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1 Corinthians Chapters 3-5 — Apathy to Carnality vs. Indifference to Immorality

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Wow, so the question for today’s study is 1 Corinthians, chapters 3-5.  How similar those days were to modern day Kansas City.  Apathy to Carnality, and indifference to Immorality.

This has been a rather interesting couple of chapters for me, and I totally get how these two meet up.  Basically the church in Corinth went from Apathy to Carnality, and you really have to wonder if we are going from indifference to immorality.  With that said, following are some points I have come across and thought I would share.

  • Paul continues his thought on spirituality and he shows that they are not spiritual. One result of the divisions was carnality and stunted spiritual growth (3:1-2). (3:1) “Brothers and sisters, I could not address you as people who live by the Spirit but as people who are still worldly—mere infants in Christ.” Ouch… we know that these people are part of the family of God since Paul calls them brethren…but that is part of the problem. Though they have the Holy Spirit (unlike the natural man of 1 Corinthians 2:14) they are not behaving like spiritual people, but like carnal – that is, fleshly-people, like immature Christians (babes in Christ).  They are, to some extent, are thinking and acting according to the flesh, not the Spirit.
  • Paul has spoken to us about three categories of men. There is the natural man (1 Corinthians 2:14), who is patterned after Adam and rejects the things of the Spirit. There is the spiritual man (1 Corinthians 2:15), who knows the things of God. And there is the carnal man who knows the things of God, yet in some significant ways is still characterized by the flesh. Which one are you? I worry that I am all too often the 3rd man – the carnal man.  Lessons like this help me correct that.
  • One of the main problems the Corinthians had was the fact that they were attraction to spiritual “junk food,” based on man’s wisdom and eloquence. They were so “filled” with this junk food that they were not able to receive the spiritual solid food Paul wanted to give them. Think about how real that is today…In fact, it really is a sobering thought that many, many people who believe they are serving God, are doing it in an unworthy manner or with unworthy “materials” and will come to find in eternity that they have, in reality, done nothing for the Lord.   Again, studies like this are so badly needed right now.  I don’t want to be surprised due to my earthly wisdom and pride!
  • Many people today evaluate a pastor or a minister on unbiblical standards. They judge him on the basis of his humor, or entertainment value, his appearance, or his skill at marketing and sales. But this is to think beyond what is written in the sense Paul means it here. I have seen this throughout my lifetime.  I have even been guilty of it.  I wish this church would do x, this minister do y.  If they did, it would satisfy z.  Am I expecting the church to fulfil my personal, worldly needs, or my spiritual needs?  I think there are times I settle for an entertaining sermon with a good band, than the alternative that feeds my soul.  I am not saying that the entertaining sermon cannot do that, we need to be careful.
  • I also think that the church needs to be careful. It might be worth adding that the church today is heavy with this same attitude of the Corinthian Christians. They were concerned about the image of worldly success and power, and many of them despised Paul and the other apostles because they did not display that image. Today, there is no shortage of ministers who want to display the image of worldly success and power, and no shortage of Christians who will value that in their minister.
  • Now think about the church and how we look at our ministers. Would we have hired Paul today?  After all, look at Paul’s resume: he bounced from church to church, he was run out of many towns, he was accused of starting riots, he was rarely supported by the ministry, he was arrested and imprisoned several times.  On the surface, it would be hard to imagine, but we need to look deeper – don’t we…Our problem is we often want a middle road; a little popularity, a little reputation, but still the anointing of God. We want the power without the cost. God help us to choose Paul’s way!
  • Now take it a step further. Paul told the Corinthian Christians to imitate him.  Can you imagine their response… our response?  He was regarded as a fool, as weak, as dishonored; he was hungry and thirsty and poorly clothed, he was homeless and beaten; he worked hard to support himself with manual labor – not merely through the salary he pulled from the church.
  • Paul is not only shocked by the immoral conduct of this individual member of the church, he is also appalled by the attitude of the church itself: “you are arrogant!” (verse 2) They were tolerating and basically condoning this immoral conduct and lifestyle. Instead of being arrogant, the church should have been that of grief!  “Should you not rather be grieved…?” the whole purpose of God was being ignored and even defied!   And note that his isn’t only on the leaders, but the church as a whole.  It is everyone’s responsibility to maintain the purity of Christ’s church.  How often do we turn to the church leaders and ask that they “take care” of a problem for us, and if they don’t we turn a blind eye to the problem saying “we tried” or “we told so and so”.
  • The offender was to be delivered to Satan. That is to say, the protective covering of God’s grace was removed from the man (this was done by removing his name from the covenant community of the church), allowing him to be exposed to the attacks of the devil in an unprotected state. Up to this point there has been no repentance in the man’s life, thus he is now being given over to the course of life he has adamantly chosen to pursue and is being allowed to face the consequences of his choice. The offender was being delivered unto Satan “for the destruction of his sinful nature:”
  • Remember that Corinth was a city notorious for sexual immorality, and the pagan religions did not value sexual purity. It wasn’t hard for a Corinthian to think you could be religious, yet still act any way you pleased when it came to sex. Greek culture could matter-of-factly say: “Mistresses we keep for the sake of pleasure, concubines for the daily care of the body, but wives to bear us legitimate children.” Look how close that mirrors today’s society.  People say they are religious, but they are just not sure they are “fully Christian.” They want to live their own way of life, and also say they believe that God created this world.  But, in the same breathe, they will also add that they feel that their good deeds will outweigh their bad ones in the end.  In other words – works are more important.
  • More than anything, the Corinthian Christians were probably allowing this in the name of “tolerance.” Oops… three is that word we hear a lot today… tolerance. They probably were saying to themselves, “Look how loving we are. We are accepting this brother just as he is. Look how open-minded we are!” We should never underestimate what people will allow in the name of “open-mindedness.”  In particular, and as an example, I see this with my daughter.  She will see something that she knows is wrong, but will say just this.  I love them no matter what.  But I try to say, if you know they are wrong, is it really love if you let them continue to do it?
  • The church is not a group of ‘religious policemen’ out to catch a criminal/sinner. Rather, we are a group of equally brokenhearted and sinning brothers and sisters seeking to restore and the stumbling member of the family. I cannot tell you the number of times God reminds me how imperfect I am.  It is in those moments I can have enough compassion to help another brother or sister through his/her storm.
  • Nearing the end of this chapter, Paul is reminding/warning the Corinth Christian that they cannot continue in Christian fellowship with a notorious sinner who calls himself a Christian. As noted above, it is part of our responsibility to help bring them back around, but we should stop seeking advice from them.  We should not ask for spiritual guidance from them.  Not until they repent.
  • And finally Paul is pointing out that we are too busy judging those outside of the church (which is God’s job only) and are neglecting purity within the church.

right wrongSo, do you see some similar statements between Paul and the Corinthian Christian to people of today?  do you see how indifference can lead to immorality just like apathy lead to Carnality?

Very interest study for me.

More to come!

Michael


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New Debate/discussion for everone

Recently a friend forwarded an article from the LA Times.  It is an op-ed piece titled, “How secular family values stack up.”  intrigued, I decided to have a look, and what I found is probably what I expected.  What I expected, was someone outlining (in my opinion) that religion really isn’t needed in a child’s life.  Wow… look how far our country has fallen if this has started to be the main stream thoughts.

From here, I open up the discussion to all of you, and I will kick it off with my own thoughts on a few points to ponder from the article. The article indicated:

Secular teenagers are far less likely to care what the “cool kids” think – Really??? I think it’s rare that a child doesn’t care – religious or not.

Secular grownups tend to be less vengeful, less nationalistic, less militaristic, less authoritarian and more tolerant, on average, than religious adults… – Again really??? Some of the most vengeful, authoritarian people I know are those who have no moral compass, and no concerns what-so-ever regarding religion or not.  In fact, most people who fall into this category I just mentioned make fun of those who follow their faith.

Atheists were almost absent from our prison population as of the late 1990s, comprising less than half of 1% of those behind bars – Wow what a surprise!!! Especially after you look at the fact that according to a 2012 Pew Report, there are only approximately 2.4% of the US population who indicated that they were atheist to begin with! That is for the entire US. That would mean that 20% of all atheist are in jail. Umm, does anyone else believe that is a little high to you?

Democratic countries with the lowest levels of religious faith and participation today — such as Sweden, Denmark, Japan, Belgium and New Zealand — have among the lowest violent crime rates in the world and enjoy remarkably high levels of societal well-being. Interesting, but from what I have read, this has more to do with how the country handles the crime, and it perception in the community, than whether the country is religious or not. In Japan for example, crime is dealt with quickly and severely, plus is has the added stigma of failure leading some to commit suicide. Is that religion or culture?

Others points to ponder. Since the 1950s, look what has happened:
Substance abuse has increased significantly
Drug Overdoses has almost double in the past 20 years
Alcohol abuse has increased
Abortions have increased – 1950 had about 680, and in 2013 there were 169,368
More children are being born into a single parent homes than ever before
ACT scores have been slowly declining since the late 50s
Number of people going to jail has increased rapidly since 1975
Rape has increased significantly since the 60s
Depressed is at a near all-time high
Teen suicide has more than doubled since 1950 (15-19 year olds – 2.7/100,000 to 7.5/100,000)


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New Year’s Resolution – kinda/sorta

lean into HimAnd there you have it… December 31st passed, January 1st arrived, and guess what… I am the same as I was on the 31st (well maybe a day older).  The one thing I like about the 1st, even if I don’t make resolutions, is that it allows me a moment in time to think about the previous year and what changes I need to make in the New Year.

For me, that is letting go of some of the emotional pain I carried through most of 2014.  I have to be honest, I struggled through 2014.  I struggled because there were times when I was leaning on me, and only me.  I struggled at times when I was following my lead instead of His lead.  I was struggling when I allowed my prioritizes to be the “end all” of all prioritizes.

So with that I have come to some conclusions.  2015 will have its challenges, but 2015 will also be a time of personal growth.  It will be a time of reconnections and building of relationships with family and friends, but more importantly with Jesus.  It will be a time of prayer.  It will be a time of forgiveness.  It will be a time of love and respect.  It will be a time where I focus less on me, and more on “you”.  It will be a time to live more Christ like.

I know… I know… that sounds like a New Year’s resolution of sorts.  Well, like I said I choose not to make a resolution because it is merely New Year’s, rather I do it because I need to re-center my life.  Therefore, I choose to recommit my life to Christ.  I choose to find my path again.  I choose to lean into Him more.  I choose to allow Him to carry me and to lead me whenever and where ever He chooses.  I choose to do these things because I have free will and because of God’s perfect love.

For a strong willed person like myself, this is not easy.  I know I will continue to stumble, but I also know I will have some fantastic, memorable days and weeks because of God.

Your brother in Christ,

Michael

PS: If you need a prayer lifted up for you, feel free to let me know.


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interesting comment I heard today

Your prayer life basically has three choices:  prayer11

Option 1 – You can ask for something that God won’t give you, or

Option 2 – You could lose heart and faith and stop believing, or

Option 3 – You can continue to pray and not lose hope that God will answer your prayers on His time and when you are ready for Him to answer them.

When we go into prayer, we must do it knowing that God may or may not answer our very specific prayers.  Rather He will do what is best for us. His timing is more important than ours.  His timing may mean that He will answer the prayer from today sometime today or maybe 10 years from now.  But, it is His time that is important, not ours.

There are times when I find it hard to know if what I am praying for is something He will not answer, or something that may have to wait.  There are times when I wonder if He answered my prayer and I missed the subtle answer that was personalized for me.

New Year’s is another time for me to be attentive to His voice.  I don’t want to be rushing through life and missing His sweet response.


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getting ready for the new year

Just like all “traditions” we feel we need to prepare for the new year.  Plan out our resolution(s).  Decide on what we want to do, or not do.  Lose weight.  Get a new job.  Find a new boyfriend/girlfriend.  Get married.  Move on.  You get the point.

Rarely do we sit back and say, “How can I serve God better?”

Well, that is what I am doing right now.  I am trying to decide how best to serve God.  How best to be a better follower.  As I have said in the past, I have failed a lot.  I continue to fail.  I don’t always show the love I should.  I continue to beat myself up over this because I know where my trust should be.  I know how best to do this, but I am allowing past issues to hamper my progress.

Is a new years resolution the answer?  Most likely not.  We all know we fail at those.  Heck, I don’t think I have kept a new years resolution more than a few months.  No the answer is prayer, leaning in toward Him instead of away.

I will work on this now and into the future.  Why… well because my life depends on it.

What about you?


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The day after – choosing to live like Christ

Looking back over Christmas, the one thing that stood out is I never really took a moment (except during church) to really say thank you.  I know… I know… thanksgiving right…well, if you are Christian, you know that Christmas is the first thank you followed by easter.  But I will leave that for another post.

What I am doing… with this blog and my life… is I am going to try and live it in a way that God will say well done good and faithful servant.  Right now, I’m not sure He would say that.  I am not sure He would embrace me.

Yes, He loves me.

Yes, He forgives me.

But embrace me?

Things need to change, and so I choose to change to live more Christ like.  I choose to do it now, rather than some artificial day like new years.  I choose to start now, and with God’s help I will become a better man.  I will become a better servant.  In the past I use to say, I would do my best.  Now I choose to say with God’s help I will be my best.

Join me on this journey.  Let me know if you want me to pray for you and I will – faithfully.

take care,

M