Soteriology 0251 Corinthians 3:1-3 • Dr. Andy Woods • July 24, 2016 • Soteriology - The Doctrine of Salvation
Soteriology 25, 1 Cor. 3:1-3
July 24, 2016
Let’s open with a word of prayer. Father, we’re thankful for this morning and the opportunity that we have to gather and to learn from You and the truth in Your Word, and I pray that You will be with our Sunday School class today as we work through a difficult issue, the doctrine of eternal security. Help us to come to a right conclusion as individuals on what Your Word presents on this and we’ll be careful to give you all the praise and the glory. We ask these things in Jesus name, and God’s people said Amen.
Well, here we are again, Lesson 25 in Soteriology. I can’t remember what lesson we are in with eternal security. But we started the summer months talking about the doctrine of eternal security. As you guys know we are taping these for the benefit of our missionaries; we do have some missionaries today with us, Phil and Arlene Blycher, did I pronounce that right. And they do have a table out there in the foyer so if you want to go by and take a look at their materials.
And I’m going to talk till about 10:35 and then if you have a question during the Sunday School class just write it down and we’re going to open it up for questions at 10:35 and by then the second shift will have arrived so remind me to re-announce your table.
Here we are in our doctrine of salvation; we’ve been focused on eternal security. Eternal security is the idea that if a person has placed their faith in Christ then they are kept by God’s grace forever. And this is a very controversial issue so the way we’re structuring this teaching is we’re looking at eternal security arguments which I think we’re going to finish today, God willing. Of course how many times have I said that and we didn’t finish. And then next week, if all things being equal we are going to start looking at problem passages. So I’m really trying to not teach you what to think as much as I’m trying to teach you how to think. How do you, as an eternal security believer, how do you interact with other passages that seem to disagree with eternal security. And there are quite a few that you look at them at first glance and it’s like ooooh, that one denies eternal security. But we know the Bible can’t contradict itself; right? So I’m going to show you how all of those so called problem passages, and it’s going to take a while to get through them, rightly interpreted, harmonize with the very clear passages that teach eternal security.
By way of review, here is why you cannot lose your salvation, what we’ve covered so far. I’m going to go through these fast, if you want to go back and study these we’ve got in depth archiving on it on our website. Because self-righteousness did not save us in the first place it’s not a condition by which salvation can be lost.
Number 2, salvation is not given by good works, so why would we think we have to maintain it by good works. Number 3, if a believer can lose salvation then how can eternal life be eternal? That doesn’t make sense, does it? Number 4, the Bible promises guaranteed security, John 10:28 being probably the strongest passage. [John 10:28, “and I give eternal life to them, and they will never perish; and no one will snatch them out of My hand.”] Number 5, the Bible promises the assurance of salvation, not just that you’re saved forever but you can know it. So if you could lose your salvation then there is no such thing as the assurance of salvation.
Number 6, the believer is already predestined for glory; our glorification is placed in the past tense, as we’ve seen in Romans 8:30, so if that’s true what can I do to derail it. [Romans 8:30, “and these whom He predestined, He also called; and these whom He called, He also justified; and these whom He justified, He also glorified.”] Number 7, the Spirit’s seal on us (do you all know you’re sealed by the Holy Spirit) cannot be broken. Number 8, God keeps us from falling. Number 9, Christ is currently interceding for us and advocating for us.
Number 10, Christ’s death perfectly dealt with all sins, past, present and future. So there is no sin in your future that you can commit which would cause God to rip the carpet out from under you. Number 11, a believer cannot be removed from Christ’s body. Number 12, the Bible never tells you which sin removes salvation; I mean, if it’s gambling the Bible would say stay away from that one, wouldn’t it? But there is no New Testament warning saying stay away from this sin because this one will cause you to lose your salvation.
And then number 13, which is what we started last time, and this is the question people always ask, well, if you can’t lose your salvation then I’m just going to go out and live like the devil. Well, I wouldn’t recommend that because you lose a lot of things when you do that as a Christian. And the Scripture has multiple warnings of losses that we experience when we, as God’s people, return to sin. But in the long list of warnings never once does it say you’re going to go to hell. So believers with unfruitful lives, and there are many of them like that, still have salvation but they lose certain things, like rewards at the Bema Seat Judgment.
So what I have done, as we focus on number 13, is I’ve put together a list of things that we lose as Christians when we go back into sin. And what you’ll discover on this list is losing your salvation is not on this list because it’s not in the Bible. So we’ve gone through four of these and all I want to do today is complete the list, if we can do that. What do you lose as a Christian if you go back to sin? You lose power; you don’t lose the Holy Spirit but you lose His power and enablement. We grieve the Spirit. We lose joy. We lose our spiritual sight. We went through several passages last time that indicate that.
So let’s pick it up there with the fifth one; a fifth problem with returning to sin is all of the time that we could have spent growing in the Lord and maturing, our growth during that whole period is short-circuited. So take a look at 1 Peter 2:1-2. With each of these I have biblical verses just to show you I’m not up here making things up. But you know, I went through high school and there was a number of kids that were really hooked on alcohol and drugs during the high school years and beyond. I was fortunate, that was one sin I never got involved in but it’s sort of interesting to talk to these people today because all that time that they were inebriated, strung out, is time they could have spent maturing and growing. And what you discover with people like that is there’s a knowledge gap, a maturity gap, because it’s like taking a chunk of the years of their life when they could have been maturing, which is what you have to do as a young person, and they weren’t because they were kind of out of it from the world. And the people that weren’t strung out on drugs and alcohol have this years and years of a growth exponential compared to people that were strung out on drugs.
And you see, that’s how I’d like for you to look at returning to sin. When you return to sin as a Christian and you start to live in it you short circuit not your salvation but the growth that you could have had for all those years. And notice 1 Peter 2:1-2, actually let’s start with verse 2, it says, “like newborn babies, long for the pure milk of the word, so that by it you may grow in respect to salvation.” Now salvation there is not justification but it’s what? Sanctification, this is the middle tense of salvation as we talked about. So we’re called as Christians to grow in our progressive sanctification, the middle tense of salvation and that’s why God puts an appetite in our hearts for His Word. And he uses the example here of a newborn child who wakes up in the middle of the night screaming like my daughter did. It’s amazing how such small little babies have such loud lungs; she’s screaming in the middle of the night and she’s not interested in a theological conversation, she wants to be fed because her growth depends on being fed with her mother’s milk. And so in the same way God puts in the heart of the believer a desire for His Word because if we don’t have it we can’t grow.
Now there are things that are destructive to the appetite of the Word of God. What are those? They’re in the first verse; the two verses are connected. So he says, “Therefore, putting aside all” the appetite suppressants, what’s that? “malice and all deceit and hypocrisy and envy and all slander,” that’s quite a list there. Those are sins that we go back to as Christians, that’s what it’s talking about. And when we go back to sins as Christians it damages the hunger, verse 2, that God wants us to have for His Word. [1 Peter 2:2, “like newborn babies, long for the pure milk of the word, so that by it you may grow in respect to salvation.”] And when I don’t have that hunger for His Word and I’m not in His Word I can’t, as it says in verse 2, “grow thereby unto salvation,” the middle tense of my salvation which is progressive sanctification.
So unconfessed sin or perpetual sin in the life of the believer functions like an appetite suppressant. It’s like my wife, she prepares this very nutritious meal at home and when I’m driving home from work I stop and go to McDonalds, and I have the Big Mac meal with the fries and the Coke and of course I want to supersize the Coke and the fries and then I want one of those Sundaes with the nuts on it and the chocolate sauce. So I’m inhaling all this stuff and then I get home for the meal, which my wife has worked dutifully to prepare a nutritious meal and I have no appetite for it because my stomach is filled with the wrong stuff. So when we go back to sin that’s exactly what it does; it’s going to damage or hamper the appetite for God’s Word. And if we don’t have that we can’t “grow thereby unto salvation.” So every minute in sin for the Christian is a moment they could have spent growing. See how we’re warned there not to go back to sin. Now you notice that Peter never said you’re going to hell if you go back to sin; he described the temporal consequences.
Something else that happens and let’s go to 1 Corinthians 3:1-3 is we move into carnality. One of the doctrines that is dying (to a certain extent in the local church) is the doctrine of the carnal Christian. And the reason it’s dying is because of the influence of Reformed Theology, particularly a very strong version of Calvinism which says if you are really one of the elect then you have to be growing, you have to be producing fruit, and if you’re in a state of stagnation and you’re not producing fruit then you’re not saved. So in the Calvinist system (to a large extent) you have two kinds of people, saved and unsaved. You don’t have saved people that are struggling in carnality; that’s not part of their theology. And so that’s a matter of taking pre-existing theology and superimposing it on the Bible because when you actually study the Bible, although the Calvinist system would deny you can be a carnal Christian, they say if you’re carnal then you’re not a Christian. Paul, very clearly develops the doctrine of the carnal Christian in 1 Corinthians 3:1-3. It’s crystal clear when you look at it. So you have to make a decision, am I going to adhere to a Calvinistic system or am I going to be a Bible centered Christian.
So the name of our church is Sugar Land what? Bible Church, so Bible is our middle name; we build our theology from the Bible, we don’t bring our theology to the Bible. And that upsets a lot of people because they come into our church from different churches and they have a preexisting viewpoint on something and they want it reinforced. And I’ve upset some people here because I won’t reinforce any preexisting theological grid. What I’m interested in doing is teaching the Bible and letting the Bible inform my theological grid. Are you guys with me on that?
You have to understand that because it seems like a strange ministry philosophy but I think what I’m doing is normal, right? But people aren’t that way; they have a preexisting idea of how they think everything should work and they go through the Bible and try to make the Bible fit their system. God doesn’t really care about our system. God is like a wrecking ball; He is coming into your house, He is not trying to put new carpet on the floor, He’s not trying to put some new drapes on the walls, He’s not trying to give you a coat of fresh paint on something, God is going to destroy your whole house if you let Him, but He’ll rebuild it if you let Him, in His Word. So when you go to 1 Corinthians 3:1-3 it very clearly talks about carnal Christianity.
Paul says, “And I brethren,” now when he says “brethren” is he speaking to believers or unbelievers? Believers, very clearly. “I, brethren, could not speak to you as to spiritual people, but as carnal, as babes in” what does it say? “Christ.” You mean to tell me you can be a babe in Christ? Yes you can.  “I fed you with milk and not solid food; fur until now you were not able to receive it, and even now you’re still not able,  for you are still carnal. For where there are envy and strife and divisions among you, are you not carnal, and behaving like mere men?” Now how do you recognize carnal Christianity? People start to develop idols within the church, in this case the Corinthians, who are believers, were dividing over the oratorical style of their favorite teacher. One says I am of Paul, another says of Apollos; I’m of Swindoll, I’m of MacArthur, I’m of Piper, I’m of Tony Evans.
See, we’re just like this, aren’t we? We can get like this very quickly where the authority becomes the oratorical style of a teacher rather than the Scripture. That’s why Paul makes a point when he’s writing to the Corinthians and he says I didn’t even come to you with a bunch of oratorical pizzazz like the Greek philosophers did. So Greek philosophy, the way they idolize teachers… you know Greek philosophers and speakers, they would go down to the river and they would take rocks and they would put them in their mouth because they figured that if they could give a good oratory with a few rocks in their mouth just think how good you’re going to be when the rocks are out of your mouth. So everything in Greek philosophy revolved around these oratorical styles that people had. And Corinth was in Greece, was it not, so that mentality slipped into the church; the church started to sound a lot like the world; the philosophy of the world overtook the church and so the Corinthian church was now dividing over its favorite speakers. Apollos was a favorite because he had what we call the gift of gab, which are the three things you need for success in the ministry today, right? The three G’s, Good looks, a Guitar and the Gift of Gab. If you’ve got those going for you you’re going to do well. And Apollos apparently had the three, I don’t know if they had a guitar back then.
So what I want you to see is Paul does not look at the Corinthians church and the world as saved and unsaved, the way Reformed theology looks at it. Paul is far more sophisticated than that. He sees unbelievers, those are what you call the natural man, the man that has not been born of the Spirit, and then within the ranks of the believers you’ll see he mentions three types of people: number 1, the carnal Christian, he says it right there in verse 1. Number 2, the infant, or what he calls the babe in Christ, also verse 1. And then number 3 what he calls the spiritual man, also verse 1. See, there’s different words for each one here. That’s the person that is a blessing in the church because they are no longer catering to the sin nature, they’re growing in the middle tense of their salvation.
And Paul says within Corinth you’ve got all three kinds of people. Now in Corinth they were all believers but Paul divides up believers: spiritual, infant and carnal. Infant I would say would be a new Christian, they do things that are age appropriate, so they suck their thumb at the age of one or two because that’s what infants do, right? The carnal Christian is the Christian that is sixteen years old and still sucking their thumb, see it loses its cuteness, doesn’t it, because it’s no longer age appropriate, you have a developmental problem. And let me focus just a minute on the carnal Christians. I have a list of seven truths about the carnal Christian; I got this from Dennis Rokser’s book which is very good, called Shall Never Perish, and he’s got seven truths about carnal Christianity.
Number 1, carnal Christianity hinders one’s growth but never his position in Christ. And he’s getting that from verse 1 where these people are identified as babes in Christ. So if you’re carnal your growth is inhibited but because of the promises of Jesus Christ regarding grace and eternal security your position is not hindered.
Number 2, carnal Christianity affects one’s desire, this is exactly right out of 1 Peter 2, what we studied earlier, carnal Christianity affects one’s desire and ability to take in and digest God’s Word. And you see that in verse 2 where he says, “I fed you with milk, not with solid food, for until now you were not able to receive it, and even now you’re still not able.” So when we brought Sarah home from the hospital (she’s 10 now) we didn’t cook her a steak dinner on her first night home because she doesn’t have teeth, she doesn’t have the digestive ability to absorb a meal of that level. But as she grows she begins to have teeth, she can chew, she can cut up her food and digest it and so a steak is appropriate at a certain age of maturity.
And you see, there are people, and this is how you recognize carnal Christianity, they can only handle a message that’s very, very light. They cannot handle in depth Bible study. They’ve been hearing basically the same sermons for the last twenty years, a lot of people. You know, three points and a poem. And if a pastor commits the unpardonable sin and preaches beyond the 12:00 o’clock hour, I mean… look at what we do here, we go till 12:30, they start to get really irritable and antsy and they’re looking at their watch and they can’t concentrate or focus on anything beyond a very simple message. And this is how you recognize carnal Christianity, Paul says I fed you with milk and not with solid food, they cannot handle the deeper things of God.
There’s a parallel passage (I don’t want you to leave 1 Corinthians 3 but you might put your finger in 1 Corinthians 3 and just take a quick look at Hebrews 5:11-14.) You know what I mean by a parallel passage? Same idea, different author, different book. So the author of Hebrews says: “Concerning him we have much to say, and it is hard to explain, since you have become dull of hearing.  For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you have need again for someone to teach you the elementary principles of the oracles of God, and you have come to need milk and not solid food.  For everyone who partakes only of milk is not accustomed to the word of righteousness, for he is an infant.  But solid food is for the mature, who because of practice have their senses trained to discern good and evil.”
Now when the author of Hebrews says this is he writing to believers or unbelievers? Well, clearly believers because he says in verse 12, “by this time some of you ought to be teachers.” I mean, would you ever want an unbeliever to teach a believer? That makes no sense. And yet when you go through Reformed Commentaries on Hebrews, like John MacArthur’s commentary on Hebrews, not that I disagree with everything John MacArthur says but I’m just using him as an example here he converts this whole passage to unbelievers. Why is he doing that? Because his Calvinistic lens is so strong that if you are really the elect you must persevere through good works that every time he sees any reference to carnal Christianity he psychologically or mentally makes an adjustment; he just waves a wand and converts the passage to unbelievers. And that’s what I would call a theological reading of the Bible, not an exegetical expositional reading of the Bible.
The issue is, is he addressing believers or unbelievers here? Clearly believers, now let’s build our theology from what the text says rather than trying to rewrite passages that contradict our pre-existing grid. So I just wanted to share that passage with you because it is a parallel passage and you’ll see the same idea that these people in Hebrews 5 could not really handle solid food but thrived on milk. Actually the whole context of Hebrews 5 is he was trying to teach them about the Melchizedekian priesthood, that Christ in His present position in heaven is a priest, not after the order of Aaron but the order of Melchizedek. Now Melchizedek is only mentioned… he’s going to use Melchizedek as his typology, but Melchizedek is only mentioned one time, a couple times really, Genesis 14 and Psalm 110, so he’s going to have to give them an in depth teaching on this. He’s going to build a whole doctrine, Paul is; the priesthood of Christ from this obscure character named Melchizedek.
Now to be able to do that you have to have an audience that’s mature, right? You can’t have a carnal audience and try to teach something at that level. So that’s why he gives a warning in Hebrews about carnal Christianity before he gives this more in depth teaching on Melchizedek. So he wants to say something more to them than God loves you and has a wonderful plan for your life, in other words. He wants to give them something deeper and he knows that a carnal audience won’t absorb it so that’s why in context you have this warning against carnal Christianity. So carnal Christianity affects one’s desire to take in and digest God’s word.
Number three, carnality may be due to weakness, you know when you’re young and dumb, right, you wander off into strange things. Someone said the problem with youth is it’s wasted on the young. The time in your life when you had all of your energy you’re doing stupid things, getting drunk with your friends or whatever, and you don’t really wise up till you get older. So young people do dumb things, which is called weakness, they just haven’t had enough life experience.
Or sometimes we go back into carnal Christianity because of willfulness. So it could be due to weakness or willfulness. Now why would I go back into carnality willfully? Because, and you heard it here first, ready… sin is fun! I will not lie to you about that; there is always a window of pleasure associated with sin. If that wasn’t there we wouldn’t do it, right? What we’re never told though, on the front end, is the long term consequences of sin. So promiscuity is a lot of fun, the problem is the window of pleasure is long over and they venereal disease and the unwanted pregnancy and all of the other problems associated with that particular sin, those continue on. But there is a window of pleasure associated with sin. So many times people go back into carnal Christianity, not just because they’re weak but because it’s a willful decision on their part.
Number four, and this is the one that really would upset the Reformed people. Carnality is not automatically connected with time, because the assumption is oh, you’ve been in the Lord twenty years, you’re supposed to be at a level of maturity but you’ll notice carefully what Paul says here in verse 3, “For you are” what? “still carnal.” So they had been… you’re not dealing entirely with new Christians here, you’re dealing with people that should have grown up an awful long time ago, and they had been in the Lord chronologically for some time and yet they had not come out of carnal Christianity. In the parallel passage I shared with you earlier in Hebrews 5 it says, “For though by this time you ought to be teachers,” so they had been in the Lord for an extended period of time yet they had not reached a level of maturity where they could take on their normal responsibilities.
It’s like dealing with kids; as children grow up they get more responsibilities, they get more chores around the house. You get a kid in the house that’s 18 years old, 19 years old and has no chores, no responsibilities, that’s not age appropriate. They should have taken on basic responsibilities and household a long time ago, and that’s how it is in the church; there are a lot of people that should have graduated, they should be taking on ministries in the church service, in the church a long time ago, yet they haven’t because of this perpetual return to carnal Christianity.
Number 5, carnality is evidenced by works of the flesh in your life. What are the works of the flesh? The works of the flesh are the emanations of the sin nature and there’s a pretty good description of them over in Galatians 5:19-21, which I’ll read to you very fast. It says in Galatians 5:19-21, “Now the deeds of the flesh” the Greek word for flesh is sarx or sin nature, “Now the deeds of the flesh are evident, which are: immorality, impurity, sensuality,  idolatry, sorcery,” look at these next ones, “enmities,” quarreling and fighting amongst Christians over non-issues, “strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, disputes, dissensions, factions,” that describes some of our congregational meetings, some of these things, does it not? Good grief, this is just too convicting. [21, “envying, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these, of which I forewarn you, just as I have forewarned you, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.”]
But this is the whole problem with the Corinthians because if you go back to 1 Corinthians 3:3, “you are still carnal,” why are they carnal? Because the works of the flesh are evident in their lives, the ones that I emphasized, the enmities, the factions, the outbursts of anger, disputes, the jealousy, because he says in 1 Corinthians 3:3, “for you are still carnal. For there is envy,” does that sound familiar, that’s what he just said in Galatians; “strife,” divisions “among you, are you not carnal … are you not behaving like mere men?” So he says I know you’re carnal because you’re dividing over something as silly as the favorite oratorical style of your teacher. And if your needs aren’t met then you follow some other guy who is going to down the street and start his own church.
And what you have to understand about church splits, when you study church splits, you know we always think ooooh, church split, man, they must have split over some big issue, like the virgin birth or the deity of Christ or the Trinity or some big issue. And sometimes a split does occur over a big issue but that’s not the norm; the majority of church splits and conflicts in the body of Christ have to do with someone not getting their way on something. So Sister So and So got more time on the piano than I did. You know, I don’t like the color of the carpet. I wanted this program and the elders wouldn’t go along with it, I’m mad. And it’s really… it’s an emanation of the sin nature clothed with spiritual language.
And that’s what’s going on here in Corinth. It was clothed in spiritual language, oh, I’m following my favorite teacher, and Paul says that’s not the problem; the root problem is carnality, you’ve gone right back to the sin nature and consequently the works of the flesh are evident. So that’s how you recognize carnality, people losing their cool over the slightest provocation, impatience, a perpetual demand to be in charge, a perpetual demand to be in the limelight, that’s just an emanation of the disgusting sin nature that we left and shouldn’t go back to.
Number 6, carnality is often characterized by self-deception. So you see how they masqueraded their issue regarding their disputes? They’re following their favorite teacher; maybe some of them actually thought that way mentally, but Paul says you’re deceived because that’s not the problem. The problem is the sin nature. So we’re so blind to our sin nature that when it rears its ugly head we like to throw kind of spiritual language on it to kind of baptize it a little bit and we deceive ourselves, many times, and I know I’ve done this, believe me when I’ve got one finger out at you guys I’ve got three coming back at me here. Many times I’ve wanted to fight some great battle, you know, for God or whatever. But the fact of the matter is I was mad about somebody that offended me so I’m going to get back at ‘em. Well, that’s my sin nature under self-deception; that’s what that is. That’s me giving reign to my sin nature and throwing a little bit of Christianity on it to deceive myself into thinking that really I’m not such a bad guy. So number 6, carnality is often characterized by self-deception.
Number 7, carnality in the believer’s life causes him to walk like an unbeliever. Going back to 1 Corinthians 3:3, look at that last phrase there, “…are you not carnal and behaving like mere men?” When he says “mere men” who is he referring to? Remember our chart? He’s referring to unbelievers. What he’s saying is you “in Christ” are acting like the natural man. You, as a Christian, are behaving just like an unbeliever. And let me tell you something about an out of fellowship Christian. An out of fellowship Christian or a carnal Christian can out sin even an unbeliever. I know that “in Christ” when I go back to my sin nature I have the ability to sin and even exceed some of the sins that I committed before I was even “in Christ.” I know that when I go back to my sin nature I have the ability to look just like an unbeliever.
Now this is a revolting thought to the strong Calvinism that we get indoctrinated with many times because they say if you really are “in Christ” there has to be fruit, and there’d better be fruit in massive supply. And if you don’t have fruit in massive supply you’re not a Christian at all. And what Paul here is saying is you can be “in Christ” for sure but you can also have a lifestyle that looks an awful lot like an unbeliever. And in fact, if I were to look at such a person’s life and compare it to the unsaved world I would see no difference. That’s not my theology folks; this is what Paul is saying in 1 Corinthians 3.
If you don’t believe me take the example of Lot, and here’s a good sermon title; you ready? Are you a lot like Lot? You look at the story of Lot in Genesis 13 when he pitches his tent towards Sodom, he just started to think about what life would be like in the wicked city of Sodom and Gomorrah; see, it starts in the mind, doesn’t it? When you order your meal and then they come around and they say would you like to order dessert, and you say no thank you, there’s a reason they say would you to look at the dessert tray? Okay, what harm can it do, I’ll look at the dessert tray and thinking about it, you know what the next step is, the next step is you’re ordering dessert and you’re way over your caloric limit for that month or year or day or however you do it.
But you see, looking at something is just the next step to doing it. And that’s why there’s so much in the Bible about the mind and discipling the mind and allowing our minds to be transformed and putting on the helmet of salvation. Philippians 4, whatever is excellent and so forth, contemplate on these things. [Philippians 4:8, “Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things.”]
So Lot was just sort of thinking about Sodom, You get into Genesis 19 he’s actually living in Sodom. Not only is he living in Sodom but he is actually sitting at the city gate in this wicked city of Sodom and Gomorrah, indicating that he had risen to some level of prominence within the city. And then he’s doing bizarre things, like offering his daughters, his virgin daughters, to a Sodomite crowd. And then how does the whole story of Lot end? It ends with him in a drunken state and you can read all about it, I’m not making it up, Genesis 19:30-38, he’s in a drunken state and he’s having incest with his two daughters. From that unholy union came the Moabites and the Ammonites who became perennial enemies of Israel.
Now let me tell you something about Lot. Lot was saved. How do I know that? I know that for two reasons; the primary reason I know it is because in 2 Peter 2:7-8, we won’t turn there just jot it down and you’ll see it for yourself, Lot three times is called a righteous man. [2 Peter 2:7-8, “and if He rescued righteous Lot, oppressed by the sensual conduct of unprincipled men  (for by what he saw and heard that righteous man, while living among them, felt his righteous soul tormented day after day by their lawless deeds).”] In fact, if I didn’t have that reference to Lot as a righteous man in 2 Peter 2:7-8 and I only had the Old Testament record to go by I would never think Lot was even saved. I really wouldn’t. But I read this reference in 2 Peter and it says “a righteous man” and I’m like slapping my forehead, “righteous man,” what are you talking about Peter, have you not read the book of Genesis?
Well, the point is Lot was righteous positionally. He had come into the first tense of his salvation, which is justification by faith alone, but he was not righteous practically. 2 Peter 2 is just making a reference to his righteousness positionally, first tense of salvation but Genesis is commenting on his unrighteousness, practically. In other words, Lot really hadn’t graduated very, from what I can tell, in the area of progressive sanctification. His practice, which was very bad, had not caught up with his position.
And did Lot suffer because of that? Yes he did. His soul was vexed, 2 Peter 2:7-8 tells us. And in fact, here’s another reason you know Lot is a believer; when the angel came to destroy Sodom and Gomorrah in Genesis 19, I think it’s around verse 19, the angel says “I cannot,” not I will not, “I cannot destroy this wicked city until you’re out because you’re one of God’s people. And then all of a sudden Lot got spiritual; oh, the city is going to be destroyed so he starts to preach to his family and to my knowledge this is the only time jesting is used on the Bible. The book of Genesis, 19 says they thought he was jesting. The man had no credibility to preach because his lifestyle didn’t match his rhetoric. But because God was going to hold up everything until Lot was out that’s a second reason you know that he was saved.
So what I’m simply saying is you can have a person like Lot who looks completely like an unbeliever and behaves like an unbeliever that actually is a believer. And going back to 1 Corinthians 3 this is the very thing that Paul says. He says, in verse 3, are you not behaving like mere men. I don’t see any difference between you and the unsaved world. [2 Corinthians 3:3, “for you are still fleshly. For since there is jealousy and strife among you, are you not fleshly, and are you not walking like mere men?”]
In fact, let me say this: the Corinthians church “in Christ” was doing things worse than the unsaved world. Where are you getting that from? I’m getting it from 1 Corinthians 5, where Paul says a man has his father’s wife, incest. Paul, in 1 Corinthians 5 says the unsaved world doesn’t even act that way. The pagans don’t even act that way. And so this is sort of a development of verse 3 when he says “are you not behaving like mere men?” An out of fellowship Christian can look just like the unsaved world; in fact, sometimes our sins can exceed the unsaved world.
So a major problem with going back into sin is we begin to exist at a level of carnality which we’re warned about here and that’s why I wanted to give you those seven principles on the doctrine of the carnal Christian.
Now you notice what Paul never says in this warning? He never says you all aren’t saved. He never says you know, if you were saved you wouldn’t do that. Calvinism. He never says you’re going to lose your salvation. Arminianism. What he warns about is the category you’re in is not good, it doesn’t threaten your position but there’s a lot of temporal consequences associated with it.
You know, I’m fascinated by the book of 1 Corinthians; it just destroys so many theological systems out there because when you go to 1 Corinthians 1:2 he calls them saints. He says, “To the church of God which is at Corinth, to those who have been sanctified in Christ Jesus, saints by calling, with all who in every place call on the name of our” in other words, Paul’s identifying with their spiritual state, “our Lord Jesus Christ, their Lord and ours:”
When you go down to verse 7, in 1 Corinthians 1, he says, “so that you are not lacking in any spiritual gift,” the gifts of the Spirit were flowing, they were awaiting eagerly the return of Christ. And then the whole rest of the book, after declaring their position as saints he criticizes them for their unsaintly behavior, the whole rest of the book. How bad was it? Chapters 1-4 they’re dividing over their favorite teachers. Chapter 5, incest. Cheer up, it’s about to get worse. Chapter 6, lawsuits amongst Christians of such a level of bickering that they actually went to a pagan judge to get their issues resolved. And Paul says what do you think a pagan judge is going to think? Didn’t Jesus say all men will know you are My disciples by your ability to win arguments? No! by your love for each other. [John 13:35, “By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.”] What’s a pagan judge going to think when he sees two Christians quarreling like this?
Chapter 6 they’re sneaking out at night and visiting the temple prostitutes. Paul says you’re taking the Holy Spirit with you into that when you do that. Chapter 7 there is rampant divorce and remarriage. Chapter 8-10 the stronger brothers, the ones that should know better, have a lot of freedom in Christ, they theologically understand this, like there’s no big problem in the church age eating fruits sacrificed to idols, but they’re flaunting their freedoms in the presence of somebody who is offended by what they’re doing. So they have no concern for the weaker brother. So that’s chapters 8-10.
Chapter 11 they are drunk at the Lord’s table. Can you imagine coming to the Lord’s table in an inebriated state? That’s what’s happening in chapter 11. Chapters 12-14 they are taking people that speak in tongues and putting them on a pedestal, and Paul says you don’t even have anybody here to interpret the tongues, what are unsaved people going to think when they walk into your midst and some guy is just babbling in tongues? They’re going to think you’re insane, they’re going to think you’re out of your mind. That’s chapters 12-14. Watch this, chapter 15 they are denying resurrection. I mean, isn’t the whole Christian message the concept of resurrection? They’re denying the whole concept of resurrection so Paul spends a whole chapter, chapter 15, to straighten them out on that.
But what I want you to see is this: I went through that whole litany, you know what you don’t find in 1 Corinthians? You all lost your salvation; or maybe you guys were never saved. He never even brings that up. He simply warns them about losses that they’re going to experience of a temporal nature, that have nothing to do with salvation.
So if 1 Corinthians does not prove the doctrine of eternal security or the idea that you can never lose your salvation, I don’t know what book would. I mean, you can’t get a more reprobate church than this. How would you like to be the pastor of that church, by the way. Good grief! And he’s condemning their behavior all the way through and he calls them saints at the beginning and he never reverses that all the way through the book. And it’s frankly the same into 1 Corinthians. So all of this to say yielding to the old nature does not cause us to lose our salvation but it brings us back into carnality which is very destructive. So it’s yet another warning of something bad that can happen to us that has nothing to do with the loss of salvation.
So of course I was going to finish two charts today, right, I got really far, I got through two points. See, we’re supposed to be through the end of that today. But you got a nice excursus anyway. So I’m going to continue this next time, looking at these temporal consequences and the central point is believers with unfruitful lives still have salvation but lost temporal benefits and blessings. And that’s one of the great arguments, I believe, for eternal security. So I’ll go through more of these temporal consequences next time.
For the second shift that walked in I just want to remind you that Phil and Arlene Blycher are here and they’re going to be doing our missions moment and there’s a table they have in the foyer set up where you can investigate some of their materials. I know there’s got to be some questions today so I’ll stop talking and open it up for questions.