Today’s reading: 2 Corinthians 10-13.
Men are willing to admit that they are sinners, but not that they are sinning. – Ivan Panin, Thoughts
One of the most damaging charges brought against the church is the bad behavior of its members. A minority may put the whole body in a bad light, but the problem is real and it hurts the growth of the kingdom. It was a problem in the early church as well.
For I am afraid that when I come I may not find you as I want you to be, and you may not find me as you want me to be. I fear that there may be quarreling, jealousy, outbursts of anger, factions, slander, gossip, arrogance and disorder. I am afraid that when I come again my God will humble me before you, and I will be grieved over many who have sinned earlier and have not repented of the impurity, sexual sin and debauchery in which they have indulged. 2 Corinthians 12:20-21
Quarreling: Strong disagreement leading to strife and wrangling. “They have an unhealthy interest in controversies and quarrels about words that result in envy, strife, malicious talk, evil suspicions.” “But avoid foolish controversies and genealogies and arguments and quarrels about the law, because these are unprofitable and useless.”
Jealousy: Zeal brought about by envy or rivalry. “You are still worldly. For since there is jealousy and quarreling among you, are you not worldly? Are you not acting like mere humans?” “For where you have envy and selfish ambition, there you find disorder and every evil practice.”
Anger: Fury, wrath, indignation. “Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice.” “But now you must also rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips.”
Factions: Selfish ambition, or promoting your own party by any possible means. “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves.” “But for those who are self-seeking and who reject the truth and follow evil, there will be wrath and anger.”
Slander: Backbiting or speaking evil of another person. “Therefore, rid yourselves of all malice and all deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and slander of every kind.”
Gossip: Malicious whispering. This is the only time the word is used in the New Testament. The word was also used to describe the sounds of a snake charmer.
Arrogance: Swollen with pride, a puffing up of the spirit.
Disorder: Disturbances, dissensions, warring. “For God is not a God of disorder but of peace—as in all the congregations of the Lord’s people.”
Impurity: Uncleanness, lustful living. “But among you there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality, or of any kind of impurity, or of greed, because these are improper for God’s holy people.” “Having lost all sensitivity, they have given themselves over to sensuality so as to indulge in every kind of impurity, and they are full of greed.”
Sexual sin: Sexual intercourse outside the bounds of marriage. “Flee from sexual immorality. All other sins a person commits are outside the body, but whoever sins sexually, sins against their own body.” “You say, “Food for the stomach and the stomach for food, and God will destroy them both.” The body, however, is not meant for sexual immorality but for the Lord, and the Lord for the body.”
Debauchery: Unbridled lust, lewdness, filthiness, shamelessness. “For you have spent enough time in the past doing what pagans choose to do—living in debauchery, lust, drunkenness, orgies, carousing and detestable idolatry.” “Many will follow their depraved conduct and will bring the way of truth into disrepute.”
Having identified these common sins, we should remain vigilant to purge them from our own lives and to confront them when they appear in the church. Our goal isn’t condemnation but redemption and restoration. To remain pure ourselves, we need to avoid places of temptation, read and meditate on the Bible daily, and participate in small accountability groups. When we confront others, it should be with our arms around them in love, first individually or with one or two others, and then with the church as a whole if they do not repent.
Image by rottnapples on Flickr, CC by 2.0