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

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

Soul -Making

“This is a necessary step in soul-making. Temptation is sent to unveil the evils that lie deep within us, to reveal them to us and confront us with the truth of Nathan’s terrible words to [King] David: “You are the man!” (I Samuel 12:7 italics added). Yet this revelation is just the beginning of all the good God intends to do for us, for before we can be greatly used by God, we must see the monstrous evil in our own souls.”

“Jesus put it this way: “From within, out of man’s hearts, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, greed, malice, deceit, lewdness, envy, slander, arrogance and folly…” (Mark 7:21-22) All the wickedness in the world lurks in us, undiscovered or disregarded, out of sight and out of mind.”

“God allows temptation and sin to show us who we are; they are the means by which He makes us aware of all the unholy tendencies, motives, and appetites that reside within us. To know and despair of ourselves is to know our need for God, the necessary prerequisite for handing ourselves over to Him for His healing.”

The Upside of Sin in The God Who Walks Beside Us – David Roper

Today, if you are struggling with some sin, temptation or are in a trial, I pray this word will encourage you. All that you are going through is not in vain. God is working in His children to do of His good pleasure. Go to Him in prayer because

“… we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weakness, but one who has been tempted in all things as we are yet with sin. Let us therefore draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and may find grace to help in the time of need.”

Carl

Confessing, Instead of Hiding

“When I kept silent about my sin, my body wasted away through my groaning all day long.  For day and night Thy hand was heavy upon me; My vitality was drained away as with the fever heat of summer.

I acknowledged my sin to Thee, and my iniquity I did not hide; I said “I will confess my transgressions to the Lord”; And Thou didst forgive the guilt of my sin.”

“Therefore, let everyone who is godly pray to Thee in a time when Thou mayest be found; Surely in a flood of great waters they shall not reach him.”

David – Psalm 32: 3-6

“We find many ways to get around admitting our sin. We rationalize our sins away. We try to drown out the guilt with all types of distractions that keep us bustling from one activity to another. Over time, our sins deplete our will to even approach God in prayer. David was intimately familiar with all the ways one can try to hide sin.  He had exhausted himself covering up his own sins. But every thing changed when David finally refused to keep running away from his sin: “Then I acknowledged my sin to you.””

“Like David, we can find our prayer life renewed when we freely confess our sins to God. Does your prayer life seem lifeless and ineffective? Examine your heart and confess your sin.  And let God restore your prayer life to what it can and should be.”

(NASB app daily devotional.)

I hope you enjoyed this.  I did. Confession of our sins renews fellowship with our Holy Father in Heaven.  A place of life, joy and strength.

God bless you. May we tell Him all that we need to tell Him.  He loves us and beckons us to His throne of grace daily.

Carl

Found Holy & Blameless – Part One

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“Just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world; that we should be holy and blameless before Him.”  (Ephesians 1: 4 Emphasis mine)

Scripture exhorts us to be holy and blameless.  It has nothing to do with our justification in Christ, our salvation, but is descriptive of the character that is produced as we cooperate with the Holy Spirit in the sanctification process that begins once we are born again.  He produces the character of Jesus in us.  We stop loving sin and the world, satan’s kingdom,  and start loving the Lord Jesus. We stop practicing sin and start practicing righteousness.  We are gradually conformed to His image.

Our scripture locates where this character is desired: “we should be holy and blameless before Him.”  Nearly all the scriptures associated with this phrase, or phrases similar to it, mention this context: “before Him“, when we “stand in the presence of His glory“, or “at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ” or “until the day of Christ” or “that He might present to Himself the church in all her glory”.  This all refers to us standing in His Presence after He raptures the church and the Judgement Seat of Christ occurs.  The next BIG EVENT on the biblical calendar.

When He comes to rapture His people out of the earth, we will see Him in all His Glory and each believer will stand before Him to receive our reward or loss of rewards depending on what we have done for Him.  It is here in His Personal Glorious Presence that the New Testament writers exhort us to be found “holy and blameless”.

The Apostle John saw Him in His Glory in Revelation 1: 12-16 and “fell at His feet as a dead man.”  Following is a description of how Lord Jesus looked:

“…one like a son of man, clothed in a robe reaching to the feet, and girded across His breast with a golden girdle. And His head and His hair were white like white wool, like snow; and His eyes were like a flame of fire; and His feet were like burnished bronze, when it has been caused to glow in a furnace, and His voice was like the sound of many waters….and His face was like the sun shining in its strength.”  (Rev.1: 13 -16)

It is in His Presence that we are exhorted to “be diligent to be found by Him in peace, spotless and blameless”, (II Peter 3:14). Take a moment to reflect on this awesome meeting that you will experience as a born again child of God.  To see your Savior face to face.  The word of God says we will either be filled with exceedingly great joy and be able to speak or we will turn away in shame.  Which do you want?

Father God, help us by your Holy Spirit to be found separated from evil and faultless in the Presence of Your Beloved Son.  Help us to be found  in love with Him and behaving in this age in a manner worthy of Him. In His Name we pray. Amen.

In our next post we will explore further the meaning of this exhortation to be “holy and blameless before Him“. I hope you will join us.  Thank you for your valuable time.

Do all things without grumbling and disputing; that you may prove yourselves to be blameless and innocent, children of God above reproach in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you appear as lights in the world,..”  (Philippians 2: 14-15 emphasis mine)

Pay Close Attention To Yourself..” and “…Prove yourselves…”

God Bless You and Yours,

Carl

 

 

 

The Refiner’s Fire (Part 2)

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“And He will sit as a smelter and purifier of silver, and He will purify the sons of Levi and refine them like gold and silver, so that they may present to the Lord offerings in righteousness.”

The question to answer today is: Who are the “sons of Levi” that the Lord is going to refine and purify in Malachi.
When the Lord Jesus died on the cross for the sins of the world, God, The Father, abrogated (formally ended) the temple sacrifices.  He did not accept or require them anymore. Jesus’ death on the cross settled the sin question once and for all.  God evidently also did away with the Levital priesthood and established another priesthood with the Lord Jesus as the High Priest (Hebrew 4:14).  I Peter 2:5  says “you also, as living stones, are being built up as a spiritual house for a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ”.  All born again believers are members of a “holy priesthood”, not a defiled priesthood as in Malachi, and are believer-priests to God through Jesus Christ.  The spiritual house is the mystical Body of Christ that includes all born again believers on earth.
Therefore, I am of the opinion that we born again believers are the “sons of Levi” referred to in Malachi 3:3 since the refining and purifying takes place after the Lord comes to His temple suddenly and in 70 AD the Roman general Titus destroyed the temple including the sacrificial altar.
The purpose of this new priesthood is to “offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.”  Just as the Old Testament priests walked up the incline to the brazen altar and laid the animal sacrifice on the altar to be consumed by fire,  we New Testament believer-priests “offer up” our spiritual sacrifices upon the altar of our consecrated, dedicated heart.  The spiritual sacrifices are the activities of the human spirit energized by the Holy Spirit.
The Apostle Paul throws light on this truth in Romans 12:1 when he says  “I urge you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship.”  How do you make your human body a living and holy sacrifice?  Listen to what our brother Chrysostom (Archbishop of Constantinople – 349-407 AD) wrote:
“How can the body become a sacrifice? Let the eye look on no evil, and it is a sacrifice. Let the tongue utter nothing base, and it is an offering. Let the hand work no sin, and it is a holocaust.” (Holocaust is a sacrifice totally consumed by fire.) “But more, this suffices not, but besides we must actively exert ourselves for good; the hand gives alms, the mouth blessing them that curse us, the ear ever at leisure for listening to God.”

Another example of spiritual sacrifices is given in The Insanity of God by Nik Ripken. He tells the true story of Russian pastor Dmitri who was imprisoned by the government for teaching  the Bible. For seventeen years he would rise every morning and offer a sacrifice of praise by singing his “HeartSong” to Jesus as the other inmates cursed and jeered at him. The next discipline that helped him to survive the isolation from the Body of Christ and torture was that whenever he found a scrap of paper, later in his cell with a stub of a pencil or a piece of charcoal he had saved, as tiny as possible, he would write every Bible verse,  scriptural story and song he could remember.  When finished he would put it on a damp pillar in his cell as a “praise offering to God”.  Of course, when discovered by the authorities, they would read it and beat him severely and threaten him with death.

In conclusion, I am of the opinion that the “sons of Levi” are us, the believer-priest. Secondly, we have looked at three examples of how we can offer sacrifices. One by obeying the commandments of God, another by doing good words (Ephesians 2:10) and another by praising or giving thanks to God (Hebrews 13: 15-16). The Body of Christ is now the holy priesthood. The actual “sons of Levi” as a functioning priest class,  do not exists anymore.  They had to be born again just like you and I (Acts 6: 7).  The believer-priest now  offer up spiritual sacrifices  on the altar of their dedicated heart.  May we today offer up spiritual sacrifices pleasing to God.  We can make the Creator of the universe smile.

The next post will discuss this refining process and the purpose of it.  Hope to see you then. Thank you for your time.

Lets Pay Close Attention To Ourselves For The Purpose of Holiness (I Timothy 4:16)

Carl

P.S. Pastor Dmitri was eventually released but not before the  prison population was singing his HeartSong in the morning with him. His witness had prevailed!