“Wherefore I beseech you, be ye followers of me.” I Corinthians 4:16
The church at Corinth was very much alike the church today. They were professing Christ, yet they were not surrendered to Him.
Picture the situation. Corinth, being situated between two port cities, was one of the most transient
cities of its day. Living in a very transient city myself, I can tell you first hand just how immoral a place like this can be. So, the people there were constantly surrounded by temptation. Fornication? Merely the tip of a very large iceberg.
And so, the entirety of the congregation was, in one way or another, in all likelihood, disseminating into a variety of sins. The one example pointed out by Paul is that of the sexually immoral man who was sleeping with his father’s wife. Paul tells the congregation to put the man out of the church to be dealt with by the devil. In doing so, the Holy Spirit is pointing out the sin within every one of us. Those Christians who were at Corinth are us who are here today who do not adhere to the True doctrine of Jesus Christ as Him crucified by living it out. We profess it, but we don’t fully live it. There is sin in the camp.
As Aken outside the city of Ai, having sinned against God, we too, have sinned against our Lord. The greatest sin is the easiest to perform, and leads us to sin further, and that is to forsake Him at the Cross.
When we accept His finished work on the Cross for salvation, all is well, and we know our decision is just and right, as The Lord begins to change us from within, but so very soon we turn our attention away from Him and His finished work. This is forsaking Him for we then begin to place our focus on what we are doing, versus what He did.
When we look at our own hands and what we’ve done or do (such as reading our Bible routinely, praying outwardly before others, our regular attendance at church, our volunteer efforts at the shelter, our donations to the poor, our outward good will towards others) as a means of pleasing God to attain His favor, and therefore His blessing, we have actually turned our faces from Him because we have placed our faith in our own works. Paul addressed this when he warned the Christians at Corinth.
“And these things, brethren, I have in a figure transferred to myself and to Apollos for your sakes; that ye might learn in us not to think of men above that which is written, that no one of you be puffed up for one against another. For who maketh thee to differ from another ? and what hast thou that thou didst not receive? now if thou didst receive it , why dost thou glory, as if thou hadst not received it? Now ye are full, now ye are rich, ye have reigned as kings without us: and I would to God ye did reign, that we also might reign with you. For I think that God hath set forth us the apostles last, as it were appointed to death: for we are made a spectacle unto the world, and to angels, and to men. We are fools for Christ’s sake, but ye are wise in Christ; we are weak, but ye are strong; ye are honorable, but we are despised. Even unto this present hour we both hunger, and thirst, and are naked, and are buffeted, and have no certain dwelling place; and labor, working with our own hands: being reviled, we bless; being persecuted, we suffer it: being defamed, we intreat: we are made as the filth of the world, and are the offscouring of all things unto this day. I write not these things to shame you, but as my beloved sons I warn you.” I Corinthians 4:6-14
Now, Paul mentioned he and Apollos labored with their own hands, yet what he meant by that, as a close study of the apostle would attest, was that the work he was doing was led by the Spirit. He was most assuredly laboring for The Lord, he and Apollos, whereas the glorying that the church there was doing was in the works being performed without the anointing and the power of the Spirit. Paul admonished what was going on and let them know that they needed to return to the original doctrine he taught them. He sent Timothy to them to ensure that this happened, and he wrote that, Lord willing, he would return to them and he would see whether they spoke with power at that time, or just in vain words.
The Truth can be spoken, and is still the Truth, but if the anointing of the Spirit is not upon the spoken Word, there is no power to influence and change lives. The Spirit would only choose not too anoint the spoken Word through a believer whose faith is not right, and who has sin upon them gone unconfessed and unrepented. This happens most easily when we take our eyes off of the Cross. This is why Paul wrote the words above, “I beseech you, be ye followers of me.” For to follow the Apostle Paul would be to follow what he taught.
What he taught was the Cross of Christ. The Cross is the means by which men are saved. To be saved includes all the functions of salvation, sanctification, justification, and glorification. Everything man needs is found through the Cross. We are saved by Grace through faith. Our faith is in Who Jesus is and what Jesus has done. Our victory is in the Cross. Anytime we pray, we pray to the Father, and we ask it in Jesus’ Name? Why? Because we are bringing it to the Cross. We say in Jesus’ Name to acknowledge His work as the means by which we are even able to communicate with God.
It isn’t what we do. It’s what He did! Now, let me clarify something for those who scoff and say I am trying to teach others not to do those things which I listed above.
If our faith is squarely in the Cross of Christ for all things, then we are free from the sin that can so easily beset us. We remain untethered to the world and we keep our eyes on Christ. When we do that, and continue to seek the Face of The Lord, the Holy Spirit operates fully within us and through us, and as He does, He places and develops the desires within us, as they become written on our new hearts, to pray to the Father to confess to, and thank, and praise Him, to read our Bible for His guidance in our surrendered lives, to come to church to fellowship with our brethren to share, exhort, build up and be built up, to give to others in His Love freely, to truly get involved in the lives of those around us by the leading and guidance of the Holy Spirit. It is God within us Who does this. We only do one thing and that is the only thing we can do and that is we believe and continue to believe. Believing causes us to listen to His still small Voice, causes us to surrender our will to His Will, actually causes our will to align with His will, and causes us to obey and follow. When we obey and follow, we will perform all of those good works I listed by His strength and in His power.
It’s a subtle distinction; but, brothers and sisters, it is the most important distinction to make. Which is why, like the Apostle Paul implored of Corinth, and the Holy Spirit implores of us, I reiterate the sentiment and proclaim, I beseech you all, as I also beseech myself, follow what Paul taught and follow Christ. Look to the Cross and be saved.