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murjahel

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IRON SHARPENS IRON

 

Proverbs 27:17 (KJV)
17 Iron sharpeneth iron; so a man sharpeneth the countenance of his friend.

This verse has been misused, misunderstood greatly. It does not say a hunk of iron pounding on a sword sharpens its iron. Yet, many times it has been used over the decades to justify the beating, abusing, speaking harsh words to another.

Notice how some commentaries comment on this verse...

Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers
"So a man sharpeneth the countenance of his friend—i.e., the play of wit with wit sharpens and brightens up the face."

The fact that the word ‘countenance’ is used, shows that the ‘sharpening’ is meant to be understood as a process of brightening, enhancing of the person, the disposition of a person. It is ‘his friend’ that does the sharpening, not one’s enemy, not one’s detractor. The intent of the process is ‘good’, not vengeful.

 

In the Benson Commentary, we read:
"Proverbs 27:17. Iron sharpeneth iron — Iron tools are made sharp, and fit for use, by rubbing them against the file, or some other iron; so a man sharpeneth the countenance of his friend — Quickens his ingenuity, enlivens his affections, strengthens his judgment, excites him to virtuous and useful actions, and makes him, in all respects, a better man."

None of that sounds like a rock beating on a iron knife. It does not sound like the kind of treatment we see some justify with ‘iron sharpens iron’. The countenance of a person is their mind, their spirit, and it needs glossed, sharpened for use, and the ‘friend’ spoken of here, is benefited from proper sharpening as much as the other.

When a chef takes two knives with which he intends to use in his trade, and brushes them against one another to sharpen them to the usefulness he desires, it is not with anger, nor with destructive purpose. He does it speedily, expecting the usefulness of each knife to be peaked. This is the kind of ‘iron sharpening iron’ that the Lord expects friends to be one to another. The countenance of the knives is therefore glistening, and evidence of the goodness of the sharpening process.

That kind of 'iron sharpening iron' should occur in churches, amongst family members, at workplaces, on message boards. There should be no reason to fear antagonistic, harsh, melodramatic, or evil from the person claiming to be the ‘sharpener’.

The kind of sharpening that some in this world use this verse to justify, is immoral, wrong, and a twisting of this passage of Proverbs. This verse does not speak of a blunting beating of a rock upon the knife to be sharpened. That would be counterproductive. The pounding, abusing, iron ball beating on a sword does not sharpen one’s countenance. A knife or sword is made sharp by rubbing the sword edge against the iron file to sharpen, to brighten. We should all want that kind of 'sharpening', not the 'blunting' done by a pounding of a rock upon us.

 

Proper ‘iron sharpening iron’ does not include harsh words, insinuations, false accusations, misunderstandings, and outright attacks. That is all good to lose. A side effect is the that there are less words, at least for a time. If the harsh words from misguided sharpeners ceases, the number of words can increase slowly, but it will take some time. If anyone wants only the harsh words, they cannot claim this verse of Proverbs 27:17 as justification.

 

A church with real questions, with real answers, and with really loving discourse make a church a place, where it is obvious that the believers ‘love one another.’ The intimidation factor found in some churches drives some away. Some will quietly slip back into a church, testing the waters, seeing if this true ‘iron sharpening iron’ factor within is for real.

If the newcomers find harsh words, etc. slipping back into conversations, it will keep scaring off possible joiners of the church.

Jesus spoke of the fact that we will give account for every idle word:
Matt 12:36
'Every idle word that men speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment.'

We do not need to be sober and somber all the time, we can joke, have fun, and have small talk with our friends and neighbors. Elijah joked on Mt Carmel when he suggested to the false ones that perhaps Baal was sleeping or vacationing and could not hear them. The word 'idle' is a combination of a negative prefix and the noun 'work'. It is a word that does not work good.

It appears about a dozen times in the N.T., as in James 2:20:'faith without works is DEAD (idle)'

Fruitfulness is promised in II Peter 1:8, if we keep the proper attitudes in our dealings:
"if these things be in you, they will make you to not be BARREN (idle) nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ...'

Words that are not beneficial, not working good, are idle words.

In speaking on and on, without measuring and weighing the good value of our words, there is great sin.

Proverbs 10:19
"In the multitude of words, there wanteth not sin."

Eccles 5:3
"A fools voice is know by the multitude of words'

Proverbs 17:27
"He that hath knowledge spareth his words'

So, if we carefully manage our words, and watch as others come without fear of harsh words, etc. we can learn to sharpen the countenance of our friends, without making them visit an emergency room due to the damage we did in a so-called ‘sharpening’ experience.

The proverb expresses the influence that we have upon each other. This proverb expresses the action a file has on a knife. It does not mention a whetstone, because ‘iron sharpening iron’ shows the two, the sharpener and sharpenee, are the same nature. It is mutual action, and both are sharpened when this works as God intends. A whetstone sharpens, but is not sharpened, and any action intended to sharpen another, but not respect the need of that person to be sharpened themselves is based in pride.

Some who take this proverb to mean one can angrily speak their passion against another find that the process does not sharpen wit, does not lead to controllable feelings, and does not brighten any faces. We can sharpen one another with our influence, if we expel pride and misled passions. Anything else is corrupting of relationship.

1 Corinthians 15:33-34 (KJV)

33 Be not deceived: evil communications corrupt good manners.

34 Awake to righteousness, and sin not; for some have not the knowledge of God: I speak this to your shame.

We can set an example, encourage, teach, explain, urge, and thereby influence others to have a sharpened countenance. We will still be deemed to be a ‘friend’ after such experience. Our intention must be to ‘sharpen a friend’s countenance.’

Parents need to do their job of sharpening the countenance of their children.

Deuteronomy 6:6-7 (KJV)

6 And these words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart:

7 And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up.

Friends need to sharpen the countenance of their friends as David and Jonathan, as Philip and Nathaniel.

Older men need to sharpen their younger male friends.

1 Timothy 5:1 (KJV)

1 Rebuke not an elder, but intreat him as a father; and the younger men as brethren;

Titus 2:6-8 (KJV)

6 Young men likewise exhort to be sober minded.

7 In all things shewing thyself a pattern of good works: in doctrine shewing uncorruptness, gravity, sincerity,

8 Sound speech, that cannot be condemned; that he that is of the contrary part may be ashamed, having no evil thing to say of you.

Older women need to sharpen younger women.

Titus 2:3-4 (KJV)

3 The aged women likewise, that they be in behaviour as becometh holiness, not false accusers, not given to much wine, teachers of good things;

4 That they may teach the young women to be sober, to love their husbands, to love their children.

Teachers need to sharpen students.

Titus 2:7-8 (KJV)

7 In all things shewing thyself a pattern of good works: in doctrine shewing uncorruptness, gravity, sincerity,

8 Sound speech, that cannot be condemned; that he that is of the contrary part may be ashamed, having no evil thing to say of you.

Church members need to do this as part of their services, as part of the duty of all for each other.

Hebrews 10:24-25 (KJV)

24 And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works:

25 Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.

1 Thessalonians 5:11 (KJV)

11 Wherefore comfort yourselves together, and edify one another, even as also ye do.

So, as one can easily see by the many passages, that this ‘iron sharpening iron’ has much teaching to explain how it is to be done. It is not condemnation, judgmentalism, and harshness of pride. It is gentle, considerate of one’s own faults and weaknesses. Iron sharpening iron should, in fact, it must, result in countenances of friends both shining in the glory of the Lord, when it is accomplished.


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We are at our best, when around the Lord. He encourages us to fellowship, to exhort, to disciple other believers. That also brings out the best in us.

The devil would like to create mayhem, instill pride of being better than..., and to create fear of rejection in believers so they avoid one another.

Christians sharpen and gloss each other, because we are accountable to them in some ways. We are better able to resist temptation, we have others upon whom we can call for intercession, we are able to lift up another who has fallen, and count on them being able to return that deed when we need it.

Jesus fellowshipped with His disciples. They traveled together, they ate together, prayed together, slept together, ministered together, and even went fishing together... It benefited them far more than it did He, but even Jesus required and desired fellowship. He wanted company in the inner parts of Gethsemane, He wanted the same three to accompany Him to the mount of transfiguration. He had the disciples go forth to minister in 'two's', not alone.

God wants a sharpening process ongoing in our lives. He will do much of the work, and with that, the Bible will help us get fairly sharp. But the final processing of sharpness, is two knives being glossed one with another, finishing the long process of getting sharp.

This occurs in churches, with mates, on message boards, etc... but it is a process that is always to be ongoing, to aid our ministries to be sharpened to the tasks.


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I Thessalonians 2:3
"For our exhortation was not of deceit, nor of uncleanness, nor in guile..."

Paul mentions three marks of his exhortations, or of his efforts to have iron sharpen iron.


1. Paul's efforts to sharpen iron (spiritually) was Without deceit.

The Greek word here (plane') indicates "fraudulence, straying from orthodoxy, error." Too often, exhortation from some preachers in Paul's day included lies, half truths, and twisted truths. This false exhortation needs addressed and corrected. Paul was careful to only give exhortation that was without this kind of deceit. Truly to let one's iron sharpen another's iron, it is vital to do so 'without deceit'.

2. Paul testified that his 'sharpening' was done Without uncleanness.

The Greek word for "uncleanness" is "akatharsia", which means "that which leans toward corrupt passions.

3. Paul said that his sharpening of other iron, was done Without guile.

The word "guile" is from the Greek word, "dolos" which means "lying, falsity." The exhortation of correction needs to be based on total truth and not be half truths, twisted truths, or lies.

The gift of exhortation is the ministering of 'iron sharpening iron'. It needs to be properly exercised. Just as Paul had to correct the improper use of many gifts in Corinth, there is a need to avoid the improper use of the gift of exhortation.

God wants the congregations of saints, wherever they may meet, to be places where iron does sharpen iron, forgiveness is exercised, humility of not feeling the need to be iron pounding iron, but brightening one another's sharpness and shine with mutual sharpening.

Like Paul we need to avoid "deceit, uncleanness, or guile'.

All congregations of the saints should be places where forgiveness is easily found, and be places where justice is found. Justice, reconciliation, and peace denote places where iron is sharpening iron. Where there is proper and loving iron sharpening iron, there is avoidance of trouble, dissipation of hard feelings, and absence of prejudicial judgmentalism.

God also wants the congregations of the church to be places of victory, with showers of blessing, times of spiritual healing, restoration from the damage of the world, and revivals of righteousness.

However, iron pounding on iron, or allowing iron to rust in the garage, brings splits, grudges, hard feelings, isolation, and exclusivism.

Iron sharpening iron should be scriptural, and Godly..

Romans 12:7
"...let us wait on our ministering...or he that exhorteth on exhortation..."

The ministry of iron sharpening iron, must be "waited on." This means it must be patiently sought, and exercised in a Scriptural way.

Galatians 6:1
"Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such a one in the spirit of meekness, considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted."

With the Scriptural instructions on how iron is to sharpen iron being so specific, and with the gravity of the situation, the proper use of that ministry needs addressed. No one wants to be judged prejudicially.

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PAUL’S INSTRUCTION TO TIMOTHY

TO IMPROVE HIM AS A BLADE SHARPENER

 

Iron sharpening iron must begin with being the proper example...

The devil does not sharpen any of us, the hypocrites and apostates do not sharpen anyone. It takes a 'sharp' blade to sharpen another sharpened blade more than it already is... It takes one who is an example of a believer to sharpen another believer...

1 Timothy 4:12 (KJV)
... be thou an example of the believers.

Israel, in the wilderness, are an example of unbelief, and we are to avoid those ways, which destroyed their ‘example’ of being a ‘believer’. Too many in these days, have destroyed their ‘example of a believer’, and are a bad example to the world. If their 'example' tried to be the sharpening blade, we would not be too sharp!

Hebrews 4:11 (KJV)
11 Let us labor therefore to enter into that rest, lest any man fall after the same example of unbelief.

Their example would cause us to be 'dulled' not sharpened. The example we are determines if we are a 'sharpening blade' or a rock that would dull another blade.

The life and example we live and the world sees of us, is a vital part of our witness.

Paul explains to Timothy what it is that would make him to be a sharpening blade.

1 Timothy 4:6-16 (KJV)
6 If thou put the brethren in remembrance of these things, thou shalt be a good minister of Jesus Christ, nourished up in the words of faith and of good doctrine, whereunto thou hast attained.
7 But refuse profane and old wives' fables, and exercise thyself rather unto godliness.
8 For bodily exercise profiteth little: but godliness is profitable unto all things, having promise of the life that now is, and of that which is to come.
9 This is a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptation.
10 For therefore we both labour and suffer reproach, because we trust in the living God, who is the Saviour of all men, specially of those that believe.
11 These things command and teach.
12 Let no man despise thy youth; but be thou an example of the believers, in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity.
13 Till I come, give attendance to reading, to exhortation, to doctrine.
14 Neglect not the gift that is in thee, which was given thee by prophecy, with the laying on of the hands of the presbytery.
15 Meditate upon these things; give thyself wholly to them; that thy profiting may appear to all.
16 Take heed unto thyself, and unto the doctrine; continue in them: for in doing this thou shalt both save thyself, and them that hear thee.

If we have that kind of example to the world, we can be an iron that can sharpen iron...

Twice in verse 8 above, and once in verse 15, we see a form of the English word ‘profit’. We do want to profit in our witness, we want to have gain in our mission for Jesus. The English here uses the words ‘profiteth’, ‘profitable’ and ‘profiting’. Yet, these are three different words in the Greek.

When Paul says that ‘bodily exercise profiteth little’, it is the Greek word ‘esti’ (G2076) meaning simply ‘is’. This is a way of indicating that physical work on looking muscular or simply healthy consists of little. Our physical strength, our zeal alone is of little value in being a sharpening blade for the Lord.

Then Paul speaks of ‘godliness’ (i.e. ‘eusebia’ meaning ‘godly living’), and says it is ‘profitable’. This is the Greek word ‘ofeleemos’ (G5624) meaning ‘advantageous, helpful, serviceable’. So, it is not so much our muscles and physical endurance that impresses and witnesses to the world, but it is the exercise of godly living that is advantageous, and helpful in sharpening of iron blades.

Further down in that passage, in verse 15, we see that Paul is showing here how to make Timothy’s example and witness be ‘profiting’ to all. This is a third Greek word for ‘profit’, it is the word ‘prokopay’ meaning ‘advancement, increase’. Timothy needed his example to increase from what it had been, he needed to progress and profit from that increase into being a better example and iron able to sharpen another iron blade.

 

 


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ELIJAH AND ELISHA... IRON SHARPENED IRON

Elijah had been training young men to become prophets. Perhaps the 100 that had been hidden in the cave by Obadiah were his students. Perhaps the events on Mt. Carmel had challenged some more to follow God. Elijah was a teacher. Elisha was one of his prime students.

Elijah and Elisha traveled some together, sharing the mantle in the times of inclement weather, walking the same path. The 'iron sharpening iron' effect was working with these two. They both loved God, they both were in tune with what God was doing. Elijah walked his last trip stopping at different locales where others that were sharpening their 'iron' with Elijah were in their schools.

Not all ones the need to sharpen their iron upon a fellow disciple are alike. Many of Elijah's students were not ready for this final lesson of iron sharpening. What if 100 of his students had been ready for this last blade sharpening lesson???!!! Can you imagine 100 Elisha's in that day!!!

Elijah preached a final lesson of iron sharpening iron to a prepared Elisha, and the 'double portion' was Elisha's sharpening, a rapture to heaven to await a final return to minister during part of the tribulation was Elijah's sharpened blessing. In 'iron sharpening iron' there is double blessing, one for each participant in the event of sharpening.

Only two, i.e. Elijah and Elisha, were ready for this iron sharpening iron lesson that day. in Elijah's school was ready.

FAILURE OF THE SHARPENING ON THOSE PROPHETS AT GILGAL

II Kings 2:2
"TARRY HERE (at Gilgal) I PRAY THEE, FOR THE LORD HATH SENT ME TO BETHEL...I WOULD NOT LEAVE THEE."

Gilgal represents the place of "easy Christian living." Many will not move on from that place. Too many Christians say, "It is enough to be a pew sitter, and occasionally encourage the pastor with an 'amen.'" Church attendance alone is not too hard. It does not require much dedication, or suffering. Spiritual warfare is out of the question for these "at Gilgal." Their only hope is for the rapture, if they can just hang on till it comes.

These ones at Gilgal were told to stay, not follow, and they were not eager enough to question, to ask for more than a visit from the 'iron sharpener' Elijah. He told them to stay, they willingly accepted. It was a test of their zeal, a test of their anxiousness to be sharpened more. They failed the test, and received only a short visit, when they could have gotten a double blessing if they had had the zeal of Elisha. They could have viewed the rapture of Elijah, they could have been greatly blessed, but ehy were 'pew sitters'.


Elisha learned this lesson well, for he refused to stay and have an easy life. He wanted more, and he knew that he had to stay near Elijah to get what his heart desired. Only one followed from Gilgal to go further with a fellow iron sharpener, i.e. Elijah.


The prophets at BETHEL also failed. They knew from revelation of God that something great was about to happen, so they were spiritually aware. Yet, they were not so desirous as was Elisha, for when told to stay, they did. They had revelation from God and that was enough for them. It was not enough for Elisha, his sharpening was not finished, he wanted more.

II Kings 2:3-4
"TARRY HERE I PRAY THEE...AS THE LORD LIVETH, I WILL NOT..."

Since the "sons of the prophets" at Bethel knew that Elijah was to be raptured on that day, it was obvious that they had spiritual awareness. But a bit more iron sharpening would have been a blessing far greater.

The word - "Bethel" means "house of God." Bethel speaks of dedication and devotion, and sharing the presence of God. Some Christians come to this place. It is a wonderful place to come, leaving the uninvolvement of "Gilgal."

Like Peter on the Mt. of Transfiguration, the place of blessing and revelation is wonderful to experience. Peter didn't want to go down. He wanted to stay at the top and experience such blessings forever. It is tempting for many of us today also. We never have our iron sharpened enough, and God wants us to continue on and on, higher and higher into His 'sharpened' blessings.

We are brought by the Lord to places of blessing. We enjoy these places. There is revelation from God there. There is joy. There is required more dedication by us in order for us to get to these places.

The ones who heeded the tendency to stay at Gilgal, miss these places as at Bethel. Once at Bethel, it is hard to want to leave. Elisha realized there's even more iron sharpening beyond this -- and he wanted more sharpened.

THE ONES AT JERICHO WERE ACCUSTOMED TO SPIRITUAL WARFARE.

II Kings 2:4
"LORD HATH SENT ME TO JERICHO..."

Jericho represents the place of spiritual warfare. Jericho was a city where many of the priests lived. Winding, dangerous roads led to this city. As people traveled to this city, they would pass the most dangerous criminal element in Israel. Getting to Jericho was very dangerous. Fighting spirit powers of evil is not eagerly desired by many.

This place is definitely beyond the experience of Gilgal (minimum Christianity), and even beyond the experience at Bethel (places of blessing and revelation). Yet, in spiritual warfare are the greatest victories and rewards. To omit the battles, omits the victories. Most of these battles are private, hard, lonely, and agonizing. There is no glamour here. There are no long lines of Christians trying to get into this experience.

Notice - the "sons of the prophets" that were here also knew of Elijah's destiny (II Kings 2:5). There is spiritual awareness and revelation for those who live in the dangerous districts as Jericho. These "sons of the prophets" that dwell in Jericho have daily battles, and dangers. God is near to them in revelation power. Yet Elisha wanted even more than this. He would not stop here.

Elisha would not stay behind, would not be satisfied with just being one of the spiritual warriors, but wanted far more... so he said to Elijah:
II Kings 2:6
"I WILL NOT LEAVE THEE..."

The next step into further iron sharpening iron blessing, came at JORDAN.


II Kings 2:6
"THE LORD HATH SENT ME TO JORDAN..."

Jordan speaks of death --death of the self life. Jordan was a dangerous and swift flowing river during the rainy season. It was hard and could sweep away all one's possessions as he crossed. It took courage and willingness to part with all "heavy" things. We must all come to a place where we dedicate ourselves to a selfless life. We must die to self, give up seeking things for ourselves, and begin to live a life of faith.

Notice- II Kings 2:7-8:
"FIFTY MEN OF THE SONS OF THE PROPHETS WENT AND STOOD TO VIEW AFAR OFF."

Many watch and want this fruitfulness that crossing Jordan can bring, but few will pay the price to reach it. But Elisha would not stay back with the 50 others. He went to the Jordan, and when Elijah parted the waters-- Elisha went across. It is at this point of sanctification, and selflessness that miracle power is present. The fifty that followed afar off got to see this miraculous power, but were too far away to benefit from it.


There are many 'followers' who like to 'follow afar off', and they miss some of the final 'sharpening' blessings, due to their hanging back with the crowd.

Finally, there comes a MANTLE-reception sharpening.

Now on the other side of Jordan, Elijah gives Elisha a request.
II Kings 2:9
"ASK WHAT I SHALL DO FOR THEE...
I PRAY THEE, A DOUBLE PORTION OF THY SPIRIT BE UPON ME..."

For about 10 years, Elisha had listened to Elijah. Now, this last iron sharpening iron lesson was to be the final one. Elisha wanted far more than he had received in all those ten previous years... He was sharpened daily with Elijah, but he was not going to be satisfied with just getting equal to Elijah, he wanted a double portion.

Elijah iron sharpening on Elisha had brought him to a place of great potential. Here was a chance to receive a double portion of what Elijah had. All he had to do was be present when Elijah would be raptured. Then Elijah would throw Elisha the mantle that he carried, and Elisha then would receive double the spiritual blessings of Elijah.

The mantle, like the one Elijah carried, was often shared by two people. It was large enough to wrap around two people as they sat, or walked, to keep warm. It represented fellowship- fellowship with God, Christ, and the Holy Spirit.

When we get to the "mantle" sharpening, we have the "double portion." It is not how much of the Spirit do we have, but how much of us does the Spirit have. The mantle sharpening comes only after crossing "Jordan" and leaving all the heavy possessions of life behind. We must be dead to selves, and things -- to come into close fellowship with the Lord.

When Elisha caught the mantle, it was like us coming into the place where we walk in fellowship with the Spirit daily. This is where we receive the double portion sharpening, with the fellowship and communion of the Lord.

What a final iron sharpening iron event for these two prophets. If only we would also listen to it and heed it. We need to be doers of the Word, and not hearers only.

Have you left Gilgal sharpened state(minimum Christianity)?

Have you gone to the Bethel sharpened event (blessings, fellowship)?

Have you ventured into the Jericho sharpened state (spiritual battle with the enemy)?

Have you come to Jordan sharpened place (the selfless life)?

Then have you desired even more beyond all these and insisted on a "double portion" sharpening???

Elisha was only one of the "sons of the prophets." Yet he was the only one who ventured to stay beside Elijah till Elijah's rapture. He knew a blessing was about to be seen, and he wanted to experience all of it. Do we have that kind of determination in our receiving and helping another in the iron sharpening iron?


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THE NEW TESTAMENT INSTRUCTIONS
FOR AN IRON SHARPENING IRON PROGRAM
FOR THE CHURCHES



Some in the early church remembered the original last supper and the communion served by the Lord. The words and message they gave about the Lord were fresh in their ears. The concept of the communion was very different than that of many churches today. We have lost much of the original teaching on communion. The words ‘iron sharpens iron’ is not used in the early church. The reason is not that it stopped, and not that it is not something that still should be happening today, but, it is explained in different words, further developing the concept of how to do it. It is found in the instruction of communion, the eucharist (as some call it).



If we had obeyed the original teaching of communion, and had practiced its teachings in these last years, we would have avoided many church splits, many backslidings of saints, and much heartache in congregations. Communion is supposed to include the ‘iron sharpening iron’ events in the church.


Communion is vitally important! Some Christians place great importance on it. Others minimalize it. Some ignore the subject. Some will seldom take communion. Some will want it with every church gathering. Some will do it so often that it becomes a ritual.

A study of the Scriptures and the practices of the early church, will enlighten us as to the importance of the communion. There was misuse of communion by some even in the early church, but Paul treated the misuse with great concern.

Too many today simply allow misuse, misconceptions, and abuse of the ordinance of communion to continue. Not Paul, he set out to straighten out the misconceptions, abuse, and misuse.

In Corinth, there was some corruption of the communion. Paul was very troubled about this, and he expressed to the Corinthians that God put great importance to communion. There were fist fights in Corinth. There was blatant sin not even being mentioned, with no sharpening of iron going on. There were factions, misuse of gifts of the Spirit, misinterpretations of Scripture, etc. No real ‘iron sharpening iron’ was occurring till Paul addressed the troubles in his epistle to them.


It was common in the early church to share a common meal, and then have communion follow this meal. Christ had instituted the first communion in this way. He served the bread, and the wine following the Last Supper.

The motive for this supper preceding the communion was good. The rich and the poor could each bring what they could, and all was to be shared.

Everyone could then have a decent meal, without the poor needing to ask for charity. Iron sharpening iron could occur at that kind of event, and that is one of the main parts of the iron sharpening iron that is to be ongoing.

However, at Corinth, the "love feast" (as it was called) deteriorated into a time when the sharing terminated, the idea of iron sharpening iron stopped. The rich ate alone with what they brought, and overindulged. The poor had little to bring and were going home hungry. The poor were shunned and ignored. The sinners were not encouraged to stop sinning, no one wanted to mention the open and blatant sins that were occurring right there in the church. Iron sharpening iron was not included in their communion events.


Paul said:
"THIS IS NOT THE LORD'S SUPPER."
I Cor. 11:20

Paul was ashamed to call this the "supper" instituted of the Lord. He said that it would be better to eat at home, than to have disgraceful church suppers. Paul denounced them for their abuse of the church service,
and for their entering into communion with the sins of selfishness, divisions, and unconcern for others evident.

Still, today, we find that many observe communion with the sins of selfishness, pride, unconcern, divisions, etc. still apparent. Paul indicated that communion was meant to be a time when such sins were discovered and eliminated.

I Corinthians 11:18
"WHEN YE COME TOGETHER IN THE CHURCH..."

The idea is that whenever two of three believers come together into any location, you have a church. There were no church buildings when this was written, and for many years the early church did not build buildings. We too often refer to the meeting places as the churches. It is the two or three or more believers who are the church whether they are meeting in a prison cell, a house, a park, or a beautiful "sanctuary".

Whenever we are gathered, the care must be taken to not grieve the Holy Spirit. In a communion service, the Lord has an agenda. There is to be ‘iron sharpening’ occurring in every church, and communion is the event, wherein we are to make sure it occurs. God has a purpose in the way in which we are to observe the communion. If we do it wrongly, He will be upset, and judgment will come.

This is not a popular concept, and in many places communion is little more than a ritual. When Moses struck the "Rock" twice in the wilderness, instead of once as the Lord commanded, the Lord punished that disobedience with the refusal to let Moses enter the Promised Land with Joshua and the rest.

We too can fail to observe an example of type, as did Moses, and come under the judgment of the Lord.

communion = koinonia


The word "communion" comes from the Greek word - koinonia. It means a "participation, fellowship." We use this word to refer to the time when, as a body of believers, we join in a fellowship with each other, and the Lord. It is a time of ‘participation’ in an ‘iron sharpening iron’ time. It is a fellowship of two or more ‘irons’ that look at themselves, examine their hearts, look to sharpen their walk by repentance, by restoration of relationships with any who have aught against them. This is to be an iron sharpening iron event every time we take communion.

more to come on this ... stay tuned....

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murjahel
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FAILURE TO JUDGE SELVES,
FAILURE TO HAVE IRON SHARPEN IRON,
WILL BRING TROUBLES

The IMPORTANT sin of Corinth to be noticed here is found in I Corinthians 11:31-34. Here Paul refers to the failure of the people to examine, and judge their own lives to see if they are worthy of taking communion. There was no ‘iron sharpening iron’ going on in the church.

Paul insisted that the sins were serious enough that people must judge themselves, or God would examine their lives and judge those who are not purified at the time of partaking of communion. The ‘iron sharpening iron’ events should then occur in the preparation time for the partaking of communion.


I Corinthians 11:27,29
"WHEREFORE WHOSOEVER SHALL EAT OF THIS BREAD, AND DRINK OF THIS CUP OF THE LORD, UNWORTHILY, SHALL BE GUILTY OF THE BODY AND THE BLOOD OF THE LORD. FOR HE THAT EATETH AND DRINKETH UNWORTHILY, EATETH AND DRINKETH DAMNATION TO HIMSELF, NOT DISCERNING THE LORD'S BODY."

The word "unworthily" is a frightening concept in regards to communion. What does it mean ? We need to analyze, and not ignore this teaching.
The word comes from the Greek word - "anaxios" - which means -"irreverently, unfit." The idea is that we are not to casually, without proper preparation, partake of the communion elements of the cup and the bread.
Paul spells out the proper preparation, and the possible punishment for not following it.

Those who partake "unworthily" are guilty as those who crucified our Lord on Calvary (vs 27). Those who partake "unworthily" of these communion elements are eating and drinking "damnation" (vs. 29). Some hope that the Lord, at worst, has a scolding for them for their failures. Yet, here we see that a possible punishment is "damnation."

In I Corinthians 11:30, we find that many are weak, sickly, and some are even dead as a result of incorrectly partaking of communion. There is a curse of God upon those who partake of the bread unworthily. It is not a little thing, it is vitally important that we confront the issue. The healing lines in many churches would greatly shorten, if people would truly study the subject of communion.

I Corinthians 11:30
"FOR THIS CAUSE, MANY ARE WEAK AND SICKLY AMONG YOU, AND MANY SLEEP."

We do not see Paul use the words ‘iron sharpenth iron’ here, but the description of what is to occur before every communion is a description of that even of sharpening.

Paul mentions several sins that were present in Corinth.

DIVISIONS

In I Corinthians 11:18, Paul mentions "divisions". This is the Greek word "skismata." It refers to "practical heresies, i.e. one group feeling superior to another group." The one group in Corinth felt that they deserved more than the others and that they should not have to share. They thus sat at an opposite corner of the room and ignored the needs of the others.

HERESIES

In I Corinthians 11:19, the Greek word - "hairesis"- is used to refer to "theoretical schisms." These are purposeful departings from the doctrine
taught by the Lord. Jesus taught that the whole of the law could be
summarized in these two commandments--love God with all your being,
and love your neighbor as yourself. Any other doctrine taught that violates
these two commandments is called "heresy."

In Corinth, the "heresy" that Paul mentions here is the thought that some are not as good as others in the church.

SELFISHNESS

In verse 21, Paul says that the one group was selfish with what they had.
In the case of Corinth, it was food and riches that they did not want to share. In some churches today, the one group tries to control power, or position. Whatever the commodity is, the selfishness, and not sharing of it - will defile communion.

SHAMING THE POOR

In verse 22, Paul censures them for treating some Christians different than others. This sin in Corinth is found in many churches. Those who cannot dress as well as the wealthy are often shunned in churches. Those of social status are often given preference over the more common laborers when positions of authority are awarded. Riches are not to be the status mark
to determine the spiritual worth and value. Peter and John said, "SILVER AND GOLD HAVE I NONE." and the same can be said of many today
who earnestly love the Lord.

PARTAKING OF THE LORD'S SUPPER UNWORTHILY

I Corinthians 11:27-30, shows that the Lord considered events and actions
in the church, to be defiling to the communion being observed at the end of their feasts. The event that we call "communion" is so special to the Lord, that if we observe it correctly, we are blessed, and if it is done incorrectly,
He considers it to be gravely sinful.

The elements of communion are the bread and the drink. The bread represents the body of Christ, and the drink represents the blood of Christ.

I Corinthians 10:16-17
"THE CUP OF BLESSING WHICH WE BLESS, IS IT NOT THE COMMUNION OF THE BLOOD OF CHRIST? THE BREAD WHICH WE BREAK, IS IT NOT THE COMMUNION OF THE BODY OF CHRIST? FOR WE BEING MANY ARE ONE BREAD, AND ONE BODY; FOR WE ARE ALL PARTAKERS OF THAT ONE BREAD."

At communion, we all partake of the bread, that represents that One (Jesus), and are all part of that One. We are all united - believers in Christ.
That is why we are told to "TARRY ONE FOR ANOTHER."

I Corinthians 11:33
"WHEREFORE, MY BRETHREN, WHEN YE COME TOGETHER TO EAT, TARRY ONE FOR ANOTHER."

So if we come together for communion, and do not first become concerned about the feelings, hurts, and concerns of the others with us in the service,
we are out of order. If we do not have a mutual sharpening of our relationships, of cleansing of our hearts from sinfulness, we are greatly grieving our Lord.

The proud, despisers of others, have no business at communion, until the iron sharpening has been done. Since, it is so important to be thus concerned, we are told to judge, examine ourselves.

I Corinthians 11:28, 31
"LET A MAN EXAMINE HIMSELF, AND SO LET HIM EAT OF THAT BREAD, AND DRINK OF THAT CUP... FOR IF WE WOULD JUDGE OURSELVES, WE WOULD NOT BE JUDGED."

The Greek word for "examine" is - "dokimatzeto." It means "to prove to test worthiness." It is used of Paul in I Corinthians 3:13 to refer to putting our works to a test of fire. The fire brings the dross to the surface, so that it may be removed. We need to examine our actions, thoughts, and motives
to see if we have the proper concern for the other parts of the body. Some Christians, who are judgmental, critical, dominating, unloving, selfish, etc.,
are to find through this examination those faults.

They are to be repented of and changed. Then communion is to be taken.

The Greek word for "judge" (vs. 31) is - "diakrinomen." This word means to
"make a distinction between." In preparation for communion, we must make a distinction between our correct, and incorrect behavior and thoughts. We must evaluate ourselves so we can repent of the incorrect.
Too many partake of communion without this self-examination. Some want to judge the ones who have mistreated us. But the Bible says to examine ourselves, not others.

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murjahel
John
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