Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Touching Base, Part 220

TB 220
Lost in the City 2013 – PART 5
27 Oct 13

This Touching Base is a useful tool for small group discussion, personal reflection or in a one-on-one conversation. We believe that if the Sunday teaching is discussed outside of the morning services, it will be an opportunity to go deeper and build healthy community because God's Word needs to be discussed in community.

Christians can be deceived into thinking too little of the Gospel.

What this statement means is that there are plenty of Christians in our day and age who have reduced the Gospel to asking for very little, demanding next to nothing. They think they are “in”. They think they are saved… but are they? If you are reading this as a group take some time to agree or disagree with the statement and defend your position biblically.

Text: 1 Corinthians 6:9-11


As we have seen in our last several weeks of study, the Corinthians were guilty of several things. One of the factors that lay at the root of the problem was that they had made an unhealthy dichotomy between the Spirit and the body. They apparently believed that behavior in this present life had little or no effect on one’s true spirituality. Despite their continuing existence in the body, the Corinthians consider themselves to be the “spiritual ones,” already as the angels. Hence, since from their perspective the body is eschatologically insignificant (6:13,15:12) neither does it have present significance. (1 Corinthians, Gordon Fee)

Sounds weird right? Yet that belief of “what I do in the body doesn't really matter,” lives on today in the Christian community. There are people confessing Christ but not displaying a changed life. There are those that attend church but don’t look anything like the Head of that Church. Some can recite doctrine but, for whatever reason, don’t live it out 24/7.

Question: How does Paul demonstrate the demands of the Gospel to these Corinthians?

There are three key verbs that he uses to help them wake up from their deception. Before we get to the verbs themselves, note what he says beforehand.

V.9-10 What is the question? What is the problem?
Deceived - To be misled from a proper course of action. The issue is that some were being deceived.
Note the list of v.9-10.
How politically incorrect is it to state that a Christian who is living a homosexual lifestyle is deceived? Just in case there is any doubt what Paul may mean by homosexuality, refer to Romans 1.

V.11 “And that is what some of you were.”
• This is a phrase that clues us into their history. They could like us say “Hi my name is … and I am a recovering…. How would your group fill in the blanks?
• This is a phrase that demonstrates the infinite love of God. God reached down into their broken world when they were far from God and saved them.
• This is a phrase that demonstrates the power of the Gospel. That is what they were, but now they are different. Well, let’s say they are supposed to be different; this is where the problem is. What they were, is still what some of them are in practice.

So back to our question - How does Paul demonstrate the demands of the Gospel to these Corinthians? Note the three verbs that are in the past tense, highlighting something God has done in their lives, referring to their conversion.

1. Washed

This word literally means “to wash something off”. But it is not a surface wash, like when you dust a shelf or clean a window. It is a wash that penetrates deeply into the core and it is for our good.

For example in the Old Testament, “loúein” is commonly the rendering of the Hebrew “rāḥas”, which means “to wash,” “to bathe. There was the idea of a ritual cleansing. See Lev. 11:40 for one example. There are several examples of this in the Old Testament. However the idea of cleansing or washing goes deeper in the OT. There was a need for moral cleansing. See Isaiah 1:15-16, Psalm 51:7. When we come to the New Testament we see Paul using this exact Greek word that he uses in our study text in Acts 22:16. Again note the moral dimension, the spiritual implications and the transformation implied. Then note what Jesus said about the need for washing:

Matthew 23:25
"Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You clean the outside of the cup and dish, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence.

Notice who is doing the washing. V11 “… in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ (demonstrating authority) and by the Spirit of our God.``(demonstrating the internal, invasive nature of the wash)

“The Holy Spirit’s ministry is to take the truths about Jesus and make them clear to our minds and real to our hearts- so real that they console and empower and change us at our very core.” The Meaning of Marriage, Tim Kellar, page 51.

Notice something else, even though it is a powerful profound wash, the temptation to go back and walk on old path can be powerful as well.

How do you think Paul is doing so far with helping demonstrate the bigness of this Gospel?

2. Sanctified

Paul continues to drill down by moving on to the idea of sanctification. Please note that these three verbs are very much connected and Paul is not listing these words in order of importance.

This word has the idea of being set apart for service to God.
Set apart- Not meaning to separate from living in the world (monasticism) but coming away from attitudes, behaviors and beliefs that run contrary to God’s truths. See 1 Corinthians 5:9,10
Dedicate - As one comes away from old patterns and paths they move toward God. When we come to faith, the Spirit sets us apart and makes us His sons and daughters. We are His children and we are to live like His children. See Romans 12:1,2

This whole process of washing and sanctifying involves a new wardrobe: “I delight greatly in the LORD; my soul rejoices in my God. For he has clothed me with garments of salvation and arrayed me in a robe of his righteousness, as a bridegroom adorns his head like a priest, and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels.” Is 61:10

See Romans 4 for the wardrobe upgrade.

Discuss the following:

Uniform versus Costume
A costume is something you put on and pretend that you are what you are wearing. A uniform, on the other hand, reminds you that you are, in fact, what you wear.

One person tells the story of his first day in US Army basic training when we were each given a box and ordered to put all our civilian clothes in it. The box was mailed to our home address. Every day after that, the uniform we put on reminded us that we had entered a period of disciplined training designed to change our attitudes and actions.

How is this working out in your life? What are the greatest challenge areas?
How would you describe your civilian clothes in contrast to the new uniform you are now wearing?

Christians can be deceived into thinking too little of the Gospel. Paul is crafting his argument to demonstrate that the Gospel demands a changed life. One more verb to go.

3. Justified

This word means “to be put right, set free, acquit, to cause to be put in right relationship.”
It may be difficult in some languages to find a succinct expression equivalent to ‘to be put right with.’ Sometimes the closest equivalent may be ‘to be related to as one should be.’

This is an interesting verb in light of what Paul has just talked about. Verses 1-8 are all about getting them to be related to each other as they should be. Unresolved issues, poorly-dealt-with issues have compromised their horizontal relationships. Sin has distorted their relationships to one another. Note that sin has done the same to our relationship with God. But when we come in repentance, He washes us, sanctifies us and justifies us so we can relate to God as we should.

Paul sums up his argument very clearly in 2 Corinthians 5:17:

“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!”

Will there be Christ followers that struggle with the issues listed by Paul? Absolutely. However, let’s not dumb down the Gospel to accommodate our struggles, but by the power of the Spirit call people to a new level. After all He has washed, sanctified and justified us.

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