Tuesday November 19, 2019
So soon after the birth of their church, already the Corinthians were accepting that pernicious conception of Christianity that looks upon it as merely a new luxury, that they who are already comfortable in all outward respects may be comforted in spirit as well and purge their minds from all anxieties, questionings, and strivings. They recognized how happy a thing it is to be forgiven, to be a peace with God, to have a sure hope of eternal life - all of which are the wonderful experience of all Christians. But for them the battle was over, the conquest won, the throne ascended. As yet they had not caught a glimpse of what involved in becoming holy as Christ is holy, nor had steadily conceived in their minds the profound inward change which must pass upon them.
A view of life on par with the life of Christ had not dawned upon their [Corinthians] carnal souls.
1CO 4:6 Now these things, brethren, I have figuratively applied to myself and Apollos for your sakes, that in us you might learn not to exceed what is written, in order that no one of you might become arrogant in behalf of one against the other.
1CO 4:7 For who regards you as superior? And what do you have that you did not receive? But if you did receive it, why do you boast as if you had not received it?
1CO 4:8 You are already filled, you have already become rich, you have become kings without us; and I would indeed that you had become kings so that we also might reign with you.
“had become kings” - in the real sense as Christ in King and overcomer.
1CO 4:9 For, I think, God has exhibited us apostles last of all, as men condemned to death; because we have become a spectacle to the world, both to angels and to men.
1CO 4:10 We are fools for Christ's sake, but you are prudent in Christ; we are weak, but you are strong; you are distinguished, but we are without honor.
1CO 4:11 To this present hour we are both hungry and thirsty, and are poorly clothed, and are roughly treated, and are homeless;
1CO 4:12 and we toil, working with our own hands; when we are reviled, we bless; when we are persecuted, we endure;
1CO 4:13 when we are slandered, we try to conciliate; we have become as the scum of the world, the dregs of all things, even until now.
1CO 4:14 I do not write these things to shame you, but to admonish you as my beloved children.
1CO 4:15 For if you were to have countless tutors in Christ, yet you would not have many fathers; for in Christ Jesus I became your father through the gospel.
1CO 4:16 I exhort you therefore, be imitators of me.
Is Christianity only a soothing of fears or is it also an answer to a bugle call to fight the good fight? Is Christianity a means of comforting our own souls or is it also a call to live under the power of the Spirit which prompted Christ to all sacrifice?
Paul’s sacrifice for the cause of Christ led him to his life. We might easily say thank you to Paul for doing all the hard work so that we could be comfortable. He is not asking us all to become homeless. He is asking us to be Christlike in sacrificial love and be willing to accept all the consequences that come with it.
When Paul writes, “be imitators of me,” he is not asking us to mimic him, but that there is not one standard for him and another for us. The Corinthians at the time had a different standard of living and it made their lives luxurious and aggrandized while Paul’s standard brought suffering upon himself.
The life of Christ brought a brand new way into the world. Christians have missed that life by being sunk in self-seeking and worldliness, and being so blinded by the customs and traditional ideas about spending life, about acquitting ourselves well and making a name, about earning a competence, about everything which turns the regard upon self instead of outwards upon others, and their lives continue so unapostolic, so unprofitable, so unchanged.
We might ask, “Why does God want me to live like Him when I am not Him, but a fallen sinner?” God gives us the opportunity of sinking our selfishness, which is in the last analysis our sin, and of living for a worthier object than our own pleasure or our own careful preservation. By nature of who we are, our own pleasure and self-preservation are bad. By nature of who God is, His pleasure is perfectly good and preservation is a given. This must be cultivated by each of us until it is attained consistently and powerfully. By doing this, we have the same impact on the world around us that Christ would have if He were in your place. Now that’s good!
Passions rule the natural man. Christ must rule the spiritual man.
GAL 5:24 Now those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.
GAL 5:25 If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit.
It is through the knowledge of Christ, taught to the spiritual man since human eye, ear, nor mind can comprehend them, that empowers a man to lay aside the rulership of passions and to take on the mantle of the rulership of Christ.
1TH 4:1 Finally then, brethren, we request and exhort you in the Lord Jesus, that, as you received from us instruction as to how you ought to walk and please God (just as you actually do walk), that you may excel still more.
1TH 4:2 For you know what commandments we gave you by the authority of the Lord Jesus.
1TH 4:3 For this is the will of God, your sanctification; that is, that you abstain from sexual immorality;
1TH 4:4 that each of you know how to possess his own vessel in sanctification and honor,
1TH 4:5 not in lustful passion, like the Gentiles who do not know God;
1TH 4:6 and that no man transgress and defraud his brother in the matter because the Lord is the avenger in all these things, just as we also told you before and solemnly warned you.
Always do good to your fellow man and let God deal with the justice of things. Love sets us apart from the way of the world.
"By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another."
1TH 4:7 For God has not called us for the purpose of impurity, but in sanctification.
1TH 4:8 Consequently, he who rejects this is not rejecting man but the God who gives His Holy Spirit to you.
God’s life is not a part of the fallen world, yet God has invaded this world. What God invaded the world with, the humanity of Christ, doesn’t appeal to anything worldly. God did not fashion or change Himself in some way that might appeal to man. This is why man finds the truth so foreign or alien to himself. The gospel is a radical usurpation of all that man deems important, and so to many, the word of the cross is foolishness.
God always does what is right. He is not tempted to do anything else. He cannot sin.
We praise God for who He is. But He can be nothing else. He did not overcome something to become what He is. He has always been the same. Mankind has forever found it difficult to identify with perfect, unchangeable deity. Yet, He is not God if He can be anything else.
Then, at the proper time, God became a man. We’ll be celebrating the birth of Christ soon. It is the most incredible, inexplicable thing to happen for all time. He exposed Himself to choice, temptation, weakness, change - He exposed Himself to humanity. And that is what we can identify with.