This morning I preached at the Charleston Church of Christ. We've been expositing the book of Deuteronomy, and this morning was chapter 17, the Pursuit of Holiness. God cannot be in the midst of sin, and he calls us to "purge the evil" from our midst (Deut 13:5, 17:7, 17:12, 19:19, 21:21, 22:22, 22:24, 1 Corinthians 5:13). When sin begins to take control in the body of Christ, each member is affected. The word "purge" comes from the Hebrew word בָּעַר (pronounced bah-air; transliterated bä·ar’). This word means to burn, consume, remove; it refers to the wrath of Jehovah in Malachi 4:1 and in Isaiah 30:27. God is unwilling (and unable) to accept a sinful people, and he requires that we are indignant and diligent in our pursuit of repentance and of his holiness.
Today, we finished Romans, then read 1 & 2 Corinthians, Ephesians, and Galatians. As I write this, I have yet to complete my reading for the day. However, I will be completing the reading before I go to bed. With that being said, I will give only a few sentences for each book we read today (not including Romans, which was quickly summarized yesterday).
Fitting that we should read the two letters to Corinthians on the day I preach about purging sin. Paul wrote the first letter to the Corinthian church around 56 A.D. and addressed the sexual immorality that had spread throughout the church. Likely, Paul actually wrote more than two letters to the Corinthian church; the reason these two are in the Bible is relevant, but a topic for another day. Paul's reason for writing this first letter is to expose, admonish, rebuke, and correct. Not only are some of the practices in the Corinthian church wrong, adultery and immorality being the main two, there were also doctrinal challenges about the practice of worship and the prevalence of spiritual gifts in people's lives. Likewise, he talks about the Lord's supper, something he wouldn't have had to do if they already knew what to do and how it was supposed to be utilized.
This second letter was written to defend his apostleship before the church and to admonish against false teachers, which were gaining traction in Corinth around this time. Throughout the second letter, Paul addressed the importance of giving (9:6), the problem of suffering (12:7-10), God's grace, and examing Self in order to grow in faith and in devotion to God.
This book was written before the Jerusalem Council (in Acts 15) and may have been written before the rest of the Paul's letter as early as 49 A.D. Paul talks about the problem of circumcision, as many Jewish Christians are requiring that the Gentiles become Jewish by way of circumcision before becoming followers of The Way. In the beginning of the letter, Paul explains why he is a credible apostle, even having not walked with Jesus with the other apostles (though having walked with him in the 3rd heaven; 2 Corinthians 12). Finally, Paul discusses the fruits of the Spirit and the evils of the flesh to help explain how a Christian should live their life and which fruits should be produced in their lives.
Paul wrote this letter from prison at about 60-62 A.D. and it's purposed to spur on Christians to persevere under trial or persecution. He tells the Ephesian church to "walk in a manner worthy of the calling" (Ephesians 4:1), a reminder to be steadfast in the lifestyle and convictions of a true disciple, even when convictions are challenged by popular culture or governing authorities.