Tuesday, November 28, 2017

when I met myself in carnal Corinth...

The Word for today:
1 Corinthians 1:17
The last time we were in the New Testament, we were in the towering spiritual treatise of Romans. Romans tells us how things could and should and (ultimately) will be.
But embedded in Romans is one chapter--chapter 7--that sticks out like a sore thumb. It tells us about a man who, despite his faith in Christ, is personally powerless against the onslaught of sin:
I am carnal, sold under sin. I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate.
For I delight in the law of God, in my inmost self, but I see in my members another law at war with the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin.
Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? (Romans 7:14-15, 22-24)
That man was the Apostle Paul and that man is I and maybe that man is you. He was what we call a carnal Christian--a person who is saved through faith in Christ, but lives a life that doesn't look like it!
That man in chapter 7 of Romans is a microcosm of the church in 1 Corinthians. They believe in Jesus' death and resurrection and thus are "saved," but by looking at them you wouldn't know it.
There is dissension and division in the ranks; some follow this church leader while some follow that one. There is sexual immorality, and drunkenness, and worldly philosophies are making inroads into their outlooks. There are marriages gone asunder and divisiveness over doctrine. There is pride (or envy) over the spiritual gifts they had (or wished they had.)
And that was all within the church! Outside of the church, they had to contend with Sin City itself. Corinth was a wealthy, worldly, and boisterous place in perpetual pursuit of pleasure.
Its population (nearly a million) was second only to Rome's. It was the center of the worship of Venus--a religion whose "priests" were prostitutes--along with any number of crazy cults and "new" religions.
And it was influential. Because of its crossroads location and its reputation as the place least likely to convert to the Christian faith, Paul knew that if the gospel could make it there, it would make it anywhere.
So as we read through First Corinthians and (starting just after Christmas) Second Corinthians, make sure you meet yourself in these scenes. You will certainly recognize me there, and you will be astounded how Paul could know so much about the church you currently attend!
And remember, as you read through these sometimes-sordid scenes, that Paul was the perfect person to help these new believers, because he'd come all the way through scriptural Sin City--chapter 7 of Romans--and lived to tell about it.

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