16. JUDGMENT ON SIN...
PABLUM LESSON?, OR MEAT LESSON?
Psalm 99:1-9 (KJV)
1 The LORD reigneth; let the people tremble:
The pablum version of this message is that Jesus loves judgment.
The people, the sinful people should tremble.
The blessed additional truth is that He loves mercy and forgiveness more.
Jesus came to make a way for us not to be judged, He died to save us from our sins. The mercy-seat is His throne. His judgments are never tyrannical. He is sovereign, and yet, He delights in right. His powers are used for just purposes.
This passage reminds us of Moses, Aaron, Samuel, who were sure that the Lord was just, and they humbly submitted to Him, rejoicing in the omnipotent God.
Jesus is just and fair. He is merciful, but allows mankind to choose, not be forced to honor Him and His laws. He is just, and allows the rebellious to depart and suffer sin’s consequences.
Jesus is still more than fair, to keep mercifully pleading with mankind to reconsider their wrong decisions. Those that wrong and offend will be cut off, will be judged. (Matthew 13) That is a fact that should make sinners tremble. Justice is instituted and executed in the kingdom of King Jesus.
The world’s nations are often ruled by despots, by sinful men whose goals supersede the rights and needs of the people. They make their people victims to their ideas, and are often cunning, often play favoritism, and sometimes brute force to establish their own goals.
The kingdom of King Jesus is not a robbers den, nor a despot’s castle, nor a dungeon for those who disagree. The history books of this world record the many tears of victims of evil rulers. Yet, we Christians have King Jesus, and as citizens of His kingdom, we have no wrong ever recorded in history of anything Jesus has ever done unjustly to a Christian.
Those who wrong Christians are said to be better off to have a mill stone put around their neck, and to jump into the ocean. Jesus is strong and mighty. Those that wrong His children need to tremble.
Jesus loves judgment, but loves mercy so much the more. He uses His powers in righteousness, and executes only perfect, fair, mercy-offering justice. He judges mankind for only their own works, and forgets all their works of which they have repented.
Therefore, let us magnify and exalt Jesus, let us give Him worship. Though the world need 'tremble', we need only to accept His loving mercy.
Newly converted Christians have a battle against the sins and habits of the old creation. Their environment is likely the same, and the television shows still are filled with sinful encouragements, and the flesh of mankind still leans toward sin.
It was like living with neighbors on one side who have sexual orgies, who streak naked through the neighborhood, and then have bars or saloons on the other side of your home. Then if you have pagan temples on the opposite side of the street, and next to that a so called church which condones sin and says it is all right, then you would have a faint idea of how it is for the new Christian, to now be a new creation, a new desire to live for Jesus, a life of salvation in mercy, but not condoning blatant and sinful living.
Paul's visited such people as the neighbors described above, still in sin, still in shameful carnal lusts... and Paul addressed those who were saved, and now wanting to serve the Lord in purity and in holiness, despite the surroundings of this world.
I Corinthians 2:3
"And I was with you in weakness, and in fear, and in much trembling."
Paul spoke to Aquila and Priscilla, two tentmakers in the city, who became his friends, and truly loved the Lord. Paul lived there one and a half years. Silas and Timothy joined him there and helped him establish the church.
Some in that city opposed Paul so much, that he finally turned to the Gentiles. The unconverted, not yet ever committed to Jesus, were easier to witness to, easier to lead to Jesus, than the 'churched, but not converted' in the town.
After Paul left the city, some in the church proved they were not truly changed in nature, were not really committed to serving Jesus, and let the lusts, carnal desires, sinful passions again rule them. Paul wrote the letter of I Corinthians because of an oral report on the church from Stephanas, Fortunatas, and Achaicus - who were servants of Cloe. It was only three years after he had left this city, in about 59 A.D., that many had become 'babes' (at best) again, and were no longer able to digest 'meat', but were on 'milk', pablum, baby food, of spiritual teaching.
Paul leaned that there was strife that centered about the different personalities of preachers, and he learned that one church member who was living in incestuous sin with his stepmother, and some of the members were taking each other to court, and there was abuse of the spiritual gifts of the Spirit, and a lack of love for each other, a lack of an orderly, decent worship service.
The church at Corinth needed correction with all these areas.
Yet, they were proud, and thought they were a spiritual congregation. They felt angry and insulted to be told they were perhaps not even saved, or at best totally 'carnal' i.e. meatheaded, in ignorance letting the flesh rule what Jesus had redeemed from sin. The city was full of sin and debauchery, and the church felt that, in comparison, they were holy and righteous, but Paul tells them that they were shamefully sinful, ignorantly living a spiritual baby existence.
We must compare ourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ, not with the shamefully carnal and evil of the world. Jesus would not curse, and blaspheme, He would not rape, murder, pillage, rob, and streak in the neighborhoods of the world. Jesus lived a holy life of purity, and offers us a change of nature, so we want to be 'CHRISTIAN', which means 'Christ-like'.
"Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ."
The world and even those of other denominations look at Pentecostals, and charismatics, as supposedly those anointed by the Holy Spirit, after being first redeemed and made a new creation in Jesus. If we shame Pentecostal and charismatic reputation by sin and shameful words, we invite others by such to condemn and point out the hypocrisy of our profession.
Recently, there was a conference called 'strange fire conference' in which some cessationists, who oppose the gifts of the Spirit as we believe and practice, are going to examine some of the preachers and some of the congregations of charismatics that have become similar to Corinth, filled with misuse, carnal and sinful in behavior. It is a shame that it is 'outsiders' who have to point out sin... Paul was ashamed that others were seeing the sin in the congregation of Corinth... and he was very stern in objecting to their sinful, carnal behavior.
Do we need to be shamed by others for sin, or can we not get down on our knees and repent of our shameful example of what Jesus was... for that is what we do when we call ourselves Christian and behave like a devil. It is shameful.
Thank the Lord that there are many in Pentecostal circles that still love Jesus, and are on the meat, not spitting up pablum. It is a wonder though that many want to ignore the shameful, and let them then present themselves as the 'normal', when they are not even 'acceptable' to the Lord.
Paul wrote to the shameful situation at Corinth but he wrote to those in it who were "sanctified", and "called to be saints."
I Corinthians 1:2
"Unto the church of God which is at Corinth, to them that are sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints..."
Maybe, only the few there were truly saved, maybe many were amidst the pablum attenders... Yet, the ones who were shamefully living, and proving their evil nature was not truly gone, but was actually in control of their minds, were the ones Paul rebuked.
Paul also said that these saved and sanctified ones in this church had been blessed by God with the spiritual gifts of utterance (tongues, interpretation of tongues, and prophecy), and the gifts of knowledge (word of wisdom, word of knowledge, and discernment of spirits). Yet, despite those gifts, the lack of fruit of the Spirit, the fleshly, carnal, thinking had ruined their services. They had tolerated and ignored the shameful behavior, and had grown cold and needed again pablum, for they were no longer able to swallow spiritual meats.
The pagan background, the old habits, the wicked acquaintances influenced this church, but Paul saw in the Spirit, what good things that God could do with them.
We might have walked out the door of this church, and written "ICHABOD" on the door.
Yet, Paul loved and desired to help this church. He begins with the praise of the good points of the saved and sanctified, and then quickly begins to deal with the many problems in the church.
Paul was concerned with the "black spots", but he did not
ignore the good he saw. He rebuked, and reprimanded them sternly... Paul had greatly toiled and labored over this church, and greatly loved this congregation.
Paul tells some of them, that they are "carnal."
I Corinthians 3:3
"For ye are yet carnal; for whereas there is among you envying, and strife, and divisions, are ye not carnal, and walk as men?"
The word "carnal" is from the Greek word - "sarkinos". This word is often translated with our religious connotations.
We have engendered the word "carnal" with these religious connotations, and thereby have lost the real idea behind what is being said. The word "carnal" meant in that day what the word "meathead" means in our day. Paul bluntly told these "saints" in Corinth... that they were "MEATHEADS."
Paul was not always as "statesman"-ly as we like to think. He could be blunt, and to the point. The church at Corinth had become foolish and stupid, and were acting as "meatheads".
Today, we find similar types of problems in the church. Human nature does not change. We have all seen the bitterness of sectarianism, the immoral behavior amidst saints, excesses of liberty, and a lack of love between members.
As in Corinth, there are "envying... strife... and divisions..." in many congregations of ones who claim to be 'Spirit filled' but are proving to be at best only spirit sprinkled, and I am not sure it was the Holy Spirit that sprinkled them.
There are two kinds of people in the church congregations of that day, and of our own day.
There are those ruled by the NATURAL MAN, and are therefore "carnal."
There are also those who are ruled by the SPIRITUAL MAN.
I Corinthians 2:14-15
"But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God; for they are foolishness unto him; neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned. But he that is spiritual judgeth all things, yet he himself is judged of no man."
The "natural" person lives under the control of the fleshly passions and human desires. This person has no sense of spiritual values. He or she does not see what, if anything, is wrong with rape, murder, stealing, streaking, and etc...
Spiritual things are foolishness to this type of person in the church.
They may be concerned about the lawn being mowed, the welcome mat being cleaned, and the bills being paid for the church, but they are not anxiously seeking revival, not calling out for God to bring sinners to repentance, so they can minister to a hurting world more effectively.
Those who are ruled by the "natural" person, give themselves credit for their good works, and spiritual accomplishments.
Pride builds within them, and many sins result from this pride.
The "spiritual" person lives under the control of the Holy Spirit, minds the things of the Spirit, and is a new creation in Christ Jesus. This person seeks to daily be more and more like Jesus Christ. The spiritual condition of the church, the salvation of souls in the community, and their relationship with the Lord are their vital concerns.
The "spiritual" person remembers that they themselves were saved only by grace. All glory to God, and a humble life of worship emanates from their being.
Many of the ones in the congregation at Corinth were "natural" persons, and their thoughts and actions betrayed their "carnal", or "meathead" tendencies.
Even the Lord Jesus had frequent crisis with His congregation. Corinth had its faults, but Paul had no spirit of alarm or despondency. He counseled, warned, admonished, exhorted, and scolded... but he did not give up on those in Corinth.
True revival groups do not usually separate themselves from the "meatheads" of our day. They are often forced out of such congregations, but they do not want to leave...
Paul was no moral coward. He sternly rebuked, criticized and counseled. He loved these people as a father loves his children.
He would not give up on them, and leave the Lord to worry about these wayward, foolish, and proud saints who were thinking and acting as "meatheads." No... rather, Paul attacked their initial problem first... the sin of pride.
The Corinthians had begun to feel holy, deserving of their blessings. They divided themselves into cliques, and each debated that their clique was the most holy. Paul frankly tells them: "You're acting like meatheads!"
Unfortunately, that message needs to be preached to many congregations today.
Can you take the meat version? or are you still struggling with even the pablum version?