“diakrisis:” judgmental)  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 (“me krinetō”not judge) him that eateth: for God hath received him.

Who art thou that judgest (“krinōn” judging) 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 (“krinei” judges…considers) one day above another: another esteemeth (“krinei” judges…considers)  every day alike. Let every man be fully persuaded in his own mind.

So, there we see another four applications of the word “krinō.”

  • Hold in Disregard
  • Criticize
  • Condemn
  • Consider (judging something to be a certain way.)

What Did Jesus Mean?

Jesus said, “For God sent not His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.” I would have guessed that the word He used was “krima,” meaning condemn, as a criminal. But it is not: The word is actually the Greek word “krinē.” And, in the subsequent verse, he uses two other forms of the same root word, “krinō”

He says those who believe on Him (meaning “trust in Him as Savior”) are not judged (“ou krinetai…not condemned,” KJV) but that those who do not believe are already judged (“kekritai…condemned,” KJV) because they have not believed on the name of the only begotten Son of God.”

So, we can see that the range of meaning in the infinitive verb krinō (“to judge”) is pretty huge!

Different Kinds of Judges

No one condemns a person for taking a position as a livestock judge in a county fair, or, if they are qualified to do so, a judge in any contest. We require a referee or an umpire, in most sporting events. Sometimes we employ electronic devices to eliminate errors due to human failings. But the judges are still there. And we want them there!

No law-abiding person condemns another person for taking a position as a Judge in a court of Law. We only require that they do that job with integrity and justice; entirely following the law. Kindness and Mercy are additional qualities we admire in a good judge. We see Patience, in listening carefully to testimonies from upset, confused people, as another good trait.

Jesus is that sort of Judge.

He is perfect, and Holy, but He is kind, and just. His Mercy and Love took Him to the Cross to blot out the Holy judgment against us: not by denying it, but by fulfilling it. His blood, spilled at the Cross, fulfilled the righteous demands of His Holiness and made it possible for us to approach Him through that Blood Sacrifice.

We need to learn to emulate Jesus, the One perfect Judge, so that we do not fail to judge correctly and do not exceed His judgment and begin to condemn others.

Lord Jesus, take each of us in hand: Correct our heart attitudes toward those around us. Help us to Love as you Love, and not to harbor ill-will. Free us from our slavery to sin.

How to be Emissaries of God

Emissaries of God

© 2024 C. O. Bishop

1st Corinthians 4:17-21

17 For this cause have I sent unto you Timotheus, who is my beloved son, and faithful in the Lord, who shall bring you into remembrance of my ways which be in Christ, as I teach every where in every church.

18 Now some are puffed up, as though I would not come to you.

19 But I will come to you shortly, if the Lord will, and will know, not the speech of them which are puffed up, but the power.

20 For the kingdom of God is not in word, but in power.

21 What will ye? shall I come unto you with a rod, or in love, and in the spirit of meekness?

Introduction:

Several times in our studies, we have seen Timothy mentioned as a companion in Paul’s travels, or as his fellow laborer. But this time, Paul states the reason Timothy was sent… the service that Timothy was to carry out. And, implicit in the assignment, is the authority of God backing His Emissaries.

What is an Emissary? The Dictionary defines an Emissary as “a person sent on a mission to represent another.” Paul was also such a person, then. So are the missionaries we support. So are we all, in the general sense. God has called each of us, individually and collectively, to be Ambassadors of Christ, according to 2nd Corinthians 5:20.

Timothy had a more specific assignment: He was to remind the people (to re-teach the believers) exactly what Paul had taught them originally. He had some other responsibilities as well.

When Jesus sent the eleven apostles, He authorized them to teach and to make disciples in all the world. He specifically commanded them to teach the believers all that He, Himself, had taught the Apostles. He said that they were to teach the believers to behave according to that teaching.

What Were Timothy’s Instructions?

We read in 1st Timothy 1:2-20 that Paul gave Timothy some very specific tasks when he sent him to Ephesus. He was to straighten out some tendencies toward false teaching and corrupt behavior that were springing up in that church.

In 1st Timothy 3:1-8, Paul instructed Timothy regarding how to select and appoint church leadership. (Ordination is not a “popularity contest.” It is not a “general election.” Timothy sorted out the character of the men in question. He determined by scripture who God had raised up to perform that work.

Then he appointed them publicly, and he recognized that calling. That entire process of examining the character and publicly recognizing such a person as an elder (a pastor) is called “ordination.” We see that both Timothy and Titus were commanded to “ordain elders (plural) in every church” (singular.)  

More Specific Instructions

Incidentally, 1st Timothy 4:12-16 underscores this concept. God sent Timothy, but Paul and other elders appointed, and recognized him. Because he had God’s backing as evidenced by prophecy and public ordination, he was to remember that other people’s opinion of his “youth” was no longer a valid concern. Paul told him to allow no one to despise his youth. Instead, Paul said to devote himself to being a good example for the believers, in every way.

12 Let no man despise thy youth; but be thou an example of the believers, in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity. 13 Till I come, give attendance to reading, to exhortation, to doctrine. 14 Neglect not the gift that is in thee, which was given thee by prophecy, with the laying on of the hands of the presbytery. 15 Meditate upon these things; give thyself wholly to them; that thy profiting may appear to all. 16 Take heed unto thyself, and unto the doctrine; continue in them: for in doing this thou shalt both save thyself, and them that hear thee.

Can we List His Instructions?

  • Let no man despise your youth.
  • Be an example for the believers,
    • in word
    • in conversation
    • in charity
    • in spirit
    • in faith
    • in purity
  • Until I come, give attendance to
    • Reading
    • Exhortation
    • Doctrine (teaching)
  • Don’t Neglect the gift that is in you.
    • In Timothy’s case, prophecy revealed the gift, The elders of his home church ordained him. (Presbytery is a transliteration of the Greek word “presbuteros,” meaning “elders.”)
  • Meditate upon these things.
    • Give yourself completely to the assignment.
    • In this way, the spiritual blessing and flourishing in your life will be obvious to all those around you.
  • Pay close attention to yourself, and to what you are teaching.
    • Continue with this assignment and lifestyle.
    • The result will be salvation for your hearers as well as yourself.
      • (“salvation” has three different tenses: what is meant, here?)

Can We Apply this Assignment to Ourselves?

We are Ambassadors of Christ. There is no question that, at least in some regards, all of this could apply to each of us. One thing I would immediately point out is that we are ambassadors of Christ, directly. We are not to be concerned with whether the Apostle Paul is going to show up in our presence and sharply rebuke us: (He is already doing so in the pages of the Book you hold in your hands!)

But we are to be cognizant of the truth that Jesus is going to return, without further warning, and our opportunity for faithful, voluntary service in this life will end forever. God has given you a gift, but it must be used today, in this life.

We cannot keep “putting off” the idea that we are servants of God, or thinking, “Well, I will do some growing, first, and then I will see how He wants me to serve!” No: the call of God is a “come as you are” event! He wants us to start where we are, today, and then allow Him to do the “cleaning up and straightening out” that is needed in each of our lives.

Choose Obedience First

When Isaiah’s call came in Isaiah 6:1-8, God said “Whom shall I send, and who will go for Us?” And Isaiah immediately replied, “Here am I Lord! Send me!” Notice that Isaiah did not know what the assignment would be. He volunteered first, and then waited while God told him the assignment!

Paul gave Timothy and Titus a very specific ministry: He sent them to travel from church to church, to straighten out doctrinal problems and behavioral issues, and to set up qualified leadership in every church.

They were not pastors. They had an itinerant ministry, whereas the pastors (elders, overseers…always plural) did not. Paul gave the elders strict instructions to “stay put.” He told them to feed (tend) the flock they served. (Acts 20:28-31)

But God calls every believer to be an ambassador! He appointed every believer a priest in the Body of Christ. As such, He calls us to bring spiritual sacrifices of praise and thanksgiving, as well as prayers for the other believers and the unbelievers around us. He re specifically commands us to pray for the leaders of the unbelieving world, as well as for the salvation of others.

Every believer has assignments that are specific to him or her alone. God calls each of us to a life of intentional discipleship, learning to follow Christ, and applying His written Word to our lives.

False Teachers

Some teachers rebel against sound teaching, and they teach others to reject God’s Word. Some go so far as to teach that Jesus will not physically return, but only will come in some mystic fashion and permeate the world with His presence in that way. Several cults teach something along this line of thinking. But it is a lie: He will return! He will return physically and visibly, as predicted in Zechariah 12:10 and Zechariah 14:3-5, and where He places his feet (on the Mount of Olives) will split wide open! (There is nothing “mystical” about that!)

The irony is that some of the very people who once taught that Jesus would never return (or that He had already returned in some invisible, mysterious fashion, but would not return physically) will be there, at the end of the Tribulation, to see Him physically return! They will be unable to “go back and change their minds.” Judgment will arrive with Jesus! No one will escape. Whatever they have done and whatever they have become will be permanent at that point.

Paul warned the rebels in Corinth that he would be coming to town to confront them personally. This is a good picture for us of the same warning that is given to the world today. Jesus will return and Judgment comes with Him!

God’s Word is not just rhetoric, not just wishful thinking: the false prophets of Jeremiah’s day had wonderful things to say, promising God’s intervention and saying that the siege of Jerusalem would fail. But God showed that their words were just that: “their words!” He said that they did “dream dreams,” but that they caused the dreams themselves! (Jeremiah 29:8)

So, What is the Difference?

God’s Word is not of human origin! His Word accomplished what He sent it to do! Romans 1:16 says that the Gospel of Christ is “the power of God unto Salvation to them that believe.” We have seen how God’s power has transformed each of our lives to varying degrees, and we can read the scriptural account of how the disciples were transformed. They were terrified men, hiding for fear of execution, when the Holy Spirit came upon them and they were changed into fearless advocates of Christ, cheerfully accepting whatever it cost them to follow Jesus.

Paul says the Kingdom of God is not just about words, but about power…specifically, the power to make things happen! (I had thought the word for “power,” here, might be the Greek word, “exousia,” meaning “authority,” but it is not. It is the Greek word, “dunamis:” meaning, “the “ability to make things happen, physically.”

Paul knew that, if necessary, God would work through him to bring judgment on the rebels at Corinth. As an Apostle, he carried tremendous authority. In my case, I have no such authority. All I have is God’s Written Word. But the Authority behind the Written Word of God is the Living Word of God: Jesus Christ!

His Word will be fulfilled, to the letter! All we can do is either align ourselves with His Word, or ignore His Word, and eventually find that He is forced to oppose us!

Paul’s Conclusion

Paul asked the Corinthian believers how they wanted Him to arrive: In Gentleness and love, or, in Judgment and heavy consequences? We can ask ourselves the same question: When we see Jesus, will we be grateful, glad, and blessed to finally see Him face to face, or will we be dismayed and sorry to have wasted our lives in foolish pursuits?

The choice is ours, and we make our choices every day. We choose, moment by moment, how to respond to Jesus, the Living Word of God, by the way we respond to what we know of His Written Word.

We need to re-read these passages and meditate upon what they mean in our individual lives. God grant that we will make good choices as a result. He says that good choices in this area will result in our own deliverance, and will result in deliverance for others, as well. Our lives always affect others. Consider how your life will affect those in your sphere of influence. Will it turn hearts to Jesus, or will it turn them away?

Lord Jesus, awaken our hearts to follow You faithfully and act as Your Emissaries: Your Ambassadors. Teach us to use our lives wisely, so as to receive Your blessing.

How To Learn The Humility of Discipleship

The Humility of Discipleship

© 2024 C. O. Bishop

1st Corinthians 4:8-16

Now ye are full, now ye are rich, ye have reigned as kings without us: and I would to God ye did reign, that we also might reign with you.

For I think that God hath set forth us the apostles last, as it were appointed to death: for we are made a spectacle unto the world, and to angels, and to men.

10 We are fools for Christ’s sake, but ye are wise in Christ; we are weak, but ye are strong; ye are honourable, but we are despised.

11 Even unto this present hour we both hunger, and thirst, and are naked, and are buffeted, and have no certain dwellingplace;

12 And labour, working with our own hands: being reviled, we bless; being persecuted, we suffer it:

13 Being defamed, we intreat: we are made as the filth of the world, and are the offscouring of all things unto this day.

14 I write not these things to shame you, but as my beloved sons I warn you.

15 For though ye have ten thousand instructers in Christ, yet have ye not many fathers: for in Christ Jesus I have begotten you through the gospel.

16 Wherefore I beseech you, be ye followers of me.

Introduction:

Remember the context, here, as we begin to study this warning to the Church at Corinth:

They were already displaying a great deal of carnality, division, and pride. Paul had already begun to admonish them regarding their sin, and this is simply a more pointed address to the source of their error.

In verse eight, Paul addresses their self-confidence and self-aggrandizement. He sounds almost as though he is mocking them, but he at least is highlighting their arrogance, by comparing their attitudes to those of the apostles.

Ye are Kings!

The Christians in Corinth had excessively high opinions of themselves: Theythought they were really something special. Possibly in their immaturity as new believers, they had simply become elated at their new position in Christ,  but it led to becoming inflated in their own minds.

They felt self-satisfied and smug, it seems. So, Paul is calling them out because of their pride. He approached them fairly gently about it, compared to some of the preachers of past ages. (Jonathan Edwards, in his famous sermon, “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God” blasted his hearers and condemned them, saying that they were lower than worms and hanging on the brink of an eternity in Hell!)

Paul is very gently chiding these baby believers and leading them to see themselves accurately. He does something similar in Romans 12:3, where he commands the Roman believers to “not think more highly of themselves than they ought to.”

He went on to make three contrasting comparisons between the believers in Corinth and the Apostles who had actually introduced them to Christ.

Three Contrasts

  1. We are fools, but ye are wise!
  2. We are weak, but you (plural) are strong!
  3. And, we are despised, but you are honorable!

Even today, the church at large has attempted to make itself “attractive to the world” by attempting to look wise, strong, and honorable to the world around us. In a limited sense, that was what was beginning in Corinth. They felt as though they had “arrived,” and had a special “in” with God. But today it has gone further!

The organized churches of every stripe have built huge buildings, with amazing architecture, and tried to attract rich parishioners, even to the extent of rejecting those who “didn’t measure up.” James warned against this practice in James 2:1-4. He says if you are turning the poor away, or treating them differently, then you are in sin!

How Bad did it Become?

In some past ages, the so-called “church” has even taken on “military status,” literally having its own armies to back the armies of “approved” nations against those that were unapproved. The Spanish Armada (also called the “Invincible Armada”) was a classic example. The king of Spain sent it to attack England and force it to return to Catholicism. And, the Pope at that time had guaranteed the Spanish king that if the Armada made landfall in England, then the Pope would send in troops to participate in the invasion!) Providentially, the Armada never made landfall. The “Invincible Armada” turned out to not be so “invincible” after all!)

The Crusades were a similar travesty. And these were by no means the only examples.

Other Examples

The powerful “churches” of that time extorted money from the poor to fill the treasuries of their cathedrals. Then they tortured and killed those who disagreed with them. In no case did such behavior honor the Lord, and in no case did He approve of any of it at all. In fact, in many cases, that “Strong, Wise, and Honorable” organization was imprisoning, torturing, and killing His people! This powerful so-called “Church” considered as an “enemy” anyone who simply believed Jesus for their salvation, and refused to follow their teaching, So they tried to destroy them all.

We remember the Inquisition as a horrible, cruel time in history. But those people who declared themselves “wise, honorable, and strong” carried it out! Other church organizations have committed similar crimes. Jesus does NOT command believers to “attack unbelievers.” The unbelievers are precious souls for whom He died, the same as the Believers! He commanded us to take them the bread of life, and offer hope, not condemn them!

In Romans 1:22, Paul explains the problem: He says, “Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools!

What is Our Calling?

1st Corinthians 1:26-29 says, 26 For ye see your calling, brethren, how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called:

27 But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty;

28 And base things of the world, and things which are despised, hath God chosen, yea, and things which are not, to bring to nought things that are:

29 That no flesh should glory in his presence.”

If that is the sort of people God has chosen, then why on earth do we insist on appearing to not be that kind of person? Why are we so desperately trying to show the World that we are “Wise, strong, and honorable?”

You see, that is what the Corinthian believers were doing, too!

But, Aren’t We Supposed to Be Wise?

There is nothing wrong with doing what God says is wise. There is nothing wrong with allowing God’s strength to be our sufficiency, and if it brings good results, then the honor goes to God!

And, of course, if we behave in a manner that God says is honorable, then, the result will be mixed: those who hate the smell of Jesus will despise us along with Him. Those who see Him as their only hope will be drawn to us, along with Him. If Jesus is rejected, we should expect to be rejected along with Him! And we are to accept that rejection with Joy!

Hebrews 13:12, 13 says, 12 Wherefore Jesus also, that he might sanctify the people with his own blood, suffered without the gate. 13 Let us go forth therefore unto him without the camp, bearing his reproach.

Jesus calls us to join Him in the rejection the World has given Him (and still gives to Him.)

So, What was the Problem in Corinth?

Several times, Paul confronted the believers of Corinth. He condemned their pride. Proverbs 16:18 says “Pride goeth before destruction, and an haughty spirit before a fall.”

Pride always has bad results! The Corinthian believers were not only torpedoing their testimonies by conceit, but they were wrecking their walk with Jesus because God hates pride!

Proverbs 6:16-19 says,16 These six things doth the Lord hate: yea, seven are an abomination unto him: 17 A proud look, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood, 18 An heart that deviseth wicked imaginations, feet that be swift in running to mischief, 19 A false witness that speaketh lies, and he that soweth discord among brethren.

Over and over, God condemns pride, in both the Old Testament and the New! So, Paul begins to offer the contrast between the Apostles and the believers at Corinth. They were heading down a dangerous path.

Isn’t it odd that today the media tells us to be proud? That pride is a wonderful attribute, when God says it results in strife and discord, and war?

What about the Apostles?

What does Paul; say the lives of the Apostles looked like? He said:

  • Hunger,
  • Thirst,
  • Nakedness,
  • Physically buffeted,
  • Homeless!
  • They labored, working with their own hands: (self-supporting)
  • Being reviled, they blessed.
  • When they were persecuted, they accepted and endured it:
  • Being defamed, they intreated
  • They were made as the filth of the world, and the offscouring of all things.

(Wow! What a great ministry! Sounds like a “recruiting poster for servanthood,” doesn’t it?) No, it does not! From a human perspective, it sounds like a great occupation to avoid!

Jesus did not say that discipleship would be “fun.” He never said it would be a “source of pride or position.” When the twelve disciples were bickering about who would be greatest in the kingdom of Heaven (the Millennial Kingdom,) He straightened them out by saying that the greatest would be those who approached Him as a child approaches. Without any self-will or arrogance. And that those who served would be the best rewarded. “He who would be chief among you, let him be your slave.”

The Apostles seemed to be the last in line for honor, in this world. As far as we know, the unbelievers eventually executed all of them were for the sake of Jesus, with the possible exception of John. (History is unclear regarding some of them.)

And Paul’s Conclusion?

Notice that he softens the admonition by saying that he is bringing this rebuke in love, as a father to his children. He had no desire to shame them, but he had to warn them of the trap into which they were walking. He reminded them that he, himself, had led them to Christ. His heart toward them was as a father to his children.

His conclusion was, “Wherefore I beseech you, be ye followers of me”

In effect, he said, “Please follow our example! We Apostles have led you to Christ, and we have taught you how to walk with Him. Follow our example, and drop all this heady nonsense of pride and personal glory!

Some of this may sound foreign to some of you, but, if you think about it, I would expect that at least some of you may have run into these attitudes before and may even have fallen prey to them yourselves. In either case, God warns us that such conceited self-satisfaction in our “super-spirituality” is a guaranteed recipe for disaster, both as individuals and as a church.

We need to learn and embrace the humility of discipleship.

Lord Jesus, open our eyes to our true condition and help us to change, as You transform us through the renewing of our minds. Teach us to walk with You in true submission and humility, rather than insisting on our own way. Make us able ministers of your truth.

Salvation or Rewards: A Gift or Wages?

Salvation or Rewards: A Gift or Wages?

© 2024 by C. O. Bishop

1st Corinthians 3:9-15

For we are labourers together with God: ye are God’s husbandry (a cultivated field), ye are God’s building (In other places this building is called the “Temple” or “habitation” of God).

10 According to the grace of God which is given unto me, as a wise masterbuilder, I have laid the foundation, and another buildeth thereon. But let every man take heed how he buildeth thereupon.

11 For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ.

12 Now if any man build upon this foundation gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, stubble;

13 Every man’s work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man’s work of what sort it is.

14 If any man’s work abide which he hath built thereupon, he shall receive a reward.

15 If any man’s work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire.

Introduction:

We have seen the difference between the ministry of Paul and the ministry of Apollos. Paul said, “I planted, and Apollos watered. But God gave the increase.” Paul goes on to use a slightly different metaphor. Remember that he used two ideas in verse nine. He likened us first to a cultivated field, and then to a building.

So, as appropriate to the first metaphor, he said that he (Paul) had planted, and Apollos had watered. But then he moves on to the second metaphor…the building…an edifice of some kind. And in verse ten, he says, “I have laid the foundation, and another buildeth thereon.”

Consider the Cultivated Field

When a farmer plants a field with seed, he doesn’t step back and say, “There is a fruitful field!” He waits and watches to see the germination take place and the leafing-out of whatever the young plants are. Finally, he is grateful to see the field bearing the fruit he hoped for.

What About a Building?

Consider how a General Contractor, specializing in concrete work, begins a project. He completes the excavation for the building site. Thinking ahead, he makes allowances for the wiring and plumbing that must also happen. He will lay down the necessary loads of crushed rock, onto which the concrete foundation will be poured. The contractor erects the plywood forms, into which he will pour the concrete. Ultimately, he will pour the concrete, making certain to leave no air-voids.

Finally, after the concrete is sufficiently cured, he will strip the forms from the newly cured concrete. Then he may hand-trowel a layer of finishing mortar onto the portions that may remain exposed. He may also apply various additives or sealants to enhance the longevity or looks of that foundation.

The Foundation is Complete and Permanent!

But at some point, he can say, “I have laid the foundation!” And, as a general contractor, he would then turn the work over to the other builders who will complete the structure in the prescribed manner, according to the plan of the Architect.

This is the metaphor Paul introduces in this passage: And the whole context teaches the result of the efforts of the subsequent builders.

Our question, then, becomes, “What am I accomplishing as I build upon the foundation which has been laid in my life?”

The Foundation

He says, “As a wise master-builder, I have laid the foundation, and another buildeth thereon.

In the case of the “cultivated field,” once the farmer had planted the seed, others completed the remaining cultivation. Those who watered that field did the rest, and God brought the increase. But, in the case of the building, once the foundation has been laid, the rest of the building is for someone else to accomplish.

In any physical building, if the foundation is of questionable quality, then the subsequent building is unsecure, regardless of the craftsmanship of the builders. If the ground under the “foundation” is unstable, then even the foundation is unsecure.

But, in this case, Paul identifies the Foundation: He explains in verse 13 that the foundation is Jesus Christ. (In other passages, we find that He is also the Monolithic Bedrock under the “foundation” in our lives.) Everything that has become “possible” in our lives, as new believers is only possible because of the absolute security of that foundation. Jesus said, “Upon this Rock I will build My Church, and the gates of Hell shall not prevail against it.” (And He was not referring to Peter!) Jesus is the Rock of our Salvation, and He is the Foundation of the Work God plans to accomplish in our lives.

The Gift

Think clearly about this: You did not lay the foundation! Someone else came to you with the Gospel of Christ and eventually, one way or another, you chose to believe it. God, through the agency of  that other person, laid the Foundation of Christ in your life at that moment. Paul brought Christ to Corinth, and, in doing so, he laid the foundation there in Corinth. They did not do it for themselves. It was the gift of God.

The Foundation was a gift! Salvation is a gift! What you do with that gift after having received it, is another matter. Paul warns that the character of  resulting overall construction is up to you to decide, moment-by-moment and day-by-day.

The Warning: “Let Every Man Take Heed!”

Paul said, “But let every man take heed how he buildeth thereupon.”

“Take Heed!” (Pay attention!) Listen up! There is a caveat, here! A warning: Salvation is a gift! But rewards are not! This matter can easily confused us. Some teach that salvation is the reward for good behavior. That is absolutely false! You cannot earn salvation. You can receive it as the gift of God, precious beyond price and beyond imagination, or you cannot receive it at all.

Example one

I visited in the home of a man in Mexico, many years ago. He was a coppersmith…a very good one. He had personally hand-forged a beautiful copper pan for my wife as a gift. I do not speak even semi-fluent Spanish. However, during that evening I had shared the Gospel with this man. He rejected it, saying, it is too easy: “I have to earn it!” I thought for a moment, then felt in my pocket as if for money, and said, “So, how much do you want for that copper “casserole” you made for Ann?”

He instantly was furious: “No! That was a gift!

“That’s right, “I replied. “You are angry because I offered to pay for the gift you made for Ann, aren’t you?” He was still angry, so he blurted “YES!”

So I asked, “How much more angry do you think God may be, that you are offering to pay for the blood of His only Son?” His countenance changed, and his eyes went round, as he realized what he quite literally had been doing. I never saw him again, but I know that, at that moment, he understood the Gospel for the first time. What he ultimately chose to do about it, I don’t know. But I hope to see him in eternity.

Salvation is a Gift!

We have received a gift, each of us who has placed our trust in Christ. We have eternal life.

Example two

On another occasion, later, not knowing that the young lady to whom I was speaking was not a believer, I was only trying to teach her about her security in Christ. Eventually, I offered her a dime, saying, “Here: take this!”

She took it, and I asked, “Now, whose dime is that?”

She replied, “It’s mine, now!”

So, I asked, “But what did you do to get it?”

And she (bless her heart) said, “Nothing! I just reached out and took it!”  

And then she started crying! I was thoroughly confused, since I really didn’t understand what was happening. So, I finally prayed with her, and she gave me a ferocious hug, and then she and her husband drove away. That was January 9th, 1994.

Two weeks later, she explained to me that she was born again that day, as she simply believed God and received the GIFT of eternal life in Christ. GOD laid the foundation, that day, even though I did not at all understand what was going on!

And it was a gift!

But, Rewards are NOT Gifts!

The warning here is that we can receive rewards…or NOT, depending on how we respond to the Lord after receiving that gift.

I have frequently heard people say of someone who recently died that “He has gone to his reward!” And, in most cases, they were not even saying the person was a believer…only that they were dead! As an unbeliever, had I died before I was eighteen, my “reward” or “wages” would have been eternity in Hell! Romans 6:23 says, “For the wages of Sin is Death, but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ, our Lord!”

But, here in 1st Corinthians 3:9-15, Paul tells us that a reward is possible! And he says that the reward is commensurate with the work done, as we have either “worked with Jesus” or we have rebelled and “worked on our own…” choosing our own ideas of “how to please God,” as opposed to what His Word says.

The Building Materials

Paul continues his metaphor in verse 12, now likening the product of our lives, the “building” we are producing, as being of “different grades of building materials.” 

He chose two categories of materials: the first group, “Gold, Silver, Precious stones,” when considered as building materials, were completely outside the reach of anyone but the wealthiest of individuals. The second group were materials that even the poorest people could probably acquire, though there was still some expense, most likely, and a good deal of work as well.

It is not just about the cost of the Materials

One group implies “intrinsic value,” while the other does not! However, in verse 13, Paul tells us a far more important difference between the two groups: one is combustible, and one is not!

He says the final test of our works will not be so much upon how much work we did to accomplish it, how “important” it seemed, nor how “skilled” we are, but upon the intrinsic value of the materials and their permanence. He says that our work will be tested by fire.

So, where would a person get the “Gold, and Silver, and Precious Stones” that Paul mentions, here? Think forward a bit: In 2nd Peter 3:10, God also says that in the day of the final judgment, “the elements will pass away with a fervent heat and a great noise!” (Yes… but, “Gold and Silver and Precious Stones” are “elements,” too, aren’t they? Won’t they just be burned up?)

Materials From God are Eternal

Therefore, we are not talking about literal, physical wealth here, which none of those believers had, anyway. (Including the Apostles: Remember, it was Peter (and John) who said, addressing the lame man, “Silver and Gold have I none, but such as I have give I thee: In the Name of Jesus of Nazareth, rise up and walk!”)

The building materials God wants us to use, have to come from Him! That is why Jesus said, in John 15:5, “Apart from Me ye can do nothing!” The work has to be the direct result of our “pulling in double harness” with Jesus! That is why verse 9 says, “We are laborers together with God!”

The Result: Reward or Loss

Finally, in verses 14, and 15, Paul says that the result of the testing for permanence and value will be either that our work simply burns up like a barn with a haymow fire, or that it still remains, and a reward will be given. He points out that the foundation is permanent: He says that if any believer’s work burns up, the believer himself will still be saved, but “as one escaping through the flames.”

Was there a Reward for Lot?

Abraham’s nephew, Lot comes to mind as a prime example: He had already received great riches as a result of his travels with Uncle Abraham. But he squandered that fine start by moving into the City of Sodom. Ultimately, when God destroyed Sodom, Lot and his immediate family were saved, but they lost everything: The angels dragged them out of town, and whatever they dragged with them was all they had left. If it were not for the fact that, in 2nd Peter 2:6-8, God specifically names Lot as being a righteous man, I would never have guessed he was a saved man! And that helps secure my faith that He will save me, too! He laid the foundation!

But the reward is another matter! Lot came out of the City of Sodom with essentially nothing but his life! His salvation was a gift! But, there was no reward for his behavior!

Will there Be a Reward for Us?

Paul tells us that we have a choice: we can learn to “pull with Jesus in double harness,” being “laborers together with God,” thereby receiving from Him (and building with) the materials that have eternal intrinsic value, and eternal substance that will outlast this life…or not.

Let’s pursue the goal of learning to walk with Jesus, as His flock: learning to work with Jesus as His partners in the Work of God. The result, whether we follow or not, will have eternal results, for better or for worse.

Lord Jesus, please teach us to walk with You and to serve as your agents here in the fallen world in which we live. We know that we are Your ambassadors, but we want to be faithful at that work, serving with You looking for eternal results.

Learn to See The Problem and the Symptoms of Carnality

The Problems with (and the Symptoms of) Carnality

© 2023 by C. O. Bishop

1st Corinthians 3:1-9

1 And I, brethren, could not speak unto you as unto spiritual, but as unto carnal, even as unto babes in Christ. I have fed you with milk, and not with meat: for hitherto ye were not able to bear it, neither yet now are ye able. For ye are yet carnal: for whereas there is among you envying, and strife, and divisions, are ye not carnal, and walk as men?

For while one saith, I am of Paul; and another, I am of Apollos; are ye not carnal? Who then is Paul, and who is Apollos, but ministers (servants) by whom ye believed, even as the Lord gave to every man? I have planted, Apollos watered; but God gave the increase. So then neither is he that planteth any thing, neither he that watereth; but God that giveth the increase. Now he that planteth and he that watereth are one: and every man shall receive his own reward according to his own labour.

For we are labourers together with God: ye (plural) are God’s husbandry (Greek ”georgion”…a cultivated field, singular)  ye (plural) are God’s building (singular.)

Introduction:

Remember that in chapter two, Paul introduced the difference between a “Natural” man and a “Spiritual“ man. We saw that the “natural” man was unsaved…unregenerate, having only his old sin-nature. The “spiritual” man is in complete contrast. He was not only born again (“regenerate”), but also in direct submission to the Spirit of God. He not only has a new nature, but he is also in fellowship with God, and submitted to God’s direction. We chose to skip ahead to chapter three, to see that there also is a “third category.”

Paul describes the Carnal man, here in chapter three. This is a regenerate person, savedborn again, but one who is not currently in submission to the Lord. He or she is walking “in the flesh.”

The word “carnal” simply means, “of, or pertaining to flesh.”

When a person orders a bowl of “chili con carne,” in a restaurant, the name literally means, “chili with flesh…with meat!

So, Paul is introducing the concept of “fleshly living.” This idea gets treated in several places in the New Testament. It is by no means an “obscure” idea. (In Galatians 5:13-25, Paul addresses this contrast. He shows the difference between walking in the flesh (old sin nature) and walking in the Spirit, in some detail.)

The Problem of Carnality

The primary problem with Carnality is that you are separated from fellowship with God!

1st John 1:5, 6 states that “God is Light, and in Him is no darkness at all! If we say that we have fellowship with Him, and walk in darkness, we lie and do not the truth!

We are living a lie, when we are out of fellowship with the Holy God who bought us! Especially when we pretendi that “Everything is fine! I’m just praising the Lord!”

John goes on to show the simple act of repentance involved in restoring that condition of fellowship with God. (Your position in Christ is not in question. Your condition of either being in or out of fellowship with Him is in question.)

If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” Confess means (“agree with God”)

This is not a “religious ritual” of any kind. This “confession,” usually, is to God, and not to others, unless others have been affected by our sin. There is no hierarchy of priests through which we must pass to approach God. We approach freely, through the Cross. No “self-flagellation” is called for. Nor is there even any “doing penance” required. (And certainly no “Hail Mary’s,” in which the penitent is actually reciting a prayer of worship to Mary.) Confession is not a “sacrament.” Also, there is no ritualistic “format” for us to follow. Confession is simply agreeing with God concerning your sins and then pressing on to walk with Him in fellowship again.

Another Result of Carnality

A carnal Christian cannot understand much of God’s Word. (And usually isn’t really interested, either, as the Word of God constantly sheds light on the life of the reader. When we are in sin, we don’t like to see ourselves as we are!) But, while we are out of fellowship with Him, we cannot understand beyond the “baby-food” concepts of God’s Word.

We struggle with the “solid food” servings. We either “choke” on them, rejecting the teaching, or we simply don’t understand it, and we walk away confused. Therefore, Paul sadly said that he could not feed them on “solid food.”

They were not able to bear the “solid food” teaching, because they were still babies. He could only feed them on “milk.”

Babies are Wonderful, But…

A newborn believer need feel no shame at being a babe in Christ. He is supposed to be a “baby Christian!” But he also is called to rapidly grow out of that status, by feeding on the milk of God’s Word! (See 1st Peter 2:2, KJV.) There is no shame in physical babyhood, either. We become concerned, however, when a physical baby fails to physically mature at a “normal” rate. We are to progress to the solid food of God’s Word, and to a mature response to God’s Word.

In Hebrews 5:11-14, however, Paul complains that the recipients of that letter should have been teachers by that time, but that, instead, they had regressed to being babes. The reason the Corinthian believers were still babies, is because they were “failing to thrive.” Paul was only correcting them, in this passage, and warning of the consequences if they continued in carnality.

The Hebrew believers, though, were a different case. Because of their Jewish heritage and upbringing, they (perhaps) knew God’s Word better than the Corinthians ever would. But they had backslidden into such deep carnality that they were having to return to baby-food, as opposed to “solid food.” They had to return to the foundational teaching of God’s Word.

Warnings to Pretenders

He scolded the Hebrew believers pretty sharply, and then (in chapter six) he warned that, if they were not really believers at all, but just “fooling themselves,” then the potential was there for eternal loss. This warning was for people who were just pretending to believe: those who were just “going along for the ride.” But those genuine believers in chapter five, who were simply “wallowing in the mire,” so to speak, he sharply admonished to “get up and get moving!”

Lost Opportunities

Later in this chapter of first Corinthians, we will see that there are eternal results for sinning believers, too, but that they themselves will be saved, though their potential rewards will be lost.

Consider what he was saying to the believers in Hebrews 5:12. If they were supposed to be teachers by now and were not, then they were missing out on opportunities to serve with Jesus! (Read 1st Corinthians 3:9 carefully!) We are called to be laborers with God!

The Hebrew believers were missing out on the opportunity to “join Jesus in double harness” and, together with Him, to do the work of God. What a tragic loss! We only get one shot at this target, so to speak: we either use the short life He gives us by investing it in His agenda, or… we don’t!

Eternity is not an opportunity for “do-overs.” We can’t “change our mind,” in eternity, and go back and do the things we should have done. We can “change our minds” now,  and choose to invest our time and our efforts, our abilities and our “wherewithal in general,” to join Him in His work.

Symptoms of Carnality

It seems odd that one of the “Symptoms of Carnality” that Paul first addressed was the pattern of division and sectarianism that was already taking root in Corinth (and elsewhere.)

Today, we still see that pattern of dividing over “who is our preferred teacher.” But, ironically, we frequently are taught to think that such “separatist” behavior is somehow a mark of maturity. The Pharisees seemed to think that way, didn’t they? Jesus called out the praying Pharisee, who claimed to be “Thanking God that he, himself, was one of the Good Guys, not like that poor slob over there!” (Luke 18:9-14) From outward appearance, the Pharisee seemed to be following the Law, but inwardly, it was just pious pride. There was no fellowship with God involved.

When we separate ourselves from other believers (even secretly) over non-essentials, we are in sin. The result will be carnality, and everything we do while out of fellowship is empty of eternal value. Jesus said the tax-collector in Luke 18:13 (“publican” in the KJV) went home justified ( it means “declared righteous”) by God, and the “self-justified” Pharisee, who declared himself to be righteous, did not! God did not approve of his self-righteousness!

There is a “self-satisfaction,” and a “self-justification” rooted in all “I know more than they do,” or, “I serve more than they do,” or even “I listen to a better teacher on the radio than they do….” You see, all of those things come from the flesh. It is carnality!

In Contrast

Paul had the humility to see that Apollos, far from being a “Johnny-come-lately,” was a powerful tool in God’s hand, just as he himself was. He said, “We are both just servants! God is bringing the results!”

Paul pointed out that while he and Apollos did not have the exact same assignment, they were both being used by God to achieve the same goal. Paul was taking the Gospel where it had never gone, as he says in Romans 15:20.

Apollos was being used to teach and to powerfully convict the hearts of those who had already heard the Gospel, but were still unconvinced. (See Acts 18:24-28)

And Paul recognized that neither he nor Apollos was anything “special.” He simply counted it a privilege to have his life be used by God to do the work of God. He lived by Grace, which is “unearned favor.” Some teachers attempt to make “grace” mean “power.” It does not: it means “unearned favor:” a gift. But it is by the gift of God that we are allowed to serve and given the wherewithal to do so.

Future Reward

Paul also knew that a reward for faithfulness was coming. He said, “and every man shall receive his own reward according to his own labour.” That word “every” is pretty important: It means that every single believer has the opportunity to serve. And it means that every single believer who consistently seeks to serve will also receive reward for his or her service.

What an amazing thing! In John 15:5, Jesus said, “apart from me ye can do nothing.” In Philippians 2:13, Paul confirms that “it is God that worketh in you both to will and to do of His good pleasure.” And, here, in 1st Corinthians 3:7, Paul says that “God giveth the increase.”

But: the very next verse promises us that the “tools” through which He accomplishes His work will be rewarded as if they themselves had done it! That is a mind-boggling truth! We are not sent out to work “on our own,” at all! We either serve with Jesus, or not at all! But if we serve with Him, despite the fact that He is the One doing all the work, He promises a reward to us for simply “cooperating” and allowing Him to work through us!

Working With Jesus

He goes on to say that “we are laborers together with God!” God is doing the work. We have the privilege of “going to work with our Heavenly Father,” and doing with Him whatever He “sends us to do.” But he rewards us, as if we were the real workers. And He blesses us as we serve. We are not “blindly slaving away,” hoping what we are doing somehow has eternal value.

In terms of salvation, Jesus did every bit of the work, at the Cross!  But in terms of service, we always have a moment-by-moment choice: “Will I serve the Savior, by serving with Him, or will I just serve myself?

An Example of “Serving Self”

Years ago, when New Tribes Mission was first setting up one of their woodland “Jungle Camp” training programs, in Eastern Oregon, one of the necessary tasks (obviously) was to dig the pits for the various outhouses, there in the woods. It was a hard, thankless task, but it was divided between all the men, so that no one person was bearing the burden alone.

One of the trainees, that year, had been a pastor of a church somewhere before entering the mission. He evidently thought that was “special.” Another man, a friend of mine, when walking past the pit where this man was taking his turn digging, overheard him complaining, over and over, that This is no way to treat a pastor!”  

Do you see the difference between his attitude and that of Paul and Apollos? It was not a surprise to my friend when that man, shortly thereafter, dropped out of the training program. You see, he did not want to be aservant.” So, he was disqualified by God from serving.

How can We Follow Jesus’s Example?

Jesus said, in Matthew 20:28, “The Son of Man came not to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many!” We need to examine our own motives and ask ourselves, “Who am I really serving? What would He have me to do? Where is my heart attitude in all of this?

Lord Jesus, please open our eyes to the difference between spirituality and carnality. Lead us to repentance, so that we can serve You in the newness of the Spirit, not allowing our old sin natures to undermine the work of God in our hearts.