Purposes of the Heart (Unity in the Body of Christ)

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.  1 Corinthians 4:5

Note: This is in the context of our service to God as His servants.  We have each received different gifts from the Holy Spirit for use in building up the Body of Christ.  (1 Cor. 12:4-11, 1 Peter 2:1-5, 4:10-11, Eph. 2:19-22)  God will judge whether each person has used their gifts selfishly to satisfy their own desires or if they have shared them as He intended.  (Matt. 25:14-30 – the “talents” were money, but they represent more than that, 1 Cor. 4:1-4, 2 Cor. 5:10, Eph. 4:7-8, John 16:24, James 4:3)  We mustn’t think of our own service to God as being more important than someone else’s–we’re all members of the same Body.  (1 Cor. 12:12-13:13, Gal. 6:3, Rom. 12:3, 12:10, 12:16, Luke 14:7-11, James 2:1-7)  We shouldn’t criticize each other for how each one handles matters that are NOT related to salvation or sin, but we are each free to decide for ourselves according to our OWN convictions as to HONOR the Lord with our behavior (not as to what degree we feel free to sin against Him!)  (Romans 14)  Disagreements in these matters unrelated to salvation (which salvation ALWAYS includes repentance) end up causing unnecessary division and discouragement among believers, whereas Jesus prayed we would have unity. (John 17:11, 1 Cor. 10:17, Eph. 4:1-6, Gal. 6:2-10)

I read an interpretation somewhere that when the Bible says to treat the dishonorable parts of the Body as honorable (1 Cor. 12:22-26), it means that we must tolerate those who sin due to their weakness.  That is simply NOT true.  What it means is that a person who cleans toilets for the glory of the Lord (because even the nasty jobs need to be done) is no less valuable as the one who speaks before kings with eloquence.  (Acts 25-26, 1 Cor. 1:26-2:1-5)  A person who is imprisoned for preaching the Gospel is to be supported, not shunned and abandoned.  (Matt. 25:36, Acts 12:5, 2 Tim. 4:16, Heb. 10:34, 13:3)  There is nothing wrong with sharing the Gospel with criminals, but that is NOT what was meant by “visiting Jesus” in prison.  That refers to visiting the one who is being persecuting for His sake, not for something they did wrong.  (Acts 8:3, 16:22-24, Col. 4:3-6, Eph. 6:16-20, 2 Tim. 1:8, Philemon 1:13, 1 Peter 4:15)  In this day and age, how many people immediately disown anyone who is slandered for speaking the truth about God’s word?  When the world calls a Christian a hater, don’t most people try to distance themselves from that person?  (2 Tim. 1:16-18, Philippians 1:3-7)  It’s only going to get worse as we get closer to the end of this age.  (Rev. 2:10)  Whoever disowns their believing brother or sister over such things is actually disowning Christ.  (Mark 8:38, Luke 9:26, 10:16, Matt. 10:40)  (This is NOT to say that we should EVER commit acts of violence, use crude language or dishonor God in any other way by our behavior–not for any reason.  Our motive is LOVE.)

Many people also misinterpret the words about tolerating “weaker brothers.”  That is not meant to say that we should treat fellow believers as babies who don’t know better and can’t help their behavior.  How will they grow in Christ if no one ever corrects their behavior?  No, they should be admonished with gentleness (and if they refuse correction, then they must be excluded from fellowship for the good of the congregation).  (1 Cor. 5:13)  This does NOT include physically or verbally assaulting anyone, or gossiping about them.  (Titus 3)  The context of “weaker brother” is that some people feel convicted to observe special days or refrain from eating meat due to fear that it may have been sacrificed to an idol without their knowledge.  We are free to decide these things for ourselves and are not to force anyone to embrace the choice we make for ourselves in freedom.  If they feel in their weakness that it’s sinful, then for them it is.  (1 Cor. 8, 1 Cor. 10:23-33. Rom. 14:23)  This has NOTHING to do with approving of, encouraging or overlooking blatantly sinful behaviors, especially those committed deliberately.  (Rom. 1:32, 1 Cor. 15:34, 2 Cor. 12:21)  Paul said his concern for the weak and those who succumb to sin burdened him terribly.  (2 Cor. 11:29)

In passages about judging sin by fellow believers, we are told to confront it gently, in love, and forgive the person who repents.  (Gal. 6:1, Matt. 18:15-17, 21-22)  We are not to withhold forgiveness (Luke 6:35-38, Eph. 4:32), or condemn anyone as though we are perfect ourselves (Matt. 7:5), or judge them for the very same sins we do ourselves (Romans 2:1-24), or fall into the same sin as they have slipped into while we are trying to restore them to fellowship. (1 Cor. 10:12, 2 Cor. 13:11, Gal. 6:1) However, if someone refuses to repent, then we are not to tolerate their sin, as it tends to spread and contaminate the whole Body and we are meant to be holy and set apart from the world for God. (1 Cor. 5)  If we read the warning of Jesus about not letting the members of your body cause us to sin (Matt. 5:27-30) in light of Paul’s explanation that WE are members of the Body of CHRIST (Rom. 6, 12:4-5), we see that God does NOT want us to look the other way when our brothers and sisters in Christ sin.  He wants us to deal with it, with the goal of a healthy, whole Body.  (1 Cor. 5, 2 Cor. 2:6-8, Gal. 6:1)  The point of confronting sin is LOVE, not to be unmerciful, but because it IS merciful to bring someone back from straying.  (James 5:19-20, 2 Thess. 3:13-15)  The more we correct our own behavior while on this earth, the less we will have to fear being corrected when Jesus returns.  (Rom. 14:12, 1 Cor. 4:21, 2 Cor. 10:1-6, 12:20-21, 13:10, 1 John 2:28-29, Matt. 24:42-44, Luke 12:38-40, 1 Thess. 5:1-8, Rev. 3:3, 16:15)

Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice. 5  Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; 6  do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. 7  And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. 8  Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. 9  What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you. Philippians 4:4-9 

Instead of wondering who anyone else thinks they are to tell others (including you or me) how to behave or what to care about, let’s think about the honor and glory of the Body of Christ.  Because it’s ALL about our precious, victorious, worthy Savior, let’s encourage one another to be ready for the His return.  (Psalm 69:9, Rom. 15:1-7)  Jesus warned us to OBEY His words by bearing good fruit and building upon the rock.  He warned us NOT to listen to people who say there is another way (whether that is through another door than Him or by only hearing His words, but not DOING them).  (Matt. 7:13-27, James 1:22-25, 1 Tim. 6:3-5)  Let’s speak the truth in love so that everyone can mature in Christ, not shying away from uncomfortable topics like sin.  (Col. 1:28-29, Acts 20:26-27)  Let’s value the kingdom of God more than temporary treasures and pleasures.  (Matt.  6:33, 1 John 2:15-17)  God takes no pleasure in people who turn back after promising to serve Him, or are cowardly.  (Luke 9:62, Heb. 10:35-39, Rev. 21:8)  This is not to say that we save ourselves in any way, ever, but that we deceive ourselves into thinking we are saved if we still love sin and the world.  (Gal.  6:7-8, 1 Tim.  4:1, 2 Tim.  3:12-13, James 1:22, 1 John 1:5-10)

Have you been thinking all along that we have been defending ourselves to you? It is in the sight of God that we have been speaking in Christ, and all for your upbuilding, beloved. 2 Corinthians 12:19

Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing. 1 Thessalonians 5:11

Take care, brethren, that there not be in any one of you an evil, unbelieving heart that falls away from the living God. 13  But encourage one another day after day, as long as it is still called “Today,” so that none of you will be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin. Hebrews 3:12-13

And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, 12  to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, 13  until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, 14  so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes. 15  Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, 16  from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love. 17  Now this I say and testify in the Lord, that you must no longer walk as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their minds. 18  They are darkened in their understanding, alienated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, due to their hardness of heart. 19  They have become callous and have given themselves up to sensuality, greedy to practice every kind of impurity. 20  But that is not the way you learned Christ!— 21  assuming that you have heard about him and were taught in him, as the truth is in Jesus, 22  to put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, 23  and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, 24  and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness. 25  Therefore, having put away falsehood, let each one of you speak the truth with his neighbor, for we are members one of another. 26  Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, 27  and give no opportunity to the devil. 28  Let the thief no longer steal, but rather let him labor, doing honest work with his own hands, so that he may have something to share with anyone in need. 29  Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear. 30  And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. 31  Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. 32  Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you. 5:1  Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children. 2  And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God. 3  But sexual immorality and all impurity or covetousness must not even be named among you, as is proper among saints. 4  Let there be no filthiness nor foolish talk nor crude joking, which are out of place, but instead let there be thanksgiving. 5  For you may be sure of this, that everyone who is sexually immoral or impure, or who is covetous (that is, an idolater), has no inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God. 6  Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience. 7  Therefore do not become partners with them; 8  for at one time you were darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light 9  (for the fruit of light is found in all that is good and right and true), 10  and try to discern what is pleasing to the Lord. 11  Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them. 12  For it is shameful even to speak of the things that they do in secret. 13  But when anything is exposed by the light, it becomes visible, 14  for anything that becomes visible is light. Therefore it says, “Awake, O sleeper, and arise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.” 15  Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, 16  making the best use of the time, because the days are evil. 17  Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is. 18  And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit, 19  addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with your heart, 20  giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, 21  submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ. Ephesians 4:11-5:21

kits: Awakening by DitaB, My Cookbook Add On by Silvia Romeo

This article will be made available in pdf form, including the scriptures that were referenced, on the sidebar of this blog, entitled Unity of the Body of Christ.

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