We Must Answer Well: part 10
God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit all want people to come to Jesus, to repent, to be forgiven and filled with the Holy Spirit, to be sanctified and receive eternal life and become the children of God.
We want this to happen.
And God has equipped us with His word, the Bible, and has promised to accompany us, to lead us, to be the One, in fact that leads people to repentance.
It is by His doing:
1 Corinthians 1
But by His doing you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, and righteousness and sanctification, and redemption, so that, just as it is written, “Let him who boasts, boast in the Lord.”
The Lord works righteousness and sanctification and redemption.
We have friends that are trapped in all kinds of sin. And we have been there ourselves. We have been slaves to sin, but have accepted Christ and allowed God to begin the work of sanctification within us.
No Other Foundation
No one can come to God on his or her own terms.
1 Corinthians 3
For no man can lay a foundation other than the one which is laid, which is Jesus Christ.
We are—thankfully, joyfully—stuck with God’s terms.
Now, for our friends trapped in sin, we pray and petition God to draw them to Himself and set them free. We ask His Holy Spirit to lead us, and we allow the truth to be spoken through us in humbleness.
Walking Contrary to Sanctification?
For those who claim Christ, yet walk contrary to the work of sanctification, we should consider the following:
1 Corinthians 3
Do you not know that you are a temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you? If any man destroys the temple of God, God will destroy him, for the temple of God is holy, and that is what you are.
If the Spirit of God dwells in us, we are a temple and we are holy. And God is beyond our understanding of “serious” about that which is holy.
We can hear Paul’s shock over how the Corinthian church has, rather than pursuing sanctification, embraced immorality.
1 Corinthians 5
It is actually reported that there is immorality among you, and immorality of such a kind as does not exist even among the Gentiles, that someone has his father’s wife. You have become arrogant and have not mourned instead, so that the one who had done this deed would be removed from your midst.
For I, on my part, though absent in body but present in spirit, have already judged him who has so committed this, as though I were present. In the name of our Lord Jesus, when you are assembled, and I with you in spirit, with the power of our Lord Jesus, I have decided to deliver such a one to Satan for the destruction of his flesh, so that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus.
Your boasting is not good. Do you not know that a little leaven leavens the whole lump of dough? Clean out the old leaven so that you may be a new lump, just as you are in fact unleavened. For Christ our Passover also has been sacrificed. Therefore let us celebrate the feast, not with old leaven, nor with the leaven of malice and wickedness, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.
I wrote you in my letter not to associate with immoral people; I did not at all mean with the immoral people of this world, or with the covetous and swindlers, or with idolaters, for then you would have to go out of the world. But actually, I wrote to you not to associate with any so-called brother if he is an immoral person, or covetous, or an idolater, or a reviler, or a drunkard, or a swindler—not even to eat with such a one. For what have I to do with judging outsiders? Do you not judge those who are within the church? But those who are outside, God judges. Remove the wicked man from among yourselves.
The appropriate response to revealed sin was supposed to be mourning, not pride. If we are proud over our sin—whatever it may be—we are not working toward sanctification.
The church body is meant to encourage each other in Christ, not in sin. We cannot celebrate sin with each other. Paul warns us. “I wrote to you not to associate with any so-called brother if he is an immoral person, or covetous, or an idolater, or a reviler, or a drunkard, or a swindler—not even to eat with such a one.”
Whose Body Is It?
Paul continues to address sexual sin.
1 Corinthians 6
Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ? Shall I then take away the members of Christ and make them members of a prostitute? May it never be! Or do you not know that the one who joins himself to a prostitute is one body with her? For He says, “The two shall become one flesh.” But the one who joins himself to the Lord is one spirit with Him. Flee immorality. Every other sin that a man commits is outside the body, but the immoral man sins against his own body. Or 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? For you have been bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body.
We are not our own.
Our bodies are no longer our own.
Our church is not our own. Our standards of fellowship are not our own.
Why? Why? Why? Why can’t we just let people who are openly sinning, pridefully sinning, continue to share fellowship with us? Can’t God redeem them anyway? Can’t He get through?
Um… we don’t get to dictate God’s methods. God is set on holiness. He loves every sinner more than we do. In fact, we don’t know how to love without Him.
When God wrote the ten commandments, when He communicated His standards, He wasn’t drawing a line in the sand. Sand can be reshaped and reworked. The line can be moved. No. God wrote on stone. He cut it. With His finger.
We don’t get to rewrite God’s standards because we want to be inclusive.
Sin leads to destruction. If people refuse to repent from sin, they need to know they are not “in Christ.”
Sorrow and Holiness
Now, after this harsh rebuke by Paul, this expulsion that seems “unfair,” we read of the sorrow.
2 Corinthians 2
But I determined this for my own sake, that I would not come to you in sorrow again. For if I cause you sorrow, who then makes me glad but the one whom I made sorrowful? This is the very thing I wrote you, so that when I came, I would not have sorrow from those who ought to make me rejoice; having confidence in you all that my joy would be the joy of you all. For out of much affliction and anguish of heart I wrote to you with many tears; not so that you would be made sorrowful, but that you might know the love which I have especially for you.
But if any has caused sorrow, he has caused sorrow not to me, but in some degree—in order not to say too much—to all of you. Sufficient for such a one is this punishment which was inflicted by the majority, so that on the contrary you should rather forgive and comfort him, otherwise such a one might be overwhelmed by excessive sorrow. Wherefore I urge you to reaffirm your love for him. For to this end also I wrote, so that I might put you to the test, whether you are obedient in all things. But one whom you forgive anything, I forgive also; for indeed what I have forgiven, if I have forgiven anything, I did it for your sakes in the presence of Christ, so that no advantage would be taken of us by Satan, for we are not ignorant of his schemes.
Paul is sorrowful. The church is sorrowful.
But most important, the man who was immoral is sorrowful, he is repentant, longing for forgiveness.
Now—now the man and the church have an understanding of God’s holiness. God’s holiness is not bendable to our wills. Our wills need to be molded by sanctification into His holiness. The man, who did not understand repentance before, has now repented, and sanctification can proceed.
Had this not happened, had Paul not held up the standard of holiness, people would have been led astray and would have fallen into unbelief.
The writer to the Hebrews says,
12 Take care, brethren, that there not be in any one of you an evil, unbelieving heart that falls away from the living God.
What? We can fall away from God?
We are warned. We need to take care not to have an evil, unbelieving heart.
How could this happen?
13 But encourage one another day after day, as long as it is still called “Today,” so that none of you will be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin.
Sin is deceitful. We don’t think it will harden our hearts, but it does.
We need to hold fast to Christ.
14 For we have become partakers of Christ, if we hold fast the beginning of our assurance firm until the end, while it is said,
“Today if you hear His voice,
Do not harden your hearts, as when they provoked Me.”
For who provoked Him when they had heard? Indeed, did not all those who came out of Egypt led by Moses? And with whom was He angry for forty years? Was it not with those who sinned, whose bodies fell in the wilderness? And to whom did He swear that they would not enter His rest, but to those who were disobedient? So we see that they were not able to enter because of unbelief.
Sin can harden hearts to the state of unbelief. Disobedience has consequences.
The story of the Israelites relates this reality.
Therefore, since it remains for some to enter it, and those who formerly had good news preached to them failed to enter because of disobedience, He again fixes a certain day, “Today,” saying through David after so long a time just as has been said before,
“Today if you hear His voice,
Do not harden your hearts.”
For if Joshua had given them rest, He would not have spoken of another day after that. So there remains a Sabbath rest for the people of God. For the one who has entered His rest has himself also rested from his works, as God did from His. Therefore let us be diligent to enter that rest, so that no one will fall, through following the same example of disobedience. For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart. And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are open and laid bare to the eyes of Him with whom we have to do.
We need to be diligent in guarding our hearts.
Our friends who claim Christ but feel predisposed to sin need to be encouraged to hear from God and not harden their hearts through sin.
It is serious, serious, serious. Hearts can fall away from belief.
Yet there is hope in Christ.
Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin. Therefore let us draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.
God will help us with all and any temptation.
We need to draw near to God and hold fast to Him and His ways.
Our friends need to draw near to God.
God will help.