Thursday, May 25, 2017

Carnality in Perspective

The Corinthians have a reputation. They have become almost synonymous with carnality. Yet it is interesting how they are described at the beginning of 1 Corinthians. They are described as saints, people not lacking in any gift, and objects of God’s faithfulness (1 Corinthians 1:1-9). This is said in spite of their behavior as chronicled in the rest of the book. We see divisions, lawsuits, sexual immorality, and fighting over things of a marginal nature. Yet it is despite these things that the Corinthians are so described. Now I do not want to deny that God is at work in us to change our behavior patterns (Titus 2:11-14; 2 Corinthians 3:18; Ephesians 2:10). Also, it is clear Paul wants to encourage the Corinthians to grow up spiritually so that they might not continue behaving as they have been (1 Corinthians 3:1-3; 5:6-8; 6:19,20). But that does not change how Paul addresses them. 
To see the basis for this, we have to start with the fact that we are saved by grace through faith (Ephesians 2:8,9; Romans 4:4,5; Philippians 3:9), based on what Christ has done (Colossians 2:13,14; 1 Peter 2:24,25; 2 Corinthians 5:21). But salvation should not be seen as a door we enter, with everything after that based on our performance. Rather, we always stand before God on the basis of grace (Romans 8:31-39; 5:1,2; Galatians 5:1). Therefore, we are to regard ourselves as completely supplied in Him with what we need to live for Him (Colossians 2:10; 2 Peter 1:3; 2 Corinthians 3:5,6). Nor do we approach Him with fear, but with confidence that we are His children (Romans 8:15; 1 John 4:15-18; Hebrews 4:16).

Why then should we live for God, rather than simply indulging our own desires? The answer is because we love God in response to what He has done for us (1 John 4:19; 2 Corinthians 5:14,15; Romans 12:1). In this, it is helpful to remember a person cannot scam God. This is because God knows the heart (Romans 2:16; 1 Samuel 16:7; Proverbs 21:2). The individual with genuine faith will not simply continue on in their old manner of life (James 2:14-26; 2 Peter 2:7,8; 1:9). But the new life is not a life of drudgery, but a celebration of what God has done for us (Romans 14:17; 2 Corinthians 2:14; Philippians 4:4). Because who we are in Christ does not depend on what we do, but on what He has done.

No comments:

Post a Comment