Sunday, 28 September 2014

New Life, New Lifestyle 3 - 1 Cor 5:1 - 8 and 1 Cor 6:12 - 20 - Part 2

We have to ask are these lines of morality just about our sexual behaviour? Churches can seem so pre-occupied with sexual sins, do they become blind to other issues? Does God have different 'levels' of sin?

Roman 3:23 reminds us that we all mess up, and all fall short of the glory of God, which seems to set all wrongdoing on a level playing field. In Christ we are then set free not only from our mistakes of the past, but free from a sense of living by law or regulation. This enables Paul to quote: "I have the right to do anything", yet he qualifies it with "... but not everything is beneficial"!

Our freedom is not to be abused, not to go on living in unhealthy ways. God sets Himself up in the believer, with His presence dwelling there for the benefit of others around. We wouldn't think of defacing a physical building type of temple, so why deface our own bodies that are now sacred places for God?

Verse 6:18 is a bit odd, since Paul asserts all non-sexual actions are outside the body. This doesn't ring true for us, since an alcoholic, drug user, or even someone persisting in a bad diet or deliberately unhealthy lifestyle is clearly acting against their very own body: polluting, harming, defacing it. Yet sexual behaviour outside its proper context does all this and more, since it is an action connected straight to the very core of who we are, and who else we relate to. It is an expression of our most intimate relationship with another human ... hence it is a big deal.

Paul therefore rightly advises us to 'flee from' actions that will harm us - put a safety margin in place! If we are genuinely seeking to worship we must consider our own purity before God. Our seeking to serve with truth and integrity depends on it too, since our service flows from our worship.

So as a fellowship should we hold an inquisition across the church? Perhaps not - Better for us to go back to the concepts of relationship and how we relate together. Behaviour is best challenged by those close to us who understand us ... so are we man enough to find those who we can relate to closely, who we can make ourselves accountable to? At the next level small groups meet for a purpose, relating to God together, and so should ask themselves 'how are we distinctive?'.

Finally at the church level this can apply within the official membership - those covenanted to walk together. Events like our Sunday worship are open, where we welcome those of little or no faith, those who are just starting to work it out. We cannot expect them to have it all sorted.

Yet we can model a better life lived in the freedom of Christ that is a positive and attractive contrast, that helps others to look to Jesus for themselves.

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