Today’s selected reading continues in the first New Testament epistle written by the apostle Paul unto the Corinthian saints. More specifically today’s passage beings with the seventeenth verse of the eleventh chapter and continues through to the eleventh verse of the twelfth chapter. “Now in this that I declare unto you I praise you not, that ye come together not for the better, but for the worse. For first of all, when ye come together in the church, I hear that there be divisions among you; and I partly believe it. For there must be also heresies among you. When ye come together therefore into one place, this is not to eat the Lord’s supper. For in eating every one taketh before other his own supper: and one is hungry, and another is drunken. What/ Have ye not houses to eat and to drink in? Oreo despise ye the church of God, and shame them that have not? What shall I say to you? Shall I praise you in this? I praise you not. For I have received of the Lord that which also I delivered unto you, That the Lord Jesus the same night in which he was betrayed took bread: and when he had given thanks, he brake it, and said, Take, eat: this is my body, which is broken for you: this do in remembrance of me. After the same manner also he took the cup, when he had supped, saying, This cup is the New Testament in my blood: this do ye, as oft as ye drink it, in remembrance of me. For as often as ye eat of this bread, and drink of this cup, ye do shew the Lord’s death till he come. Wherefore whosoever shall eat this bread, and drink this cup of the Lord, unworthily shall be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord. But let a man examine himself and so let him eat of that bread, and drink of that cup. For he that eateth and drinketh unworthily, eateth and drinketh damnation to himself, not discerning the Lord’s body. For this cause many are weak and sickly among you, and many sleep. For if we would judge ourselves, we should not be judged. But when we are judged, we are chastened of the Lord, that we should not be condemned with the world. Wherefore, my brethren, when ye come together to eat, tarry one for another. And if any man hunger, let him eat at home; that ye come not together unto condemnation. And the rest will I set in order when I come” (1 Corinthians 11:17-34).
“Now concerning spiritual gifts, brethren, I would not have you ignorant. Ye know that ye were Gentiles, carried away unto these dumb idols, even as ye were led. Wherefore I give you to understand, that no man speaking by the Spirit of God calleth Jesus accursed: and that no man can say that Jesus is the Lord, but by the Holy Ghost. Now there are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirt. And there are differences of administrations, but the same Lord. And there are diversities of operations, but it is the same God which worketh all in all. But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to every man to profit withal. For to one is given by the Spirit the word of wisdom; to another the word of knowledge by the same Spirit; to another faith by the same Spirit; to another the gifts of healing by the same Spirit; to another the working of miracles; to another prophecy; to another discerning of spirits; to another divers kings of tongues; to another the interpretation of tongues: but all these worketh that one and the selfsame Spirit, dividing to every man severally as he will” (1 Corinthians 12:1-11).
When you come to this particular portion of the Scripture you will find the apostle Paul transitioning within this epistle to a place where he begins to dive much deeper into the reality of the spiritual body of Christ. If you take the time to read the words which are found in this epistle you will find that one of the dominant themes contained within it is that of the spiritual body of Christ. In all reality the apostle Paul deliberately and intentionally set up the reality of the spiritual body of Christ within this epistle from the get go as he would speak in the very first chapter concerning the unity of the body itself. If you want to read the first epistle written by the apostle Paul unto the saints which were present in Corinth there is a great need to understand it in terms of the spiritual body of Christ and how the spiritual body of Christ was indeed intrinsically linked and connected to absolutely everything he wrote here in the epistle. In the first and opening chapter of this epistle the apostle Paul would indeed call and draw the attention of these dear saints who were called as such with all who call upon the name of the Lord to be of one heart, one soul, one mind and one spirit. It is absolutely impossible to read the words which are found in this epistle and not encounter and come face to face with the absolutely wonderful truth surrounding the wonderful truth of the spiritual body of Christ and how the apostle Paul sought to bring these saints into the reality of the manifestation of that body within their own hearts and lives.
The more you read this first epistle written by the apostle Paul unto the Corinthian saints the more you can and will be brought face to face with the absolutely wonderful truth surrounding the need to understand the body of Christ and how it fits together and how it works. What’s more is I am convinced that if you want to truly understand the spiritual body of Christ there is a great need to pay attention to the words which are found in the first and third chapters of this epistle as within them the apostle Paul speaks of that which destroys the unity and fellowship of the body itself. In all reality the more you read the words which are found in this epistle you will encounter and experience that which would be a tremendous danger to the manifestation of the spiritual body of Christ in the midst of the earth. You cannot read this epistle and not encounter and come face to face with the inherent dangers within and facing the spiritual body of Christ and how we as the saints of God must diligently guard ourselves and the spiritual body of Christ from the dangers and snares which are present within this impossible. The words which the apostle Paul wrote in this epistle must be understood as a passionate appeal to understand the reality of the spiritual body of Christ and how the body itself fits and works together in the midst of the earth. The apostle Paul sought to bring the Corinthian saints into the understanding of just how the body is to operate in the earth and how the individual members were themselves supposed to act and conduct themselves in the midst of the congregation and church of Jesus who is both Christ and Lord—and not only both Christ and Lord but also the head of the church itself. The apostle Paul sought to bring the Corinthian saints into the place where they recognized and understood the dangers which would indeed face the spiritual body of Christ and how they needed to be on their guard against it that the body not experience any divisions or schisms.
I am absolutely convinced that if you want to truly understand this first epistle written by the apostle Paul unto the Corinthian saints there is a great need to recognize and understand that we as the saints of God must understand just how the spiritual body of Christ was formed and how it is to operate within the earth. What’s more is there is a great need for us to recognize and understand just how the spiritual body of Christ is to operate and function within the earth for whether we would like to admit or accept it the spiritual body of Christ has a witness and testimony in the world among the Gentiles and heathen who do not know the Lord and who not call upon His name that they might be saved. If there is one thing we must needs recognize and understand it’s that the spiritual body of Christ must needs move and operate and function in a manner which is pleasing, holy and acceptable in the sight of the living God that it might bear fruit in the sight of the living God and that it might indeed have a witness in the earth in the eyes of the world who is watching. Despite the anger, the outrage, the outcry, the hatred, the anger and the malice the world might exhibit toward the spiritual body of Christ the fact remains that the world is indeed watching and paying attention to it and how it operates in the midst of the earth. This was put on full display within this nation two years ago when the Coronavirus caused everything to be shut down—including churches and houses of worship. Grocery stores, liquor stores, coffee shops and certain other business were deemed “essential” and were permitted to remain open and eventually the President of the United States would come on live television and declare and proclaim that all churches and houses of worship were “essential” and provided necessary support and service to the communities within and throughout this nation. This is important for us to recognize and pay close attention to for if we don’t recognize and understand this we won’t understand the importance of this epistle written by the apostle Paul.
With all of this being said I am convinced that before we delve into the words which are found in this epistle we must needs turn our attention to the words which James wrote in his epistle written unto the saints which were scattered and dispersed throughout the known world at that time. This epistle written by James is absolutely necessary when seeking to understand the words and language contained in this epistle for it brings us face to face with that which can and that which does cause and create quarrels, fights and wars among us. What’s more is I am convinced the words which James wrote not only describes that which causes fights and wars and infightings among the members of the spiritual body of Christ but also that which causes fights and quarrels among the nations of the world and even humanity itself. Although James was indeed writing unto the saints which were scattered abroad throughout Europe and throughout Asia the words which he wrote do in fact and can indeed have direct application to the world today. Not only this but I am convinced that the words which James wrote in this epistle has direct meaning and impact on the nation in which we are living right now. One needs only look at and examine the events which have taken place over the past two and a half years and one can and will be brought face to face with the many quarrels, fightings, wars, strife which have been present among us within our nation and generation. It is with this in mind I invite you to consider the following words which are found in the fourth chapter of the epistle written by James for it helps serve as the foundation for what we find in this first epistle written by the apostle Paul unto the Corinthian saints as well as provide understanding for what we are and what we have been facing in this nation in which we are living. Even as I am writing these words they are being written on a day when the President of the United States is going to deliver remarks regarding “the soul of the nation”—this after both he and the White House press secretary have both made comments this week that have effectively ostracized and demonized a vast majority of men and women within this nation. Having said this I invite you to consider the following words which are found in the fourth chapter of the epistle written by James unto the saints which were scattered abroad:
“From whence come wars and fightings among you? Come they not hence, even of your lusts that war in your members? Ye lust and have not: ye kill, and desire to have, and cannot obtain: ye fight and war, yet ye have not, because ye ask not. Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that ye may consume it upon your lusts. Ye adulterers and adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? Whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God. Do ye think that the w scripture saith in vain, The spirit that dwelleth in us lusteth to envy? But he giveth more grace. Wherefore he saith, God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble. Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you. Cleanse your hands, ye sinners; and purify your hearts, ye doubled minded. Be afflicted, and mourn, and weep: let your laughter be turned to mourning, and your joy to heaviness. Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and he shall lift you up. Speak not evil one of another, brethren. He that speaketh evil of his brother, and judgeth his brother, speaketh evil of the law, and judgeth the law: but if thou judge the law, thou art not a doer of the law, but a judge. There is one lawgiver, who is able to save and to destroy: who art thou that judgest another? Go to now, ye shat say, To day or to morrow we will go into such a city, and continue there a year, and buy and sell, and get gain: Whereas ye know not what shall be on the morrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapour, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away. For that ye ought to say, If the Lord, will, we shall live, and do this, or that. But now ye rejoice in your boasting: all such rejoicing is evil. Therefore to him that knoweth to do good, and doeth it not, to him it is sin” (James 4:1-17).
We must needs pay close attention to the words which are found in this particular passage of Scripture for within it we find James asking very pointed and powerful questions. Within his epistle we find James asking the saints of God where wars and fightings come among them. What we must acknowledge and understand when reading these words is how James acknowledged that there were indeed fightings and wars which were taking place among these saints. Despite the fact that they were indeed scattered abroad and were suffering in the midst of the world which was present during those days they were allowing themselves to be given over to fightings and wars—and not fightings and wars with the world around them but fightings and wars among themselves as the spiritual body of Christ. Please don’t miss and lose sight of this and how absolutely incredible it is to read these words for they bring us face to face with the absolutely wonderful truth surrounding James writing unto saints and brethren who were called to walk in unity, walk in fellowship, walk in community and walk in relationship with each other. What’s more is that James would declare that such fightings and wars come even of their own lusts which war in their members—something we must needs understand for it serves as the very heart and foundation of that which is taking place within our nation right now. The fightings and wars which we witness all around us within our nation today are but an outward manifestation of an inner war and conflict which is present within our own hearts and souls. It would be very easy to simply look at the fightings and wars which take place among us within our nation and in this generation and simply think that their causes are natural, however, what we must needs recognize is that such fightings and wars are produced and manufactured by our own lusts which war within our members. Lest you think this is somehow inaccurate I would like to call and draw your attention to the words which are found in the first chapter of this particular epistle as well as the words present in the seventh and eighth chapters of the epistle written by the apostle Paul unto the saints which were at Rome:
“Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God: for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth he any man: but every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed. Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death” (James 1:13-16).
“What shall we say then? Is the law sin? God forbid. Nay, I had not known sin, but by the law: for I had not known lust, except the law had said, Thou shalt not covet. But sin, taking occasion by the commandment, wrought in me all manner of concupiscence. For without the law sin was dead. For I was alive without the law once: but when the commandment came, sin revived, and I died. And the commandment, which was ordained to life, I found to be unto death. For sin, taking occasion by the commandment, deceived me, and by it slew me. Wherefore the law is holy, and the commandment holy, and just, and good. Was then that which is good made death unto me? God forbid. But sin, that it might appear sin, working death in me by that which is good; that sin by the commandment might become exceeding sinful” (Romans 7:7-13).
“For we know that the law is spiritual: but I am carnal, sold under sin. For that which I do I allow not: for what I would, that do I not; but what I hate, that do I. If then I do that which I would not, I consent unto the law that it is good. Now then it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me. For I know that in me, (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing: for to will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good I find not. For the good that I would I do not: but the evil which I would not, that I do. Now if I do that I would not, it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me. I find then a law, that, when I would do good, evil is present with me. For I delight in the law of God after the inward man: but I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members. O wretched man that I am! Who shall deliver me from the body of this death? I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord. So then with the mind I myself serve the law of God; but with the flesh the law of sin” (Romans 7:14-25).
“There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death. For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh: that the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. For they that are after the flesh do mind the things of the flesh: but they that are after the Spirit the things of the Spirit. For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace. Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be. So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God. But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his. And if Christ be in you, the body is dead because of sin; but the Spirit is life because of righteousness. But if the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, he that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by his Spirit that dwelleth in you. Therefore brethren, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live after the flesh. For if ye live after the flesh, ye shall die: but if ye through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live. For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God. For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption whereby we cry, Abba, Father. The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God: and if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together” (Romans 8:1-17).
We dare not and must not miss and lose sight of the words which are found within these passages of Scripture for both the apostle Paul and James clearly describe how the lust which is present within our members not only leads to sin and sin when it is full blown produces death but they also describe how lust is at the very heart of the wars and conflicts which are present among our members. James made it perfectly clear that lust when it is fully given into leads to sin and sin when it is committed leads to death—a reality which the apostle Paul would declare in the epistle written unto the saints which were at Rome when he declared that the wages of sin were death but the gift of God is eternal life. Within the fourth chapter of the epistle written by James we find him asking where fightings and wars came from among them and then went on to declare that they came even from the lusts which war in their individual members. James then goes on to declare how they lusted and have not, they killed and desired to have and cannot obtain, they fight war and have not because they ask not. Not only this but James also goes on to declare how they asked and receive not because they ask amiss that they may consume it upon their own lusts. What we find within this epistle is James going on to call them adulterers and adulteresses for they had deliberately and intentionally given themselves to friendship with the world. Moreover James would go on to declare that friendship of the world is enmity with God and whosoever therefore would be a friend of the world is the enemy of God. This reality is one which the apostle John wrote in his first epistle which was written and sent unto the Ephesian saints for even the apostle John writes and speaks of the clarion call that has been given unto the saints of God to not be those who love the world nor anything in it. With this in mind I invite you to consider the following words which are found in the first epistle written by the apostle John concerning loving the world and the things of the world and how incredibly dangerous this truly is:
“I write unto you, little children, because your sins are forgiven you for his name’s sake. I write unto you, fathers, because ye have known him that is from the beginning, I write unto you, young men, because ye have overcome the wicked one. I write unto you, little children, because ye have known the Father. I have written unto you, fathers, because ye have known him that is from the beginning. I have written unto you, young men, because ye are strong, and the word of God abideth in you, and ye have overcome the wicked one. Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world. And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever. Little children, it is the last time: and as ye have heard that antichrist shall come, even now are there many antichrists; whereby we know that it is the last time. They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would no doubt have continued with us: but they went out, that they might be made manifest that they were not all of us. But ye have an unction from the Holy One, and ye know all things. I have not written unto you because ye know not the truth, but because ye know it, and that no lie is of the truth. Who is a liar but he that denieth that Jesus is the Christ? He is antichrist, that denieth the Father and the Son. Whosoever denieth the Son, the same hath not the Father: (but) he that acknowledgeth the Son hath the Father also. Let that therefore abide in you, which ye have heard from the beginning. If that which ye have heard from the beginning shall remain in you, ye also shall continue in the Son, and in the Father. And this is the promise that he hath promised us, even eternal life. These things have I written unto you concerning them that seduce you. But the anointing which ye have received of him abideth in you, and ye need not that any man teach you: but as the same anointing teacheth you of all things, and is truth, and is no lie, and even as it hath taught you, ye shall abide in him. And now, little children, abide in him; that, when he shall appear, we may have confidence, and not be ashamed before him at his coming. If ye know that he is righteous, ye know that every one that doeth righteousness Is born of him” (1 John 2:12-29).
There is a great need for us as the saints of God and as the disciples of Christ to recognize and pay close attention to the words which are found in this epistle for the apostle John clearly articulates and admonishes these dear saints that they ought not to love the world nor the things which are in the world. Moreover Thea pestle John goes on to declare that if any man love the world the love of the Father is not in him for all that is in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes and the pride of life—is not of the Father but is of the world. The apostle John then goes on to declare that the world passes away and the lust therein but those who do the will of God abide forever. We must needs recognize and pay close attention to the words which are found within this passage of Scripture for it calls and draws our attention to the absolutely wonderful truth surrounding the awesome reality that we have indeed been called to love not the world nor the things of the world—and not only this but we also recognize and understand that friendship of the world is enmity with God. It would be James who emphatically declared that those who would make themselves a friend of the world would make themselves an enemy of the living God. This is something which warrants strong consideration on our part for it brings us face to face with our own heart and life and whether or not we as the saints of God do indeed and do in fact guard our hearts, our minds and our souls from the love of the world and the things which are in the world. There is a great need within our hearts and souls to be those who truly recognize and understand the love of the world and friendship of the world and how both seek to completely and utterly destroy us before and in the sight of the living God. This is something we must needs acknowledge and recognize for it can and will shape how we live our lives and how we conduct ourselves among the saints of God—and not only among the saints of God but also in the midst of the world.
It is with this in mind I find it absolutely necessary to return to the first epistle written by the apostle Paul unto the Corinthian saints for within and throughout this epistle we encounter and are brought face to face with that which can and that which will in fact destroy the unity, the community and the fellowship of the body. If you take the time to read the words presented within this epistle you can and will be brought face to face with the absolutely wonderful truth that the apostle Paul sought to address those things which would create conflict, tension, strife, fights, wars and the like among the saints of God which were present at Corinth. The apostle Paul sought to write this epistle to bring them into a proper understand of the spiritual body of Christ and how it is to operate and function in the midst of the world which is present all around us. We dare not and must not miss and lose sight of this and how absolutely incredible it truly is for it calls and draws our attention to the absolutely wonderful truth surrounding the spiritual body of Christ and how it has been called and created in unity, in community and in fellowship. From the day of Pentecost when the body was first formed and brought into existence it was to be a living organism in the earth that not only grew but also that which knew and experienced unity, fellowship and community. Oh it is absolutely impossible to read and even speak about the spiritual body of Christ and not recognize and come face to face with the tremendous truth that the spiritual body of Christ is indeed that which is and was designed to be united within itself as its members are of one heart, one mind, one spirit, one purpose and one passion and desire.
The first epistle written by the apostle Paul unto the Corinthian saints contains a tremendous amount of language within it concerning that which destroys and that which erodes the fabric of the spiritual body of Christ within the earth. The words which the apostle Paul writes and presents within this epistle does indeed and does in fact highlight and underscore that which does indeed and that which does in fact completely and utterly destroy the witness and testimony of the body in the midst of the earth. Within his epistle the apostle Paul calls and draws our attention to that which we must needs guard ourselves against if we are to truly operate as the spiritual body of Christ in the midst of the earth. We dare not and must not miss and lose sight of this for within the epistle the apostle Paul provides a number of examples of that which erodes and destroys the reality and manifestation of the spiritual body of Christ within the earth and even among its own members. You cannot read the words present in this epistle and not encounter and come face to face with the absolutely wonderful truth surrounding those things which destroy and eradicate the witness and testimony of the body of Christ in the earth as the spiritual body of Christ has been called to be a witness and testimony in the midst of the earth. Oh there is a wonderful need for us to pay close attention to the words presented in this epistle for within it we are brought face to face with the absolutely wonderful truth surrounding that which we have indeed been called to in this life as the saints of God and as the disciples of the Lord Jesus Christ. Oh that we as the saints of God and disciples of Christ would indeed recognize and understand just how absolutely incredible these words are for they bring us face to face with the absolutely wonderful reality of how we have indeed been called to holiness, to righteousness, to obedience and to faithfulness in the sight of the living God.
With all of this being said I invite you to consider the following words which are found in this first epistle written by the apostle Paul unto the Corinthian saints and that which completely and utterly eroded the very fabrics and makeup of the church which was present among them. Despite the fact that this church was enriched in all knowledge and understanding and despite the fact that they came behind and lacked in no spiritual gift they were nonetheless plagued by that which would cause it to be entirely and altogether different from that which it was called to. The apostle Paul had spent a year and a half laboring among the Corinthians that he might establish a manifestation of the spiritual body of Christ in the midst of this city and when he undertook the task of writing this epistle he did so because of a report that was brought to his attention concerning various things which were threatening the spiritual body of Christ in the midst of this city. We dare not and must not miss and lose sight of this for it calls and draws our attention to that which can in fact destroy the spiritual body of Christ within and among us in our own generation. I am absolutely convinced that what we find in this epistle is a powerful picture of what we must needs guard ourselves against within our own generation in a world that is and has been thrust into complete and utter chaos, turmoil, tension and confusion. Consider if you will the following words which are found in this epistle beginning with the first chapter:
“Now I beseech you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you; but that ye be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment. For it hath been declared unto me of you, my b retired, by them which are of the house of Chloe, that there are contentions among you. Now this I say, that every one of you saith, I am of Paul; and I of Apollos; and I of Cephas; and I of Christ. Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Or were ye baptized in the name of Paul? I thank God that I baptized none of you, but Crispus and Gaius; lest any should say that I had baptized in mine own name. And I baptized also the household of Stephanas: besides, I know not whether I baptized any other” (1 Corinthians 1:10-16).
“And I brethren, could not speak unto you as unto spiritual, but as unto carnal, even as unto babes in Christ. I have fed you with milk, and not with meat: for heitherto ye were not able to bear it, neither yet now are ye able. For ye are yet carnal: for whereas there is among you envying, and strife, and divisions, are ye not carnal, and walk as men? For while one saith, I am of Paul; and another, I am of Apollos; are ye not carnal? Who then I Paul, and who is Apollos, but ministers by whom ye believed, even as the Lord gave to every man? I have planted, Apollos watered; but God gave the increase. So then neither is he that planteth any thing, neither he that watereth; but God that giveth the increase. Now he that planteth and he that watereth are one: and every man shall receive his own reward according to his own labour. For we are laborers together with God: ye are God’s husbandry, ye are God’s building” (1 Corinthians 3:1-9).
“It is reported commonly that there is fornication among you, and such fornication as is not so much as named among the Gentiles, that one should have his father’s wife. And ye are puffed up, and have not rather mourned, that he that hath done this deed might be taken away from among you. For I verily, as absent in body, but present in spirit, have judged already, as though I were present, concerning him that hath so done this deed, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, when ye are gathered together, and my spirit, with the power of our Lord Jesus Christ, to deliver such an one unto Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that the spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus. Your glorying is not good. Know ye not that a little leaven leaveneth the whole lump? Purge out therefore the old leaven, that ye may be a new lump, as ye are unleavened. For even Christ our passover is sacrificed for us: therefore let us keep the feast, not with old leaven, neither with the leaven of malice and wickedness; but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth. I write unto you in an epistle not to company with fornicators: yet not altogether with the fornicators of this world, or with the covetous, or ectiorioners, or with idolaters; for then must ye needs go out of the world. But now I have written unto you not to keep company, if any man that is called a brother be a fornicator, or covetous, or an idolater, or a raider, or a drunkard, or an extortioners; with such an one no not to eat. For what have I to do to judge them also that are without? Do not ye judge them that are within? But them that are without God judgeth. Therefore put away from among yourselves that wicked person” (1 Corinthians 5:1-13).
“Dare any of you, having a matter against another, go to law before the jurist, and not before the saints? Do ye not know that the saints shall judge the world? And if the world shall be judged by you, are ye unworthy to judge the smallest matters? Know ye not that we shall judge angels? How much more things that pertain to this life? If then ye have judgments of things pertaining to this life, set them to judge who are least esteemed in the church. I speak to your shame. Is it so, that there is not a wise man among you? No, not one that shall be able to judge between his brethren? But brother goeth to law with brother, and that before the unbelievers. Now therefore there is utterly a fault among you, because ye go to law one with another. Why do ye not rather take wrong? Why do ye not rather suffer yourselves to be defrauded? Nay, ye do wrong, and defraud, and that your brethren. Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revivers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you: but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God” (1 Corinthians 6:1-11).
Within each of these passages of Scripture we encounter and are brought face to face with the absolutely wonderful truth surrounding that which threatened the church which was present in the midst of the city of Corinth. From the beginning chapter of this epistle we find the apostle Paul writing of contentions which took place among them and urged them to be of one mind and one spiritual among themselves. What’s more is in the third chapter of this epistle the apostle Paul acknowledges and declares unto them how he could not write unto them as spiritual but as carnal—and not only as unto carnal but also as unto babes in Christ. The apostle Paul wrote unto them how there were contentions, and schisms and divisions among them which divided them and caused them to be at odds with each other. What’s more is that within this epistle we read how this congregation had given themselves over to a party spirit as there were some who claimed they were followers of the apostle Paul, there were some who claimed they were followers of the apostle Peter, there were others who claimed they were followers of Apollos while there were others who claimed they were followers of Jesus Himself. This is something we dare not and must not miss and lose sight of for it calls and draws our attention to the absolutely incredible truth of just how dangerous the party spirit is. While the party spirit was indeed manifested in the midst of the Corinthian congregation by those who claimed they were followers of different leaders within the church it is manifested within our nation—and not only within our nation but nations of the world on a much grander and much larger scale. There are countless nations within the world today who are wholly given over to this party spirit as they are divided across party lines with a portion of the population showing support for one party and its views while the other portion of the population shows its support for another part and its views.
The more I read the words which are found within this first epistle written by the apostle Paul unto the Corinthian saints the more I am brought face to face with the absolutely wonderful truth surrounding the dangers which faced this particular church. This church and its members was called to be part of the larger spiritual body of Christ and was called to enjoy fellowship, community and unity with each other. While this is indeed true we find this church was given over to division, to schism, to contention and to strife as they allowed themselves to be divided across party lines. Not only this but within this church we find them being given over to what I would call celebrity-ism as there were those who would claim to be followers of this apostle while others would claim to be followers of that apostle. What makes this all the more intriguing when you take the time to think about it is the apostle Paul would write of additional conflicts and dangers which faced this particular congregation which was present in the midst of the city of Corinth. As you continue reading the words which are found in this epistle you will find how there was fornication present among them—and not only fornication among them but the church and its members did not weep nor did they mourn over the fornication and transgression which was present among them. Despite the fact that the fornication which was present among them was such that was not even named among the Gentiles they were puffed up about it and chose not to mourn or to be afflicted over it. The apostle Paul admonished and encouraged them to put this fornication and the fornicator from among them in their midst that they might purify themselves in the sight of the living God. The apostle Paul sought to bring them to the understanding that a little leaven leavens the whole lump and that if they weren’t careful they could find themselves endangering the entire church because of the wickedness and fornication which was present among them.
If you continue reading the words which are found in this epistle you will find that the Corinthian saints continued with their division with each other as they would sue and take each other to court. As you read the words which are found in the sixth chapter you will find the apostle Paul rebuking them—not only for taking each other to court and doing so among the Gentiles but also by refusing to be wronged and defrauded. You cannot read the sixth chapter of this epistle and not encounter and come face to face with the tremendous truth surrounding this congregation and how each member seemed to be looking out for their own interests. The apostle Paul made it perfectly clear that the members of this body weren’t willing to be wronged and weren’t willing to be defrauded that they might walk after the manner in which the Lord Jesus expressed and declared in the Sermon on the Mount. This is something we must needs recognize when reading this epistle for there were many present in this church and congregation which were entirely and altogether unwilling to be wronged and to be defrauded and decided to take each other to court and to sue one another in the court of Gentiles. We dare not and must not miss and lose sight of this for there is every indication that the Corinthian saints struggled to live in community and fellowship with each other as they seemed to be about their own interests and their own agendas. It is impossible to read the words presented in this epistle and not encounter and come face to face with the absolutely wonderful truth surrounding this church and how they gave themselves over to self-interest as they were entirely and altogether focused on themselves. Oh there is not a doubt in my mind that these dear saints were living their lives independent and apart from the reality of Jesus which he expressed in the Sermon on the Mount. What’s more is I would dare say these dear saints were living their lives entirely and altogether independent of the words the apostle Paul wrote in the twelfth chapter of the epistle written unto the saints which were at Rome.
Before we delve into the eleventh chapter and further division in the midst of this church—and not only further division but also an invitation and place for fellowship and community—I am convinced we must needs turn and direct our attention to the words which are found in the fifth chapter of the New Testament gospel narrative written by the apostle Matthew as well as the words which are found in the twelfth chapter of the epistle written by the apostle Paul unto the saints which were at Corinth. Within each of these passages of Scripture we can indeed and can in fact be brought face to face with the absolutely wonderful truth surrounding our need two be those who are not only willing to walk in community and fellowship with each other but also those who are entirely and altogether willing to recognize that we have been called to life our lives selflessly and not self-absorbed and all about ourselves. Jesus the Christ has indeed instructed and commanded us to love our neighbors as ourselves and to even love our enemies without drawing any distinction between the two. That which we find in these passages of Scripture call and draw our attention to the type and quality of life which we have indeed been called to live in this life. Oh there is a great need for us to recognize and pay close attention to the words presented in this passage of Scripture for they bring us face to face with the invitation we have been given to deny ourselves, to esteem others above ourselves and to be about our Father’s business and not about our own preservation. We dare not and must not miss and lose sight of this and how absolutely incredible it truly is for it brings us face to face with the wonderful reality of how we are and how we have been called to live in this life. There is a great need for us as the saints of God and as the disciples of Christ to be those who recognize that we have indeed and have in fact been called into a place where we are willing to live our lives completely and utterly selflessly and not at all self-absorbed and all about ourselves. With this in mind I invite you to consider the following words which are found in the fifth chapter of the gospel narrative written by the apostle Matthew as well as the words which are found in the twelfth chapter of the epistle written by the apostle Paul unto the saints which were at Rome:
“Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness’ sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake. Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you” (Matthew 5:10–12).
“Ye have heard that it hath been said, An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth: But I say unto you, That ye resist not evil: but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also. And if any man will sue thee at the law, and take away thy coat, let him have thy cloke also. And whosoever shall compete thee to go a mile, go with him twain. Give to him that asketh thee, and from him that would borrow of thee turn not thou away. Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy. But I say unto you, Love you’re enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; that ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust. For if ye love them w high love you, what reward have ye? Do not even the publicans the same? And if ye salute your brethren only, what do ye more than others? Do not even the publicans so? Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect” (Matthew 5:38-48).
“For as we have many members in one body, and all members have not the same office: so we, being many, are one body in Christ, and every one members one of another. Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, whether prophecy, let us prophecy according to the proportion of faith; or ministry, let us wait on our ministering: or he that teacheth on teaching; or he that exhorteth on exhortation: he that giveth, let him do it with simplicity; he that ruleth with diligence; he that sheweth mercy, with cheerfulness. Let love be without dissimulation.A bore that which is evil; cleave to that which is good. Be kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love; in honour preferring one another; not slothful in business; fervent in spirit; serving the Lord; rejoicing in hope; patient in tribulation; continuing instant in prayer; distributing to the necessity of saints; given to hospitality. Bless them which persecute you: bless, and curse not. Rejoice with them that do rejoice, and weep with them that weep. Be of the same mind one toward another. Mind not high things, but condescend to men of low estate. Be not wise in your own conceits. Recompense to no man evil for evil. Provide things honest in the sight of all men. If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men. Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord. Therefore if thine enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him drink:for in so doing thou shalt heap coals of fire on his head. Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good” (Romans 12:4-21).
Please pay close attention to the words which are found in this passage of Scripture for within it we are brought face to face with what it means to live as part of the fellowship and community of the spiritual body of Christ. When you return your attention to the words found in the eleventh chapter of this first epistle written by the apostle Paul unto the Corinthian saints you will find the apostle Paul rebuking and correcting them once more—and not only correcting them once more but correction them for the division that was present among them. As you read the words presented within this passage of Scripture you will find the apostle Paul describing how he did not, would not and could not praise these saints because when they came together they came together not for the better but for the worse. The apostle Paul goes on to describe how when they come together in the church there were divisions among them which he himself actually believed. What’s more is the apostle Paul goes on to write how there were also heresies among them those which were approved might be made manifest among them. This is actually something worth recognizing and understanding for Jesus Himself declared that you would know a tree by its fruit—and not only would you know a tree by its fruit but you would be able to discern false prophets who come disguised as wolves in sheep’s clothing by their fruit. What we find within this passage of Scripture is incredibly unique and powerful when you take the time to think about it for it calls and draws our attention to the absolutely wonderful reality of heresies, false gospels, false teaching and false doctrine that not only expose the false teachers which creep in among us but also expose those who are approved and those who are righteous and holy among us.
I read the words which are found in this passage of Scripture and I am brought face to face with the absolutely wonderful reality surrounding the presence of heresies, false gospels, false teaching and false doctrine which must needs be manifested among us that by and through them those who are and those who have been approved by the living God might be manifested among us. We dare not and must not miss and lose sight of this and how absolutely incredible it truly is for it calls and draws our attention to the absolutely wonderful reality surrounding those whom the living and eternal God has indeed and has in fact approved among us. It is by and through false teaching, heresies, false doctrine, false gospels that those who preach the truth and those who uphold righteousness might be manifested among us. This is a reality which is found in the first epistle written by the apostle John unto the saints which were at Ephesus as he spoke about those antichrists who deny Jesus is the Son of God and deny that Jesus did indeed and did in fact come in the flesh. The apostle John emphatically declared that they went out from among us demonstrating and proving that they were never among us nor were a part of us and were in essence antichrists who neither believe on Jesus nor confess with their mouths that He is both Lord and Christ. What’s more is that in the twenty-third chapter of the Old Testament prophetic book of Jeremiah we find the word of the LORD coming unto Jeremiah concerning the false prophets which were present during those days. That which is truly intriguing when you take the time to think about it is that the presence of the false always does and always will highlight and underscore that which is true. The presence of false prophets has always and will always highlight and shine a great light on the true prophets of the living and eternal God and those who proclaim and declare the truth of the word of the LORD unto men.
The more I read the words presented in this epistle the more I am confronted with the fact that while it is indeed true that light shines through the darkness and light overcomes darkness it is the darkness that proves and reveals the light. So long as there is darkness there will always be light and it is the presence of darkness that demonstrates the incredible reality that light does indeed exist and that light shines through and completely destroy darkness. What we must recognize is that darkness is simply the absence of light and something that was indeed created by the living God as is evidenced in the Old Testament book of Genesis. What’s more is that just as darkness is the absence of light so also are lies and so also is falsehood and deception that absence of truth. That which is false has always been and will always be the antitheses of that which is true and more often than not it is that which is false which proves and demonstrates that which is indeed true in the sight and presence of the living God. There is a great need for us as the saints of God and as the disciples of the Lord Jesus Christ to be such who recognize lies, deception, falsehood, false teaching, false doctrine, false gospels, heresies and the like when we hear and encounter it. The apostle Paul wrote unto the Corinthian saints that there must needs be heresies among them that those who were and those who had been approved might be manifested among them. This is something which warrants strong consideration when reading this epistle and specifically this chapter as it calls and draws our attention to the absolutely wonderful truth surrounding the need for truth and light to be manifested among us. We dare not and must not miss and lose sight of this reality for there is a great need for us to acknowledge and be strong advocates and proponents for the truth that is found in the divine and sacred word of God.
If you continue reading the words presented in this eleventh chapter you will find the apostle Paul shifting gears and further speaking of the community and fellowship of the spiritual body of the Lord Jesus Christ. The apostle Paul writes that when they came together into one place they were disregarding and despising the Lord’s supper and the Lord’s table. The apostle Paul goes on to write how in eating every one takes before another his own supper and one is left hungry and another is drunken. He then goes on to ask if they have not houses to eat and to drink in and if they despise the church of God and shame them that have not. The apostle Paul would and could not praise them in this for that which they were doing was indeed despising one another and causing certain of those among them to go hungry and go without. This is something which we must needs recognize and understand for it brings us face to face with what is accomplished when we gather together as the spiritual body of Christ in the midst of the church building. When we gather together are we gathering together for the good and the edification of each other or do we gather together and destroy, tear down and break apart each other. Are there some among us who are exactly what the prophet Ezekiel prophesied of in the thirty-fourth chapter of the Old Testament prophetic book which bears his name. It is in this particular passage where Ezekiel not only prophesies according to the word of the Lord concerning the sheep of God’s pasture which were scattered—the sheep being the children and people of Israel—but also how some of the sheep which were present in the midst of the land were indeed biting and devouring each other. There were sheep who were scattered upon the mountains and were become a prey unto those who would destroy and consume them, however, there were others who were a prey by men and women among the children of Israel themselves. This is something which is especially true of us within this nation for when we should be able to freely gather together in our homes breaking bread and engaging in fellowship with each other we are too busy biting and devouring each other. Moreover we are spending more time devouring and consuming one another in our own lusts and our own unbridled desires than we are edifying and building each other other. With this in mind I invite you to consider the following words which are found in the Old Testament prophetic book of Ezekiel concerning the sheep of God’s pasture which were the children and house of Israel:
“And the word of the LORD came unto me, saying, Son of man, prophesy against the shepherds of Israel, prophesy, and say unto them, Thus saith the LORD God unto the shepherds; Woe be to the shepherds of Israel that do feed themselves! Should not the shepherds feed the flocks? Ye eat the fat, and ye clothe you with the wool, ye kill them that are fed: but ye feed not the flock. The diseased have ye not strengthened, neither have ye healed that which was sick, neither have ye bound up that which was broken, neither have ye bound up that which was broken, neither have ye brought again that which was driven away, neither have ye sought that which was lost; but with force and with cruelty have ye ruled them. And they were scattered, because there is no shepherd: and they became meat to all the beasts of the field, when they were scattered. My sheep wandered through all the mountains, and upon every high hill: yea, my flock was scattered upon all the face of the earth, and none did search after them” (Ezekiel 34:1-6).
“Therefore, ye shepherds, hear the word of the Lord; as I live, saith the Lord God, surely because my flock became a prey, and my flock became meat to every beast of the field, because there was no shepherd, neither did my shepherds search for my flock, but the shepherds fed themselves, and fed not my flock; therefore, O ye shepherds, hear the word of the LORD; thus saith the Lord God; Behold, I am against the shepherds; and I will require my flock at their hand, and cause them to cease from feeding the flock; neither shall the shepherds feed themselves any more; for I will deliver my flock from their mouth, that they may not be meat for them” (Ezekiel 34:7-10).
“For thus saith the LORD God; Behold, I, even I, will both search my sheep, and seek them out. As a shepherd seeketh out his flock in the day that he is among his sheep that are scattered; so will I seek out my sheep, and will deliver them out of all places where they have been scattered in the cloudy and dark day. And I will bring them out from the people, and gather them from the countries, and will bring them to their own land, and feed them upon the mountains of Israel by the rivers, and in all the inhabited places of the country. I will feed them in a good pasture, and upon the high mountains of Israel shall their fold be: there shall they lie in a good fold, and in a fast pasture shall they feed upon the mountains of Israel. I will feed my flock, and I will cause them to lie down, saith the LORD God. I will seek that which was lost, and bring again that which as driven away, and will build up that which was broken,a nd will strengthen that which was sick: but I will destroy the fat and the strong; I will feed them with judgment. And as for you, O my flock, saith the LORD God; Behold, I judge between cattle and cattle, between the rams and the he goats. Seemeth it a small thing unto you to have eaten up the good pasture, but ye must tread down with your feet the residue of your pastures? And to have drunk of the deep waters, but ye must foul the residue with your feet? And as for my flock, they eat that which ye have trodden with your feet; and they drink that which ye have fouled with feet” (Ezekiel 34:11-19).
“Therefore thus saith the LORD God unto them; Behold, I, even I, will judge between the fat cattle and between the lean cattle. Because ye have thrust with side and with shoulder, and pushed all the diseased with your horns, till ye have scattered them abroad; Therefore will I save my flock, and they shall no more be a prey; and I will judge between cattle and cattle. And I will set up one shepherd over them, and he shall feed them, even my servant David; he shall feed them, and he shall feed them, even my servant David; he shall feed them, and he shall be their shepherd. And I the LORD will be their God, and my servant David a prince among them; I the Lord have spoken it. And I will make with them a covenant of peace, and will cause the evil beasts to cease out of the land: and they shall dwell safely in the wilderness, and sleep in the woods. And I will make them and the places round about my hill a blessing; and I will cause the shower to come down in his season; there shall be showers of blessing. And the tree of the field shall yield her fruit, and the earth shall yield her increase, and they shall be safe in their land, and shall know that I am the LORD, when I have broken the bands of their yoke, and delivered them out of the hand of those that served themselves of them. And they shall no more be a prey to the heathen, neither shall the beast of the land devour them; but they shall dwell safely, and none shall make them afraid. And I will raise up for them a plant of renown, and they shall be no more consumed with hunger in the land, neither bear the shame of the heathen any more. Thus shall they know that I the LORD their God am with them, and that they, even the house of Israel, are my people, saith the LORD God. And ye my flock, the flock of my pasture, are men, and I am your God, saith the LORD God” (Ezekiel 34:20-31).
As I bring this writing to a close I find it absolutely necessary to call and draw your attention to the words which are found in the eleventh chapter of the first epistle written by the apostle Paul unto the saints at Corinth. Within this passage of Scripture the apostle Paul writes and speaks to the reality of the Lord’s Supper—and not only the Lord’s supper but also the Lord’s table. You will recall in the final chapter of the New Testament gospel written by Luke that the two men whom Jesus met as they walked along the road to Emmaus and whom Jesus had entered into their home and engaged in fellowship recounted unto the disciples how Jesus had made Himself known unto them in the breaking of bread. This is something worth noting for when you read the narrative of the early church as it was recorded in the second chapter of the book of Acts you will find those who believed gathering together from house to house and giving themselves to the breaking of bread and to fellowship one with another. The apostle Paul writes in the eleventh chapter of this epistle how the saints were given a powerful description of the Lord’s supper and the intimate fellowship that took place between them on the night in which He was betrayed. I am absolutely convinced that we need to carefully examine the Lord’s supper and recognize the intimate fellowship we have been invited into—not only with Jesus Himself and not only with the living and eternal God but also with each other as the cup was given to all who were at the table. Not only this but the Lord’s supper would be a memorial that would indeed be celebrated by all those who believe on the name of the Lord Jesus and how we must recognize how we have indeed been called into fellowship and community with each other that we might truly experience the fellowship which exists between the Father, between the Son and between the Holy Spirit.