Do you like to get things for free? No cost, no charge and no payment? I know I do, especially when those things have some value, and even more when they are of great value.
Well, there is no greater gift we can receive for free than to receive the knowledge of the gospel of Jesus Christ which leads us to eternal life in Him and with Him. It does not have to cost you a penny for the free gift from God is eternal life through Jesus Christ.
But unfortunately there are some who twist scripture and take advantage of scripture to their own gain and do not make the gospel free. In fact they make it frightfully expensive and the worst part when they do so, is that the gospel they preach is not the free gospel of Jesus Christ but a tainted version to suit their own ends rather than the will of God.
Paul was concerned about this and so he addressed the matter in this section of scripture.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
As I read this section of scripture there was one question that Paul posed to the church at Corinth that strikes to the heart of the church down to this day. At the start of verse 13 he writes, “Is Christ divided?”
The answer to that question is clearly…No. Christ is certainly not divided. There is only one Christ and His word, His ministry and His purpose for man had and still has only one true path. There is only one truth and that is the truth of Jesus Christ.
However the same cannot be said about the church, and that is the focus and the point of what Paul was writing to the Corinthians. Paul had a concern about how people were behaving and the focus of their beliefs. It was part idolatry, part party spirit and partly to do with division in the church.
In these last verses of Romans 16 Paul warns the church to be aware of those who create divisions and dissensions in the church.
Paul knew full well that there would be such people come into the church for this was prophesied by the Lord Jesus Christ who said at various times there would be wolves in sheep's clothing come amongst the church. And the mindset of a wolf is to tear apart, divide and kill, and this is what these dissenting and devious people do also.
So let us be aware and look well at the words that Paul wrote here. In the previous verses in my last posts, we saw the importance of harmony in the church and to greet one another with brotherly love. Here we see Paul warning us to be on our guard when that harmony is unbalanced and when the greetings are not returned or are insincere.
As I read this verse these final few words seemed to stick out. Paul encourages and entreaty us to hate what is evil and to hold fast to what is good.
It is in the determination of the difference between good and evil that we strike difficulties, especially in this modern day and age. There are so many things today that are evil, but which the world considers to be good, and conversely things that are good that the world claims to be evil, that it is easy to be confused.
How are we to reject and to hate what is evil and hold fast to what is good when there is so much confusion about the difference between these two things? How do we decide between things and to consider in all situations which path we are to take? Even in Christian matters there is division over what is good and evil, right and wrong, for there are many doctrines taught in the name of Jesus Christ and Christianity that have no basis at all in the teac hints of the Lord.
Fortunately there is a way to determine these things and to understand. It is not easy but it is possible.
Circumcision was the sign given to Abraham as an outward recognition of the faith that he had in the promises that God had given to him. It was a sign that sealed the covenant of faith between God, Abraham and his descendants.
But what is important to note in this is that it was not the physical act of circumcision that was the point of this whole process, but the faith that the recipients of the circumcision held. The Jews had a law that every male child born had to be circumcised on the eighth day after being born, but what was then the important part of this process was that the child grew up to hold the faith that Abraham had before God. Circumcision was to be a sign as a reminder of that faith.
In this section of scripture Paul discusses these distinctions and as we learn what he had to say we can see that there are many applications of this same principle. We also see how deceit can lead people astray to believe that the the act is more important than the faith, that is, that circumcision is more important than believing the promises of God.
The apostle Paul had been imprisoned and had already stood before several tribunals to give an account of himself and after being moved to Caesarea was brought before the council once again.
This time he was to be examined before the Roman governor of the region, Felix. Five days after Paul had been brought down to Felix by night with a very strong force of soldiers to guard him against forty Jewish assassins who had sworn to kill him, he was brought before the governor.
The high priest of the Jews came down with an entourage to voice their accusations against Paul before Felix. However we see this time they employ the tactic of flattery to attempt to get their way by bringing a spokesman named Tertullus who used this tactic to attempt to sway the governor. So let us look at what took place.
There are no shortcuts to enter the kingdom of God and there are no shortcuts to receiving His power and using it in ministry. The only way to come to God is thru Jesus Christ and the only way to be able to receive and use the power of God is through receiving the Holy Spirit and through faith in Jesus Christ.
But man being what he is will always seek the easy way out. Man will always look for a simple way to do it…that is, until something happens that stops him in his tracks.
In these few scriptures we see some Jewish ministers attempt to find and use a shortcut to use the power of Jesus Christ and of God. And they were not the only ones for the scripture tells us there were others trying to do what these men did. But we see they were foiled and the practice stopped for fear of what happened to these men.