Friday, December 15, 2017

BOOK BY BOOK BIBLE STUDY
larrydalexanderbiblestudies.blogspot.com

BIBLE STUDY LESSON
For the week beginning Sunday December 17, 2017

PAUL GIVES UP HIS RIGHTS
1 Corinthians 9

   In 1 Corinthians 9 the Apostle Paul illustrates how he himself always strived to practice what he preached. Here he uses the principles that he spoke about earlier (1 Corinthians 8) to defend himself against the rumblings of disputes that some people had with his claim of being an apostle of CHRIST.
    Paul opens this chapter with a series of questions as he begins his defense of his authority in CHRIST to be an apostle. Here he says in his answer to those who questioned his authority that he has given up many rights that he could have claimed as an apostle, such as the right to live in the homes and share the meals of those whom he had worked hard for in the LORD, or bring a wife along with him as Peter, and JESUS’ brother James does.
    Paul was proud of the fact that he, as well as Barnabas, worked hard to take care of themselves, instead of depending on the Church to take care of them, even though they could have exercised that right. He says that he would rather die than lose his distinction of preaching and teaching without charge (v.15).
    However, Paul likened a person who works “bringing people to CHRIST and training them in the Christian lifestyle” to a farmer who raises and harvests his own crops, having a right to eat some of it, or a shepherd who takes care of a flock having a right to drink some of the milk, as GOD’s law says (v.7).
    And so we see that, even though Paul and Barnabas may have given up their right to receive financial support from the Church, they still supported GOD’s law which says “Do not keep an ox from eating as it treads out the grain”. GOD was not referring just to animals when HE commanded this, but HE was also referring to those who labor in the Church all day long. Christian leaders and workers should be paid by those they serve (Vs.9-10). Those who preach and teach the good news should be supported by those who benefit from it (v.14).
    In verses 17-19 Paul says that if he were preaching and teaching of his own free will, he would deserve payment from man, but since GOD has chosen him, it is GOD who trusts him and employs him. His pay is the satisfaction that he gains by spreading the Good News without expense to anyone, and never demanding his rights as a preacher. Therefore he is not bound to obey man because he is being paid to do so, and can serve people by earnestly desiring to bring them to CHRIST where salvation is found.
    In verses 20-23 Paul explains what it means for a Christian to meet people where they are, without becoming what they are. He says that when he is with the Jews he follows their customs as long as they agree with GOD’s laws, in order that he might win them over to CHRIST. And when he is with the Gentiles who do not have the law, he fits in with them as much as he possibly can, without violating the laws of CHRIST, just so he might gain their confidence and give himself a chance to win them over to CHRIST also. However, Paul again points out that, in the process, he will not discard the laws of GOD for even one second, just for the purpose of getting along with people who insist on living outside of the will of GOD. He clearly understood that you cannot win a person over to CHRIST, by disobeying CHRIST.
    The rules of the Christian race are strict, as they consistently call for a tremendous amount of self-discipline, spiritual readiness, and a sharp focus on CHRIST. And while we can’t lose our salvation once we’ve obtained it, we can forfeit heavenly prizes that come only from stern dedication to CHRIST and GOD’s rules. It is a race that must be ran with purpose every step of the way, and unlike the race run by the earthly athlete, the prizes that are received in the Christian race are eternal and incorruptible, and will never fade away.
    In verses 24-27, the Apostle Paul uses several sports analogies to drive home his final point in this chapter. Here, there is a very good likelihood that he is referencing the “Isthmian Games” that were held once every two years just outside of the city of Corinth during those days. He was probably counting on the citizens of Corinth’s familiarity with those games to draw a “word picture” comparison of what one’s Christian Walk, or “Race” should be like, both, in preparation, and, in performance.
    One does not have to be very old to remember a, not too distant, summer Olympic Games, where a certain men’s sprinter from Canada, set a world record in the 100-meter event, only to find out later that he was disqualified because he had used a performance enhancing, banned substance, to aid him in his efforts. And, even though he looked impressive while running and winning the race, he was disqualified in the end, and forfeited his prize, because he didn’t run the race by the rules.
    Well, it is the same in the Christian race. GOD wants us all to be in the race, but HE expects us all to run by HIS rules, throughout the race, or, throughout our respective Christian Walks. We don’t want to be one of those people who climbs the ladder to success, and gets to the top just to find out that their ladder is leaning against the wrong building.


A Sunday school lesson by,
Larry D. Alexander







Friday, December 8, 2017

BOOK BY BOOK BIBLE STUDY
larrydalexanderbiblestudies.blogspot.com

BIBLE STUDY LESSON
For the week beginning Sunday December 10, 2017

THE DISPUTE OVER ISSUES OF DOCTRINE
1 Corinthians 8

    Now Paul moves on to try to resolve the issue in the Corinthian Church concerning the dispute in certain areas of Christian doctrine.  Here he uses “food that has been sacrificed to idols”, “eidolothuton” (i-do-loth-oo-ton) (v.1), as an example, or case in point.
     Knowledge of GOD may be what makes us feel good, but love of GOD is really what builds the Church up. Anyone who claims to know everything there is about GOD, really doesn’t know very much of everything at all. And whereas GOD loves all of HIS creation in general, the person who loves GOD is the person who GOD knows and cares about in particular (Vs.2-3).
    In the first century, animals that were sacrificed to idols by pagans were divided into three portions;

·         One portion to be burned
·         One portion for the pagan priest
·         And one portion for the person who gave the sacrifice

    Most often, the priest would sell the unused portions of the meat at the market place, and as a result, doctrinal problems and questions arose in the Church concerning “spiritual contamination”, as oftentimes this meat was purchased by many Christians to eat with their meals. Some Christians believed that the meat was contaminated, and that, people who purchased and ate it were participating in idolatry. Still other Christians balked at that notion, saying that it was all in their mind, because pagan gods aren’t really real (4-5).
    Even though Christians know that there is only one true GOD, through the attention, affection, and adoration we give to things made by the hands of man, or to vile people who gain their celebrity from satan by entering into covenants with him, we ascribe power and worship to that which is inferior in GOD the CREATOR. Little do most people know that these people and things are used by satan to embody his demons, or “nephilim spirits” so that he himself can receive worship from us, through them.
    However, GOD our FATHER created everything, and we exist for HIM (v.6). Also, there is only one LORD, JESUS CHRIST, through WHOM GOD made everything, and through WHOM we have been given life. The idols that are sacrificed to, are not real gods, but rather, are objects used by satan, through which he can receive the worship of those who condone the demonic power that is ascribed to them. And so the worship of these idols, although they are not real, still has a dangerous spiritual affect on those who give themselves to them for worship and sacrifice.
    Things and food that are made by GOD can never be evil in themselves (everything GOD made is good - Genesis 1:31), but rather, it is our conscience, contributions, and attitude toward those things that ascribe to them their evil power and influence. Satan cannot even come into our lives and dwell unless we allow him to, or invite him in, and superstition and witchcraft are two of the effective ways that people relent and concede to evil forces.
    Remember, we can’t win GOD’s approval based on what we eat or don’t eat, and neither do we gain anything if we do eat whatever we want (v.8). JESUS says it is not what we eat that defiles us, but rather it is what we allow to creep into our heart (thoughts) that defile us from the inside out.
    Also, Paul also warns us here to be careful regarding our GOD-given “freedom of choice” that we do not cause another Christian to stumble because of their weaker conscience (feeling about something that may not be intrinsically wrong, but rather, may be personally wrong for them).
    Those Christians who think it wrong to eat certain foods may see you eating it and be encouraged to violate their conscience, or ignore their own personal relationship with the HOLY SPIRIT as HE guides them personally to not partake in certain foods. It may be a food that their, own personal body, won’t tolerate, while yours will. Therefore, if they are encouraged by you to do so, you would be guilty of sinning against your fellow Christian Brother or Sister (even though it may be unwittingly) by doing physical harm to their body.
    Every Christian has their own personal relationship with CHRIST, and thereby, the HOLY SPIRIT in us works not only to keep us within the general Will of GOD, but also keeps us from personal harm by things that not necessarily characterized as sinful. Things that harm us personally, although they may not be classified by Scripture as “sin”, are sin to us personally. Therefore, if we do or eat anything that we believe is not right, we are, in effect, sinning against ourselves. For “Whatsoever is not of faith is sin” (Romans 14:23b-KJV). 

A Sunday school lesson by,
Larry D. Alexander






Friday, December 1, 2017

BOOK BY BOOK BIBLE STUDY
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BIBLE STUDY LESSON
For the week beginning Sunday December 3, 2017

INSTRUCTIONS ON MARRIAGE
1 Corinthians 7

   In 1 Corinthians 6, verses 9-20, the Apostle Paul focused on the spiritual perils involved in sexual behavior outside of marriage, and outside of the laws and restrictions of GOD the CREATOR. There he gave us his exegesis on the “spiritual link” in sexual intercourse that most people are not aware of.
    Through the act of coition, or, the exchange of bodily fluids during sexual intercourse, a man and a woman become one in spirit, and are “consummated” becoming “complete” in one body and one spirit, whether they are married to each other, or not. And since a Christian is also spiritually one body with CHRIST, when we commit an immoral sexual act, we also cause CHRIST to suffer in spirit in our offense against our own bodies, which we share spiritually, with HIM.
    We should also keep in mind that, as Christians, our bodies are the temple of the HOLY SPIRIT, as GOD gives HIM to us as a gift to help us defeat our own “sin nature” and re-gain control over our own minds and bodies. HE helps us to win the battles between “reason” and “passion” that, wages on, each minute of each day, inside of each of us. Whenever we resist the council of the HOLY SPIRIT and persist and continue in immoral sexual behavior, or any other type of sin, we are also guilty of grieving the HOLY SPIRIT in the omnipresence of GOD the FATHER.
    In 1 Corinthians 7, verse 1, the word Paul uses for “touch” in his original Greek rendering is “haptomai” (hap-tom-ahee), and it means “to touch sexually”, or “to have sex with”. Here Paul is attempting to answer a question that has been posed to him by the Church at Corinth, who were struggling with making the transition from their old worldly behavior of sexual immorality, to the new GODly way of viewing sexual behavior that the Christian Church requires, if they are to become, and remain, a part of the Body of CHRIST.
    In this passage, Paul attempts to explain the benefits of living single, without discouraging those who wished to be married. Some people, Paul says, are gifted with “singleness” (the power of sexual self-control), and those who can control themselves have an advantage of being able to devote themselves entirely in service to GOD, full time. Single people don’t have to divide their time and attention between “spouse”, “family” (their earthly responsibilities), and “GOD”.
    However those who can’t control their passion should marry so that they will be better able to keep themselves from sexual immorality. In such cases, each man, who is not able to control his sexual passion, should have his own wife, and each woman, who can’t control her sexual passion should have her own husband. And they must not deny their spouse sexual intercourse, unless it is by mutual agreement for the purpose of prayer and fasting, because each spouse has authority over the other’s body (Vs.3-7).
    Those who are not wanting to get married, or, are widowed; Paul suggests to them that they continue on being unmarried, if they can control their sexual urges. However, if they can’t control their sexual urges, they should marry, if they are single, or re-marry if they are widowed, rather than to engage in sexual immorality, which will certainly come by way of temptations from satan (v.9). Paul also admonishes that those who are married should stay married, “till death do you part” (Vs.10-11).
    Even if one’s spouse is an unbeliever, and is willing to stay in the marriage with the believing spouse, the believing spouse should not end the union. The Believer in the marriage brings “holiness” to the marriage, and has an opportunity to sanctify the marriage by leading the unbelieving spouse to CHRIST, by way of their GODly behavior towards them, and, around them. Then too, if there are children involved, the Believer in the family is the only GODly influence that those children have in the home (Vs.12-16). And so, if you were married to an unbeliever when you came to CHRIST, GOD expects you to continue on in that marriage.
    I know by now some of you may be thinking, “Well what if your spouse commits adultery? Isn’t that an acceptable way of getting out of your marriage? The answer is no, and JESUS faced that same question from the Pharisees in Mark chapter 10, and HE explained HIS FATHER GOD’s point of view to them with the same response, “No”.
    After JESUS and HIS disciples had left Galilee heading south toward Judea to HIS final stop and appointment with death in Jerusalem, they are met by a group of Pharisees who sought to tempt HIM with this question regarding the subject of divorce, “Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife?”
    Since here it says that the Pharisees sought to “tempt JESUS”, it may have very well been that they were seeking to get HIM to contradict HIMSELF from what HE had stated earlier in HIS “Sermon on the Mount” regarding divorce (Matthew 5:31-32). Maybe they hoped, perhaps, that JESUS would give a self-incriminating answer that would help them to be able to mount some sort of opposition against HIM.
    The Pharisees, and most Jewish men at that time, believed that a man could not commit adultery against his wife, and that, only the woman could be guilty of such an offense. They also held out hope that JESUS would take sides on this issue, or maybe they could cause a degree of dissention among JESUS’ followers, that might divide them doctrinally.
     But, whatever their underlying motives were, they were, once again, about to be disappointed, because JESUS counters their question, with a question of HIS own. In this passage HE asks them, “What did Moses say about divorce?” JESUS evidently was taking this opportunity to clear up their misunderstanding of this ancient Mosaic Law regarding divorce in Deuteronomy 24:1-4.
    In Deuteronomy 24:1, GOD explains the only biblically allowable reason for a man to divorce his wife. Here HE says that the woman would have to have committed “undisclosed fornication” (ervah in the Hebrew) at some time prior to their marriage. In other words, she would have to have had pre-marrital sex with another man, and then later, not disclose it to the man she intends to marry. However, if she does disclose it to him before they are married, and then, he decides to marry her anyway, he cannot later use it as a reason to divorce her, but rather, he must remain married to her always, for GOD hates divorce, period (Malachi 2:16).
    Here in this passage of Mark, JESUS explains, that, while divorce may be lawful in cases of undisclosed “pre-marrital sex” (“porneia” in the Greek), it is not permitted for cases of “adultery” (“Moicheia” in the Greek), which is sex with another person, outside of marriage.
    JESUS had already explained this to the religious leaders in HIS, now famous “Sermon on the Mount”, but just like most of us today, we still don’t get it, simply because “we SO want to do what we want to do”. However, we need to know that, within our sinful nature there is housed, “a lying spirit” that sometimes blocks us from accepting the “things of GOD, and until we release that spirit from our life, we won’t ever come to grips completely with the finer points of GOD’s Word.
    In Matthew chapter 5, in JESUS’ teachings about divorce, in verses 31-32, HE clearly explains GOD’s position and law regarding this topic. There HE first gives them the misconceived or misunderstood version of “what man would like for the law of GOD to mean”. Then, HE carefully explains to them what GOD truly says regarding divorce. What followed was perfectly in line with the concept of Deuteronomy 24:1.
   JESUS, WHO is the Word in the flesh (John 1:1), says that, “You have heard that the Law of Moses says, “A man can divorce his wife by merely giving her a letter of divorce”. Now, since JESUS really is the WORD in the flesh, coming from HIM, this is what HE may as well have been saying, “You have heard that “I said”, a man can divorce his wife by merely giving her a letter of divorce, and that is not true”.
    Then, in verse 32, JESUS rebukes that notion and even denies that HE ever made such an ungodly statement that was now accredited to HIM. There HE says that, “A man who divorces his wife, except she commit fornication (porneia), which can only be committed by an unmarried person, who has no need of divorce, causes her to commit adultery (moicheia) (sex outside of marriage) by sending her away.
    This tells us plainly that GOD doesn’t release us from our marriage vows because of adultery, but only for undisclosed fornication. If we divorce a spouse because of adultery, as far as GOD is concerned, the two are still married and are committing adultery with the next person that they engage in sexual intercourse with.   
    Divorce, in GOD’s eyes, only serves to show how far we’ve fallen short of the glorious standard that HE originally set for the institution of marriage. And therefore, in GOD’s eyes, divorce is always sin, except for undisclosed fornication.
    JESUS goes on to explain further to HIS disciples, after they had returned to the house where they were staying, that, “Any man, who divorces his wife, and remarries, commits adultery against the wife whom he sent away, and any woman, who divorces her husband, and remarries, commits adultery against the man whom she leaves” (Mark 10:10-12). 
    JESUS CHRIST gave up the comforts of Heaven and came down to earth to unselfishly sacrifice HIMSELF for all of our sins, past, present, and future, including sexual sins, and we can be forgiven for whatever sin we commit. HE bought us at a high price. And so, if HE can stay with us, and forgive us for absolutely anything sinful in life that we can ever do, then, why can’t we do the same for our spouse.
    Christians are called to a high standard in married life, and, in single life, and our bodies belong to CHRIST forever, because, as I said, HE bought us at a high price. For human beings, and especially for the Christian, to forgive, is always divine. And if we are, in any sense, to be called “a follower of CHRIST”, then, we must indeed, try and follow HIS examples to the letter, forever incorporating them into our lives, so that we may be shining examples to others, for all time.

A Sunday school lesson by,
Larry D. Alexander






Friday, November 24, 2017

BOOK BY BOOK BIBLE STUDY
larrydalexanderbiblestudies.blogspot.com

BIBLE STUDY LESSON
For the week beginning Sunday November 26, 2017

AVOIDING LAWSUITS WITH CHRISTIANS
1 Corinthians 6:1-8

   The only commandment that JESUS left us as Christians is that we “love one another”, and that we treat each other the way we ourselves wish to be treated by others. It was Roman Empire practice that each ethnic group, who lived within their provinces, handle their own civil disputes among themselves, based on their own traditional national laws. For the Jews, that meant that they were free to handle their disputes based on the laws of GOD (biblical principles), just as they are laid out in the Scriptures.
    Typically in Judaism a panel of three judges were assigned to handle civil and property cases (“pragma echon” in the Greek “lawsuits”), and here in this passage of 1 Corinthians 6, verses 1-8, the Apostle Paul is suggesting that Christians use just such an approach to settle their disputes instead of taking them before a secular court. He correctly believed that it was better for Christians to settle their own disputes, based on biblical principles, rather than on pagan law.
    Paul says that the Scriptures tell us that one day Christians will have to judge the world (v.2) and the angels of darkness (diakrino judgment), so why don’t we as Christians get into the practice of judging ourselves (anakrino judgment) and resolving our own ordinary disputes here on earth, instead of depending on outside, secular judges who don’t even respect GOD, or the Church (Vs.4-5).
    If Christians are to show the world that they really believe that Christianity produces the best men and women in society, we truly need to start by showing that we are wise enough to handle our own disputes, and govern ourselves according the laws of the GOD we say we believe. For a Christian to sue another Christian, right in front of a secular court judge, is a real defeat to the Christian community, and, to the Christian cause (v.7). It is better even to just accept the injustice from each other, than it is to call on secular courts to handle Christian issues, using man’s laws, to judge GOD’s people, who should be trying to live under GOD’s laws.    


AVOIDING SEXUAL SIN
(Glorify GOD with your body)
1 Corinthians 6:9-20

   In 1 Corinthians 6, verses 9-20, the Apostle Paul shifts gears, and begins to focus his attentions on another major problem that the Corinthians were having a hard time getting a grip on,  the dangers of sexual intercourse outside of marriage (“immoral sexual behavior”). Here he gives his exegesis on the “spiritual link” that is involved in the “physical act” of sexual intercourse, that, most people, even today, are totally ignorant about, not just the Corinthians of the first century.
    Scripture says that those who indulge in sexual sin through, adultery (Exodus 20:14), fornication (1 Corinthians 6:13b), incest (Leviticus 18:6-17), prostitution (Leviticus 19:29), homosexuality (Leviticus 18:22, & 20:13, Deuteronomy 22:5) and beastiality (Leviticus 18:23 & 20:15), will have no share in the kingdom of Heaven (1 Corinthians 6:9-10) unless, of course, they cease their immoral acts and lifestyle, and earnestly repent so that they can be made right with GOD, through the blood of CHRIST JESUS.
    People often say that we are allowed to do anything, but they overlook the fact that everything is not good for them, and everything is not permissible by the laws of GOD. And even though we have “freedom of choice” to do anything we want, GOD says, we must not become a slave to the many offerings of this world. Satan wants each of us to “do what thou wilt”, while GOD wants us to use our bodies in the best way, which is serving HIM and living life the way HE knows that HE made us to live it.  
    Our bodies are not made for sexual immorality, even though many choose to indulge their bodies into it. Our bodies are really made for GOD, and GOD cares very much about what we do in our bodies. That is why HE gives us instructions on how to get the very best out of our bodies for the longest period of time, through obedience to HIS Word.
    Every person who was ever born shares “GOD’s divine nature” from birth (Romans 1:18-20), and as “human beings”, we instinctively know “right” from “wrong” even if we never picked up a bible in our life (Romans 2:14-15). However, as believers, we have to realize that our bodies are actually “one with CHRIST”, and when we engage in sin, especially sexual sin, we are spiritually bringing CHRIST into our mess with us, and in addition, grieving the HOLY SPIRIT, because we are defying GOD’s way of life (1 Corinthians 6:15).
    Whenever we commit our lives to CHRIST we become one with HIM in spirit, inseparable. And since CHRIST is ONE in spirit with GOD and the HOLY SPIRIT, that means that we should all be at one in our thinking and actions with the GODHEAD. Therefore everything we do, we do it as “figurative representatives” (“tselems”, “images” in the Hebrew) of the GODHEAD in spirit, and in truth.
    It has already been put in place by GOD, that, through the act of sexual coition, or the exchange of bodily fluids through sexual orgasm, a man and woman are “consummated” unto each other, and also become one in body and spirit. And the process of “consummation” automatically occurs, whether they are married, or not. That’s right! The act of consummation still occurs, even if it is with a prostitute, or any other person that you’re not married to (v.16).
    It is GOD WHO defines what “consummation” is, and we can’t change its definition, no matter how bad we may want to. Every person that you engage in sexual intercourse with, you automatically become one with them in body and spirit, and that makes a mockery of the sanctity of marriage, and what GOD intended in the relationship between a man and a woman (v.16).
    When we marry, and consummate that marriage, we become one with our spouse, one in body, and inseparable in spirit. Therefore, we, our spouse, and the whole GODHEAD are one in spirit, and we must respect it as such. If we as human beings, who are a part of the body of CHRIST, engage in sexual immorality, we are lying in a very crowded bed, all the while thinking it is only with the person, or persons you are engaging in sex with at the time. However, in reality, you are dragging the spirits of all those whom you have ever “become one with” (engaged in sexual intercourse with), to bed with you. If this doesn’t give you a vivid description of what “grieving the HOLY SPIRIT” is, then, I personally don’t know what will.
    In the biblical Greek, the word used for “truth” is “aletheia”, and it is “that which is in harmony with reality”. Nowadays, for example, and, in days gone by, man has always tried to re-define “homosexual sin”, for example, as not being a sin at all, as GOD says, but rather, it is an act that is performed or expressed by a “a race of people” that serves to distinguish them from other people in our society, likening it to an “ethnic group”, or a “national origin”.
    However, in reality, homosexual sin it is still what GOD the CREATOR says it is, sin. In fact, the reason why homosexuality is so detestable to the GOD of the Christian bible is because it is “the personification of one’s defiance of GOD HIMSELF”. Instead of honoring GOD with their bodies they actually deny GOD with every fiber of their being.
    The homosexual lifestyle, be it an effeminate male who submits himself to another man, as a woman would to a man (malakos – v.9), or a male who prostitutes himself out to other males (arsenokoitai – also v.9), is a twenty-four hour a day endeavor, or, “a perpetual state of living in sin”, against the ideology of GOD, and therefore the practitioner lives and breathes defiance of GOD, all day, every day, non-stop. Twenty-four hours a day they tell GOD, through their behavior, that, “GOD, I’m not what you made me. YOU made a mistake GOD, and put me in the wrong body, therefore GOD, it your fault that I’m doing what I’m doing, and living like I’m living, I take no responsibility for my own choices”.    
    Whenever man chooses to go his own way, he automatically moves farther and farther away from GOD, and eventually GOD, in his mind, is reduced to this “obscure figure” WHOM he used to know, and by then, he only seeks to avoid. He doesn’t care anymore, and has grown to be impervious, even to the concept of there even being any such thing as “GOD”.
    Peter C. Craigie once wrote, “When people cease to care, then religion, morally, social customs, and values, all cease to function as mortar that holds together a society, and maintains ancient Faith”. True Christians are one in body with CHRIST, and CHRIST, is one in body with GOD and the HOLY SPIRIT. Whenever we sin, or commit immoral sexual acts, we also cause the whole GODHEAD, WHO is inseparable, to suffer grief because of our offenses.
    Our bodies are a temple to be used by GOD to embody HIS HOLY SPIRIT, WHO will ultimately guide us into the righteousness of CHRIST, if we allow HIM to. And so we now can clearly see the “spiritual link in sexual intercourse” that will continue to exist, whether we like it or not, because GOD says so. Our bodies are the temple of the HOLY SPIRIT, and only the person who is joined to CHRIST, is the person who receives HIM.
    Furthermore, we can’t receive the HOLY SPIRIT until GOD can look into our thoughts (hearts – “kardia” in the Greek) and see HIMSELF. It is then, and only then, that GOD will send us to CHRIST JESUS. And as the scriptures say, JESUS gives eternal life to all those whom the FATHER sends to HIM (John 17:2b), and that, “no one can come to HIM unless the FATHER sends them”. And that’s “GOD’s perspective of salvation”, not man’s.
    I’ll conclude this lesson the same way the Apostle Paul concluded this sixth chapter of his first letter to the Corinthians, where he warns us in verses 18-20 to;

Run away from sexual sin! No other sin so clearly affects the body as this one does. For sexual immorality is a sin against your own body. Or don’t you know that your body is the temple of the HOLY SPIRIT, WHO lives in you and was given to you by GOD? You do not belong to yourself, for GOD bought you with a high price. So you must honor GOD with your body” (NLT).

A Sunday school lesson by,
Larry D. Alexander 








Friday, November 17, 2017

BOOK BY BOOK BIBLE STUDY
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BIBLE STUDY LESSON
For the week beginning Sunday November 19, 2017

PAUL CONDEMNS SPIRITUAL PRIDE
1 Corinthians 5

   The major responsibility of the Christian Church is to show the world, through our behavior, that Christianity really does produce the best men and women. In order to achieve this goal, everyone in the congregation must exercise a high level of “self-discipline” (“engrathia” in the Greek) at all times, and this is especially true for the leadership under CHRIST, who are the “watchmen” for the people of GOD, here on earth.
    The only way a Christian can make the world a better place is through, his or her, own lifestyle and behavior before unsaved humanity. We must fashion our lives according to the way JESUS, the HEAD of the Church, fashioned HIS when HE lived as a 100% human being here on earth, and, we must also be able to focus on HIS instructions as to how we are to be rightly related to GOD and HIMSELF, to Christians, and, to the world at large (John 15:1-16:4).
    In 1 Corinthians chapter 5, the Apostle Paul turns his focus to “Church discipline” and how we as Christians are expected by GOD to watch over, and help preserve and protect each other’s “spiritual well-being”, which is constantly under attack from satan. The very purpose of Church discipline is to preserve the moral purity of the congregation, and sometimes that may require cutting off the sinning believer from fellowship for a while (v.9).
    Jeremiah 21, verses 8-10 kind of helps us to understand the concept of Paul’s belief as to how we have to maintain the purity of the Church by cleansing it of sin, and then, letting the guilty party’s sin run its course ( pay the consequences) before bringing them back into the fold.
    In the Old Testament, concerning GOD’s handling of Israel regarding their sinful behavior, HE would have to, from time to time, remove them from the Holy Land (i.e. to Egypt, Assyria, and Babylon), so that their sins of disobedience could run its course, through various forms of oppression and servitude, before returning them back to their homeland.
    While they were away, GOD would perform a “spiritual cleansing” of the land, freeing it from the curse of disobediences, such as giving worship to demonic idols that should have only been given to GOD, sexual sins, etc. . Once GOD had finished HIS redeeming work on the people and the land, HE would reunite the “purified repentant people” back into the “restored land”.
    That is the same concept that Paul is stressing here to the Corinthians. In the Old Testament, the land of Israel was “set apart” for the people of GOD, and the people of GOD were responsible to keep it holy under GOD. In the New Testament “Church Age” the Christian Church is “set apart” for all those who choose to come to CHRIST and wish to maintain and live lives that are pleasing to GOD. The only way to please GOD is by showing that you have the faith that allows you to be obedient to HIM at all times. Without that faith and trust, it is impossible to please HIM, and when a person become too prideful to live in obedience, say, in the fashion that Lucifer did before he was expelled from Heaven, GOD expects  that person to be removed from the congregation. Any and every person that is guilty of practicing ongoing sinful behavior in the Church, has to be removed from the congregation, before their behavior affects others,  and so that the Church can be restored to purity, and remain pure.  
    Here Paul says that he could hardly believe the reports about the sexual immorality (incest – having sexual intercourse with a close relative) that was going on inside the Church at Corinth. A man who was a member of the Church was “shacking up” (living together while unmarried) with his father’s wife, who apparently wasn’t a member of the Church, because no recommendation of discipline was leveled at her by Paul, only the man in this situation.
    “Incest” was something that wasn’t even tolerated in most of the pagan world in those days, for it was something that was illegal even in the Roman Empire. Yet, the Corinthian Church didn’t even seem to give it a second thought. In fact they were still strutting around, proud of themselves for the spiritual advancements they believed they had made in the LORD since the Church was established five years earlier. And so, while resting on their own laurels, satan was getting ready to take over the congregation with his initial application of “evil yeast” that would threatened to ruin the whole local Church at Corinth.
    In Matthew 18:15-17 JESUS suggests a process by which we can approach a wrongdoing believer in the Church, for the purpose of correcting him or her, so that Christian relationships can get back on the right track following a sinful interruption. There JESUS states that, if another believer sins against you, you should meet privately with the wrongdoer to try and work it out to a GODly conclusion. If the wrongdoer listens, and confesses to his or her fault, the relationship can be restored.
    However, if the first attempt at reconciliation is unsuccessful, then the next step should be to meet again with the wrongdoer, this time taking one or two others with you to act as witnesses to verify your earnest attempt at reconciling the relationship. If the person still refuses to listen and repent of their wrongdoing, then, the matter should be taken to Church. If the church rules in your favor in the matter, and yet, the wrongdoer still does not accept it, you should, from that point forward, treat that person as one who does not wish to conform to the Christian lifestyle, and disassociate yourself from them.
    The rationale behind this process toward discipline and correction is to give a person who has made a mistake, every opportunity to repent of their wrongdoing. It serves as a way to establish whether or not a person’s wrongdoing is unintentional, intentional, or just a blatant disregard for what is right or wrong.
    True believers in the body of CHRIST must be able to realize that even if one person in the Church violates the will of GOD, by showing blatant disrespect to GOD and his or her fellowman, and is not disciplined accordingly, then the door has been left opened for satan to overcome and affect everyone else in the congregation over time (v.6). Paul, who is acting under the authority of CHRIST says that a person of such wickedness must be immediately removed from the Church in order to preserve its purity (v.7).
    Corinth, whose very name is derived from sexual misbehavior (“korinthiazomai” in the Greek, which means “fornication”), was a place that was particularly mired in sexual sin when Paul first arrived there to teach the Gospel five years earlier. He admonished those who chose to join the body of CHRIST, not to continue to indulge in their sexual promiscuity and sinful lifestyles. He reminded them that he was not talking to those who didn’t want to commit to the Church, but rather, he was speaking to those who did wish to commit to the Christian lifestyle.
    Paul goes on to tell the Church at Corinth that it was not his responsibility to judge unbelievers (“krino” judge – judgment of condemnation), but rather, it is his responsibility was to judge believers (“diakrino” judge – judge using the Word of GOD as your guide) (Vs.9-11). And not only was it Paul’s job to judge believers in the Church, Paul says that it is the responsibility of everyone in the Church to do so (v.12). “Spiritual Pride” will cause a person to sin, and, it will also cause a person to ignore the sins of others, even inside the walls of the Church, of which we pledge to CHRIST, to preserve its purity.

A Sunday school lesson by,
Larry D. Alexander





                                 
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