Day 303 – Thru the Bible
Today we continue in First Corinthians.
1 Corinthians 5 – In this chapter, Paul rebukes the church at Corinth for another problem that has been reported to him: they are tolerating a sexually immoral relationship between a man and his stepmother. The chapter is a powerful, clear reminder that God’s grace provides not permission to sin but power for holiness. During the Feast of Unleavened Bread, Old Testament Believers diligently purged their homes of all “leaven” in honor of God’s gracious deliverance of Israel from slavery in Egypt (see Exodus ; ; ). Similarly, the work of Jesus delivers Believers from bondage to sin, giving us joy and strength for purging our lives of “the old leaven” of disobedience. Paul therefore bases his call to holy living on the redeeming death of Jesus (“Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed”) and the new, holy status it gives Believers (“you really are unleavened”).
This text reveals two fundamental principles for Gospel application. First, where the Gospel is at work, holiness will result. Those who profess faith in Jesus are therefore not free to engage in immorality, sexual or otherwise, and they must be disciplined when they persist in sin. The most severe form of discipline involves being cut off from the fellowship of the church. Yet the gospel offers hope that even such offenders may one day be restored to full fellowship and “saved in the day of the Lord.”
Second, the kind of holiness God desires cannot be produced apart from the Gospel. When the sinful patterns “of this world” surround us and tempt us to compromise, the proper response is to return to the unchanging grace of God, who made His saving mercies known in the Passover, and ultimately in Jesus—acting as our Passover Lamb. Jesus was “sacrificed” in the past: “let us therefore celebrate the festival” (honoring Jesus just as the Passover honored God) in the present by lives of sincere devotion and truth.
How do we remember that “church discipline” is really meant to be “church restoration”? How do we truly love those who are currently captured by their sin?
1 Corinthians 6 – Here Paul confronts two additional problems: some of the Corinthians are suing one another in secular courts, and others are engaging in sexual relations with prostitutes. Paul’s response makes it clear that grace and holiness go hand in hand. As mutual heirs of God’s kingdom, we are not free to bring lawsuits against fellow Believers regarding property/financial disputes that can be settled in the church; we are not free to “wrong and defraud” our brothers, or to engage in the various other forms of self-indulgence named in verses . Once we were mired in the filth of such sin, but now we are “washed,” “sanctified” (made fit for God’s holy purposes), and “justified” (made righteous in Jesus, and therefore heirs of God’s kingdom). God accomplishes this gracious work for us through “the Lord Jesus Christ,” and in us “by the Spirit.” When He does this work in us, we are given power for a new life, which includes the desire and ability to repent when we hear stern warnings about sin and its consequences.
Two additional Gospel truths appear in Paul’s rebuke concerning prostitution. First, gratitude for the redeeming death of Jesus provides a powerful motive for physical devotion to God. “You were bought with a price,” Paul says, “So glorify God in your body.” Second, union with Jesus gives us a new spiritual power for all of life. Believers in Jesus are “joined to the Lord” so closely that even our bodies become “members of Christ” and temples of the Holy Spirit. Because of this life-giving union, we have both a responsibility to live all of life for Jesus (“The body is . . . for the Lord”) and the promise that Jesus, by His Spirit, is always with us and providing for us (“and the Lord for the body”).
The power of the cross pulses through the entire chapter. Only through such power can we surrender our rights, patiently “suffer wrong,” and forgive those who harm us (Luke 6:27–36; 23:34). And because sin, sexual or otherwise, appeals to our desire for self-gratification, only something as powerful as Jesus’ self-sacrifice can produce the selfless devotion that will exercise Jesus’ power to release us from temptation’s grip.
How are you aware of the power of the Spirit within you to keep you from sin and provide grace when you do sin?
What other thoughts or questions does today’s reading bring up?
Some of these notes are from the ESV Gospel Transformation Bible study notes. We highly recommend this study Bible.
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