Wednesday, August 20, 2008

The gospel: Jesus owns us

1 Corinthians 6:20
For you have been bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body.

How easy it is to think that we are living our own lives independent of any divine influence.

We have been bought! It is hard to think in terms of buying and selling with regard to human bodies. But certainly in times of Paul, people knew exactly what that meant! Slavery was quite prevalent in Paul's time and Paul is indeed speaking in that context.

Paul exhorts the Corinthians to understand that they have been bought by Jesus. Jesus bought Corinthians. And He paid the price with His own life by shedding His own blood on the cross.

What motivated Jesus to buy Corinthians and me? The motivation that comes from His infinite love for God's glory (His name) and for His people. God is love as John said in his first letter.

When I buy a laptop. It belongs to me the moment I pay the price. I can open it and use it whenever I want to. And if someone wants to use it, they need my permission before they can use them. Likewise God is sovereign over us and if the satan wants to harm me, he needs God's permission to do so. We read about this truth in the book of Job. I know that the laptop belongs to me and I'm always aware of that fact. Then the laptop can be used in no other way than that I will it to be used.

I use my laptop and the laptop responds in an exact fashion I use it. Of course, it can be infected with a virus and may even malfunction sometimes. But it is still mine and I will fix it until it becomes normal again. The laptop is not free from harmful websites and neither are we free from sinful temptations.

I love my laptop and I'm happy that I have a laptop to use to help me work and enjoy many things that a laptop offers. God is also happy to have us. He is at work in us both to will and to work for His good pleasure.

Now this is a simple illustration to help us see that Jesus owns us, our body, soul, mind and heart. Our Lord has paid the price and we cannot imagine how large a sum He had to pay but we can be sure that He's overjoyed to have us.

We work not for our own lusts but for Him. I am happy that I am used by God to advance His kingdom. It is a simple thing; I am used by God because I have faith in God. He's delighted to have me and the same for you all Christians.

I hope my illustration helps us to realise that we are in reality doulos(slaves) of our Kurios(Lord).

Although many translations of the Bible translate the Greek word, doulos as a servant or bond-servant, it actually means "a slave." And the Lord is the master of slaves. I'd be happy to be a slave if my lord is infinitely good and loving. And He is indeed infinitely gracious and merciful.

And the second half of the verse says "therefore glorify your God in your body." He didn't say, "glorify God in your spirit, mind, heart or soul." Paul knew that people would not fully appreciate the importance of glorifying God if they were told in abstract terms. Our bodies are not separate from our mind, heart, spirit and soul. Out of our hearts, we do something good and also do something sinful. With the same mouth we praise God and also curse our neighbours. We do what is already in our hearts. If someone steals, covetousness was in his heart. If someone commits adultery, sexually immoral thoughts and feelings were in that person. Likewise if we have love inside us or is part of us, we give alms, forgive a person who is indebted to us and speak kindly to people regardless of their race, nationality and background. It reminds us of Jesus' saying in Matthew 7,

 16 You will know them by their fruits. Grapes are not gathered from thorn bushes nor figs from thistles, are they?

 17 So every good tree bears good fruit, but the bad tree bears bad fruit. 
 20 So then, you will know them by their fruits. 

How do we know if someone is a Christian? By their fruits!
If someone says he is a Christian and has love for God and yet he swears, mocks others, drinks a lot and is sexually immoral, then we can be sure that he is a bad tree by looking at his bad fruits. But he may say, "but I have love for God and I believe in Him!"
Ok what does Jesus say with regard to this question?

 18 A good tree cannot produce bad fruit, nor can a bad tree produce good fruit.

If the fruits are bad, he is not a good tree. He is a BAD tree. He must repent and turn away from his sins and seek God's mercy on the face of Jesus Christ. 

What if he doesn't repent and continues to produce bad fruits? What happens to a bad tree?

 19 Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.

Jesus answers that every bad tree will be thrown into hell.

It is important to realise that we glorify God in our body because we have love for God in our hearts ie. we love God. And not the other way around, ie. glorify God and that is loving God. The latter attitude would be what hypocrites do. Pharisees thought that they were honouring God because they kept His commandments in a most hypocritical and ridiculous ways.

Let us glorify God in our body. I watch myself constantly and think through what I am doing. I ask myself, "is this glorifying God?" If yes, I do it. If not, I don't do it. Does watching this R-rate movie glorifying God? No. Ok. I don't watch it. But before I even ask that question, I already know in my heart that certain movies badly influence my thought life. So I reject watching this movie or that programme. I should be also cautious that I don't become a hypocrite. I shouldn't say, "I'm not watching these movies but other Christians are watching so I'm more spiritual than them and God loves me more because I don't sin like other guys do."

But rather I should talk to these guys in a kind and loving way and let them see for themselves whether what they are doing and watching is glorifying God. And that is what Paul did to Corinthians in his letter of the first Corinthians.

And lastly,

seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you." (Matthew 6:33)

I believe this will keep us on the right path. 

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