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.
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.
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.
The most significant change that took place after the death of Jesus was the change in the mode of worship.
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.
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.
When King Solomon wrote the proverbs he filled them with wisdom and insight. He was blessed with wisdom greater than any other man for when asked by God what he wanted, Solomon asked for the wisdom and insight to rule Israel with justice and right decisions.
So when Solomon wrote the proverbs he filled them with the wisdom and insights given to him by God. And we see that one of the most important messages he gave us, one of the best pieces of instruction Solomon left for all of us was this.
5 Get wisdom; get insight; do not forget, and do not turn away from the words of my mouth. 6 Do not forsake her, and she will keep you; love her, and she will guard you. 7 The beginning of wisdom is this: Get wisdom, and whatever you get, get insight. 8 Prize her highly, and she will exalt you; she will honor you if you embrace her. – (Proverbs 4:5-8)
Get wisdom. Get insight. And where do we get wisdom and insight? From the one who is the source of all truth, all wisdom and all insight: God the Father through the Lord Jesus Christ.
And we see Paul writing to the Corinthian church in full concurrence with these sentiments in this section of scripture.
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.
As Christians we are being trained to live in harmony, first with God and secondly with one another. This is the aim of our call to Jesus Christ, to be able to live harmoniously so that we may inherit he kingdom of God and live in peace with Jesus Christ and God the Father.
But the enemy is also at work sowing the seeds of disharmony and destruction amongst the brethren of the churches. He would like to see all Christians fail to find a place of harmony where they are following the ways of God, and it is because of the work of the devil that we see the disharmony that afflicts the church and has done so for many years.
This should not be so. It is not right that the brethren of the church disagree. There is much that is taught in the churches that is not based upon the truth of the gospel and the words of the Lord, and it is because of such false teaching and lies in the doctrine of the church that disagreements flare.
So what can we do about it? We may not be able to fix the broad church, but we have a responsibility to ensure that our own standing with God is in harmony with Him. And that is the exhortation that comes through these verses in Romans 15.
What is the Bible? What is it about this book that has made it the number one best selling book of all time?
In my opinion, the bible is not just another book full of interesting stories and rules for living. No, it is much, much more than that.
The bible is the Book of Life. It contains the words of God given to man for the purpose of teaching man how to live in accordance with God's will. It provides teachings, examples, methods and instruction that if followed will lead us to life, both a better life now and a future everlasting life.
No other book written by man can do this or has the power to do this and the reason why is that every other book on earth is written by man. But the bible is written by God. It is the inspired words of God written down and recorded by faithful and just men for the purpose of bringing man back into communion with God.