Faith Not in Wisdom of Men

1 Corinthians 2:1-5 ESV

“And I, when I came to you, brothers, did not come proclaiming to you the testimony of God with lofty speech or wisdom. For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. And I was with you in weakness and in fear and much trembling, and my speech and my message were not in plausible words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, so that your faith might not rest in the wisdom of men but in the power of God.”

Sinning Against One Another

I listen to different preachers preach from time to time. And I listened to one preach yesterday, and I listened to him again today to make sure I was understanding what he was saying. Who he is doesn’t matter here.

He had a lot of things right, more so than what many are teaching today. He did teach against sin and he taught that we need to not sin for sin is bad for us. And he taught that, as believers in Jesus, that our bodies are not to be given over to sexual immorality but that our bodies are to belong to God and that we are to honor God with our bodies. So that was good, and I applaud him for being strong on sin and strong on moral purity.

He was teaching from 1 Corinthians 5, which covers the subject of the man sleeping with his father’s wife and that the church was proud and that they did nothing about this man’s blatant immorality. But they were counseled to take action, and he explained that was for that man’s good. And then he went on to 1 Corinthians 6 where it talked about Christians taking one another to public court and that they should not do this. And he expanded on that subject perhaps a bit further than what the Scriptures do. So he gave it a little free interpretation there. But he made the point.

And then he went right in to talking about sexual immorality again, for that is the next subject talked about in chapter 6. Only he skipped over verses 9-11 and went right to verses 12-20. Now, there is nothing wrong with skipping verses. I do that sometimes because I can’t share large swaths of Scripture and write, too, and so I focus on the ones that are teaching what the Lord is wanting me to focus on. But here is the problem with this skip.

Although he was strong on the subject of sin and on our need to live morally pure lives, he was weak on the subject of God’s grace and forgiveness. He told the people that when they sin they are going to feel guilty but that it is Satan making them feel guilty for their sin, and the object appeared to be to alleviate the guilt and shame even if the sin itself was not forsaken.

The Wisdom of Men

He said God doesn’t want you to feel guilt and shame for your sin but he wants you to be in a loving relationship with him. He said that God put your sin away. He said, “God loves you exactly as you are. He will take you and hug you and restore your soul. There is no sin that can take away what God can give. God can fill any hole. He wants to give you his grace. You just have to humbly ask him for it. You gotta admit with him what’s been going on is sin and you gotta deal with it. If you say, ‘God forgive me, he will.’”

So, here’s the deal. What he skipped over followed right after Paul chided the church (perhaps not all of them) for taking one another to court when this should have been settled in the church. And Paul said that he said this to their “shame.” And then he concluded with, “But you yourselves wrong and defraud even your own brothers.” And then this is the skipped part:

“Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. 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 6:9-11).

What Paul was doing was warning them against sinning against one another and against being deceived into thinking that their sins wouldn’t matter for eternity. For the “unrighteous” has to do more with how we live than with a status we wear. And he was talking about people who are habitually and deliberately sinning in these various ways, that they would not inherit the kingdom of God. He was warning them that if they made sin their practice that they would not have eternal life.

But then the Apostle Paul acknowledged that some of the Corinthians were there (past) but they were washed, sanctified, and were justified. But that didn’t nullify the warning to not be deceived or that if they practiced sin that they would not inherit the kingdom of heaven. And this isn’t the only place in the Scriptures where professing Christians are warned against deception and against living in deliberate and habitual sin, that the end result will be that they will die in their sins and that they will not inherit eternal life.

So, why did this pastor skip over this part? It was an important piece of the message that bound the thoughts on sinning against one another with the warning of what will happen if we continue in deliberate and habitual sin.

Testing the Spirits

The message the pastor was giving, although he was strong against living in sin, was that no matter how much we sin God is there to forgive us and hug us and that he doesn’t want us to feel guilty or shamed for deliberately and habitually sinning, and he loves us exactly as we are, and he will always be extending his grace to us as long as we ask for it and as long as we admit that we sinned. But is that what the Scriptures teach?

Where does it say in Scripture that God does not want us to feel guilty for sinning against him? Jesus said to the Pharisees that if they were blind they would have no guilt but since they said, “We see,” he told them their guilt remains (Jn 9:41). Jesus said if he had not come and spoken to the Jews, they would not have been guilty of sin, but now they have no excuse for their sin. And he said if he had not done among them the works that no one else did, they would not be guilty of sin, but now they had seen and hated both Jesus and God the Father (Jn 15:22-24).

And then we read in 1 Corinthians 5:11 where Paul said he was writing to them not to associate with anyone who bears the name of brother if he is guilty of sexual immorality or greed, or is an idolater, etc. They were not even to eat with him. Then in 1 Corinthians 11:27 we read that whoever eats the bread and drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty concerning the body and blood of the Lord. It is not Satan who is making them guilty. It is their sin which is making them guilty. And nowhere does it say we should not feel guilt for our sin.

And does God love us exactly as we are? Jesus said, “Whoever has my commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves me. And he who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and manifest myself to him” (John 14:21). “If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love” (John 15:10). “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven” (Matthew 7:21).

And John said, “And by this we know that we have come to know him, if we keep his commandments. Whoever says, ‘I know him’ but does not keep his commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in him, but whoever keeps his word, in him truly the love of God is perfected” (1 John 2:3-5). “Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him” (1 John 2:15). “Little children, let no one deceive you. Whoever practices righteousness is righteous, as he is righteous. Whoever makes a practice of sinning is of the devil, for the devil has been sinning from the beginning” (1 John 3:7-8).

And Paul said, God “will render to each one according to his works: to those who by patience in well-doing seek for glory and honor and immortality, he will give eternal life; but for those who are self-seeking and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, there will be wrath and fury” (Romans 2:6-8). “Do you not know that if you present yourselves to anyone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin, which leads to death, or of obedience, which leads to righteousness?” (Romans 6:16)

So, test everything you hear or read against the Scriptures (in context) for not everyone tells the truth, not even those who tell half the truth.

I Stand in Awe

By Mark Altrogge

You are beautiful
You are beautiful beyond description
Too marvelous for words
Too wonderful for comprehension
Like nothing ever seen or heard
Who can grasp Your infinite wisdom?
Who can fathom the depth of Your love?
You are beautiful beyond description
Majesty, enthroned above

And I stand, I stand in awe of You
I stand, I stand in awe of You
Holy God, to whom all praise is due
I stand in awe of You

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