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Strong in Truth and Love

1 Corinthians 16:13-14
Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be courageous; be strong. Do everything in love. (NIVUK)

Paul sent five simple instructions to this dysfunctional, but Jesus-loved church in Corinth. They are all linked to the precarious state of the church: divided, morally compromised and uncertain about doctrine. Firstly, 'Be on your guard'. The church is always under attack, either from outside through persecution or from inside by false teaching or division. The wise believer, like the wise parent, will be aware of spiritual danger and will want to protect the Body of Christ. In another sense, the church must be on guard as watchmen to proclaim the truth and warn of the danger of ignoring Jesus (Ezekiel 33:1-6).
Secondly, 'Stand firm in the faith'. They may not have realised but they were all caught up in spiritual warfare, attacked by unseen evil beings under Satan's control. Paul knew the importance of standing firm on the truth and not moving from it (Ephesians 6:13-14). Indeed unless we have confidence that the Lord is in charge we will not be able to stand still. Thirdly, 'Be courageous'! It takes confidence in the Lord and the strength given to us by the Holy Spirit to face the enemy, knowing that he is restrained; Satan cannot do anything without the Lord's permission and then it is all for our good and His glory. Fourthly, ‘Be strong'. Although we are weak in ourselves, we are strong but only in the Lord's strength.
All those qualities come from trusting what the apostles have said about Jesus the Saviour. And so does the fifth, 'Do everything in love'. This was not a strength of the church in Corinth. They did not easily sacrifice their own interests for the welfare of others (an important definition of 'love'). Because they had drifted from the apostles' teaching on the death and resurrection of the Lord Jesus, every other doctrine has lost the essential 'Jesus perspective'. They had forgotten just how much He loved them. Without the security of His love they could not love others.
These five instructions apply to us today. They are the qualities that make a believer Christ-like. They come as a result of believing what the apostles said about Jesus Christ, His death and resurrection, and motivate God's people to worship and witness in a wicked world. Without a clear understanding of the implications of His sacrifice and rising again, we can have no hope in the face of evil or strength in the face of overwhelming opposition; nor can we proclaim that Jesus Christ is Lord to a generation which has rejected Him. Is that why the church is weak? Is that why your witness is dull?

Father God. Thank You for the apostles who You instructed to define what the church must believe in order to have practical confidence in the Lord Jesus. Forgive me for trying, but failing, to live for You in my own strength because I have forgotten just how much Jesus loved me when He died for me, and that I am totally justified through His resurrection. Help me to be on my guard against evil, to stand firm in the face of the enemy because Jesus is with me, to be courageous and strong, ready to pour out my life for the blessing of others. In Jesus' Name. Amen.
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© Dr Paul Adams