Todays readings.. Exodus 37, Psalm 96-99, 1 Corinthians 7
“SECURE YOUR UNDIVIDED DEVOTION TO THE LORD”
This phrase occurs in our Corinthians chapter (7) today. It is a chapter that is not as clear in meaning in some sections as we would like, but it becomes clearer as you take a contextual view of the flow of Paul’s reasoning. As we have read in the preceding chapters the large ecclesia at Corinth is in a real spiritual mess. The members were largely from a pagan background – the Jews had “opposed and reviled” [Acts 18 v.6] Paul when he preached in their synagogue at Corinth.
Now we note that Paul wrote to the ecclesia about the extensive immorality they were failing to deal with. Given the rapidly increasing immoral atmosphere in which we live today, the principles revealed in this chapter apply so much to us today. Paul writes, “I say this for your own benefit, not to lay any restraint upon you, but to promote good order and to secure your undivided devotion to the Lord.” [v.35] In v. 31 he had written, “for the present form of this world is passing away”.
Actually it was nearly 200 years before the city was totally wrecked by the barbarians, a city with a 1700 year history of human greatness, but the ecclesia failed to continue and make any mark on ecclesial history. The only way for an individual to survive was to have “undivided devotion to the Lord”. Remember how in yesterday’s chapter (6) Paul gave a list of those who will not have a place in God’s kingdom.
We must note that he is not just listing what we would call the worst forms of behaviour, but he says the kingdom will not include “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 … “ [v.10,11] Sanctified means counted as holy.
The ever more evil world of Corinth was influencing and destroying the devotion of believers to the Lord – recall how the previous chapter concluded – before Paul made these points! We read there, “do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit within you … you are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.”
Some claiming to be Christians today make much of their imagination of possessing the Holy Spirit; but it is really the other way round, the Holy Spirit possesses us, but we only realize this if we give the Lord our “undivided devotion” – the challenge and the difficulties in achieving this have never been greater.