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Spiritual Intervention

In my last post, I started looking at Paul’s response to rebellious sin in the life of a believer.  The goal of leadership should be that of restoration rather than punishment.  Now Paul takes it a step further.

Even though I am not physically present, I am with you in spirit.  And I have already passed judgment on the one who did this, just as if I were present.  When you are assembled in the name of our Lord Jesus and I am with you in spirit, and the power of our Lord Jesus is present, hand this man over to Satan, so that the sinful nature may be destroyed and his spirit saved on the day of the Lord.
1 Corinthians 5:3-5

This is another of those passages that we sometimes misunderstand.  The reason is that we don’t see who is being addressed.  We make the assumption that this is referring to the entire church.  That’s not the case.

In my last two posts, the tone of Paul’s writing should make it clear that he’s speaking to the leadership of the church.  He’s not talking about issues that brand new believers should be dealing with.

Paul was a seasoned prayer warrior in the spirit.  You can rest assured that powerful intercessory prayer was going up for this church.  In the spirit, Paul was standing with them.

By the wisdom of God, Paul knew what needed to be done.  He had already decided the outcome.  He didn’t need to be physically present in their meeting.

The controversial issue is what Paul describes next.  The very language should give us insight into what’s happening here.  “Assembled in the name of the Lord…with you in spirit…the power of the Lord Jesus is present.”

He’s not talking about a regular church meeting.  This is a private meeting, only for those who are spiritually mature enough to handle an issue like this.  New believers aren’t graced for this type of challenge.

There’s also an assumption we can make about all of this.  That is, that the man in question had been confronted by the true nature of his sin on more than one occasion.  We can also assume that he rejected all spiritual counsel, and made a decision to continue on in the pathway which was blatantly against the known will of God.

As a result, the mature leaders should have decided to take action that would keep him from totally destroying his life.  That’s what Paul is talking about here.

We need to understand that this is not a meeting to remove the offending Christian from the church organization.  It’s not an excommunication.

This is a group of believers, who are strong in the Lord, setting out on a spiritual intervention.  The goal is to place this person in spiritual rehab in order to straighten out their walk with the Lord.  The attitude during this whole process should be that of love and concern for a fellow member of the body of Christ.

The term, hand over to Satan, literally means to surrender to Satan.  This means that they lose all their blessings and privileges as a child of God.

This person was adamantly refusing to live by God’s standards.  Now he was going to get a first-hand view of what the enemy’s kingdom is really like.  The hope is that this person’s level of discomfort will bring him to the point of repentance.

As a side note, it looks to me as if the Corinthian leaders obeyed Paul’s directive.  2 Corinthians 2:5-11 sounds like the man in question repented and was restored to full fellowship with the Lord.

In Christ, restoration is always the goal in dealing with sin.

Question: What’s that level of concern in the modern church over the issue of sin in the lives of believers?

© 2019 Nick Zaccardi

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Posted by on February 27, 2019 in Leadership, Ministry, Power of God, The Church

 

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The Adolescent Church

Paul’s first letter to the Corinthian church sounds like he’s writing to a group of adolescents.  As far as I’m concerned, this is the worse stage of growth whether you’re talking about the spiritual or the physical.  If there was one point in my life I wouldn’t want to go back to, it would be my pre-teen and teenage years.

The problem with life as an adolescent is that you’re coming into the height of your adult strength and intelligence.  Yet, you lack the experience and permission to do things on your own.  You see the freedom and resources that adults enjoy, yet you’re locked into a world where you have to wait for your turn to experience it.

In many ways, this is the place that most of the modern church finds itself in.  We understand what should be ours in Christ, but walking in it seems to elude us.  We need to learn how to overcome and make it successfully through this stage of our Christian development.

I am not writing this to shame you, but to warn you, as my dear children.  Even though you have ten thousand guardians in Christ, you do not have many fathers, for in Christ Jesus I became your father through the gospel.  Therefore I urge you to imitate me.
1 Corinthians 4:14-16

In this passage, Paul urges his people to follow his example as a mature believer. That’s the toughest assignment for a growing Christian. It’s a very hard thing to move from a childish mindset to that of an adult.

There are behaviors that will work for children that adults will never get away with.  The problem in most of the church is that we want the irresponsibility of childhood with the freedom and resources of adulthood.  This will never happen.

There has to be a giving up of childish ways.  We have to move into our role as mature followers of the risen Lord.  Until this happens, we’ll never attain our true potential in Christ.

My dear children, for whom I am again in the pains of childbirth until Christ is formed in you…
Galatians 4:19

This verse should wake us up.  Paul is writing to believers who are in the adolescent stage of their spiritual growth.  They’re saved and on their way to Heaven, but he tells them something that should get our attention.  His burning desire is that Christ would be formed in them.

This is the Greek word morphoo.  It’s where we get our English word morph.  We hear this word a lot in dealing with computer graphics.  When we see special effects in a movie, where one thing turns into something else, we say that it morphed.  That’s the spiritual change that we’re looking for.

I want to let the world see a change in me.  I want to “morph” into the same life that Christ lived.  This is the point where the change happens that brings me from being a child to living as an adult.

In life, it happens almost unnoticed.  Then one day you see what you’re doing and realize you’re not a child anymore.  As Christians, we need to go through this change on a spiritual level.  The church as a whole needs to walk in adulthood.  This is what Christ is looking for in us.

Question: What would a spiritually adult church look like?

© 2019 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on February 18, 2019 in Leadership, Sonship, Spiritual Walk

 

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Are You a Home-wrecker?

In my last post, we saw that our bodies are the dwelling place of the Holy Spirit.  When you think about it, that’s an incredible gift.  But it’s also an awesome responsibility.

Don’t you know that you yourselves are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit lives in you?  If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy him; for God’s temple is sacred, and you are that temple.
1 Corinthians 3:16-17

We need to live with the understanding that our whole life is a temple dedicated to God.  That’s even more so when God’s people gather together.

The physical building is not the “house of God”, even though we refer to it like that sometimes.  On the contrary, it’s the in the gathering of believers that the Holy Spirit makes His presence known.

The word for destroy, in the above passage, means the process of withering or spoiling.  It’s not instantaneous destruction.  If someone corrupts God’s people, they begin a withering process that will affect their own lives.

God’s passion for His Temple was illustrated in the life of Christ.

In the temple courts he found men selling cattle, sheep and doves, and others sitting at tables exchanging money.  So he made a whip out of cords, and drove all from the temple area, both sheep and cattle; he scattered the coins of the money changers and overturned their tables.  To those who sold doves he said, “Get these out of here! How dare you turn my Father’s house into a market!”
John 2:14-16

We need to understand what was making Jesus so upset.  It was all about greed on the part of the priests.

There were some provisions in the law to make it easier for the people to tithe.  If I lived far away from Jerusalem, I could sell the sheep I was bringing for a tithe.  Then I travel to Jerusalem with the money and buy more sheep when I get there.  In that way, it was less of a burden on the people.

Unfortunately, religion changed all that.  The priests made a rule that you could only buy specially inspected animals at the Temple for an inflated price.

On top of that, you could only use specially minted Temple coins to buy these animals.  These coins were purchased from the money-changers at a high rate of exchange.

The result was that if I started at home with 100 sheep as a tithe; by the time I was through with this process I might only be able to afford 50 to offer at the Temple.  So the priests and salespeople were getting rich while the people and God were being robbed.  Jesus was reacting to the thievery that He was witnessing.

But the real question is; how does this apply to us?  In the above Scripture, Jesus said to take this stuff out of the Temple area.  More importantly, My Father’s house is not an emporium.

That’s why it’s important to know that a church building is not my Father’s house.  Right now – I am my Father’s house and you are too.  We are the dwelling place of God’s Spirit.

Are we truly the house of God; a place of worship?  Can people see by our lives that our whole fellowship is devoted to the worship of the Lord?  Do all the parts revolve around Him?

His disciples remembered that it is written: “Zeal for your house will consume me.”
John 2:17

Do you hear what the Holy Spirit is saying?  Zeal for YOUR HOUSE will CONSUME ME.  Our zeal to be a place of worship should consume all that we are.  Think about that in relation to our lives.

This should be the attitude of all believers. I’m not all about the temporary, material things of this world. I must maintain the integrity of the living temple where God reigns supreme.

Question: What can we do to keep our Temple a place of worship?

© 2019 Nick Zaccardi

 

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Christ – The Foundation

In my last post, I talked about the way that the Lord rewards us for fulfilling our callings.  They’re based on what Christ has planned for us.  Paul then explains how his ministry relates to the church.

For we are God’s fellow workers; you are God’s field, God’s building.
1 Corinthians 3:9

Paul understands that as a part of the 5-fold ministry, he can’t complete his calling by himself.  It will require supernatural assistance.  He sees himself as a co-worker with God.

But what’s the work which he and God are busy at?  He talks about two parts of church ministry.  The church is God’s field – that’s the production of fruit for the kingdom.  But the church is also God’s building.  I believe that’s talking about the growth of its structure.

We must have both if we’re going to be the witness the Lord wants us to be.  We must have both spiritual and numerical increase.

However, there’s one thing that Paul is very clear about.  It’s the basis of every function of the church.

By the grace God has given me, I laid a foundation as an expert builder, and someone else is building on it.  But each one should be careful how he builds.  For no one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ.
1 Corinthians 3:10-11

We’ve turned our lives over to the Lordship of Christ.  We’re in His hands.  He’s our foundation.  Without that groundwork, nothing we build will succeed.  It has to be based upon the work of Christ in us.

But how many Christians are actually building?  And what exactly is it that we’re supposed to build?

For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness, love.
For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.
2 Peter 1:5-8

Wow!  That sounds like a daunting task.  But remember, we’re building.  It doesn’t come together in an instant.  It’s worked on over time.

I’ve seen many impressive buildings in some of the cities that I’ve visited.  Some of them took years of planning and construction to complete their structures.  Don’t get upset that you aren’t perfect yet.

The Greek word, add, in the above Scripture means to choreograph over.  I think that’s a pretty interesting way to put it.  How do we build?  By choreographing or lives in deeper and deeper patterns.

It’s like a dancer learning all the moves needed for their recital.  Faith – goodness – knowledge – self-control – perseverance – godliness – brotherly kindness – love.

We have to transform our lifestyle into a more intricate choreography.  This takes the wisdom and the strength of God, especially when it involves many people working together.  That’s why we need the proper foundation.

The work of this building process is beyond our limited capabilities.  We need to yield to the life-changing power of the Holy Spirit within us.  That’s how we can begin building by faith.

In my next post, I’ll continue by talking about the final test of this spiritual building process.  If you haven’t yet done so, I encourage you to subscribe to this blog so you won’t miss any of the articles.

Question: How far along in the building process are you?

© 2019 Nick Zaccardi

 
 

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Paul and Denominations

I’ve been posting about Paul’s letter to the Corinthian church.  He’s rebuking them for using church politics instead of listening to the voice of the Holy Spirit.

For when one says, “I follow Paul,” and another, “I follow Apollos,” are you not mere men?
1 Corinthians 3:4

This is the sign that they’re acting just like the world.  In our self-serving society, we find the person who best represents our opinion.  Then we back them with our agreement and resources.

That’s not how it’s supposed to work in the body of Christ.  Paul and Apollos may have different types of ministry, but both are preaching the Word of God.

“I follow Paul.”  “I follow Apollos.”

To me, that sounds like the start of denominations.  It’s something that Paul didn’t want to happen in the church.  Our goal should be that everyone follows the example of Christ.

As a matter of fact, Jesus had to deal with this issue when teaching His disciples.  I posted about it at the beginning of last year, but it bears repeating.

At one point He was teaching them about welcoming people into the kingdom.  That brought up a question.

“Teacher,” said John, “we saw a man driving out demons in your name and we told him to stop, because he was not one of us.”
Mark 9:38

The disciples remember telling someone to stop driving out demons in the name of Jesus.  But their reasoning is important to us.  The Greek verse literally says that the disciples told him to stop because he did not follow us.

Notice that it wasn’t because he didn’t follow Christ, but that he didn’t follow the disciples.  From reading the Gospels, we know that they had a high opinion of themselves.  After all, they gave up everything to follow Christ.  This man, who was driving out demons, didn’t.

On the other hand, even though he didn’t give up everything to follow Jesus, he had the evidence of the power of God operating in his ministry.  He also must have understood a lot of the Lord’s teachings.  People were being delivered as he preached Christ.

This is where we are at our point in history.  Many Christian denominations are a part of the spiritual landscape before us.  What did the Lord say about this?

“Do not stop him,” Jesus said.  “No one who does a miracle in my name can in the next moment say anything bad about me, for whoever is not against us is for us.  I tell you the truth, anyone who gives you a cup of water in my name because you belong to Christ will certainly not lose his reward.”
Mark 9:39-41

By saying this, Jesus has settled the matter of denominations.  Do all of them follow Christ to the same degree?  Obviously not.  But that’s not the issue.  The question is; are they operating in the name of Jesus?

The Lord is telling His disciples that you don’t have to be a super-apostle, trained by Jesus Christ, Himself, in order to get a reward.  If you’ve trusted Christ for your salvation, and your calling is as simple as giving water to someone, you’ll have a reward for fulfilling that calling.

We may not all be in the same denomination, but we must all receive each other in the name of Jesus Christ.  It doesn’t matter who you follow – Luther, Wesley, the Pope, or any other Christian leader.  The goal is that our ultimate standard is Christ.

Question: How have you learned to respect other believers who don’t worship as you do?

© 2019 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on January 14, 2019 in Fellowship, Leadership, Ministry, The Church

 

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Mere Men in the Kingdom of Power

I’m continuing my study of Paul’s first letter to the Corinthian church.  As we go forward, we need to see each part within the whole context.  Without an understanding of the first two chapters, we will not fully grasp the rest of his exhortations.

In my last post, we saw that the Corinthian church was described as spiritual infants.  Paul continues to explain his reasoning.

I gave you milk, not solid food, for you were not yet ready for it.  Indeed, you are still not ready.  You are still worldly.  For since there is jealousy and quarreling among you, are you not worldly?  Are you not acting like mere men?
1 Corinthians 3:2-3

Paul describes the teaching he gave them as milk.  Nothing substantial; nothing deep.  It was just the basics.

When I’m hungry, I want something that I can chew.  I’m not the type of person who can survive very long on a liquid diet.  It’s the same for me with the things of the spirit.

I want to hear a message that I have to think and pray about.  I want to be able to apply it to my life so that it will bring change.  I’m not into nice, forgettable sermons.

According to Paul, their problem was that they were not ready for spiritual meat.  That literally meant that they did not have the power (dunamis) to receive it.  That kind of power can only come from the Spirit.

In the first two chapters, we’re told that the soulish man can’t receive things from the spirit.  It only happens when you spend time in the spirit.

However, the problem was worse than that.  This church was not even at the level of being soulish.  The word used for worldly is actually the word, carnal in the Greek.

They were trying to serve God by the desires of their flesh.  This was borne out by the fact that their meetings were full of jealousy and quarreling.

These two words are important to our understanding.  The first means that you have an emotional attachment to what you desire.  The other means that you’re willing to get very defensive about your opinion.

Because of all this, Paul lets them know that they aren’t acting as the people of God.  Instead, they’re behaving like the world; mere men.

In the world, you have to fight for what you want.  In an organization, that means debate, politics, leverage, and in some cases downright bullying.  That’s what Paul was seeing in the church at Corinth.

This is why he laid down his foundation at the beginning of the letter.  Through the spirit, we have access to the mind of Christ.  It’s not about what I think is best, it’s the Lord’s agenda that matters.

Mere men decide what they want by a combination of logic and emotion.  Spiritual people, on the other hand, spend time in the spirit accessing God’s thoughts.

If they were truly spiritual, they would concentrate on prayer in the spirit.  This would include both public and private prayer times.  Then they would hear from the Holy Spirit.

When that happens, you find that strife ceases.  If you’re truly hearing from the Spirit, then the Lord will speak the same word to each person.  It’s easier to walk in unity when you’re all hearing from God.

I think that a lot of the division and strife in modern church meetings could be done away with if we spent more time listening to the Holy Spirit.  Our goal should be to move in the direction of God’s plan over and above what we desire.

Question: How have you seen unity resulting from believers praying together?

2019 Nick Zaccardi

 

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Mankind Exalted

I’ve been going through the epistle of Second Thessalonians.  In my last post, I began talking about the “Man of Lawlessness”.  I said that this verse could be talking about the lawlessness of mankind being revealed for what it truly is.

Don’t let anyone deceive you in any way, for that day will not come until the rebellion occurs and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the man doomed to destruction.
2 Thessalonians 2:3

Paul tells us, in these writings, that as we approach the end, lawless man will finally be uncovered for all to see.  There will be no question about the evil within.

It will be crystal clear that mankind is lost and in need of a Savior.  That’s why he also calls mankind doomed to destruction.  This literally means that without Christ, mankind is the child of ruin or child of loss.

But Paul doesn’t end his discussion there.  He goes on to describe why mankind will be so lawless in the end times.

He will oppose and will exalt himself over everything that is called God or is worshiped, so that he sets himself up in God’s temple, proclaiming himself to be God.
II Thessalonians 2:4

The first thing we’re told is that mankind opposes God, or sets himself opposite to God.  I believe that this is a description of lawless mankind as we see them in the world today.  They set themselves in opposition to God.

As a matter of fact, it’s not just our God, but anything that’s even called “god”.  These arrogant, “learned” men and women don’t believe in the supernatural anymore.  They say it’s only childish superstition.

Not only do they oppose God, but they exalt themselves over what is called God.  That’s humanism, pure and simple.  “God is dead.  I’m God now.  I’m on the throne.”

That’s lawless man in a nutshell.  Scripture warns us that it will get to the point where this worship of lawless man even sets itself up in God’s Temple.

There are some people who say that this is talking about the Temple in Jerusalem and that the Anti-Christ is going to set himself up as God in that temple.  I wouldn’t be so dogmatic as to say that’s impossible, but I don’t believe that this verse supports that argument.

Scripture itself points me in this direction.  In Paul’s writings, the only times he ever uses the term “God’s Temple”, is if he’s talking about one of two things.  The first is the body of Christ as the temple of the Holy Spirit.  The second is the believer’s physical body as God’s temple since the Holy Spirit dwells in each of us.

So in Paul’s mind, personally I am God’s temple and collectively we are God’s temple.  Those are the only two ways Paul uses the term “God’s Temple.”

If that’s the case, then this is talking about a large segment of the church in the USA.  In my next post, I’ll go into this in more detail.

Question: What do we need to do in order for the Holy Spirit to lead the church?

© 2018 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on October 29, 2018 in Ministry, Return of Christ, The Church

 

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