Translation and Sermon by Nate Wilson for Christ the Redeemer Church, Manhattan, KS 13 Dec 2009
33. Do not be led astray, Bad company corrupts good manners.
34. Start waking up righteously and stop sinning,
for some are maintaining ignorance of God.
I am saying this to you in order [to elicit proper] shame.
A Christmas tradition that my family had when I was growing up was to set a manger scene underneath the tree in the living room. No presents under the tree, just a manger scene without the baby Jesus figure. For weeks, the manger would be empty and there would be no presents. Then on Christmas Day, we kids would wake up and run to the living room, and there in the manger would be the little figure of the Baby Jesus, and low and behold, there would be stacks of gifts for us all around it! As far as we were concerned, it made a big difference whether or not Jesus was there in the manger, because it made the difference between whether or not there were gifts under the tree for us too!
As we have been meditating on the Resurrection of Christ, at the other end of His life on earth, we see that whether or not Jesus was raised from the dead makes a big difference to us as well. Among other things, the resurrection makes a big difference in how we live our lives.
In our last time together, we covered the first two things that we who hope due to Christ’s resurrection should do:
1. we should pursue Christian baptism (v.29), and
2. we should take risks and endure suffering to spread the gospel.
In v.33, we see a third action we can take as a result of our resurrection hope:
· v.33 starts out with a command, “Do not be deceived/misled.” The verb in Greek is pronounced plana-o – we get our word “planet” from the same root, because, from the relative perspective of our earth, the planets do not follow regular elliptical patterns like the stars do, since the planets are also revolving around the sun like we are, so they appear to follow a wandering path that looks erratic.
· What does God want us not to be led astray about?
o The larger context of this command is the truth of the resurrection in chapter 15,
o and the immediate context is the hedonistic quote at the end of v.32, “Let’s eat and drink, for tomorrow we die.”
o Do not be deceived into thinking that this life is all there is.
o Do not be deceived into patterns of rebellion against God based in a denial of the afterlife and the resurrection and a denial of the final judgment.
· The word here for “good manners/habits/morals/character” is the same root from which we get our word “ethics”:
o It includes both the concept of judging what is right and what is wrong as well as the habitual actions that we live out based on what we believe is right and wrong.
o Our habits and lifestyle can get twisted and horrible if we wander from God’s standards of ethics written in the Bible.
o The word translated “good” in the phrase “good morals/character” is one of the fruits of the spirit in Galatians 5 – kindness/goodness/appropriateness.
o It is used exclusively in the epistles to describe a character trait that comes from God:
§ Rom. 2:4 …His goodness/kindness and forbearance and longsuffering… lead you to repentance.
§ Eph. 4:32 be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving each other, even as God also in Christ forgave you.
§ 1 Pet. 2:3 you have tasted that the Lord is gracious/good
o The corruption of this good character was a departure from God’s character, not just the abandonment of a Christian tradition.
o Are there certain people that when you are around them, you start losing your Godly character and start slipping into ungodly, unkind patterns? You may need to break ties with those people because of the influence they have over you.
· How were the Corinthians being deceived? The same way Eve was: Bad company/Evil communications.
o The word for “company” in Greek is the word we get “homily” from – it includes not only being in the company of someone and associating with their crowd or gang, but also engaging in spoken conversation with them.
o As a noun, is not found anywhere else in scripture, but it is found in a verbal form in three places, and in all three cases it has to do with spoken conversation:
§ Luke 24:14-15 – Disciples chatting on the road to Emmaus,
§ Acts 20:11 – Paul giving an all-night seminar in Troas, and
§ Acts 24:26 – where Governor Felix had frequent conversations with Paul in Caesarea.
o If the people you are hanging out with and talking with are ungodly, they can corrupt you and bring you to destruction.
§ There’s an old saying, “Tell me with whom you are found, and I will tell you who you are.” (Goethe)
o And that does not apply only to people you see face-to-face; now that we have the internet, this applies just as much to the people you text, chat with, or IM, Skype, Facebook, Twitter, or whatever.
§ I remember one case where a kid in a church started doing some things that had criminal consequences, and as the parents started delving into the behavior, they discovered that an old friend that they had forbidden their child from seeing was chatting with their kid online and encouraging the criminal behavior!
o By the way this also applies not only to bad, criminal types, but also to hanging out with moral, but proud, self-righteous friends. They can have just as bad an effect on us spiritually.
§ Are there people in your life who get you criticizing Christians that you have no business making fun of?
§ Are there people who keep you from engaging the world with the Gospel of Jesus Christ because you are getting so wrapped up in staying “in” with a particular Christian clique?
· Don’t minimize the seriousness of being corrupted by bad company. Listen to what God’s word says about what corruption does:
2 Cor. 11:3-4 I fear, lest by any means, as the
serpent beguiled Eve in his craftiness, your minds should be corrupted
from the simplicity and the purity that is toward Christ. For if one comes
preaching another Jesus, whom we did not preach… or a different gospel… you…
bear with him.
Corruption from the simplicity and purity of the gospel leads to following a false religion.
1Cor. 3:16. Don’t y’all known that you are the
inner-sanctum of God, and [that] the Spirit of God resides in you? 17. When
someone ruins the inner-sanctum of God, God will ruin that
person, for the inner-sanctum of God is holy, which is what you yourselves are.
Entering into corrupt deeds puts us in danger of God destroying us.
Rev. 18 &19 Babylon is personified as a “harlot
who corrupted the earth” with sexual immorality, materialism –
idolatrous preoccupation with retailing goods, and persecution of God’s
prophets. Those who had been corrupted by her went down with her.
We joke sometimes about being corrupted by the influence of others, but it is a serious matter in the judgment of God.
o Jude 1:10 But these men make fun of things they don’t know about, and they are destroyed by the things they understand naturally, like creatures without reason… 18 [Remember that the apostles] said to you, “In the last time there will be mockers, walking after their own ungodly lusts. These are the ones who cause divisions, are sensual, having not the Spirit. But you, beloved, building up yourselves on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Spirit, keep yourselves in the love of God, looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life.
· Your circle of friends has a tremendous influence on you, so it is important to choose friends who are a good influence, who believe in a resurrection of the dead and whose manners/morals/habits/character reflect accountability to the God who will judge the living and the dead.
o One of the hallmarks of any association of people is that there is a code of ethics that makes the difference between whether you are “in” with that group or “out.” Usually that code is not written down, but people use your desire to be “in” with them to pressure you to conform to their code of ethics. Paul is warning us of our human tendency to fudge on our beliefs in order to be accepted by other people. One remedy is to change company.
o I remember in college starting my Freshman year enamored with all the freedoms of living on my own and hanging out and having fun with all kinds of friends, but after a while, I started realizing that I needed to center down on friends who would lead me toward righteousness, so I started spending a lot of time with a fellow by the name of Paul Stein who led a disciplined life and invited me to spend regular time in worship and prayer and ministry with him. His example and influence really helped me with my life direction.
· The Bible has much to say about the influence of others:
o 2 Pet. 2:8-9 describes how Lot was influenced by the decadent culture around him when he lived in Sodom and concludes that “the Lord knows how to deliver the godly out of temptation, and to keep the unrighteous under punishment unto the day of judgment.”
1 Cor 6:9-11a Or have y’all not known that the
unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God?
Do not be deceived: Neither the immoral nor idol-worshippers, nor adulterers, nor gays nor homosexuals, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards nor abusers nor greedy men will inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of y’all, but you washed yourselves…
Washing indicates making a break with these lifestyles so we are not deceived.
Luke 21:8 Jesus said, “Take heed that you be not
led astray: for many shall come in my name, saying, ‘I am he;’ and, ‘The time
is at hand!’ Don’t you go after them.
We must recognize and make a break with false teachers because they can lead us astray.
Psalm 1:1 Blessed is the man who does not walk in
the counsel of the wicked, or stand in the way of sinners, or sit in the seat
of scoffers, but his delight is in the law of Jehovah, and on His law he meditates
day and night.
Here we have the antidote to being led astray: delighting in God’s law, the Bible!
· This gang who was deceiving the Christians in Corinth was the same group who was saying, “Let us eat and drink as though tomorrow is our last day,” in v. 32.
o There is nothing wrong per se about eating and drinking; God designed us to need food and drink and commanded Adam to eat from the trees of the garden.
o The problem is with the second half of the phrase, “for tomorrow we die.”
§ It is a focus on the food and drink themselves as all that matter, rather than seeing them as a means for fueling our bodies to glorify God.
§ “For tomorrow we die” focuses on getting pleasure for yourself as though that’s all that life is about. It is also a denial of the resurrection and the redemptive purposes of God in this world that give meaning to our lives as we participate with Him in those redemptive purposes.
o We hear this siren-call every day through the advertisements all around us:
§ “Eat this food; drink this drink!”
§ Pig out! Drink up!
§ You deserve a break.
§ You only go around once, grab for all the gusto.
§ Just do it!
§ Live life like there’s no tomorrow!
§ Seize the day!
§ Indulge yourself!
§ Why wait for tomorrow when you can borrow it today?
§ Entertainment you can enjoy!
§ Stay tuned for our next show!
· How can we keep from getting sucked into this worldly mindset?
o One thing we can do is associate with people who remind us of the truth.
o That’s one reason we meet together as a church.
o I can’t tell you how helpful it has been to me, when I’ve been tempted to abandon course and stop trusting God, just to spend time with some of you guys in the congregation and regain perspective as I see your faith in God!
· Note, however, that Paul did not say to stop associating with unbelievers, but rather with those who would lead you astray. (Arnold)
o There is a balance between being in the world and staying out of it, and different ones of us will draw the lines in different places.
o In previous centuries across the Atlantic, there were Separatists who pulled out of the apostate church of England and formed separate denominations that were more true to the Bible.
o However, there were Puritans who stayed with the church of England in order to help purify it and make it more Biblical.
o Today, there are homeschoolers who, like the Separatists, pull out of the educational system altogether, and there are Puritans whose calling is to be salt and light within the system.
o Puritans and the Separatists have always been in tension, and that’s actually not a bad thing.
o Those who are more cautious about corruption can always be challenged by the example of those who are more outreach-oriented and ask, “Am I being over-cautious and hiding my light under a bushel? Should I take more risks?”
o And those who are a little looser about things can always be challenged by the example of the separatists and ask, “Should I hold a higher standard here? Am I risking deception and corruption by these associations?”
o It’s a fine line that requires prayer and guidance from God’s wisdom to set our course. It requires constant alertness to keep from being led astray by influence from your friends.
So, the truth of the resurrection causes us to break ties with people who destroy our hope.
the case of the Corinthians, they were being led astray by a false doctrine
that denied the resurrection.
But once the resurrection is gone, a number of other false doctrines set in:
B. However, because of the Christian belief in the resurrection, the Christian has a high view of the importance of the human body:
C. Furthermore, denial of the resurrection of the body goes hand-in-hand with denial of final judgment:
D. For this reason, Paul says in v.34 to “Wake up/Sober up/Come to your senses, righteously/as you ought and stop sinning.”
E. How are we to wake up and sober up? 4 ways:
It makes a big difference whether or not Jesus was there in the manger. It also makes a big difference whether or not there is a resurrection. It makes a big difference in you hope, your choice of friends, how you view your body, whether you are self-indulgent or obedient to God’s righteousness, whether you believe in a final judgment, whether or not you are awake to reality, and how you deal with sin and shame. It makes a difference.
Last week, I got a Christmas email from Dennis Cox, who conducts prison ministry around the Flint Hills, and I was impressed with what he wrote:
“This coming year ‘2010’ will be more challenging… yet I consider these challenges a promotion from the Lord Jesus. He is allowing much to come against us only to get us back where we once were in our sweet relationship with Him… [T]he Lord Jesus Christ the Messiah, in which we celebrate this season of Christmas, went way overboard for you and for me. He came in the most humble fashion; His baby bed was a feeding trough, and his death bed was hanging on a tree. The Lord God has been so obsessed with reconciling His children to himself, that He sent His only begotten son to die on the cross for you and for me. He died so you could live. Please wake up oh sleeper and come back to your first love. Please get things right with the Father and allow him to be Lord over your household and your decisions this year. We have succumbed to the temptations of this world so much so that we do not know our left hand from our right… It seems to me that we do a lot of complaining about worldliness yet we do what they do. The only way we can show the world of a different way is by living a different way… If Satan has you are under the spell of the television, internet, cell phones, face books twittering or any uncontrollable obsession, I beg you to please repent of these obsessions and turn back to the Lord Jesus Christ. Let us quit complaining about others taking the Christ out of Christmas and act upon our beliefs! We cannot make others put Christ in Christmas yet we can celebrate Christ in our lives. NO ONE CAN TAKE THAT FROM YOU! THEY CANNOT TAKE AWAY YOUR FAITH IN THE BABY JESUS!