Damaged Goods

by Mike Ratliff

There is a push in the United States to make it illegal to preach the truth from God’s Word where it pertains to the sin of homosexuality. Of course the emphasis of those laws or initiatives is to protect the rights of certain people based on their sexual preference, which is also called gay rights. They say that to preach what the Bible says about homosexuality is to foment hate; therefore, the laws are placed under the umbrella of hate crimes.

On the other hand, some who preach against certain sins are also guilty of trying to force morality upon the unregenerate. How can an unregenerate person stop sinning? When Christians focus on sins that are abhorrent to God that should be just as abhorrent to believers, the focus should be on cleansing those sins from the Church itself. At the same time, we must never shut our doors to the lost, no matter what sins are consuming them. God saves sinners.

Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God. (1 Corinthians 6:9-11 ESV)

Carefully read the passage above from 1 Corinthians 6. No one who is unrighteous will inherit the kingdom of God. Who is that? It is those who are sexually immoral, idolaters, adulterers, homosexuals, thieves, the greedy, drunkards, revilers, and swindlers. There are more, such as liars, etc., however, what I want to focus on here is the statement by Paul in which he states that the Corinthians were guilty of all those sins, but they had been washed, sanctified, and justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God. It didn’t matter what they used to be, now they were new creations, behold all things were new.

We were all damaged goods. All of us were sinners whom God saved by His grace through faith as His gift to us. We did not earn nor deserve it and it was not by any work we did. It was all of God by His grace. (Ephesians 2:8,9) Therefore, no matter what sins consumed us before our salvation, God is able to quicken what was dead in trespasses and sins, putting life where death reigned and light where darkness ruled.

Prior to our salvation, all of us were guilty of viewing God and His ways as less valuable than whatever we really worshiped in our hearts in our idolatry. In fact, our view of our idols was that they were far superior to God.

For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Claiming to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and reptiles. Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves, because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen. For this reason God gave them up to dishonorable passions. For their women exchanged natural relations for those that are contrary to nature; and the men likewise gave up natural relations with women and were consumed with passion for one another, men committing shameless acts with men and receiving in themselves the due penalty for their error. And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a debased mind to do what ought not to be done. They were filled with all manner of unrighteousness, evil, covetousness, malice. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, maliciousness. They are gossips, slanderers, haters of God, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, foolish, faithless, heartless, ruthless. Though they know God’s decree that those who practice such things deserve to die, they not only do them but give approval to those who practice them. (Romans 1:21-32 ESV)

Please carefully read this passage from Romans 1. What is the emphasis here? Why do men reject God and pursue their own way? Of course, when we do this, God does give us over to our reprobate minds, but why is it that we do this in the first place? What is it that we are really doing? Let’s look at one verse here.

And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a debased mind to do what ought not to be done. (Romans 1:28 ESV)

The phrase “did not see fit to” is one Greek word (Dokimazo). It means to try, prove discern, distinguish, or approve. It has the notion of proving a thing whether it is worthy to be received or not. The KJV reads as:

“And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient;” (Romans 1:28 KJV)

In this translation the word “like” represents Dokimazo. In other words, what men, women, and children actually do is make a preference to worship or idolize someone or something other than God. In fact, if you go back and reread Romans 1:21-32 it should be plain that the one who is being worshiped is self. We worship self over God. We do not hold Him in our thoughts and concerns and focus. Instead, we put ourselves on the throne and all we do revolves around the god self. Prior to salvation, we are all just like this. However, after salvation things are different.

Prior to salvation we really had no choice. We are all created to worship someone or something and we are desperate for fulfillment. We seek those things that we believe will feed that hunger. However, nothing works. After salvation, things are different. We now have the ability to be fulfilled in Christ, to have joy and peace that lasts and satisfies like no fleshly pursuit ever could. You may be asking yourself what is wrong with you because that really doesn’t describe your walk. Please read and mediate on the following passage.

I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect. (Romans 12:1-2 ESV)

If this is missing from your walk then you are not where you need to be. Lets unpack this wonderful passage. Paul tells us that everything he has shared from Romans 1-11 should be taken and considered and in light of all of those wonderful truths, we need to present our bodies as living sacrifices, by God’s mercy and grace, to Him. This means that our lives should be walked before the face of God as living sacrifices. We are to die to self and live for Him. This is our spiritual worship. This is not just on Sunday mornings. This is all the time. All that we do, all day long, everyday must be lived out like this. How do we do this?

We cannot do this in our own abilities. In v1 Paul told us that we must do this by God’s mercy. It is through His grace that we can do good things. Jesus said that we cannot do anything good without Him. (John 15) How do we place ourselves in position to live this way? In v2 we have the answer. We must not be conformed to this world. Instead, we must be transformed by the renewal of our minds. The Greek grammar of the words “conformed” and “transformed” is Present, Imperative, Active. This means that these are commands that involve continuous, repeated action. This is something we do as we live and it never stops until we go home to be with the Lord.

The word “transformed” is the Greek word from which we get our word metamorphosis. It describes a process by which a tadpole becomes a frog or a caterpillar becomes a butterfly. For a believer it describes maturing from a flesh bound person to one who is spirit-filled. How does this take place? It takes place in continual mind renewal. What is this? This is what we do when we pursue God and stop pursuing what our flesh wants. We worship God with our lives. We read and study the Bible instead of feeding our flesh. Instead of watching TV or movies, we devote that time to prayer and reading godly books. Instead of listening to secular music, we listen to music that edifies us and glorifies God.

What happens to us when we do this? Remember that Greek word we looked at in Romans 1:28, Dokimazo? Here it is again in Romans 12:2. In the ESV it is the word “discern.” In the KJV it is the word “prove.” If we become transformed by continual mind renewal then our minds are changed. God opens them up so that we now hold Him in there as our most valuable treasure. We possess this treasure, our God, in our Hearts and know that there is nothing higher or more wonderful, or more desirable than knowing and loving Him as well as being His child whom He loves.

We were all once damaged goods. We were lost in our trespasses and sins and were guilty of some of the most heinous sins imaginable. However, none of that is a barrier to God’s saving grace. When God washes us clean through our regeneration, we are no longer damaged goods, but are new creations that are spiritually complete in Him. We will always have sins to deal with because our flesh is still with us, but we now have the ability to say no to what it wants and draw closer to God. When we fail, and we will all fail, we must come boldly to the throne of grace for cleansing and forgiveness (1 John 1:9). Then we must get back into the race with our eyes firmly fixed on our Saviour, as we once again become living sacrifices whom God transforms from damaged goods to the fulfillment of who we are in Him.

We are complete in Christ, but we are all relatively immature. When we are saved, we are spiritual babies. We are complete in that we are completely saved and will always be so, but we must grow and become mature believers by learning to be living sacrifices. When we do this we grow into the mature believers who live up to their completeness. In light of all of this we must ask ourselves if we are still damaged goods or, if not, if we are becoming living sacrifices who are growing into those who possess God as their most valuable treasure.
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42 thoughts on “Damaged Goods

  1. Well explained Mike. That is just what happens to us. We all use to do the worst. Now if we say we are saved or regenerated and continue to ‘practice daily’ all the things we now hate, then there is a problem. But truly regenerated elect saints do not desire to ‘go back’ to the old nasty stuff. In fact we hate it and don’t ever want to do any of it again. Someone said one time they never met anyone who regretted their salvation and wanted to ‘go back’. We do sin still, but nothing like we use to, thats for sure, and when we do slip up (sin) we HATE the fact we did it!! We repent ask for forgiveness and learn a lesson from it. We still can hardly wait to get to be with our Lord and be able to get rid of this ‘fleshly sin’ once and for all.

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  2. While I’m personally dismayed by the cult of personality pastors who are shilling Satan’s lies of health, wealth and prosperity (so long as you “sow a seed” in so-and-so’s ministry), I’m nonetheless firmly convinced that God’s sovereign plan for the ages is unfolding precisely as He has purposed.

    Therefore let those who are called by Him not grow weary in well doing.

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  3. “We are complete in Christ, but we are all relatively immature. When we are saved, we are spiritual babies. We are complete in that we are completely saved and will always be so, but we must grow and become mature believers by learning to be living sacrifices. When we do this we grow into the mature believers who live up to their completeness.”

    Mike, when I read this, I thought of Romans 8:29-30 and Philippians 1:6.

    We are complete in Him, but, at the same time, He is completing us. We are complete because He has declared it; He prepared that completion before the foundation of the world. When He saved us, His plan for us came to fruition; it was complete because whom He foreknew, He predestined, called, justified, and glorified. In His economy, it’s already been done. Yet, in the practical sense, we are being completed, day by day, and He will finish what He started because He has already seen it through from beginning to end.

    So, when I read your post, I got the sense that what you are saying is that the Christian MUST continue to grow; if he does not, he proves that he is not a Christian. It is impossible, according to God’s declaration and promise, for a Christian NOT to renew his mind, not to give himself as a living sacrifice, etc.

    Is this what you’re saying? And, if so, how do we disciple those who are not progressing at all? How much time do we give someone to show some maturity? I know that Paul says to not keep company with a professed Christian who continues to engage in sin without repentance. But it sure is difficult sometimes to figure out who is really repentant and struggling, and who is just faking it. Do you err on the side of grace, or tough discipleship, which may include separation?

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  4. I keep thinking about the mercy and grace involved in salvation – even mine salvation. As I study the Bible, the Lord grows on me, if I can put it that way. It was all His mercy. What did I do to deserve this? Oh, how glorious our Father truly is. And the more I seek to submit to His ways and His will.

    That self thing keeps being knocked in every direction. Infact, my greatest delivery was from self. Its self that’s behind much of what we see in compromised or apostate Churchianity today.

    Thank God for the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ – the amazing love of God that bids us die to self and live unto Christ!

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  5. Carol,

    I don’t know any other way to see if a person is a believer than to look at their fruit. If a professing believer is fruitless then I would say we examine them, pray for them and confront them. If they refuse to repent and pursue holiness then we must discipline them biblically. That is God’s model and we should follow that. Yes, it is difficult. All of us sin, but it is the pattern of our lives that reveal the veracity of what is truly inside.

    In Christ

    Mike Ratliff

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  6. Thanks, Mike. I agree with you. It’s so hard to know where to draw the line. For example, I have a friend who is convinced that the emergent thing is good and who has no problem partaking of bad movies. Actually, I call them bad. She would say that they are not. See, our definitions don’t match. So, if I define bad as just about any movie made in the last 40 years, and she defines it as only something akin to porn, then there’s no room for discipleship. If, on the other hand, she were to agree that what she does is wrong, but has a hard time refraining from such behavior, then I would have a whole lot more grace and patience.

    I know that I would like to receive grace and patience from others! 🙂 But I also know that I’d want to be set straight by someone who cares about me.

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  7. be transformed by the renewal of your mind

    How can the mind be renewed when one thinks on the things of God only in church, or only once-a-day in devotions? And without mind renewal, how can one be transformed? Is this the source of the problem with professing Christians today?

    (Excellent post Mike. Excellent.)

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  8. Great post and great question Carol. I struggle with that as well…”. Do you err on the side of grace, or tough discipleship, which may include separation?”

    My son who is living with the mother of my grandchildren, claim to believe in Christ, but show no fruit. What do I do? I pray for them, I have given them books, Scripture – do I turn my back?

    Mike, what would you say to your son in this situation?

    I have a friend who still pursues alcohol, anti-depressants – but says she’s looking to Christ. I have been firm and loving. Do I turn away?

    Some from the church I use to attend would view me as “unfruitful” simply because I left church and at the moment churchless – though I have grown deeper in my relationship with Christ, they view me as “mislead” because I no longer attend their man-centered church services.

    I continue to pray AND I do have faith in the Almighty, but even being concerned with this issue reveals my flesh is still weak and my focus gets off of Him. I just desire with all my heart to be in His will in all I do, so I cannot help but be concerned. Flesh or not, this is truth. My desire is to be pleasing in His sight with all. This carries a heavy weight but yet I feel free. I realize this may not make sense – I do have a problem expressing my thoughts, so please forgive me.

    Anyway Mike, thanks for another God glorifying post!

    In Christ,
    Sherry

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  9. Carol,

    I don’t think we can ever stop praying for these people. We must always bring them before the Lord in prayer. Sometimes we do have to have tough love with them, but we never hate them. It is so much easier to deal with the lost who do not pretend to be Christian. We witness to them and love them. However, the professing Christians whose lives are unholy and not showing any fruit are very hard for us deal with. I think God gives us these things as a test and to drive us to prayer and obedience. There are no simple answers or a quick easy fix for these things other than giving them over to God and letting them know that that is what you have done.

    In Christ

    Mike Ratliff

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  10. Outstanding Post,
    I live among people like Sherry. My “Christian” daughter has a man living with her, also. She knows though and doesn’t make excuses for her living arrangements she just doesn’t talk about it with me. When the grandchildren come to stay. I do talk about Jesus with them. The last time they stayed every time they said an off cuss word (heck, darn, etc) I had them listen to Keith Green and sing along “Create in Me A Clean Heart” It worked. The youngest kept asking me to play more songs and the middle child likes “Grace Like Rain” I think it’s Bebo Norman but not sure. The Christians I know are into self worship of health, (mental and physical) clothes, houses, cars, education, stuff. It’s very hard without knowing any regenerate Christians. I thank God for you guys. I pray for them. We were once lost also.

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  11. Sherry,

    Never stop praying for them, but also let them know that you are praying for their repentance. That is important. Also, tell them that you are giving them over to God to discipline. We never do this with those who are not professing Christians, but with those who profess to know our Saviour this is what we are to do. I pray for those God lays on my heart. I pray for lost family members probably more than I do other lost people, but I also pray for the professing believers I know who are obviously either out of fellowship with Him or don’t know Him at all. In those cases I believe we need to let them know that all those bad things in their lives that make them miserable are from God who is disciplining them.

    In Christ

    Mike Ratliff

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  12. Deb,

    Keep planting those seeds my sister as well as never stop praying for your daughter and the man she is living with and especially those children. God is good and he saves sinners. Is that Good News or what? 🙂

    In Christ

    Mike Ratliff

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  13. My other daughter doesn’t claim to be a Christian but lives a lot moral life then her older sister. She’s married and has two adorable babies. She will home school them. She doesn’t drink and she lets me give her babies Christian books. (My Christian daughter lets me, too) 🙂 She is also of the tolerant generation. Gay’s were born that way and gets angry if you claim they are not!
    That is were her tolerance ends though. She is very pro life. She is 25 of the tattooed and pierced generation of which she is. 🙂 My son who is the oldest ,lives with his fiance (sp) and does believe but is waiting to repent just before death. 😦 I do lot’s of praying for them!!

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  14. Deb,

    Isn’t it amazing how opposite the world’s ways are from God’s ways? All of the compromise that we are pressured with these days are to be conformed to this world. The only way we can not be is to be transformed by the renewing of our minds, but it starts with regeneration. Yes, never stop praying for your children and grandchildren.

    In Christ

    Mike Ratliff

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  15. Also, tell them that you are giving them over to God to discipline.

    Powerful words Mike. We all know that it took the loving discipline of God to bring us to repentance. And this displays our belief and trust in the sovereignty of God.

    Do you err on the side of grace, or tough discipleship, which may include separation?”

    If by separation you mean the severing of all contact, I don’t think we can do that and keep displaying and exulting Christ to them.

    Continually pointing out the sins of unrepentant adults only makes them defensive and resentful of us. And, as I remind myself, if my unsaved family immediately stopped doing all their sins, their life and my life might get better, but their eternal life would still be hell. They are not sinful because they sin, but sin because they are sinful.

    I pray that the magnificent works of God might be displayed in me to my family. I pray that I will rest in the knowledge that God is sovereign and if He can bring me to repentance, there is nothing that He can not do.

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  16. p.s.

    Mike, as I started to reread your post, I saw that you had expressed the same thoughts in the second paragraph:

    “On the other hand, some who preach against certain sins are also guilty of trying to force morality upon the unregenerate. How can an unregenerate person stop sinning? When Christians focus on sins that are abhorrent to God that should be just as abhorrent to believers, the focus should be on cleansing those sins from the Church itself. At the same time, we must never shut our doors to the lost, no matter what sins are consuming them. God saves sinners.”

    Well said.

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  17. Mike,

    First, thanks for stopping by yesterday. Hopefully, I’ll see you around every once in a while.

    Second, as far as bloggers go, this is an example of an excellent post. In fact, if you can engage the buzzing information minded folks that hop from blog to blog to the very end of a long post, it is definitely well done!

    To that point, I’d like to comment too!

    You said, “Prior to salvation we really had no choice. We are all created to worship someone or something and we are desperate for fulfillment. We seek those things that we believe will feed that hunger. However, nothing works.” In my opinion, you have done well to explain that our depravity has created both an inability to work for salvation and a moral inability to choose God and worship him, rather than images of created things. Also, your energy in explaining the meaning of the Greek text is the kind of energy preachers need to take to the pulpit when they are unpacking God’s Word. Imagine preachers excitedly and engaging-ly explaining the meaning of the original languages to their churches . . . and that they would learn it, and have a better understanding of what that text is saying . . . wouldn’t that be something?!

    It is important to mention that the damages of sin (nature and actions) and the implications of that sin have dramatically changed everything. And, there are few things that the Bible speaks LOUDer about. But that begs the question: why don’t Christians realize it? It is likely because preachers don’t preach it, teachers don’t teach it, and books don’t type it. Why? It isn’t the positive spin on things. In fact, it’s not a spin at all. It’s plain. Simple. You are what you are, and that means you’re a sinner, given over to a debased mind . . . only ‘common’ grace keeps you from acting upon the worst evil you are capable of.

    But then, I think about how freeing knowing that you are the worst sinner you know can be, in Christ. Or, after Jesus tells Peter the parable of the two debtors (Lk. 7:40-43) and asks Peter which debtor will love the forgiving moneylender more. Peter’s answer, “The one, I suppose, for whom he canceled the larger debt.” And what is my debt? At the very least, I’m an idolator. But for my sin, I have also been implicated in the murder of Jesus Christ. He died because of me, and he died for me.

    Any Christian who understands the far-reaching implications of their depravity will understand the gospel better, and love their savior more. Then, what is the command? Rom. 12:1-2. Both a command, and something we should be eager to do in Christ, though not perfectly, but with every intention of doing it the best we can, by God’s grace and for his glory.

    Cheers.

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  18. Great comment Kevin! I agree, why don’t our preachers explain the original languages. Preachers who only preach what they think their people want to hear instead of the truth are compromisers who are running scared. That is not our calling as you well know brother. 🙂

    In Christ

    Mike Ratliff

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  19. If by separation you mean the severing of all contact, I don’t think we can do that and keep displaying and exulting Christ to them.

    dec, can you explain 1 Cor 5 to me? Isn’t Paul saying to not even so much as eat with professing Christians who continue in their sin?

    What about Romans 16:17-18, “…avoid them…”

    2 Thess 3, “…withdraw from…” and “do not keep company…”

    2 Tim 3:5, “…turn away”

    Yes, I agree with Mike that I do not count a professing Christian in rebellion as an enemy. I pray for my dear friends who have more love for this world and their flesh than they do for God. But, at the same time, I have to draw the line. I know that it doesn’t seem right to separate from professing Christians, but isn’t that what Paul says to do? It’s really hard when they are your family. I feel for you Deborah and Sherry!

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  20. Carol,
    I know it does say that. Believe me my daughter and I have a strained relationship. We used to be very close. After Dec 2005 she barely spoke to me after I got upset that my grandchildren were watching a Harry Potter movie they brought to my house. I told her those are evil spirits and practicing witchcraft is an evil thing. My ex had just married a Wiccan on top of it all. She said I was crazy and should see a therapist. When she got into mental problems soon after she went to the Wiccan for help. She taught her how to do Mantra’s. This year is better at least she doesn’t shun me or call me crazy. My non Christian daughter actually shunned the Wiccan and I talked her out of reading Harry Potter to her kids. It’s backwards isn’t it? Well evil is good now and good is evil. God Bless

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  21. Deborah,

    That’s a horrible situation. I’m so sorry you are going through it.

    Everything is so messed up in the world. We need our Lord so desperately! I pray that He will continue to comfort you and guide you through these difficult times.

    Carol

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  22. I did see the therapist and she released me and said I wasn’t crazy. 🙂 Really that was all a very good thing because shortly after that I started reasearching Wiccan and Harry Potter. Which led me to the discerning sites. Which led me to finding truth which led me to Possessing the Treasure! All of that was a real spiritual awakening. So thank you God! He used that for the good.:)

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  23. Hey Mike, I sent a trackback to this post from my side blog. Not sure if you accept those pings or not, or how long it takes to get to you if you do, so I thought I’d tell you this way.

    On my blog, I have a regularly updated side blog featuring posts/news/articles/other stuff that I read, watched, listened to, etc. that I thought was important enough to post on the side blog. So, check it out if you wish. This post was really good.

    The side blog backtracks into kschaub2.wordpress.com, and will be later archived as the list grows. It will also be a good resource someday when it gets really big, I think. Anyway, thought I’d let you know that you got featured on it, not that you want the fame or anything. 🙂

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  24. Carol:

    Romans 16 and 2 Tim 3 tell us to avoid people who oppose the truth, cause divisions, and create obstacles in the Church These people are compared to the Egyptian magicians who opposed Moses (2 Tim 3:8). I see these as false teachers and troublemakers.

    On the other hand, 2 Thess 3 and 1 Cor 5 are to your point. Both passages sound harsh, and they are, for Paul commands that those who disgrace the Christian name be cut off from Christian fellowship. He says to do this for two reasons. One is to protect the Church from morally corrupt people: “Do you not know that a little leaven leavens the whole lump?” The second reason is so these people might become ashamed and repent.

    The Greek word used in 2 Thess 3:14 and 1 Cor 5:11 that often is translated “associate” or “keep company” may be better translated as “to mix up together, to keep close company with, to be intimate with”.

    I’m no expert by any measure, but my view is that Paul is saying that unrepentant professing Christians should be cut off from the intimacy of Christian fellowship. However, we shouldn’t shun them “as an enemy, but admonish him as a brother”. We can still associate with them outside of Church fellowship as we would an unbelieving friend, for Paul says that to not associate with unbelievers in the world would mean that “you would have to leave the world” (1 Cor 5:10).

    Having said all that, let me quickly add that if any associations hinder your life in Christ, put them aside. I no longer have the ties with friends that I had before, not that I alone severed the ties; it was mutual. We no longer had life in common.

    My two cents…

    Dale

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  25. Philippians 1:6
    “6 And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.”

    Thanks Mike, These are comforting scriptures. Praise God, He is good.

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  26. Kevin,

    I do accept them, but I haven’t received notification of one yet, which is strange. I saw that link on your sidebar today and wondered about why I didn’t receive the ping back.

    In Christ

    Mike Ratliff

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  27. Dale,

    Yes, I agree that all of those verses show us that there is more than one reason to avoid contact with those in the church who are in sin.

    But your explanation of 1 Cor. 5 seems to be a twist that I had never heard before. Sorry, I can’t agree with your interpretation of it. I think what Paul says is that we are to judge those who are in the church and avoid them, if necessary. In some cases, we are to put them otuside the church (to turn them over to Satan for the destruction of the flesh). But, Paul says, we don’t judge unbelievers in the world in the same way. After all, they are unbelievers, so of course they are going to sin. And, of course, since we live and work in the world, we can’t separate from it. I think that’s all he’s saying.

    What you said about avoiding professors in the church but having fellowship with them outside of church is, I think, a strange twist. It doesn’t make any sense. Are you saying you throw the guy out of church who is sleeping with his father’s wife, but then after church you go and hang out with him? I mean, this is the example that Paul is using when he goes on explain later in the chapter that we are not to fellowship with a whole list of professors. Is fellowship something that can only happen in a church building? I’m really not following you.

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  28. Hey Mike, I did it again. WordPress said that it already pinged your site, so if you don’t get a notification, I don’t know what’s going on.

    Anyway, like I said, this is a tremendous post, something I’m sure you’ll readily deflect any praise from yourself to the glory of God!

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  29. Hi Carol:

    Allow me tighten up my rambling comment.

    By fellowship, I mean Christian fellowship. By Church, I mean the body of believers. By “outside of Church fellowship”, I mean outside the body of believers, which would be in the world. In the world is where we will run into the unbeliever. And it is also where we will run into the unrepentant professor who has been judged and put outside the fellowship of Christians.

    So I completely agree with you that we are not to have fellowship with the unrepentant professor, just as we are not to have fellowship with unbelievers. The question I have is how do we treat the unrepentant professor when we run into him in the world? Do we cut off all communication with him, turn our back to him, and not reply when he speaks to us? Or do we treat him as our neighbor, display Christ’s love, and urge him to repent (as we would an unbeliever)?

    I think the latter fits Paul’s command to “not regard him as an enemy, but admonish him as a brother”.

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  30. Hi Dale,

    Thanks. That makes a little more sense.

    I have a couple of friends who have gone astray. If I see either of them in public, I have no problem being civil. And then there’s my ex-pastor. When we see each other at Wal-Mart, we have no problem saying hello and exchanging pleasantries.

    What I was getting at is that if we continue to fellowship, we may be getting in the way of what God is doing in someone’s life. I know that the more I tried reasoning from the Scriptures with my friends, the more they dug in their heals and continued on in their sin, just to spite me. We often can arouse someone’s flesh instead of cause them to repent.

    I think that’s one of the reasons Paul tells us to separate and let God work in someone’s life through their loneliness and trials. As long as there are Christians around to give that person attention, that person will tend to persist in his ways in order to draw more attention. I should know; that was me at one time. 🙂

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  31. Carol:
    I agree with you.

    These are difficult situations, especially when dealing with family members. And I found the following example of how difficult it is.

    John Piper counseled a Christian family about having their openly gay son/brother to dinner. Piper uses 1 Cor 5 to say that unrepentant believers should be treated more harshly than unbelievers (for the reasons you gave).
    Here’s the link:
    http://www.desiringgod.org/ResourceLibrary/Articles/ByDate/1995/1552_Letter_About_How_to_Relate_to_a_Relative_Who_is_Homosexual/

    More recently, Piper’s son Abraham wrote an article “12 Ways to Love Your Wayward Child”. Abraham had rebelled against his family and the church. He wrote this article based on that experience, and his points are different than his father’s were years before.
    Here’s the link:
    http://www.desiringgod.org/ResourceLibrary/TasteAndSee/ByDate/2007/2168_12_Ways_to_Love_Your_Wayward_Child/

    In closing, let me quote Mike:
    “There are no simple answers or a quick easy fix for these things other than giving them over to God and letting them know that that is what you have done.”

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  32. Carol,
    That’s so true. It’s very difficult to work anything out with the Lord when the world is so full of distractions. We can be such a stumbling block sometimes with all of our help to others . If we don’t put off everything and everyone and look unto Him for our needs .He does have a way of removing them himself and that can be very painful. I know, it happened to me, also. I basicly try to get people to go the Lord for their needs. ( not physical) He is the great counslor and healer.

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  33. dec,

    Thanks for the links. I’ll check them out. Lord bless you.

    Deborah,

    Thanks for your encouragment. Your thoughts and experiences are important for all of us to read, ponder, and pray about.

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