Through the Bible with Les Feldick
LESSON 3 * PART 4 * BOOK 29
I CORINTHIANS 15:24-34 – PART 2
Now to begin the last lesson in book 29 let’s begin with verse 31. Remember in our last lesson we were dealing again with the consummation of all things First Christ will be King of Kings, and Lord of Lords, and everything is put under His feet. Then we go on into the eternal where everything is consummated in God Himself. Then Paul said in verse 29 “What’s the use in all these things if there is no resurrection of the dead.” Always remember that there is no other religion on earth nor ever has been, that has a resurrection of the dead in it’s so-called theology. None of the mythologies teach resurrection, none of the cults teach it, some have reincarnation, but resurrection is strictly a Biblical concept because not only is it a Christian concept, it was also part of the Old Testament economy. Everything centers on the resurrection of the dead. Otherwise what’s the use if that’s not true; then you might as well eat, drink and be merry. So looking at verse 31 where Paul says:
I Corinthians 15:31
“I protest (or affirm) by your rejoicing which I have in Christ Jesus our Lord, I die daily.”
In other words, that although this is a carnal congregation. Here this apostle is writing these deep doctrines concerning resurrection, but the people to whom he’s writing are carnal believers. And so again he reminds them that he affirms by their rejoicing, even as carnal Christians, that they realize that there was some things to rejoice in, and by that the apostle Paul says, “I have in Christ Jesus our Lord, I die daily.” Now I think there’s a two-fold approach to “I die daily.” Number one, remember that Paul teaches so strongly the idea of the old and new nature. One of the questions I’ve answered in our next newsletter is “Do I believe in two natures for the believers?” Absolutely! We are still with the old nature, that old Adam that just constantly pursues us, and we also have that new nature as a result of our salvation experience, and our union with Christ, and that’s only a Pauline doctrine. We are constantly in a warfare, “The old sin nature against the new Divine nature.” But what Paul is speaking here in dying daily is that he has to constantly keep old Adam in subjection, he has to put him to death. In fact, let’s go back for a moment to the Book of Romans because that’s where Paul makes that so plain. All of Paul’s writings dovetail together so beautifully. So turn to Chapter 6 and let’s begin with verse 13, and throughout this whole 6th Chapter of Romans Paul is dealing with, “reckoning that Old Adam as our mortal enemy, and putting him constantly to death.” Now that may sound like double talk, but we have to realize that God in His omniscience, and Sovereignty, the moment we believe for salvation, God reckoned our old Adam as crucified with Christ, he’s dead. But in experience he’s still with us, and he plagues us, and will until we leave this body of mortality. Here Paul says it so clearly:
“Neither yield (or give in) ye your members as instruments of unrighteousness unto sin:”
Or unto the old Adam. It’s up to us as you are given that free will. God is not going to take you by the nape of the neck and say “You will obey Me. You will walk in My ways.” God doesn’t do that, but rather it’s that constant urging by the indwelling Spirit. Also remember that three-letter-word “sin” is the old Adam, the old sin nature. But the flip side is.
“…but yield yourselves unto God, (in other words be what God wants us to be.) as those that are alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness unto God.”
Now this is exactly what Paul is talking about here in this verse 31 of I Corinthians. Paul says, “I die daily.” And as you move into verse 32 I think he is also alluding to the fact that he was under constant physical pressure and suffering. We have no idea how much the Apostle Paul suffered for the sake of the Gospel. Now you want to remember that The Lord promised in Acts Chapter 9 this very thing.
“But the Lord said unto him, `Go thy way: for he is a chosen vessel unto me, to bear my name before the Gentiles, and kings, and the children of Israel: For I will shew him how great things he must suffer for my name’s sake.'”
And the man did. He suffered at the hands of the Jews, the Romans, physical disabilities, and sickness, and if you would like to see how much just look at II Corinthians Chapter 11. Now verse 32.
I Corinthians 15:32a
“If after the manner of men (If so to speak) I have fought with beasts at Ephesus,…”
Most people just read that casually, and they probably think of the Roman coliseum where they actually tossed him to the lions. But I don’t think that happened to Paul. I don’t think he ever had to face the lions of the Roman Coliseum, but rather I think here he’s talking about his physical enemies. I think it was this constant opposition from his fellow men, ungodly men.
I Corinthians 15:32
“If after the manner of men (If so to speak) I have fought with beasts at Ephesus (these men who were constantly opposing him) what advantageth it me, (why should I fight against them) if the dead rise not? (You simply can’t get away from resurrection in Chapter 15, because it hits you in every verse. What’s the use, Paul says, in facing all of this opposition to the Gospel if there’s no resurrection, and if that be the case) let us eat and drink; for tomorrow we die.”
Now that thinking is becoming pretty much the mind-set of our own nation today. Most people are not thinking in terms of eternity, but what’s in it for me today. Instant gratification is all people are concerned about. How can I gratify the flesh the fastest and the easiest? Well Paul says, “If there’s no resurrection then have at it.” Why not? But there is resurrection!Now verse 33, and what’s the admonition?
I Corinthians 15:33
“Be not deceived: evil communications corrupt good manners.”
Let’s go back to the Book of Proverbs to compare. We don’t use Proverbs very often. And if I happen to have young people listening to me I would hope you would take this verse to heart. I know looking back at my own youth, and looking at the lives of others around me, I wonder how many times good young people have been totally destroyed by their bad friends. And so many of them are just simply bad people and that’s what’s making it so difficult to raise kids today. They have no compunction for right and wrong, they have no principles, there are no absolutes in their lives, so it’s hard for good parents to raise a good child in the midst of all those bad friends. But the Word of God is so adamant that this is what is going to happen.
“He that walketh with wise men shall be wise: but a companion of fools shall be destroyed.”
Now do you see what that says? If you are operating and functioning in the midst of good company then you’re going to be useful. Now of course I think as Solomon writes the Proverbs he writes a lot of times in the area of the material, but nevertheless it holds both ways. Even in the area of the spiritual you will never rise any higher than the people you fellowship with. In fact I learned that years ago in my youth as I saw what happened to churches in the community in which I was raised. I could see that great strong Bible preaching Church, by just one liberal, Bible doubting preacher, could go down the tube. We’ve all seen it and again, that brings me to the place that a church will rise no higher than its leadership. Now that usually centers in the pastor, but it doesn’t stop there. It also involves the leadership of lay people, whether you call them elders or deacons or whatever. That’s beside the point. But that church congregation will rise no higher than that leadership takes them. And the same way in our everyday intercourse with people. We are going to be like the people with whom we spend most of our time.
We once had a politician up in Iowa, and I know my Iowa listeners are going to know immediately who I’m talking about. He did a lot of speaking in churches around the state and he could preach better than a lot of them. But he had a favorite little cliche that as a politician he adhered to. And my wife is probably going to cringe when I say it. He said, “If you’re going to run with skunks, you’re going to smell like them.” Very apropos isn’t it? And that’s exactly the picture with all of our activity. If we are going to run with people of low integrity, if we are going to run with the people who have no compunction about things right and wrong, we’re going to become like them. It rubs off. Now that brings up another verse. Come back to Hebrews, Chapter 10 verse 25.
“Let us hold fast the profession of our faith without wavering; (for he is faithful that promised;) [speaking of the faithfulness of Christ.] And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works: Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another; and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.”
Now, never lose sight of the fact that Paul thought The Lord was going to come in his life time. And so we have to look at it in the light that if Paul was alive today, he’d say the same thing. “Do not neglect your Christian fellowship, because as we see the end-time approaching, and we’ve got all of this opposition, we need the encouragement of each other. We need the prayers of one another.” There’s nothing that thrills Iris and I more than when people write and say that they pray for us twice or three times a day. And when you realize that people all over the country are doing that, that’s quite an encouragement. We all need that. And we have to have that fellowship with like-minded believers. Now, when professing Christians turn their back on that kind of fellowship and start running with the world, I can just about tell you what their end is going to be. It’s no different than our kids, whether in grade school or high school or college or whatever. They are going to be like the friends that they run with. They have to be! I know I’ve tried to encourage my kids, when they were in school, to seek out kids with their own principles and their own values. They are there. You’re not alone because those kids are out there. Sometimes it takes a little looking, and when you find them that other person is as tickled to see that they are not alone as you are. And the same way with believers. Don’t ever just be like an “Elijah”. He said, “Lord, just go ahead and take my life. I’m the only one left.” God said, “No, you’re not.” Wherever we go there are believers who look at it like we do. And so don’t neglect the assembling of yourselves together. Now, let’s go back to I Corinthians Chapter 15.
I Corinthians 15:33,34a
“Be not deceived: evil communications (that doesn’t mean just the words, but it’s our concourse with people. And if it’s going to be with evil people, it’s going to rub off) corrupt good manners. Awake to righteousness, and sin not; …”
We’ve talked about that in our Tulsa class the last time we were together. Is it possible to live without sin? Is it possible to live sinless? No it’s not possible! Not because the new nature can sin – we know it can’t. I maintain the new nature is the vine and it cannot sin. But what did I say a few moments ago? What is opposite of our new nature? That old Adam! And that old Adam is working on us constantly to sin. And he succeeds too often. But, if we can keep old Adam in subjection and we can feed that new divine nature, then we can see what this scripture talks about. We’re not supposed to sin. Grace is not license. I will repeat that until my dying day. I’m a promoter of the Grace of God, that where sin aboundeth, grace is greater, but for the believer, grace is not license. And this is what Paul is talking about. Turn from the instincts of old Adam and put him down, keep him under control, that we sin not. Now then, remember who he is talking to. He’s still got the Corinthian church in the back of his mind. And he said,
I Corinthians 15:34b
“…for some have not the knowledge of God, I speak this to your shame.”
Who is he talking about? I think he was talking about the people within his congregation at Corinth. They were carnal. They were believers, but they didn’t have that knowledge and wisdom. Now, that brings up another verse. Let’s go to Ephesians Chapter 3 and verse 16. Again, this is a prayer of the apostle Paul for the Ephesian believers, but also for us.
“That he would grant you, according to the riches of his glory, to be strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man; That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love, May be able to comprehend …”
What’s the difference between knowledge and comprehending? Nothing, except maybe putting it into action. But if you have knowledge, you can comprehend. And when you comprehend you have knowledge. Let’s read on.
“… with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height; “
Now if I’m not mistaken this was something that Einstein was the first to promote and the world didn’t know what he was talking about. He was talking about a fourth dimension. We always live in three. But when Einstein talked about a fourth dimension and his so-called formulas and so forth, the world didn’t know what he was thinking. But this is what the Bible says that we are to enjoy. We are to enjoy a knowledge that goes into the fourth dimension. Now let’s read on:
“And to know the love of Christ, which passeth (goes beyond) knowledge, that ye (this is for every believer. Remember I’m always going back to Tyndale and who were those he was most concerned about? The plowboys in England. Those guys who didn’t even have a third grade education. That’s who he risked his life for, to get them the Word of God.) might be filled with all the fulness of God.”
Isn’t that something? We always like to sit back and say, “I can’t have this kind of wisdom, or knowledge. I’m just not that strong a believer.” Listen, if you have Christ in your heart, you have the potential for all this. It’s laying there waiting for you to exercise it. That’s beyond understanding I know, but with God’s help we can. Now let’s read on.
“Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us,”
Now he’s not talking to angels, or people who have gone on to glory. He’s talking to people in his own day and time, living there in the area of Ephesus. Now let’s return to I Corinthians and look at verse 34 again.
I Corinthians 15:34
“Awake to righteousness, and sin not; for some have not the knowledge of God: I speak this to your shame.”
What would Paul speak to the average Christian today? The same thing. Let’s look for a moment in Chapter 3, and see the kind of people he’s writing this heavy stuff to. And it is deep, I know it is. But he would not have been prompted by the Holy Spirit to write this to a carnal Church if it would have been too much for them to handle, but it isn’t, it’s here for every believer, even babes in Christ.
I Corinthians 3:1-3a
“And I, brethren, could not speak unto you as unto spiritual, but as unto carnal, even as unto babes in Christ. I have fed you with milk, and not with meat: for hitherto ye were not able to bear it, neither yet now are ye able. For ye are yet carnal:…”
Now that’s like too many people today, and God doesn’t want people to be fleshly and carnal, but rather to be spiritual, and enjoy this knowledge of God. And I would like to stop with this thought. “Are you a shame to God because of your Biblical ignorance, or are you someone to whom God will someday say, “`Well done, thou good and faith servant.”‘