Thought for the Week - 5th MarchPastor Gareth Watkins
O Corinthians! We have spoken openly to you, our heart is wide open.
You are not restricted by us, but you are restricted by your own affections.
Now in return for the same (I speak as to children), you also be open.
Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers.
For what fellowship has righteousness with lawlessness?
And what communion has light with darkness?
And what accord has Christ with Belial?
Or what part has a believer with an unbeliever?
And what agreement has the temple of God with idols?
For you are the temple of the living God. As God has said:
“I will dwell in them
And walk among them.
I will be their God,
And they shall be My people.”
Therefore “Come out from among them
And be separate, says the Lord.
Do not touch what is unclean,
And I will receive you.”
“I will be a Father to you,
And you shall be My sons and daughters,
Says the Lord Almighty.”
Therefore, having these promises, beloved,
let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit,
perfecting holiness in the fear of God.
Jesus said to him “I am the way, the truth, and the life.
No one comes to the Father except through Me”.
There is no other name that my Bible teaches me through which I can be saved. If read about the Caananites, God wanted us to be a separate people, a righteous people, and a people unto Him. We read about different types of Gods in Greece and Rome. But there is only one True Way. Matthew 5:13-16 talks of us being salt and light in the world. Salt is something that’s used for purification and keeping things true. If we seek to lower God’s standard, it affects us and it affects our children.
The passage in Corinthians tells us we are restricted in how much of God we find only by our own affections. How much of God we want, we can obtain. We are not restricted by man, by a title, an age or time served. We are restricted only by our own affections. We are His people!
These should be standard things within the life of a Christian. That God’s heart is wide open to you, that you are only restricted in how far you go in God by yourself and your own affections, God dwells amongst you, and you’ll find that stamp upon you that you are God’s people. We are His people! We have to stand for God’s standards while we have breath in our bodies.
What a wonderful thing that we can find open to us – God’s heart! We heard a testimony on Sunday from someone who’d not been brought up as a Christian or even been to church. Yet when he came to God, he found God’s heart open to him! God’s heart was and continues to be there for him. We’re only restricted by what our affections allow. We have affections for other things. For example, our affections for Rugby or sport might stop us spending time with God because we’re practicing each week at the same time as the prayer meeting, or playing an away game on a Sunday. Our affections in that way would be greater than for the things of God. They’d come between us and God. We have to quietly work through these things; i.e. what are our affections that are right before God, and what are our affections – which might not be wrong in themselves – are coming between us and God?
These are the standards of God. We should not agree with the lowering of that standard or dilution of God’s Word for any reason, even if in doing so we are unsure of ongoing unity with a person or group. In Matthew 10:34 we read: “Do not think that I came to bring peace on earth. I did not come to bring peace but a sword.” Christ has come to bring a sword, and we have to speak out when things are wrong. If we water down God’s Word we will not experience God’s blessing. We won’t experience those things we read in Corinthians above: God dwelling among us, God’s heart open to us, and God moving our affections on in Him.
Jesus taught us that He was the only Truth. He didn’t speak of “a truth”. He spoke of “the Truth”. The word “the” is singular; the only one. There is no other truth. He is the Truth, He is the Way and He is the life.
Paul taught there was no agreement with any other Gods. In verse 16 above we read: And what agreement has the temple of God with idols? For you are the temple of the living God”. We have got no agreement with these things. We cannot mix different Gods with the Truth of God. In verse 17 we read ““Come out from among them And be separate, says the Lord.” We must separate from those things”.
What is the evidence for us that He is telling us the right way? The evidence is that if you do these things, you have the promises of God that come to pass because of what you have chosen to do. Those promises are blessings, joy, family unity, love, life in abundance, hope for the future, and a relationship with God. Those promises of God become our promises! Every word is true because Christ has said “I am the Truth”. We walk in those promises. These promises are there for us and are our evidence that these scriptures are right.
He is the Truth. We cannot change the scriptures, we cannot re-write them. We are not God. He is not influenced by us. He is the Truth… Full stop.
Nobody comes to God except by the Way that God has put out before Him. We have to come in the Way that God has set for us. And that is by the Way of Christ. We read in 1 John 1:9 that “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness”. That’s the way of God! The pathway of God is laid before us. It leads us to a place where God receives us, is Father to us and God dwells among us.
With these promises we don’t need anything else; another belief or another God. We read: “let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit”. There are things that we can do that affect our spirit. What have we ever done, or continue to do, that affects us in our spirit? We can choose not to do the things that damage our spirit. Things that damage our flesh can be more visible – over indulging, sexual sins, drugs and alcohol etc. We are told to cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit. Why? Because there is a perfecting going on. There is a changing going on. There is a time of sorting out going on from the time we find God through to the time we end our days. We go on and we go higher.
There is a perfecting for each of us that goes on until the time we pass. And when we do pass, it’s only that which is us goes too. Our bank accounts, families, big jobs, bodies will be left behind. That is what’s going to receive “perfecting holiness in the fear of God”. Christ holds us tight; He gives us encouragement and support. We go on in the fear of God. The fear of God can be a healthy thing. We go on changing, growing and perfecting in this place where God is; where we are finding God, where His heart is among us and for us, and the blessing is for us. No other God can cleanse us from all unrighteousness. He is Truth.
We read in the passage above: “I will receive you”. He will receive you! The barriers have broken down between you and God. There is nothing preventing you or holding you back. There is man between you and Him. He will receive you. God takes us. His heart is open to us. He’s working and that work doesn’t stop.