Immorality Weakens the Christian

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I Corinthians 6:1-8

Buster wanted to take an earlier flight home but the plane appeared to be completely full. The gate agent confirmed his thoughts and placed his name on the standby list. Just moments before the plane was scheduled to depart, a large group of people deboarded. After some discussion with the agent, the group sat down in the lounge area. And then it happened, Buster heard his name called from the standby list. He rushed to the counter and paid for his fare. Then with his boarding pass in hand, he asked about the sudden availability. The attendant replied, “That group that got off of the plane is headed to a psychics’ convention and they felt directed to take the next flight.”

How do we decide what is right and wrong? Congress passes a law and we know right and wrong because it is defined by law. Whether something is moral or immoral is defined by scripture. Scripture defines us as moral if we do the will of God, but immoral if we do not. “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.” (I Corinthians 6:11)

I remember as a student in seminary visiting in the hospital, a patient was in the hospital suffering from some illnesses because of some life choices. She had been sexually promiscuous. I had been called in because she had been warned that her lifestyle was unhealthy and she could die if it continued. When we got to the heart of the problem she said, “God let the people in Sodom live this way.” “Didn’t you read the rest of the story? God destroyed Sodom because of the people’s sin.” Behavior contrary to established moral principles.

Paul confesses that often he does not understand himself, often he feels trapped in the bondage of sin. (Romans 7:15) Judah had three sons, Er, Onan and Shelah. Judah finds a wife for Er, his firstborn, and her name was Tamar. But Er, was wicked in the LORD’s sight; so the LORD put him to death. Then Judah said to Onan, “Lie with your brother’s wife and fulfill your duty to her as a brother-in-law to produce offspring for your brother.” But Onan knew that the offspring would not be his; so whenever he lay with his brother’s wife, he spilled his semen on the ground to keep from producing offspring for his brother. What he did was wicked in the LORD’s sight; so he put him to death also. Judah then said to his daughter-in-law Tamar, “Live as a widow in your father’s house until my son Shelah grows up.” For he thought, “He may die too, just like his brothers.” So Tamar went to live in her father’s house. After a long time Judah’s wife, the daughter of Shua, died. When Tamar was told, “Your father-in-law is on his way to Timnah to shear his sheep,” she took off her widow’s clothes, covered herself with a veil to disguise herself, and then sat down at the entrance on the road to Timnah. When Judah saw her, he thought she was a prostitute and propositions her, for she had covered her face. “Your seal and its cord, and the staff in your hand,” she answered. Meanwhile Judah sent the young goat by his friend the Adullamite in order to get his pledge back from the woman, but he did not find her. The story of Tamar ends with talk of “righteousness.” Judah proclaims that this wily woman is “more righteous” than he. The story can thus be read as a contrast between two types of righteousness.

Someone was telling me about their home church. They said it was a “Bible-believing church, a church taking stands against abortion and other assorted immorality. But when the pastor’s son got his girlfriend pregnant, and then confessed it and they married, the Board met and fired the pastor.
That’s our righteousness.

The Carr brothers trial ended with a death sentence. If I read my Bible correctly, God’s word gives government the right to punish evil doers, even with death. It was a horrible crime, and if I had been on that jury, I too would have given the death penalty. But with that sentence do we feel safer, or did a little of our society die?

Here is the point, with every sin we commit, no matter how small, we grieve God. Now the Feast of Unleavened Bread, called the Passover, was approaching, and the chief priests and the teachers of the law were looking for some way to get rid of Jesus, for they were afraid of the people. Then Satan entered Judas, called Iscariot, one of the Twelve. (Luke 22)

If we deliberately keep on sinning after we have received the knowledge of the truth, no sacrifice for sins is left, but only a fearful expectation of judgment and of raging fire that will consume the enemies of God. (Heb 10:26)
Matthew 15:19 For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, slander. What is the cure? Fill the heart with things that will prevent immorality.

“Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?” Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” (Matthew 22:36)

A safari hunter was startled by the loud screeching of a bird. When he caught sight of the bird, it was darting back and forth around its nest. He was perplexed by all the racket until he noticed a huge snake moving up the tree.
The hunter could have easily aided the bird with one shot from his gun but he was captivated by the drama before him. As the snake slithered up the tree, the bird became silent and flew from the nest. It now seemed as though the snake would dine without resistance. But before the reptile could reach the nest, the mother bird returned with a leaf in her beak. She carefully placed the leaf over her babies then flew to another tree. The snake raised his head to strike but then hesitated. It froze as if it had met a foe. Slowly it recoiled from the nest and wound its way down the tree. The puzzled hunter related the event to native Africans when he returned to the camp. They laughed with enthusiasm as they explained this unlikely victory of the bird. The leaf that the mother had used to cover her nest was poisonous to the snake. What looked like nothing more than a leaf was in fact a life-saving shield. Our faith may at times feel as flimsy as a leaf, but God’s Word reminds us that it is a shield against the attacks of our serpentine enemy.

Fine Dining

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Matthew 26:17-30

As the salesman came to the front door, he turned to the little boy sitting on the steps and asked, “Is your mother home?” He said yes, and the salesman began to ring the doorbell. After several rings and no response, he turned to the boy and said, “I thought you said your mother was home,” to which the boy replied, “She is, but this isn’t my house.” Sometimes we get the wrong answers because we don’t ask the right questions.

The closest thing that the Jewish community had to the Lord’s Supper was the Passover meal. Everything unclean was to be taken out of the house. A special meal using special recipes was to be used. At the center of the meal was unleaved bread and roasted lamb. It was further directed that the lamb could not have any broken bones. And had to be roasted whole.

This became the basis for the Lord’s Supper and no significance is lost on the fact that Jesus serves the meal for the first time on Passover. The Passover lamb is symbolic of Jesus. Since no bones are broken in the Passover lamb no bones are broken in Jesus. (John 19:31-33) Because the Jews did not want the bodies left on the crosses during the Sabbath, they asked Pilate to have the legs broken and the bodies taken down. The soldiers therefore came and broke the legs of the first man who had been crucified with Jesus, and then those of the other. But when they came to Jesus and found that he was already dead, they did not break his legs. The unleavened bread became symbolic of the purity of the body of Christ. There was nothing unclean or unholy about it. And Jesus Himself, not the world, broke it.

We find that the first century Church easily accepted the Lord’s Supper and participated in the meal at every opportunity of worship. But there was a great out cry by nonbelievers for what they thought was cannibalism. “They are eating Christ’s body.” Well, we are eating His body, but it is only symbolic.
This is a way to remember.

Jesus had already encountered much difficulty in this concept. At this the Jews began to grumble about him because he said, “I am the bread that came down from heaven.” They said, “Is this not Jesus, the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know? Jesus answered. “No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him, and I will raise him up at the last day. I am the bread of life. Jesus is saying, there is something different about this bread. Your forefathers ate the manna in the desert, yet they died. But here is the bread that comes down from heaven, which a man may eat and not die.

The worship of God is comprised of many things; prayer, singing, sermons, Bible readings, etc. At the very center (the heart) of that worship is the body and blood of Christ. There is no worship of God that takes a higher form. It is the most holy moment in the worship of God. It is at the very point of God’s visitation into the congregation.

Jesus said to them, “I tell you the truth, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. Salvation is to be found in this meal. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day.”

We worry about food, we worry about clothing, etc. What about spiritual food? For my flesh is real food and my blood is real drink. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me, and I in him.

It is easy for us in a weekly tradition to forget how important and how powerful this meal really is. This meal reminds us of a covenant between ourselves and God. A covenant of salvation. A covenant of forgiveness. A covenant of healing. A covenant of intimacy.

Paul warned the Church not to take this lightly. (1 Corinthians 11:27-30) Therefore, whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of sinning against the body and blood of the Lord. A man ought to examine himself before he eats of the bread and drinks of the cup. For anyone who eats and drinks without recognizing the body of the Lord eats and drinks judgment on himself. That is why many among you are weak and sick, and a number of you have fallen asleep.

“In an unworthy manner” does not mean without sin. We take the Lord’s Supper because we are sinners. In an unworthy manner means that we need to understand the importance of this meal. And have accepted Jesus into our hearts.