(1 Corinthians 5:9-12)
Purity in the church is important for the sake of holding fast the truth of the new covenant and to ensure what is taught is aligned with the ways of Jesus Christ.
And just as the doctrines and teachings are to be pure and undefiled, so too the behaviours of those in the church need to be pure and undefiled. This is the issue Paul addresses with the church at Corinth in this section of scripture.
In fact all of this first letter to the Corinthians up to this point has been about attaining and maintaining purity in the church. And there are several good reasons why this is so important.
(1 Corinthians 5:6-8)
The way to life cannot and must not be compromised. There is no place for compromise in seeking the truth and the ways of God, for truth is not compromised.
Unleavened bread of truth
What is leaven? In a baking sense it is an agent, such as yeast, that causes batter or dough to rise, especially by fermentation. In a more general sense it is an element, influence, or agent that works subtly to lighten, enliven, or modify a whole by permeating through the substance to which it is added.
From a spiritual perspective, and what this teaching is trying to tell us, is that some things can permeate what we believe and like leaven can subtly modify our beliefs from a strict adherence to the truth. This is the issue with leaven in the spiritual sense because it pollutes the truth, and it is a great problem in the church today.
(1 Corinthians 5:1-5)
Nothing defiles the church so much as the acceptance of sinfulness and evil in the church. When the church accepts false teaching and when the teachers, preachers, elders and apostles of the church not only do nothing about it but accept and even embrace it, then that church is on a downward spiral and needs strong intervention to cleanse wickedness from the church.
Defiled and polluted
Paul shows the nature of this problem that occurred in the Corinthian church in this section of scripture. He speaks out against a man who is living in a sexual relationship with his fathers wife and flaunting this situation with arrogance.
Paul is rightly aghast at such a turn of events and makes no bones about saying so to point out the error of the church and the need to cleanse the church of this evil. How can such a church preach against sin and hypocrisy when they are doing the same things? And it is no different today.
(1 Corinthians 4:14-20)
In this section of scripture we see Paul telling the people to imitate him.
Imitate to become
Now you may think that to be an imitation is to be a fake, as often we see imitations of products made on the cheap and that are not very good quality.
But that is not the meaning of what Paul was saying here. It is often said that imitation is the greatest form of praise, and while this is not exactly what Paul was calling for it approaches what he wanted the people to do.
If we look at the Greek word that is translated as “imitate” we get a further insight into what this imitation thing is all about.
(1 Corinthians 4:8-13)
In this section we see Paul talking about the roles of the apostles.
To be an apostle is to be greatly blessed by the Lord for it is an important work that the apostles did and do. But as we see in this scripture the work of the apostles is sometimes a hard and thankless task. They are at the vanguard of the Christian Faith and it is the apostles who lead the charge in the spreading of the word and the teaching of the new converts to Christianity.
The apostles suffer much to fulfill their mission to the Lord and they are much maligned. Aside from the opposition they get from their obvious visibility to the opponents of Christ, they also have the worries and concerns of ensuring the young Christians do not fall back into old ways as they have barely escaped the ways of the world.
(1 Corinthians 4:6-7)
In this short section of scripture Paul is trying to give the Corinthian church some perspective regarding their call and conversion in Jesus Christ. Note his words,
6 I have applied all these things to myself and Apollos for your benefit, brothers, that you may learn by us not to go beyond what is written, that none of you may be puffed up in favor of one against another. 7 For who sees anything different in you? What do you have that you did not receive? If then you received it, why do you boast as if you did not receive it? – (1 Corinthians 4:6-7)
From time to time all people need this same perspective. We need to stop, think and understand as Christians where we are and what we have been given.
And then we need to be thankful that the Almighty God and His Son Jesus Christ have been so gracious towards us to even give us a chance and to not wipe us off the face of the earth as they did in th days of Noah and of Sodom and Gomorrah. It is a humbling thought.
(1 Corinthians 4:1-5)
One of the most dangerous things we can do in Christ is to judge one another. And as this scripture shows us, we should not even judge ourselves.
Do not judge
Why is it that judgement is such a problem? It is because with judgement comes pride and condemnation.
And in the same way when we judge ourselves we are making assumptions about who we are and where we stand in Christ that may be false. Again this can come back to pride and self-condemnation.
(1 Corinthians 3:18-23)
When we consider the wisdom of this world in comparison to the wisdom of God there is no comparison. The wisdom of God is so much greater that a simple comparison shows the wisdom of man to be mere folly.
The folly of the wisdom of man
What man has the wisdom to be able to create the world and everything in it from nothing? As you are thinking about this recall also that God did not just create your brain but also created thought as well. If you compare it to a computer, a programmer uses hardware with software to create programs that do something. But God created all those things and more to enable us to think, feel and then act.
God's wisdom is based in spirit, whereas man's wisdom is based in the flesh. God sees and knows things that a man cannot even comprehend. If you read the last dozen or so chapters of the book of Job where God answers Job you get some insight into God's wisdom and power. Job was brought down a peg or two when he realized the power and wisdom of God and he stood in awe of God as we all should do.
And Job was a man favored by God so how much worse would it be for those who are not. Job recognized the wisdom of God and was humbled. So how foolish is it when man thinks he is wise in his own eyes and does not recognize God's wisdom?
(1 Corinthians 3:16-17)
The most significant change that took place after the death of Jesus was the change in the mode of worship.
The priesthood has changed
Prior to Jesus dying the only place a person could go and worship the one true God was in the temple at Jerusalem. This was the place where God's law was taught and managed by the Levitical priesthood and was where the holy place and the holy of holies stood.
But when Jesus came and died He became a priest of God, not descended from Levi and thus not entitled to serve in the temple at Jerusalem. Instead Jesus, who was a descendant of David from Judah in the flesh, which was the tribe of the kings, became a priest of the order of Melchizedek as we are told in Hebrews 5:6. And this change in the priesthood changes everything, including the modes, place, methods and forms of worship.
(1 Corinthians 3:12-15)
Quite often recently I have written about the need for a strong foundation on which we are to build our walk with Jesus Christ. But like a house or building, it does not end there.
What will you build God's house in you from?
You cannot live in just the foundation of a house. You need walls and a roof and furniture to be able to live well. It is essential that the foundation of your house be solid and strong, but that is just the beginning.
Likewise, as Christians we are being built into the house of God and we are also a building in our own right. We have a foundation that is laid and that foundation is Jesus Christ for there is no other foundation that can be laid but Jesus Christ. And then there are the six foundation teachings of Christianity as defined in Hebrews 6:1-2.
But like a physical house, we too do not end with the foundation. The “walls and roof” of our Christian house must be built so we can dwell in Jesus Christ. And these verses today talk about the building of your Christian house.