The Power of The Gospel: “Such Were Some of You”

The apostle, Paul, today will give us insight into how God’s power can deliver people from bondage. I pray this blesses you and yours.

[9] Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor homosexuals, [10] nor thieves, nor the covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers, will inherit the kingdom of God. [11] Such were some of you; but you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of our God. …

1 Corinthians 6:9-11 NASB (emphasis added)

In this scripture Paul is writing to the Corinth church in Greece. He is telling them people who practice certain sins will not “inherit the kingdom of God” or in today’s vernacular, “will not go to heaven when they die”.

This Corinth was the “new” Corinth created by Roman Emperor Julius Caesar as a retirement city for veterans of his Roman legions. The “old” Corinth was destroyed a hundred years before by Emperor Achaiacus, for rebellion and its citizens were sold into slavery. It was this “old”Corinth that contained the temple of the goddess Aphrodite, with its 1,000 – 10,000 (the number varies) temple prostitutes. In Paul’s day it was still a very immoral, wicked city. In the Hellenistic Greek world, the term “Corinthian” was associated with whore mongering and prostitution.

Into this immoral culture came Paul, preaching Jesus Christ and Him crucified for the sins of the world; the Light shining in the darkness. Through His preaching, the power of God was released and many pagans trusted in Christ for salvation. As a result of their faith in Christ, they were born again.

Being born again CHANGED them. CHANGED them from the sinful people he had listed in verse 9 and 10. He says of them in verse 11:

“Such were some of you….”

God working in their lives caused:

Adulterers to quit sleeping with other people’s spouses and to become faithful to their spouse.

Fornicators stopped sleeping around, instead learning to possess their own vessel (body) in sanctification and honor (I Thess. 4: 4 ) and glorifying God in their bodies (I Cor. 6: 20).

Idolaters stopped worshipping demon inspired false gods and started worshipping the one and only True God through His Son, Jesus Christ.

Homosexuals stopped sleeping with men and recognized the God-given natural function of the female (Romans 1: 7), in a marriage context.

The effeminate men quit playing the part of the female in the homosexual relationship and became the men God created them to be.

Thieves stopped stealing from others and started giving to others.

Drunkards stopped abusing alcoholic drink, resulting in soberness.

The covetous changed from “acting unethically to obtain more,” to being satisfied with what they had. They probably became givers.

Swindlers stopped extorting people to obtain money and other things. These also probably became givers.

Revilers stopped speaking rudely of others, maligning people’s character.

Paul goes on to say that this CHANGE happened in the Corinthians because when they were born again God did three things to each one of them. He:

1. “…washed…” them – Titus 3:5 says the following

“He saved us ….. by the washing of regeneration and renewing by the Holy Spirit, whom He poured out upon us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior.”

2. “…sanctified…” them – God set them apart from sin to Himself resulting in a willingness to cooperate with the Holy Spirit. They separated themselves from sin and grew in personal holiness.

3. They “…were justified..” – based on their faith in Christ, God declares them righteous before Him. They received the Holy Spirit in themselves.

CHANGE came in these people’s lives (and ours) because they were “washed, sanctified and were justified”. It is the work of a loving, forgiving God who loved us enough to send His Son to the Cross for our sins so we could be saved from the guilty and penalty of our sins and be CHANGED.

In closing, the Shantung revival in northern China (1920 – 30s) was a work of the Holy Spirit. He used a Miss Marie Monsen, a Norwegian Evangelical Lutheran, to awaken the missionaries and the Chinese church.

She asked everyone she met if they had been born again. As you can imagine, many missionaries and church members were greatly offended. But God used this and her teaching on sin to remove the blinders from the church members. Many were just religious and had never been born again by the Holy Spirit of God. Therefore, they had not CHANGED.

Others realized that at some point in their Christian walk, they had stopped confessing their sins; thereby, stopping the work of the Holy Spirit in their lives. The CHANGING had stopped.

You see, being religious will not really CHANGE you. In Colossians 2:20-23 Paul is speaking about religious decrees (don’t eat this, don’t touch this, etc.) and he shows the futility of such man-made religion in verse 23:

“These are matters which have, to be sure, the appearance of wisdom in self-made religion and self -abasement and severe treatment of the body, BUT ARE OF NO VALUE AGAINST FLESHLY INDULGENCE.” (Emphasis added)

Trusting only in the work of Christ on the Cross can break the bondage in a person’s life. Jesus said you MUST be biblically born again to experience victory over fleshly indulgences. Paul, in our opening scripture is saying that the Corinth believers used to be controlled by fleshy indulgences but God CHANGED them. They, like many church members and pagans today, were practicing many forms of sexual sin and other wicked things but God set them free from their bondage.

Have you been CHANGED, my friend? Have you been biblically born again through faith, and faith alone, in the work of Christ! If you have not, today is a good day to ask Jesus to save you from your sins and to be washed, sanctified and justified by the Holy Spirit.

Don’t settle for “religion” or the “traditions of men”. The Lord Jesus is vastly different from “religion”. He is True Life and Freedom.

Carl

Not Enough Air

I’ve taken up cycling again for the 4th or 5th time in my life. At my age, it is taking considerably longer to “get in shape”. Bought a used hybrid bike and started riding with my wife who has been riding while I walked for exercise.

Made the mistake of going to Covington, LA and riding on the Tammany Trace, an old railroad corridor converted to a hiking and cycling asphalt pathway. I thought it would be okay when I saw that you could call 911 from the Trace and the paramedics would respond. After I made it to the Rusty Pelican in Mandeville for lunch, I thought I could keep up with my wife and my fifteen year old grandson on the twelve mile return. Not true. They left me in their dust but were gracious when I finally caught up with them at the truck.

Now this bothered me. I was running a 51.7 second quarter mile when I was seventeen….. of course, that was 49 years and 82 additional pounds ago.

This week, after still struggling on rides with my wife, I finally discovered the problem. I had erroneously assumed that the technician at the bike shop had maxed out the air pressure in my tires but instead of 85 pounds, there was only 35 pounds. The bikes are designed to operate most efficiently with high pressure tires. My old road bike operated at 115 pounds.

Not enough air. I felt 15 years younger when I fixed the problem!

My Christian life is sometimes like this cycling experience. A lot of effort, little visible results. Just as the under inflated tires created too much road drag and laborious pedaling, too much Carl and not enough daily reliance on the Holy Spirit creates drag in my spiritual life and causes diminished or no results. Just as the bike designers design road bikes to operate with high tire pressure, our Designer designed born again people to operate by His Spirit, not Self.

That is why the early Church was so effective in spreading the gospel without radio, TV, internet or the printing press. Pliny, The Younger, a pagan Roman official (circa 100 AD), reported to the Roman emperor that the pagan temples were almost deserted in his providence. Due to so many people being converted to Christianity, the sale of animals for idol sacrifices plummeted. The Holy Spirit was working through these “primitive” people. (It’s always interesting when a commentator speaks about the early Church as the “primitive church”. My how we need the primitive church today!)

To bring it closer to our time, in The Shantung Revival Dr. C. L. Culpepper, a Southern Baptist missionary, tells how dead the Christian churches were in north China in the 1920s and early 30s. He goes on to describe how the Lord brought the missionaries to surrender to the control of the Holy Spirit and then He could work through them to bring amazing revival to the Church in Northern China and Korea. Untold thousands were born again and the church was strengthened for the coming of communism.

Why? Because people surrendered to the Holy Spirit.

Listen to what Dr. Culpepper in 1968 said about the problem and the solution:

“Most of the things that took place in Shantung are as foreign as Chinese in American churches today, mainly because of resistance to the Holy Spirit. ”

“In his defense before the council, Stephen said, “Ye do always resist the Holy Spirit.” The charge remains true to this day. Actually this resistance is usually disguised by a professed aversion to “Pentecostalism”, but it’s becoming more and more evident as nothing more than resistance to the Holy Spirit.”

” The writer has used these expressions to designate the experience of total surrender to the Holy Spirit, resulting in a dramatic experience of Christian joy.”

The problem – resistance to the Holy Spirit.

The solution – total surrender to the Holy Spirit.

How about you? How is your tire? Properly inflated or under inflated?

Full of Self or Full of the Holy Spirit?

Carl

When One Knows Oneself Well….

“When one knows oneself well, one is not desirous of looking into the faults of others.” –John Moschus (ca 550-619 AD)

Woe is me! Woe is you?

Let us not be the judge of others since there is only one True Judge, Jesus the Righteous.

Let us remember that pride always sees the faults of others.

Let us pray for one another.

Carl

SELF

“And you were dead in your trespasses and sins,…”  Ephesians 2:1

The opening scripture is describing our condition prior to finding forgiveness for our sins in Jesus Christ, our great Savior.  We were dead to God. What an awful thought.

Concerning this “dead” relationship to God, I want to share the following statement from William Law (1686-1761).  Law was a devout Christian Englishman who, through his writings, attempted to wake up the sleeping church in his day. He wrote the following about Self:

“Men are dead to God because they are living to Self. Self-love, self-esteem and self-seeking are the essence and the life of pride; and the Devil, the father of pride, is never absent from these passions, nor without an influence in them. Without a death to self, there is no escape from Satan’s power over us….

To discover the deepest root and iron strength of pride and self-exaltation, one must enter into the secret chamber of man’s soul, where the Spirit of God, who alone gives humility and meek submission, was denied through Adam’s sin…

Here in man’s innermost being, self had its awful birth, and established its throne, reigning over a kingdom of secret pride, of which all outward pomp and vanities are but its childish, transitory playthings….

Imagination, as the last and truest support of self, lays unseen worlds at his feet, and crowns him with secret revenges and fancied honors. This is that satanic, natural self that must be denied and crucified, or there can be no disciple of Christ. There is no plainer interpretation than this that can be put upon the words of Jesus, “Except a man deny self, and take up the cross and follow me, he cannot be my disciple.”

The Seduction of Christianity – Dave Hunt & T.A. McMahon

I have read this statement numerous times and each time I see something else about my Self.  May you linger over it until the Holy Spirit has shown you everything He wants to show you concerning your Self.

May we evaluate our discipleship in the light of the words of our Lord. Is our discipleship genuine according to His statement in Mark 8:34 or is it just a religious facade like the Pharisees had. Jesus described them as whitewashed tombs, pretty on the outside but full of death or Self on the inside.

Heavenly Father, God of all wisdom, please open our understanding to how deadly Self is. In Jesus’ precious name we ask this. Amen.

We believe in and therefore choose to walk in Paul’s words:

“…knowing this, that our old self was crucified with Him, that our body of sin might be done away with , that we should no longer be slaves to sin…” (Romans 6:6)

Take up the Cross,

Carl

God Made It Simple – Part 2

After posting, God Made It Simple, I felt the urge to write a follow up. While researching in Vincent’s Word Studies in the New Testament, I found the following. I share it for our edification and encouragement:

“God shows His wonderful love in calling us children of God; as expressing community of nature, rather than sons, which expresses the position of privilege.

The world, therefore, does not know us, even as it did not know Him.

We are children of God; and in this fact lies enfolded our future, the essence of which will be likeness to God, coming through unveiled and transfiguring vision.

The result of such a relation and hope is persistent effort after moral purity. “Every one that hath this hope in Him, purifieth himself even as He is pure.”

This attempt to purify corresponds with the fulfillment of our true destiny which Christ has made possible. Sin is irreconcilable with a right relation to God, for Christianity emphasizes the law of God, and “sin is lawlessness.” The object of Christ manifestation was to “take away sin”; therefore, “everyone that abideth in Him sinneth not.” “He that doeth righteousness is righteous, even as He is righteous.” “He that committeth sin is of the devil”; but the Son of God was manifested in order to destroy the works of the devil. The divine seed –the divine principle of growth– the germ of the new life is in the true believer; and the idea of divine Son ship and sin are mutually exclusive.

The being a child of God will manifest itself not only in doing righteousness, but in love— the love of God, taking shape in love and ministry to the brethren. This is the highest expression of righteousness. The whole aim of the Gospel is the creation and strengthening of love; and the type of life in God through Christ is therefore the direct opposite of Cain, who being of the evil one, slew his brother.

Over against this love is the world’s hatred. This is bound up, as love is, with the question of origin. God’s children share God’s nature, which is love. The children of the world are the children of the evil one, whose nature is lawlessness and hatred. Love is the outgrowth of life; hatred, of death. He that loveth not, abideth in death. For ourselves, children of God, we know that we have passed from death unto life because we love the brethren.

Christ is the perfect type and revelation of love, since He gave His life for us. We, likewise, ought to lay down our lives for the brethren. The practical test of our brotherly love is ministry. The love of God does not dwell in us if we refuse to relieve our brother’s need.

The fruit of love is confidence. “In this,” —-the consciousness of active and sincere love to the brethren resting upon and moulded by the love of Christ—-in this, we perceive that we are of the truth; and, perceiving this, we shall assure our hearts in the presence of God, in whom we live and move and have our being. It is of the very essence of Christian life that it is lived and tested before God. No assurance or confidence is possible except from being in right relation to God.

Through the consciousness of love, then, which is of God and which marks the children of God , we perceive that we are children of God—of the truth; and in this knowledge we find assurance and confidence before the very highest tribunal. “We shall assure our heart before Him.” Vincent

Wasn’t that concise and rich! I want this “love” to be manifested in my life toward my God, my brethren and those in need of the gospel. He shall bring it to pass if we cooperate with His Spirit.

God bless you!

Carl