The Agora
Bible Articles and Lessons: C

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Corinth was a very wicked city. This is both specifically stated and implied in the Corinthian letters:

"I wrote to you in my letter not to associate with immoral men; not at all meaning the immoral of this world...since then you would need to go out of the world" (1Co 5:10).

This letter which Paul wrote to these converts needs rereading today. It sets out seven reasons why believers should shun, or flee from, immorality (1Co 6:18):

(1) The immoral will be excluded from the Kingdom of God: "Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither the immoral... nor adulterers will inherit the kingdom of God" (1Co 6:9,10; cp Gal 5:19-21).

(2) You were separated from immorality at baptism: "You have been washed... separated... and justified" (1Co 6:11).

(3) Your body belongs to the Lord: Therefore you are not free to do as you wish with your body: "The body is not for fornication, but for the Lord, and the Lord for the body" (1Co 6:13).

(4) The body will be the subject of a future resurrection: "God who raised Christ by His power will raise your body by the same power" (1Co 6:14).

(5) Your body is a member of Christ: "Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ?" (1Co 6:15).

Immoral unions violate the oneness with Christ. The believer is one spirit with his Savior. The "one spirit" is a oneness in thinking and attitude (Joh 17). You cannot be of "one spirit" with the Savior and of "one flesh" by union with an immoral person (1Co 6:16).

(6) Fornication is a sin against one's own body (1Co 6:18).

(7) You are not your own: "You have been purchased with a price; therefore glorify God in your body" (1Co 6:20).

Of course, the world around us thinks nothing of premarital relations. Indeed, how can it when it tolerates or encourages intercourse between those who have no intention to marry? But it should not be so among us. Intercourse is intended only for marriage and is an expression of heart and mind by one person for one person. Premarital relations destroy the proper joy of marriage. Indiscriminate intimacy, apart from being wholly unChristian and loose, makes nonsense of the sanctity of the marriage bond and encourages unfaithfulness after marriage. Right behavior begins in the mind. Christian behavior follows the precepts of Christ.

The Call of God

There is little harm in making friendships outside the Faith, if two things are thoroughly clear and firm in one's mind. First, that God has "called you out of darkness into his marvellous light". The spectrum of this light includes the knowledge of God and of Jesus, the awareness of His kindness and severity, and the revelation of His truth. God called us to this light and we obeyed His call. This is the important factor. Paul wrote that upon those who "do not obey the truth" would come "indignation and wrath".

This call of God must be kept firmly in mind, for upon faithfulness to it depends one's eternal future. Thus everything must yield to one's loyalty to God and to Jesus, even an affair of the heart -- that is if the Faith is a reality. Jesus was clear and uncompromising about this:
"He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me: and he that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me."

Obviously each will love his own close relatives -- and each will love his (or her) sweetheart -- but make sure that neither is elevated above Jesus. Otherwise why wait for his coming and for all the great things that are promised us?

The second fact that needs to be clear is that whoever has not obeyed the truth is still in darkness in God's sight. This is His judgment, not ours. So however charming, tender, kind and gentle a person may be, he (or she) is in darkness until the truth has been obeyed. God wants all these attributes in a person, but they must be the qualities of a person obedient to Him.

If one meets and is attracted to someone who is not of the Faith, what is one to do? First remember that mutual attraction is not only physical, it is also intellectual. There will be similar interests in books, art, music, games and hobbies. And in a world of hate and violence, racial discrimination and political struggles, when so many young people dread the future with its threat of nuclear warfare, one has a fine opportunity reasonably and tactfully to reveal one's supreme interest in and loyalty to a Father who, through Jesus, is to sweep these things away. Here is the place to start a relationship.

This introduction of one's spiritual interest in the Faith should be made at the start of a friendship, and its overwhelming importance for you should be emphasized. If your friend can be persuaded to join you at your meetings and to meet the brothers and sisters, so much the better.

The danger of friendships outside the Faith is that one's hope of the coming Kingdom may not be revealed until one is emotionally and deeply involved -- when, frightened by the thought of the possible consequences of marriage out of the Faith, one makes every effort to persuade the friend of the merits of the Truth. How can he (or she) be expected to understand at such a late date? The response is likely to be: "What is all the fuss about?" Or "Why wasn't I told before?" Thus one's last minute efforts may have an adverse effect on the friend, rather than otherwise, and one has done a disservice to God and His Truth.

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