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Posts Tagged ‘Bible’

Day 40: The Baptism in the Holy Spirit

Posted by undergroundchurch on April 9, 2011


It always amazes me how we can cut an paste scripture to fit our liking instead of letting it change us and the way we believe.

Hands down, most controversial teaching in many churches is the teaching on the Baptism in the Holy Spirit.  In fact, it seems to be a primary separation point between many of the “main line” denominations. However, if all denominations were to teach this doctrine with the same care and discipline they teach other doctrines that are based on a lot less few scriptures (tithing for example), we’d all be on the same page. Unfortunately, people either take it or leave it and the church suffers for it.

The Purpose

The purpose of the Baptism in the Holy Spirit lies in Jesus’ own statements:

But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” – Acts 1:8

But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all the truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come. He will glorify me because it is from me that he will receive what he will make known to you. – John 16:13-14

The Spirit in Us

There are no scriptures that say that the Baptism in the Holy Spirit would ever go away, it was the prime directive of Jesus.  In fact, I’d venture to say that most believers think that Jesus lives inside them when it is actually the Holy Spirit that lives in the believer (Romans 8:11 et al).  We, as believers, are supposed to live in Christ. (Though I may be splitting hairs because they are both God, this is what the Scriptures tell us, yet we are compelled to believe what we want.)

Jesus told us that He had to go away so that he could send the Holy Spirit to dwell in us (John 16:7). Jesus was confined to one body on the earth and, it could be argued, that he is still confined to a single spiritual body since we will one day be as he is now (Philippians 3:21). He had to send the Spirit who could then dwell in each of us at the same time.

The disciples receive the Spirit of God before they were baptized into the Spirit (John 20:22) and were saved before Acts 2:4

There are at least two Old Testament passages that speak to the event that birthed the church… Isaiah 28:11-12 and Joel 2:28-32

And afterward,
I will pour out my Spirit on all people.
Your sons and daughters will prophesy,
your old men will dream dreams,
your young men will see visions.
Even on my servants, both men and women,
I will pour out my Spirit in those days.

I will show wonders in the heavens above
and signs on the earth below,
blood and fire and billows of smoke.
The sun will be turned to darkness
and the moon to blood
before the coming of the great and glorious day of the Lord.
And everyone who calls
on the name of the Lord will be saved.

The Baptism in the Holy Spirit is a first step for every believer to become empowered, emboldened and embossed with the power of God to both live out our faith, preach the good news of Jesus Christ and disciple others to be like Jesus.

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Day 36: Atomic Theory and the Bible

Posted by undergroundchurch on February 12, 2011


You might not find the phrase “atomic theory” in the Bible, but you will find some fascinating correlations.

In 1808, John Dalton theorized that all things are made out of tiny, invisible particles he called “atoms”. Thus a pure element consists of one type of atom – e.g. pure gold has only gold atoms, diamonds consist of only carbon, etc.

The Bible uses some interesting phrases that capture the atomic theory concept.

Creation of Atoms

The creation story contains two words “bara” and “asah”.  Bara pertains to “creation our of nothing” and asah pertains to something being made from something else.

Genesis 1:1 – “In the beginning, God “bara” the heavens and the earth.” in other words, God created out of nothing, everything.  This actually supports current “scientific” theories that say “first there was nothing, then it exploded” aptly called the “Big Bang.”

The problem with the Big Bang is that it’s theory defies known laws like entropy and cause and effect, but that is a discussion for another time.  The Bible simply supports all three theories – out of nothing God “bara” everything – big bang, cause and effect, later the entropy law is introduced when man sins.

Creating from Atoms

Later, the Bible tells us that

In him [Jesus] all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him. – Colossians 1:16

God “bara” everything and then “asah” things from visible and invisible things.  We really see this in a later portion of Scripture

By faith we understand that the universe was formed at God’s command, so that what is seen was not made out of what was visible. – Hebrews 11:3

Atoms are not visible, but everything was made from them.  It took John Dalton faith to really come out with his theory.

It can take billions of atoms to make something that can be seen with the naked eye, which makes sense to us today, but was strange talk when the writer of Hebrews penned these words.

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Day 22: Thinking Right

Posted by undergroundchurch on January 22, 2011


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Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. – Philippians 4:8

The word “right”, translated as “righteous” in the KJV, comes from a root meaning “judgment”. In a large sense, this word means to “keep the commands of God”, in a more narrow sense, it conveys an idea of “passing judgment”.  Paul may actually be using this word in both ways.

Following God’s commands is paramount to being a follower of Christ. There is no greater act of love you can show God than to be obedient to Him.

At the same time you are positively following the commands of God, you should be judging how you are doing. I guess a better way of saying that today is, “You need to constantly evaluate how you are doing in your obedience and make adjustments accordingly.”

The good thing about the New Testament law is that it is summed up in two commands, “Love God and Love your neighbor”.

The bad thing about the New Testament law is that it is summed up in two commands.

Our dilemma is always going to be, “How do we walk in this?”  It’s one thing to have a rule that says, “Thou shalt…” It’s another thing when the rule is more of a guideline or a framework within which you are to function.  There is a lot of freedom, which can lead to a lot of misinterpretation, so it is critical that we learn how to function within this framework so that we do not violate the command of God.

First, we can draw a lot of insight by reading the Old Testament and seeing the things that made God upset.  Once you find those things, you need to search out the principles behind them and let that redefine your understanding and guide you in applying the understanding to your obedience.

For example, we see several laws built around offerings brought to God and how they should be put together.  Lambs were not to have any blemishes; bread was not to have any yeast, etc.  These tell us that offerings and worship are to be pure.  Jesus tells us that his worshipers will worship in spirit and truth.  The presentation of our worship should be right before we step into worship, meaning that we need to get right before God and others prior to entering into worship.

We should examine our hearts, ask for forgiveness, and repent of sin, before we begin worship.  We need to eliminate the “blemish” and “yeast”, which represents sin, before setting ourselves out for worship.

This is the process of being made righteous.  We allow God to do the work of Christ in us to prepare us for service, worship, prayer, etc.  We are only made righteous in Christ, and to achieve the best possible outcome in our walk, we must allow Him to “keep” us righteous.  It is a daily thing.

 

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Day 21: True Nobility

Posted by undergroundchurch on January 21, 2011


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Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. – Philippians 4:8

The word for “noble” here has a root that comes from a word meaning “worship, devout, religious” and means “to be venerated for character, to be reverend”.

I like that last word… “Reverend”.  It’s a word we like to attribute to our pastors, but you will never find it in Scripture attributed to church leaders. It means to be revered as a person of character.

The word in this passage carries with it a since of fear and awe.  What can you say about a person of character?  What is there in a person of noble character that says they are not trustworthy? A person of character is incorruptible.

Think of those people you know that are “revered”… Billy Graham, Mother Theresa… even some non-believers carry a sense of character that tells you that you can trust them because they are noble.

Every believer is commissioned to be a person of honest nobility.  We must be people of character. We must be honorable, trustworthy people, but all too often those that set themselves out in front fall and the character of the Church is tarnished before the world.

It used to be that the church was where people ran to seek refuge because they could trust the church to be honest, trustworthy and full of character, but we have struggled in recent years to keep that banner held high.

We are the Body of Christ on earth.  Everything we do reflects on Christ and the work of the Holy Spirit.  It is a huge responsibility, and we will be held accountable for everything done as a believer (Revelation 20:11-13, Romans 14;11-13, Matthew 12:35-37)

Each believer is called to a life of character.  We should not just depend on those in leadership positions to carry that torch alone. The church is the people, not the leaders.

Where do You Start?

This word follows the phrase “whatever things are true”.  We have to live a life of truth in order to begin a life of nobility and honesty.

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Day 20: Do or Do Not, There is no Try.

Posted by undergroundchurch on January 20, 2011


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Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. – Philippians 4:8

The Boolean Effect

In computer programming, there is a type called “Boolean”, which is represented by a “1” or “0”.  The value returned is either “true” or “false”.  Computers understand what humans do not; there is no middle ground between true and false.

If you have information in the statement that is not completely true, no matter how small that information might be, the value is “false”.  Anything less than 100% true is not true.

In mathematics, which is not my strong suit, let’s say you are performing a complex calculation and somewhere in that calculation you wrote that 1+1=3.  The resulting answer to the whole calculation will be incorrect even though the error was so small.

In life, there are no “white lies”.  All lies are lies and have no truth in them.  Truth is Boolean – it either is or it isn’t.

The Absence of Truth

Similarly, if you have missing information that does not complete the thought, the value is false.

Taking that same mathematical equation, let’s say that I omit any part of the formula; my end result will be incorrect.

We do this all the time by not including all the information.

Let’s say you are a teenage and are going out with your friends.

You say to your mom, “I’m going to Pete’s house.”

Once you get there, you decide to go to the mall, but you never tell your mom.

The picture you paint for your mom is that you are at Pete’s house, when in reality you are at the mall.  A story missing elements that are critical to drawing a complete picture is a lie.

So Paul tells us first to think on those things that are true.  Keeping truth in the forefront of you mind before everything else is key to keeping everything else in check.

And always remember, if you tell the truth, you have nothing to remember. If you tell lies, you have to remember everything you’ve ever said to keep your story straight.

To apply my favorite Yoda quote to Truth…

Do or Do Not, There is no Try!

 

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Day 12: Can You Do all Things Through Christ?

Posted by undergroundchurch on January 12, 2011


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Philippians 4:13 – ‟I can do all this through him who gives me strength” – NIV, 2010

Yes, the NIV (New International Version) is getting a much needed makeover.

As I read through some of the clarifications and changes they made, none really stuck out to me like the change in this verse.  It is a one word change that really changes everything.

If you recall, in most all translations this verse is rendered, “I can do all things…” I have to say that I have been waiting for someone to translate it so that you can’t just pull one verse out of context and apply it to EVERYTHING!

You see, Paul isn’t talking about “doing all things through Christ”, even if the statement has merit.  The point of the passage is found in the previous two verses.

Paul states in verse 11 & 12, “I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.”

And then he says, “All this I can do through Christ who gives me strength.”

The point Paul brings out is that the issue is contentment not whether or not you can achieve some great thing today.

This probably applies more to us today than it did in Paul’s day. We live in a very discontented society. We upgrade perfectly good TVs because they are only LCD and not LED. We upgrade our house because we want a change of scenery. We lease cars for two years, so we can always have the latest model. We eat in our cars after receiving our evening meal through a restaurant drive-thru window because we don’t want to go home and throw pasta in water, pull out a jar of pasta sauce, sprinkle cheese on it and just be content with the fact that we aren’t having to wait in a line all day for a bowl of rice.

I am convinced that we do not know contentment, and we certainly don’t understand Paul’s meaning when it comes to the secret to contentment.

Christ IS contentment! The one thing Paul is trying to show us is the one thing we are trying to avoid as a society.

Paul is saying “I can do this (be content) through Christ who gives me strength.

Maybe today’s prayer should simply be, “Lord, help to just be content with what you have blessed me with.”

 

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Day 11: Power and Suffering (shhhh!)

Posted by undergroundchurch on January 11, 2011


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Philippians 3:10 – “That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection” [STOP!]… Don’t read any further.

That’s far enough! Whatever you do in your Christian walk, all you need to know is Christ in the “power of His resurrection”. All you have to do is walk in the love, walk in the effortless joy of the Lord.

We all want that resurrection experience with Christ.  All too often, we read our Bibles only looking for those “resurrection moment” verses and cling to them like they are magic; however, you will never see Paul doing that.

Remember Paul, the one called by God where God said of him to Ananias?

“I will show him how much he must suffer for my name.” – Acts 9:16

How many American’s, if presented with that calling from God, would actually give their lives to Christ?  Similarly, how many American Christians would gladly take on that calling?

We can’t stop a thought of Paul mid-sentence…

“… and the fellowship of His sufferings…” (Philippians 3:10, continued)

Paul knows that you can’t just know Jesus the way you “want” to know him.  You must know him the way God wants you to know him.

Why?

“…to become LIKE HIM in his DEATH.” (Philippians 3:10, continued)

The expressed work of the Holy Spirit is to make you into the image of Christ.  If we think that is a “living” image, we’d be gravely mistaken.  We die with Christ; we die to self; we carry our cross (our instrument of death); we are baptized into Christ’s death; we must humble ourselves and become living sacrifices (though you are alive, you are dead because you don’t get a sacrifice back).

In short, we need to die daily and let the power of God live through us. 1 Corinthians 15:31

Only then will we find real JOY!

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Day 9: The Power of Confession

Posted by undergroundchurch on January 9, 2011


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Then I acknowledged my sin to you and did not cover up my iniquity.

I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the LORD.” And you forgave the guilt of my sin. – Psalm 32:5

King David’s writings pre-date the Apostle John’s by about 1,000 years, yet one could argue that they were contemporaries.

John writes on this same matter:

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. – 1 John 1:9

The theme of confession runs through the Bible.  It is the foundation of our salvation (Romans 10:9,10) and our forgiveness (1 John 1:9), and even though God required sacrifices, the sacrifice alone did not express a heart of forgiveness. God required the sacrifice to pay the “penalty” of sin, but true forgiveness can only be found when the heart of man goes before the offended God and confesses (acknowledges) the sin.

John the Baptizer’s ministry focused completely on this aspect of confession (Mark 1:5). He didn’t instruct people to offer sacrifices but confess their sin, repent and turn to God.  This set up softened hearts that could receive the Messiah who followed his ministry.

Confession does not stop with our sins and God.  We should…

Confession shows accountability and demonstrates a willingness to accept responsibility.  This first step leads us to a place of humility where God meets the offender and then lifts them up. (Proverbs 28:13, Isaiah 59 (esp. vs 20), James 4:10)

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Newton’s Law of Universal Gravitation, Teeter Totters and You

Posted by undergroundchurch on January 8, 2011


Like many kids, I enjoyed a good teeter totter every now and then, but the trick to a good teeter totter depended upon the mass of my partner.  If I tried to teeter totter with my dad, there would be a lot of teeter but not much totter.

The goal in teeter totters comes in balancing the load so that little effort needs to be exerted. If I weighed more than my partner, I’d have to push hard and be ready to land hard. If I weighed less, then I’d just go along for the ride and could avoid ever touching the ground.

Newton’s Law of Universal Gravitation

Earth - Moon Orbit

Newton showed us that a teeter totter effect happens in the universe between objects through gravity.

Take the moon and earth for example.  The moon, which orbits the earth due to the gravitational pull between each object, processes a relationship with the earth where a center of mass between them actually exists.  That center of mass lies a little over 1000 miles under the earth’s surface because the earth is so much larger.  As a result, the moon actually make the earth wobble as it travels around it because of the gravitational force it exhibits.

The moon is not much bigger than Texas, and exists about 240,000 miles from the earth, but it influences the oceans of the earth causing tides and actually makes the earth wobble in space while its orbits around the sun.

Relationships and Gravitational Mass

All relationships in the universe, even the relationships between people,  follow this basic rule.

Each person in the relationship affects the other.  Children impact parents and parents their children though in different ways. Friends affect the lives of friends on a different level than the parent / child relationship and even bosses and employees relationships impact one another.

The person in the relationship that takes on the larger part of responsibility and authority tends to carry more of the center of balance in the relationship.  For example, the parent, if they are functioning as a parent should, controls the relationship with the child because the balance of power is closer to the center of the parent’s mass than the child.

When a parent delegates the “authority” role to the children where the children “rule the roost”, then the balance moves away from the parent toward the child and the right balance is no longer maintained.  Instead of the child slightly moving the parent while the child “orbits” the parent, the child actually begins to take on more control in the relationship.  When this happens, the parent wobbles more in their orbit and the house falls into disrepair.

The larger the orbiting object, the more wobble it creates on the larger planet. The more influence a child has, the more out of balance the parent.

Our Relation to God

In a similar way, the relationship between God and us is the same.  The center of balance in our relationship must be as close to the center of Christ as possible. The only way to do this is to humble ourselves before God.

However, the more we take on in our lives apart from God, the further from the center of Christ the balance moves.  At some point, the relationship no longer functions as it should and everything is wobbling, out of balance and in chaos.

The solution: Allow God to be BIGGER!

Once God takes the role of… well, “God” in your life, the more you find that your orbit is smoother and the wobbling ceases. The smaller you become, the more God can control the relationship.

When God is in control, your universe just seems to work better.

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What Does the Bible Say About Judging Others?

Posted by undergroundchurch on December 21, 2010


It is never a good practice to read the Bible through the filter of your opinion.  More often than not, this habit will yield bad interpretations and won’t accomplish the real purpose of the Word of God, which is to change us.

If you look at the area of “judging” for example, many believers, along with most non-believers, think that Christians are not to judge.  After all, didn’t Jesus say, “Judge not” (Matthew 7:1)?

This argument is usually posed by those that don’t want to be judged because they are hiding something or sinning and don’t want to be found out or corrected.  Instead of the Scriptures telling us not to judge, it give us very solid guidelines around how to judge including – the accountability of the judge, when it’s appropriate, what should be the condition of the judge, how it is to be done, and what to do with the results.

The Accountability of the Judge

In that Matthew passage above, if you read on, you find that Jesus warns the judge that when they judge, they themselves will be judged. Not only will they be judged, but it will be by the same rules with which they are judging.

Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you. (Vs 1-2)

The law of sowing and reaping is in play, so it is essential that the judge be honest, true, pure, righteous and merciful.  The judge will also be judged by the Great Judge.

Jesus simply warns that if you judge, you are going to be held to a higher standard.

When is judging appropriate?

The whole point of judging is to bring identify the error and bring reconciliation (James 5:20). Most judging will around sin, but sometimes it involves questionable actions and words.

We are to judge correctly(Luke 12:57, c.f. John 7:24), judge only after resolving the same issue in our own life (Matthew 7:1, Luke 6:37-42), judge those in the church (1 Corinthians 5:12), judge believer’s actions (1 Corinthians 5:2-4), judge fruits (Matthew 7:15-20), test spirits (1 John 4:1), prove doctrine (1 Timothy 1:3-4), judge teaching (1 Corinthians 10:15) and most importantly, judge ourselves (Galatians 6:4) – Especially at communion time (1 Corinthians 11:17-34).

We are not to judge those outside the church (1 Corinthians 5:12), judge people’s relationships with God (1 Corinthians 4:1-5, Romans 14), play favorites (James 2:1-4), take our issues with other believers to secular courts (1 Corinthians 6) or judge a book by its cover (John 7:24 c.f. 1 Samuel 16:7).

What Should Be the Condition of the Judge?

First, the judge should be spiritual (1 Corinthians 2:6-16). We must remember that we are judging spiritual matters, so without the Spirit of God, we judge with human judgments.

Second, the judge must be free of the same issue that they are judging (Luke 6:37-42).  In order to see clearly to remove the speck from the brother’s eye, you have to have the log out of yours.  Only then, will you see clearly to remove the speck. Jesus still wants you to remove the speck, just do it in the right order.

Third, they should not be a lone wolf (Matthew 18:15-17).  You will see the times when Paul is making a judgment (1 Corinthians 5) or Jesus gives instruction, judgment occurs in the church and it may take others in the church, (e.g. mature believers, leaders and elders) to help judge fairly.  The goal is not just to point out sin but to bring about restoration whenever possible.

Finally, they must show maturity (Hebrews 5:14). Specifically, they need to know right from wrong, know how to judge with mercy and love and base sound judgment on the Word of God.

How do you judge?

When a situation arises where judging comes into play, a general process should be followed based on Matthew 18:15-17 and 1 Corinthians 5 and others already mentioned:

  1. Judge yourself – make sure you are in right standing with God, with the issue at hand, that you are in prayer, and that your motives are pure.
  2. Get support – This could be prayer support from mature believers (obtained without gossiping about the person), but may also include involving church leadership. They do not need to be in direct contact at this point, but it is a good thing to make them aware of what’s happening so that you have some protection.
  3. Confront them directly in love – Point out the “sin” or what you see going on.  This is the hardest step in the process and must be done in love and not with a tone of condemnation.  Tact is certainly in order because you will attract more bees with honey than vinegar and have a better chance of getting the right results. Remember, you are judging and not condemning. Condemnation is not your job. You are commanded to “speak the truth in love” (Ephesians 4:15). Many issues can be resolved in these simple one-on-one moments, but if not, you may need to move on to the next step.

Special Note on Divisive People: If you find that the person is being divisive, involve the leadership and then stay away. The leadership is directed by Paul to warned them twice then have nothing to do with them. (Titus 3:10-11)

  1. If there is no resolution, and you have reached a stalemate, you may need to involve one or two more mature believers.  The point here is to bring in extra eyes, ears and prayers so that a point of resolution and ultimately restoration can be achieved.  It is best not to ambush them with your “extra people”, and it will serve best if you warn the person ahead of time by letting them know that you’d like to bring in a person or two just to help work out the situation.
  2. If there is still no resolution, and it is a matter of sin, then the church leadership needs to get involved.
  3. If they are unwilling to repent from sin at this level, then it may be time to implement discipline such as releasing them from the local church community. Both Jesus and Paul say to do this. Paul explains that in doing so, they are being turned over to Satan for the destruction of the flesh so that restoration may take place.

What to do with the Results

Hopefully, reconciliation occurs somewhere along the line; but there are times when the person needs to be released.  The Church in America is quite soft on this subject, because, I suppose, they don’t want to “hurt someone’s feelings”, but we do them and the church more injustice by letting sin and error go on unchallenged and unresolved.

Here are some tips and directives on what do when reconciliation is not achieved:

  1. Stay away! (2 Thessalonians 3:6) This seems harsh, but it is for the protection of the church and young believers.  The only thing worse than an unrepentant sinner is an unrepentant believer. They are like a cancer in the church that will spread the sin, corrupt and destroy everything they can. Sin is at work and it needs to be purged from the congregation. Strong tone, but that’s not mine, it’s Jesus’. (c.f. Titus 3:10-11, Matthew 18:15-17)
  2. Watch out! (Romans 16:17) Specifically, Paul says, “for those that cause divisions or put obstacles in the way contrary to [truth]”.  We must stay vigilant for the work of the enemy, which would try to derail the church of God.
  3. Don’t even eat with them. When it comes to certain types of sin, “sexually immoral or greedy, an idolater or slanderer, a drunkard or swindler” (1 Corinthians 5:11), Paul says, “Don’t even eat with them.”  Eating with someone is a form of identification, and when we associate with someone that calls themselves a “believer” and yet lives in sin, we identify the whole church with that sin.  This is a bad testimony to the world of the righteousness we have in Christ.

So if you do judge, do so rightly.

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