July 24 – Today’s Readings – 1Corinthians 5-7 and Psalms 24
Talk about meddling! This book is certainly an indicator of how “straight-up” Paul was in his teaching and direction to the churches he had planted. He exposed specific sins publicly, corrected the Christians on issues from their private lives (lawsuits), told them to clean up their act in the area of sexuality, let them know that they weren’t really saved if they continued in sin (1Corinthians 6:6-99) – then dove right into the very private affairs of marriage, celibacy, and how the Corinthian people should view these things. His philosophy was simple enough, “Your boasting is not good. Don’t you know that a little yeast works through the whole batch of dough? Get rid of the old yeast that you may be a new batch without yeast—as you really are.” (1Corinthians 5:6-7)
The analogy of yeast is profound because it is the same “illustration” God gave to the Israelites when they celebrated Passover. Everything about this feast, including not using yeast for their bread, was a reminder to the Jewish people that they needed to get rid of sin and be without impurities in their lives.
It is obvious to me that Paul was very serious about HOW these believers were living their private lives. We, on the other hand, live in an age where Pastors are “not allowed” to speak about certain things for fear of offending. This ought not be the case. I’m not suggesting that Pastors “bully” people towards Godliness, or that we should be disrespectful towards people’s private lives – but it is clear that Paul had a vision of the Holy Church of Jesus Christ. It was to be a Church, functioning in godly ways. For Paul, this meant that he needed to keep challenging people to live right. He didn’t wait for them to respond to the “promptings of the Spirit” – if there was sin in the Church then he dealt with it in a very straightforward manner. This seems to have been a pattern in the New Testament Church – whether it was Peter confronting Ananias and Sapphira, or Paul confronting Peter. Nothing seemed too private to be kept quiet if it was going to harm the Church.
How does this all boil down for you and I? I believe that we should not “let things slide” in our lives. We need to be accountable to the Holy Spirit so that the Church can be victorious. There is no victory where sin runs rampant. Revelation 3:14-19 reads, “To the angel of the church in Laodicea write: These are the words of the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the ruler of God’s creation. I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other! So, because you are lukewarm—neither hot nor cold—I am about to spit you out of my mouth. You say, ‘I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing.’ But you do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked. I counsel you to buy from me gold refined in the fire, so you can become rich; and white clothes to wear, so you can cover your shameful nakedness; and salve to put on your eyes, so you can see. Those whom I love I rebuke and discipline. So be earnest, and repent.”
1. What is the “balance” between Pastors being respectful of Church members yet challenging the Church to live right?
2. Paul is clearly “judging” the Church in these chapters – how does this approach fit with his teaching in Romans 14:4-13, where Paul forbids judging our brothers?