Today's Word for Pastors...
"For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.
Today's Preaching Insight...
Immorality In The Church
I wrote to you in my letter not to associate with sexually immoral persons — not at all meaning the immoral of this world, or the greedy and robbers, or idolaters, since you would then need to go out of the world. But now I am writing to you not to associate with anyone who bears the name of brother or sister who is sexually immoral or greedy, or is an idolater, reviler, drunkard, or robber. Do not even eat with such a one. (1 Corinthians 5:9-11)
The first four chapters of 1 Corinthians deal primarily with divisions in the church. These divisions come when individual believers live not as spiritual but as fleshly, carnal persons.
Carnal Christians produce not only divisions within the church when they cut themselves free from spiritual wisdom or eternal wisdom, exchanging it for carnal wisdom or temporal wisdom. They also produce other behavior patterns. Paul now turns to these. In the next several chapters, he deals with specifics.
In chapter 5, he talks specifically about sexual immorality in the church. In this chapter, we confront the issue of how a church is to handle cases of sexual immorality within its own fellowship. Later in January, after the Advent Season, we will look more specifically at biblical standards for Christian sexual behavior.
The church of Jesus Christ is an island in the middle of a polluted ocean. The sea laps upon its shores. It is impossible for us to live our contemporary existence without a constant exposure to moral pollution. The stench of it is so common that we have become accustomed to its rotten odors.
We observe so much immorality in the everyday lives of persons with whom we come in contact that we close our eyes to these tragic actions and attitudes. We don't want to spend all our time judging others, so we pretend we don't see what we see. Or, if we see it, we can so quickly accommodate ourselves to it that it no longer seems so bad. In fact, we tear down the signs that say, "Danger. Do not swim. Waters are polluted." We dive into the bay without adequate inoculation against disease. Then we are surprised when we hear about some Christian who has messed up morally.
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Illustration: Excuses, Family
A cowboy walks into a bar in Texas, orders three mugs of Bud and sits in the back room, drinking a sip out of each one in turn. When he finishes them, he comes back to the bar and orders three more.
The bartender approaches and tells the cowboy, "You know, a mug goes flat after I draw it. It would taste better if you bought one at a time."
The cowboy replies, "Well, you see, I have two brothers. One is in Australia, the other is in Dublin, and I'm in Texas. When we all left home, we promised we'd drink this way to remember the days we drank together. So I drink one for each of my brothers and one for myself."
The bartender admits this is a nice custom, and leaves it there. The cowboy becomes a regular in the bar, and always drinks the same way. He orders three mugs and drinks them in turn. One day, though, he comes in and orders only two mugs. All the regulars take notice and fall silent.
When he comes back to the bar for the second round, the bartender says, "I don't want to intrude on your grief, but I wanted to offer my condolences on your loss."
The cowboy looks quite puzzled for a moment, then a light dawns and he laughs. "Oh, no, everybody's just fine," he explains. "It's just that my wife and I joined the Baptist Church in Sweetwater, and I had to quit drinking. Hasn't affected my brothers though."
(from Walt Mansfield, Grace Shepherd Church, Bellefontaine, Ohio)
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