Covenant Words
Covenant Words

Episode 576 · 9 months ago

The Speaking Spirit

ABOUT THIS EPISODE

I Corinthians 12:1-3

If you're able to remain standing, please do as we turn to First Corinthians, chapter twelve. First Corinthians Chapter Twelve, verses one through three. This section begins another major section in the book. Encompasses chapters twelve, thirteen and fourteen, and you'll hear that as Paul makes a little bit of a transition here at the beginning of chapter twelve. So let's give our attention to God's word now. First Corinthians twelve, verses one through three. Now, concerning spiritual gifts, brothers, I do not want you to be uninformed. You know that when you were pagans you were led astray. I mute idols. However, you were led. Therefore, I want you to understand that no one speaking in the spirit of God ever says Jesus is accursed, and no one can say Jesus is Lord except in the Holy Spirit. May God bless his word to us. You may be seen kids. Have you ever been in a restaurant? Your parents said do you don't forget your manners. Right, you're in a place you're not. You're not in your bedroom reading cheetos on your floor. You're in a restaurant. Right, use your restaurant voice. Speak like you have. You a gives appropriate here. act in a way that is appropriate here. Sometimes, when we move from one place to another place, our behaviors need to change, the ways that we act, maybe even the ways that we think, need to to modify. Well, that's true, not just of our manners and those kind of things, but but in spiritual terms as well. The book of Colossians says that we have been rescued out of a dominion of darkness by God and brought into the Kingdom of his beloved son. You used to be in this place, this awful, terrible dominion of darkness. Once, the scriptures say, you were children of Wrath. Once your father was the devil. Once you did deeds that broke the law, hated God and fleed the light. But now things are new. Now things are different. You belong to a new place, a new kingdom over which the Lord reigns and his light shines. Citizens of a heavenly kingdom, and that's to that produces new things. We live in a...

...different way because we are in a different place, even if physically we are still here in the world. Jesus says, my kingdom is not of this world. He says a Peter says in First Peter, as we've been studying on Wednesday nights in the west side fellowship. Peter calls us a strangers and exiles in this world, even though we might be technically citizens of the United States or of some other country. We think of ourselves in a different way, of belonging here but not quite belonging here, and that that leads to certain kinds of actions. We don't want to forget ourselves. We don't want to forget our manners. We don't want to forget that we are called to be salt and light. We don't want to forget that we represent the name of the king when we go into the world as those who have been baptized into his name, as those who have been marked by him. We are his representatives. And people are watching. The scriptures say they're watching and like strangers, are often watched. Right. Have you ever been a stranger and walked into a place where you knew you were a stranger and you felt the sense that you were being watched? Well, it's because you are being watched. Right. Have you ever seen somebody in your neighborhood that doesn't belong there and you just give a little extra attention to them. What's that car doing there? That cars never there. People pay attention to strangers and beloved. We're strangers. We're strangers in a world that we once belong to but don't belong to anymore. The world is watching in the world is paying attention our witness matters and of course, God is watching to he desires for us to represent him well, and not just so he looks good, but he's trying to produce, and he is producing in US godliness, holiness, spiritual things. He's giving to a spiritual gifts and he calls us to live in an accord with that. As we've seen throughout the book of Corinthians, the Corinthians, like all of us, are struggling. They keep getting out of step with that, they keep forgetting who they are in Christ and they find themselves doing these things that the Lord says, no, you shouldn't be doing this, this doesn't make sense for you as Christians. Yes, you were once pagans, yes, you once belong to the dominion of darkness, but not anymore. And as Paul transitions to a new section in twelve, thirteen and fourteen, he he addresses another issue, another another thing that has been a problem, another way in which they are bringing their worldly values into the church and into their lives as a community and their lives in the world. The...

...thing that he mentions is very broadly at the beginning of twelve, is spiritual gifts. You see the topic change in the way he puts it now concerning spiritual gifts. I do not want you to be uninformed. He's moving to this new subject. He wants to talk about the way the Greek puts it. Nay Moon, sorry, name Mati cone, but you can translate something like spiritualities or spiritual things. Here it's translated spiritual gifts because of the coming context in a lot of discussion about spiritual gifts. It's just one word. It could also be translated breath things or win things, but we're right to translate it spiritual things or spiritualities because we know from the next three chapters he's talking about the Holy Spirit a lot from a lot of different things. In other words, he wants us to think about the Holy Spirit, the Holy Spirit of God and things relating to him, including the gifts of the Holy Spirit, which will think about on the next time we come to this passage. For now. There's another aspect, though, related to the gifts, that Paul wants us to think about, and the aspect that he wants us to think about is the contrast between the idols that they once served and were led to and by, and the Holy Spirit that they are led by. Now. Notice how he says this. He says, you know that when you were pagans, right the past, the dominion of darkness, when you were pagans, you were led astray to mute idols. However, you were led. I therefore don't I want you to understand that no one speaking in the spirit of God. Here's the contrast. Ever, says, and we'll get to how this is translated here in the ESV, it's Jesus is a cursed and no one says Jesus is Lord except in the Holy Spirit. So remember this past, right, remember how you were Pagans and led astray. Now think about the Holy Spirit in contrast with that, and that's what we're going to do this morning. Let's focus on three differences between idols and the Holy Spirit. Will think about how we are led. Are, I'm sorry, how they lead us on, how they speak and the effect they have. So how they lead, how they speak in the effect they have on us. So, first of all, the contrast between idols and the Holy Spirit in how they lead differently. The first difference has to do with leadership, and it's complete opposites, complete opposites, Paul says, that is pagans as pagans as those formerly on or this dominion of darkness again them quoting Colossians. there. They were led astray by mute or, more literally, no voice, idols. They don't have a voice, they can't talk. That's...

...what mute means. That's a really interesting thing to say, isn't it? And it's kind of why he adds this addition. However, you were led, because there's kind of an iron and irony there, isn't it? The fact that you are being led by something that doesn't speak speaks to the ridiculousness of what's going on, the stupidity of what's going on, the fact that they are following something that cannot move, that they are listening to something that cannot speak, obeying something that cannot command. That's how they were led astray. They were led astray to mute idols. That however, you are led, and there were all kinds of ways that we are led to idolatry. And in thinking about this, Paul highlights the utter ridiculousness and the evils of idolatry, and I want to pause on that for a moment because it's it's so important, and we'll do that by looking at just a couple scriptures that help us understand this point. Two places of several in which God impresses this point on our hearts. So feel free to turn with me or simply listen. First to Psalm one hundred and fifteen, psalm one hundred and fifteen, versus three through nine. The point here is to understand, to feel deeply, the contrast between the Lord, our God, and the idols for a hundred fifteen salm a hundred fifteen, verse three. Our God is in the heavens, he does all that he pleases. Their idols are silver and gold, the work of human hands. They have mouths but do not speak, eyes but do not see, they have ears but do not hear, noses but do not smell, they have hands but do not feel, feet but do not walk, and they do not make a sound in their throat. Those who make them become like them. So do all who trust in them. Oh Israel, trust in the Lord. He is their help and their shield. So we have a contrast here in Psalm fifteen, and also a warning. Don't be you make these idols, you serve these idols, you worship these idols, you will become like these idols, one who is unseeing, unfeeling, ineffective. Now let's turn to Jeremiah ten, the Prophet Jeremiah,...

Chapter Ten, and I'll begin at verse one and Read Through Sixteen. I think again, we have in this passage this great contrast between things, objects that are made by humans and the ever living God who has created all things by the word of his power. So, Jeremiah ten, hear the word of the Lord. Hear the word that the Lord speaks to you, a house of Israel. Thus says the Lord, learn not the way of the nations, nor be dismayed at the signs of the heavens, because the nations are dismayed at them, for the customs of the people are Vanity. A tree from the forest is cut down and worked with an axe by the hands of a craftsman. They decorate it with silver and gold. They fasten it with hammer and nails so that it cannot move. Their idols are like scarecrows in a cucumber field, and they cannot speak. They have to be carried it for they cannot walk. Do not be afraid of them, for they cannot do evil either. It is in them to do a good. There is none like you, oh Lord. You are great and your name is great in might. Who would not fear you, oh king of the nations, for this is your due, for among all the wise ones of the nations and in all their kingdoms, there is none like you. They are both stupid and foolish. The instruction of idols is but would beaten. Silver is brought from Tarsius and gold from OOF as. They are the work of the craftsmen and the hands of the Goldsmith. Their clothing is violet and purple. They are the work of skilled men. But the Lord is the true God, he is the Living God and the everlasting King. At his wrath the earthquakes and the nations cannot endure his IG indignation. Thus shall you say to them? The gods who did not make the heavens and the Earth shall perish from the Earth and from under the heavens. It is he who made the earth by his power, who established the world, by his wisdom and by his understanding, stretched out the heavens. When he utters his voice, there is a tumult of waters in the heavens, and he makes the midst rise from the ends of the Earth. He makes lightning for the rain, he brings forth the wind from his store house has. Every man is stupid and without knowledge. Every Goldsmith is put to shame by his idols, for his images are false and there is no breath in them. They are worthless, a work of delusion, and at the time of their punishment they...

...shall perish. Not like these is he who is the portion of Jacob, for he is the one who formed all things, and Israel is the tribe of inheritance, of his inheritance. The Lord of hosts is his name. Do you feel the spirit of God, the living spirit of God, impressing on You, speaking to you his words? Even now he's telling us about himself, he's telling us about who he is, about the world that he has made, his power and his might, and meanwhile there are these foolish things like scarecrows in a cou cucumber field, so which people are bowing down to and fearing. The workman goes into the woods, he cuts down a trip. He's working so hard to create something that has to be fastened down because it can't even stand up on its own. Somebody might bump it and it would come crashing down. Meanwhile, there's God, who is raising mountains out of the seas and causing the midst to rise, and lightning and thunder and birth and death and all the rest. How is what is the difference between how God leads and how the idols lead? Difference doesn't even seem to begin to capture the great, vast distance that is between those two things. To follow an idol is to become like an idol. It's foolishness, it's stupid, it's dangerous. To listen to one that cannot speak is vanity. So what's actually going on then, in idolatry? Why All the commotion? Why all the fuss? Why are people paying attention to the skies and divination and all these things? Well, as Paul explained earlier, and we'd have to go back and look at those passages, but he says earlier that it's demons who are behind these things. The idols themselves are foolish and stupid things. They don't do anything good or evil, but the demons that are using them are intentionally trying to hurt you, to destroy you. Demons which do have wills, which do speak, which do desire things and work towards them. But they don't desire our blessing, they don't desire our flourishing, they don't desire us to have communion with God. They desire separation, they desire...

...vanity, destruction, death. That's what they want for us. They are our enemies and we have to treat them as such, as those who are condemned by God, as those whom we are waging a war against. We cannot be naive about this. They use these physical objects to cause us to chase foolishly after deep needs. People run after idols, and not because they think gold is something special in and of itself, but because we as humans, we know we need safety and meaning and love and honor and forgiveness and community. These deep needs are what these idols promise to provide. What the false God say here? Do this, serve me in this way and all, take care of you. I'll give you rain, I'll give you blessings, I'll give you children, I'll protect you from your enemies and all these sorts of things that we need. But even when we get them, they destroy us. Even when we get the things when we want even when we chase after our sinful desires and we obtain them, they end up destroying us. The scripture says the wages of sin is death. That's what it earns, that's what sin earns. So idols are mess we don't touch them, we stay away from them, we flee them and we cling only to God because, in contrast the Holy Spirit, he leads us in a very different way to very different ends. How does the spirit lead us? Well, consider Romans Eight, a few verses from their first Romans Eight, five and six. For those who live according to the flesh, that their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the spirit set their minds on the things of the spirit. For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the spirit is life and peace. There is a contrast for you. Idolatry leading to death, leading to despair, leading to anxiety and a commotion and war. Where does the spirit lead us? The spirit leads us to set our things on the things of the spirit. The spirit leads us to life. The spirit it leads us to peace. And the spirit speaks. He is not one who does not have a voice. We've got a lot of his words right here. We don't have to go searching for them, divining for them, wondering how to find him, wondering how to hear him. We just pick it up and read, as simple as that. He gives himself so abundantly in...

...this way. And on top of all of that, he'll not only speaks in the word of the Scriptures, but he also speaks to directly to our souls, to our consciences. Romans eight again, verse fourteen through seventeen. For those who are led by the spirit of God are sons of God. For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, the fear of idolatry, but you have received the spirit of adoption, as sons by whom we cry Abba Father. The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs, heirs of God and fellow airs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we also be glorified with him. So this is wonderful. Right. The spirit leads us not only to life and peace, but he's but it's not in just this sort of distant, abstract like he's just pointing the way somewhere over there. He works in our hearts to open our ears and our hearts so that we can believe the things that he says. And then he talks to us and says, you belong to me, you are a child of God, and he speaks to us in such a way that, instead of us becoming on death and mute and unable to do all these things like the idols, he opens our mouths so that we can say things like Ahba, father, so that we can pray to our father who is in heaven. How would be your name, so that we can praise God with our lives, so that we can love him with our hearts. And he points us not only to this present relationship we have, but a future in which we will be glorified with God, having obtained everything that we could possibly ever need. It's amazing. Included among those gifts, Paul talks to us in Romans Eight, to the things that the spirit leads us, and he says this Romans Eleven. If the spirit of him who raise Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Jesus Christ from the dead, will also give life to your mortal bodies through his spirit, who dwells in you, the spirit of God is going to as erect your body from the dead. Try that, idols, they can't do anything. He can create everything and even recreate or or re or, sorry, resurrect is the right word there. Resurrect life even out of death. It's astounding. So Paul says to the Corinthians and to us, by the way, remember you are pagans...

...and don't think that way anymore. Remember the difference between the foolish ways in which you were led and the Holy Spirit who leads you to these things and more, that he's going to talk to us about in these upcoming chapters. The spirit is leading us to life. The spirit is leading us to peace, to resurrection, to inheritance, to relationship with God and abiding with him, all these things and more. So that's the first contrast. The second will be shorter, since we've already talked about idols and I don't want to talk about them too much anymore. The second is the way. So the first is the way the spirit leads us. The second is the difference. Is the way the spirit speaks. We've already seen how the idols speak. They don't and the demons that use them their liars and they want to hurt us. How does the spirit speak? As we have seen, he speaks to US and says we are children of God. First John, five, sex, five six, says, and the spirit is the one who testifies. Right, a speaker. The spirit is the one who testifies, because the spirit is truth. He's not a liar. He speaks with truth. He is truth. And what does he speak to us? What is the truth? That the spirit of God who is in us. What does he tell us? What is he telling you even this morning? He tells us about Jesus. He tells us about the one who has come, the one who dies, about the beloved son in whose kingdom we now belong. He tells us about our safety, our inheritance, our protection. He tells about the love of God. He tells us and disciplines us, even in warnings and caught and and U steers us away from dangerous paths. The Primary One and the thing that he testifies to is Jesus himself, and whom all, who is the way and of the truth and the life? John Fifteen, twenty six. Jesus says this, speaking of the spirit, when the helper comes, whom I will send to you from the father, the spirit of truth, who profeet, proceeds from the father. He will bear witness about me, and that's what he does. We've so much evidence of this, not only in our hard hearts but in the scriptures. We Have Gospel After Gospel, for Gospels and sermons and songs and letters and and revelations of images of the work of God, of the truth of Christ, of the spirit himself. He reveals Christ to us. He reveals not just the Great Creator...

...but our Savior and our redeemer. This is what they speak to us, and that leads us finally to this last thing. The the effect that these two have, the effect that the spirit has, is very different than the effect that the idols have. We've already considered this in part right. The idols lead us into danger and to death and to foolishness, but the spirit of God, what does he lead us into. As we look at verse three, What Does Paul saying? He says I want you to understand that no one, speaking of the spear in the spirit of God ever says Jesus is a cursed no one says that. And no one can say Jesus is Lord, except in the Holy Spirit. So he enables he, this is to say gee, the Holy Spirit, speaks in a certain way and those who he feels he enables them to speak in a certain way and restrains them from speaking in other ways. Now we have to look at a little bit of an Interpretive Interpretive Question. In verse three, this this phrase, Jesus is a cursed so the way it reads in the original is a word you might be familiar with, anathema, right, a curse rights. It's a noun and it would you could translate it three different ways. One Way, well, what it says is anathema, yeaesus right, so curse Jesus. There's no verb. So one way to translate it is, just like I said, curse Jesus. Right. So no one ever says curse Jesus. Now what does that mean? Because it's not being used as a verb. They're right, it's not saying I curse Jesus, so hard to say what that might mean. Another possibility is it is saying that there is a verb that is implied in this happens. Sometimes the verb is and so it could mean something like Jesus is a curse. Right. This is another way to translate this. So it's of course Jesus with Jesus is a curse. Or is the SV does here? Jesus is a cursed the third possibility is something like Jesus grants a curse or gives a curse. So let me give you an example, an English to make this clear. At the on this last possibility. When we sign our letters, right, I might say something like you know, dear so and so, the body of the letter, and then end the letter of saying blessings. Or let me change that. I'll say greetings Christopher, warm regards Christopher. Right, no verb, just a...

...comma. Warm regards a noun. My Name Christopher warm regards fisser. Well, what am I saying when I say that? I'm saying I give to you, I grant to you, I wish for you, I offer you my warm regards. Right, you see how that works in English and it can function the same way in Greek. So the ideas that curse Jesus gives to you Jesus Grant. So instead of saying that Jesus is himself a curse or Jesus is a cursed it's saying so. It's essentially using Jesus as a way to curse people. Right. So sometimes we end our letters and we say blessings in Christ, right, this is the opposite of that. cursings in Christ or curse you in Jesus name. That's likely, in my opinion. What's not my own opinion, but what's going on here? And scholars have looked as this. They have found there was a common practice of people using the name of other gods to write curses right against people. And so you would write an Athema and then the name of the God or something like that, perhaps even using other things as well, and they'd write these on pieces of lead and other things. Sometimes they'd stick a nail through it and then they put it into a temple or a well or something like that. We have over a thousand examples of these, and some of them from Corinth itself, from the temples of demeter and Prosophony, and in three of those examples, in these curse led pieces that have been found, they're exactly like this. They have no verb right. It's very clearly this curse thing that's going on, but it just has the name of the God. Well, sadly, we also have examples of Christians taking up this practice, examples both in Egypt and in Corinth. Curses on family members, curses on opponents in court, curses on people who might disturb a grave accurse, curses on those who curses on various people who you'd perceive as your enemy, and various invocations and names would be used, biblical covenant, Scripture References and the name of Jesus. So we have examples of this, and this seems to be what is going on here in corn, that they are taking yet again a practice that is common in their culture and putting kind of a Christian garb on it, using the strength and the power of god, whom they now belong to, to curse people. And what Paul says is no one speaking in the spirit of God, curses other people in Jesus's name. It's not what happens,...

...it's not what Christians do. That's not how the spirit of God speaks. That's how idols work. You see it all the time. It's all around you. Maybe somebody did it to you, maybe you used to do that to other people, but we, as people who are filled with the Holy Spirit, don't do this with our Lord. Instead, what we do is we proclaim Jesus is Lord, or Lord Jesus, and when we proclaim that, we do it only because of the power of the Holy Spirit. All this to say that when we look at the contrast between idols and the Holy Spirit, there is this great difference. The Holy Spirit. What does he do? He leads us to Christ, he speaks of Christ, and then he produces us in a response that says Jesus is Lord, not the idols, and he produces us in a response, as will see in the coming chapters, that is about building people up in the name of Jesus and love. The spirit of God pours out gifts on his church. For what purpose is the Almighty creator of the universe giving himself to us so that we can take that power and destroy our enemies? Or does he give us the gifts of the spirit of God so that we can love our enemies, so that we can love God so that we can love others. That's exactly what he does. We are going to have in chapter thirteen, this famous passage on love itself. Love is patient, love is kind, and so on, a beautiful, beautiful passage that speaks to the purposes of the spirit, the effect that he has on us and our lives and our community. We're going to think about the gifts that he gives and how we use those within the context of the church, how we use them for building up, how he takes like a body and makes us all different parts of it and causes us to work together, and these beautiful, beautiful ways with Jesus Christ as our head. Well, this, these lessons and these contrasts between the idols and the Holy Spirit. We think about the ways that they lead, the differences between thee ways that they speak and the ways in which they the effects that they have. Idols tearing US down, destroying US, separating us, leading us to death, and the spirit of God building us up, creating a communion, in a community of love. What can we say except blessed be the Lord God Almighty, the Creator of Heaven and earth, Father, son and Holy Spirit. What can we say except Yes, Lord and thank you, Lord, and Jesus is Lord. And when we hear these words...

...coming out of our mouths, when we feel them in our hearts, as we recognize God as our father, we ought to give God thanks and praise that we don't any more fall as follow after the foolish idols that lead us into such dark places and let us into dark places. But we belong to and we follow the eternal God who loves us and is bringing them out about in us a love for him and for others. So let's not go back, let's move forward in him and give him all praise and glory and trust him with everything that we have. Let's pray.

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