Summary: It’s so easy for us to blend in to the world’s way of thinking. But there are many dangers involved
Passage: I Corinthians 4:8-21
Intro: Deep in the heart of every human being is the tendency to redefine.
1. we have an especially powerful tendency to rethink our position about something that we want to do or like to do.
2. of course our world is constantly doing this, redefining what is right, what is wrong, who is good, who is bad.
Il) need look no further than the huge gains made by the homosexual community in having their “alternative lifestyle” accepted and even condoned.
3. but it’s not just the world that plays this game.
4. the church of Jesus Christ has been doing this for years, though typically at a slower pace.
5. but as each generation builds on the right and the wrong decisions of their elders, what was considered abnormal can become, over time, normal.
6. the passage we have before us is nothing less than a full-scale attack on the slide of the Corinthian church toward normalizing worldliness.
7. worldliness is defined as the acceptance of the world’s value system, the way the world thinks and the way it acts.
8. over and over in these first few chapters, Paul has called attn. To the fact that the believers in Corinth were acting like “mere men”. And they were fine with it
9. but Paul was not, and he really spells it out clearly in this passage
10. the question for us is this: of the two pathways presented, which one are we on?
I. The Syncretistic Church
1. over the centuries, when Roman Catholic missionaries have taken the gospel to foreign lands, a strange phenomenon has taken place.
2. they has often taken certain parts of the religion of the land and blended it together with Catholicism to make a new religion, one that is syncretistic.
Il) see this in Mexico, where the Virgin of Guadalupe is clearly a Mexican woman, and the worship is a form of idolatry.
3. syncretism is “the attempted union or reconciliation of diverse or opposite tenets or practices, especially in philosophy or religion”
4. listen to Paul’s words in v8.
5. “full to the point of satisfaction”
6. “rich”, “kings” And all this is their present experience!
7. no if Paul was describing a spiritual state, he would be rejoicing?
PP Just what he prays for in Eph 1:17 8. but clearly he and the other apostles have been left out of this life, “without us”, “we might be kings with you”
8. the Corinthians had focused on the physical, the temporal, and found their satisfaction in the wisdom and perhaps the riches of this world.
9. much like the church described in Revelation 3:17
10. living a life that James describes in 4:4
PP James 4:4
11. Paul uses ripping sarcasm to describe their pathway in v10.
12. all in contrast to the apostles, “wise, strong, honored”
13. in context, clearly “wise, strong and honored” in the system of the world.
14. they successfully, (or so they thought) reconciled the Christian life with the world so much that they were completely accepted in a world that should have despised them
15. but was there a non-syncretistic example? What did it look like?
II. The Apostolic Lifestyle
1. now as we look at those things which characterized the apostles life, we can be overwhelmed.
2. v9, descriptive of the captured slaves of returning army, to be thrown to the lions
3. v10, fools, weak, dishonored.
4. v11, notice the time element again; their present was so different from the church.
5. hungry where they are full, dressed in rags and homeless where they are rich
6. v12, engaged in manual labor, (abhorred by Greeks) and exhibiting quiet spirits in the face of persecution
7. in fact, v13 states they have become like the stuff you scrape out of a messy cooking pot.
8. the question is this: did they pursue this kind of life, these kinds of reactions?
9. the answer is NO. But this kind of treatment is the natural consequence of living for God in a God-hating world.
10. the apostles lived for God’s praise, not mens
11. they lived as transformed people whose values were unpopular
12. they lived by the Spirit, not by the flesh
13. they lived contrary to their culture, rejecting its values as they embraced the values and principles of God.
14. and as easy as it would have been for them to go into hiding in such a hostile world, they continued to aggressively invade the world with the truth of the Gospel.
15. now there are two contrasting lifestyles presented here, and one might think the life of the apostles was what the apostles were called to, and the rest of us get a break.
III. Choosing the Right Path