Vol. 7, No. 8
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Who is it among us who has not known the embarrassment of a mentor saying to us, "Don't you know any better than that!" Those are cutting but sobering words that greatly profit the person wise enough to listen, who knows that one is susceptible to foolish thinking and/or unwise actions resulting from pervading influences. Mother Eve learned the terrible lesson that one can be motivated to foolish thinking and unwise action through the influence of Satan's cunning deception. That pattern begun in the Garden of Eden has continued in the world to this very day, reaching unto those who sit in the sanctum of "the heavenly places" (cf. Ephesians 2:6).
Satan has continued his deceptive tactics ever since the "Garden" incident, using the power, wisdom and passions of the "world" to lure and ensnare the saints of God through ungodly influences. He was having success in varying degrees among the early Christians, which required the admonitory and corrective writings of the New Testament. A typical example of this is the First Corinthians epistle in which Paul says eleven times "Do you not know..." to awaken the dulled conscience of those saints in Corinth. These cutting but sobering words, for the most part, caused the Christians in Corinth to recall the truths they already had come to know, and carried a rebuff for being influenced by some means to act contrary to what they knew. If they were worthy auditors of this Epistle (which the Second Epistle implies they were), they were suddenly jolted with the shame of being caught up in foolish thinking and unwise (sinful) actions. They had fallen, primarily, under the deceptive influence of Satan through the culture of their day. Sadly, they were not the only (or last) Christians to be so overtaken! [Consider the letters from Jesus to the seven churches in Asia (Revelation 2 and 3). Observe the conduct among many Christians? today.]
The Christians in Corinth knew that God made the message of the cross foolishness in the eyes of the wise (1 Corinthians 1:18-25), but they were allowing the philosophy of the wise to (among other things): (a) generate division among them (cf. 1:1:10), (b) cause them to be carnally minded--not spiritually minded (cf. 1:3:1ff), (c) diminish the apostolic authority of Paul (cf. 1:9:2) and (d) see Christianity through the eyes of pagan religious concepts, which influenced their religious, social and moral conduct (cf. 1:11:18ff). Without question, the church in Corinth was being infected by the debauchery the City of Corinth, concerning whom James MacKnight said, "The Corinthians had carried vice of every kind to such a pitch, that their city was more debauched than any of the other cities of Greece." The licentiousness of this people increased co-extensively with the increase of their learning and prosperity (a phenomena that is observed in every culture--cf. Hosea 4:7).
It is very difficult (and always has been) for the Lord's church to exist in any culture without being tainted with the views and ways of that culture (as is evidenced in the Lord's description of the spiritual condition of the seven churches in Asia). An over-emphasis on the "learning of the day" co-joined with a de-emphasis of the validity and authority of the Bible paves the way for carnally minded Christians to advance their selfish interests, to act in the fashion of the world about them. It takes a devoted, strong-minded Christian to resist the ungodly influences and to, in the words of Paul, "Come out from among them and be separate, says the Lord..." (2 Corinthians 6:17). Christians must learn this truth: "Do not be deceived; Evil company corrupts good habits"(1 Corinthians 15:33). No "company" has had a more corrupting influence upon Christians than has the TV with its depiction and glamorization of all the trappings of immorality--all of which is strongly rooted in the humanistic philosophy prevailing in our culture. Satan's deceptive influence is strong indeed!
In 1 Corinthians, Chapter 6, between verses 9 to 20, Paul gives nine reasons why immorality (specifically fornication) is wrong, totally incompatible with and destructive to Christianity. Four times within these verses Paul exclaims, "Do you not know..." (vss. 9, 15, 16, 19) to cause them to recall what they had come to know previously and ignite a burning shame within those who were guilty. To a great degree, this shame no longer burns within our society. Fornication is tolerated with a "wink" and a "smile." Why? We may not know all the reasons, but consider this: Years ago, the columnist, Walter Lippman wrote: "They [juveniles, erk] are more actively stimulated and less actively restrained." Those juveniles of yesteryear are now the bulwarks of today's culture, many of whom have become supporters of the learning that idealizes evolutionary theories, humanism, existentialism, pluralism, etc.--modern philosophies that either deny the legitimacy of Christianity or are demanding a restructuring of Christianity to make it conform to the ideals of these philosophies.
The struggles today against the wiles of the devil are identical to the struggles that New Testament Christians faced: maintaining the "truth of the gospel" (Galatians 2:5) and the purity of New Testament Christianity (Galatians 2:14).
Christians must cry out fervently, "Do you not know that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God..." (1 Corinthians 6:9) in the hope of touching the hearts of those who will reverence God and his Word, the Bible. God's righteousness does not undergo change with the evolutionary change in a given culture. It is not the culture that sets the standard of God's righteousness; God intends for his righteousness to set the standard in every culture. The apostolic authority of Paul, accepted in the first century culture, may not be rejected for our current culture, as many modern revisionists claim it should be and are deceiving men and women into thinking and conduct based in a rejection of New Testament instructions. Listen! "Do not be deceived...fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God" (1 Corinthians 6:9-10). All of this was sinful in Paul's day and it is equally sinful in our day. All of this was kingdom excluding in Paul's day and it is kingdom excluding in our day.
Those who listen to the cutting, sobering words, "Do you not know..." may be few in number and considered "out of step" with the times, uneducated, radical and even bigots at times. But, thank God for those "few in number" and for the encouragement we receive from them.