Wednesday, August 18, 2010

BIBLICAL PEACEMAKING #2


TEXT :  1 Corinthians  6:9-11 
TITLE :  Biblical Peacemaking  #2 
DATE PREACHED :  The Lord's Day , 15th August 2010


Today , I shall attempt  to conclude  the message  that  I  began last week  on the subject of  “Biblical peacemaking” .  If you were here last week you will remember  that in Ch 6:1-8  we  had  observed  yet another great flaw in this church . In matters of common dispute the members of the Corinthian church  were  apparently dragging each other  to the  gentile courts  instead of resolving matters internally , within the church with the wisdom given by  Christ  . In so doing the gospel of Christ was blasphemed by the gentiles  ( Rom 2:24)
In the light  of such poor  conflict  resolution  capacity ,  we needed to pause and ask ourselves:  What   is  the cure  to such ?

Last week we  learned three  important things  :  
1.  We need to understand the  root of all  strife and conflict  : In order that we may solve a problem we need to understand  the  nature of the problem . James asks the question  :  What  causes  quarrels  and fights?    He  answers , “  it is  your desires and passions  that are at war with in you”.  He expands further  : “it is a friendship with the  philosophies of the world rather  than  the theology of God “  that  is at the heart  of all strife and conflict . (James 4:1ff) . This also is precisely Paul’s point  in  Chapters 1 & 2,   where he shows the Corinthians that  the employment  of  the  wisdom of the world  leads essentially    to   a lack of true wisdom  in all things  and thus by way of primary application  it leads  to  poor relationships .
Let everyone examine themselves  : Whatever rules your heart   will ultimately give ventilation  to your desires !

2. We need to  understand that  the authority of Scripture ( the gospel) applies to every aspect of our lives.  The whole gospel must rule our whole life . That is the goal of preaching  : to bring a people to a place of submission to the word of God. The primary objective of all  Bible teaching must be to bring the congregation to a place of submission to the word of God and thus to a position of submission to one another . Once you  are there you can solve every problem  ! With reference to conflict  we  need to learn to submit to one another out of reverence for Christ (Eph  5:21) . If  only we always lived with Philippians  2:1-5  in mind , there would be  no such situation as we find  described here  in Chapter 6 . The Corinthians  at this stage  lived  and thought   like  fleshly , carnal people  and not like  spiritual people ( 3:1) . The outworking of this was  that   they ignored the church   and  instead they  went  to the world to have their differences settled  (vv 1-6)  .  The second thing was   that they ignored  basic Christian thinking  , and so they  sought revenge ( our default response)  rather than a Christian response.
So Paul asks   :   "Why don't you rather  be defrauded  ? Why not rather  be wronged ? “ The principle of  non retaliation in the face of personal  attack  is described in  Matthew 5 :38 – 42 (and  5:43-48), and it is in view here. How do you respond to  your enemy who seeks to harm you   ?  You do not resist him .  You  bless him. You do good to him. When he uses you, you pray for him.   This is what I mean  by  biblical logic , and radical  obedience to the Scripture .  You may  say  : “ Forgive my enemy  – the one who destroyed my future  and robbed me of my innocence? ” Tell yourself  that your future is with Christ and tell yourself that there is no one innocent – all have sinned  and have fallen  short of the glory of God ! ( Rom 3:23)  .
In so doing remember  also  Matt 5:45   :   "That you may be the sons of your Father who is in heaven."   When we do this,  we  are  applying the  authority of the Scriptures  and thereby we  manifest the character of God in the world. Let everyone examine themselves to see whether we are really obedient to the whole  Scriptures – particularly with  respect  to the biblical art of peacemaking !

3.  We  need to understand the  implications of what it means to belong to a  covenant community in Christ !    The church  is  the body of Christ.  We  have  been  united to one another through the blood of  Christ. That blood is stronger than the strongest glue .  That blood truly unites us  . This plain principle  is what the Corinthians overlooked : they were not a set of individuals  in a service organization . They were a covenant community-  bought by the precious blood of Christ ! Let everyone examine themselves  with respect  to their understanding  of living in a covenant community .

4. This brings us to the fourth point , which  I  would draw out of  verses 9-11.
All Christians  must learn to understand  their  status, our position  in Christ , and  we stop acting  in terms of what we were  , and behave in terms of  who we are in Christ.  We must  become  who we are !  
9 Or do you not know that the unrighteous  will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality,  10 nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. 11 And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.

“do you not know that the unrighteous  will not inherit the kingdom of God ?...” 
The wrong  treatment  of each other  amounts to   act of  “unrighteousness” .  Paul is asking them  : Why are you acting like this  ?  Your  behavior is totally inconsistent with who you are. The way you treat each other is more characteristic of the godless people who  will have no  part in the kingdom of God . You're acting like you haven't even been changed. And then he   says :

Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality,  nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God.”   
The list of sins here  that are illustrative of  a lifestyle that is completely incompatible  with  being a Christian.

Let us consider them briefly    :  the  sexually immoral   ;  idolaters (those who  cling  to  false gods or  false religions )  ; the adulterers  ( those who are  unfaithful in marriage) ;  men who practice homosexuality  ( there are  actually two words used here :   one is translated as ‘ effeminate ‘   or more literally  ‘ to exchange one sexual role for another’ - as in  being a transvestite  ; the other  word  may be translated as  ‘homosexual ‘) ;  thieves  ( Gr. klepto – from which we get the word ‘ kleptomaniac’); the greedy; the  drunkards  (its scary  to  see  how much  drunkenness there is among young people in our society)  ; slanderers , revilers and swindlers (  con-artists).  All of these things are  acts of unrighteousness , and if these are persisted in,  all of these things  are sure signs  that  a man or woman   will  not  inherit the kingdom of God , which is another way  of saying that they will  be cast out  into utter darkness  in that place where  there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth  ( Matt 22:13;  24:51 ; 25 :30).
Please note that  Paul puts  this quarrelsome spirit  into the categories  of the sins here mentioned  !  Such a quarrelsome spirit in the church  is a sign  of the absence  of the Spirit  - and such  will not inherit the kingdom of God .
Now , Paul says  in verse 11,

" And such were some of you."
This is what they were ! They no longer are.  They are a new creation ( 2 Cor 5:17)
And what are they now ? 

"But you were washed,…but you are sanctified, but you are justified."
Three times he uses the word  “but “for the purpose of  contrast ( the ESV does not bring this out clearly  , but the Greek does)  .   So Paul says :  “You were like this , but  you were washed  ; you were like this but you were sanctified ; you were like this,  but you are justified …” . A powerful transformation has taken place , and a  new life  demands a new lifestyle.

So when you consider the  Corinthians sinning like this  , you must be  asking serious questions .  Now we know that the church isn't full of perfect people.  But  the church is full of transformed sinners , who are easily  led to repentance when they  have sinned , because  they know the voice of their Master  ( e.g. David  & Peter – when they sinned , and the sin was made known they repented )  
Conversion means  transformation !
He breaks the power of cancelled sin,
He sets the prisoner free.
His blood can make the foulest clean;
His blood avails  for me.

Christ can transform the worst of sinners .   And that  fact may be one of the greatest  proofs  of  Christianity .  The transformation of lives.  Aren’t you amazed  to see how Christ has transformed you?  I know that  we all  wish that our progress in spiritual things were greater and faster . We can all testify  to being  tempted , and  we all confess that we do  still sin from time to time, but  thank God  that Jesus has cancelled the power of sin over our lives.  The  habitual evil of your life is no longer the constant pattern. The Holy Spirit  progressively works out  holiness  and sanctification in you . That is the story of the people  of the  Eastside Baptist Church. All kinds of people  have been  transformed here over the years . You know what I mean .
One of the  most spectacular conversions  I have ever been privileged to see was  the conversion of  Neville Branquino . Neville Branquino was a hard drinking, wife abusing captain of a fishing boat in Walvis Bay in the early 80’s, when I was a young Christian. He was on a bottle of strong liquor a day, and he chased preachers from his property with a gun. As a result of his alcoholic excesses  he developed diabetes.  In those days the treatment for diabetics was less advanced. He went into frequent comas. This time the doctors thought the end had come. I remember us regularly praying at the Walvis Bay Baptist Church for him. He had a very godly wife, Winnie who had been converted in 1978.  My pastor and she knelt beside his bed and asked the Lord to deliver him one more time from death. God did! And   when Neville woke up from his coma (it was a miracle) he repented of all his sin and   the Lord Jesus took over his life in a radical fashion. He was baptized at the age of 70 +   and lived for 2 more years and he became the most generous, humble    worshipper of God. This foulmouthed  abusive man wash washed , sanctified , justified  .

When we are in Christ  we are  new creatures.  We are transformed . So you can’t take  your brother to court . You work it out in the spirit of Matthew 18:15-20 .   Admittedly it is easy to become angry with someone in the church , over their  neglect   or the way they have hurt you  or  whatever . But if you are transformed by the grace of Jesus  , you  will let your new mind rule you .
The question is  this . Who are you now ?  What  mercy have you received  ? What transformation  has taken place ?  Once you have answered that  it is but one  simple decision  that you have to make : Follow Jesus . Do what He did with His enemies .  Forgive  your enemies as He forgave you .

Invitation
Perhaps you are here this morning  and you have heard me talking  from the Scripture about the power of a transformed life . And perhaps you have seen for the first time  that  you lack the power of the gospel – the power of true transformation. You clearly see that you are a guilty man or woman  . You have realized  that  you have never  been  washed and you've never been justified,  and you've never been sanctified. And  today you realize that you will  not inherit the kingdom of God. You realize  that you are living in the sin that characterizes the ungodly , and you now  know that  you need  to come to God through Christ  for the  complete forgiveness of your sins .  COME!  The good news is  that Christ is here ,  offering you  free and full forgiveness , if you will  come now  and  trust Him to  transform you  into a new creature .
A word for sinning Christians: If you are  a Christian and you know that you have slipped into a ‘Corinthian mode’  ,  then you ought to seek the Lord for forgiveness in that regard. Remember   who you are , and remember that you cannot  go on  sinning lest you prove to be a non-Christian after all .
And may the Lord be pleased to make us all a productive, loving   people , full of Grace and Truth. Amen .

No comments: