Summary: Tools of the faith make our journey easier. As we live in the will of God as we think in accordance with his will, we stay in his will.
We are told in scripture to work out our salvation. The interesting thing about this is that when we work we need a few tools and the better the quality of the tools the easier the job usually goes and the better the results. (Here I pulled a couple of nails out of a peice of wood with a jemmy bar and said, "try doing that with your fingers or teeth). This is the first part of a series on ‘Tools of the Faith’ or another way to word this is to say ‘in order get the job done; to live right we will have to have the right tools.
As you know in life there are ways of doing things, the world looks at people in a certain light. If you behave in a way that is above the standard, you stand out from the crowd and are usually rewarded for being better than the rest. If you break certain rules you get punished.
If you work hard you may get a pay rise. In regards to the pay rise you will most likely have to ask for it, this is the way the world operates. Some people do well; others fall through cracks, people judge by certain standards.
We have some funny standards could be that in your family someone, usually a parent had a dislike of shellfish or game meat so you’ve never tasted shellfish or venison. It could be that in your family someone said that “if a black cat crossed your path its bad luck” so you avoid black cats or “that if you stand on a crack you’ll marry a rat,” so you don’t stand on cracks or maybe some of you married rats. Cats and rats now that’s an interesting combination. These are all really silly things but the world lives by some pretty strange ideas and standards.
The worlds standards even effected the saints of old. The apostle Paul in this letter to the Corinthians had to write in his own defence, because he was being judged by some who lived in Corinth and by the standards of the world. Let’s have a look at what he says in 2nd Corinthians 10:1-5. (Read)
Paul this man of God writes to the Corinthians and this passage is at the end of a long letter in which he has covered things like ‘his own ministry, the state of the believers he’s writing to, seeing the glory of God, death and what that means to Christians, good Christian living and quite a few other subjects.’
But this passage has a bit of a sting in its tail; its almost like Paul is raising himself up to his full height (he was apparently around five feet tall) and its almost like he’s saying ‘get it right or you will be dealing with me next time I visit, because some of you are speaking out of turn about me and also living by the standards of the world!’
How did he do this, how did he confront these people?
1) If we look at the first couple of verses of the passage, we read Paul use a description of Jesus and he appeals to the Church at Corinth using that description. “By the meekness and gentleness of Christ, I appeal to you – I Paul who am ‘timid’ when face to face with you, but ‘bold’ when away, I beg you that when I come I may not have to be as bold as I expect to be toward some people who think we live by the standards of this world.” (Corinthians 10:1-2)
There is a great deal to chew over in these two verses, Paul this saint of the church; it should be remembered was a persecutor of the church prior to his supernatural encounter with the risen Jesus in the road to Damascus, this was a man who according to Acts nine had breathed “…out murderous threats against the Lord’s disciples.” (Acts 9:1) He was a hard man, a hard nosed intolerantly strict sectarian Jew from the outset; who once he had seen the Risen Jesus, he then became Jesus disciple.
Here he is saying to the Corinthian church “By the meekness and gentleness of Christ, I appeal to you.”
Where had this meekness and mildness come from? I firmly believe that these were not personality traits that were known to this man before his encounter with Jesus.
But here he was now; when he was face to face with the church he was timid. What Paul had done in his life since his encounter with Jesus had learnt that he did not any longer need to be the old Paul. Paul was changed as the Holy Spirit came into his life and heart. That he did not need to live as he once had but that he could clothe himself with Christ. In his letter to the church in Rome he says, let us not live in the ways of the world, and he spells them out, and then says “Rather, clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ, and do not think about how to gratify the desires of the sinful nature.” (Romans 13:14)