Wednesday, November 28, 2012

1 Corinthians 8-9

But if anyone loves God, he is known by God.  1 Corinthians 8:3

Chapter eight of first Corinthians speaks about knowledge in relation to idols, or eating food that had been offered to idols. In the first century the Church was made up of Gentiles who were coming out of pagan religions and one of the things those region performed in there services were to offer sacrifices up to there gods or idols.  Some of the Christians who were pagan worshippers were having a problem with some of the other Christians who had no problem eating meat bought in the market that had been offered to these idols. Paul is telling them that these idols are nothing, they have no existence and that it really is ok to eat the meat offered to idols.

Paul asks those who eat the meat to be considerate of those brothers who are weaker, thinking that it is wrong to eat anything offered to idols. An idol could be defined as any person or thing that is regarded with blind admiration, adoration or devotion. We could place it more exact by saying what is it that we focus our attention on most of the time, what do we think about most, what drives us. These things could be our idols. A Christian is someone who has been brought into the kingdom of God by the sacrifice of Jesus Christ. The kingdom of God should have some place in our thoughts, our actions. As a matter of fact we can easily see what it is we really worship, by examining our own thoughts, what it is we look at most, what is it that we think about most. We cannot worship the only living and true God without that becoming a major focus of our life. Its just impossible for us not to think about God, for us not to have a desire to read about Him, to pray to Him, for no other reason, than that we have His Spirit in us. The only reason we are not serving idols is because we have the Spirit of God in us. He warns us when we get out of line, when we sin, He lets us know His displeasure. We have a desire to know more about Him. Thanks to His Spirit in us.

Paul says that it is not so much that we know things, what is important is that if you really love God, He knows you - that's what is important - that God know us -and this is in a loving Father/child mode that he is talking about. I am reading a book by Dr. Andrew Kuyper on the Works of the Holy Spirit. In it, Dr. Kuyper says that the Holy Spirit is in us forever, once we are saved and He comes to dwell in us, He is there forever, the amazing thing, Dr. Kuyper says is that He is in us now! in our corruption, with our sin. The Holy Spirit is HOLY! He is working the works of God in and through us now. If we meditate on that for awhile we will see how God truly loves us.

in chapter nine we see Paul defending himself against those who questioned his apostleship. Paul was being attacked like this in just about everyone of the areas where he established Churches. In most of his letters he is forced to address this issue over and over. This can certainly be attributed to Satan in his fight against the truth, and God. We need to see that it was mostly a small group of people who keep this issue going, we can see from the intimacy of Paul's letters that he loved the brethren and we can also see when we look at his letters that he was loved in return.

Paul displays his pastoral affection and his seriousness to the task assigned him by God. He says that he endures anything rather than to put an obstacle in the way of the gospel of Christ (9:12). That is the attitude of a preacher that is truly sent from God. Paul said that he had the right as an Apostle to receive help from the Churches, but he choose to not receive that help but to work for his own. Imagine that today with all the multi-millionaire preachers. Also, with that as the measurement of success in ministry. Paul says he was not preaching for reward because he was not preaching due to his own calling to ministry but he was under compulsion by God to preach, he said woe! to me if i do not preach the gospel! (9:16) Recall Paul conversion on the road to Damascus - He was knocked off his horse and blinded by God - (Acts 9) Paul saw his ministry as a stewardship saying that his reward was to present the gospel free of charge. Paul says "I have become all things to all people, that by all means I might save some, I do it all for the sake of the gospel, that I may share with them in its blessings." (9:22-23)  

 Paul closes chapter nine with some sound advice for us all, he says he disciplines his body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others, he should be disqualified. No matter where we go in the Bible we are brought face to face with the true fallen human nature. We know that the Corinthian Church believers were pagan worshippers and that entails sexual activities with temple prostitutes, the sexual element is always there because it is the most prevalent activities that the early Church and the society around had to deal with and so it is for us today - we are living in Sodom and Gomorrah and the culture loves it - Sodom and Gomorrah were only two cities in Abraham's time - but it is the culture of the world today. God's Word is a light shining on the path we are to walk. If we love God, we must love His Word. In order to love His Word, we must read His Word and in order to read His Word our heart must be changed and the Holy Spirit must be abiding there causing us to cry  out "Abba Father."


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