Some of the greatest teaching we have in Scripture concerns the church, the body of Christ. Paul used this imagery in talking with the churches in Rome (Romans 12:3-8), in Corinth (1 Corinthians 12-14) and Ephesus (Ephesians 1:22-23; 4:4).
Notice some of the things we learn from these passages:
In Romans 12:3-8 Paul stresses these things: 1. None of us should think of ourselves more highly than we ought to think. Obviously, he warns against pride and arrogance as he discusses this with the Romans. 2. There are many members of one body and all of us do not have the same function in the body. (See Ephesians 4:11-16 and see how Paul portrays each of the members and how they function to help the body). 3. We are all members of the body, and members of one another. Hence, when one of the members of the body sins, it affects the whole body. Even private sin can affect the whole body. 4. All of us have been given gifts by the Spirit, and we are to use whatever gifts he has given for the good of the WHOLE body, not just ourselves. In that day the gifts given were miraculous, as they did not have the completed revelation (see 1 Corinthians 12-14). Today these gifts would be teaching, encouragement and helping the sick as well as others.
In 1 Corinthians 10:17 Paul stresses the idea that Christians are not to associate with idols. When we partake of and share the cup of blessing (the Lord’s Supper) we cannot associate with idols. Paul emphasizes that that what a Christian does outside of the church assembly does have an impact on the whole body – the church.
In 1 Corinthians 12-14 Paul again addresses the use of the miraculous gifts of the Spirit and lists some of these in 1 Corinthians 12:1-11. He emphasizes that the Spirit gave these gifts for the good of the body, and that EACH MEMBER OF THE BODY is important to the whole body. A body can live without an eye but is handicapped when both eyes are gone. A body can make it with one leg, but the rest of the body has to compensate due to that one leg missing. Please understand this – when one member of the body is not doing his or her part, the whole body suffers. When one member of the body is sick, the whole body is affected. Hence, we must also understand that when we are sick spiritually; when we dabble to much in the world and not enough with God’s people; when we sin even privately, we weaken our spirit, and thus weaken the body of Christ. And like physical sickness, it will take the body a while for it to get over the sickness.
The more we sin, the longer and harder it is to get over the weakness of the sin. Let us compare this to cancer (often sin could be compared to cancer in that it is hidden, then bursts out in the open – we find out through tests, xrays, CT scans . . . ). The damage is done. Radiation or chemotherapy is now necessary, which further weakens the entire body. It is then easier for the body to catch colds, flu, or pneumonia which then puts the body at risk for death because of the weakened immune system. The body grows weaker. When we continue in sin, the soul grows weaker, until we die spiritually.
This is why we need to understand that the body as a whole needs to come to the aid of weak member who sins. Because sin affects the body, it affects all of us. So, as my body fights the infection all parts of the body grow weaker trying to fight. The only reason why the body would allow another part to be amputated or removed is if the part is so diseased that it will kill the rest of the body.
This principle is clearly brought out in passages such as 1 Corinthians 5, when the church knew about a sin the body, and did nothing about it but was puffed up. It is clearly brought out in 2 Thessalonians 3, when Paul condemned those who had quit work and were being idle, waiting for the coming of the Lord. The idle would become busybodies, thus walking disorderly, and have to rely on others to eat. Hence, Paul says if anyone will not obey the word in this epistle, “note that person and do not keep company with them, that he may be ashamed. Yet do not count him as an enemy but admonish his as a brother.” (2 Thessalonians 3:14-15)
So what are the “take aways?”
We will sin in the body – we need to understand that when we sin it affects more than just us, it affects the whole body.
When one of the members of the body sins, the rest of the body needs to come to their aid and help them get rid of the cancer. As blood flows to the wound to clean it; the white blood cells attack the foreign body. Forgiveness and mercy need to be shown, but, more importantly, we need to help that part of the body to heal. As a bone is broken and other parts of the body has to make up for the broken part UNTIL IT HEALS, so must we in the body, the church.
THE LAST RESORT, the very last resort, is for the body to attack the wounded part and “amputate” it for the good of the rest of the body. We must do what we can to save the body! We must be concerned about that member that has sinned and do all we can to save it. But some will not be saved. Some will continue in the sin and spurn the efforts of the body. Then the body has no choice.
Do we come to the aid of those who sin, or shun them? Do we forgive or bear grudges? What do we need to do?
Think on these things
We received a letter from Churches of Christ Disaster Relief in which they received check # 3298 January 21, 2019 in the amount of $9,019.00 from South Cobb to help with disaster relief. On the bulletin board in the foyer is a list of where the help has gone in 2018, and the amounts. Your gifts DO make a difference.
Thank you for your heart