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Posts Tagged ‘1 Corinthians’

1 Corinthians 7: 1-2, 6-9, 25-38. Singleness and Marriage

February 15th, 2010

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Parts of this passage are potentially confusing; ‘It’s good for a man not to have sexual relations with a women’. This seems to contradict Genesis 2 and other scriptures. However, Paul (the writer of this letter) is quoting their (the Corinthians) opinion back to them, this is obviously something they would have said. The bible teaches that sex is good and encourages it wholeheartedly within marriage.

But as well as promoting marriage Paul believes that there is a wonderful role for singleness and is
keen to honour it. Singleness is a unique calling and can bring a liberty to follow God. The bible elevates a certain kind of singleness; for some kind of callings of God singleness can be appropriate.

The church needs to look after and dignify singles and families should be hospitable to them and serve them.

In our culture marriage has a very bad reputation and this has led to people embracing singleness or avoiding marriage for the wrong reasons, even within the church.

People in the church are nervous about marriage and can stay single for some of the following wrong reasons;

  • Concerned that they are loving their prospective partner more than God. They feel they’ve developed a unhealthy devotion which deflects from their relationship with God. Don’t be hooked into false spirituality, If that isn’t a tension we are balancing in courtship perhaps we should question the relationship?
  • The ‘Who is the one mentality’ is also to be avoided. God restored you to sonship not to be a robot. We’ve been given ability to make decisions and choose our own partners.
  • Guys can be picky, they can have a picture of beauty that isn’t biblical. Obviously you need to be attracted to your bride but physical beauty is quite secondary.
  • For some women misinterpretations of what a spiritual man is can hold people back. Don’t look for the ‘platform gift’ or christian eloquence, look at the heart.
  • Fear can hold people back but we can be set free by knowing God. If we are fearful we are then not really enjoying God. If we are exposed to the love of God it will overwhelm fear.

We can make marriages our God and try and make them perfect, this is not possible. There has only ever been one perfect husband.

Story of the bible is one of a husband and a bride.God pursues us as a husband to a bride  He is perfectly faithful to us and utterly beautiful. To see proof of this look at the cross of Jesus Christ where the greatest husband in history died for his wife, the people of God. He is faithful enough to be tortured and murdered for us.

1 Corinthians 6 v 12 – 20 Sex and Purity

February 1st, 2010

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The first experience of sex in the garden of Eden (Genesis 2) was without shame, there were no hang ups. But Adam and Eve fell away from God into rebellion and immediately were ashamed. One of the many results of our rebellion is a sense of shame and embarrassment associated with nakedness and sexuality. We now no longer use sex to worship God but now we can worship sex itself.

God’s model for us is to enjoy sex within a covenant relationship, a lifelong marriage commitment made before God of the body and soul to one another.

In sex we are looking for pleasure
We are designed to look for and find our pleasure in God. God intends pleasure for us and ultimately only He can give it to us. We look for it elsewhere but it can only give limited returns.

Sex is a magnificent gift from God but in itself it makes a terrible God.

In sex we are looking for love and security
We crave physical intimacy because we are looking for love, support, security, protection etc. Again God intended that this need was ultimately fulfilled in Him and Him alone.

A lifestyle pattern can develop of desiring physical intimacy and this, or the person who gives it, can become our saviour.  This can lead to a blinding dependence on people which can lead to abuse.

Defilement and the answer
The reason we are left feeling defiled is really the same reason we feel guilt. We feel guilt because of guilt. We feel defiled because we are defiled.

In the end something has to objectively be done to set us free and the fullest true answer is what Jesus alone can do. Through real repentance, which is rediscovering the person we should have been worshipping in the first place, we can be free. The route to freedom is finding our joy in Jesus.

Through the cross we can receive forgiveness and also cleansing from our sin. Part of the work of the cross is the removal of shame from us. It’s taken away. In our place Jesus has became the scapegoat, he became shame for us.

1 Corinthians 6:12 – 7:5 Why is Sex Such a Big Deal?

January 25th, 2010

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Sexual freedom is supposed to bring liberty but instead it enslaves and controls people. We think that somehow our physical bodies are disconnected from the spiritual. We think that what we do with our bodies doesn’t affect us but it does. Jesus was a physical man after the resurrection and is now still a physical man.

The sexual act creates a union, we become one flesh. It is created to take place in a marriage relationship. Marriage itself is a foretaste of something greater, it points to our union with Christ, we are his bride. Also, sex points to something better, something greater. God created sex to point to the joy we’ll experience in eternity with him. Knowing God is profound union, sex is a picture of that.

Our application
We should flee from sexual immorality and deal ruthlessly with temptation

1 Corinthians 5 – Judge or Don’t Judge?

January 18th, 2010

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Healthy Discipline

The purity of the church needs to be maintained. It must, therefore, be characterised by an atmosphere of ongoing submission to the will of God. Sin, once clearly identified in the community and in individuals, must be acknowledged and brought to repentance. When it is simply tolerated and perpetrators are allowed to carry on as if nothing mattered the purity of God’s people is compromised and threatened.
 
The more it is unquestioned the more dangerous this is – both for the church (which is affected by the bad yeast – v.6) and for the individuals themselves (who need the redemptive effect of discipline. It is meant to act as a safeguard – provoking people to a reality check and a sense of the serious condition. The goal is not to punish people but bring them to their senses and, thereby, draw them back into fellowship based upon true repentance).
 
We can be tempted to simply let things carry on unchecked and even congratulate ourselves on our ‘tolerance’ but in reality we are bringing danger on the people of God. The reality is that all of us practice some kind of ‘intolerance’ in certain contexts.
 
Discipline means that those who are not living a repentant life are not treated as if they are. This is NOT the way to treat non-believers. It is not our business to discipline non-Christians who know no better. We are not to be taken out of the world – not at all! So we must maintain our friendships with the lost and retain a totally non-judgemental attitude to them. But those who make out that they are believers but live an unrepentant lifestyle should know our position very clearly and not feel comfortable around us.
 
This is in line with the teaching of Jesus in Matthew 18. The goal is redemptive and it’s supposed to work.

Alternative Fathers 1 Corinthians 4 v 6 – 21

December 7th, 2009

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Admonition, Not Shame

In this letter to the Corinthians Paul sometimes speaks harshly but he is not trying to make them feel ashamed or bad. He wants to admonition them as beloved children. He speaks firmly and corrects them but only in love. This should be our attitude also, we need robust care for one another.

The church is not to be a lecture hall, admonishment is not solely the preachers job. We have a collective responsibility for each other and we all need to preach at, encourage, admonish one another.
We can’t change on our own and we can’t change by just listening to sermons. We, all of us, need small groups, zones, discipleship. We need community to grow.

The thought of opening our lives to other people can be difficult, particularly if we’ve had previous bad experiences when doing this, so we should always look to restore people gently. As a church we need to grow in this.

Power, Not Talk

Paul is utterly confident in the power of God. There is lots of ‘talk’ that we hear and can even engage in ourselves but the test should be how much power comes out of it? If there is no power there the talk is worthless. We should be on guard against foolish talk. The power is in the Gospel not in the talk and Jesus is the only one with genuine power not just talk.

Alternative Security 1 Corinthians 3.18 – 4.5

November 30th, 2009

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Security and Boasting

We can base our value, our worth on things totally inappropriate. But no one should boast in man. Boasting leads to and is caused by insecurity.

Stress seems to be caused by our need to prove our own greatness and we can often evaluate ourselves against others. Any peace we get from this is utterly false. Jesus confronts anxiety in Matthew 11. In this passage Jesus delibertely links freedom from stress to humility. This was the difference between us and Jesus, He really was confident in the God who works it out right in the end 1 Corinithians 3.21 ‘Let no one boast in men. For all things are yours’  This is why we shouldn’t boast – all things are yours.

Security and Faith

Boasting (in ourselves and our own achievements) is the opposite of faith. Boasting in God is faith. God runs everything deliberatley for your good.

All things are yours 1 Corinithians 3.22, including the world, life & death. He has given us everything we need for life. Life can be hard but it’s not supposed to be an enemy but we are to see it as God’s gift. We need faith to keep believing this – If you know Jesus you have all you need for life. Even death is ours, if you belong to Christ death is now defeated and we now have nothing to fear in death, it’s ours. To die is now gain.

To enjoy life we’ll need our character shaping, this will help us enjoy God forever. Can be painful and difficult but God is at work in you. You can’t enjoy God unless you are shaped to enjoy God. We can spoil our appetite on small momentary, passing pleasures but we need to have an eternal perspective. The more you are like Jesus the more you will enjoy heaven.

Alternative Temple 1 Corinthians 3:10-17

November 24th, 2009

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The Church Really Matters
The Church can be seen as an embrassamemt, even by Christians, but we are in fact the temple of God.
God wants a place where he dwells and he wants to share that with us, this should be a place where we can relax with God and ever since the fall of Adam he’s been working to restore this temple.

This temple is not the building or a physical location, it’s the people of God, His living stones. Us. We are not a club or social network but the dwelling place of God. We must expect God with us and not just on Sundays, at zones, small groups etc…

The Foundation Really Matters
We need to build this temple on the right foundation – Jesus Christ. If the foundation of the church is not Jesus it’s not a church.

This strong foundation, Jesus, should be our foundation for life as well as the church. Everyone trusts in something but for real peace, real hope, real life and we must have our trust, our foundation in Christ. He is trustworthy. So trustworthy that he gave up His life for us.

Your Life Really Matters
There is a day appointed when God will judge all people. He will test and filter our lives. You can be saved but still suffer loss. You can store up treasures, real riches in heaven. Our lives need to count.

1 Corinthians 3:1-11 Alternative Maturity

November 17th, 2009

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1 Corinthians 2: 1-5 Alternative Speech

October 19th, 2009

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The Dangers of Great Words

In Corinth there was a celebrity culture, people desired to be public speakers. This was an excuse for pride.

Impressive rhetoric and great oratory can get in the way of the gospel. The powerful thing that needs to be heard is Jesus. The Bible is all about him.

Life is all about him. Our preaching is not here to offer good advice alone but instead offer Christ. When Jesus is at the centre everything else takes shape.

The Place of Great Words

Paul & God are not anti eloquence. Eloquence is good but when it replaces God it becomes an idol.
People think Jesus and the church is anti creative. It’s not. Very gifted creative people can be in the church but they need humility to seek Christ first not the gift.
Paul was still keen to perusade and could use impressive oratory to do this but Paul used his skillful gifts under
the lordship of Christ.

The Way God Speaks

God speaks through servants who are aware of their own weaknesses and failings. Those that are totally dependent on God’s power.

Preachers are weak, they need the Holy Spirit to make any impression. God is working through us all the time. Our foolish words of witness can be used by God to shape and impact lives.

God could have spoken in any way he wanted, he didn’t even have to speak.
God chose to come among us through Jesus Christ.

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1 Corinthians 1:26-31 Alternative Confidence

October 14th, 2009

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Dangers Of Improvement
The Corinthians had got seriously unbalanced in their idea of themselves. The culture of the city had crept in. Self-aggrandisement was causing infighting and entrenchment. Antidote: the gospel, which reminds us we are nothing special in ourselves.
Get real about yourself. The worst someone can say about you is not as bad as the truth. Don’t take yourself so seriously. You would not want God telling everybody what he had to save you from, right?

That None Might Boast
The more conscious we are of ourselves and our accomplishments the less conscious we will be of God’s work. So he has a tendency of especially choosing and using the weak so that he receives more glory. Many stories from scripture bear this out. Those who are ‘strong’ are usually brought to a place of weakness by God’s grace, to make them less self-exalted and more dependant on his mercy.

Glory In Your Weakness
If you are wealthy or highly educated, thank God for the letter ‘M’. it says ‘not many’ rather than ‘not any’. But do what it says in James – ‘glory in your low position…’
Growth and maturity begin when we recognise the sufficiency of Jesus for all that we need – wisdom, righteousness, sanctification and redemption.