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What it means to be a holy people
Thoughts from 1 Corinthians 1-4

In 1 Peter 1:15-16 it says; "But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; 16for it is written: "Be holy, because I am holy."

We are called to holiness. In 1 Corinthians Paul writes to the church at Corinth reminding them of this call.

Intro to 1 Corinthians

-Written by Paul around 53-55 AD
-Paul the founder of the Corinthian church (Acts 18)
-Corinth was a large and affluent Roman city known for its vices and sexual sin
-Just outside the city was a large Temple of Aphrodite, served by 1000 temple prostitutes
-The church of Corinth was blessed. They enjoyed great freedom -freedom from persecution, freedom to worship the Lord, and were materially prosperous
-As blessed as they were, the church had some big problems spiritually. This is why Paul wrote to them- to help them get back on track with Jesus and their faith.

Note what I believe to be the key verse in the Book of Corinthians- 1 Corinthians 1:2

"To the church of God in Corinth, to those sanctified in Christ Jesus and called to be his holy people, together with all those everywhere who call on the name of our Lord Jesus Christ-their Lord and ours:"

While v.2 appears to sit quietly in the text, it is actually the key verse to 1 Corinthians -identifying for us the overarching theme of the book of 1 Corinthians -that of holiness and how to live as a sanctified follower of Christ.


THE CHURCH IN CORINTH STRUGGLED WITH BEING HOLY

Following the warm greetings of v.1-9 (READ) the tone quickly shifts to the some of the problems the Corinthians were having as it regarded them living up to their holy calling in Christ.

Sins the Corinthians struggled with

Bickering, arguing, factions, elitism, pride, incest, lawsuits, all manner of sexual sin, the disregard of marriage, abuse of the Lord's supper, wild worship, insensitivity in the use of the spiritual gifts God had given them, some even denied that there will be a future resurrection of the dead.

In short, the Corinthians were one messed up group of people who we can learn a lot from because we are messed up too.


THOUGH THE CORINTHIANS STRUGGLED WITH BEING HOLY, NOTE THEIR STANDING IN CHRIST AND THE ASSURANCE OF SALVATION THAT BELONGED TO THEM 1 Corinthians 1:2,8

Note afresh what is said in v.2-9 "To the church of God in Corinth, to those sanctified in Christ Jesus and called to be his holy people, together with all those everywhere who call on the name of our Lord Jesus Christ-their Lord and ours: 3 Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. 4 I always thank my God for you because of his grace given you in Christ Jesus. 5 For in him you have been enriched in every way-with all kinds of speech and with all knowledge- 6 God thus confirming our testimony about Christ among you. 7 Therefore you do not lack any spiritual gift as you eagerly wait for our Lord Jesus Christ to be revealed. 8 He will also keep you firm to the end, so that you will be blameless on the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. 9 God is faithful, who has called you into fellowship with his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord"

These words of assurance remind me of Philippians 1:6 which says; "...being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus."


THE BIG ISSUE IN 1 CORINTHIANS 1-4- IS DIVISION AND CONFLICT IN THE CHURCH

1 Corinthians 1-4 is a unit of thought (See 1 Corinthians 1:10-17, 1 Corinthians 3:1-9, 1 Corinthians 4:1-6) built around the problem of factions, arguing, fighting, and division in the Church

READ 1 Corinthians 1:10-17 wherein Paul says; "I appeal to you, brothers and sisters, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree with one another in what you say and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be perfectly united in mind and thought. 11 My brothers and sisters, some from Chloe's household have informed me that there are quarrels among you. 12 What I mean is this: One of you says, "I follow Paul"; another, "I follow Apollos"; another, "I follow Cephas"; still another, "I follow Christ."

Because of this conflict Paul says in 1 Corinthians 3:1-3a "Brothers and sisters, I could not address you as people who live by the Spirit but as people who are still worldly-mere infants in Christ. 2 I gave you milk, not solid food, for you were not yet ready for it. Indeed, you are still not ready. 3 You are still worldly. For since there is jealousy and quarreling among you, are you not worldly?

As we see, Paul was very upset by the conflict that raged in the Corinthian church.

IT'S HARD- NIGH IMPOSSIBLE- TO BE HOLY IF WE ARE AT ODDS WITH OUR BROTHERS AND SISTERS IN CHRIST

In church it is a very hard thing when we see or hear of people arguing, holding grudges, stirring things up.


TO LIVE AS A HOLY PEOPLE- SAID TO BE SANCTIFIED IN CHRIST- WE NEED TO DO ALL WE CAN TO MAINTAIN AND BUILD UNITY IN THE BODY OF CHRIST 1 Corinthians 1:10

It was not without reason that Jesus said "Blessed are the peacemakers!"

Lack of unity will destroy the work of God--

I'm guessing this is why Paul broached the subject of conflict in the church at Corinth first. A house divided will fall. This explains the strength of Paul's appeal

While division and conflict sometimes happens because of doctrinal issues, most cases of disunity have to do with miscommunication (I thought they said or I thought they meant.....), unmet expectations, us jumping to conclusions (about peoples motives), selfishness, pride, lack of social skills, the everyday difficulty of relating to other people.

As the followers of Jesus we need to promote unity. We need to promote forgiveness. We need to do our part to stamp out gossip circles (people talking about or complaining about others behind their backs). We need to pray that the love of Christ would fill us and that we might be known for our gentleness, for peace, for our joy.

To promote unity means that taking credit is not on our agenda- Note what Paul says In 1 Corinthians 3:5-9; "What, after all, is Apollos? And what is Paul? Only servants, through whom you came to believe-as the Lord has assigned to each his task. 6 I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God has been making it grow. 7 So neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but only God, who makes things grow. 8 The one who plants and the one who waters have one purpose, and they will each be rewarded according to their own labor. 9 For we are co-workers in God's service; you are God's field, God's building."

For the promotion of unity we need to rally together in evangelism and service- relying not on our speaking skills or abilities but upon the Holy Spirit to bring about salvation

In addressing the subject of factions and quarrels in the church Paul speaks of the mission that Jesus gave him; "to preach the gospel- not with wisdom and eloquence, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power" 1 Corinthians 1:17

When God does His work, to Him we give the credit and glory recognizing as Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 3:5-9 "What, after all, is Apollos? And what is Paul? Only servants, through whom you came to believe-as the Lord has assigned to each his task. 6 I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God has been making it grow. 7 So neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but only God, who makes things grow. 8 The one who plants and the one who waters have one purpose, and they will each be rewarded according to their own labor. 9 For we are co-workers in God's service; you are God's field, God's building."

Interesting: When we work together, doing the things that God has called us to do (pray, preach, help the poor) there is not much room for conflict


SOME OTHER VERSES AS IT REGARDS THE SUBJECT OF UNITY IN THE CHURCH

Ephesians 4:1-3 says; "As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. 2 Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. 3 Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.

In John 17:20-23 Jesus prays for us saying; "My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, 21 that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. 22 I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one- 23 I in them and you in me-so that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me."


A GENTLE CHALLENGE

Do you hold any grudges in your heart against a brother or sister in the Lord here? Ask God to soften your heart and fill it with the love of Christ.

Give second, third, fourth, fifth and beyond chances.

Whenever we have the urge to complain about someone, we need to remind ourselves that they are our brother and sister in the Lord and we should ask that God put His love in our hearts for them.

Commit to being like glue- purposing to hold people together in Christ.

Getting along is tough. Pray for the unity of our church and for folks to get along.

Be a peacemaker. Be a forgiver.

We are to have humble and tender hearts


CONCLUSION

Psalm 133:1 "How good and pleasant it is when God's people dwell together in unity"