Our Beliefs Vs. Our Behaviors
In Hebrews Chapter eleven, sometimes this chapter is referred to the Hall of Faith, there is a wonderful account of various saints who in their faith to God’s promises of resurrection sacrificed their earthly life. Here is what the writer of Hebrews summarizes concerning these saints and how they understood the truth about resurrection.
Hebrews 11:35-40 (NKJV)
35 Women received their dead raised to life again.
Others were tortured, not accepting deliverance, that they might obtain a better resurrection. 36 Still others had trial of mockings and scourgings, yes, and of chains and imprisonment. 37 They were stoned, they were sawn in two, were tempted, were slain with the sword. They wandered about in sheepskins and goatskins, being destitute, afflicted, tormented— 38 of whom the world was not worthy. They wandered in deserts and mountains, in dens and caves of the earth.
39 And all these, having obtained a good testimony through faith, did not receive the promise, 40 God having provided something better for us, that they should not be made perfect apart from us.
These Old Testament saints accepted even greater persecution for the sake of a “better” resurrection. How can a resurrection be made better? What Hebrews is touching on is the better reward in the resurrected life. That we may receive greater rewards in the Kingdom because of greater obedience, sacrifice and faithfulness now. That is the promise of scripture.
However, if the Corinthian church truly believed that resurrection was a lie, then their behavior was not in line with that belief. Because they were not living as if there was no tomorrow. They were not eating, drinking or being merry in that sense. They were still sacrificing for the gospel in some cases. They were using their gifts within the church body. They were seeking to please the Lord. They were doing things that Paul says didn’t make any sense at all for someone who did not accept the truth of resurrection. Paul has raised these examples to highlight the contradictions in their behavior. But in the process he has exposed something even bigger. And even a bigger problem in the church. Paul has exposed their spiritual immaturity.
The Corinthian Church didn’t understand the meaning of the rituals they were practicing. And evidently they did not understand what baptism meant because if they had understood it they couldn’t have held their beliefs and the behavior they showed at the same time. Because they were contradictory. And they were seeking to please the Lord Who has said the promised rewards for that pleasing would come at an appointed time in the future which they were denying was even possible.
So why are they serving the Lord? Before we think this is unique to the church in Paul’s day. You can find plenty of examples in the church today that beliefs and behaviors are contradicting one another in terms of Christian practice. For example you can find churches today that practice baptism by sprinkling babies instead of dunking people who made a confession of faith. Many people have experience that kind of baptism growing up in church and feel they don’t have to repeat it today because they were sprinkled. If you hold to that view then you are contradicting the message of baptism. What is the message? I believe I have died with Him in faith and that I will be resurrected as He was. Babies cannot believe that, at least not intellectually and also sprinkling does not communicate that. So you have not met the test of the ritual for it to communicate properly what it is suppose to communicate. It is not to say your parents did anything wrong when you were an infant. But, now we owe Christ a baptism in our profession of faith. Some churches features altars in their sanctuaries in front of the pulpit. And in fact they have altar calls.What is an altar for according to scripture. It has only one purpose. It is a place of sacrifice. It is where you take animals and cut them open and spill their blood. This is seen over and over in the Old Testament. And it was part of the Mosaic Law. But today, Christian faith maintains that sacrifice is no longer needed. The once and for all sacrifice of Christ on the cross has been made and it is sufficient for all needs concerning sin. There will never be and nor should there ever be another need for a sacrifice. Man or animal. Why do we have an altar then? Because it is an attempt to call a table something it is not. But here again
it is an example of Christian ignorance in a simple way but it leads to a dangerous outcome eventually. If our practices move from the grounding of scripture we receive, then we are fair game for all kinds of mischief in the church. And as that difference grows who knows where our practice could eventually lead? Or where our beliefs will eventually go?
Then are some churches that tell believers they need to seek for a filling of the Holy Spirit that comes after faith and if you don’t seek for it you may not get it. But the bible teaches that faith itself comes as the result of the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. They have those two things exactly backwards. That’s a dangerous presumption. The list goes on but the root cause is always the same. Anytime our practices are disconnected from authority and instruction of scripture we are going in the wrong direction and it is a dangerous road to follow. This is what Paul’s chief concern is here. The Corinthian Church was living in such ignorance while calling themselves wise were only fooling themselves. And the church is not different today in their ignorance. Sooner or later your behavior is going to come into conflict with your belief if you are not grounded in scripture. And before you know it you become wise in your own estimation to use Paul’s words.
Instead of following the Lord by His word we are going to become in danger of following other things like denominations, signs and wonders, styles of worship services or even worst – cults, heresies and the like. It’s a slippery path we should not want to follow. With bad teaching, leading them to bad practices which eventually erodes their doctrinal understanding of things.
Paul calls the church to seek for better influences and better theology
1 Corinthians 15:33-34 (NKJV)
33 Do not be deceived: “Evil company corrupts good habits.” 34 Awake to righteousness, and do not sin; for some do not have the knowledge of God. I speak this to your shame.
Paul warns, don’t be led astray by this kind of false teaching and he quotes this great phrase. Evil company corrupts good habits. Interestingly, this phrase was already popular in Paul’s day because it comes from a Greek playwright Euripides, who wrote a play in which this phrase shows up and it became so popular in Paul’s day it became a proverb and everyone was quoting it as a truth of its own. It does embody a certain truth. When we associate with the wrong people we find ourselves adopting their bad thinking and their bad practices. We will not uncorrupt bad people by our influence. They will corrupt us by theirs. We hope to influence them for the sake of the gospel but it is a big difference being a witness to the truth into a world that needs to know it. Verses joining that world and associating with them.
There have been leaders in the church today who have fallen to this type of influence and found themselves corrupted in ministry and discredited. And in most cases you can see they made bad associations somewhere along the way. And by that association, whether with an individual or a group they have allowed themselves to be compromised. And so often prideful people will tell themselves I am there to help that individual or group. That is just lying to yourself. Paul quotes this phrase to make a point to these people in Corinth. Paul is saying if they are going to associate with bad teachers as it is apparent in Corinth from what they have been doing. Then those teachers are going to fill their heads with bad teaching. And if we associate with immature or mislead congregations and if for some of us we have to go and move somewhere else and we find ourselves in a church that just does not teach with their grounding in the scripture that we are accustomed to, then do not be misled. You will not raise them up. Chances are you will become spiritually immature and misled over time.
If we associate with corrupt or fleshly Christians, which scriptures says clearly we are not to do.Then we are going to likely be pulled down by their sinful choices. We will not raise them up; they will pull us down more often than not. That’s why Paul says we are not to associate with any so-called immoral brother or sister. If we continue in those patterns we ought to expect those outcomes. Because no one is immune to this influence. No one is immune once you place yourself under their influence. No one is immune to the outcome. So Paul admonishes the church. He says start thinking in spiritually mature ways. And stop sinning. What the sin in this case? In context, among other things it would mean, stop clinging to unbiblical theology in light of better teaching. When we cling to something that is unbiblical having being previously introduced to the truth, at that point we become accountable with God, if not already. And that accountability means we sin every moment thereafter we hold on to the old theology having been enlightened concerning the new. Even in the case where you have a Christian who is holding onto unbiblical theology and you bring them the truth and they refuse to agree with it. They think you are wrong and they are right. None the less, if the truth have been given to them and they have rejected it, they are sinning by definition.
And as long as they continue in sin they risk the discipline of the Lord as a result of their sin. And Paul says to them, stop sinning. We could take those words out and put in a different word and have the same idea. It could be said like this, Paul says stop holding onto this wrong idea about resurrection. Believe me in other words. Believe the truth. When the Lord brings you and I the truth concerning His word and we stubbornly refuse, then we hold onto a contrary view, we are demonstrating self-importance, pride, and ultimately disobedience to the word of God. You can get away with protecting your pride for only so long. Maybe you can get all the way to the end of your life. Maybe you are good enough and strong enough you can defend your unorthodox and unbiblical view all the way to the grave but its going to end there. Because one day when we stand before the Lord all this is going to be exposed.
But you don’t have to choose spiritual ruin. You don’t have to wait until that moment when it is too late to know you had the truth and rejected it. We can humble ourselves, we can concede to the truth. Paul says be sober-minded. In other words be spiritually mature. Paul says there were some in the Corinthian church who had no knowledge of God and that was to their shame. There was no indication they weren’t students of scripture or at least thought themselves to be. He wasn’t saying they weren’t studying the scripture, but there were some there that did not have knowledge of God. It doesn’t mean they were unbelieving. He’s talking to the church. He’s saying your are entirely ignorant of the very things you think you know so much about. You were professing to teach the truth, but you were fools. You were proving Jame’s teaching true which is that no many should have the desire to be teachers. Don’t be too quick to step into that role. The (this poor church) Corinth church was being led by fools who did not have a clue they were bringing others down with them and Paul says this is to your shame as a church.
Why are we getting water baptisms, or studying the bible, or helping those less fortunate? Why is our heart filled with love for our neighbors? Why do we go through the effort to be obedient to God in such an immoral world. Because of the faith we have received through Christ. We believe in God’s promises and in His promise of resurrection. This is our truth and our hope through Jesus.
Romans 10:6-13 (NKJV)
6 But the righteousness of faith speaks in this way, “Do not say in your heart, ‘Who will ascend into heaven?’” (that is, to bring Christ down from above) 7 or, “‘Who will descend into the abyss?’” (that is, to bring Christ up from the dead). 8 But what does it say? “The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart” (that is, the word of faith which we preach): 9 that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. 11 For the Scripture says, “Whoever believes on Him will not be put to shame.” 12 For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek, for the same Lord over all is rich to all who call upon Him. 13 For “whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.”
1 Peter 1:3 (NKJV)
A Heavenly Inheritance
3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His abundant mercy has begotten us again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,
“The author’s biblical interpretations and conclusions presented in this document rely on original teaching used by permission of Verse By Verse Ministry International (VBVMI). The author’s views may not represent the views of VBVMI, it’s Directors or staff. Original VBVMI teaching may be found at http://www.vbvmi.org.”
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