On August 20th, read First Corinthians 3:1 - 23. Key verse is verse 21.
“Therefore let no one boast in men. For all things are yours:”
They were not able to receive what Paul wanted to give them because of pride. They were full of self-interest. They wanted to appear better than their neighbor. This will blind your eyes. They wanted to show themselves more important so they made up some fleshly criteria of importance.
This can’t be, for we are all one body on the same team. God is the one who makes anything happen, not us. We are merely His tools. Anything that is built contrary to that attitude will be destroyed on the Day of Judgment. We must realize who we belong to and humble ourselves to Him.
The wisdom of this world is so foolish to God because it is in opposition to surrendering to Him. It is so foolish to fight against an all-powerful God. We should not boast to men because it is God and not man who is over it all. Man is the created. He cannot create and make something out of nothing. Only God has it all in the palms of His hand.
Even one man is not above another man because God has brought them all under the same condemnation because of sin and all have sinned. He has saved them all by the same blood, the blood of Jesus. Every good gift in man and for man comes by God. Let him who wants to glory in anything glory only in the Lord.
The wonderful flip side to all this is that God has made it all available to every believer. All things are not just the property of Paul, Apollos and Cephas. They are all available to us as well. They are not the gifts of Paul but they are of God, to be dispersed as He sees fit. Paul is an important man, but so are you!
On August 21st, read First Corinthians 4:1 - 21. Key verse is verse 13.
“being defamed, we entreat. We have been made as the filth of the world, the off scouring of all things until now.”
The Christian life was completely different for Paul than his old life. When he was a “Pharisee of the Pharisees” he had power and authority. Everyone looked up to him. He had riches and prosperity but he was miserable and poor on the inside of his soul.
Now he had peace with God and the joy of the Holy Spirit but physically and relationally he was suffering. Paul shares this fact with the Corinthians because they had an entirely different viewpoint of the Christian life. Their idea was, “Accept Christ and become a powerful influencer in your world. You will be the head and not the tail. Reign as kings.” Paul presents a different picture to them.
In some ways they thought the life of Paul, Apollos and Cephas was all glory and glitz. Public ministry can look like that at times. But there is a price to pay. Paul was saying to them that they have more privilege as servants of Christ right now than Paul did in his present life and ministry. Paul’s picture of the Spirit-filled life is not what the Corinthians thought is was. It was not a place of glory and power in the world.
This is even true within the church. Rights decrease as position increases in the church. Responsibilities increase as you climb toward leadership in the church. You are always a servant. The party and the place of ease come later, much later. It is not for this world.
Our focus is not on prestige and material things, but on serving Christ and His church. It is on giving our life instead of seeing what we can take from life. God will reward us in the end.
On August 22nd, read First Corinthians 5:1 - 13. Key verse is verse 7.
“Therefore purge out the old leaven, that you may be a new lump, since you truly are unleavened. For indeed Christ, our Passover was sacrificed for us.”
Some are waiting for God to do something about sin. All the while they are waiting, the Lord is waiting for them to do something about sin.
The church of Corinth was loving and accepting, even proud that they were so big hearted that they could receive a person like this adulterous man. Who were they that they should judge this poor soul? “We’ll just love him,” they said.
Love is not contrary to holiness. True love comes from God. He is holy. He cannot bear to look at sin. When the sins of the world were upon Jesus, God turned the other way.
Sin becomes a terrible cancer affecting everything it touches. Love does surgery on it. True love cuts it out and throws it away. Love wants salvation for the whole body as well as the individual part. If health for the whole body was going to happen, this man must be separated from the church, by the church.
If not, he would destroy the church and himself by deception (thinking he is okay and that God and His body just winks at sin.) We have no business judging those outside the church, but it is our responsibility to judge our own family who, by the grace of God, we are a part of.
This adulterer might not have even known the consequences of his sin if he was allowed to continually be covered by the church. On a personal level, we too must examine ourselves and separate ourselves from any sin. Even the little sins we allow can destroy us without our realization. Let us never tolerate sin, it will, in time, destroy us.
On August 23rd, read First Corinthians 6:1 - 20. Key verse is verse 3.
“Do you not know that the saints will judge the world? And if the world will be judged by you, are you unworthy to judge the smallest matters?”
They were not able to judge against sin in their midst in the previous chapter nor could they even decide or judge between brothers in this chapter. No one wanted to hurt anyone else’s feelings.
If the worldly courts could decide for them, then they could remain friends to both sides. To the one who won the case, they could congratulate on how wise he was in using the world system for his benefit. To the one who lost, they could console and join him in pointing their finger at the unrighteous world system.
They could be an Absalom and say to both parties that they were right. But without making a stand, they open the church up to more confusion and more discord down the road. There is no understanding of the truth and how to apply it in this situation. The world’s courts should not be our example.
Even the church must do the hard thing at times. We have the foundational truth for all judgment. We must show how to apply it in practical, real life situations. It will not always be popular, especially to the rebellious and hardhearted, but it will purify the Body in the long run.
It is not that we don’t love each individual. It is not a decision against an individual over and above another individual. It is for righteousness that we make our decision. We, as a church, must be willing to exercise judgment in order to maintain righteousness in the body.
We should be much more qualified to judge, than the world. We have the Word of God (truth) to guide us, plus the Holy Spirit and the example of God Himself. Now we need to go ahead and judge our own stewardship in wisdom, confidence and love for individuals, love for the Body, love for the Lord and for the truth.
On August 24th, read First Corinthians 7:1 - 19. Key verse is verse 9.
“but if they cannot exercise self-control, let them marry. For it is better to marry than to burn with passion.”
Sounds like a pretty carnal, base reason to marry. Of course in Ephesians and Colossians and other places, the Bible gives us the rest of the story of marriage. It must be based on love, commitment and sacrifice as well as sexual relationship. But scripture does not remove the importance of sexual relationship from the essential important ingredients that make for a safe and happy marriage union.
This verse clearly shows us that the Lord has made us sexual creatures, with sexual needs. In the culture they were in, where sexual promiscuity was rampant, it was important to provide instruction on how to keep the marriage union strong. This is only one aspect to it, yet it is an important one and the only one mentioned here.
If you are going to make it easier for your man to stay at home, you must provide for his needs in this area. If you are going to keep your woman at home, you must provide for her affection needs (which doesn’t necessarily mean sex).
However, if your needs are not met, that does not give you an excuse to leave. Marriage is about you meeting your spouse’s needs, not him or her meeting yours. Yet, this counsel from the Apostle Paul recognizes the inherent sexual needs we have and so he, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, expresses the importance of meeting those needs.
Fasting and prayer are the only things mentioned that are above this need and then only for a time and with mutual consent. Giving yourself to each other in this way on a consistent basis will strengthen your marriage sometimes as much as prayer and fasting, depending upon the needs at the moment because this is putting actions to your prayers in fulfilling each other’s needs, physical as well as spiritual.
On August 25th, read First Corinthians 7:20 - 40. Key verse is verse 34.
“There is a difference between a wife and a virgin. The unmarried woman cares about the things of the Lord, that she may be holy both in body and in spirit. But she who is married cares about the things of the world - how she may please her husband.”
This is not a put down to those who are married. It is merely a statement of the facts on how they ought to be if one is a Christian. As a Christian, and unmarried, you should only have one focus, which is to please the Lord. But, if you are married, your focus changes.
We are still Christians and our ultimate goal is to please the Lord, but as married, we please the Lord by giving ourselves to each other. As Paul says here, “there is a difference.” We must not and cannot live the same as we always have. There is a difference how married Christians live and single Christians live. We can still be devoted Christians, but our ministry is different.
When married, your ministry is serving your spouse and family first of. Before you get married, Paul wants you to realize this. Paul does not really put a greater spirituality to singleness or being married, he does however believe that in times of worldly trials and persecution, the one who is single can be more focused and effective.
He also acknowledges the fact that all do not have this gift. For those who do not have this gift (which are the majority), it would be harder being unmarried than married, because they would be trying to move and operate outside of their gifting and calling. One is not more spiritual than the other. Nor is there any virtue in denying your God-given needs for the sake of self-sacrificial martyrdom.
Stay single or be married, whatever you choose, but know this, each life will be different from the other, but each will involve service and giving outside yourself and your needs. Both will be a ministry unto the Lord.
On August 26th, read First Corinthians 8:1 - 13. Key verse is verse 12.
“But when you thus sin against the brethren, and wound their weak conscience, you sin against Christ.”
Jesus and His people are one. If we love God and want to serve Him we must love each other and give ourselves for their growth, development and safety. How we live can affect other Christians. There are those who can actually perish because of our selfish living (by our not considering their weaknesses and individual scruples and understandings).
Even though the idol is nothing, the eternal principle of love is everything. Love shows itself in the practical affairs of life.
Sin is more than what you do, it is what you are thinking when you are doing it. To one, he is merely eating a meal. There is no sin in that. To another, he is eating a sacrifice to a god. It is part of worship or honor to a false god. The action is the same but to one it is a spiritual sin and to another it is physical nourishment.
However, if one eats with a total disregard for anyone else, it is sin to him too, a sin that will be judged at the judgment seat of Christ. The so-called strong (strong, not in character but in knowledge) will be held accountable for causing the “weak” brother to sin and slip back into old habits.
The weak brother will perish because he too will be held accountable for his own sin. He was vulnerable but was able to stand if he would have used the tools the Lord provided for him in the battle. Neither one has an excuse. A Christian does not live for himself, but for Christ and others. When living for His Body, the church is living for Christ.
On August 27th, read First Corinthians 9:1 - 27. Key verse is verse 25.
“And everyone who competes for the prize is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a perishable crown, but we for an imperishable crown.”
Paul, and every one of us, is running in a race. The course is laid out for us. The forerunner is Christ. We must follow Him.
Jesus was and is the possessor of all rights. As creator and Lord He had the right to do whatever He wanted to. He willingly chose to lay down His life (His rights) for our sakes. He subjected every physical need to the higher calling of redemption. He also did this in hope. “For the joy that was set before Him He endured the cross” (Hebrews 12:2b) He knew by faith that there would be a reward.
So it is with us. We cannot run this race as if we are playing a game. We do not run unsure of the course. We don’t fight at nothing as if beating the air. Our biggest challenge is ourselves. If we can deny ourselves the natural rights of man, for a greater cause, we will obtain the prize.
It is not that all physical things are denied of us; it is that they are subject to the goal of finishing the race. We are temperate in all things. Paul had a goal for the Corinthians. His right to financial support was thus made subject to this greater goal and greater good, their salvation.
Do we know what our goal really is? Have we subjected everything else to it? It isn’t that Paul would not have liked to bring along a wife or receive more income from them. (What is sacrifice if that wasn’t true?) But Paul saw a greater cause and goal than his own welfare, others. Yet he also had hope that he himself would be benefited in the end. You reap what you sow.
On August 28th, read First Corinthians 10:1 - 18. Key verse is verse 7.
“And do not become idolaters as were some of them. As it is written, ‘The people sat down to eat and drink, and rose up to play.’”
Though miraculously delivered from Egypt, though fed and clothed and protected by God in the wilderness, though every blessing they had was a miracle of His grace, they still died in the wilderness. Even though without Him they had no life or hope and even though Jesus, the bread from heaven and the water of life, followed them around through their wilderness wanderings, they still died in the wilderness.
Spiritual privilege does not guarantee eternal security because it doesn’t necessarily change the heart. That is up to us, our will cooperating with the Spirit of the Lord.
They still lusted for things that they were denied. They still worshipped idols and committed sexual immorality. They tempted Christ and complained about how they were being cared for. In other words, they remained in their sin.
Verse seven is illustrative of their evil direction. Their direction was always focused on themselves and their physical, temporal enjoyment. The worse idol they had was the idol of their own pleasure. This idol will never be satisfied.
When they were slaves in Egypt they cried out for deliverance from their oppressors. They knew they deserved better than how they were treated. But after crossing the Red Sea, instead of giving their lives to their Savior, their focus remained on themselves. Everything they received, they consumed on their own pleasures. Instead of a gift from God, they treated each blessing as a right they deserved.
They were their own idol or god. Their god was their belly. And as it will be in the last days, so it was with them. They died in the wilderness.
Eating and drinking and playing is not what life is all about. It is about serving the Lord first. As we put Him first, all these things shall be added unto you.
On August 29th, read First Corinthians 10:19 - 33. Key verse is verse 26.
“for ‘the earth is the Lord’s and all its fullness’
This verse from Psalm 24 is quoted twice with different applications. The first application is that, because it all belongs to God, we have the privilege to eat whatever is set before us. It is all clean. God is greater than the idols or the demons. Eat it as if it belongs to God (for in truth it does) and you will be okay.
The second application is, because people, especially Christians, belong to God, don’t eat everything. People are more important than food. It all belongs to God, therefore you don’t have the right to just eat or do whatever you please.
The evil is not in the food itself but in the attitudes regarding eating or not eating. This is the new reality. Verse 24 is the key to our living, “Let no one seek his own, but each the other’s well being.” By lack of appropriate consideration the very demons of hell have freedom to operate within even the most innocent things such as food. Selfishness opens the door.
The counsel here was to carry on your life in faith toward God and not fear toward demon powers. Understand that it all belongs to God. But if someone draws your attention toward how some were using that food for an evil purpose and felt it wrong under God to eat it, instead of arguing with them and trying to prove a theological point, just don’t eat it.
It is not that big of a deal. What is a big deal is the perseverance of the faith of the individual who told you about it. He belongs to the Lord. Let’s not do anything to cause him to stumble.
On August 30th, read First Corinthians 11:1 - 16. Key verse is verse 7.
“For a man indeed ought not to cover his head, since he is the image and glory of God; but woman is the glory of man.”
I am sure this is not a memory verse for most Bible study groups. At first glance it sounds too demeaning to women and too arrogant producing for men. But taken with the right attitude, it is neither.
It has nothing to do with worth or value in God’s eyes. It does however speak to the line of authority and roles in relationships. Any organization or body needs clear lines of authority set in motion. The question, “Who is in charge here?” has to be asked and clearly answered.
The Bible delineates that very clearly as follows; God – Christ – man (husband) – woman (wife) – children. This is not chauvinistic, but realistic order. This also clarifies roles.
Each person does not run his own life and career irrespective of the other. Jesus does not do His own will but that of the Father. The man submits his will to that of Christ and makes that his will. The wife submits her will to that of serving her husband. Every woman knows that men need lots of help. That is her calling, to help him be the man of God he was called to be.
The scripture also says that a husband is to love his wife and nurture her. But that is not the point or focus of this portion of scripture. Each one ought to fulfill their role regardless of the other’s response. It is not a wait and see approach as to whether we will do our part if they do theirs. The roles and lines of authority are already set.
As we obey the Lord, the Lord will exalt us. Women might have a greater place in heaven, as they have been obedient to their calling here on earth for the Lord highly exalts the humble. Jesus was the greatest servant. He is our example.
On August 31st read First Corinthians 11:17-34. Key verse is verse 31
“For if we would judge ourselves, we would not be judged.”
The Lord’s Supper is a time of personal reflection. It is a time to examine our own lives. This privilege is given to all saints. In the privacy of their own hearts, before God or anyone else has a chance to condemn us, we, by God’s grace, have been given time and ability to judge ourselves.
David prays, “see if there be any wicked way in me,” but God puts it back in our lap as He says, “You look, examine your own heart, consider yourself, use the Holy Spirit’s search light, your life is your stewardship, your responsibility." God says, " I’ve given you a chance for self-examination that you might freely give your sin to me so that I might cleanse it.”
The sin here in the Corinthians, that needs to be looked for, is the sin of pride, putting one above another (v.18,19), the sin of selfishness and inconsideration and lack of love for all members of Christ’s Body. How it must have grieved the Lord to see them get together and leave more hurt and fragmented than when they came (v.17). This was a terrible sin against His body.
Natural judgment against it was already falling. This natural judgment was not anything that the Lord was doing to them rather it was just a part of reaping and sowing that was set in motion by the Lord at the very beginning of creation. This was the natural consequences of their behavior. More judgment would follow if the individuals would not stop and take a look at themselves.
How we treat one another in the body of Christ is how we are treating Christ. It is in the Lord’s Supper that should show the example of the oneness we ought to enjoy and the identification of the self-sacrificial conduct of Christ that all may be free.
Are we one with Him and His purity and love for each other? Have we examined our hearts and surrendered our sin to Him, asking Him to forgive us and help us? We have this opportunity today. Don't wait for a more convenient time.
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