Table of Contents
Today this sermon may step on your toes. And for that I am glad, so that I’m not the only one with wounded feet.
If I speak anything in error, or am amiss in any point, by all means, talk with me about it. If I am wrong I want to know, let us reason together with open hearts and open Bibles.
Because as Christians it is our mission to be pleasing to the Lord. Too often brethren, we don’t look for what drives us closer to the good shepherd. Too often, we are trying to figure out just how far we can get away from Him, and still be in His flock.
This is done by placing the emphasis on the wrong questions. Often you will hear someone say, “What’s wrong with it?” “Does the Lord forbid us to do…??”
The right question is, “What is right with it?” “what is well pleasing to my Lord?” “What gives the most glory to my Lord?”
This is no new phenomena. The Corinthian brethren had allowed certain men to creep in among them, men who were casting doubt upon the apostleship of Paul. And subsequent to that casting doubt really on the entire work among the Gentiles.
They had been cleaving to these ideologies rather than the pure and plain gospel. They had been moved by the many letters of endorsement these men carried with them; forgetting that Paul, Timothy, and Titus had the endorsement of the Holy Spirit in signs and wonders.
They had taken up with false teachers, failing to seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness. They reasoned from their own best think so in many areas, and that led them astray.
12There is a way which seems right to a man, But its end is the way of death.
— Proverbs 14:12
We do well to be chastened by their example. To put away the evil among us and seek only that which is well pleasing to our Lord.
Regardless of our being alive in bodies of weak and temporary flesh, or caught up in heaven with God in eternal and permanent bodies; our mission is to be well pleasing to the Lord.
Each of us will face the judgment of the Christ. Our deeds will be compared to His deeds. If we are not of Him and His ways, if we are a stiff-necked people who kick against His goads; if we are a people unwashed in His blood, and debased in our pleasures then we have no part in Him.
Simply calling on the name of the Lord Jesus is not sufficient. (Though certainly, we must call upon His name.)
He spoke as one with authority because He does, in fact, have that authority. He doesn’t have to beat around the bush. And you know what, neither do we when we speak of His authority. When the Bible plainly speaks of the Christ as being the judge of the world, as being the only way, we can be equally as bold as He is. Not on our own steam or to our glory; but to the glorification of Jesus our Lord.
We who would teach, must keep the facts of the situation in our minds. It is not popular to talk about the fear of the Lord. In this era men seem to be mostly interested in God’s love and mercy; as though those things are divorced from our fearing Him. But if the apostle Paul, being so intimate with the Lord, fears Him, then we must not water down the facts. The awe we should feel about the Lord stems from His power and authority over all things. It isn’t merely from His mercy and grace; but what is implied in those things…? the wrath, judgment, and condemnation that He has saved us from. Where there is no condemnation there is no salvation. We sin and fall short of the glory of God and His design for us, and so we are justly the vessels of His wrath. He is right to pass judgment upon us. And so we rightly fear the one who can cast us eternally into outer darkness.
In like manner, we are rightly moved to love for the Christ. For He is the mercy and grace of God, love in bodily form, who never transgressed God’s will, and died to save us from the just condemnation that awaits all who reject the savior of men, Christ Jesus.
His death was so that all might have this hope. He did not die for only a small tribe at the end of the Mediterranean; but rather that everyone might enter into the household of God.
He lives and reigns today. And we who have died with Him in baptism are set aside to live for Him; giving up our self-centered lives and submitting to His will for us. Are you still living for yourself?
Paul isn’t puffing himself up here. He is almost pleading with the Corinthians to understand the nature of Christ’s sacrifice. Those who take pride in the appearances and not in the heart ask vain and haughty questions. They condemn Paul for his outward appearance. They seek to undermine the teachings of Christ. They hope to gain some advantage over the Corinthians by eroding their foundation of faith first laid by the apostle; the cornerstone of which is Christ crucified, risen and reigning.
These men of only outward interests are still alive and well today. How many, oh so many. Let us not look to the flesh, but rather the spirit and look to the fruits of their labors for evidence one way or the other. Like Apollos, not all who teach error are false prophets; but all false prophets teach error.
Paul as a Jew could recognize Jesus as a Jew. But Paul doesn’t see the world that way anymore. Rather, he looks at the inward man.
“Is the man a new creature in Christ Jesus, being sanctified for doing good deeds of the Spirit? Is the man having his mind renewed and transformed by the Will of God? Not being conformed to this world, nor the Law of Moses; but set aside for the new things have come in Christ?” Then he is our faithful brother and we love him.
And so we have the great reconciliation that has been sought after by men since Adam sinned. The rich mercies and lavish grace of God have come in Christ. It is our mission to go and preach this good news; for we must preach the ministry of reconciliation. This runs contrary to the world, who teach that you have no transgression to be concerned about. They teach the lie and their doctrine comes from the father of lies. They teach that you simply must believe good things for yourself and all will be as it should be. There is no true reconciliation in this new age tripe; only a band-aid for a broken soul. Those who follow it may find their reward here, but their eternal state is still the same; wrath, judgment, and condemnation. Let us then boldly preach the truth. Our ministry, our service, is of this reconciliation. It is founded first in our reconciliation; and then upon tasting of His grace we go and tell others just as the apostle Andrew said to his brother Peter,
We have found the Messiah
and we likewise bring men to Jesus. We don’t bring them to the comforts of vain philosophies and more self-centeredness, and certainly not to ourselves, but to Jesus.
Though we are not ambassadors of Christ in the same manner as the apostles. We are indeed sent ones of Christ, to go and preach to the nations making disciples, teaching them to observe all that He has commanded. Baptizing them in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
Paul and the rest of the apostles are of course set aside for more than this. They laid out the gospel message direct from the Spirit. They were given a special commission to bear the name of Christ firstly into the world. Their words bind and loose upon men the Way of Christ.
So when someone questions if we should listen to the apostle Paul, or John, or Peter for that matter; they are hardly speaking from wisdom. The apostles became the righteousness of God in Christ Jesus; proclaiming His message as they went along the way. They labored in the word and in Spirit; in prayer and indeed.
And so Paul urges the Corinthians and even us today not to receive the grace of God in vain. He wants us to persevere like the apostles did. He wants us to see the day of salvation is now. The acceptable time to take up our cross is now. Giving no cause for offense that the ministry will not be discredited.
- with much endurance:
- in afflictions
- in hardships
- in distresses
- in beatings
- in imprisonments
- in tumults
- in labors
- in sleeplessness
- in hunger
- in purity
- in knowledge
- in patience
- in kindness
- Let us endure:
- in the Holy Spirit
- in genuine love
- in the word of truth
- in the power of God
- By the weapons of righteousness in both our hands
- not the carnal weapons of this world.
- Let us endure:
- in glory
- and even in dishonor
- in evil reports
- and in good reports
- whether regarded as deceivers
- or as true
- regardless always being true.
- in glory
We care nothing for being known among men, for our only hope is in being known by God Almighty. For though we may be dying in the flesh, we live in Christ. The world may seek to punish us, to drive us down to destroy us, but we do not face death as cowards. For we know that to die is gain; it is to go home to our Lord and Redeemer.
The sin-sick world causes us much sorrow, but we rejoice in the Lord always. Our joy is not fleeting feelings, but rich and deep, being founded on the blood of Christ; the mercy of God.
We may be destitute in this life, but in the next, we have treasures untold. And as we go about our father’s business, we bring the wealth of true reconciliation with God to all those who would believe it.
This is what the apostle Paul wants the Corinthians to understand. That though his enemies may boast against him. Though they may forsake him in the battle, he has the Lord. Yet he doesn’t want them to receive the grace of God in vain. He wants them to bear up against the lies and stand firm in the faith. The enemies did not merely speak against Paul, in their attacks upon him, they debased the truth. They sought to hold sway and to bind the law and prophets upon them; these Judaizers were full of venom for Paul, but in so being they alienated themselves from the household of God; denying the faith and drawing men back to the dead letter.
Paul begs the Corinthians to see it clearly for what it is and to come back to the truth.
Let us not be restrained by our affections. Where is your heart’s desire? Is it upon being accepted by some authority in the world? Is it the comforts of the flesh? Or are your affections upon the Spirit?
The believer in God cannot yoke himself to the unbeliever.
28“Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest.
29“Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and YOU WILL FIND REST FOR YOUR SOULS.
30“For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.”
— Matthew 11:28–30
24“No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and wealth.
— Matthew 6:24
4You adulteresses, do you not know that friendship with the world is hostility toward God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God.
— James 4:4
Therefore we must be yoked with the Christ. He is a serious workhorse; but unbelievers, darkness, lawlessness, the Devil and his idols, no they can’t pull their own load and they certainly won’t pull yours.
17But the one who joins himself to the Lord is one spirit with Him.
— 1 Corinthians 6:17
19Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own?
20For you have been bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body.
— 1 Corinthians 6:19–20
As temples of the Spirit of God, we are God’s temple. He dwells in us through His Spirit who testifies with our spirit that we are children of God.
Some look to this passage and want to vacillate about the implications of it. Let’s put an end to that nonsense here and now.
9The devising of foolishness is sin, And the scoffer is an abomination to men.
— Proverbs 24:9
If an action is generally accepted as folly or foolishness because it walks with the unrighteous in close union; then why would we excuse it? Why would we mumble about it? Why would we try and excuse such flagrant disregard for the clear path of Christ?
Seek ye first the kingdom of God and His righteousness and all will be added unto you. The apostle Paul is telling us to abandon the unclean. He adjures us to come out from the midst of the unbeliever.
The children of God have often played fast and loose in this regard. And we have generally suffered for such folly.
So many times we partner up with the men in unholy ways.
Military Service Trumping the Lord
We might bind ourselves in a contract like one does in the military service. What comes of such a union? Is the fruit of that union one of faith, peace, and the Spirit of God? Are the weapons of that warfare carnal or spiritual? Can you depart a free man anytime you like while so yoked?
23You were bought with a price; do not become slaves of men.
— 1 Corinthians 7:23
We sometimes let our patriotism run ahead of our true duty to the Lord. It is an easy trap to fall into. We are a passionate people, willing to sacrifice ourselves. Then render unto Caesar what is Caesar’s and render unto God what is God’s. You have been bought with a price, the blood of the Lamb of God.
Bonds of Friendship and Family Trumping the Lord
So many times we let our feelings for another drive us to do things that are foolish.
Church discipline can be emotionally hard. These are our friends, family, loved ones…? but there it is right in the word of God. Shall we be yoked to the wisdom of men, or the wisdom of God?
Which are we opened wide too? God or men?
“Now hold on there preacher, are you saying we can’t marry an unbeliever? After all, Paul said in 1 Corinthians that the Christian shouldn’t leave an unbeliever if they will abide with the Christian, right?”
Now in no place did Paul condone us going out and getting hitched to unbelievers. Rather he gives instruction should you find yourself so married. After all, some Christians fall away and their spouse is now so wed; others are converted while their spouse is not. But Paul never says that we are to go out and get bound to the unbeliever in the vain hope that they will become a Christian. That is not the great commission. In fact, Paul says much the opposite here. Of course, if you do go ahead as some are wont to do, then Paul’s instruction in 1 Corinthians 7 will certainly apply.
And does it sometimes work out? Why yes of course it does. Yet for every case where it does, how many more times does it fail? 10 times? 100 times? 1000 times?
Even if it was 1 for 1 you’d be playing a game of chance with 50/50 odds. Where half the time the Christian would fall away. Do you like to gamble with your soul?
Let’s take a moment to reflect upon what has come before for our tutelage.
Now let’s be clear here. We are not under this explicit law. This was the law for the Jews.
The law we are under is actually the even higher principle laid out in 2 Corinthians 6. Yet as a higher principle it also encompasses the lesser.
So here you have Solomon the wise. What happens to him when his wives influence him over time?
A long journey that starts off course by 1 degree ends up a 1000 miles off the mark.
The commandment of God is that we be separate from the midst of the darkness. That we are to be light shining forth in the darkness of the world, rather than conformed to the darkness.
For many many more illustrations of people failing to understand this idea just read 1 & 2 Chronicles and Kings.
22“The eye is the lamp of the body; so then if your eye is clear, your whole body will be full of light.
23“But if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light that is in you is darkness, how great is the darkness!
— Matthew 6:22–23
He who has eyes to see, let him see. If I have warped the scriptures then show me the way and I will repent. But this high command of the Messiah seems plain enough.
- We don’t share their philosophies,
- we don’t partake of their uncleanness,
- we don’t bind ourselves in their service over the service of God.
For we were bought at a price, and so we shall serve the living God with our bodies, hearts, minds, and souls, loving Him above all else.
We must, therefore, cleanse ourselves from all defilement of flesh and spirit. Being perfected in holiness in the fear of God Almighty. We must have room in our hearts for the gospel of Christ, that which the apostles preached. For these men followed their master in their life and in their deaths. They were willing to lay their lives on the line for the sake and salvation of men.
So what do you need to lay down? What are you still cleaving to that is of the flesh? What defilement must you be cleansed of? If you have any such thing that is of a public nature, then, by all means, let us know of your repentance.
If you have something not so public, perhaps some prayer with one who is stronger would be wise.
Personally, I have found such confession and prayer with a discrete brother in the faith to be deeply helpful in keeping up the good fight. Their words are often from the word and filled with love and wisdom. They guide, they correct, they sooth the broken-hearted. What more could you want?
That my brethren is what it means to love one another as Christ first loved us. To mend the broken-hearted with the balm of Christ Jesus. What a lovely gift it is.
If you have come to see that you have not been doing what is well pleasing to the Lord and need to be set free from sin through either baptism or repentance & confession;
Won’t you come forward while we stand and sing the appointed song and let us know of your need.
Appendix A: Appendix of Verses | by order of appearance
- Prov 14:12
- 2 Corinthians 5:9-15
- 2 Corinthians 5:9-10
- Matthew 7:19-23
- Matthew 7:24-29
- 2 Corinthians 5:11-15
- 2 Corinthians 5:9-10
- 2 Corinthians 5:16-19
- John 1:41
- 2 Corinthians 6:11-7:4
- Matthew 11:28-30
- Matthew 6:24
- James 4:4
- 1 Corinthians 6:17, 19-20
- Proverbs 24:9
- 1 Corinthians 7:23
- Deuteronomy 7:3-4
- 1 Kings 11:1-11
- Matthew 6:22-23