The membership of many of the large traditional denominations is seriously declining, but the numbers on the books look worse. The problem is that many people are no longer involved and are only part of the church in name. I’ve often suggested that churches should return members’ certificates of membership and that they should “re-apply” to join the church. Churches will probably never do something like that, because they may be afraid to see the real picture. It may sound extreme, but this exercise will soon show who the missionaries are and who the mission field.
There are many people among us who know who God is. They know the difference between right and wrong, but they live the largest part of their lives as if they are in control. They live as if life is about them and no one and nothing else. And it is only when things go wrong that they turn to God for help.
Paul is very serious about how you should act towards such people: 11… you shouldn’t make yourselves at home among the sexually promiscuous. And in verse 12 he continues to say: 12… You can’t just go along with this, treating it as acceptable behavior. That sounds a bit too much to me. I can’t bring myself to push people away and wait for God to judge them! However, it is important to purify the church of Christ. As soon as there is a bad spot in the apple, the rest is soon infected. Therefore, it is good to cut off dead branches, to make space for new, vigorous branches.
The church must distinguish between those who are really children of God and those who are going in the wrong direction. People look to the church for guidance and when they see people who say they are Christians, but who are promiscuous and crooked, they think this is how a child of God may live. This is a wrong picture that damages God’s kingdom. And that is why it is so important that the conduct of people who say they are children of God should be in line with what they say.
Therefore, it is important for all of us who say we are children of God to look in the spiritual mirror to make sure that what we do is in line with what we say. When friends look to us for guidance will our behaviour help them come closer to God, or push them further in the wrong direction?
Paul is very serious about this: Discard what is wrong in your life. Leave it behind, because it acts as a handbrake and keeps you from flying. Sin moves easily through your spiritual life like a germ and before you know it, it has spread throughout your life. Therefore, we have to make sure that we leave no space anywhere in our lives for wrong-doing. We must eradicate all of it.
God has so many blessings for us, but in a way the sin inside us prevents the blessings from pouring over us. God wants prosperity and success for you. He wants you to be free and joyful all the time. But the sin inside you is like a heavy stone burdening you and preventing you from jumping for joy. Without us realising it the rot sets in with the cash you take under the table, or telling the below-the-belt joke, or the pictures you look at on your screen, or whatever it is you’re doing behind the scenes. Break away from it, make plans to get rid of the rot.
Then we will be able to show those who are Christians only in name what it means to live in God’s grace. Then they will see what it means to overflow with peace and joy. They will also want to change and eventually come back and no longer be rot that infects the whole community!
Can other people look at what you do to see how believers do it?
What is the rot in your life?
How can you get rid of it?
1 Corinthians 5:9-13
Lord, You know what makes me fall. You know that I have wanted to get rid of it for a long time. I don’t want to do it anymore. One by one I bring these things to You. Please help me to put up guards to prevent me from doing it again. I want to be a powerful example so that when people look at me and my actions, they will see precisely how a child of God should live. Amen