The evangelical fundamental persuasion of Christendom has used the crises method to bring about change in the lives of Believers for years. What I mean by the crises method is this: A presentation of Biblical truth is given. Then the speaker uses emotion and urgency to solicit a decision from the hearers. Usually this decision is demonstrated or confirmed by walking down the aisle, raising the hand or signing a decision card, etc. Powerful public pressure is placed on the ones listening to the speaker to make that decision right now, because later may be too late.

This crises method has been quite effective in bringing about many decisions to do better. Many of those decisions have been very sincere, and some people move ahead to the fulfillment of their commitment. Yet, most find that their decisions, made under this type of pressure even though made in great sincerity, are impossible to fulfill, because they do not know how to go about fulfilling them in a Biblical manner. As a result, Believers continually find themselves faced with making a new commitment, to replace the failed commitments of the past.

After about so many failures, these crises presentations begin to seem hollow, or impossible to the hearer. Without having the needed information to bring about proper change, Believers begin to turn a deaf ear to such cries of crises, or they simply become calloused to the need of moral change. Therefore, those attempting to elicit visible decisions, must use greater and greater emotional pressure, along with presenting the magnitude of the crises in exaggerated terms. Too often, speakers turn to gimmicks of mass psychology in an effort to keep the decision numbers at an acceptable level.

Sad to say, religious organizations have conformed to the world in how they calculate value received for their funds given and effort expended. Their means of calculating is by using a head-count of those who have made public decisions, usually as a result of the crises method. We should be checking to see what value comes from our effort and our funds, but it should never be based on the number of those who have made public decision!

If we were to make numbers or a head-count 
our standard of value received,
then Christ would have been a drop-out in this organizational race of head-counters.

This failure of Christ's ministry (according to human standards) is well documented in the four Gospels.

John 6:61-67 When Jesus knew in Himself that His disciples murmured about this, He said to them, "Does this offend you? 62 "What then if you should see the Son of Man ascend where He was before? 63 "It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing. The words that I speak to you are spirit, and they are life. 64 "But there are some of you who do not believe." For Jesus knew from the beginning who they were who did not believe, and who would betray Him. 65 And He said, "Therefore I have said to you that no one can come to Me unless it has been granted to him by My Father." 66 From that time many of His disciples went back and walked with Him no more. 67 Then Jesus said to the twelve, "Do you also want to go away?"
Matthew 26:56 But all this was done that the Scriptures of the prophets might be fulfilled. Then all the disciples forsook Him and fled.

If the average church of today were to calculate the value received from the ministry of Christ, using the current religious standard, that church would cut off funding for that useless ministry, and the presentation in the Board meeting might go something like this.
One board member might say:

"After all, Christ spent three and half years on this project, and was never able to get it 'off the ground'. Therefore, we should turn our efforts to something that will produce more results!"

Another board member might add:
"Besides the wasted time, Christ had at His constant beck-'n-call 12 fine business men, and a number of women who attended His every need."

Some board member would surely refer to the documentation on this failed project. So he might say something like:

"As we clearly see, from the report in John 6, early to mid-way in this project, Christ made some statements that offended most of His followers and they abandoned the project! It would be much better, if we found someone who knew how to work with people, and was able to motivate them, instead of antagonizing. After all, if we are going to have success in this project, we must have some one savvy enough in public speaking and public trends so he doesn't offend or bore his audience. We need someone with thoughts and a presentation that are acceptable and entertaining to those we are trying to reach."

I'm sure the other documentation from Matthew 26:56 would bring a response similar to:

"Gentlemen, we see, from the record, that after three and half years of unsuccessful work on this project, all of Christ's followers have forsaken Him, with the exception of a handful of women. Therefore, based on these facts and this evaluation, I suggest that we cut off all funding, and stop this useless project, before we have any more losses!"

If God had used the corporate methods,
I'm sure the Bottom Line would have been the driving force,
and you and I would never have had a part in this humanly failed world-wide project.

Instead of calculating our success by physical numbers [which fits well in the realm of carnality], we should calculate our success by how many of those we are ministering to are living like Christ through holiness in their conduct. Living like Christ through holiness in conduct does not come about by means of a crises decision. Instead, it is a process! A process of growing in grace and the knowledge of Jesus Christ. It is a process that will never reach completion in this earthly lifetime.

We have looked at a number of things needed, if Believers are to allow the holiness of God to be seen in their conduct, through the fruit of the Spirit. The last few of these needed things for holy living, include:

We will continue to look at these and other needed items for holy living. I will not always categorize each passage as to whether it's talking about unity, stirring-up or one of the many other aspects we've seen. Sometimes, a passage will refer to several different aspects of holy living.

The launching pad for this part of our study is found in:

2 Corinthians 4:1-7 Therefore, since we have this ministry, as we have received mercy, we do not lose heart. 2 But we have renounced the hidden things of shame, not walking in craftiness nor handling the word of God deceitfully, but by manifestation of the truth commending ourselves to every man's conscience in the sight of God. 3 But even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing, 4 whose minds the god of this age has blinded, who do not believe, lest the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine on them. 5 For we do not preach ourselves, but Christ Jesus the Lord, and ourselves your servants for Jesus' sake. 6 For it is the God who commanded light to shine out of darkness who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. 7 But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellence of the power may be of God and not of us.

It is the very essence or image of God (v.4), which we received at salvation, that is to be seen shining through our lives to a world around us. The Holy Spirit, in a effort to show us both:

used the illustration of light placed in earthen vessels and somehow shining through those vessels. To understand the Biblical illustration and the spiritual truth taught by it, we must have the context of this illustration.

For clear understanding, we must have the immediate context of the illustration, and we must have the total context of Scripture. We have taken a hurried study of the total Scriptural context over the past several weeks. Believe it or not, it was a hurried study! If we had taken a careful detailed study of all the Scriptural context that has direct implication to this illustration, we would still be studying the context for years to come many years. I have, however, tried to give us a good representative sampling of this Biblical subject.

To understand this portion in 2 Corinthians 4, we really need the context of 1 Corinthians, all of 1 Corinthians. Paul makes reference to 1 Corinthians in this passage, several times. It's upon those earlier happenings at Corinth and Paul's response to those things recorded in 1 Corinthians, that the Holy Spirit builds this great spiritual truth. We will not go back and make a study of 1 Corinthians at this time, but we will review portions of this great book as needed. To have any clear understanding of this passage, we will need to go back, at least, to 2 Corinthians 2.

2 Corinthians 2:1 But I determined this within myself, that I would not come again to you in sorrow. 2 For if I make you sorrowful, then who is he who makes me glad but the one who is made sorrowful by me? 3 And I wrote this very thing to you, lest, when I came, I should have sorrow over those from whom I ought to have joy, having confidence in you all that my joy is the joy of you all. 4 For out of much affliction and anguish of heart I wrote to you, with many tears, not that you should be grieved, but that you might know the love which I have so abundantly for you. 5 But if anyone has caused grief, he has not grieved me, but all of you to some extent-- not to be too severe.

Paul is making reference to an incident that he had to deal with in his first letter to Corinth. Before I can make understandable comments on this portion of 2 Corinthians, we must go back and review that happening of 1 Corinthians.

1 Corinthians 4:21 What do you want? Shall I come to you with a rod, or in love and a spirit of gentleness? 5:1 It is actually reported that there is sexual immorality among you, and such sexual immorality as is not even named among the Gentiles--_that a man has his father's wife! 2 And you are puffed up, and have not rather mourned, that he who has done this deed might be taken away from among you.

In the church at Corinth, there was a man who was having a sexual relationship with his father's wife. Obviously, the father had remarried. We assume that the mother of this family had died, and the father married again. Sometime after that second marriage, the son began having this unholy relationship with his father's second wife. The act, itself, was bad enough! However, the response of the church to this situation was equally bad.

Rather than the church being sorrowful for this action and showing remorse, they were proud. Kind of like the TV crowd of today, they, too, talk about immoral actions as real achievements. Paul uses a term for this type of pride that is very descriptive, and he associates this pride with leaven in later verses.

puffed-up (Greek)
to inflate; (figuratively, to make proud or haughty); this inflation is brought about by abnormal growth and is a type of germination or natural production.

The church at Corinth held-up this sinning as an example of how liberated they were in Christ. What a shame when Christians use their liberty in Christ as an excuse to practice sin. They were indicating, by this example and their pride that because Christ had paid for all of their sins, they could do things that even the heathen would not do, or even talk about. They even considered those things as perfectly acceptable.

The heathen did not refrain from this type of sin to demonstrate holiness. They simply avoided the sin for the sake of conscience! This God given attribute of conscience, is one attribute that many Christians have abused so much that their conscience is past feeling.

1 Corinthians 5:3-8 For I indeed, as absent in body but present in spirit, have already judged, as though I were present, concerning him who has so done this deed. 4 In the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, when you are gathered together, along with my spirit, with the power of our Lord Jesus Christ, 5 deliver such a one to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus. 6 Your glorying is not good. Do you not know that a little leaven leavens the whole lump? 7 Therefore purge out the old leaven, that you may be a new lump, since you truly are unleavened. For indeed Christ, our Passover, was sacrificed for us. 8 Therefore let us keep the feast, not with old leaven, nor with the leaven of malice and wickedness, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.

Not only was this an insidious act and the church was proud of it, but this type of abnormal pride or puffing-up would spread in a similar manner as germination to other Believers, and would lead to other types of sins. That's why Paul says to get that man and that sin out of the church. He likened it to leaven in a lump of bread dough. It only takes a little leaven or yeast in the lump of bread dough and the whole lump will soon be permeated by the leaven. Likewise, with this type of puffed-up sin will permeate the whole church, if left unattended.

Paul, was hoping that by writing a letter of teaching, the church would remove this sin from their midst, because of obedience to that teaching. Paul didn't want to come to Corinth at this time, because if he came in person, he would have dealt harshly with the sin, instead of teaching, and through that teaching evoke obedience.

Paul's hope was that through obedience, the church would properly deal with the sin. When sin is dealt with through obedience to proper teaching, the bond of love between the teacher and the students becomes greater. When the teacher has to step away from the position of a teacher and become judge and executioner, more often that not, there will be rift between the teacher and the students. Thereby, making the teaching ministry less effective.

This was one of Paul's concerns. Another concern of Paul was the sins that were spawned by this situation, and the sins of the church, as a whole, that had encouraged this type of sin in the first place. What a shame, when the general attitude of the church encourages sin, instead of equipping people so they don't need to sin. As we read this list of the sins of Believers, check to see if any are or how many are a part of the MBF family. As long as you're at it, check to see how many are resident in your life.

2 Corinthians 12:20-!3:1 For I fear lest, when I come, I shall not find you such as I wish, and that I shall be found by you such as you do not wish; lest there be contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, backbitings, whisperings, conceits, tumults; 21 and lest, when I come again, my God will humble me among you, and I shall mourn for many who have sinned before and have not repented of the uncleanness, fornication, and licentiousness which they have practiced. 13:1 This will be the third time I am coming to you. "By the mouth of two or three witnesses every word shall be established."

Because these sins were a part of the church at Corinth, and had not been properly dealt with, if Paul were to come personally, he would have to establish by the mouth of witnesses exactly what was going on. You wouldn't want Paul as your pastor. On the basis of those established facts, revealed through investigation, punishment and church discipline would be carried out.

In any church, as in Corinth, there is an undercurrent of talk
some of which is true. 
If you are guilty of hearing and passing on these things 
without knowing the facts, you are the cause
of the lack of spirituality in the church. Don't look around to find someone else to blame! Anything less than truth is sin.
Even if it is true, many things do not need to be passed along.
1 Corinthians 10:23 All things are lawful for me, but all things are not helpful; all things are lawful for me, but all things do not edify.
1 Corinthians 6:12 All things are lawful for me, but all things are not helpful. All things are lawful for me, but I will not be brought under the power of any.

If it is not helpful, if it does not edify, put it in a bottle and cork it! If it's not needed, then it's harmful. The spiritual quality of your actions can be measured by a simple 1-2-3 Test:

If you are interested in the spiritual well being of the church, then you will give your action or your speech that 1-2-3 Test. If your action or speech does not pass the 1-2-3 Test, and you go ahead anyway, then you are not interested in the well being of the church, or obedience to Christ.

Folks, sin in the church is an important issue that needs to be dealt with properly. First by teaching, but if there is improper response to teaching, then the church must take action. This explains why Paul says, several times, that he didn't want to come to Corinth, at least not until the problem of sins were properly dealt with by the church.

2 Corinthians 2:1-5 But I determined this within myself, that I would not come again to you in sorrow. 2 For if I make you sorrowful, then who is he who makes me glad but the one who is made sorrowful by me? 3 And I wrote this very thing to you, lest, when I came, I should have sorrow over those from whom I ought to have joy, having confidence in you all that my joy is the joy of you all. 4 For out of much affliction and anguish of heart I wrote to you, with many tears, not that you should be grieved, but that you might know the love which I have so abundantly for you. 5 But if anyone has caused grief, he has not grieved me, but all of you to some extent-- not to be too severe.

Paul is referring primarily to the incident of the man living in sin with the his father's wife. However, as we saw from 2 Corinthians 12:20-13:1, Paul's, concern and reference goes far beyond this immoral sin, and extends to the garden variety of Christian sins such as: contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, backbitings, whisperings, conceits, tumults, etc. Isn't strange, we like to be around the good 'ol boy. The good 'ol boy is a little loose morally, yet we still say he's Ok, but let someone live by and stand for real Biblical principles, and we want little to do with that person. As a matter of fact, we often put that type of person down, as a little strange. We often even stretch the truth (that's called a sin) to put that person in a bad light so others will also avoid that person. Oh, God help us!

That's the background. Now let's see an aspect of God's essence or His image that must be seen in the conduct of a Believer living in holiness.

2 Corinthians 2:6-11 This punishment which was inflicted by the majority is sufficient for such a man, 7 so that, on the contrary, you ought rather to forgive and comfort him, lest perhaps such a one be swallowed up with too much sorrow. 8 Therefore I urge you to reaffirm your love to him. 9 For to this end I also wrote, that I might put you to the test, whether you are obedient in all things. 10 Now whom you forgive anything, I also forgive. For if indeed I have forgiven anything, I have forgiven that one for your sakes in the presence of Christ, 11 lest Satan should take advantage of us; for we are not ignorant of his devices.

The matter of proper judgment of sin and forgiveness go hand in hand. There can never be proper judgment of sin without the willingness and readiness of appropriate forgiveness. The lack of appropriate forgiveness is not only disobedience to God and His Word, that lack is hazardous to your spiritual health and well being.

Believers are to allow the essence or image of Christ to be seen through their conduct. One of the greatest characteristics of Christ, in His relationship to mankind, is appropriate forgiveness. One of the hardest spiritual actions for a Believer seems to be forgiveness of another. Many Believers even have a problem receiving Christ's forgiveness for themselves. Listen, my Christian friend, if appropriate forgiveness is not a characteristic of your life, then don't even breath the word spiritual, as if it might relate to your living.

Matthew 6:9 In this manner, therefore, pray: Our Father in heaven, hallowed be Your name. 10"Your kingdom come. Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. 11 Give us this day our daily bread. 12 And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors. 13 And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one. For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.

Yes, we are familiar with the pattern that Christ gave His disciples for praying. However, like so much of the rest of Scripture we don't believe it! Or maybe we just pick out the parts of the Bible we like. You know, just like the other cults. If we practice it we are!

If we don't take the Word of God literally as God intended it, then we are not much better than the run of mill cult, and we have no complaint when people attach that term to our religion. One of the distinguishing qualities of Christianity is the acceptance of the Word of God, and compliance with the Word of God. All of the Word of God, rightly divided.

If appropriate forgiveness is not a part of your living, I would recommend that you never read or repeat this disciple's prayer! If you do repeat it, and appropriate forgiveness is not a part of the fabric of you life,

then you are asking God not to forgive you.
Oh, yes! When we repeat or pray this passage, we are saying...
"Our Father in heaven., please forgive me as
or in the same manner that I forgive others".
Are you sure that's what you want?

This matter of appropriate forgiveness was so very important to Christ that He did not just mention it in this model prayer, He went on after the prayer to made further comments on the subject. Those additional comments by Christ are even stronger than the prayer, itself.

Matthew 6:14-16 For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. 15 But if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses. 16 Moreover, when you fast, do not be like the hypocrites, with a sad countenance. For they disfigure their faces that they may appear to men to be fasting. Assuredly, I say to you, they have their reward.

I'm sure that what Christ said here must be legalistic. My last statement was a sadistic jest, but I hope it got your attention enough to realize that God is serious about this thing of forgiveness. My Christian friend, you cannot afford to be unforgiving. This demonic attitude of unforgivingness will eat away at your emotions and joy, plus you will be judged by God for such an attitude.

If this passage was all the Bible had to say about participation in forgiveness, it would be enough. But the disciple's prayer is only the tip of the iceberg concerning the subject of forgiveness!

Matthew 18:21-22 Then Peter came to Him and said, "Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? Up to seven times?" 22 Jesus said to him, "I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven.

Surely, Christ didn't really mean that we should forgive seventy times seven? 490 times for the same thing! You've got to be kidding! There must be a problem here. Maybe, the Lord flunked math. No, the Lord had a good handle on math and everything else. God is serious about this thing of forgiveness! However, many Believers aren't very serious about forgiveness. Maybe that tells us something. If the Believer is not doing what God is greatly concerned about, I wonder if God calls that disobedience or does he have another nice sounding word for it?

Mark 11:25-26 And whenever you stand praying, if you have anything against anyone, forgive him, that your Father in heaven may also forgive you your trespasses. 26 But if you do not forgive, neither will your Father in heaven forgive your trespasses.

Wouldn't it be nice if we had a modern Bible that just said pleasant things? There is no way you can lay claim to any type of spiritual living, if appropriate forgiveness is not a part of your everyday life.

Luke 17:3-4 Take heed to yourselves. If your brother sins against you, rebuke him; and if he repents, forgive him. 4 And if he sins against you seven times in a day, and seven times in a day returns to you, saying, "I repent," you shall forgive him.

Someone said that they didn't come to church just to have a bunch of Scriptures read to them. You can sure see why they didn't want to hear that Scripture. I don't blame them. I don't like some of the Scriptures either, but afterwards there will the fruits of righteousness to those who are trained by the discipline of those Scriptures.

Not only do we need to hear the Scriptures, we need to begin, and may I hammer the begin, to live the Scriptures. If we had a bunch of Believers doing what the Scriptures say, instead of just being hearers of Scriptures, we'd see things accomplished for Christ.

There is absolutely no benefit to us when we don't forgive. The major reason we don't forgive is because we want revenge. On the other hand, if you're holding out to get revenge, then you are stealing something that belongs to God. Stealing from God is not a good occupation!

Romans 12:17-20 Repay no one evil for evil. Have regard for good things in the sight of all men. 18 If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men. 19 Beloved, do not avenge yourselves, but rather give place to wrath; for it is written, "Vengeance is Mine, I will repay," says the Lord. 20 "Therefore if your enemy hungers, feed him; if he thirsts, give him a drink; for in so doing you will heap coals of fire on his head."
Ephesians 4:30-5:1 And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. 31 Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, and evil speaking be put away from you, with all malice. 32 And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God in Christ also forgave you. 5:1 Therefore be followers of God as dear children.
Colossians 3:12-14 Therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, put on tender mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, longsuffering; 13 bearing with one another, and forgiving one another, if anyone has a complaint against another; even as Christ forgave you, so you also must do. 14 But above all these things put on love, which is the bond of perfection.
1 Peter 3:8-12 Finally, all of you be of one mind, having compassion for one another; love as brothers, be tenderhearted, be courteous; 9 not returning evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary blessing, knowing that you were called to this, that you may inherit a blessing. 10 For "He who would love life and see good days, let him refrain his tongue from evil, and his lips from speaking guile; 11 let him turn away from evil and do good; let him seek peace and pursue it. 12 For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous, and his ears are open to their prayers; but the face of the Lord is against those who do evil."
An unforgiving spirit is not worth
the momentary sensual pleasure it brings!    

You've heard the story before, and you will hear it again, and again. Mary was hugging daddy around the neck while looking over his shoulder, and sticking her tongue out at her brother. Mother was observing all of this, and came to Mary and took her arms from around daddy's neck, and said, "You can't love daddy while sticking out your tongue at your brother!"

You know, the Holy Spirit said just about the same things in:

1 John 4:19 We love Him because He first loved us. 20 If someone says, "I love God," and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen, how can he love God whom he has not seen?
The vessel in which wrath is stored is damaged far more than
the vessel upon which wrath is poured.
© Clyde White, Austin TX, 1998