Understanding True Spirituality

Understanding True Spirituality

1 Cor 12:1-3

Big Idea: Wrong information about the Holy Spirit will lead you to wrong expectations of the Holy Spirit.

Objective: For hearers to understand and delight that the Holy Spirit’s main aim is to clearly exalt Jesus Christ.

It doesn’t matter how fast you’re running if you’re not going in the right direction. / Many people are running hard in a spiritual direction, but they don’t know if it’s the right direction. / Say things like “Do you feel it?” “I was led…”

I want to talk to you this morning about understanding true spirituality./Clarity on the Spirit’s aim in your life. How do you know if the Holy Spirit is at work in your life? How do you know whether or not that is indeed the third person of the trinity or whether or not it’s another spirit… or whether or not it’s just indigestion from what you ate? / I want to talk to you this morning about understanding true spirituality.

Three pieces of context:

  • The Corinthians came from a mixed bag of spiritual backgrounds (“I’m spiritual”…) / Some equated spiritual with power, some equated spiritual with separation from the world and the purification from sinfulness, some equated spiritual with emotionalism, some with awareness to things we would otherwise miss.
  • The Corinthians were plagued with divisiveness which would’ve deeply influenced how they see the Spirit’s work in their lives: // I’ve got to be more spiritual than that guy!!!
  • The Holy Spirit was truly at work in the life of this church. With all of it’s hiccups and sins and problems, there was a genuine work of the Holy Spirit in Corinth. (The only thing that can produce a church is a genuine move of the Spirit).

In fact, listen to what Paul says at the very beginning of this letter:

[4] I give thanks to my God always for you because of the grace of God that was given you in Christ Jesus, [5] that in every way you were enriched in him in all speech and all knowledge—[6] even as the testimony about Christ was confirmed among you—[7] so that you are not lacking in any spiritual gift, as you wait for the revealing of our Lord Jesus Christ, [8] who will sustain you to the end, guiltless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. [9] God is faithful, by whom you were called into the fellowship of his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord. (1 Corinthians 1:4-9 ESV)

Man, when I hear that… that’s a church I want to be part of! I want people to say that about Catalyst (and you can!).

And so, we’re going to turn our attention to 1 Cor. 12:1-3 this morning and see three principles for understanding true spirituality.

  1. Wrong information leads to wrong expectations.

[1] Now concerning spiritual gifts, brothers, I do not want you to be uninformed.

Paul first lays a foundation that he wants them to be informed about spiritual things. Now, you might look at that verse and say, “my translation says ‘gifts…’, but the Greek word here is a bit more general. Paul’s laying the foundation for a coming discussion on spiritual gifts, in fact he will narrow the focus even more in Ch. 14 when he focuses in on two gifts – prophecies and tongues, but first he’s going to talk more generally about spiritual things or matters.

It’s similar to me saying, “okay, you’re going to turn 16 soon and will be driving… before I teach you about the pistons I’m going to teach you about the car and what it’s for and what it’s not for. If you’re thinking that the car is for off-roading and it’s a minivan, it wont’ do me any good to teach you about the radio.

So, we’ll get to spiritual gifts, but first we need to understand the Spirit who gives the gifts and uses the gifts. Paul wants us to be biblically informed about spiritual matters. “I do not want you to be uninformed.”

In fact, you can see he uses various ‘knowledge’ type words here. Vs 1 – unformed, Vs 2 – you “know”, vs 3 – understand. / Why, well because he wants us to think well. He wants us to avoid being uninformed and to instead be informed and to have the right information. Not because he’s ultimately interested in information transfer but rather he’s interested in transformation that is informed. / Paul wanted them, and he wants us, to experience the fullness of spiritual life.

  • God’s Spirit helps us in our weakness and prayers (Romans 8)
  • God’s Spirit dwells in you (1 Cor 3 and 6)
  • Walk by the Spirit (Galatians 5)
  • Be filled with the Spirit (Eph 5:18)

God has no desire to hide his Spirit from his children. But many of us are either uninformed or misinformed about the Spirit. / Wrong information leads to wrong expectations.

When I’m uninformed, or misinformed, about spiritual things, I’m going to think about my own spirituality and my own spiritual gifts based on that wrong information. And I’m going to judge your spirituality and your spiritual gifts based on my wrong information. / That’s going to totally skew how I think and see these things. (Examples)

Spiritual matters and spiritual gifts, this is one of those places that we can all of the sudden find ourselves very derailed very quickly. / Just like the Corinthians we’re coming from different backgrounds here…

The common Corinthian belief was that in order to be spiritual, you had to be separated from the physical. In other words, if you’re not ‘out of your mind,’ you can’t be ‘in the spirit.’ /

Three Questions:

  • Who has shaped your understanding of spiritual things?
  • What wrong information have you based your expectations on?
  • Are you satisfied with remaining uninformed?

Wrong information leads to wrong expectations, which leads to wrong living.

  1. Everyone is following something.

[2] You know that when you were pagans you were led astray to mute idols, however you were led.

Paul brings to mind the Corinthians’ state and spiritual condition before they came to know Christ. He essentially says, “you were very spiritually active before you knew Jesus… you were just following the wrong spirit.” / You can be genuinely and passionately and whole-heartedly following something that is deadly for you. Just because you feel it, doesn’t make it true or good. Just because it feels spiritual, doesn’t make it godly.

[1] Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, for many false prophets have gone out into the world. [2] By this you know the Spirit of God: every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, [3] and every spirit that does not confess Jesus is not from God. (1 John 4:1-3 ESV)

As pagans (or those outside of a saving knowledge of Jesus), they were led astray. They were led astray to mute idols. And they were led astray to these mute idols in various manners or various paths. / Different paths… same end./ Do you realize this about your past?

Which for us begs the question, “who am I following?” If you’re not actively and intentionally following Jesus, you’re being led astray. / You may be able to look at your pre-Christ life and very quickly identify who or what was leading you astray. But can you look at your life right now and clearly identify how Christ is leading you?

John just told us that when the Spirit is leading us, it’s through a personal relationship with Jesus. A confession, not just with our lips but with our daily lives. True spirituality leads to and flows from a relationship with Jesus. And it’s governed by the Bible. Packer says, it’s as though Jesus himself took our bible and handed it to us and said, “as much as you follow this book, you’re following me.”

There are ‘spiritually inspired’ utterances other than those produced by the Spirit of God. / We must test the Spirits.

Who is leading you? Who (or what) has governing influence over your schedule, your emotions, your hopes and dreams, your attitude

  1. True Spirituality always makes much of Christ.

[3] Therefore I want you to understand that no one speaking in the Spirit of God ever says “Jesus is accursed!” and no one can say “Jesus is Lord” except in the Holy Spirit. (1 Corinthians 12:3)

Paul wants us to understand this… let it be settled… If it doesn’t make much of Jesus, it’s not of the Holy Spirit. The Spirit’s constant task is to make us discern and acknowledge the glory of Jesus Christ. (Packer)

So Paul, says ‘no one speaking in the Spirit of God ever says ‘Jesus is accursed!’ and no one can say ‘Jesus is Lord’ except in the Holy Spirit.’ And Paul is not putting the emphasis on the forming and saying of the words. This is an issue of the life not just the lips. Are you gladly submitting to Jesus as Lord in your life, not just saying he’s lord with your lips? Paul’s talking about making a public confession of faith in a hostile world. It requires the true work of the Holy Spirit to be clear about Christ in your life and to stay clear about Christ in your life.

This is the Spirit’s constant task: to make you discern the glory of Jesus – that is to open your eyes to see it, to grant repentance, to uproot the idols in your heart // And to make you acknowledge it… do publicly confess “YES! Jesus is Lord!” (Baptism)

“To enter the waters of baptism and to declare ‘Jesus is Lord’, to mean it and to adhere to it through everything until death – that requires the inspiration of the Spirit of God himself.” (David Prior).

Let me ask you a question – when was the last time the Spirit moved in your life in such a way that you discerned and acknowledged the glory of Christ?

I’m a pastor. I’ve been to seminary. I’ve mastered divinity. But I was convicted this week as I sat in the background and played bass guitar for 110 kids who were singing songs about Jesus… It was clear and compelling gospel truth… and it made my heart soar! / It has always been God’s way to use that which appears weak and foolish to confound that which seems strong and wise. The HS is not going to be primarily driven by bells and whistles and greatness. But by clarity about Jesus.

That’s what I want for you… for you to discern and acknowledge the glory of Christ. For you to say, “Yes! Jesus is Lord.”

Many of us may want the Spirit’s guidance in our lives, but that only comes as a result of his governance. And his governance is aimed at making much of Christ. You cannot pray “Spirit, Lead me…” until you pray, “Search me, Oh God…” and until you acknowledge “Jesus, you are enough.” / Nobody wants the Holy Spirit’s guidance for Catalyst Church more than me. I’m asked all of the time questions about vision and leadership and plans and intentions for Catalyst Church. And listen, I pray for those things. I long to hear God on those things and to guided and governed by God in those things. // But the Holy Spirit’s primary purpose is not to reveal to us what building he would have us to meet in. The Holy Spirit’s primary purpose is to show us Christ. To open our eyes to the beauty and the majesty and the unparalleled glory of Jesus. And that’s what we most need.

The Holy Spirit is most active when Christ is most clear. Do you want to know if the Holy Spirit is at work in your heart and in your life, just ask the question: Is Christ becoming more precious to me? / Songs… aimed at Christ.

So, This is the lens through which we must think about all things spiritual. Spiritual Gifts… I think I have the gift of discernment… okay, what do you mean? Well, I’m really smart or I have good intuition. And when I take the test it says so. Okay, good. But if it’s spiritual gift it will serve the spirit’s purpose and the spirit’s purpose is to make much of Christ. You were given discernment for discipleship. / Or teaching, you were given the gift of teaching not so that you could be known as a great teacher but rather that with clarity you could make Christ known as a great savior. / We’ll continue to develop this idea on through chapter 14.

But I want you to see this morning that the Holy Spirit’s aim in your life is to make you discern (see) and acknowledge the glory of Jesus Christ. And I want you to see that you can’t discern or acknowledge the glory of Jesus Christ apart form the Holy Spirit. / You can know nothing of Jesus apart from the Holy Spirit’s work in your life.

[3] Therefore I want you to understand that no one speaking in the Spirit of God ever says “Jesus is accursed!” and no one can say “Jesus is Lord” except in the Holy Spirit. (1 Corinthians 12:3)

Pray – Help me see Jesus.



  • Our God Saves (Baloche)
  • In Christ Alone
  • Cornerstone
  • Forever Reign

1 Cor 6:1-8 Sermon Notes and Questions

How should I handle grievances as a Christian?

1 Cor 6:1-8


Have you ever gotten in an argument? / Yes. / To be in a relationships of any kind is to invite disagreement and argumentation to a degree. / Temptation to win the argument by cutting off the opponent or by crushing the opponent. Both are attempts at the same goal: win the argument. / Nobody gets into a relationship hoping to lose every disagreement.


Paul Tripp defines a relationship as the intersection of the stories of two people. The problem is, he explains, that an awful lot of carnage takes place at this intersection.


Some people go to unhealthy lengths to avoid conflict, others go to unhealthy lengths to stir them up. Context of Corinthian’s love for litigation and courtroom environment


David Prior comments: The Greeks were naturally and characteristically a litigious people. The law-courts were in face one of the chief amusements and entertainments.


John MacArthur explains, In Athens, there were suits and law problems going on continuously. In fact, one historian said everybody in the city of Athens was a lawyer, more or less. I’ll show you why. Let’s say you had a problem with a guy, and you wanted to settle it. The first process you followed was known as private arbitration. A private arbitrator was given to you. A private arbitrator was given to him, and a neutral third party was chosen, and those three people were supposed to resolve the problem. If those three people couldn’t come to any agreement and couldn’t solve the problem, then your case was turned over to a court known as the Forty, and the Forty would appoint another arbitrator. There were certain public arbitrators, not private now, but public like a public defender. Everybody 60 years old, for the duration of his 60th year, served the community as a public arbitrator; and so if you couldn’t get your thing settled by private arbitration, then public arbitrators were assigned to your case.


Now, if that didn’t do it, there was a multiple jury court in Athens made up of 201 people for small cases, and we have records of anywhere from 1,000 to 6,000 people for big cases. You could have a jury of 6,000 people in your court case. Talk about a hung jury. How’d you like to convince all them? Well, it was a majority situation; but the idea simply being this: that with juries that big, and with the process this involved, everybody got into it. Everybody in his 60th year, knowing he’d have to be a public arbitrator, would have some sense of knowledge about the courtroom process; and all the jurors in those large juries were 30 years and older; so by the time you hit 30, you’d be involved in all of that. Law was a big deal; and, as I said, everybody was more or less a lawyer. If you weren’t really in on the case, you were in on it in terms of sharing your opinion, discussion, and everything else, ’cause it was so much a way of life. (John MacArthur)


So, one of the problems that Paul is dealing with here is that the way of the world had infiltrated the church. They were handling their grievances as though they were unbelievers. / I want to talk to you today about how to handle your grievances with other Christians. Specifically how the gospel impacts this. Knowing how God has handled his grievance with you in the gospel; how then should you handle your grievances with others? We’ll see four guiding principles.


  1. Don’t publicly flaunt private frustrations. (vs. 1)


[1] When one of you has a grievance against another, does he dare go to law before the unrighteous instead of the saints?


The first point Paul makes is this: don’t publicly flaunt private frustrations. The point is NOT: don’t get frustrated. But rather handle those frustrations appropriately. / When not if /


When you face a grievance, the temptation is to do whatever it takes to pursue not really justice but validation. When we are offended our primary pursuit is validation (to be considered right) not justice (to actually be right).


Paul says when you have a grievance against another (another believer), don’t’ publicly flaunt private frustrations. Don’t go “before the unrighteous.” See the distinction in those phrases: “against another” vs. “before the unrighteous”

The Corinthian church had gotten to the place where they were taking internal fractures to external courts. They were taking frustrations within the kingdom of God and placing them under the authority and judgment of the unrighteous. Do you see the problem?


The gospel frees you to protect the dignity and value of those with whom you disagree and one of the ways you do that is to bring family problems to family meetings, not to publish them online. / When you publish a grievance online you’re not looking for reconciliation or for true justice, you’re merely looking for validation – and that’s idolatry. You want to be worshipped. And you’ll turn to the unrighteous to get it.


Paul calls us to deal with grievances in another way. It’s the same way that Jesus calls us to in Matt 18. We’ll get to that more in a moment. But right now, I just want to lay the foundational stone: don’t publicly flaunt private frustrations. Don’t submit yourself to ungodly validation just to get affirmation. When someone in the wrong says you’re right… you’re still wrong.


This is also an issue of the public witness of the church.


  1. Know you will judge greater cases / Remember your value and destiny (vs. 2-4)


[2] Or do you not know that the saints will judge the world? And if the world is to be judged by you, are you incompetent to try trivial cases? [3] Do you not know that we are to judge angels? How much more, then, matters pertaining to this life! [4] So if you have such cases, why do you lay them before those who have no standing in the church?


Paul uses the logical means of ‘if greater than lesser’ here. In other words, “If in the end you’ll handle greater cases, then surely now you can handle smaller cases.’ And in order to do this, he speaks with an end times or eschatological focus. / Eschatology is the study of the end times or how things will be. / “Eschatology for Paul is not a divine jigsaw puzzle to be solved, but a sure hope to be reckoned with now; the future carries weighty implications for conduct in the present.” (Roy Ciampa) / So Paul says, you’re future… you’re destiny carries weighty implications for your conduct. The fact that you will sit in a position of judgment means that you should now be able to handle a level of judgment.


Christian you don’t just squeak into the kingdom. You will be entrusted with responsibility. You will be given the gavel and called to judge the cases of angels. (Revelation 20:4)


Rev 3:21 – Jesus will invite you who conquer to sit with him on the throne.


Daniel 7:22 – until the Ancient of Days came, and judgment was given for the saints of the Most High, and the time came when the saints possessed the kingdom.


Ephesians 1:22-23 – And he (God) put all things under his (Jesus’) feet and gave him (Jesus) as head over all things to the church, which is his body, the fullness of him who fills all in all.


Pastor John Piper explains, “Without omnipotent help now, we cannot feel the wonder of what we are to become. But if we are granted to feel it as it is, all our emotional reactions to this world will change for the better.”


It is no small thing to be a Christian. This is not a temporary matter, but eternal. This is not earthly, but cosmic. You may be an exile in this world and considered a fool; but you will be welcomed into the kingdom and will take your seat at the judgment. Do you know this? God intends that you would know this. Not so that you’d get puffed up and judgmental but that you would bring him glory.


There are some implications here: 1) Christian, you need to know this. “Do you not know?” You need to know that it is your destiny to sit in judgment over greater cases, indeed over angels. This isn’t some pop-psychology but God’s design. Do you know this? 2) Christian, you need to dig into the gospel. Implications and wonders of theology. Think. Let this grip your affections.


That’s his whole point here. That, because of the ultimate design of the character of the church, fitting it to rule the world, it should be able to judge its own private matters…Now, instead of doing that in Corinth, they were taking things to pagan courts and just exposing their bitterness and carnality and pride and all of the sins that were characteristic of them. […] I mean the least esteemed Christian is better equipped to handle a family matter within the framework of Christianity than the most competent pagan judge. (MacArthur)


Remember the issue here: How do I handle grievances? A Grievance is really a personal court case. Most of the trial may actually take place in your head. We act out the reasonable and logical and obvious line of defense and mentally mock the paper thin logic of the other argument and then we tell everyone else so that we can get a favorable judgment. In this life you stand in the defendant’s box; but Paul is saying in heaven you will pick up the gavel.


This leads us to point 3: Call on the community of faith.


  1. Call on the community of faith (vs. 5-6)


[5] I say this to your shame. Can it be that there is no one among you wise enough to settle a dispute between the brothers, [6] but brother goes to law against brother, and that before unbelievers?


Commentator David Prior explains, “Whenever personal relationships become strained within the body of Christ, it is important to identify and use specially-gifted members of the congregation to bring the wisdom of God into the situation. Few things impair the witness of a church more than broken relationships. There will always be disagreements amongst Christians, but the disciplined approach of Jesus to such matters needs more uninhibited obedience.” (Prior)


Again, Jesus tells us in Matthew 18, When you have a problem with one person, go to them. And if the two of you can’t settle it in good conscience, fly to a mature believer. Don’t let the bitterness linger. Don’t let the darkness gain one more moment of traction in your own heart. Don’t let your enemy stir up any more division than is already there.


Help them cherish the church. Do you see that God, in his kindness, has placed you in a community of faith with people that are not in your season of life? Do you see that people have walked this road before you? If you are in your 40’s or 50’s those of us in our 20’s and 30’s desperately need your wisdom. We don’t need you to have all the answers, we don’t need you to be perfect, but we need you to be present and godly.


The Gospel is inherently social. It doesn’t just reconcile you to God but also to all others who have been reconciled to God. You are now part of the gospel community.


Paul says “shame on you” when you turn to unbelievers to settle a dispute between you. You’ve made a mockery of the church and the reconciliation which Christ has purchased and actualized.


Membership Covenant: This covenant is a promise to watch over one another in love according to all that the Bible commands; to pray for one another in all circumstances while coming to one another’s aid in sin and distress; to rejoice in our mutual salvation and gifts received from God; to love and serve one another, being slow to take offense, always ready to forgive and reconcile, following the example and teachings of Christ our Lord.


  1. Following Christ, be willing to suffer wrong. (vs. 7-8)


[7] To have lawsuits at all with one another is already a defeat for you. Why not rather suffer wrong? Why not rather be defrauded? [8] But you yourselves wrong and defraud—even your own brothers! (1 Corinthians 6:1-8 ESV)



Finally, Paul calls us in following Christ, to be willing to suffer wrong. If the gospel is going to motivate you in handling your grievances, then you must be willing to suffer wrong. The Christian cannot say “I will not bear the burden of a crime I did not commit or take the punishment that I don’t deserve.” That is exactly what Jesus did for you.


Roy Ciampa, “In any instance of litigation the goal is to achieve a personal victory. Paul states as emphatically as he can that the outcome of the present case is already known: no matter what the result of the lawsuit, whether the plaintiff or the defendant wins, it is a defeat for both parties, with the church as a whole becoming the real loser.” (Ciampa)


“Christians should avoid secular courts, which are based on the principle of retaliation for wrongs done.” (S. Meurer)


You do not have to wrong your brother… for Christ, your greater brother has taken on the ultimate wrong in you.

You do not have to defraud your brother… for Christ, your greater brother has been ultimately defrauded for you.


For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you might follow in his steps. He committed no sin, neither was deceit found in his mouth. When he was reviled, he did not revile in return; when he suffered, he did not threaten, but continued entrusting himself to him who judges justly. He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed. For you were straying like sheep, but have now returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls. (1 Peter 2:21-25 ESV)



Bible Study Questions:

  1. When you hear the word ‘grievance’ what comes to mind?
  2. What types of grievances do you imagine 1st century Christians had against each other? How do those compare to current day Christians?
  3. What Scriptural texts do you know that speak to handling grievances or disagreements? (See Prv 25:9; Matthew 18:15-20; Prv. 17:14; James 4:2)
  4. Why do you think Paul was so disappointed that the Corinthian Christians were taking their grievances to a non-Christian court rather than handling it themselves?
  5. On what basis does Paul suggest they should be able to handle their own grievances in verses 2-4?
  6. Have you ever realized that as a Christian, God intends that one day you will sit in judgment over angels? How does that challenge or affirm your understanding of your future as a Christian?
  7. Read Rev. 3:21; Daniel 7:22; Eph 1:22-23 for more.
  8. In verses 5-6 Paul points out that they are part of a community of faith. Why is community so important in our personal disagreements?
  9. Who has God put around you that might be able to speak into a disagreement with godly wisdom?
  10. Paul says that it is to our shame that we disregard the community of faith. Why would isolating yourself from other believers be shameful?
  11. In verses 7 – 8 Paul calls his readers to be willing to suffer wrong. How would this stand in contrast to the Corinthians who loved to argue until they were proven right?
  12. In what ways has Christ modeled this for us?



1 Cor 5 Sermon and Questions

1 Cor 5



Good part of verse by verse exposition / Bad part of verse by verse exposition – you can’t avoid tough texts. / Dealing with sexual sin in the church. – If you’re here this morning and you’re feeling the weight of guilt from sexual sin, I want to remind you of Paul’s words to the church in Colossae:


“And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses, by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross.” (Col 2:13-14).


Make sure you see this most glorious of all truths: God took the record of all your sins — all your sexual failures — that made you a debtor to wrath, and instead of holding them up in front of your face and using them as the warrant to send you to hell, he put them in the palm of his Son’s hand and nailed them to the cross. (John Piper) / And this reality should drive us to pursue purity… individually and corporately. / So we turn to Paul’s letter to Corinth and this tough text and we do so with a deep and abiding reminder that our sins have been nailed to the cross and we do so with a deep and abiding passion for purity.


The context of Corinth – immorality in every corner / “Dominating the city was the ‘Acrocorinth’, a hill of over 1,850 feet, on which stood a large temple to Aphrodite, the Greek goddess of love (lust) The 1,000 priestesses of the temple, who were sacred prostitutes, came down in to the city when evening fell and plied their trade in the streets.” (D. Prior) / In the day, this symbol of sexual sin dominated the city skyline; in the night, the poison was found everywhere in the streets. / No one was immune. You could not escape it. / The banner of this city: “Your body is meant for your happiness, so use it as you will. Change what you feel should be changed. In sex, partner your body up with whoever you feel would make you happy.” / This is the city in which the church resides to whom Paul writes this letter, and in this chapter he addresses a particular case of sexual sin.


There’s a lot of this specific situation that we don’t know… motives, reasoning, the character or influence of the people involved. But we know that the sin had to be removed. / Easy to justify our sin or the sin of those we love… but sin should not be justified, it should be removed. (gossip, anger, hatred)


Puritan John Owen warns believers, ““The vigour, and power, and comfort of our spiritual life depends on the mortification of the deeds of the flesh.” Owen says elsewhere, “be killing sin or it will be killing you.” / True both of the individual believer and of the corporate church body.


If I am not willing to put to death the sin in me… If I am not willing to remove sin, I’m not truly wanting to embrace Christ. / If we are not willing to remove sin, we are not truly wanting to embrace Christ. / So Catalyst, are we willing to become a church who seeks to embrace Christ and seeks to remove sin?


I want to talk to you this morning about the removal of sin. / This topic confronts every Christian as it calls us to multiple layers of self-examination and community living. / John Owen again, “the seed of every sin is found in every heart.”/ But God in his kindness grants repentance.


  1. Do you mourn over sin? (vs. 1-2b)


It is actually reported that there is sexual immorality among you, and of a kind that is not tolerated even among pagans, for a man has his father’s wife. And you are arrogant! Ought you not rather to mourn? (1 Corinthians 5:1-2b ESV)


This text hits us with a sense of urgency and simply cannot be avoided. Paul confronts this situation of sin in the church and he expects modern believers to do the same.


Whenever a church does not mourn over sin. That church totters on the brink of spiritual distinction. / God takes the purity of his children seriously. / The world takes the purity of the church seriously / The problem is that the church doesn’t take the purity of the church seriously. (Alistair Begg) Commentator David Prior points out that Paul’s chief concern is heard in the phrase “and you are arrogant?!” “Indeed he seems, if anything, less bothered by the immorality itself than about the blasé, arrogant attitude being displayed towards it.”


As Christians we must not tolerate sin any more in the church that we would in our own lives. / Improper for God’s holy people. / Don’t complicate it. / Don’t excuse it. Mourn it. / Greek word for ‘mourn’ is same used for the loss of a loved one… you should be as grieved over sin as you are over the death of a loved one. / You? / Paul – chief of sinners


My eyes shed streams of tears, because people do not keep your law. (Psalm 119:136 ESV)


We ought not be surprised when we see sin in the world. But we must always be heartbroken when we see sin in the church.


  1. Do you have the courage and love to confront your brother in love? (vs. 2c – 5)


In contrast to the Corinthian’s fearful failure to deal with the sin, Paul displays a courageous love in his words as he confronts the matter. Now, I’ve got to admit that as a guy who hates confrontation, there’s a part of me that shudders at Paul’s words in these verses. / But I have to remember that love does not fear confrontation. / I remember my youth pastor walking me through a situation like this one time where someone was going to have to confront someone they loved about some bad decisions. He put it in words like this: “I love you enough to risk your opinion of me and the surface level peace we have to address the issue that needs to be addressed for your well-being.” / That’s where Paul is coming from… what about you? The question these verses confront you with is: Do you have the courage and love to confront your brother in love?


And you are arrogant! Ought you not rather to mourn? Let him who has done this be removed from among you. For though absent in body, I am present in spirit; and as if present, I have already pronounced judgment on the one who did such a thing. When you are assembled in the name of the Lord Jesus and my spirit is present, with the power of our Lord Jesus, you are to deliver this man to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, so that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord. (1 Corinthians 5:2-5 ESV)


Ultimate goal: that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord

Means: the destruction of the flesh through delivering him to Satan

Verse 5 is terrible but temporary. Sometimes we have to make temporary decisions to avoid eternal outcomes. /


So, you’re in a church and someone is caught in sin. Do you have the courage and love to confront your brother in love? / By your toleration you usher him into hell. By our punishment we plead with him for heaven and for healing.


Scottish novelist tells the true story of a family who adopted a stray boy into their loving home. They had one biological son and the two boys loved one another as best friends and dear brothers do. The stray boy contracted a terrible disease and had to be isolated from the other son. This pained the biological son deeply as they loved playing together. When it became clear that the stray boy was going to live, as his temperature began to return to normal, there was relief even though the boys were told that the isolation had to continue for a prolonged season. One day when the father went up into the room in which the sick boy had been isolated he found his other son cuddled up with the sick boy, both with a look of great love and gladness to be reunited. As a result, the biological son contracted the illness; and not being as strong as the stray boy, he died. / The story goes on that the novelist went and visited the family, who had not only allowed the stray to stay… but adopted him. The stray boy gained the family name.


The isolation was imperative – the ongoing sinner must be isolated from the church.

But the day when repentance breaks across the heart and mind of the sinner, that is the day when he is welcomed back into the fellowship and family. That is the purpose of the isolation. That is the nature of the punishment. / The isolation was for the good of the sick boy and the good of the family! And it was all of love.


This is discipleship. This is Christian community. That we would love one another well, even deeply and often in difficult conversations. / We’re called to mourn over sin in others in love and in grief. Discipline flows from this grief. Grief that the evil one has gained ground in the life of someone we know. (Alistair Begg)



  1. Do you have the humility and holiness to receive confrontation in love? (vs. 6 – 8)


The third question that this text calls us to ask is “Do you have the humility and holiness to receive confrontation in love?” / Are you above being confronted in love?


Paul uses a picture to get his point across. A picture that his hearers would’ve known as a reference to Exodus 12 and the story which we know as the Passover. God we displaying his power in his people Israel and was sending the Spirit of Death to pass over the land of Egypt and kill the first-born of every family. But Israel was to take the blood of a lamb and spread it on their door post and when the Spirit of Death saw the blood, it would pass over that house. They were called to have a special meal of remembrance every year at that time and were told to eat with their bags packed and ready to run out the door (similar to a workday morning for many of us). They were called to prepare the bread without leaven… presumably as an act of ready obedience. / The leaven… if put in the bread out of sinful disobedience… would’ve slowed them down and kept them from full obedience to what God was calling them.


Your boasting is not good. Do you not know that a little leaven leavens the whole lump? Cleanse out the old leaven that you may be a new lump, as you really are unleavened. For Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed. Let us therefore celebrate the festival, not with the old leaven, the leaven of malice and evil, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth. (1 Corinthians 5:6-8 ESV)


Now I’m not a baker, but you don’t need to be to get the point. In modern terms we would say that one bad apple can ruin the whole bunch. / Sin spreads. / It spreads culturally and it spreads in your heart. / Do you have the humility and the holiness to receive confrontation?


The issue of hearing rebuke and repenting is not a merely an issue of humility, but of holiness. / A holy man is not above hearing rebuke and repenting. Spiritual maturity is not getting to the place where you don’t hear rebuke but responding to rebuke well. Don’t mistake self-righteousness with true righteousness.


Paul is not calling us to perfection, but to humility and holiness. Look again at his words:

Your boasting is not good. Do you not know that a little leaven leavens the whole lump? Cleanse out the old leaven that you may be a new lump, as you really are unleavened. For Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed. Let us therefore celebrate the festival, not with the old leaven, the leaven of malice and evil, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth. (1 Corinthians 5:6-8 ESV)


He’s calling us to celebrate the festival. Many commentators suggesting that he’s talking about communion. Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed in our place. So let us cast off every sin that hinders and let us run with endurance the race set before us. Let us remember that we have been ransomed from the futile ways inherited by our forefathers not with perishable things such as silver or gold but with the precious blood of Christ like that of a lamb without spot or blemish. / And let us count it a privilege to have friends who will lovingly draw us back into the light when we try to hide in the darkness. Oh brothers rejoice when someone turns on the light in your life. Yes, it may be painful for a moment. Yes, your eyes will have to adjust. Yes, you will feel exposed… but in the light is life.


Finally, we must ask:


  1. Do you cherish the purity and purpose of the church? (vs. 9 – 13)

Paul doesn’t loosen up here as he closes this chapter. He doesn’t say, “okay, well not really. You don’t have to do that. It’s not that big a deal.” No, he actually reemphasizes some points that apparently he had made in earlier communication. They had misunderstood what he had said earlier and misapplied it. So he’s clearing some things up.


I wrote to you in my letter not to associate with sexually immoral people—not at all meaning the sexually immoral of this world, or the greedy and swindlers, or idolaters, since then you would need to go out of the world. But now I am writing to you not to associate with anyone who bears the name of brother if he is guilty of sexual immorality or greed, or is an idolater, reviler, drunkard, or swindler—not even to eat with such a one. For what have I to do with judging outsiders? Is it not those inside the church whom you are to judge? God judges those outside. “Purge the evil person from among you.” (1 Corinthians 5:9-13 ESV)


Now in calling them not to associate with sexually immoral people, he doesn’t call them to refuse to engage them with the gospel. The word “associate with” refers to a close acceptance. / He was calling them to action – don’t act like there’s nothing to talk about here. / And he makes the point in verses 10-11 that he’s not talking about non-Christians. In fact he gives four examples of sinners that we should engage with: a) people of this world who are immoral, the greedy, swindlers, or idolaters. Then in v. 11 he gives six kinds of sinners whom the church is to judge by withdrawing from social integration.. . Paul wasn’t making these up, they were covenantal norms from Deuteronomy… it was standing knowledge that these behaviors had no business being practiced by God’s people. the key being “if he bears the name of brother.”


When we gather together, for communion and for worship, we are called to display to a watching world the holiness of God. / Now there’s a bit of a tension here… because none of us are perfect. But we better be repentant. We don’t display the holiness of God by merely looking holy… but by being made holy through Christ.


One commentator suggests three reasons that the man must be expelled:

  1. Because he is guilty of covenant disloyalty.
  2. Because while he remains, the church is implicated in his sin.
  3. Because the community is the temple of the Holy Spirit.


The man’s sin had implications for the church. Do you care about the purity of the church? Jesus did. Do you care about the purpose of the church – to display the holiness and love of God? / You can’t live this out in your own power. None of us can. But there is one who has lived with perfect purity in your place. He was removed not merely from the church but from God, the bible uses the word ‘forsaken,’ that you could be accepted.


Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.


Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body. (1 Corinthians 6:9-20 ESV)


Christian, you have been washed, sanctified, justified by God through the precious blood of Christ. Glorify that God and that Christ in your body. /


If you’re here this morning and you’re not a Christian. I’m glad you’re here. But, I want you to know that you will not inherit the kingdom of God. Unless in faith you turn to Jesus.


This is the severity of sin. / Let us feel the weight of it both individually and corporately. / Let us be stirred by a holy hatred of sin and a vigorous opposition to our Enemy / Let us cast off the sin that so easily entangles…. And let us fix our eyes on Jesus, who bears our sin.



  • My sin not in part but the whole.
  • How deep the fathers love… it was my sin that held him there.




Other resources:

John Piper Sermon – How to deal with the guilt of Sexual Failure for the Glory of Christ

10 Questions to Diagnose

Bible Study Questions:

  1. In verse 1, Paul notes that there was a case of sexual sin in the church that wasn’t even acceptable among unbelievers. How could such sexual sin gain traction in a church?
  2. Paul’s words in verse 2 express a state of shock. Why would Paul be shocked that the church in Corinth was arrogant while sin dwelt in them?
  3. What response to sin did Paul suggest was appropriate? Read Psalm 119:136 and Matthew 5:4.
  4. Do you mourn over the sin in your life?
  5. Paul called for the Corinthians to remove the man from among them. How might this seemingly judgmental excommunication actually be a gift of grace? Read verses 3 – 5 to understand.
  6. What was Paul’s ultimate desire as stated in verse 5? How does this compare to Jesus’ ultimate desire in Matthew 18:15-20?
  7. Can you think of a time when you had to lovingly confront someone about their sin? How did you see God move in that situation?
  8. In verses 6 – 8 Paul references imagery from Exodus 12 and the Passover meal. Just as the OT Jews were called to celebrate Passover and eat no yeast, so believers are called to celebrate Christ and embrace no sin. How does sin impact a believer’s life?
  9. Read Hebrews 10:26 – 31. What is the effect of unrepentant sin?
  10. Has there ever been a time in your life when someone lovingly confronted you about a sin in your life? How did you see God move in that situation?
  11. The issue of hearing rebuke and being moved to repentance is not merely an issue of humility but also of holiness. A holy man is not above hearing rebuke and repenting. How might God use this passage to lovingly call you to repentance?
  12. In verses 9-10 Paul explains the difference between distancing yourself from sin in the church and distancing yourself from sinners in the world. How did Christ display the difference between dealing with sin among believers and sin in the world?
  13. In verse 11 Paul calls the Corinthian believers to a holiness, or distinctness, in the issues of sex, greed, idolatry, language, and alcohol. How might modern believers be called to distinctive holiness in each of those areas as well?
  14. Paul’s final words in verse 13 are actually a quote that is used 6 times in Deuteronomy. He is emphasizing the necessary distinctness of God’s people. Read 1 Peter 2:9-10. How has Christ made us a distinct and holy people?
  15. Read 1 Cor. 6:9-20. How does Paul reiterate the points he has made in chapter 5?
  16. What is Paul’s closing call to action in 1 Cor. 6:20?

1 Peter – The G.O.S.P.E.L.

1 Peter – The GOSPEL:


Intro: at the heart of Peter’s letter was the good news of the gospel. / Our prayer is that the gospel would be at the heart of our church as well… Catalyst Church exists to advance the gospel by making disciples who advance the gospel. A big part of that is advancing the gospel to the nations… but another part that bears just as much importance is advancing the gospel in your own heart and affections and life. / The light that shines the furthest shines the brightest at home / Christian – is the gospel advancing not just through you but in you? – Do you marvel at the gospel more today than you did a year ago? Do you cherish the Word and are you growing in obedience?


When we have a well-rounded and clearly defined understanding of the gospel, we will be better positioned to stand firm. / Clarity about the gospel will produce confidence in the gospel.


[10] Concerning this salvation, the prophets who prophesied about the grace that was to be yours searched and inquired carefully, [11] inquiring what person or time the Spirit of Christ in them was indicating when he predicted the sufferings of Christ and the subsequent glories. [12] It was revealed to them that they were serving not themselves but you, in the things that have now been announced to you through those who preached the good news to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven, things into which angels long to look. (1 Peter 1:10-12 ESV) / If we follow Peter’s line of thinking in verse 12 he’s pointing out that angels long to look into the things that have been preached to you, the good news of Jesus, the mystery of the gospel. Do you long to look into the mystery of the gospel?


Tim Keller points out: “The angels never get tired of looking into the gospel. This means that there is no end to gospel exploration. There are depths in the gospel that are always there to be discovered and applied not only to our ministry and daily Christian life, but above all to the worship of the God of the gospel with renewed vision and humility.” / When we launched Catalyst Church we said with no uncertain terms: we don’t want to tell you all of the things you have to do to get to God; we want to help you marvel at what God has done in Christ to get to you. / My greatest longing for us as a church, for you as a family, for you as an individual believer, is that we would long to look into the good news of the gospel.


The sad truth is that we don’t naturally lean in this direction. We naturally lean away from the gospel and into works-righteousness or earning God’s love by our own achievements. No one drifts in the right direction. And Peter’s great plea throughout this letter is that we would marvel at the gospel; that we would know the true grace of God and stand firm in it.


1:12 – The gospel is the message that was preached to you. So good that angels long to look into it.

1:25 – The gospel is the word by which you are saved.

2:1-10 – The gospel is the dividing message of Jesus Christ as the cornerstone which you either believe in or reject.

2:24 – Good news that strengthens us in times of unjust suffering as we remember that Christ also suffered leaving us an example… an example rooted in the truth that He himself bore our sins in his body on that tree that we might die to sin and live to righteousness.

3:18 – For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous that he might bring us to God


So this morning I want us to peer into the gospel / to lean in / to gain clarity that we might gain confidence and stand firm. / My prayer is that you would marvel at the gospel.


Intro acronym – David Platt, got it from someone else.


G: God’s Character

O: Offense of Sin

S: Sufficiency of Christ

P: Personal Response

E: Eternal Urgency

L: Life Transformation



God’s Character

The gospel begins with God. It is the good news of the God who created us and as Creator has all rights to rule and reign over us. / A.W. Tozer – what comes into a man’s mind when he thinks about God is the most important thing about him. – When was the last time you were struck with a sense of God’s majesty? Peter, twice in this letter, pauses and reflects on the fact that all dominion belongs to God. / If you are going to gain clarity about the gospel, you must begin with the character of God.


Peter highlights two:

  • holiness
  • love/grace


We need to note that these are not opposed to each other, but intertwined. His holiness is his love and grace and his grace is his holiness.


Holiness – but as he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, since it is written, “You shall be holy, for I am holy.” (1 Peter 1:15-16 ESV)


Love –             [17] And if you call on him as Father who judges impartially according to each one’s deeds, conduct yourselves with fear throughout the time of your exile, [18] knowing that you were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your forefathers, not with perishable things such as silver or gold, [19] but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without blemish or spot. (1 Peter 1:17-19 ESV)


2:3 – if indeed you have tasted that the Lord is good / Psalm 130:4 – But with you there is forgiveness, therefore you are feared. / He is absolutely and undeniably Holy and has a right and just and holy hatred for sin AND he is absolutely and undeniably Loving and gives undeserved grace and mercy towards sinners who cry out to him.


As we marvel at the gospel we must marvel at God’s character, his holiness and his love.


Offense of Sin

Secondly, the gospel confronts us with the offense of our sin. / In college we would often refer to the three cheer-ups: 1) Cheer up, you are much worse than you think you are. / The offense of your sin runs deeper than you want to believe / Religions all over the world are offering solutions to whatever they think the problem is… Governments are offering policies that they think will help relieve the human condition. D.A. Carson explains: “One of the critical questions to ask is this: What constitutes the irreducible heart of human problems?”


He himself bore our sins in his body on that tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed. 1 Peter 2:24 /

  • “on that tree” – Your sin brings on you a curse that must be removed


The LORD bless you and keep you;

the LORD make his face to shine upon you and be gracious to you;

the LORD lift up his countenance upon you and give you peace. (Numbers 6:24-26 ESV)


To get an idea of the offense of your sin… turn that blessing inside out:

The LORD curse you and cast you out;

The LORD turn his face from you and pour out the fullness of his righteous wrath;

The LORD remove all of his favor from you and crush you with chaos.


  • On the tree He became your curse
  • Your sins have brought on you a sickness from which you must be healed.


For Christ also suffered once for sins the righteous for the unrighteous that he might bring us to God. 1 Peter 3:18 /

  • Your sins have separated you from God.
  • What constitutes the irreducible heart of human problems is not ignorance of a better way but rebellion against a holy God. Your sins have separated you from God, this is the depth of your offense.


“I would spend 45-50 minutes on the negative, to really show him his dilemma – that he is morally dead – then I’d take 10-15 minutes to preach the Gospel. I believe that much of our evangelistic and personal work today is not clear simply because we are too anxious to get to the answer without having a man realize the real cause of his sickness, which is true moral guilt (and not just psychological guilt feelings) in the presence of God.” (Francis Schaeffer)


The offense of our sin casts us into the next point, the Sufficiency of Christ


Sufficiency of Christ

The gospel is the Good news of a righteous and holy God against whom we have sinned and yet who has sent his Son as a sufficient savior.

As obedient children, do not be conformed to the passions of your former ignorance, but as he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, since it is written, “You shall be holy, for I am holy.” And if you call on him as Father who judges impartially according to each one’s deeds, conduct yourselves with fear throughout the time of your exile, knowing that you were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your forefathers, not with perishable things such as silver or gold, but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without blemish or spot. (1 Peter 1:14-19 ESV)


Peter points out: That which is perishable cannot be sufficient for an offense against a God who is eternal. / A sufficient payment must be made… and the sufficient payment has been made in Christ.


As you come to him, a living stone rejected by men but in the sight of God chosen and precious, you yourselves like living stones are being built up as a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. For it stands in Scripture:


“Behold, I am laying in Zion a stone,

a cornerstone chosen and precious,

and whoever believes in him will not be put to shame.”

So the honor is for you who believe, but for those who do not believe,

“The stone that the builders rejected

has become the cornerstone,”

(1 Peter 2:4-7 ESV)


Do you believe that Jesus Christ is sufficient for you? / Tim Keller – counseling a teenage girl who suffered with depression… Yes, I believe Jesus died for me… but what good is that if no boy at school will even look at me. / Christ is sufficient for your deepest sorrows. / He came that you might have life abundantly / He bears the curse for you


  • In Christ, God seeks the rebel and the guilty, loving them to repentance
  • In Christ, God covers the shameful, taking their sin and shame and clothing them with righteousness
  • In Christ, God protects the fearful, showing his willingness to conquer their greatest of enemies even at great cost to himself.


He himself bore our sins in his body on that tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed. 1 Peter 2:24


For Christ also suffered once for sins the righteous for the unrighteous that he might bring us to God. 1 Peter 3:18


The angels long to look into the mystery of the gospel which is preached to you. Christ is at the center of this gospel. Just as we will celebrate him as the hero of our salvation in heaven, so we must celebrate him now.


Personal Response

Fouthly, the gospel calls us to a personal response. / This is not merely good news, it is good news that demands a response. / The gospel is a call to repentance and faith


Peter’s letter is written to believers, presupposes that they had personally responded to the gospel. / Every action he calls them to is rooted to their having responded. He doesn’t just call them to do something, but to do something as those who have been redeemed. / We see this call for personal response throughout Peter’s sermons in Acts.


Peter’s sermons in Acts:

  • Acts 2 – Peter is explaining to the Jewish onlookers the pouring out of the Holy Spirit. Let all the house of Israel therefore know for certain that God has made him both Lord and Christ, this Jesus whom you crucified.” Now when they heard this they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, “Brothers, what shall we do?” And Peter said to them, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is for you and for your children and for all who are far off, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to himself.” (Acts 2:36-39 ESV)
  • Acts 3 – Peter explaining that the power behind the physical miracles is the spiritual power of God :


But you denied the Holy and Righteous One, and asked for a murderer to be granted to you, and you killed the Author of life, whom God raised from the dead. To this we are witnesses. And his name—by faith in his name—has made this man strong whom you see and know, and the faith that is through Jesus has given the man this perfect health in the presence of you all. “And now, brothers, I know that you acted in ignorance, as did also your rulers. But what God foretold by the mouth of all the prophets, that his Christ would suffer, he thus fulfilled. Repent therefore, and turn back, that your sins may be blotted out, that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord, and that he may send the Christ appointed for you, Jesus, (Acts 3:14-20 ESV)


  • Acts 4 – Peter preaching to the religious leaders of the day


let it be known to all of you and to all the people of Israel that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead—by him this man is standing before you well. This Jesus is the stone that was rejected by you, the builders, which has become the cornerstone. And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.” (Acts 4:10-12 ESV)


  • Acts 10 – Peter explaining that everyone who believes in Christ is forgiven


And he commanded us to preach to the people and to testify that he is the one appointed by God to be judge of the living and the dead. To him all the prophets bear witness that everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name.” (Acts 10:42-43 ESV)


Have you responded to this gospel? No one can respond for you? You must respond.


Peter’s plea is filled with our next point: eternal urgency.


Eternal Urgency

The Gospel, if it is true, is eternally urgent.


  • 2:11 – The passions of your flesh wage war against your soul
  • 2:12 – There will be a day of visitation on which we must glorify God
  • 4:5 – They will have to give an account to him who is ready to judge the living and the dead
  • 5:8 – Your adversary the devil seeks to devour you
  • 5:11 – To the God of grace be dominion forever and ever.


If God is celebrated as having dominion forever and ever, it stands to reason that those who rebel against him would suffer as rebels forever and ever. There is no end to his dominion… neither is there any end to their rebellion.


Thus it is in Hell; they would die, but they cannot. The wicked shall be always dying but never dead; the smoke of the furnace ascends for ever and ever. Oh! Who can endure thus to be ever upon the rack? This word ‘ever’ breaks the heart.’ (Thomas Watson)


“When you look forward, you shall see a long forever, a boundless duration before you, which will swallow up your thoughts, and amaze your soul; and you will absolutely despair of ever having any deliverance, any end, any mitigation, any rest at all; you will know certainly that you must wear out long ages, millions and millions of ages, in wrestling and conflicting with this almighty merciless vengeance; and then you will have so done, when so many ages have actually been spent by you in this manner, you will know that all is but a point to what remains.” (Jonathan Edwards)


Picture the nations (no gospel witness), who will go? Picture your neighbors (you are the gospel witness!)? Who will go? The Peninsula. / This is not merely some sort of buzz-kill this is a moment of reckoning.


  • Lives Transformed


You have been ransomed from sin and reconciled to God through Christ, therefore…


1:13-14 – preparing your minds for action and being sober-minded set your hope fully on the grace that will be bought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ. As obedient children do not be conformed to the passions of your former ignorance.

1:22 – having purified your souls by your obedience to the truth for a sincere brotherly love, love one another earnestly from a pure heart.

2:1-5 – Put away all malice and all deceit and hypocrisy and envy and all slander.

2:11-12 – Abstain from the passions of the flesh, which wage war against your souls.

2:15-16 – Live as people who are free.

3 – Suffer for righteousness Sake

4 – Serve from the strength God supplies

5 – Humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God


John 8 – Jesus confronts and covers a women caught in adultery. “Neither do I condemn you; go, and sin no more.” (John 8:11) / We want so badly to reverse the order, but then it is not gospel. / Experiencing the love of Christ that frees us from condemnation will always lead us to righteousness. This is the gospel.


This is the gospel into which the angels long to look. The gospel at which they marvel. Friends, is that you this morning? Are you marveling at the gospel? Let the troubles of this world pale in comparison to the surpassing glory of Christ as you fix your eyes on him.

1 Peter – Four Resolutions Towards Standing Firm in the Grace of God


1 Peter – Standing Firm when it all Falls Apart


Big idea:

Standing firm in the grace of God – Staying focused on the grace of God.


Clarify that we’re taking a break from 1 Cor and will be back after Mothers Day / Wanted to leave our college students with 1 Peter ringing in their ears and is a valuable letter for us to dig into


If you were to write a letter to Christians in a foreign country… a country in which the political powers were increasingly hostile to biblical principles and truths, in which Christians could see on the horizon societal and relational persecution… a country in which suffering (in all of it’s forms) would not be theoretical but would become experienced…. What would you write about?


If you were to write a letter to Christians in a foreign country who were in the midst of upheaval in life… exiles in every sense of the word (wives who felt exiled in marriage, employees who felt exiled by their bosses, citizens who felt exiled and mocked and slandered by their neighbors)… what would you write.


On the one hand… you could be writing that letter to Christians in modern day America.


Undoubtedly one of the many messages you may communicate is: Stand Firm. / Don’t quit, don’t fold, don’t give in to the pressures, but Stand Firm. I want to talk to you this morning about Standing Firm in the Grace of God. / We’re going to take this week and next to talk about Standing Firm in the grace of God… This morning “Standing Firm in the Grace of God by Staying Focused on the Grace of God.


If faced with persecution would you stand firm? / David Platt – 90% of surveyed Italian teenagers would convert to Isis.


God is mentioned 36 times in this letter.

There is no facet of their identity or experience that is not to be understood in light of who God is.


  • You are exiles according to the foreknowledge of God (1:2)
  • You are guarded through faith by God’s power (1:5)
  • You’ve been born again by the Word of God (1:23)
  • Jesus himself was chosen and precious in the sight of God (2:4)
  • Once you were not a people but now you are God’s people (2:10)
  • You are to live as servants of God (2:16)
  • Adorn yourself with what is precious in the sight of God (3:4)
  • Christ suffered to bring us to God (3:18)
  • You are called to be a good steward of the varied grace of God (4:10)
  • Elders are called to shepherd the flock of God (5:2)
  • Humble yourself under the mighty hand of God (5:6)
  • It is God himself who will secure us in the end (5:10-11)


It’s as though whatever Peter begins talking about his eyes and affections are continually being drawn back to God.


Peter’s stated aim in writing is that they would know the true grace of God and stand firm in it… and the method that he uses to encourage them is to continually point them back to God. / You will only stand firm in the grace of God as you stay focused on the grace of God.


Now, as I was preparing this message I thought “Yes, that will preach! Stand firm and stay focused on the grace of God….” But does Peter even use the phrase “grace of God?” Yes!


  • May grace and peace be multiplied to you (1:2)
  • The prophets who prophesied about the grace that was to be yours (1:10)
  • Set your hope fully on the grace that will be bought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ (1:13)
  • Husbands, show honor to your wives as they are heirs with you in the grace of life (3:7)
  • As each has received a gift use it as good stewards of God’s varied grace. (4:10)
  • And the God of all grace who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you. (5:10)
  • I wrote exhorting and declaring that this is the true grace of God stand firm in it. (5:12)


Grace saves you. Grace sustains you. Grace equips you. Grace restores you. Grace is the ground on which the Christian stands. / So how do we stand firm in the grace of God? 4 Principles, 4 Resolutions for us to make.


  1. Resolve to bless God in the beginning. (1:3)


“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ…” (1:3)


Peter’s opening words to this exiled and suffering people is a call to bless God. / He doesn’t throw fuel on the fire of their complaints or entice them with affirming thoughts of ‘you deserve better.’ He calls them to bless God.


When we’re focused on the grace of God we’ll begin with the mindset of blessing God. We just sang, “every blessing you pour out I’ll turn back to praise…” Everything you give me in grace I will return in praise. / Everything . This is a resolved outlook and philosophy of life. There is nothing in which and for which I cannot bless and praise God.


Job, “the Lord gives and the Lord takes away, blessed be the name of the Lord.” And this is incredibly freeing and joy-bringing news. This is not a call to grit your teeth and fake the smile when inside you’re torn apart. This is a call for you to trust the grace of God wherever you find yourself. Just as God said to Paul he says to you wherever you are: My grace is sufficient, cast yourself on it! Hide yourself in the shadow of his wings. And bless his name.


Do you? Do you begin with the mindset of blessing God? I don’t. I begin with the mindset of griping about my circumstances. I begin with the mindset of misery loves company so let me tell you how bad it is. / And when I do I have lost focus of the grace of God.


If you are a Christian… saved by the death of Jesus in your place… saved and secured by grace… then you cannot escape the realm of Grace. / Let me be clear: you can bless God with a broken heart and tears running down your face. Job wasn’t stoic when he said “the Lord gives , the Lord takes away… blessed be the name of the Lord” after losing his kids.


Christian, in your exile, when you want to gripe about the political upheaval and the NC law and the Gloucester court ruling and what you see happening in your neighborhood… begin with the mindset of blessing God. / In your exile… remember your heavenly citizenship and bless your heavenly father. / Everything that comes to you comes under the sovereign hand of God and under the authority of Your Lord Jesus Christ who came to give you life. (Old deacon who prayed one Sunday – I hate buttermilk and I hate flour… but I love biscuits. Help me to trust you when all I see is buttermilk and flour. Whatever you’re making is better than biscuits!)


Stand firm in the grace of God by resolving to bless God in the beginning… no matter what. You can make up your mind now to bless God this afternoon.


  1. Resolve to wield the weapon of worship


Secondly, resolve to wield the weapon of worship. If you’re going to stand firm in the grace of God, resolve to wield the weapon of worship. As Peter wrote, there are a few moments where he seems to have had a moment of worship. A moment in which he would’ve put the pen down and just sat. / Goal of a sermon is to get you to stop taking notes because you are so wrapped up in Jesus. Friends the goal of grace is worship. If we are going to stand firm in the grace of God we will celebrate worshipful moments.


OT – memorials / Erin At Lee led us in a leaders meeting exercise where we just went through the room and celebrated moments of God moving over the history of Catalyst Church. “Here I raise mine Ebenezer hither by thy help I’m come.”


Paul did this throughout his letters and Peter does it here.


You can sense the emotion in these passages

Remember who wrote the letter! Peter/Denial


4:11 – use the gifts of Grace God has given you. In order that in everything God may be glorified through Jesus Christ. To him belong glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.


5:11 – And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you. To him be the dominion forever and ever. Amen.


Amen – means “let it be.” Let it be so in this world and let it be so in my life. That’s the essence of worship. / Matt Papa Song “Amen”


This narrow way I’ve tread so far

I’ve learned some things, I’ve earned some scars

The hardest part is learning to say Amen


If God is good, all-powerful

Then why such pain, why such evil

I’m finding the answer in learning to say Amen


Amen, amen, amen

Let it be amen


Through dying dreams and my despair

I’m bringing forth this broken prayer

Your Kingdom Come, Your will be done Amen


Well I’ve got questions I can’t shake

Sometimes You give, sometimes You take

Still I will say Blessed be Your Name, Amen


Amen, amen, amen

Let it be amen


One day when this life is past

And the curse is lifted here at last

Time will flee, the earth will breathe, Amen


Well wars will cease and peace will reign

And all God’s children on that day

Will hear the voice of The Almighty say Amen – Let it Be.


This fuels global missions.


Do you celebrate worshipful moments in your life? Don’t miss this gift of grace. This is a key weapon in standing firm. Worship is a weapon in the fight for faith!

The third point we see in Peter’s letter is that we must apply our focus of God even in our sufferings.


  1. Resolve to endure sorrows as one “mindful of God.”


“For this is a gracious thing, when, mindful of God, one endures sorrows while suffering unjustly.” (2:19). It may be that the most clear picture of Jesus you ever get to pain is when you are suffering unjustly.


In many ways this letter is drenched in sorrow. / Written to exiles / Think of refugees (Brian Autry SBCV update)/ Of course this has been the story of the people of God since Genesis 3 – Psalm 91 – I will be with you in trouble / The question is not will you experience sorrows, the question is will you experience them as one ‘mindful of God’ or as one who does not know God?


  • Sorrows politically (2:13-17)
    • When you experience political sorrows and you are subject to every human institution for the Lord’s Sake… then and only then can you honor the emporer.
  • Sorrows in authority (2:18 )
    • When you experience sorrows as you suffer under those in authority over you… and you do so mindful of God… you remember Christ
  • Sorrows in marriage (3:1-7)
    • Likewise wives… in your submission you display Christ who submitted himself to the Father (Kathy Keller – if submission didn’t hurt the second person of the trinity it won’t hurt you)


Only when we endure sorrows as one “mindful of God” are we able to bless those who curse us.


Being “mindful of God” means to continue entrusting yourself to him who judges justly. When I complain about my circumstances I’m essentially saying to God, “I deserve a better mission field than this.”


4:12-19 – Suffering as a Christian


  1. Resolve to remember that God is the hero


The final resolution we’re drawing this morning is this: Resolve to remember that God is the hero. / I can only imagine that Peter would affirm this with a sense of laughter at himself and the sort of laugh that is the result of simply not having the mental or emotional capacity to know how else to respond.

“And after you have suffered for a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you. To him be the dominion forever and ever. Amen.” (5:10-11)


When you are captivated by the majesty and beauty of God, your sufferings seem as though only for a little while… they pale in comparison to the eternal weight of glory which they are preparing for you.


John Piper explains: And Peter gives one last encouragement to believe it in verse 11: “To Him—to the God of all grace—be dominion forever and ever. Amen.” Dominion means superior strength. God has dominion over the devil. He is stronger than Satan. Therefore when he promises to successfully get us through the jungle of this world and bring us to glory, he can do it and will do it. Dominion belongs to the Lord..


The God of all grace Who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ… is that you? Is that good news to you? Is your glory in Christ?


The God of all grace calls to you this morning.



How to Judge a Pastor – Sermon Notes 4.17.16

1 Cor 4 – How to Judge A Pastor

Have you every had a bad experience with a pastor? When they did something that you thought pastors should never do or they failed to do something you thought pastors always do?/ I have / Everything ‘spiritual’ is not good or healthy for you… you have to learn discretion

College students – your parents can’t choose your pastor… you have to do that / I got wrapped up in what ended up being a very cultish group.. danger of worshipping your leaders and danger of dismissing them. / 1 Cor 4 context

[1] This is how one should regard us, as servants of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God. [2] Moreover, it is required of stewards that they be found faithful.

This is how one should regard us: “us” is leaders
Two images:
A) servants of God

The word for servants is unusual, literally meaning an under-rower, i.e. someone who is simply responding to higher authority and doing his job.

Spurgeon quote Lectures to my students To be a leader in the church is the aspiration of many a person. / But perhaps we should replace the word leader with “under-rower” and that might cool your desire. 3 teirs of rowers. / You want influence in the church? Pick up a towel and serve somebody.

B) stewards of the mysteries of God.
a. Managing the household according to the purposes and plans of the owner

“Paul is very much aware that he must render account of his stewardship, and this sensitivity keeps him more than alert to the needs of the Corinthians. He will not lord it over them. He is not going to curry favor with them. He is not going to play fast and loose with them. He is not going to deprive them of what God has provided for them. Like a good steward, he will ensure that the right nourishment is provided at the right time. He has nothing to give them except what he himself received from his master. Paul’s supreme motivation as a minister of God to the Corinthians is this: ‘One day I will have to render account to God.’ (David Prior).

Not one day, one sermon, one meeting, one counseling session, one email goes by that I can afford to forget that great fact.

Required that they be found faithful. [2] Moreover, it is required of stewards that they be found faithful. / How are we to judge?

1. Remember that your judgment is not ultimate, God’s is. (v. 3-5)

[3] But with me it is a very small thing that I should be judged by you or by any human court. In fact, I do not even judge myself. [4] For I am not aware of anything against myself, but I am not thereby acquitted. It is the Lord who judges me. [5] Therefore do not pronounce judgment before the time, before the Lord comes, who will bring to light the things now hidden in darkness and will disclose the purposes of the heart. Then each one will receive his commendation from God.

Now, we need to be careful to understand what this ISN”T saying. / It’s easy for us as people to read the Bible and only remember two words – “Judge not…” and walk away thinking that settles the matter and that we’re prohibited from using discernment to pronounce right from wrong. That’s not what Paul is saying. He’s not sidestepping or avoiding judgment. Rather, he’s putting human judgment in it’s rightful place.

Paul says that he will not ultimately be judged by the Corinthians. Not for eternity and not for this life. Do you realize this? Your friends won’t be the one’s judging you in the final judgment. That person, whose opinion you have allowed to hold so much sway over your life, won’t sit on the final throne. David Prior points out, “you are not responsible to your fellows, but to your Lord.”/ How sad to refuse him who will judge and rule over you for eternity the opportunity to lovingly guide your life on earth.

Nor will you sit on the final throne. Paul says “in fact, I do not even judge myself.” He talks about having a clear conscience, and recognized that he believed he had done his job faithfully and well, but he knows that even his own conscience is not ultimate / So we must not fall prey to Hamlet’s line of thinking “This above all: To thine own self be true.” – as though the only thing that ultimately matters is that you judged yourself successful and faithful. No! You serve a master. And it’s not your conscience. Apologies to Jiminy Cricket who told Pinnochio “always let conscience be your guide.”

2. Beware of personal pride (v. 6-13)

[6] I have applied all these things to myself and Apollos for your benefit, brothers, that you may learn by us not to go beyond what is written, that none of you may be puffed up in favor of one against another. [7] For who sees anything different in you? What do you have that you did not receive? If then you received it, why do you boast as if you did not receive it?

Paul is after their benefit here. He’s continuing to point them to Christ as their glory and boast, just as he’s done since chapter one. And he uses himself as sort of a visual aid. “I’ve applies all this to myself and Apollos…” “So that (key words in the Bible) you may learn not to go beyond what is written, that none of you may be puffed up in favor of one against another.

Paul calls us to “not go beyond what is written…” meaning, submit yourself to Scripture. To be a Christian is to submit yourself to this book. / BF&M / You can see how submitting to the Scriptures is contrary to pride. / Paul’s after our humility, warning us against personal pride. Pastors/shepherds/those who are influencing you in discipleship… are after your benefit when they are after your humility. Paul explains his goal “that none of you may be puffed up in favor of one against another.” I love that imagery of someone being puffed up… at first they’re just puffing out their chest, to intimidate those around us… but in my mind, they can’t stop it there and all of the sudden they’re like a balloon that can’t stop getting bigger and bigger…

Paul uses a few questions to help us see this: Who, What, and Why. A) Who sees anything different in you… or… who makes you different from anyone else? – this could be understood positively “who made you what you are” or negatively “who do you think you are?” B) What do you have that you did not receive? And C) And if you received it, why do you boast?”

John Calvin said, “No room is left for taking pride in ourselves, when it is by God’s grace we are what we are.”

The major point here is the foolishness of boasting, of personal pride, amongst people who owe everything to the grace of God. / So, use your discernment and discretion when thinking through those who have spiritual influence over you… those who are in positions of pastoral ministry or shepherding ministry… and in doing so, beware of personal pride.

After all, we do well to remember that Christ’s incarnation is described as him “humbling himself.”

Now, Paul continues to warn us against personal pride… but he gets a little feisty here, there’s a sarcastic tone to what he says in the next few verses. / He’s warning them against thinking that they should experience the realities of heaven here on earth.

[8] Already you have all you want! Already you have become rich! Without us you have become kings! And would that you did reign, so that we might share the rule with you!

Did you hear the repeated refrain, “Already!” Theologians have called this a “theology of glory” that swallows up a “theology of the cross.” / Paul spells this out in his own experience of ministry:

[9] For I think that God has exhibited us apostles as last of all, like men sentenced to death, because we have become a spectacle to the world, to angels, and to men. [10] We are fools for Christ’s sake, but you are wise in Christ (hear the sarcastic comparison here). We are weak, but you are strong. You are held in honor, but we in disrepute. [11] To the present hour we hunger and thirst, we are poorly dressed and buffeted and homeless, [12] and we labor, working with our own hands. When reviled, we bless; when persecuted, we endure; [13] when slandered, we entreat. We have become, and are still, like the scum of the world, the refuse of all things.

One commentator says that Paul is searching for the lowest, strongest, most earthly language he can find… The apostle’s are what you scrape off the bottom of your shoe after you step in it. / Reminiscent of Isaiah’s description of Jesus is Isaiah 53 – we esteemed him not.

God has not purposed to display his glory only in your pleasures, but more supremely in you pains. / CS Lewis – God whispers in our pleasures and SHOUTS in our pains / And if you are going to press on towards spiritual maturity, you must embrace this. – You will come to know the fellowship of his sufferings.

Are you willing to be counted as nothing in the eyes of the world if that is the path to being counted precious in the eyes of God?

Wait – I thought we were talking about judging pastors, why am I sitting here thinking about myself? / Because you must beware of personal pride… Pastors aren’t put in place to stroke your ego but to point you to Jesus. Submitting to pastoral authority, or the authority of other believers, is a direct assault on your pride. / You cannot rightly judge others until you’ve honestly assessed yourself.

Paul wasn’t content on giving the Corinthians a list of traits to judge a pastor by at this point… because they didn’t even have the right frame of mind. Like teaching a blind man how to drive a Ferrari.

3. Imitate their faith (v. 14-21)

Fourthly and finally, Paul calls us to imitation.

[14] I do not write these things to make you ashamed, but to admonish you as my beloved children. (think of a loving Father who wants his son to thrive in life). [15] For though you have countless guides in Christ, you do not have many fathers. For I became your father in Christ Jesus through the gospel. [16] I urge you, then, be imitators of me. [17] That is why I sent you Timothy, my beloved and faithful child in the Lord, to remind you of my ways in Christ, as I teach them everywhere in every church. [18] Some are arrogant, as though I were not coming to you. [19] But I will come to you soon, if the Lord wills, and I will find out not the talk of these arrogant people but their power. [20] For the kingdom of God does not consist in talk but in power. [21] What do you wish? Shall I come to you with a rod, or with love in a spirit of gentleness?

Paul here echoes the sentiment of the author of Hebrews who writes “Remember your leaders, those who spoke to you the word of God. Consider the outcome of their way of life and imitate their faith.” (Heb 13:17). / Paul has been clear that he’s not making this call out of a sense of pride, but in order that they might imitate Christ. / Christian, If you are going to commend this gospel, your life must reveal it’s power. You must be able to say “follow me.” Not because you’ve got it all together, but because you are faithfully following Christ.

Paul makes a point in verse 20 that we will close with, “The Kingdom of God consists in power.” It is not a power that makes much of you or me, for where Christ reigns, how impressive you sound is not an issue. When Jesus is on the throne, none of us will be waving banners with our names on it. It is not a power that boasts in it’s ability of what it can do, but boasts in what has been done by it’s King.

Being asked by the Pharisees when the kingdom of God would come, he answered them, “The kingdom of God is not coming in ways that can be observed, nor will they say, ‘Look, here it is!’ or ‘There!’ for behold, the kingdom of God is in the midst of you.” (Luke 17:20-21 ESV)

Luke 11 – Prayer “thy kingdom come.” – A good pastor is one that helps you pray that way, and having prayed that way… helps you live that way.