A reminder about the church in Corinth… they live in a wealthy, heathen city where promiscuous sex is celebrated and idolatry is pervasive. Idols are a major part of city life….they don’t have the Bible ….and they rely heavily on asking Paul and other senior leaders about what is right and wrong…. To the extent that they have a tendency to group themselves behind one of these leaders.Paul’s chief concern in this letter has been the holiness of the people of Corinth….I am down to speak on worship and the Lord’s Supper…all in ch 11… Paul is looking to create order and proper meaning for these gatherings of early Christians……This is difficult to do without first looking at ch10 and Paul’s discussion on Idolatry…So let’s turn there…..Ch10:1 Moreover, brethren, I do not want you to be unaware that all our fathers were under the cloud, all passed through the sea, all were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea, all ate the same spiritual food, and all drank the same spiritual drink. For they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them, and that Rock was Christ. But with most of them God was not well pleased, for their bodies were scattered in the wildernessPaul is speaking to the church in Corinth and he says…you guys are all a part of the church… you all profess faith in Jesus, …..but this does not mean that God is pleased with you….Then he lists some of the reason that God was not pleased with the Israelites…Ch 10Now these things became our examples, to the intent that we should not lust after evil things as they also lusted. And do not become idolaters as were some of them. As it is written, “The people sat down to eat and drink, and rose up to play.” Nor let us commit sexual immorality, as some of them did, and in one day twenty-three thousand fell; nor let us tempt Christ, as some of them also tempted, and were destroyed by serpents; 10 nor complain, as some of them also complained, and were destroyed by the destroyer.  11 Now all these things happened to them as examples, and they were written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the ages have come.Examples?...Examples of what?That if we follow certain patterns of behaviour there are going to be consequences….in these examples they are negative consequences for a negative behaviour, but equally there are positive consequences for positive behaviour….My boys….school…… you can do anything you like….consequences…..my job..This is also a list of examples of the many temptations in life which could deflect us from proper service and worship…….as we will see in ch 11So Paul….is this list comprehensive?.... …. and as long as we stay away from these 5 things will we be okay….???.. no! they are just examplesI get the feeling that the Corinthians wanted a list of dos and don’ts……We all want a list of things to do and as soon as we have them, we feel safe that if we work inside of these parameters we will be okay…… like tax laws….. these are the laws…how can we work around them and still be compliant….One of our cleaners at work is a very pleasant guy, who always completes any task you give him enthusiastically…..he will follow through on any job….. I was sitting in the hall this week and their were still tables and banners left from an event…he had cleaned around them…done his job….but did not think to move the tables….While he had followed instructions…he did not do the job…..Paul warns us against this in vs 1212 Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall. Another warning…..even you who think you have this whole living a good life thing waxed….you may not do any of the 5 things mentioned….but be careful that you don’t fall….. just following rules is not good enough….If God gave us a list of things….dos and don’ts…the outcome would be that we would feel confident in our complying with a list of things,… without actually doing the jobPaul says that the Christian life is so much more than following rules…He explains this from verse 14:Therefore, my beloved, flee from idolatry. 15 I speak as to wise men; judge for yourselves what I say. A list of instructions is not good enough…. You need to be wise …. To think for yourselves…And because food offered to idols is such an issue for the Corinthians….Paul uses it as an example of how we need to be wise….16 The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not the communion of the blood of Christ? The bread which we break, is it not the communion of the body of Christ? 17 For we, though many, are one bread and one body; for we all partake of that one bread.18 Observe Israel after the flesh: Are not those who eat of the sacrifices partakers of the altar? 19 What am I saying then? That an idol is anything, or what is offered to idols is anything? 20 Rather, that the things which the Gentiles sacrifice they sacrifice to demons and not to God, and I do not want you to have fellowship with demons. 21 You cannot drink the cup of the Lord and the cup of demons; you cannot partake of the Lord’s table and of the table of demons. 22 Or do we provoke the Lord to jealousy? Are we stronger than He?So Corinthians, ,,says Paul…you have questions about which food is okay to eat and which food is not okay to eat? This is such a ‘big issue’ that you have to write to me to ask about it…..Let’s think this through and be wise about it……The first premise is that we as Christians are different to everyone else, we are bound together by the sacrifice and blood of Christ… in a similair way that in verses 1-5 the Israelites were bound together by passing through the sea and being under the cloud…. We are different….Are the idols real???? Are the gods of the heathens real???? NO!!!!...of course not….But when we consciously partake of things we know are anti God we are associating ourselves as Christians with ANTI-GOD, sentiments…..surely this is not wise……I could give you a rule about eating food from idols… but then you would start to think that as long as you did not eat the food you were okay… this is not about food sacrificed to idols…As Christians in 2019 food being sacrificed to idols may seem irrelevant…. But it is the message behind the discussion which is important….We are freed from rules for the sake of rules…..but we need to discern for ourselves what is wise,… and consorting with evil when you know it is evil is not wise….IN fact Paul goes further in vs 23All things are lawful for me, but not all things are helpful; all things are lawful for me, but not all things edify.People of Corinth….God’s spirit is within us….God’s wisdom is in us…. Don’t look for a set of rules but think for yourselves what is right and wrong…Surely if we are Christians ….who by definition have chosen to follow God’s ways over our own….we will look to do things which are edifying…not things which lead us into temptation or things which waste our time……Then there is this fantastic passage to guide us through our Christian walk…25 Eat whatever is sold in the meat market, asking no questions for conscience’ sake; 26 for “the earth is the Lord’s, and all its fullness.”27 If any of those who do not believe invites you to dinner, and you desire to go, eat whatever is set before you, asking no question for conscience’ sake. 28 But if anyone says to you, “This was offered to idols,” do not eat it for the sake of the one who told you, and for conscience’ sake; for “the earth is the Lord’s, and all its fullness.”As Christians we are given a heightened conscience…. Don’t go around worrying about whether you are following the right rules or not….rather think for yourselves whether it has a positive or negative consequence……..and there by live a life pleasing to God…..
  • Is this movie okay to watch? I’m over 18 so it is fine……..no, it will affect my communion with God….

  • Should I go to this place or that?...... there is no list, but what does my conscience tell me about the consequences for this ?
  • Is it okay to spend so much money on this item?....what does my conscience tell me?....maybe for others it is okay, but for me it could become an idol….
  • Is it okay to work in a bottle store? Or drink a beer?...it might be okay for me, but how does it affect the faith of my children or my fellow believers?
Decisions about our actions are not to be made based on some predetermined list that the church publishes, but rather we need to be wise and listen to our consciences……every action has a consequence….what will the result of this action or that one be?Just this week…Tee and I had a genuine, justifiable complaint about something…. We were within our rights to vent our frustration with those concerned….we even planned what we were going to say….but when we considered the possible results of this action our consciences would not let us do it….we had to suck it in and choose to overlook the indiscretion……At the end of the day Paul sums it up beautifully at the end of ch10:31 Therefore, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God. 32 Give no offense, either to the Jews or to the Greeks or to the church of God, 33 just as I also please all men in all things, not seeking my own profit, but the profit of many, that they may be saved.Corinthian!…Christian!….what ever you do….whatever…..because you will do lots of stuff…..you will make many decisions every day….consider every decision with Godly wisdom and a God given conscience… the overriding rule is ….does this action bring glory to God?Not whether your action is justified …not whether you are allowed to do it or not….be wise….what are the consequences and do these consequences bring glory to God?Following on from this….With these things in mind we approach what has been a contentious passage for many years..Now I praise you, brethren, that you remember me in all things and keep the traditions just as I delivered them to you. But I want you to know that the head of every man is Christ, the head of woman is man, and the head of Christ is God. Every man praying or prophesying, having his head covered, dishonors his head. But every woman who prays or prophesies with her head uncovered dishonors her head, for that is one and the same as if her head were shaved. For if a woman is not covered, let her also be shorn. But if it is shameful for a woman to be shorn or shaved, let her be covered. For a man indeed ought not to cover his head, since he is the image and glory of God; but woman is the glory of man. For man is not from woman, but woman from man. Nor was man created for the woman, but woman for the man. 10 For this reason the woman ought to have a symbol of authority on her head, because of the angels. 11 Nevertheless, neither is man independent of woman, nor woman independent of man, in the Lord. 12 For as woman came from man, even so man also comes through woman; but all things are from God.This is one of those passages for which there are many commentaries, yet they are often in disagreement because people will interpret that passage the way that they want to….. Therefore my only option is to read the passage myself as objectively as I can in the context of this letter… and hope that I am not being too biased….What is not debatable is verse 3: But I want you to know that the head of every man is Christ, the head of woman is man, and the head of Christ is God. This is God’s plan…although they are not just equal, but the same being, Jesus is responsible to follow the father’s will….(not my will, but yours be done)…. Man and woman are to look to Christ …. And the man is the spiritual head of the home….it is his responsibility to ensure that his home is run in a Godly manner… that his wife and children are fed spiritually, that he is an example….This is God’s plan for how we are sustained and how we grow….. we can of course choose to run our homes differently…but there are consequences….as I tell the children I teach, you can do whatever you like…. You can live like you want….but I will have to deal with the consequences when your child comes to school…..Then also the truth is verses 11 and 1211 Nevertheless, neither is man independent of woman, nor woman independent of man, in the Lord. 12 For as woman came from man, even so man also comes through woman; but all things are from God.In the Lord we are all equal……The discussion on the symbolism of long hair and short hair and whether our heads are covered or not is similar to the discussion on eating food dedicated to idols……. This is a matter of conscience….vs 13 Judge among yourselves….vs 16 But if anyone seems to be contentious, we have no such custom, nor do the churches of God. The custom of what? we are not sure….. but this is not a command…..What is at issue here is that if someone rebels against the leadership of Christ or fails to take the responsibility of leadership in the home…or rebels against the spiritual leadership in the home…..What the symbol of head coverings does is it reminds us about responsibilities… and clearly the Corinthians needed reminding…. But this is a matter of conscience….Paul then spends some time on what quite frankly is a strange ritual which we perform here each week…… and my actual topicImagine for a moment that you are someone off the street who comes to church to hear more about God…..Singing praise to God seems normal and understandable,….also quite pleasant…… hearing from God’s Word is likewise completely understandable……Taking little pieces of bread…… in dead silence…passing it from one to another and then drinking a ridiculously small amount of grape juice….. is just a little weird…… While very often in Paul’s letter here, he gives his opinion on a topic, or he says, “ this is not a rule…but in your situation it is best….do you not think?...etc”….not from the Lord, but from me…..Here he declares in verse 23…23 For I received from the Lord that which I also delivered to youPeople…this is not my opinion…..this is not cultural…this is not about your conscience….this is a command….. that the Lord Jesus……… on the same night in which He was betrayed took bread; 24 and when He had given thanks, He broke it and said, [d]“Take, eat; this is My body which is [e]broken for you; do this in remembrance of Me.” 25 In the same manner He also took the cup after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in My blood. This do, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of Me.”Communion is mandated by Jesus Himself…..There are two things I would like to take out of this passage….. firstly, we take the bread and the wine to remember Jesus….. why do we need to remember so regularly?We have noted this morning that Paul has repeatedly called us to a life of wise choices and conscience…….. and while few people would dispute that this is a good way to live…..wisdom and conscience are not physical things that you are given and will always have….you can’t store them in a box…. These are not things you can buy nor are they very common….Wisdom and conscience are alive….. if we do not have a source for our wisdom if we are not feeding and watering our conscience they will wane…… even disappear….What did Paul say in chapter 1012 Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall…..this is what happens when wisdom and conscience are eroded….As soon as we become arrogant that we know God’s will and can stand on what we had in the past……. We will fall….Wisdom grows as we keep our eyes on Jesus….. as we spend time in his word and in his presence…..our conscience is under assault every day as the World tries to blunt our understanding of wrong and right…..How do we sharpen our consciences?...How do we grow in wisdom?We have to remember who Jesus is…what he did for us….who we were…and who we are in God’s eyes now…..This strange little tradition has consequences….it focusses our eyes and hearts on Jesus….. being bathed in him is the source of wisdom and a sharp conscience…..Remembering Jesus each week is a powerful source of renewal and sustenance for wisdom and conscience…..Then vs 26 is a strange verse 26 For as often as you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death till He comes.Why are we proclaiming the Lord’s death? It is mostly Christians who gather around this table for communion, why ‘proclaim’?.......Proclaim means to announce clearly and publically…… but us Christians know about Jesus death????? Why would we need to proclaim it….This verse says that……while much of what we do around communion is personal….. we still need to declare it to each other…. To proclaim to each other that Jesus died and rose again….why?... this is the crux of our faith…something which we need to remind each other about……In ch2:2 ….remember….Paul says, “For I determined not to know anything among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified”If nothing else…the Lord’s death needs to be kept in front of us as we proclaim it to each other….Let us not let other things blur our vision of Christ crucified…….Christ crucified puts everything else into perspective….creation…our sin….. holiness…..the sin of the world around us….and how this sin can affect our purity……grace…forgivenessWe have a duty to remind each other in song and in word and in prayer here each Sunday….Christ, the holy son of God, died….for your sin and mine…..I wonder … Do you prepare yourself in some way for before you come to church on a Sunday morning?This is the most important meeting of the week….Ch 11 27 Therefore whoever eats this bread or drinks this cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of the body and [f]blood of the Lord. 28 But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of the bread and drink of the cup. 29 For he who eats and drinks [g]in an unworthy manner eats and drinks judgment to himself, not discerning the [h]Lord’s body. 30 For this reason many are weak and sick among you, and many [i]sleep. 31 For if we would judge ourselves, we would not be judged. 32 But when we are judged, we are chastened by the Lord, that we may not be condemned with the worldAgain Paul is calling here for wisdom and asking us to consider the consequences.He says… before you come to the table…have a look at yourself… is there sin in your life… am I willingly sinning, going against God’s desire for me and then coming to worship?This hypocrisy has consequences…. Personal consequences….There is no list of rules for how you come to the table….but we need to examine ourselves wisely….. in chapter 10 we read about the Israelites who although they went through the rituals of faith, they did not please God….they had personal consequences…in their case they died in the desert…Paul is telling us that God takes the communion very seriously… this is a holy time and place….. by taking the bread and wine we are actively declaring that we live for God and not ourselves….. before we participate we need to make sure that we being wise…that we have considered our position and are ready but it is not just communion time when we need to examine ourselves….. by professing to be Christians we are committing ourselves to living Godly lives…sure we will slip up now and again….. God is not a policeman who comes in to punish indiscretions…he is loving Father….. he teaches and grows us…..leads us and feeds us……he gives us wisdom and discernment…. We are expected to use it…..If we are just coming to church and taking communion and then going home again we are disrespectfully missing the whole point of this ritual…… it is a time to remember Jesus and grow in our understanding of him…so that we can live lives pleasing to him….. if this is not our starting premise there are consequences for our daily life…..God has not left us alone with an obstacle course to complete…… he has saved us,….given us a new mind and a new conscience…….he has asked us to live a life worthy of who we now are ….