Watching Daily At Wisdom's Gates

A Yorkshireman's take on life, death, and eternity

Month: June, 2018

Glory

So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.
1 Corinthians 10:31

What is our motivation for the things we do? Are we self seeking, looking for a comfortable life for ourselves? Or are we looking to bless and do good to others? And ultimately, where does God come in the equation?

Paul in the context has been talking about food sacrificed to idols. He suggested that it’s best to not knowingly eat it, and so participate with idolatry, which is in fact demon worship. But he also says if we’re not specifically told it’s idol food at a friend’s house, we don’t have to raise the question and eat in good conscience.

Why should it matter what we eat and drink? Well it boils down to motivation. Are we motivated by a desire to glorify God, or simply to satisfy ourselves and perhaps become participants with idol worship? We have an alternative to halal food for example: the Lord’s Supper, the bread and wine that symbolise His broken body and shed blood for us.

Bread and wine might seem more humble than a dinner kebab, but as long as we’re glorifying God, that’s the main thing. The most important thing is good motives, then from that root will grow good practice. May God be glorified in every aspect of our lives!

“Oh God our Lord, may You be glorified in every area of our lives. May we glorify You even in what we eat and drink. Please help us to be good witnesses of You, for the honour of Your name, amen”

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Freedom

Am I not free? Am I not an apostle? Have I not seen Jesus our Lord? Are not you my workmanship in the Lord?
1 Corinthians 9:1

Paul is speaking rhetorically here. He knew all the things he questioned were true, but was seeking to shame the judgemental Corinthian church into recognising their truth. The Corinthians were unfairly calling Paul’s apostleship into question.

Of course Paul was free. He wasn’t the Corinthians’ slave, even if they treated Him like one. He had been set free from slavery to sin to serve the Lord Jesus Christ, like any other believer.

Not only so, but Paul was an apostle: someone seen by the Lord Jesus Christ and commissioned to serve Him. It may have been like an overdue baby, but He finally came to faith and trusted in the Saviour. The Lord sent Him to the Gentiles, including the Corinthians.

The Corinthians were Paul’s workmanship in the Lord. People work in order to achieve results. Paul worked to establish a church in Corinth, and they were the fruit of his labour.

“Our Lord God, may we live in the light of the freedom You have called us to. Please help us to work well for You, and not cast doubt upon the motives and credentials of our brethren. In Christ’s name, amen”

Change

And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.
1 Corinthians 6:11

This verse is part of the famous passage that says that practicing homosexuals (among other sins) will not inherit the kingdom of God. We often make homosexuality out to be a worse sin than others, but the Corinthian church included those who were recovering from homosexuality.

If we are to examine the list (which isn’t exhaustive)- we are likely to find ourselves there, even if we don’t struggle with same sex attraction- “the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers”. But none of these sins are unforgivable.

The Corinthian church was full of recovering sinners, not Pharisees. Any genuine church is made up of sinners saved by grace and made to be saints in the church of Christ. A fake church is made up of “holier than thou” hypocrites.

The church is made up of washed, sanctified and justified sinners. It’s all in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God. If God wasn’t triune, and united in His purpose to save us, we would never be saved.

“God Almighty, please wash, sanctify and justify us from our sins. We don’t ask this because we’re particularly good at cleaning up our acts, but because Christ died for us and the Spirit works for us, for Your glory, amen”

Judgement

Therefore do not pronounce judgment before the time, before the Lord comes, who will bring to light the things now hidden in darkness and will disclose the purposes of the heart. Then each one will receive his commendation from God.
1 Corinthians 4:5

What Paul seems to be talking about in the context is motives. The Corinthians seemed to be calling into question His apostleship, whether he was a genuine servant of the Lord or more of a hired hand. But they couldn’t fault his work, so Paul is saying here not to judge motivations.

We are not to be spiritual thought police. Obviously, if someone is actively doing sin, that must be challenged in the church. But if it’s in the realm of the thought life, we need to take people at their word and give them the benefit of the doubt.

For example, Paul in Romans 7 admitted that he struggled with covetousness, a very internal, heart sin. There’s no indication it had outward manifestations in how he spoke or acted, but he was open and honest enough to admit he had a problem but was trusting in the mercies of God to deliver him.

If, on the other hand, some Corinthian was struggling with outward manifestations of lust, like the man who had his father’s wife, there was a place for judgement. But if there is confession and repentance, the sinner should be restored in a spirit of gentleness without judging the genuineness of their turn around.

“Lord, please enable us to live in the light of Your coming judgement. May we be tough on ourselves, and gentle with others. Please help us to deal with heart problems before they spawn into outward manifestations of sinfulness, in Christ’s name, amen”

Unimaginable

But, as it is written, “What no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man imagined, what God has prepared for those who love him”—
1 Corinthians 2:9

Before Christ came to earth, no eye saw Him in the flesh. Even those He appeared to before His incarnation would have been amazed at the thought that He would be incarnated. No one could have guessed God’s salvation plan.

Without hearing the teachings of Christ, even those who met Him before His advent, could never have imagined that He would be heard as a teacher and Lord on earth. No one could have made up Jesus’ authoritative teaching. But all who hear and believe have been appointed for eternal life.

No heart of man could have imagined the salvation of God. We might have guessed the love of God from every good gift we enjoy. But we could never have hoped that God would save us from the condemnation justice demands of us.

God has prepared unimaginable bliss for those who love Him. Even once we’re saved, we cannot fathom how glorious heaven is going to be. All we can do is rejoice that Jesus is in His Father’s house preparing our eternal lodging places.

“God and Father, we rejoice in our salvation, and at all You have in store for us. Please help us to live for Your glory. In Jesus’ name, amen”

Riddle

And the men of the city said to him on the seventh day before the sun went down, “What is sweeter than honey? What is stronger than a lion?” And he said to them, “If you had not plowed with my heifer, you would not have found out my riddle.”
Judges 14:18

One time Samson killed a lion. Next time he was passing that way, bees had made their home in the carcass. It inspired a riddle for his Philistine guests at his wedding- “out of the eater something to eat; out of the strong, something sweet”. They manipulated his bride to give then the answer.

Samson should really have married a believing Israelite rather than a pagan Philistine. They weren’t compatible. But God was going to use this to help Israel get the upper hand against the Philistines. At this stage however, it looked like the Philistines were winning.

The spiritual meaning of the riddle was probably lost on Samson and the Philistines alike. Who is stronger than God? Which man had power even over death, who was known as the lion of the tribe of Judah? Whose death has brought so much sweetness and life to the world?

The Lord Jesus Christ is the answer to the riddle. The lion of the tribe of Judah would judge us to be worthy of hell. But He gave His life so that we might gain heaven. In Him we find the sweetness of eternal life, and all the spiritual sustainance we need.

“Almighty Father in heaven, we exalt Your Son, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, in whom we find strength and sweetness for our daily walk. Please help us to live to honour Him, for Your glory, amen”

Idolatry

And the people of Israel cried out to the Lord , saying, “We have sinned against you, because we have forsaken our God and have served the Baals.”
Judges 10:10

The people of Israel don’t come our well in the book of Judges. They’re always tending to veer away from the Lord, like a car with dodgy steering. In this verse however we see them repenting and returning to the Lord.

If we’re honest, we’re no less spiritually bent and broken than the Israelites. We would do well to learn from them here- that they cried out to the Lord. Not only so, but they took responsibility and acknowledged their sin and guilt.

First and foremost, Israel had forsaken the Lord their God, the one who brought them up out of slavery in Egypt into the promised land. It’s like us forsaking God who has delivered us from sin and brought us into His kingdom. Sadly we often do, we’re prone to forget the Lord and all His benefits to us.

If we forsake the Lord, we don’t become spiritually neutral; we always have to fill the void with something. For Israel it was Baal, a Canaanite fertility god. For us it may be something seemingly more innocent, like sex, a hobby, or a job. But any good thing that becomes a “god thing” is an idol.

“Lord, as Calvin said, our hearts are idol making factories. Please help us to smash the idols in our hearts, to repent and to trust in You alone. For Your glory, amen”

Division

I appeal to you, brothers, to watch out for those who cause divisions and create obstacles contrary to the doctrine that you have been taught; avoid them.
Romans 16:17

Sadly in the church in Rome, there were those who caused divisions and created obstacles contrary to the doctrine they were taught. Maybe it was to do with food and days as we considered yesterday. Some were insisting on vegetarianism, and others on the observance of special days.

Paul had explained that it doesn’t matter what you eat or what days you observe, as long as your conscience is clear and you’re not judging other consciences. We live in an age where society judges the consciences of believers- not to abort disabled babies, to speak the gospel, to uphold God ordained marriage etc. We must be “true to ourselves” in the sense that we do what we feel to be right, and don’t do what we feel to be wrong.

People create divisions in churches over all sorts of petty things, making food and days seem vital in comparison. Often it’s about worship styles, old or new only. Surely a balance of old and new worship songs is the most sensible compromise.

One division I never quite understood is a fixation with the King James translation of the Bible. I’m sure it was an okay translation in its day, but the English language has moved on in 400 years. As the translator Tyndale said, he wanted a ploughboy to understand the Scriptures better than a priest. A 21st century ploughboy would struggle to understand the KJV; I’m sure Tyndale would give his blessing to a newer translation!

“Lord God, please help us to avoid divisive people. Sadly we do know of people in our churches who insist on their own form of worship rather than the Bible’s pattern. Please give us the grace to faithfully follow your word without compromising our integrity. For Your glory, amen”

Division

I appeal to you, brothers, to watch out for those who cause divisions and create obstacles contrary to the doctrine that you have been taught; avoid them.
Romans 16:17

Sadly in the church in Rome, there were those who caused divisions and created obstacles contrary to the doctrine they were taught. Maybe it was to do with food and days as we considered yesterday. Some were insisting on vegetarianism, and others on the observance of special days.

Paul had explained that it doesn’t matter what you eat or what days you observe, as long as your conscience is clear and you’re not judging other consciences. We live in an age where society judges the consciences of believers- not to abort disabled babies, to speak the gospel, to uphold God ordained marriage etc. We must be “true to ourselves” in the sense that we do what we feel to be right, and don’t do what we feel to be wrong.

People create divisions in churches over all sorts of petty things, making food and days seem vital in comparison. Often it’s about worship styles, old or new only. Surely a balance of old and new worship songs is the most sensible compromise.

One division I never quite understood is a fixation with the King James translation of the Bible. I’m sure it was an okay translation in its day, but the English language has moved on in 400 years. As the translator Tyndale said, he wanted a ploughboy to understand the Scriptures better than a priest. A 21st century ploughboy would struggle to understand the KJV; I’m sure Tyndale would give his blessing to a newer translation!

“Lord God, please help us to avoid divisive people. Sadly we do know of people in our churches who insist on their own form of worship rather than the Bible’s pattern. Please give us the grace to faithfully follow your word without compromising our integrity. For Your glory, amen”

Liberty

Who are you to pass judgment on the servant of another? It is before his own master that he stands or falls. And he will be upheld, for the Lord is able to make him stand.
Romans 14:4

The Christians in Rome had a number of differences of opinion on secondary issues. The ones Paul mentioned are to do with food and days. Some of them were vegetarians, being so careful to avoid food sacrificed to idols.

Paul did warn in his letters of not participating with demons in the idol feasts were going on. But he also said that even if you weren’t sure, to not raise questions and to eat regardless. Here however, he stresses that we shouldn’t do anything to hurt our conciences, even if they are weak.

The other issue was observing special days. Maybe this was Jewish Sabbaths and feast days. Or maybe it was adopting the Lord’s Day as a Christian Sabbath. But Paul left room for Christian liberty to observe or otherwise different days.

One servant might be strong, another might be weak. But they’re not to judge each other. Instead, they are to be concerned with their standing before the master, the Lord. God will uphold even the weak servant to serve Him well.

“Lord and God, we are unworthy servants, so often weak and judgemental. Please have mercy upon us, and enable us to stand for You. For Your glory, amen”