1st Corinthians – Wayne Barber/Part 73
By: Dr. Wayne Barber
|By: Dr. Wayne Barber; ©1998|
|Oh, we love the songs, “Jesus loves me, this I know.” He does; He really does. But somehow we fail to associate His chastening with His love. You know, He loves us so much He will bring great pain in our lives in order to correct sinful behavior. God does not allow a Christian, a child of God, to get away with sin.|
1 Corinthians 11:30-31
The Chastening of God
When I was growing up, there was a side to my parents that took years to understand. I knew they loved me. I could not have had more loving parents. I could not have asked for a better mother and father. They loved the Lord and taught me and gave me a great heritage of trusting Him. They just loved me. My father never told me he loved me all the time, but he showed me. My mother was always hugging me and telling me she loved me. I knew they loved me.
But there was a side to that love that took a long time as a child to understand, and that was the side of their chastening. In my little mind growing up, I couldn’t quite associate pain with love. Somehow that didn’t equate.
With my father it was a little different, but my mom would just cry all the time she was spanking me. She would say, “I love you, I love you. I am doing this for your good.” I’m thinking, “Well, I don’t understand how pain somehow equates with love.”
Well, it took me a long time. One day I became a parent, and now I do understand that. I do understand that when you love someone, you will go to great extremes to correct them and to put them back on the right path. You will spare no pain, because you love them, to see them enjoy life as it should be enjoyed.
Well, it is the same way in our relationship with God. I don’t know if you have discovered this or not. Oh, we love the songs, “Jesus loves me, this I know.” He does; He really does. But somehow we fail to associate His chastening with His love. You know, He loves us so much He will bring great pain in our lives in order to correct sinful behavior. God does not allow a Christian, a child of God, to get away with sin. Now, you can write that down.
Some people say, “I don’t know if I’m saved or not.” Listen, one of the best ways you can ever know is by the chastening hand of God in your life. He doesn’t let us get away with sin. He hates sin with a passion that I doubt we will ever fully understand. He hates sin with that kind of passion.
Many believers today take the chastening of God very flippantly. In fact, they seem to think that a loving God just could not do such things. I was watching a religious program on television. This fellow uses an expression I have used before. You know, God really spoke to me and convicted me. I have done the same thing. Isn’t it funny when you see another preacher and you think, “Did I do that?” I didn’t say the same thing he said, but I used the same expression.
He used it in a real sarcastic way. He said, “Would God, a loving God, allow sickness and suffering in His children’s life?” And he said, “Absolutely not, that would negate the loving character of God.” I wanted to yell, “No, no, it doesn’t negate the loving character. It proves the loving character.” Yes, God will bring pain in your life. Yes, God will cause us to suffer. Why? Because He is a God who loves us, and He disciplines His children. This kind of warped thinking that a loving God could not bring pain into my life has caused people to misunderstand much of the pain and suffering they have had to go through in this world being His child.
In fact, if you take God’s chastening out of the equation, then we all lose a holy, referential fear of God. What happens is we take God in such a flippant manner that we take sin lightly, and that is when our lives begin to cave in and all kinds of destruction can come about.
Let me say this now, as we talk about the chastening of God. When we talk about the chastening of God in a believer’s life, keep remembering my mother weeping as she has to correct me. The chastening of God has got to be associated with His loving correction in our life. That is what we are dealing with as we walk through the scriptures. Keep that thought in mind. In no way are we referring to the awful wrath of God that one day will be unleashed upon unbelievers and unrighteousness. That is in no way what we are saying. God’s correction is in a different realm than that wrath that one day, without any mercy, will be dropped on this earth. It is a future wrath that is coming one day.
The apostle Paul says in 1 Thessalonians 5:9, “For God has not destined us for wrath, but for obtaining salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ.” Now there is a wrath he speaks of here that is a future wrath that is coming one day. That future wrath is not what we are destined for. He goes on to say in 1 Thessalonians 5:10, speaking of Christ, “who died for us, that whether we are awake or asleep, we may live together with Him.” The implication is forever and forever and forever. So he says, “We are not looking forward to this future wrath that is going to fall one day.” That is not something that the Christian is destined for.
However, we must understand that there is a present wrath that we will have to deal with. You see, not only are we saved from the penalty of sin, we are saved from the power of sin and one day we will be saved from the presence of sin, which in effect will deliver us from the wrath that God is going to drop on this earth without mercy upon sinners and upon unrighteousness. But the wrath that Paul speaks of in one situation is future wrath. There is a wrath, however, that we will deal with, and that is the wrath of God mixed with His mercy.
Remember, the prophet in the Old Testament says, “O God, remember mercy when your wrath comes.” That is the way God always uses His wrath in our life. It is always mixed with mercy. He does hate sin. Thank God He has sent Jesus to deal with it on the cross. But He continues to hate those sinful choices that we make, and, therefore, He continues to allow us to experience some of that wrath mixed with His mercy to give us an understanding of the life that He seeks for us to live. God disciplines His children.
We used to have a sign in front of the church. We put a big sign out that read, “You are free to make whatever choice you want to make, but you are not free to choose its consequence.” What we were saying by that little sign was to let the world know that, as believers, we don’t get away with making sinful choices; that we invoke the very wrath of God upon our own lives when we choose to walk in darkness rather than walk in light. It is not a wrath that is one day destined for these others, but it is a wrath. He does hate sin. He does hate sin. We have got to see that. And God chastens His own.
In fact, turn over to Hebrews 12. Let’s just make sure we see this. This chastening, when it comes to believers, is always for an eternal purpose. It’s always to work an eternal good in our life. It is nothing like the wrath that is going to be released on unbelievers. This is a different kind of wrath. It is meant to correct. It is meant to instruct. It is meant to teach and to point us in the right direction. In Hebrews 12:57, they were griping and complaining. They were Jewish Christians, and they wanted to go back up under Judaism because there was persecution coming in on them. We don’t know who writes this, but he has a lot of tough things to say. He says in Hebrews 12, “and you have forgotten the exhortation which is addressed to you as sons [now understand this wording here], ‘My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord, nor faint when you are reproved by Him; for those whom the Lord loves He disciplines.’” I can hear my mother now, “I love you, Wayne, I love you.” That is exactly what he is saying.
The verse goes on to say, “and He scourges,” I mean, that is severe, that is painful, “He scourges every son whom He receives.” Why? “It is for discipline that you endure.” If there was no discipline, there would be no endurance. It is discipline that drives us to the end of ourselves. It is discipline that drives us to the cross. “God deals with you as with sons; for what son is there whom his father does not discipline?”
Do you see the example he uses? He says the same way a father disciplines his child, God disciplines His children. Now, to what extreme would God go to discipline His children? I want you to know the scriptures are not silent about this. An opinion means nothing here. What does God’s Word tell us about the extremes that God would go to discipline His people? Well, chapter 10, that we have already studied in I Corinthians, has told us of one particular event in the life of Israel. In one particular event in the Old Testament 24,000 of His children were brought down. They were executed by a divine God.
Now you say, “Wait a minute. That doesn’t sound like a loving God.” Now hold on, a whole nation was at stake. The nation had rebelled against Him; and God, in an effort to show them the seriousness of what they did, executed 24,000 of them. And what do you think that did? It woke them up. And that is why His purpose is so clear. It is always to correct. It is always to instruct.
I tell you what, when you stay in the Old Testament, it makes everybody feel better. Let’s don’t get in the New Testament, but the New Testament is not silent either. There were some divine executions. They are rare. They are very rare. I don’t want to scare anybody. That is not what I mean to do. I only want to awaken us to the fact that God hates our sin. God hates it, hates it. It has cost Him the very life of His own Son. And when we choose to walk sinfully, it is going to cost us, and there is going to be a consequence.
The times of any executions that God brought about in the New Testament, as I said, are rare, but they are recorded in God’s Word. Turn to Acts 5 just to see if I am right, beginning in verse 1. This is the beginning of the church. This is the new church. Just like as Israel was being formed in the Old Testament, God had to do something in such a way that shocked the people into obedience. He did the same thing in the church, the brand new church that was growing up after His resurrection and ascension and the day of Pentecost and the church now indwelt by the Holy Spirit of God. God had to do something to shock them into reality of the lifestyle they are to live.
He says, beginning in Acts 5:1, “But a certain man named Ananias, with his wife Sapphira, sold a piece of property, and kept back some of the price for himself, with his wife’s full knowledge, and bringing a portion of it, he laid it at the apostles’ feet. But Peter said, ‘Ananias, why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit, and to keep back some of the price of the land? While it remained unsold, did it not remain your own? And after it was sold, was it not under your control? Why is it that you have conceived this deed in your heart? You have not lied to men, but to God.’ And as he heard these words, Ananias fell down and breathed his last; and great fear came upon all who heard of it. And the young men arose and covered him up, and after carrying him out, they buried him. Now there elapsed an interval of about three hours, and his wife came in, not knowing what had happened. And Peter responded to her, ‘Tell me whether you sold the land for such and such a price?’ And she said, ‘Yes, that was the price.’ Then Peter said to her, ‘Why is it that you have agreed together to put the Spirit of the Lord to the test? Behold, the feet of those who have buried your husband are at the door, and they shall carry you out as well.’ And she fell immediately at his feet, and breathed her last; and the young men came in and found her dead, and they carried her out and buried her beside her husband.”
Now, why would God go to this extreme with two people in His church there in the early church? Verse 11 says, “And great fear came upon the whole church and upon all who heard of these things.” That is the key. You see, God shocked them with what He did in chastening His own. He shocked them into the reality, in this particular context, that He hated the sin of lying to the Holy Spirit of God.
The word for “fear” is the word phobos. The word phobos is that which puts a terror in one’s heart. But it puts such a terror in your heart that it makes you draw away from that which you are afraid of; now, not necessarily God. In other words, when you were growing up do you remember when your mom used to tell you not to put your hand on the hot part of the stove? You heard it over and over and over again. I remember one day when nobody was in the kitchen I went over and turned that eye on. I wanted to see what she was talking about. I took my little hand, stupid as I was, as rebellious and hardheaded as I was, and I turned my hand over and I laid it down. Wow, it is hot! And I could hear my Mother saying, “Don’t do it,” but I did it. I want to tell you something that did to me at a young age. It taught me to fear that stove. That fear, instead of ruling me, became a servant to me, and that servant to me caused me to stay away from that which would hurt me.
That is exactly what is going on here. God had to show them, “You don’t play games with me. You don’t sin and think you will get away with it.” And He has to shock them to bring them into the reality to be fearful of that which caused the great pain in their life. Something needed to awaken the church of Corinth.
We have been seeing it now for a long time. We know the book very well. A church that was divided, a church that was fleshly, a church that had been taught and taught and taught and taught but would not live up under the teaching that God had given to them. A pitiful congregation divided because of their flesh, desecrating anything that was holy and sacred unto God, particularly the Lord’s Supper. That is where it begins to show itself in the public worship, in the Lord’s Supper.
Well, Paul wants to correct this. The believers at Corinth evidently thought that God wasn’t going to judge them. Why He hasn’t done anything yet! They didn’t even know as they were reading the letter Paul had written to them, God was already judging them and they had completely missed it. They couldn’t see the judgment of God that was going on in their life.
The presence of God’s judgment in the lives of believers
There are three things that I want you to see. First of all is the presence of God’s judgment in the lives of believers. It is always going on whether you know it or not. You see, in your mind you may think it is going to be one thing, but God has a million different ways in which He brings judgment into our lives, chastening into our lives.
Look at verse 30, “For this reason [the very reason that you are not judging yourselves rightly, the very reason that you are divided, the very reason of the bitterness and all the things that are going on in your lives[ many among you are weak and sick, and a number sleep.” It is interesting to me that this was going on right in the midst of them and they didn’t even recognize it. They didn’t see the chastening hand of God which was all around them.
Now look. He says “For this reason many among you.” The “among you” is the group that is desecrating the Lord’s Supper, those who are coming and partaking of the Lord’s Supper, not having thoroughly examined themselves. Of that group, many of them were weak, many of them were sick, and many of them had already died. Now, the significant thing also about that first phrase is the word “many.” The apostle Paul does not tell us how many. He just gives us a clue by the little word he uses there for “many.” That means that there are more than you would think. There are several. There are not just one or two, there are several who are weak, several who are sick and several who are dead because of their flippant way they have treated their Christianity and the flippant way they have dealt with the Lord’s Supper. God was already sending a message, and they couldn’t see it.
Notice the progression. “For many are weak, many are sick and many sleep.” You know, that little progression is interesting to me. I am not sure if I am reading something into it. You check it out for yourself. I am never the authority, the final word. The Word of God is. But what I see in it is a progressive way in which God tried to get their attention. You know, if I was God—and thank God I am not, and thank God you are not, we would overdo it or under do it—I’d just go ahead and just execute them. But it seemed like He moved in a progression here. Weakness first—okay, you won’t get right; sickness—okay, you won’t get right; death. It is not as if He just stepped in an executed everybody, but there was a progression here: weak, sick and dead.
Now, the first sign of God’s chastening that they had completely missed was that many of them were weak. Now that little word “weak” is the word asthenes. It is the word used many places in scripture to be translated as sickness. It is interesting. Let me show you two different passages. You might want to write them down or turn to them. Matthew 25:39 says, “And Jesus said, ‘And when did we see You sick?’” And the word He uses for sick there is the word asthenes. Even though it is translated “sick” there, it is translated “weak” here. There is a reason for that, by the way.
Then in Matthew 25:43 He says, “‘I was a stranger, and you did not invite Me in; naked, and you did not clothe Me; sick, and in prison, and you did not visit Me.’” Same word. So asthenes can be translated “weak” or it can be in certain contexts translated “sick.” But in other places it is translated weak. In Matthew 26:41 He says, “Keep watching and praying, that you may not enter into temptation; the spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.” The word is asthenes. That is interesting, isn’t it?
In 1 Corinthians 12:22, “On the contrary, it is much truer that the members of the body which seem to be weaker are necessary to the body.” I can’t wait to get to that passage. So you see the same word translated as “sick,” and the same word translated as “weak.” Now this presents an intriguing situation, because you’ve got the word “weak” and “sickness” in the same verse. The word asthenes is translated “weak,” but there is another word there that is translated “sick.” That is the word arrhostos. It is a different word. Now, why are there two different words, and what are they trying to say? Is one sick and another sicker? I mean, what is he trying to say? Why does he use two words there? I love the plenary verbal inspiration of scripture. There is a reason for that.
As a matter of fact, Liddell and Scott, some of the tops when it comes to lexicographers, say the second word “sick” and the first word “weak” are distinctly different here in this context. The word “weak” that is used here means to be emotionally, spiritually, physically weak, just drained. It even could do with a psychosomatic type of thing. But when it comes to the word “sick,” he said that has more to do in this context with chronic disease, something that has literally affected the body. There is a sickness, there is a disease that can be specified as a disease, something that is chronic in their life.
So the picture I get of God’s judgment moving in the church of Corinth—and again, I don’t want to read anything into the text—but the picture I get is the first signal that they miss, they completely missed it, was just that emotional and physical and spiritual weariness that began to set in amongst their lives. God is saying to them, “There is sin in your life and you won’t deal with it. And you thought you needed a pill to correct this. What you need is a repentant heart and you will see the vibrancy of God come back into your life. Oh, you won’t get right. Well, alright, since you won’t accept this as my judgment, I’ve got something better, sickness.” And sickness begins to move into the congregation. Sickness of such a kind that was a chronic illness, an illness that had set in amongst the people.
Then God says, “Is that not enough? Do you not realize that you can’t play games with me? Alright.” There are some timely executions that God brings to shock the church back to the reality of how much God hates sin and what it has cost Him through His own Son dying on the cross.
“For this reason many among you are weak and sick, and a number sleep.” The word for “number” there is an interesting little word. It is the word hikanos. It means a sufficient number; in other words, not just one or two, a sufficient number of you. Paul is saying, “I mean, sufficient enough that you already know about those who have dropped dead in the congregation because of your unwillingness to treat God and His Word as sacred.”
Now let’s look at this word “sleep,” because it is an interesting word. It says, “many are asleep.” Why do you say the word “asleep” means dead? Now I want to tell you something straight out. When the word “sleep” is used to describe death in many places, sometimes it is used just to be physically asleep, but when it is assigned the task of describing somebody who has died, it is never used of unbelievers. It is only used of believers. Now that is significant here. You can check it out yourself. There is a reason behind that, because with the death of a believer comes the certainty of a future promise of the resurrection of his body. That is why that particular word is not ever used with lost people. It is only used with believers when it is assigned to describe a death.
Let’s look at it. It is a beautiful promise, actually. The promise is in the word. When Stephen died in Acts 7:60 it says, “And falling on his knees, he cried out with a loud voice, ‘Lord, do not hold this sin against them!’ And having said this, he fell asleep.” Now, the body fell. He was stoned, the body fell. What happened at that very moment? Do you think the spirit went with the body? We know from another passage, 2 Corinthians 5:8, that at the moment of death, the very moment the heart stops, the very moment there is no more breath left in the body, at that very moment the spirit goes on to be with the Lord Jesus Christ. There is a divine departure.
Paul said that and people missed it. He said, “The time of my departure has come.” They thought it simply meant his physical life here on earth, but no. They could walk by his grave every day. He is still with us, but he is in the grave. Paul says, “No, no, there is a departure. I am going on to be with the Lord Jesus Christ.” The very moment that a believer dies, his spirit goes immediately into the presence of the Lord Jesus. That is why Paul said in Philippians 1:21, “For me to live is Christ and to die is gain.” Why? Because I live by faith here, but I live by sight there. I walk right into His presence.
But now, wait a minute. Why would that word “asleep” be assigned to the body then? Is there is a soul sleep? No, I just proved that. The spirit goes to be with the Lord. There is no such thing as a soul sleep. But there is a word “asleep” assigned just to the body of a believer. Why? Because it is a picture in itself. When you lay down and go to sleep, you rest, do you not? But when you have finished resting, what do you do? You get up. The body that is laid down gets up.
I used to know a preacher and I asked him one day where he was going? He was going to a funeral. He said, “I am going to plant a body.” I said, “Well, don’t tell the family that. I don’t think that will go over too good.” I thought it was kind of not good, but, you know, later on I found out he was exactly right. When you plant something in the ground, what do you expect it to do? Get up. Why is the word “asleep” only assigned to the bodies of believers who have died? Because there is a future promise of our redemption.
Our body has not been redeemed yet, only positioned. Experientially it hasn’t happened yet. That is the day when Jesus comes for His church. And what is the first thing that is going to take place? First Thessalonians 4:1318 tells us, “The dead in Christ shall rise first.” And those bodies will be changed and glorified and clothed, their immortal spirit.
This word “asleep” is powerful. This word “asleep” never is used of an unbeliever, so you’ve got to remember the context that we are in. God killed some people in the church of Corinth, but now remember something; He did it to correct a situation. Did He do it to eternally separate them from Himself? No way in the world. He could never have used the word “sleep.” Even though He took them out of this life, He still had the guarantee of the next life. So you see, we have to understand something here. We are not speaking of eternal separation. There are some people who think that, but that is not what he is saying. He could not have used the word “sleep” and be talking about unbelievers and being separated from God. What he is saying here is that He took them out of this earth.
It is almost like He looks down and says, “I will not allow you to be a mockery to me any longer. You are out of here.” But the flip side of that is, I am in His presence, to live with Him forever and can look forward to the resurrection of my body one day because God does not tell you something that He does not fulfill. He is faithful to His promise.
Now there are reasons for people being weak, sick and dead that are not because of personal sin. Before I go any further, I think we need to camp out here for a second or two and make sure you understand that. There are three basic reasons for weakness, sickness and death. First of all is original sin. I don’t know if you’ve noticed it or not, but we live in a fallen earth. You don’t believe that? Oh, talk to the environmentalist and talk to the tree huggers and find out if you think there are any problems on this earth. Every one of them foolishly think they can correct it, which is ridiculous. Only the Christians in that area know that we can do whatever we can do to preserve, but only God can correct the situation. And the correction will be a world that will burn and be purified, and then there will be a brand new earth and a brand new heaven. That is going to correct it.
Original sin has caused the problem, folks. Not only do we live in a fallen earth—and anybody knows that, the famine, the things that go on in our society, that creation groans in Romans 8—but this fallen earth has affected us. We are going to be weak because of other things, not personal sin, original sin. As long as you are a resident on planet earth, don’t try to get out of suffering and sickness and things like that. You are going to be bitten by mosquitoes, it is going to hurt you and you are going to get a bacteria and that bacteria is going to cause problems. Okay, so we are going to get sick down here because of original sin.
We are shocked by the death of a young person. I tell you what, it shocks me back to reality, the greatest reality of the fact that we live in a fallen earth. Walk into a cemetery and look at the tombstones and it will continue to remind you that we live in a fallen world. And because of original sin, there is going to be sickness, there is going to be suffering and there is going to be death, period. Woe be unto the person who tries to stand before a group and say that they don’t have to have any more suffering or sickness. They never say death, do they? It’s funny how they just conveniently leave that out. Original sin.
But the second reason we are weak and sick and dead is because of God’s wanting to make His works manifest. Turn to John 9:1—case in point—the man born blind. Of course, all the disciples thought that the reason he was born blind was because his parents had sinned. Oh, brother. I didn’t think they had television back then, but I guess they did. They just didn’t have enough faith through the parents, so therefore, he was born blind. Bless his heart. I tell you what.
John 9:1 says, “And as He passed by, He saw a man blind from birth. And His disciples asked Him, saying, ‘Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he should be born blind?’” See the mindset that they were in? Same mindset. There is nothing new under the sun, folks. Verse 3 continues, “Jesus answered, ‘It was neither that this man sinned, nor his parents; but it was in order that the works of God might be displayed in him. We must work the works of Him who sent Me, as long as it is day; night is coming, when no man can work.’” This man was destined to be born blind simply for the purpose of the Lord Jesus healing him and to show and point to the fact that He truly was the son of God.
Wow. “Well, you can’t find a death in scripture that was that way.” Oh, yes I can, John 11. The man’s name was Lazarus. Did the Lord Jesus know that he was going to die? I reckon He did. As a matter of fact, when they told Him he was dead, He stayed two more days. When He got there, he had already been in the tomb four days. Martha and Mary had a fit with that. Martha, the outspoken one, came out and said, “Well, Lord, if you’d have been here, it wouldn’t have happened.” Mary, the little quiet one said the same thing. And the Lord Jesus said, “This is so that the Son of Man should be glorified.” And what did He do? He raised him from the dead.
You see, there are times when sickness and weakness and death fit into a plan and an order that we don’t even have a clue about. We have experienced some of that even in our own churches. What do you do? You back away, leave it alone, and don’t try to put everybody into that category. You just simply say, “Oh, we have seen the works of God made manifest in this person’s sickness.” Don’t try to take the next person who gets sick and put him into that category. God may not have him in that category.
But there is a third way in which weakness, sickness and death come, and that is what we are looking at in our text. It is directly because of sin. Paul would say to the church at Corinth, “Now listen to me, some of you are weak and some of you are sick and some of you are dead, and it has nothing to do with what I am saying. It has nothing to do with your personal sin.” But then he would quickly add, “But there are many of you who are weak and many of you who are sick and many of you are dead because exactly of what I am saying. It is personal sin in your life. You have taken your Christianity flippantly. You have tried to play games with God, and God has shocked the whole body by what He is doing in your life to move His chastening hand among you.”
There is a progression of that judgment: weak, sick and asleep. You say, “Well, how can I take all this and ingest it?” I’ll tell you how. The first thing when you are weak or you are sick—if you are dead, you don’t have to worry about it; if you are dead, you waited too late—but if you are weak or if you are sick, the first thing that I think as Christians we ought to do is to check in with God and say, “God, is there any personal sin in my life that I have been unwilling to repent of that has caused this weakness and caused this sickness?” Then deal with it. That was the situation in James when he says, “If there be any sin among you, then it shall be forgiven.”
You see, we don’t even see it this way. This is why some people are trying to explain away all sickness and weakness as if it is just something from the devil and have missed a very key part of their theology. Sometimes it is because of personal sin in a person’s life. God was judging them daily and they didn’t even know He was around. And the apostle Paul had to expose the whole thing; the presence of the chastening of God.
Now ask yourself the question, are you physically, spiritually, emotionally just weak? Well, could it be that you have played a little game with God? God says, “It is time for you to wake up. I am going to shock you by what I can do in your life to get your attention because I love you, you are my child.”
The prevention of God’s chastening
Secondly, there is the prevention of God’s chastening. I guarantee you, somebody is thinking, “I don’t want that in my life. What can I do to escape the chastening hand of God? I don’t want sickness and I don’t want weakness and I certainly don’t want to be executed so that the body would be shocked.” Verse 31 tells, “But if we judged ourselves rightly, we should not be judged.” Is that simple or what?
In verse 29 we saw the word diakrino, which means to discern or to judge, to distinguish properly in our relationship with God and our relationship with others. It is the same word that is used here. In other words, we are not going to continue to go around with unconfessed sin. This doesn’t mean perfection. This doesn’t mean you won’t sin next week once you have dealt with this, but what it does mean is when you have sinned, because you are constantly, thoroughly, examining yourself, you’ll deal with it so that God doesn’t have to step in and deal with it.
It is almost like God looks down and says, “Guys, come on. Examine yourself thoroughly. Why are you worrying about this? You won’t have to worry about this because you are judging yourself. You become the smallest of courts in the land. You have made your own judgment.”
“But if we judged ourselves rightly.” The word is in the imperfect tense. Imperfect tense means it is very similar to present tense and he is speaking to them. He says, “Now listen, the weak, sick and the dead wouldn’t even be a reality to you because of this personal sin if you had been continuously [imperfect tense means continuously] judging yourself.”
That is the way we are supposed to live every day. That is why we draw a little circle around ourselves when we pray. Hopefully that is not the only time we do it all week long. We are to constantly be thoroughly examining ourselves as to our relationship with God and our relationship with others.
I want to tell you something, folks. The most important thing to God is not your agenda, not the ministry, not the church, not buildings, but your relationships to each other, because when you get to heaven, that is the only thing that is going to remain. And if you think you can keep skipping churches or go to this one or that one or the other or do this or do that to escape having to deal with it, you have got another think coming. It means you have not learned to thoroughly examine yourself at all times.
“[W]e should not be judged.” That is in the imperfect tense and that is in the passive voice. So, if you will continuously judge yourself, you won’t have to be continuously judged is what he is saying. You don’t have to fear this. But God is a corrective God. God is a loving Father. What father would not correct his children? So therefore, God is going to correct us, and He’ll use whatever severe measure is necessary.
Again, this is not the eternal judgment. That is not what we are talking about. Somebody is thinking, “Oh, I am going to lose my salvation.” I have not said that. The reason I am doing this is because lately I have been heard differently than what I have said. It is amazing what people hear that I did not say. John 3:18 reads, “He who believes in Him is not judged. He who does not believe has been judged already because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.” So if you have believed in Him, continue to believe in Him and trust Him, then forget it. The judgment already fell on the Lamb and therefore, it is not going to fall on you. This is not what we are talking about. We are talking about a God who loves His children. Would God go to the measure of death to shake up a church? Yes, He would. He has. He has proven it. It is rare. It is rare. And it is in a situation, both contexts, even in Israel and in Corinth, when the people of God had gotten so dulled to who He is and His holiness that finally He had to shock them back to reality and bring fear in their hearts so that the next time they chose to sin in that area of relationships, they would back off and say, “No, no. That burned me the last time. I am going to deal with it. I am going to properly and thoroughly examine myself.”
God says, “What is the problem that you don’t understand this? The measure of your consequence has everything to do with the measure of your choice. I am faithful to the church of Corinth and to us to bring chastening into your life. You just think you have gotten away with it. As a matter of fact, you ought to look around, you might be being judged right now and don’t even know it.”
Do you know what one of the judgments was to Israel? Prosperity! Why, they thought it was a blessing. They didn’t even know it was God’s judgment.