Archive for July, 2007
(sorry about the pic – couldn’t resist)
Let me start by reiterating: I’m NOT a Bible scholar.
With that said, I have strong thoughts concerning gifts of the Holy Spirit. My spiritual journey has brought me through some interesting encounters with certain manifestations of the Holy Spirit – both genuine and counterfeit. I have felt the exquisite, supernatural presence of God and I have witnessed the manufactured, manipulating attempts of paltry schemers.
Take a look at the first part of chapter 12 where Paul is teaching the church at Corinth about spiritual gifts:
4 Now there are different kinds of spiritual gifts, but it is the same Holy Spirit who is the source of them all. 5 There are different kinds of service in the church, but it is the same Lord we are serving. 6 There are different ways God works in our lives, but it is the same God who does the work through all of us. 7 A spiritual gift is given to each of us as a means of helping the entire church. 8 To one person the Spirit gives the ability to give wise advice; to another he gives the gift of special knowledge. 9 The Spirit gives special faith to another, and to someone else he gives the power to heal the sick. 10 He gives one person the power to perform miracles, and to another the ability to prophesy. He gives someone else the ability to know whether it is really the Spirit of God or another spirit that is speaking. Still another person is given the ability to speak in unknown languages, and another is given the ability to interpret what is being said. 11 It is the one and only Holy Spirit who distributes these gifts. He alone decides which gift each person should have.
Paul’s teaching here is on the importance of the variety of gifts to get the job done in the church (the body of Christ). He goes on to explain:
12 The human body has many parts, but the many parts make up only one body. So it is with the body of Christ. 13 Some of us are Jews, some are Gentiles, some are slaves, and some are free. But we have all been baptized into Christ’s body by one Spirit, and we have all received the same Spirit. 14 Yes, the body has many different parts, not just one part. 15 If the foot says, “I am not a part of the body because I am not a hand,” that does not make it any less a part of the body. 16 And if the ear says, “I am not part of the body because I am only an ear and not an eye,” would that make it any less a part of the body? 17 Suppose the whole body were an eye then how would you hear? Or if your whole body were just one big ear, how could you smell anything? 18 But God made our bodies with many parts, and he has put each part just where he wants it. 19 What a strange thing a body would be if it had only one part! 20 Yes, there are many parts, but only one body. 21 The eye can never say to the hand, “I don’t need you.” The head can’t say to the feet, “I don’t need you.” 22 In fact, some of the parts that seem weakest and least important are really the most necessary. 23 And the parts we regard as less honorable are those we clothe with the greatest care. So we carefully protect from the eyes of others those parts that should not be seen, 24 while other parts do not require this special care. So God has put the body together in such a way that extra honor and care are given to those parts that have less dignity. 25 This makes for harmony among the members, so that all the members care for each other equally. 26 If one part suffers, all the parts suffer with it, and if one part is honored, all the parts are glad. 27 Now all of you together are Christ’s body, and each one of you is a separate and necessary part of it.
What a brilliant analogy. Like our own human bodies, the church needs properly functioning “body parts” in order to accomplish what is it meant to accomplish. It’s easy to understand that our bodies do not function as well without eyes, for example. Kind of like a church without a vision. Our human bodies would not function as well without feet or hands – as a church would not function properly without volunteers to serve inside the church and to go out into the community and serve there.
Lastly, Paul gives some instruction regarding the ranking of members (or “parts”) God has placed in the body:
28 Here is a list of some of the members that God has placed in the body of Christ: first are apostles, second are prophets, third are teachers, then those who do miracles, those who have the gift of healing, those who can help others, those who can get others to work together, those who speak in unknown languages. 29 Is everyone an apostle? Of course not. Is everyone a prophet? No. Are all teachers? Does everyone have the power to do miracles? 30 Does everyone have the gift of healing? Of course not. Does God give all of us the ability to speak in unknown languages? Can everyone interpret unknown languages? No! 31 And in any event, you should desire the most helpful gifts.
Do you notice Paul’s emphasis on the fact that everyone has different gifts? I am amazed at how people can still insist that to be saved or “filled with the Holy Spirit” you MUST speak in tongues. Why then would Paul say, “Does God give all of us the ability to speak in unknown languages? Can everyone interpret unknown languages? No!”
This must be why Paul spends much of chapter 14 in 1 Corinthians talking about the gift of tongues – but I’m getting ahead of myself.
Did you know that the belief that speaking in tongues is a manifestation of salvation is a relatively new phenomenon? Vinson Synan, Ph.D who is now dean of the school of Divinity at Regent University researched and wrote about the modern Pentecostal movement. Dr. Synan writes, “The first person to be baptized in the Holy Spirit accompanied by speaking in tongues was Agnes Ozman, one of Parham’s Bible School students, who spoke in tongues on the very first day of the new century, January 1, 1901”. So baptism of the Holy Spirit as the modern Pentecostals define it is not known historically in Christendom.
And, since we’re on the subject, my research has shown me (and the Holy Spirit confirmed within me) that:
- No one can say that “Jesus is Lord” except that the Holy Spirit draw them
- At the point of salvation, a person claims Jesus as Lord (see Romans 10:9)
- Once saved, we become part of the corporate “body of Christ” through baptism of the Holy Spirit (see verse 13 above)
- Baptism of the Holy Spirit happens only once (see Ephesians 4:5)
I also believe that the indwelling or filling of the Holy Spirit can happen (needs to happen) continuously. The Holy Spirit can at different times fill us with His power to specifically accomplish tasks or to help us in our witness (as shown in Luke 1:15, Luke 1:67, Acts 2:4, Acts 4:8, Acts 9:17 and others) Paul himself was filled with the Spirit in Acts 9:17 and again in Acts 13:9.
Does every Christian speak in tongues? I say that’s a lot of “bull.” (reference to image above, of course – see how it fits?)
Lots of great stuff in this chapter. We’ve only scratched the surface today. Just remember, God is not the author of confusion. Sometimes our own desires and selfish motives give us a “different” perspective on things. It’s human nature. We all want to be known as super-spiritual or gifted in certain ways. But, only the Holy Spirit is able to distribute the gifts as He sees fit.
Here’s a funny my friend sent me that made me think:
A man was being tailgated by a stressed out woman on a busy boulevard. Suddenly, the light turned yellow, just in front of him. He did the right thing, stopping at the crosswalk, even though he could have beaten the red light by accelerating through the intersection.
The tailgating woman was furious and honked her horn, screaming in frustration as she missed her chance to get through the intersection, dropping her cell phone and makeup. As she was still in mid-rant, she heard a tap on her window and looked up into the face of a very serious police officer.
The officer ordered her to exit her car with her hands up. He took her to the police station where she was searched, finger printed, photographed, and placed in a holding cell.
After a couple of hours, a policeman approached the cell and opened the door She was escorted back to the booking desk where the arresting officer was waiting with her personal effects.
He said, “I’m very sorry for this mistake. You see, I pulled up behind your car while you were blowing your horn, flipping off the guy in front of you, and cussing a blue streak at him. I noticed the ‘What Would Jesus Do’ bumper sticker, the ‘Choose Life’ License plate holder, the ‘Follow Me to Sunday-School’ bumper Sticker, and the chrome-plated Christian fish emblem on the trunk.
“Naturally…I assumed you had stolen the car.”
If you can’t control yourself, do us all a favor and remove any Christian symbols from your car!
Be a light today!
This chapter can be a bit confusing. Read the first few verses:
4 A man dishonors Christ if he covers his head while praying or prophesying. 5 But a woman dishonors her husband if she prays or prophesies without a covering on her head, for this is the same as shaving her head. 6 Yes, if she refuses to wear a head covering, she should cut off all her hair. And since it is shameful for a woman to have her hair cut or her head shaved, then she should wear a covering. 7 A man should not wear anything on his head when worshiping, for man is God’s glory, made in God’s own image, but woman is the glory of man.
If taken literally, no man would be allowed to wear a hat in church and all women would have to! I can just imagine the controversy that would invoke. And then there’s the discussion of styles of hat, colors that most exemplify Christ, etc.
In context, I believe Paul was referring less about hats and more about trying to avoid division in the church of Corinth. We can apply this unity teaching to almost any subject concerning the church today, not just the wearing of hats (i.e. carpet color, style of worship, etc.).
Much of this head-covering verbiage has cultural significance for back then in Corinth. Paul was addressing how Jewish women traditionally covered their heads during worship. Greek women, however, did not. I believe Paul was trying to end the division over this seemingly unimportant matter of head covering.On the other hand, this is where I draw my conviction to remove my hat when I pray or worship (v4 & 7). But, that’s just for me.
Wouldn’t the world be a much better place if we’d just try and get along?
There’s a nice blurb in my footnotes I’d like to share that might help:
All of us make hundreds of choices every day. Most choices have no right or wrong attached to them – like what you wear or what you eat. But we always face decisions that carry a little more weight. We don’t want to do wrong, and we don’t want to cause others to do wrong, so how can we make such decisions? Ask yourself these questions:
If I choose one course of action:
…does it help my witness for Christ (9:19-22)
…am I motivated by a desire to help others know Christ? (9:23; 10:33)
…does it help me do my best? (9:25)
…is it against a specific command in Scripture and would thus cause me to sin? (10:12)
…is it the best and most beneficial course of action? (10:23,33)
…am I thinking only of myself, or do I truly care about the other person? (10:24)
…am I acting lovingly or selfishly? (10:28-31)
…does it glorify God? (10:31)
…will it cause someone else to sin? (10:32)
Lord, be glorified by something we do today!
Have you ever said to yourself, “Why do I need to read the Bible?” Perhaps you’ve wondered what is the point of all the stuff in the Bible – it’s all in the past. Especially the Old Testament – what can I possibly learn from all that “boring” stuff?
Well, in today’s reading in 1 Corinthians, chapter 10, Paul gives a great example of why we need to learn from the Old Testament. He makes a great point about our ancestors’ behavior and advice to learn from their mistakes. Check it out:
1 I don’t want you to forget, dear brothers and sisters, what happened to our ancestors in the wilderness long ago. God guided all of them by sending a cloud that moved along ahead of them, and he brought them all safely through the waters of the sea on dry ground. 2 As followers of Moses, they were all baptized in the cloud and the sea. 3 And all of them ate the same miraculous food, 4 and all of them drank the same miraculous water. For they all drank from the miraculous rock that traveled with them, and that rock was Christ. 5 Yet after all this, God was not pleased with most of them, and he destroyed them in the wilderness.
6 These events happened as a warning to us, so that we would not crave evil things as they did 7 or worship idols as some of them did. For the Scriptures say, “The people celebrated with feasting and drinking, and they indulged themselves in pagan revelry.” 8 And we must not engage in sexual immorality as some of them did, causing 23,000 of them to die in one day. 9 Nor should we put Christ to the test, as some of them did and then died from snakebites. 10 And don’t grumble as some of them did, for that is why God sent his angel of death to destroy them. 11 All these events happened to them as examples for us. They were written down to warn us, who live at the time when this age is drawing to a close.
Did you catch that in verse 6: “These events happened as a warning to us, so that we would not crave evil things as they did or worship idols as some of them did.”
Following that, Paul gives us what I feel is one of the most important principles of Godly living. Read what it says in verses 12 and 13:
12 If you think you are standing strong, be careful, for you, too, may fall into the same sin. 13 But remember that the temptations that come into your life are no different from what others experience. And God is faithful. He will keep the temptation from becoming so strong that you can’t stand up against it. When you are tempted, he will show you a way out so that you will not give in to it.
First, a warning: don’t become prideful. The moment we think we’re standing strong and nothing can touch us – that’s when the fall happens. The tempter is out there, looking for opportunities to tear us down, humiliate us, destroy our witness, destroy our families. We must always be prepared and on the lookout for his attack.
The good news is that when temptation comes, God will make a way out – a back door to escape. What does that mean? Is this true – is our temptation never too strong that we can’t stand against it? Well, if we really want to stand strong, God promises that He will always make a way out. Think about the last time you were tempted. Did you not have a moment, a slight pause where you thought “I shouldn’t be doing this”? That’s God giving you a way out. It’s during that moment you have an opportunity to cry out to Him for help.
I’ve discovered, quite by accident this principle to be true. I’ve gotten so fed up with sin that I’ve actually, verbally, quite out loud, said “God – I don’t want to do this” and suddenly I was able to stand strong. I was amazed. Perhaps you could call your accountability partner in your moment of weakness. Perhaps you could turn off the TV or computer or just walk away. Get into your prayer closet or just take a walk and pray.
The key is – do you want to stop sinning or to you like it too much?
John Bevere has a great teaching on this in his book/video, “Freedom From Sin.” He tells about a friend of his that got saved and asked God to take away his addiction to cigarette smoking. For years, this man tried and tried – he prayed, he had others pray, he went to deliverance ministries, he fasted, he cried out to God – but he couldn’t shake the habit.
One day, a friend of his also got saved and immediately stopped smoking! Just like that – the guy was able to drop his habit cold turkey. The first guy was very frustrated and yelled back at God, “Why!? Why have I been struggling with this for years, but my friend, who I brought to You can stop immediately. Why can’t I get rid of this?”
In a quiet moment that followed, the man felt the Holy Spirit say, “Because you like it too much.”
Do you hate sin? Do you really want to be free from whatever it is that continues to plague you after all these years? Do you really want to get rid of your anger or bitterness? Do you really hate pornography? Do you seriously regret lying or overeating?
God will make a way for you to stand strong. But, He will not force it upon you. You have to want to take it.
Just some food for thought.
God bless you in your struggles. You’re not alone.
I don’t really watch the show. Frankly, I’ve tried a few times because it’s some kind of sick cultural icon. Each time I tried, I either quickly lost interest or was offended right away. Perhaps I just picked the wrong moment to view it or perhaps I’m not as cül as I wish I was.
Either way, a friend of mine sent me a link that allows you to create your own South Park character. Now, instead of working, everyone in the office is creating South Park characters for themselves and all their friends.
Now, you can try it…
I made one for me simply because I felt somewhat left out. Here it is. Unfortunately, they didn’t have an accordion.
16 For preaching the Good News is not something I can boast about. I am compelled by God to do it. How terrible for me if I didn’t do it!
What is it that God has you doing? Do you even think in those terms?
Sure, we need to take care of our families. Sure, we need to pay our bills. We also need to pray, read the Word, be accountable, encourage and love one another. Those things we’ve learned from reading His Word.
What things are distractions? We need our rest and recreation. What things do we do that are simply not beneficial?
Can you say, “<THIS> is what God would have me doing.” Furthermore, can you say, “<THIS> is what God has me doing.” In other words, are you doing it?
Paul knows with great confidence – so much that what he’s doing is of God that he refuses to ask for payment for it. Satisfaction is his payment. He has no choice.
Wow – That must be a good feeling! Satisfaction guaranteed!
Something to think about today as you scurry about trying to make the best of your time. What would God have you doing…
I’m reading out of the New Living Translation and I love how this chapter opens. You can really get a sense of Paul’s concern (and love) for the church at Corinth. His leadership and wisdom come pouring out in this chapter. Look how Paul addresses the church:
1 Now let’s talk about food that has been sacrificed to idols. You think that everyone should agree with your perfect knowledge. While knowledge may make us feel important, it is love that really builds up the church. 2 Anyone who claims to know all the answers doesn’t really know very much. 3 But the person who loves God is the one God knows and cares for.
“While knowledge may make us feel important, it is love that really builds up the church.” Wow – that preaches.
This chapter deals with those struggling with eating meat that has been sacrificed to idols. To understand a bit better, I turned to Matthew Henry’s Commentary on 1 Corinthians chapter 8. Here’s an excerpt:
… it must be observed that it was a custom among the heathens to make feasts on their sacrifices, and not only to eat themselves, but invite their friends to partake with them. These were usually kept in the temple, where the sacrifice was offered (v. 10), and, if any thing was left when the feast ended, it was usual to carry away a portion to their friends; what remained, after all, belonged to the priests, who sometimes sold it in the markets.
So – the new Christians at Corinth had a problem with eating the left-overs from the sacrifices from heathen feasts. Makes sense. But Paul’s message here is that we’re free from all that bother. The meat is just…well, meat. The gods this meat was sacrificed to do not exist. Just because some heathens, looking for a reason to party, decide to throw in a ritual or two over the food, does not change the food in any way. There is only One God, so the rituals were meaningless. So what’s the fuss?
I like how Paul explains it in verses 7 and 8:
7 However, not all Christians realize this. Some are accustomed to thinking of idols as being real, so when they eat food that has been offered to idols, they think of it as the worship of real gods, and their weak consciences are violated. 8 It’s true that we can’t win God’s approval by what we eat. We don’t miss out on anything if we don’t eat it, and we don’t gain anything if we do.
Here’s the kicker. Look at the rest of the chapter:
9 But you must be careful with this freedom of yours. Do not cause a brother or sister with a weaker conscience to stumble. 10 You see, this is what can happen: Weak Christians who think it is wrong to eat this food will see you eating in the temple of an idol. You know there’s nothing wrong with it, but they will be encouraged to violate their conscience by eating food that has been dedicated to the idol. 11 So because of your superior knowledge, a weak Christian, for whom Christ died, will be destroyed. 12 And you are sinning against Christ when you sin against other Christians by encouraging them to do something they believe is wrong. 13 If what I eat is going to make another Christian sin, I will never eat meat again as long as I live for I don’t want to make another Christian stumble.
Confused?First, Paul is saying it’s okay – then he says it’s not (if there is a chance other “weaker” Christians see you and stumble because of it). What you need to understand here is that some were converted to Christianity from heathenism. If they were to eat meat sacrificed to idols they may still eat out of respect to the idol, imagining that there was some divine ritual in doing so, and thus commit idolatry. Not having a background in heathenism, other Christians may not understand this.
We need to be careful with the freedoms we enjoy in Christ. Every time I read this passage my thoughts turn to alcohol. Not having grown up struggling with addiction to alcohol, my weakness is not to become drunk. So, I occasionally enjoy wine with my dinner or a cold, frosty beer on a hot day. However, doing so (or talking about it) in front of a Christian who struggles with alcoholism may cause that person to start thinking about a drink. Obviously, this could lead to problems for this person.
Paul, in no uncertain terms, lays it out clearly that this is a sin for a Christian to cause a weaker Christian to stumble in this way. Even to go as far as to say we could lead to them being destroyed. I don’t want that on my hands – so it’s easy for me to “never eat meat again”, or in this case never touch a beer again.
Today’s message is a simple one. One that I needed to hear, as I sometimes get very lonely. One that confirms that He loves me and values our relationship. One that clearly lays out what my number one priority is. One that reminds me that “it’s not about me.”
32…An unmarried man can spend his time doing the Lord’s work and thinking how to please him.
Use me, Lord. I’m all Yours.
Is any sin greater (in other words, worse) than another? The scripture makes it clear that if we’re guilty of one sin, we’re guilty of it all. But, Paul seems to indicate here in verses 12-20 of 1 Corinthians chapter 6 that sexual sin causes greater damage to the body, the temple of the Holy Spirit:
12 You may say, “I am allowed to do anything.” But I reply, “Not everything is good for you.” And even though “I am allowed to do anything,” I must not become a slave to anything. 13 You say, “Food is for the stomach, and the stomach is for food.” This is true, though someday God will do away with both of them. But our bodies were not made for sexual immorality. They were made for the Lord, and the Lord cares about our bodies. 14 And God will raise our bodies from the dead by his marvelous power, just as he raised our Lord from the dead. 15 Don’t you realize that your bodies are actually parts of Christ? Should a man take his body, which belongs to Christ, and join it to a prostitute? Never! 16 And don’t you know that if a man joins himself to a prostitute, he becomes one body with her? For the Scriptures say, “The two are united into one.” 17 But the person who is joined to the Lord becomes one spirit with him. 18 Run away from sexual sin! No other sin so clearly affects the body as this one does. For sexual immorality is a sin against your own body. 19 Or don’t you know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, who lives in you and was given to you by God? You do not belong to yourself, 20 for God bought you with a high price. So you must honor God with your body.
Verses 9-11 of today’s reading in 1 Corinthians used to really bother me as I thought that if you were involved in any of these things, you would not inherit the Kingdom.
9 Don’t you know that those who do wrong will have no share in the Kingdom of God? Don’t fool yourselves. Those who indulge in sexual sin, who are idol worshipers, adulterers, male prostitutes, homosexuals, 10 thieves, greedy people, drunkards, abusers, and swindlers none of these will have a share in the Kingdom of God.
It was confusing when someone taught these things in the context of the believers. But, now I understand that Paul is describing characteristics of unbelievers. Look at verse 11:
11 There was a time when some of you were just like that, but now your sins have been washed away, and you have been set apart for God. You have been made right with God because of what the Lord Jesus Christ and the Spirit of our God have done for you.
I want to thank You, God, for the cleansing You have given us through the sacrifice of Jesus and the power of the Holy Spirit. Thank You for providing a support system and accountability according to scriptural principles. I lay my life down before You today, Lord…my legal situation, my sins, my every breath. Empower me today and fill me with Your Holy Spirit so that I may walk in victory today and bring glory to Your Name.
In this modern age of “tollerance” and “acceptance” this chapter is a horse pill.
I have participated in heated discussions about how to deal with people in our churches who are involved in sexual sin. Can there be any question after reading today’s chapter (1 Corinthians 5)?
4 You are to call a meeting of the church, and I will be there in spirit, and the power of the Lord Jesus will be with you as you meet. 5 Then you must cast this man out of the church and into Satan’s hands, so that his sinful nature will be destroyed and he himself will be saved when the Lord returns.
Is this saying that if we tolerate this behavior and allow it to continue as we “love them to Christ,” we are putting them in greater danger than dealing with the sin head on? Would we be allowing this sinful nature to thrive and “he himself” will not be saved when the Lord returns?
I have no doubt this can be done in love and not in anger – with restoration in mind, not punishment. But simply ignoring it and hoping the person will get over it on their own is folly.
What about prayer? Yes – we need to pray.
What about love? Yes – we need to love.
What about forgiveness? There’s no question – we must forgive after repentance.
What about grace? God’s grace is sufficient – but right choices must be made.
My days ministry have shown me that there is plenty of sexual sin within our churches. And, for the most part it goes on ignored. I’m very concerned that the world we live in is set on feminizing our men. It happens in our churches as well, thereby weakening any chance we have to take a stand against satan in this world. Tollerance and acceptance are the method by which this is being accomplished.
What to do? Well, look at the strong position Paul takes:
7 Remove this wicked person from among you so that you can stay pure.
9 When I wrote to you before, I told you not to associate with people who indulge in sexual sin. 10 But I wasn’t talking about unbelievers who indulge in sexual sin, or who are greedy or are swindlers or idol worshipers. You would have to leave this world to avoid people like that. 11 What I meant was that you are not to associate with anyone who claims to be a Christian yet indulges in sexual sin, or is greedy, or worships idols, or is abusive, or a drunkard, or a swindler. Don’t even eat with such people. 12 It isn’t my responsibility to judge outsiders, but it certainly is your job to judge those inside the church who are sinning in these ways. 13 God will judge those on the outside; but as the Scriptures say, “You must remove the evil person from among you.”
You can see with the strong language Paul is using, that it’s far too important of an issue to just ignore and hope it goes away. More and more men – more and more pastors – are getting caught in the web of pornography and sexual sin.
There are a number of ministries dedicated to helping people (not just men) escape from the bondage of sexual sin. For more information, here are a few links you can check out:
Lord, heal your church and start with the men! Help us know how to deal with people the enemy has captured in this powerful trap. Help us to know how to restore them to You without risking exposure to the rest of our congregation. Bring healing to your church, Lord, so we can regain ground that the enemy has taken from us.