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Paul's First Letter to the Corinthians

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Paul's First Letter to the Corinthians

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Paul's First Letter to the Corinthians

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The church at Corinth was riddled with attitudes and behaviors which brought stern correction from the apostle Paul, and they were a true church of God. Paul also provides several nuggets of truth that explain the value of coming out of these sinful behaviors and the hope found in the promises given for overcoming.

Transcript

The epistle of First Corinthians was written according to my "inspired' margin (which hasn't always turned out to be correct) during the Days of Unleavened Bread from Ephesus in about 57 A.D. When I looked it up in "William Barkley's Commentary", he said 55 A.D. According to William Barkley, Corinth was a great city, one of the greatest trading and commercial centers of the ancient world. The north to south traffic to Greece all passed through Corinth. Most of the east/west trade across the Mediterranean chose to pass through Corinth. Corinth was the 'Vanity Fair', the "Piccadilly Circus" of the ancient world; a rich and populous city with one of the greatest commercial trades in the ancient world. Corinth was also a byword for evil living. To “Corinthianize” meant to live like a Corinthian with drunken and immoral debauchery. If a Corinthian was shown in a Greek theater production, he was shown drunk. The very name Corinth was synonymous with debauchery. There was one source of evil in Corinth that was known all over the civilized world… the temple of Aphrodite, the temple of the goddess of love, which stood on the Hill of the Acropolis. To this temple were attached one thousand priestesses who plied their trade in the city of Corinth in the evenings. Sailors and traders from the ends of the earth added additional filth and debauchery to Corinth, but God called out many people from this sin-laden city. The apostle Paul stayed longer in Corinth than he did any other city, with the single exception of Ephesus.

Today I'm going to speak about the book of First Corinthians and cover the spiritual problems the Corinthian church had. God reveals some amazing spiritual truths through Paul in this book. We are going to go over some of those truths, also.

The title I've given this sermon is: "Paul's First Letter To the Corinthians". This will be more like a Bible Study than a regular sermon.

Let's begin by reading Paul's introduction in 1 Corinthians 1:1-3 1 Corinthians 1:1-3 [1] Paul called to be an apostle of Jesus Christ through the will of God, and Sosthenes our brother, [2] To the church of God which is at Corinth, to them that are sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints, with all that in every place call on the name of Jesus Christ our Lord, both their's and our's: [3] Grace be to you, and peace, from God our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ.
American King James Version×
: Verse 1 "Paul, called to be an apostle of Jesus Christ, through the will of God and Sosthenes our brother," Verse 2 " to the church of God which is at Corinth" (You notice the name of the church is "The Church of God" and that's repeated a number of times in the New Testament.) "…to those who are sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints" (We all have been 'called out', which is a priceless privilege.) "…with all who in every place call on the name of Jesus Christ our Lord, both theirs and ours;" (Then Paul gives a greeting that is pretty much all the same in all his epistles.) Verse 3 "Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ." God isn't a trinity; you don't see the Holy Spirit mentioned in Paul's greetings as a co-equal partner with God the Father and Jesus Christ.

First let's look at some of the spiritual problems the Corinthian church had. Some of us have said through the years 'how can this be the church of God with 'these' kinds of things going on; with 'these' kinds of sins being committed by baptized members of the church?' To any who say or think those thoughts, I say, "Read the book of 1 Corinthians and read Revelation 2 and Revelation 3." You'll see that anything you can think of goes on in the Church of God and it is still the Church of God. There were contentions among the Corinthians and they had favorite ministers. 1 Corinthians 1:10 1 Corinthians 1:10Now I beseech you, brothers, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you; but that you be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment.
American King James Version×
"Now I plead with you brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you all speak the same thing and that there be no divisions (or schisms or dissensions) among you, but that you be perfectly joined together in the same mind, in the same judgment." So, there were schisms and dissensions among them, they didn't get along. They were "butting heads". Verse 11 "For it has been declared to me concerning you by those of Chloe's household that there are contentions (or quarrels, according to the New King James margin) among you." They were going to "fist city". Verse 12 "Now I say that each of you says, 'I am of Paul or I am of Apollos or I am of Cephas or I am of Christ". They were picking sides and choosing whom they would follow and who their favorite was. It wasn't some little friendly bantering back and forth and everybody loved everybody; there were dissensions and schisms and they were quarreling about it. Verse 13 "Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you, or were you baptized in the name of Paul?" Verse 14 "I thank God I baptized none of you except Crispus and Gaius," Verse 15 "lest anyone should say that I had baptized in my own name." Verse 16 "Yes, I also baptized the household of Stephanas; besides that I do not know if I baptized any other." Verse 17 "For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel," (And that's the commission we still inherit, to preach the gospel, the good news of the Kingdom of God.) "not with the wisdom of words, lest the cross of Christ should be made of non effect." The Corinthians were puffed up against one another.

1 Corinthians 4:6 1 Corinthians 4:6And these things, brothers, I have in a figure transferred to myself and to Apollos for your sakes; that you might learn in us not to think of men above that which is written, that no one of you be puffed up for one against another.
American King James Version×
"Now these things, brethren I have figuratively transferred to myself and Apollos for your sake, that you may learn in us not to think beyond what is written, that none of you may be puffed up (arrogant) in behalf of one against the other." None of these are good words; arrogant, schisms, dissensions, quarrels. But this is what was going on in the Church of God in Corinth.

They were also acting as spiritual babes in Christ. 1 Corinthians 3:1 1 Corinthians 3:1And I, brothers, could not speak to you as to spiritual, but as to carnal, even as to babes in Christ.
American King James Version×
"And I, brethren could not speak to you as to spiritual people, but as to carnal, fleshly, as to babes in Christ." Verse 2 "I fed you with milk and not with solid food, you couldn't handle solid food, all you could stand was milk. For until now you were not able to receive it and even now you are still not able," Verse 3 "for you are still carnal (worldly), for where there are envy, strife, and divisions among you, are you not carnal and behaving like mere men?" Verse 4 "Shame on you, for when one says, "I am of Paul' and another 'I am of Apollos', are you not carnal?" Verse 5 "Who then is Paul? And who is Apollos? But ministers through whom you believed as the Lord gave to each one." Verse 6 "I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the increase." God is the One who gets all the credit and the praise and honor and glory! Verse 7 "So then neither he who plants is anything nor he who waters, but God who gives the increase." VERSE 9 "For we are God's fellow workers, you are God's field, you are God's building." We are also the temple of God and we are holy, as Mr. Irvin pointed out. Verse 10 "According to the grace of God which was given to me as a wise master builder, I have laid the foundation and another builds on it. But let each one take heed how he builds on it," Verse 11 "For no other foundation can anyone lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ." Verse 12 "Now if anyone builds on this foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw," Verse 13 "Each one's work will become manifest, for the day will declare it, for it will be revealed by fire, and the fire will test each one's work of what sort it is." Verse 14 "If anyone's work which he has built on it endures, he will receive a reward." Verse 15 "If anyone's work is burned, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as by fire."

The Corinthians were acting like spiritual babes. We need to look at ourselves before the Passover and Unleavened Bread and ask ourselves, "Are we ready to accept the strong meat; or do we need milk and not solid food?"

To top all of this off with the contentions and quarrels and favorite ministers, they had a man in the congregation who was living with, sleeping with his father's wife (His step-mother, I suppose.) in 1 Corinthians 5. Do you think they didn't have problems going on in Corinth? They had a thousand prostitutes roaming the streets, so it was very easy for these church members to get sucked into the Corinthian world. 1 Corinthians 5:1 1 Corinthians 5:1It is reported commonly that there is fornication among you, and such fornication as is not so much as named among the Gentiles, that one should have his father's wife.
American King James Version×
"It is actually reported that there is sexual immorality (porneia - number 4202 in Strong's) among you and such sexual immorality as is not even named among the Gentiles, that a man has his father's wife." This was something that not even the Gentiles stooped to, but what was their reaction? They were tolerating it. Verse 2 "You are puffed up (arrogant) and have not mourned, that who has done this deed might be taken away from you." Verse 3 "For I indeed, as absent in the body but present in spirit, have already judged as though I were present concerning him who has so done this deed." Verse 4 "In the name of our Lord Jesus Christ when you're gathered together along with my spirit with the power of our Lord Jesus Christ," Verse 5 " deliver such a one to Satan for the destruction of the flesh that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus." And so, this man was disfellowshipped, he was put out of the church for his own good. He was delivered to Satan and he did repent and he did come back. You can read about Paul exhorting the Corinthian brethren to support him that he might not be swallowed up in grief. Verse 6 "Your glorying is not good". (Their reaction was not good, it wasn't right.) "DO YOU NOT KNOW THAT A LITTLE LEAVEN LEAVENS THE WHOLE LUMP?" REMEMBER THAT THIS WAS WRITTEN (ACCORDING TO MY MARGIN) DURING THE DAYS OF UNLEAVENED BREAD.) So it's fitting that Paul should refer to leaven; and what does leaven picture during the Days of Unleavened Bread? It pictures sin! We need to come out of "Egypt"; we need to come out of sin. Get rid of the leaven. You take a little tiny bit of leaven and put it in a huge amount of dough and it leavens the whole lump; sin acts just like leaven. With this one man sinning, somebody else would get to thinking about doing the same thing and end up doing the same thing, just like one rotten apple ends up ruining the whole barrel. Verse 7 "Therefore, purge out the old leaven (the old sin) that you may be a new lump, since you truly are unleavened" (Paul may have said that tongue in cheek) "for indeed Christ, our Passover was sacrificed for us." He was sacrificed so we could be forgiven of all of those sins we read in the book of Hebrews 'so easily beset us'. Verse 8 "For since Christ our Passover is sacrificed for us, therefore let us keep the Feast" (Let us keep the Days of Unleavened Bread.) "…not with the old leaven of sin or with the leaven of malice and wickedness, but with the unleavened bread of righteousness, sincerity and truth." That means keep it with commandment keeping and righteousness.

Then Paul goes on continuing in Chapter five about an instruction he had given in a previous epistle that had been misunderstood. 1 Corinthians 5:9 1 Corinthians 5:9I wrote to you in an letter not to company with fornicators:
American King James Version×
"I wrote to you in my epistle not to keep company with sexually immoral people." Verse 10 "Yet I certainly did not mean with the sexually immoral people of this world or with the covetous or with extortioners or idolaters since then you would need to go out of the world." These people were surrounded by all of these things in the city they lived in. They were called out of the sin, but he's saying we ought to self-police ourselves. Verse 11 "But now I have written to you not to keep company with anyone named a brother if he should be a fornicator or covetous or an idolater or a reviler or a drunkard or an extortioner - not even to eat with such a person." He's saying we ought to be self-policing and if we have someone among us who is openly sinning, we need to appeal to them to stop, but we need to disassociate ourselves from them according to these instructions given here by Paul. Verse 12 "What do I have to do with judging those who are outside? Do you not judge those who are inside?" We need to evaluate and we need to be self-policing, not to harm or hurt someone, but to encourage someone to do what's right. Verse 13 "But those who are outside, God judges, therefore put away from yourselves that wicked person." Don't tolerate this behavior, don't encourage it, don't accept it, and don’t practice the wrong. We're all sinners; Romans 3:23 Romans 3:23For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;
American King James Version×
"FOR THE WAGES OF SIN IS DEATH, BUT THE GIFT OF GOD IS ETERNAL LIFE", but we aren't to tolerate someone openly sinning in the congregation.

On top of all of this, they were taking each other to court, in the worldly court, instead of working it out among themselves or going to the church and working it out. They were "duking it out" with each other in the worldly court. 1 Corinthians 6:1 1 Corinthians 6:1Dare any of you, having a matter against another, go to law before the unjust, and not before the saints?
American King James Version×
"Dare any of you having a matter against another, go to law before the unrighteous and not before the saints?" Paul went on to tell them that it was just an utter failure that brethren would go against each other in the worldly courts. Verse 2 "Do you not know that the saints will judge the world?" There are some little tidbits here that are some priceless little gems and nuggets. Verse 2, continued, "If the world will be judged by you, are you unworthy to judge the smallest matters?" Here's another nugget: Verse 3 "Do you not know that we shall judge angels?" How is that going to work? When is that going to happen? "How much more things that pertain to this life?" Verse 4 "If you then you have judgments concerning things pertaining to this life, do you appoint those who are least esteemed by the church to judge?" Verse 5 "I say this to your shame. Is it so, that there is not a wise man among you, not even one who will be able to judge between his brethren?" Verse 6 "But brother goes to law against brother and that before unbelievers?" Verse 7 "Now therefore it is already an utter failure for you that you go to law against one another. Why do you not rather accept wrong?" Why don't you just take it on the chin? Why don't you accept being wronged? "Why do you rather not let yourself be defrauded?" Verse 8 "No, you yourselves do wrong and defraud, and you do these things to your brethren." They were mistreating one another inside the church, they were defrauding one another and then they'd go to court and duke it out. It was a wrong approach and a wrong attitude all the way around.

Then Paul re-summarizes a list of things that if people are constantly doing, and living a life of sin, they won't be in the Kingdom of God. This is a list of sins that prohibits a person from being in the Kingdom of God. 1 Corinthians 6:9 1 Corinthians 6:9Know you not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind,
American King James Version×
"Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the Kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites." Corinth was full of all of this. Verse 10 "Nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the Kingdom of God." Verse 11 "And such WERE (past tense) some of you," They had come out of it. "but you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God." We can't live a sexually immoral life, we can't commit idolatry, and violate the first four commandments of the Ten; we can't be a practicing homosexual or sodomite and be in the Kingdom of God. We can't be a thief or covetous which Paul said is idolatry. We can't be a drunkard or reviling or being an extortioner; all those things will keep us out of the Kingdom of God. We need to go down through these lists here before the Passover and Days of Unleavened Bread and if we're getting close to committing any of these things, we need to 'come out of Egypt', come out of sin. Confess it to God and fast if you need to and God will perform a miracle. The prayer I pray comes from 2 Corinthians and talks about bringing all our thoughts into captivity. When a wrong thought comes to mind, a good approach is to immediately start praying, "God please don't allow my mind to go there. 2 Corinthians 10:4 2 Corinthians 10:4(For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds;)
American King James Version×
"For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, casting down arguments, and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God; bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ." Pray, "Father help me to think your thoughts; Christ help me to think your thoughts; help me to bring all my thoughts into captivity so I don't go off on sinful tangents."

They had brother taking brother to worldly courts. We're going through some of the problems and when we're through with that we'll go through some of the spiritual nuggets, gems that are in the book of 1 Corinthians. 1 Cor. 11: 17 "In giving these instructions, I do not praise you since you come together not for the better but for the worse." Verse 18 "For first of all when you come together as a church, I hear that there are divisions among you and in part I believe it." Verse 19 "For there must also be factions among you that those who are approved may be recognized among you." In addition to all the other problems, there were factions or heresies among them. The apostle Paul says God finds out who is the approved by allowing these factions to occur. Some of the Corinthians were eating a full meal before the Passover and the apostle Paul refers to that as the 'Lord's Supper' in verse 20. In verse 21 and 22 you'll read that others were left hungry and some were even getting drunk. 1 Corinthians 11:21 1 Corinthians 11:21For in eating every one takes before other his own supper: and one is hungry, and another is drunken.
American King James Version×
"For in eating each one takes his own supper ahead of others and one is hungry and another is drunk." Verse 22 "What! Do you not have houses to eat and drink in or do you despise the Church of God, and shame those who have nothing? What shall I say to you? Shall I praise you in this? I do not praise you."

They also had some doctrinal heresy among them. In discussing Christ, Paul asked how some among them could believe there is no resurrection of the dead. 1 Corinthians 15:12 1 Corinthians 15:12Now if Christ be preached that he rose from the dead, how say some among you that there is no resurrection of the dead?
American King James Version×
"Now if Christ has been preached that He has been raised the dead, how do some among you say that there is no resurrection of the dead?" Verse 13 "But if there is no resurrection of the dead, then Christ is not risen," Verse 14 "And if Christ is not risen, then our preaching is vain and your faith is also vain." Verse 15 "Yes, and we are found false witnesses of God, because we have testified of God that He raised up Christ, whom He did not raise up if in fact the dead do not rise." They were denying the whole plan of God by saying that there is no resurrection of the dead. The Sadducees believed that, too. In the book of Acts we can read about how the Sadducees didn't believe in angels or the resurrection. 1 Cor. 15: 16 "For if the dead do not rise, then Christ is not risen" Verse 17 " and if Christ is not risen, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins." Verse 18 "Then also those who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished." Verse 19 "And if in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men the most pitiable."

The Corinthians had one problem after another, but there are some real spiritual nuggets in the book of 1 Corinthians; let's go through some of those now. Let's start with our calling. 1 Cor. 1;26 "For you see your calling, brethren, that not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble are called." But who are we? Some of us may kid ourselves that since it says 'not many wise' that I happen to be one of the wise. Someone might say, "I'm just one of the few mighty that's been called, one of the few noble." But God has chosen the foolish things of the world to put to shame the wise. And God has chosen the weak things of the world to shame the things that are mighty. We don't have any presidents or former presidents here, do we? No movie stars, no sports stars; they're all out playing their sports on the Sabbath. We don't have any of the intellectual elite; they're 'too smart' to be here. We have no Michael Jordans, no Kevin Durants, and no Barack Obamas. Not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble are called. God has chosen the foolish things and the weak things so that God gets all the credit!! Verse 28 "And the base things of the world and things which are despised, God has chosen things which are not, to bring to nothing the things that are" Verse 29 "that no flesh should glory in his presence." The wise and the mighty and the noble are going to be aghast some day that God did a work through us who aren't the wise, mighty, and noble. Verse 30 "But of him, you are in Christ Jesus who became for us wisdom from God and the righteousness and sanctification and redemption," Verse 31 " that as it is written, HE WHO GLORIES LET HIM GLORY IN THE LORD." Any improvement that we make; any righteousness that we have; any holiness that we have and are all goes back to God and He gets all of the credit. We just need to be vessels in his care and direction. God has things in store for us that we've never thought of that's never even entered our minds.

1 Corinthians 2:9 1 Corinthians 2:9But as it is written, Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God has prepared for them that love him.
American King James Version×
"But as it is written,

'EYE HAS NOT SEEN

NOR EAR HEARD

NOR HAVE ENTERED INTO THE HEART OF MAN

THE THINGS WHICH GOD HAS PREPARED

FOR THOSE WHO LOVE HIM.'"

We've not thought of, we've not dreamed about, we've not meditated about the things God has in store for us. These things will be even better than we have dreamed or thought of. How does God have a kingdom that is going to increase forever and peace that is going to increase forever? When we get to the end of the book of Revelation, there's the new heavens and the new earth, and the New Jerusalem, then what? …Then what, for the rest of eternity? I want to be there to know what the rest of eternity will involve and I know you do too. So, anything we have to go through now is worth it. It's absolutely worth it. What we do understand, God has revealed to us through his Spirit. 1 Corinthians 2:10 1 Corinthians 2:10But God has revealed them to us by his Spirit: for the Spirit searches all things, yes, the deep things of God.
American King James Version×
"For God has revealed them to us through his Spirit, for the Spirit searches all things, yes the deep things of God." Verse 11 "For what man knows the things of man except the spirit of man which is in him?" We have an intellect, we have a spirit in us that gives us intellect; the ability we have to think, to plan, to invent. Verse 11 continued: "Even so no one knows the things of God except the Spirit of God." Verse 12 "Now we have not received the spirit of the world, but the Spirit which is from God, that we might know the things that have been freely given to us by God." Verse 13 "These things we also speak not in words which man's wisdom teaches, but which the Holy Spirit teaches, comparing spiritual things with spiritual." When I first came into the church, I had several good friends that I thought needed to know all this good information that I was learning and they fell under verse 14. When you try to convert your friends, you run into verse 14. Verse 14 "But the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God for they are foolishness to him, nor can he know them because they are spiritually discerned." Verse 15 "But he who is spiritual judges all things, yet he himself is rightly judged by no one." Verse 16 "For who has known the mind of the Lord that he should instruct him? For we have the mind of Christ." Let me give you an example of this reaction of foolishness: My mother in Mississippi made the best fluffiest biscuits in the morning and we all loved those biscuits. (They're just as unhealthy as they can be… white flour.) Unhealthy as they can be, but we loved them and the kids loved them. We made the mistake of going down there during the Days of Unleavened Bread, so what does my mother cook? So we had to say, "We can't eat those this week." To her it was foolishness. When our daughter got married, in 1999 or 2000, I had a Ph.D. friend who went from Amoco to another company and then went to be a department head in mechanical engineering at Oklahoma State. He and I both liked to hunt so we went to South Dakota pheasant hunting. We also quail and dove hunted together. What he saw about the church I was a part of, the religion I was a part of was that I didn't eat pork and I didn't hunt on Saturday so he thought it was an Old Testament belief and church. He and his wife Judy came to our daughter Amy's wedding and he came up to my wife, Donna after the ceremony and he said, "I listened to this ceremony very carefully and I was amazed at how much New Testament there was in it. I thought Bill's religion was just Old Testament." So, I told him that it is very much a New Testament religion. He said, "I don't want to know any more." Now here's a guy that's a genius, I can ask him a question and I see his eyes 'doing this'; he is plugging numbers into an equation to give me an answer, but when it came to my religion, he didn't want to know any more. He's a good Catholic and he wants to keep on being a good Catholic. My wife, Donna, told me back then that she wanted to keep on being a good Methodist, too. She said, "I was not looking for a new religion.'

We've got some great things ahead of us, we just need to be faithful and live this way and stay in a repentant attitude for the rest of our lives. You can't stop being repentant; that's one of the things it takes to be in God's Kingdom. We also read that the apostle Paul says that we are the temple of God. I believe Mr. Irvin mentioned that we are holy. We are holy because God is holy and He has made us holy, by what He has done for us, by sending us the Passover sacrifice so we can have all our sins wiped away. I know I think back to being baptized in January of 1969; I felt like I had this burden, just layer upon layer of sin after sin burdening me and weighing me down and I couldn't wait to jump into that cold water to get baptized and have all of that erased and gone. So we're the temple of God and we're holy because we have the Spirit of God dwelling in us. 1 Cor.3: 16-17 "Do you not know that you are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwells in you?" 17 "If anyone defiles the temple of God, God will destroy him" (defiles is the same word for destroy in the Greek, so if anyone destroys the temple of God, God will destroy them) "for the temple of God is holy, which temple you are." So you and I are holy because we have the Spirit of God dwelling in us, not because of our righteousness or our doing or our accomplishments, only because we have God's Spirit dwelling in us.

Paul gives some wisdom in Chapter 6 about fleeing sexual immorality. 1 Corinthians 6:18 1 Corinthians 6:18Flee fornication. Every sin that a man does is without the body; but he that commits fornication sins against his own body.
American King James Version×
"Flee sexual immorality" . He starts talking about this back up in about verse 12 "All things are lawful for me, but not all things are helpful. All things are lawful for me, but I will not be brought under the power of anything." Verse 13 "Food is for the stomach, and the stomach for food, but God will destroy both of them. Now the body is not for sexual immorality, but for the Lord and the Lord for the body." Verse 14 "And God both raised up the Lord and will also raise us up by his power." Verse 15 "Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ? Shall I then take the members of Christ and make them members of a harlot? Certainly not!" Verse 16 "Or do you know that he who is joined to a harlot is one body with her? For the two, He says shall become one flesh." Verse 17 "But he who is joined to the Lord is one spirit with Him." Verse 18 "Flee sexual immorality. Every sin that a man does is outside the body, but he who commits sexual immorality sins against his own body." Aren't there millions finding that out with all the sexually transmitted diseases that are going around? God made it to where when we sin there's an automatic punishment that occurs. A lot of sins that we commit are outward and affect us in an outward way, but when we sin sexually, we sin against our own body, bringing the death penalty on it and diseases that may not be able to be cured unless God would intervene. Verse 19 "Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit in you, which you have from God, and you are not your own, for you were bought at a price." God the Father sat on his throne and watched his Son go through being taunted, being beaten, being scourged, being nailed and dying a horrible death by crucifixion. We were bought at a tremendous price; therefore, since God has done all of this for us, glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God's.

In Chapter 7 there's a neat nugget about the children of believers being holy. Paul also speaks about the unmarried and widows. In verse 10, he speaks about the married and that they ought not split up, break up, divorce and then he speaks to the rest in verse twelve. He speaks to those who have one of the parents in the church and one not in the church, one is a believer and one isn't. 1 Corinthians 7:12 1 Corinthians 7:12But to the rest speak I, not the Lord: If any brother has a wife that believes not, and she be pleased to dwell with him, let him not put her away.
American King James Version×
"But to the rest I and not the Lord say that if any brother has a wife who does not believe and she is willing to live with him, let him not divorce her." Verse 13 "And a woman who has a husband who does not believe, if he is willing to live with her, let her not divorce him." Verse 14 "For the unbelieving husband is sanctified by the wife who is a believer and the unbelieving wife is sanctified by the husband who is a believer, otherwise your children would be unclean, but now they are holy." This word for unclean is "akathartos" in the Greek and it's the same word that the apostle Peter used when he had the vision of all the unclean animals coming down from heaven. In the vision Christ told Peter to rise and kill and eat. Peter said he'd never eaten anything common or unclean, "akathartos" - the same word. It says that because one of the parents is a believer, then your children are holy. Verse 15 "But if the unbeliever departs, let him depart, a brother or a sister is not under bondage in such cases, but God has called us to peace." Verse 16 "For how do you know O wife, whether you will save your husband by your good example (your faithfulness) or how do you know O husband whether you will save your wife." She may see your example and want to be a part of God's Church.

Paul goes through some instructions to virgins; I mention this to you because the apostles thought that Christ was going to come back in their lifetime. 1 Corinthians 7:29 1 Corinthians 7:29But this I say, brothers, the time is short: it remains, that both they that have wives be as though they had none;
American King James Version×
"But this I say brethren, the time is short, so that from now on even those who have wives should be as though they had none." Verse 31 "and those who use this world are not misusing it for the form of this world is passing away.

First Corinthians fifteen is a beautiful chapter, which goes through the resurrections. Paul speaks of the resurrection of the dead and the mortal Christians being changed to immortality and says, "we shall be changed". He expected to be changed from mortal to immortal. That's the context to what you are reading here. 1 Corinthians 15:51 1 Corinthians 15:51Behold, I show you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed,
American King James Version×
"BEHOLD! I TELL YOU A MYSTERY, WE SHALL NOT ALL SLEEP, BUT WE SHALL ALL BE CHANGED," Verse 52 "IN A MOMENT, IN THE TWINKLING OF AN EYE, AT THE LAST TRUMPET; FOR THE TRUMPET WILL SOUND, AND THE DEAD WILL BE RAISED INCORRUPTIBLE, AND WE SHALL BE CHANGED!" He placed himself in that group when he said, “'we' shall be changed.” 1 Thessalonians 4:17 1 Thessalonians 4:17Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.
American King James Version×
"Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and thus we shall always be with the Lord." So the original apostles believed that Jesus would return during their lifetime. In the late 1960's when I started attending the Worldwide Church of God, one of the first things I heard traveling between Lafayette, Louisiana and Lake Charles, Louisiana where the church met, was that we were probably going to flee in "72 and Christ was probably going to return in '75. Here we are all these years later; we didn't think our small kids would ever go to grammar school, but now they're grown and married and we have four grandkids. All we had to do was to read the scripture in Matthew 24 that says no man knows the day or the hour. I got out of the Amoco stock plan because a minister told me it was going to crash; I got out and lost several thousand dollars, then got back in five or six years later. The apostles also believed that Christ would come back in their lifetime. Mr. Rhodes was mentioned as being sick in the announcements; he had a message where he went through the prophecies that are being able to be seen fulfilled all around the world. Like the prophecy of the two witnesses being able to be seen all around the world, lying in the streets after they're killed… this was only possible once we had the satellites and technology we have now. When God gets ready to pull the plug, it's going to happen and He's the only One who knows, according to Mark 13:32 Mark 13:32But of that day and that hour knows no man, no, not the angels which are in heaven, neither the Son, but the Father.
American King James Version×
and Matthew 24:36 Matthew 24:36But of that day and hour knows no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only.
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. Matthew 24:36 Matthew 24:36But of that day and hour knows no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only.
American King James Version×
"But of that day and hour no one knows not even the angels of heaven, but my Father only." In the version of Mark 13:32 Mark 13:32But of that day and that hour knows no man, no, not the angels which are in heaven, neither the Son, but the Father.
American King James Version×
it mentions that the Son doesn't know either. Unless God the Father has told Jesus when it's going to happen, He still doesn't know. Christ did give us a whole list to look for, but after He gave the list He said that of that day and hour no one knows not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father only.

Paul felt compelled to preach the gospel. 1 Corinthians 9:16-18 1 Corinthians 9:16-18 [16] For though I preach the gospel, I have nothing to glory of: for necessity is laid on me; yes, woe is to me, if I preach not the gospel! [17] For if I do this thing willingly, I have a reward: but if against my will, a dispensation of the gospel is committed to me. [18] What is my reward then? Truly that, when I preach the gospel, I may make the gospel of Christ without charge, that I abuse not my power in the gospel.
American King James Version×
"For if I preach the gospel, I have nothing to boast of, for necessity is laid upon me, yes, woe is me if I do not preach the gospel." And I say, 'Woe are we if we don't preach the gospel, if we don't go into all the world and make disciples of all the nations by being a witness for Jesus Christ and preaching repentance and remission of sins.' That's how a person becomes a disciple: you have to accept Jesus Christ and you have to repent. This is all part of the commission. Verse 17 "For if I do this willingly, I have a reward, but if against my will, I have been entrusted with a stewardship." Verse 18 "What is my reward then, when I preach the gospel? THAT I MAY PRESENT THE GOSPEL OF CHRIST WITHOUT CHARGE THAT I MAY NOT ABUSE MY AUTHORITY IN THE GOSPEL." The United Church of God feels compelled to preach the gospel. You and I should feel compelled to preach the gospel in whatever way God presents it to us. The church is going into three prisons in Oklahoma; we have people come before us in many of our meetings that are first-timers. They're having an opportunity to hear the truth for the first time and it's an opportunity for the sixteen of us who volunteer, to preach the gospel to these people for the first time for them to hear. Paul felt compelled to preach the gospel, United feels compelled to preach the gospel and you and I should feel compelled to preach the gospel.

Paul compares the Christian calling and way of life to running in a race, to a worldly race where a whole group of people is running but only one gets a perishable crown. 1 Corinthians 9:25-27 1 Corinthians 9:25-27 [25] And every man that strives for the mastery is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a corruptible crown; but we an incorruptible. [26] I therefore so run, not as uncertainly; so fight I, not as one that beats the air: [27] But I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway.
American King James Version×
"And everyone who competes for the prize is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a perishable crown, but we for an imperishable crown." Verse 26 "Therefore I run thus, not with uncertainty lest I fight as one who beats the air;" Verse 27 " but I discipline my body and bring it into subjection, lest when I preach to others, I myself should become disqualified." Isn't it great that every one of us is going to receive an imperishable crown? EVERYONE WINS AN IMPERISHABLE CROWN. Paul goes on to show that all the examples that we read about in the Old Testament, many of them negative, are written for our admonition on whom the end of the ages have come. He shows in the first four verses of Chapter 10 that the One who brought the Children of Israel out of Egypt was the Word, the One who became Jesus Christ. 1 Corinthians 10:4 1 Corinthians 10:4And did all drink the same spiritual drink: for they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them: and that Rock was Christ.
American King James Version×
"for they drank of that spiritual rock that followed them; and that rock was Christ." Then Paul lists the things that God was displeased with: their immorality, their idolatry. Verse 11 "Now all these things happened to them as examples and they were written for our admonition on whom the end of the ages have come." Verse 12 "Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall." Verse 13 "No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man, but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it." When the trials and tests come our way, this is a good prayer to pray, when it seems to be more than we can bear: Father you promised not to allow me to be tempted, tested beyond what I'm able; so please make a way of escape for me so that I'll be able to bear this and to get through it.

1 Cor. 11: 1" Be imitators of me, just as I also imitate Christ." In like manner, we should follow our spiritual leaders AS they follow Christ and not ever follow our leaders into sin. The apostle Paul said women should have long hair and men should have short hair and that it has to do with angelic protection. 1 Corinthians 11:13-15 1 Corinthians 11:13-15 [13] Judge in yourselves: is it comely that a woman pray to God uncovered? [14] Does not even nature itself teach you, that, if a man have long hair, it is a shame to him? [15] But if a woman have long hair, it is a glory to her: for her hair is given her for a covering.
American King James Version×
"Judge among yourselves: is it proper for a woman to pray with her head uncovered?" Verse 14 "Does not even nature itself teach you that if a man has long hair, it is a dishonor to him?" I have never seen a man with long hair that I thought looked good; they always look shabby. God made men where when their hair gets long, it just doesn't look good. He made you women where when it gets long, boy it looks so good. God knew what he was doing. Verse 15 "But if a woman has long hair, it is a glory to her. For her hair is given to her for a covering."

Paul gives instruction in 1 Cor. 11: 17-26 on the proper way to take the Passover. He stresses the bad affect of taking that cup in an unworthy manner. Verse 27 "Therefore, whoever eats this bread or drinks this cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord." Unworthy in "Strong's" means irreverent, in an irreverent manner; not apprehending their solemn symbolic import. Verse 28 "But let a man examine himself and so let him eat of that bread and drink of that cup." Verse 29 "For he who eats and drinks in an unworthy manner (irreverently, in a wrong attitude) eats and drinks judgment to himself, not discerning the Lord's body." Verse 30 "For this reason many are weak and sick among you and many sleep." He says because of this misunderstanding and this wrong approach there's weakness and sickness and some have even died. Verse 31 "For if we would judge ourselves we would not be judged." Verse 31 "But when we are judged, we are chastened by the Lord that we may not be condemned with the world." Verse 32 "Therefore, my brethren when you come together to eat, wait for one another." Verse 32 "But if anyone is hungry, let him eat at home, lest you come together for judgment. And the rest I will set in order when I come." None of us are worthy except for what God has done for us and in us and through us. We're all sinners; we all need the blood of Christ to erase our sins. So we need to examine ourselves before Passover so that we have the right approach in taking the bread and the wine.

Paul lists the gifts of the Spirit in 1 Corinthians 12 and in recent months United has focused on the gifts of the Spirit that God gives for the benefit of all, the profit of all. Verse 7 "But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to each one for the profit of all." They're not for the glory of the individual. For a long time my prayer has been that God would fill all the church members and He would gift us all with all of these spiritual gifts. There are nine spiritual gifts listed here. And then considering the different functions and responsibilities of church members, Paul compares members to the various parts and functions of the human body in verses 12 through 31. We all have different responsibilities; different functions, different talents, different gifts and we all ought to seek to use all of our talents and gifts for the glory of God.

Paul has a marvelous chapter in 1 Corinthians 13 about love; if we don't have love, it's all worthless. 1 Corinthians 13:1 1 Corinthians 13:1Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal.
American King James Version×
"IF I SPEAK WITH TONGUES OF MEN AND OF ANGELS BUT DO NOT HAVE LOVE, I BECOME AS SOUNDING BRASS OR A CLANGING CYMBAL." Verse 2 "AND IF I HAVE THE GIFT OF PROPHECY AND KNOW ALL MYSTERIES AND ALL KNOWLEDGE; AND IF I HAVE ALL FAITH SO TO REMOVE MOUNTAINS, BUT DO NOT HAVE LOVE, IT PROFITS ME NOTHING." Paul says the greatest gift is love. Verse 13 "BUT NOW ABIDE FAITH, HOPE, AND LOVE, THESE THREE; BUT THE GREATEST OF THESE IS LOVE."

Paul gives the order of the resurrections, leading to the destruction of the last enemy, which is death. 1 Corinthians 15:20 1 Corinthians 15:20But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the first fruits of them that slept.
American King James Version×
"But now Christ is risen from the dead and become the first fruits of those who have fallen asleep." Verse 21 "For since by man came death, by man also came the resurrection of the dead." Verse 22 "For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive." Verse 23 "But each in his own order: Christ the first fruits, afterward those who are Christ's at his coming." Then later Christ will turn it all over to God the Father and all creation will be subject to God the Father. He continues discussing the resurrection to eternal life and this is what we all look forward to. Verse 42 "So also is the resurrection of the dead. The body is sown in corruption, it is raised in incorruption." Verse 43 "It is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory; it is sown in weakness, it is raised in power." All these people on the prayer list will eventually be taken care of and healed. Verse 44 "It is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body. There is a natural body and there is a spiritual body." Verse 49 "And as we have borne the image of the man of dust, we also shall bear the image of the heavenly man." Verse 50 "This I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the Kingdom of God, nor does corruption inherit incorruption." Verse 51 "Behold! I tell you a mystery, we shall not all sleep, but we all shall be changed," Verse 52 "in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet, for the trumpet will sound and the dead will be raised incorruptible and we shall be changed." We're getting into part of the meaning of the Feast of Trumpets here. Verse 52 "For this corruptible must put on incorruption and this mortal must put on immortality, so when this corruption has put on incorruption and this mortal has put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written. DEATH IS SWALLOWED UP IN VICTORY". Verse 56 "The sting of death is sin and the strength of sin is the law" Verse 58 "therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord."

Paul gives some final exhortations. 1 Corinthians 16: 13-14 "Watch, stand fast in the faith, be brave, be strong." Verse 14 "Let all that you do be done with love."

Corinth was a populous, rich, wicked, city with a thousand 'sacred' prostitutes who plied their trade on the streets of Corinth each evening. God called into the membership of His Church many people of Corinth. With the wicked city around them, that they had come out of spiritually, the Corinthian brethren had many problems, some of which we've covered today. We've also covered some of the eternal spiritual truths that God inspired Paul to write down in his first letter to the Corinthians. As we approach the Passover, and the Days of Unleavened Bread, may God help us to see and overcome any of the 'Corinthian' problems that we have among us. And may God help us to hang on to and live by these eternal spiritual truths that God revealed through Paul in the book of 1 Corinthians.