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Posts Tagged ‘warning’

 For I do not want you to be unaware, brothers, that our fathers were all under the cloud, and all passed through the sea, and all were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea, and all ate the same spiritual food, and all drank the same spiritual drink. For they drank from the spiritual Rock that followed them, and the Rock was Christ.Nevertheless, with most of them God was not pleased, for they were overthrown in the wilderness. ~1 Corinthians 10:1-5

Paul is writing to the Corinthian Church and he is telling them that spiritual blessings, advantages, and even membership with God’s people do not automatically equal God’s favor.  He points them back to their ancestors in the wilderness and proves that though they had every spiritual blessing and advantage, they did not please God.

They had a cloud and fire straight from God to follow.  They had miraculous provisions of food and drink.  We and the Corinthians have the sacraments, fellowship, membership, and provisions as well.  None of these things make us “good” with God.  None of these things make us right with God in and of themselves.  So if these things do not, what does?

The blood of Christ and obedience to him and his Word.  That is all that makes us right with God.  So, here is our warning:

Now these things took place as examples for us, that we might not desire evil as they did. ~1 Corinthians 10:6

These people were to serve as an example for us – so we might not stumble and fall as they did in the wilderness.  What evil is Paul speaking of?  What evil were they doing?  Because we know they were doing right things – things God honors and gives to his own people such as worship, community, baptism, spiritual things, and religious practices.  What evil were they doing in addition to the good things?  He goes on in verses 7-10 to elaborate for us.

Paul gives three main examples in verses 7-10: Idolatry, sexual immorality, and discontent and complaining.  They were worshiping false gods in addition to worshiping the One True God.  The false gods they were worshiping were self, sex, food, drink, pleasure, etc.

They were impure in sexuality – in thinking about, entertaining, and doing immoral things in regards to sexual practices.  They were not content with what God was providing – namely their own spouses, marriages and what God provided for their sexuality.  They were seeking other avenues and sexual outlets.  They were worshiping these other outlets and making them into gods by their lust and desire for them, their willingness to sacrifice to and for them, and their submission to them while failing to submit to the commands of Christ.

Furthermore, they were discontent with the food and drink provided and they were eating the food sacrificed to idols and likely participating in the idol worship itself.  They complained and grumbled generally never being satisfied with what God had provided for them so mercifully.  Just like in the desert with the manna.

In all these things – this sin they were doing right alongside their religious business – they were accused by Paul of testing Christ.  That’s why Paul takes the time to remind them of what happened to their ancestors when they did these same things testing God’s patience and grace.

He’s like hey guys…remember the snakes?  They came because the people were dissatisfied with all the great blessings God had given to them.  They were spoiled brats.  So God gave them some snakes to contend with.  He gave them something to complain about.  (Numbers 21)  They were destroyed by Satan because of their grumbling.

Why does Paul bring all this up?  He tells us in verse 11:

 Now these things happened to them as an example, but they were written down for our instruction, on whom the end of the ages has come. ~1 Corinthians 10:11

These things happened for you, New Testament Church!  For you to learn from!  So you wouldn’t fall into the same temptations as those before you and be destroyed like they were!  Therefore…

THEREFORE!  Since this is for you and your instruction…

12 Therefore let anyone who thinks that he stands take heed lest he fall. 13 No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it. ~1 Corinthians 10:12-13

In other words, don’t think you’re safe.  Don’t think you cannot be tempted to the point of falling into sin and being destroyed, too.  Be on guard!  Don’t just do whatever the world is doing.  Be careful!  Your God is faithful and you will be tempted but, if you are listening for him and trusting in his provision, he will show you how to resist, how to escape,  how to obey,  and how to not fall into things that will destroy you.

THEREFORE…because these things are true…

Therefore, my beloved, flee from idolatry. ~ 1 Corinthians 10:14

RUN!!! Run away from idolatry!  Run away from idolaters!  You are member of Christ!  Do not participate with demons!  You cannot do both!  You will not win!  You are no match for Satan no matter how strong you think you are in the faith.  Satan is stronger than you are.  God is stronger than you are.  Stop provoking and testing him!  He does not take lightly to idolatry.  He does not wink and smile at demonic idolatry, sexual immorality, and constant complaining.

Therefore…obey him.  Participate only in that which is good and you will be in his favor.  Be careful.  Be on guard.  Imitate Christ.  What a calling!  What a high calling to strive toward.  Walk as Jesus did.  Don’t be lax in your spiritual walk.  Work out your salvation with all you’ve got because that’s what it’s going to take to be pure, faithful, and victorious as a Christian.  Amen.

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In conclusion in his letter to the Galatians, Paul gives his last and final warning regarding false teachers there.

See with what large letters I am writing to you with my own hand. 12 It is those who want to make a good showing in the flesh who would force you to be circumcised, and only in order that they may not be persecuted for the cross of Christ. 13 For even those who are circumcised do not themselves keep the law, but they desire to have you circumcised that they may boast in your flesh. 14 But far be it from me to boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world. 15 For neither circumcision counts for anything, nor uncircumcision, but a new creation. ~Galatians 6:11-15

Paul again sites the men who were trying to lead and sway the church toward their own selfish interests and ideas.  He again describes them as externally focused, cowardly, hypocritical, and full of boasting.  Let’s consider those ugly attributes for just a moment.

Externally focused.  You’ve met leaders like this.  They are the ones obsessed with counting attendance; crunching numbers; building bigger.  They love talking about all the work they are doing and telling you about all the work you ought to be doing for God.  (‘Cause what Jesus called you to do just ain’t good ’nuff bro.)  They like publicity.  They like pats on the back.  They’re the ones telling everyone besides their elite carbon copies that they are likely outside of grace lest they all conform and work diligently on…you guessed it…their vision.  Beware, says Paul, teachers whose emphasis is on work, duty, and things such as numerical growth from the brethren above grace, mercy, and love of the brethren.

Cowardly. These men did not want to suffer for the gospel.  Let’s face it, no one likes to suffer, but, these guys were willing to compromise anything and everything necessary as far as truth goes in order to stay “safe.”  They loved their reputations.  They loved their positions.  They loved their names, their titles, and their social statuses.  Therefore, they had to compromise the truth in order to please men, look righteous, and play both sides of the fence.  Anyone who would challenge the validity or veracity of their false teachings or practices became their enemy.  Hence, the attitude of social and spiritual exclusion.  

Hypocritical.  These are the guys who point out every letter in the law for every single soul but themselves.  “Do this.  Don’t do that.  If you do; if you don’t, you are demonic and damnable…”  They not only fail to recognize humanity for who we are (Christian or not), but also fail to recognize the darkness and deceit of their very own hearts as well.  There is no grace.  There is no hope.  There is only judgement, disgust, and self-righteous condescension towards those they claim to seek to lead.  Oh, the damage done by men so blind and barbaric!  Jesus saves sinners.  It is the sick that he heals.

Boastful.  These men used their external works and rule-keeping logs as a badge of honor and boasting in the church.  They never sinned…publicly.  They never admitted their own failures.  They never confessed.  They only kept lists of all the great things they did according to their own rule-books.  The whole point of encouraging others to follow was for the sake of their own pride and boasting over more of the same works, not for the glory of Jesus Christ or the gospel. 

You know what Paul says about their externally focused, cowardly, hypocritical, boastful religious works??? You know what he says about his own works?  

For neither circumcision counts for anything, nor uncircumcision, but a new creation.

They count for NOTHING! Nothing!  Paul wants his brothers and sisters to see who they are in Christ, not who someone else that clearly doesn’t even love them at all expects them to be.  Funny, he doesn’t mention anything about their outward condition.  No.  But he calls them new.  Bought and owned by a God of peace; of mercy; of grace.  Instead of telling them how they ought to suffer, he encourages them with his own suffering.  He offers a farewell bent on grace and love.  

For a guy who was thoroughly troubled and frustrated with his church, this is a remarkable sort of love letter.  Thanks to the Holy Spirit, Paul has truly given us a work of grace in this short epistle to the Galatian church.  Amen.

 

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In the latter part of Galatians 5, Paul is beginning to close in on the practical realities of the case he has just made against legalism.  Interestingly, in his insistence upon freedom and liberty in Christ, he simultaneously shuns lasciviousness.  Doubtless, the reason is grounded in the fact that there is great potential for men to err on either side of this coin.  His practical application can be deduced to three main objectives: his call, his warning, and his command.

You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love. 14 For the entire law is fulfilled in keeping this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.”15 If you bite and devour each other, watch out or you will be destroyed by each other. ~Galatians 5:13-15

The call: For you were called to freedom, brothers.

The warning: Do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh.

The command: Through love, serve one another.

Paul argues that the whole law rests upon love for one another.  The whole law rests upon what?  Love.  

It seems that there are primarily two errors Christians are seriously apt to fall into concerning the law.  One is being a condescending legalist who guilts himself and others into man-made standards of self-righteousness.  The other is being an arrogant law-dismisser who drags himself and others into areas of temptation, sin, and carelessness in the name of Christian liberty.  Neither is lawful.  Neither is godly.  Neither is other-centered.  Neither is love-oriented.  Both are rooted in pride and personal preference rather than humility and God preference.   And, if we are honest, we have to admit we have all been one or the other or both at the same time depending on what kind of sin we’re entertaining.  

The law of grace does not rest upon rules.  The law of grace does not rest upon recreation.  The law of grace rests upon love.

When we love our neighbor, we will not burden him with undue laws and personal preferences.  When we love our neighbor, we will not violate him by living offensive, worldly lives, disregarding conscience, or abusing grace either.  When we love our neighbor, we will not compare his miserable excuse for law-keeping with our miserable excuse for law-keeping and start swinging at his knees to cover our own failures.  Instead, we will admit where we are weak, encourage him where he is weak, and refrain from exercising any freedom that instigates temptation in ourselves or he.  

Why?  Because love doesn’t bite.  Love lays down.  When the master is in the house, biting is not an option.  Surrender to his call, his warning, and his command must be our only objective.  

The whole law rests upon love.  This is the remedy and protection of the church against false teachers.   

“The liberty we enjoy as Christians is not a licentious liberty: though Christ had redeemed us from the curse of the law, yet he has not freed us from the obligation of it; the gospel is a doctrine according to *godliness* and is so far from giving the least countenance to sin that it lays us under the strongest obligations to avoid and subdue it.” -Matthew Henry

 

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Paul has made his case against the judaizing teachers.  He has proven how antithetical their teachings were to the gospel.  In Galatians 5, he seeks to apply what he has said practically.

For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery. ~Galatians 5:1

Paul begins by reminding the Galatians what Jesus’ main objective for them really was.  This is Christ’s will for you: freedom.  Freedom!  That is why he came!

Therefore, do not submit to these false teachers.  If you do, you might as well forget Jesus.  You are a prisoner.  You have to keep the whole law.  You have no grace.  Don’t you get it, guys?   Circumcision cannot save you!  If you submit to this one point, you lose the gospel.  You lose the gospel.  You become a slave to the law.  Circumcision cannot save you!  Baptism cannot save you!  Churchgoing cannot save you!  Good theology cannot save you!  Asceticism cannot save you!  Morality cannot save you!  Good deeds cannot save you!  None of it even counts if you are doing it under compulsion!  You want to know what counts?  The only thing that counts?  Faith.  Faith is our only hope of righteousness.  Faith in Jesus is our only hope of righteousness.  It is his righteousness we are counting on, not our own.  Faith working through love, that is.  Faith working through love.

The root of every single action you take, whether it be vow-making, repentance, study, fasting, serving, teaching, preaching, working, eating, drinking, fellowship, etc., etc., must be love because God is love.  God gives faith and faith works.  The way that it works is not through mechanical actions or mere assent, but through love.  Love.

If what you are doing is a result of men’s fear-instilling or men’s intimidation or men’s whip-cracking or men’s exclusion-threatening or men’s guilt-shaming or men’s alliance-making or men’s world-loving or men’s life-coaching or men’s or men’s or men’s or men’s or men’s…guess what?  You are disobeying the truth.  You have ceased to run.  You are listening to the wrong voices.  You are being deceived by godless men; men who will be punished for their heresy.

Paul reasons by reminding the Christians just who these guys were.  They were men who misrepresented him to gain position and power.  They acted and spoke as though 1. they actually knew Paul and 2. Paul agreed with them.  They were deceitful.  They were a hindrance to Paul.  They disregarded the truth.  They were unworthy of respect.

Therefore, Paul is angry.  He is crystal clear when he speaks his opinion of these men publicly.  His intent is not slanderously motivated, but warning oriented.   He is the one who has been slandered.  He is discounting their false ways in an effort to warn his brothers and sisters.  Incidentally, these men have already discounted themselves by their false teachings, deceptive misrepresentation, and distortion of the gospel.  Paul faithfully brings their dangerous inconsistencies to light because he loves his church, his gospel, and his Jesus so very much.

Paul comes full circle and lands back at the beginning saying, “For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another.”  This is Christ’s will for you: freedom.  That is why he came.  All freedom given us, however, must be subject to love.  It is not about who is circumcised or who has more knowledge or who fasted this week or who is involved in the most ministry or who puts in the most volunteer hours or who can play the instruments or who has the best gifts or who attends the most services or who gives the most money or who or who or who or who…No.  The only who this is about is the One who kept the law in our place.  This is about his love.  This is about love that serves by faith.  It is about love that thinks less of oneself and more of others — even to the point of sacrificing any and all liberty for the sake of another (like Jesus did!)  Those who would follow some set of rules for the sake of the law, or worse, see how many rules they can break for the sake of liberty, these kinds of men will destroy one another foolishly trying to outdo one another for selfish gain.

 Do not believe them.  Do not follow them.  Do not submit to them.  Instead, learn how to love one another like Jesus loves you.  Walk in love.  Walk in the Spirit.  Do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.

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With hands covering their ears, they grimace.  

“It’s too loud, Mommy!”

“I just hope they never show up at my house!” I reply.

Sitting through last night’s Americanism Day parade proved how powerful the presence of a few flashing firetrucks can really be.

I thought about my children’s reaction, which was common across the board for the children all the way down the street.  I was reminded of the world in which we live.  I saw our culture as they shielded themselves and shook their heads.

Amid the firestorm of free for all philosophies, a few providential protectors remain with us, preaching the truth powerfully.  But it seems to be nearing the end of the putrid parade we’ve been putting on and they’re beginning to sound their alarms.  They are driving up and down our streets by way of God’s true church – his people.  But are God’s children even listening?

So many of us choose to cover our ears and grimace when the unpopular truth is told to us – no matter how loud and clear.  In this smoking cesspool of political correctness, we’d rather hope that neither those heralds nor their chief – Jesus – ever shows up where we are.    But attitudes like that tend to change when it’s our house that’s on fire.

To that end, I turn on my siren.  Once again I pass by your way to say simply:

Now I would remind you, brothers, of the gospel I preached to you, which you received, in which you stand, and by which you are being saved, if you hold fast to the word I preached to you—unless you believed in vain. ~1 Corinthians 15:1-2

Don’t be found sitting on the sidelines covering your ears.  Stand in the gospel.  Tenaciously hold fast to the Word.  If you do, your presence will doubtless be plainly, painfully powerful.  If you do not, be duly warned: profession without perseverance is vain unbelief.

“We should be alarmed if we were not sure to live a month, and yet we are careless, though we are not sure to live a day.” ~Matthew Henry

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eGZfPfU6yXo

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