Spiritual War Bible Studies

Spiritual War Bible Studies => First Corinthians 1-4 => Study #7 => Topic started by: Hidden In Him on January 16, 2014, 04:10:38 PM

Title: 1 Corinthians 3:10-20
Post by: Hidden In Him on January 16, 2014, 04:10:38 PM
The Return Of Consuming Fire To God's Temple On Earth

     As Paul left off telling the Corinthians in our previous study, he and the other apostles were servants working together to build the church of Jesus Christ. This might seem all well and good, but there was a danger in this that few today understand: They were not building some ordinary building, but the temple of God on earth, a temple which God Himself desired to dwell in, not figuratively or "theologically," but literally. Just as God gave specific instructions to the Jews on how His tabernacle was to be built (Exodus 25:1-27:21), so, too, was He now specific about how He wanted His New Testament church to be built. And as Paul now warned, those who presumed to build this temple contrary to His instructions and the foundation Paul had originally laid would be inviting judgment upon themselves in the form of sickness and death, if they began corrupting the temple in which He now dwelt:

     As a wise architect, in accordance with the grace God has given to me, I laid a foundation, and another builds upon it. But let each one take heed to how he builds. For no one can lay any other foundation besides the one I laid, which is Jesus Christ. And if anyone builds upon the foundation gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay or straw, the work of each will be made manifest, for the day will disclose it, for it is being revealed in fire, and the fire will prove it. If the work of anyone abides which he built, he shall receive a reward. If the work of anyone shall be consumed, he shall suffer loss, yet he himself shall be saved, but so as through fire. (1 Corinthians 3:9-15)

     The common interpretation of this passage is that Paul was here saying a believer's work will be revealed in fire on "the Day of the Lord," i.e. on the day of judgment. But the present indicative passive, "it is being revealed in fire [now]" indicates Paul was talking here not about future events but about events that were happening during his time. The fire Paul was referring to here was the presence of the Holy Spirit, Who was present among the churches and chastising through corporal punishment those who were corrupting His church through self-aggrandizing teachings rather than ones that glorified Christ alone. Through the gifts of the Spirit such as prophecy, word of knowledge, interpretation of tongues, etc. the Holy Spirit was exposing to light every impure motive, and burning up everything that threatened to take glory away from Christ like a consuming fire.
     One of the reasons more people don't understand this passage accurately today is because the Fire of God burned much brighter during New Testament times than it does today. In the years following Pentecost, this Spirit was exposing even the slightest sins to light, such as occurred with Ananias and Sapphira in the Book of Acts:

     Now a man named Ananias, together with his wife Sapphira, also sold a piece of property. With his wife’s full knowledge he kept back part of the money for himself, but brought the rest and put it at the apostles’ feet. Then Peter said, “Ananias, how is it that Satan has so filled your heart that you have lied to the Holy Spirit and have kept for yourself some of the money you received for the land? Didn’t it belong to you before it was sold? And after it was sold, wasn’t the money at your disposal? What made you think of doing such a thing? You have not lied just to human beings but to God.”
     When Ananias heard this, he fell down and died. And great fear seized all who heard what had happened. Then some young men came forward, wrapped up his body, and carried him out and buried him.
     About three hours later his wife came in, not knowing what had happened. Peter asked her, “Tell me, is this the price you and Ananias got for the land?” “Yes,” she said, “that is the price.” Peter said to her, “How could you conspire to test the Spirit of the Lord? Listen! The feet of the men who buried your husband are at the door, and they will carry you out also.”
     At that moment she fell down at his feet and died. Then the young men came in and, finding her dead, carried her out and buried her beside her husband. Great fear seized the whole church and all who heard about these events. (Acts 5:1-11)


     Was this the worst sin any Christian ever committed? Of course not. Most modern Christians commit worse sins every day. But God was present among His people during this time, and intent on building a Holy temple. The end result was as He intended: Great fear came upon the churches. This tragedy served as a warning to those thinking to build the temple of God on earth: Anyone presuming to do so needed to be very careful about what they were doing, for the Fire of God would purify and, if necessary, consume anyone who drew near without truly fearing God.
     The importance of this passage is that it shines the light on just how far the church of Jesus Christ has drifted from true intimacy with God, an intimacy we must regain if we would again walk in His power and presence as the New Testament saints did. Satan would like nothing better that to continue keeping our true spiritual state a secret, so that we might if possible never awake from our spiritual slumber. Yet as we shall see, days are coming when God will again return to His temple, and again cleanse it through Fire by bringing bodily corruption to all who are spiritually corrupting it.     

Almighty God: A Consuming Fire During Old Testament Times
     The Lord warned the Israelites not to worship other gods, for He was a consuming Fire, a zealous God, and would have no gods before Him:

     Be careful not to forget the covenant of the Lord your God that he made with you; do not make for yourselves an idol in the form of anything the Lord your God has forbidden. For the Lord your God is a consuming fire, a jealous God. (Deuteronomy 4:23-24)

     For the Israelites, this was not figurative speech but a tangible reality. God manifested Himself to them on Mt. Sinai in fire, and warned them not to come too close lest they be consumed and destroyed:

     After Moses had gone down the mountain to the people, he consecrated them, and they washed their clothes. Then he said to the people, “Prepare yourselves for the third day. Abstain from sexual relations.”
     On the morning of the third day there was thunder and lightning, with a thick cloud over the mountain, and a very loud trumpet blast. Everyone in the camp trembled. Then Moses led the people out of the camp to meet with God, and they stood at the foot of the mountain. Mount Sinai was covered with smoke, because the Lord descended upon it in fire. The smoke billowed up from it like smoke from a furnace, and the whole mountain trembled violently. As the sound of the trumpet grew louder and louder, Moses spoke and the voice of God answered him.
     The Lord descended to the top of Mount Sinai and called Moses to the top of the mountain. So Moses went up, and the Lord said to him, “Go down and warn the people so they do not force their way through to see the Lord and many of them perish. Even the priests, who approach the Lord, must consecrate themselves, or the Lord will break out against them. Moses said to the Lord, “The people cannot come up Mount Sinai, because you yourself warned us, ‘Put limits around the mountain and set it apart as holy.’” The Lord replied, “Go down and bring Aaron up with you. But the priests and the people must not force their way through to come up to the Lord, or He will break out against them.”
     So Moses went down to the people and told them. (Exodus 19:14-25)


     The Israelites would soon be reminded that God was to be feared when two of Aaron's sons died after offering incense carelessly and presumptuously. Fire came out from the presence of the Lord and consumed them both. After this incident, stricter regulations were immediately given to the remaining sons of Aaron on what was expected of priests, for all now knew the Lord would be proven Holy among His people: 

     Moses and Aaron then went into the Tent of Meeting. When they came out, they blessed the people; and the glory of the Lord appeared to all the people. Fire came out from the presence of the Lord and consumed the burnt offering and the fat portions on the altar. And when all the people saw it, they shouted for joy and fell face down.
     Aaron’s sons Nadab and Abihu took their censers, put fire in them and added incense; and they offered unauthorized fire before the Lord, contrary to His command. So fire came out from the presence of the Lord and consumed them, and they died before the Lord. Moses then said to Aaron, “This is what the Lord spoke of when he said, “‘Among those who approach Me, I will be proven Holy; in the sight of all the people, I will be honored.’”
     Aaron remained silent. Moses summoned Mishael and Elzaphan, sons of Aaron’s uncle Uzziel, and said to them, “Come here; carry your cousins outside the camp, away from the front of the sanctuary.” So they came and carried them, still in their tunics, outside the camp, as Moses ordered. Then Moses said to Aaron and his sons Eleazar and Ithamar, “Do not uncover your heads, and do not tear your clothes, or you will die and the Lord will be angry with the whole community. But your relatives, all the Israelites, may mourn for those the Lord has destroyed by fire. Do not leave the entrance to the tent of meeting or you will die, because the Lord’s anointing oil is on you.” So they did as Moses said.
     Then the Lord said to Aaron, “You and your sons are not to drink wine or other fermented drink whenever you go into the tent of meeting, or you will die. This is a lasting ordinance for the generations to come, so that you can distinguish between the holy and the common, between the unclean and the clean (Leviticus 9:23-10:10)

Holy Fire, And The Judgments Of God In New Testament Times

     This strictness carried over to New Testament times, when the Spirit of God was poured out at Pentecost and tongues of Fire were seen descending upon the disciples' heads. The church became literally the temple of God on earth, and the Fire of God's presence was so string that it was visibly present among them, purifying His holy vessels to become fit for God's use:

     When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place. Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from Heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest upon each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit, and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them. (Acts 2:1-4)


     But as Paul warned the Corinthians, just as in Old Testament times, this Fire could be destructive to those who did not respect it. God would prove each man's work, and those who were corrupting God's temple by teaching worldly wisdom and false doctrines would likewise suffer bodily corruption themselves (i.e. sickness, death) unless they repented of it:

     … if anyone builds upon the foundation gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay or straw, the work of each will be made manifest, for the day will disclose it, for it is being revealed in fire, and the fire will prove it. If the work of anyone abides which he built, he shall receive a reward. If the work of anyone shall be consumed, he shall suffer loss, yet he himself shall be saved, but so as through fire.
     Do you not know that you are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwells within you? If anyone brings the temple of God into corruption, God shall bring him to corruption, for the temple of God is holy, which temple you are. (1 Corinthians 3:12-17)

     While God was slow to move in such judgments, the day inevitably came when the Spirit of God would have no choice but to bring punishment against those who were leading His church presumptuously and refusing to hear His rebuke. Initially, He would chastise them through His word, speaking to congregants through the gifts of the Spirit. But should they refuse to listen, physical punishments followed in the form of bodily illness and/or death if they refused to repent. Such was the case with Jezebel, a woman who was being allowed entrance into the church at Thyatira:

     To the angel of the church in Thyatira write: These are the words of the Son of God, whose eyes are like blazing fire and whose feet are like burnished bronze. I know your deeds, your love and faith, your service and perseverance, and that you are now doing more than you did at first. Nevertheless, I have this against you: You tolerate that woman Jezebel, who calls herself a prophet. By her teaching she misleads my servants into sexual immorality and the eating of food sacrificed to idols. I have given her time to repent of her immorality, but she is unwilling. So I will cast her on a bed of suffering, and I will make those who commit adultery with her suffer intensely, unless they repent of her ways. I will strike her children dead. Then all the churches will know that I am He who searches hearts and minds, and I will repay each of you according to your deeds. (Revelation 2:18-23 NIV)

     As Paul explained to the Corinthians, these were the dangers involved in associating with the body of Christ in New Testament times. Anyone who carelessly participated in communion was eating and drinking judgment unto himself, because of what this act represented. Those who willingly declared themselves members of Christ's body by taking communion authorized God to discipline them as sons, and it was for failing to appreciate this fact that many were sick or deceased:

     But let a man prove himself, and so let him eat of the bread and drink of the cup. For the one eating and drinking eats and drinks judgment to himself, not discerning the body. Because of this, many among you are weak and sick and many have fallen asleep. But if we would discern ourselves we would not be judged. But being judged, we are chastised by the Lord, that we not be condemned with the world. (1 Corinthians 11:28-32)

     But lest some think God was too strict for administering such punishments, keep in mind that these saints were not going to Hell after death; to the contrary, they were "being saved, yet so as through fire." They were being chastised, but so that they not be condemned with the world. They were indeed Christ's, but He was unfortunately being forced to bring them to physical corruption because they bringing His temple into corruption through their spiritual immaturity.
     But again, God's objective through these chastisements was repentance, not vengeance. Christians were always to hold out hope that the sickness and disease brought upon sinners might lead to their repentance, and in the end result in their salvation.
     As Paul told the Corinthians:

     It is being commonly reported that there is sexual immorality among you, and such sexual immorality as is not even practiced among the Gentiles: One is having sex with his father’s wife. And you are proud! ... hand such a one over to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that his spirit might be saved on the Day of the Lord Jesus. (1 Corinthians 5:1-2, 5 NIV)

     A little leaven might leaven the whole lump and eventually corrupt the entire church if left unchecked, which is why the temple of God was being purified by Fire during New testament times.

Why God Eventually Quit Disciplining His Church
     The apostles referred to the chastisements of the Lord as God's discipline. Even persecution was seen as a form of discipline by which God was purifying His sons. Though such experiences, they were being trained to obedience and purified to manifest His true holiness.
     As Paul instructed the Hebrews:

     You have not yet resisted unto blood in wrestling against sin, and you have become forgetful of the exhortation which speaks to you as to sons, saying, “My son, do not disregard the Lord’s discipline, nor faint when He reproves you, for the Lord disciplines the one He loves, and whips every son whom He receives.”
     Therefore, endure discipline. God is dealing with you as with sons. For who is the son whom his father does not discipline? And if you do not receive the discipline which all have become partakers of then you are illegitimate, and not sons. Moreover, we have all had fathers in the flesh as disciplinarians, and we respected them. How much more should we be in subjection to the Father of spirits, and live! For they indeed disciplined us for a few days as seemed good to them; but this is for our benefit, in order to partake of His holiness. And no discipline seems enjoyable at the time, but grievous. But afterwards, it renders the peaceable fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it. (Hebrews 12:4-11)

     Paul then drew on the story in Exodus when God appeared on Mount Sinai in flaming fire:

     For you have not come to [a mountain] that can be touched and has been set ablaze with fire; to darkness, gloom and storm; to the sound of trumpets, and the voice of [God's] words, which those who heard avoided so that [His] word not be addressed to them, for they could not bear what was commanded: “And if a beast touches the mountain, it must be stoned to death.” The sight was so terrifying that Moses said, “I am trembling and greatly afraid.”
     But you have come to Mount Zion, to the City of the Living God, Heavenly Jerusalem, and to myriads of angels... worship God pleasingly, with reverence and awe, for our God is a consuming fire. (Hebrews 12:18-22a, 25, 29)

     Unfortunately rather than continue drawing near to God to be disciplined and continue receiving His correction, the church eventually began drawing away from Him, particularly in prayer. Because of this, God had no choice but to begin drawing away from them (James 4:8 ), and as a result the church eventually distanced herself from God to the point that His judgments no longer visited the churches as they once had during New Testament times.
     Some might think this would be a good thing, but not so. Scripture declares that God disciplines those whom He loves, and the love of God, a New Testament expression referring to the outpouring of the Spirit and the spiritual gifts, soon began disappearing from churches as well. Theologians were left to teach whatever they desired without fear of suffering any chastisement from the Lord. But at what cost? The end result was that heresies and false teachings began flowing in like the tide, and eventually the church sank into terrible doctrinal decay.
     So where are we today? With each passing year, Christian teaching becomes ever more corrupted, watered down, and psychology-oriented (See study #9). Doctrine is now considered anathema in many churches. It's "boring" and "turns people off," so many pastors now just quote two or three verses from a paraphrase like The Message Bible and then ramble on for 45 minutes ministering nothing of any real spiritual value or importance. The true teaching of the word is virtually non-existent in most modern churches, with the result is that Satan is now easily able to deceive believers due to the general lack of accurate understanding of God's word.

Then Are False Shepherds Now Escaping God's Judgments?

     No. They are simply being left to their own devises, and sadly, to their own eternal damnation in many instances. Unlike those whose teachings are wood and hay, and will therefore experience remorse in Heaven (see next study), yet nevertheless be saved yet so as through fire, there are some whose teachings are so now destructive that they are in danger of winding up in Hell for all eternity, despite thinking they were actually serving God.
     The following are excerpts from a vision given to Marietta Davis a century ago regarding false teachers in the pulpit. She was shown a vision of a place in Hell where an intellectual preacher and his congregation were again gathering just as they had on earth, yet were now forever entwined together in their sins and hypocrisy. Note: Not all sinners in Hell burn in pits of fire or are tortured in prison cells. Some suffer even worse fates than this. Yet there are also parts of Hell where souls roam free, yet despite this are nevertheless unable to escape the sins which eventually damned their souls to an eternity of regret. (See Divine Revelation Of Hell, P.191-193)   

     Below the choir sat a congregation, keenly critical of the things presented to them. In a Gothic pulpit in front of them stood a man wearing priestly robes… in front of him was an open book. He tried to read from it but failed at every attempt. His voice was shrill and piercing, and his accent hard to understand. His face became distorted and he writhed and agonized in his efforts to read… His frustration increased until he burst out vehemently, cursing his own being and everyone around him. He then began to blaspheme God, blaming Him for every wrong and sorrow. He even tried to gather together all created intellect to curse the Creator of the universe.
     One glance at the crowd was enough to know why he was suffering like this. Their faces showed deep hatred and maniacal pleasure as they mocked his efforts. They reveled in fiendish delight at his dreadful agonies… One in his audience stood up and rebuked him.
     "You fiend of darkness! You child of hypocrisy! Deceiver! Unrivaled deceiver! You are in the Hell reserved for the heartless religious teacher! You can never endure enough punishment! You turned religion and the souls of men into nothing more than a means to make a living. Yes, and for this you were even honored and respected!… Now you are being tormented, and so you should be! Get up, you false teacher in your silk gown! Get up and show us how great your false apostleship is. Speak smooth words to us... Your Maker is just, and you have mocked His majesty. You should have shown the world His glory, and by that light thousands of people should have been led to seek His face."
     At this the minister tried to leave, but the speaker continued, "No, you hypocrite! You want to escape but you cannot. Look over the crowd of sufferers and then ask yourself why they are here. Yes, it is true that each of them has sinned, and is accountable for their actions. But can you look at them here with a clear conscience, knowing how you have misled them? Did you try to lead them to God? No! Instead you wrote learned essays and elaborate Bible expositions. You dressed up your sermons with brilliant poetry and marvelous oratory, but the only result was that people were lulled into even greater apathy while you received honor for your clever words… The Bible, that sacred book, is a gift of God to guide people to Heaven! But it was misinterpreted by ministers and theologians like you. You all loved pleasure, your hearts were far from God. Your version of the Bible was a passport to this place!" (Nine Days In Heaven, Marietta Davis, P.43-47)

The Return Of God's Discipline To The End-Time Church

     We are supposed to be the temple of God, yet today the church is God's temple largely in name only. Even in the strongest churches, the Spirit is no longer present to nearly the extent that He was during New Testament times. So, too, are we God's children yet largely in word only, since the Lord no longer disciplines us as He once did during the apostle Paul's time.
     Thankfully, this is prophesied to change. God is promising to once again return to His temple and discipline those whom He loves. This is clear from what the Spirit is now saying to the churches. As is apparent through visions, the Lord is declaring that a day is now approaching when judgment will begin with the household of God, and that we must not harden our hearts when this day comes.
     As He told Rick Joyner:

     In My mercy, I am giving you this warning. Warn My people that in My mercy, I will no longer let them presume upon My mercy. In My mercy, My discipline will be upon them. Warn them not to harden their hearts, but to repent and turn to Me…
     When I have finished judging My own household, I will then send My judgments upon the whole earth. In My righteous judgment, I will show a distinction between My people and those who do not know Me. Now the whole world lies in the power of the evil one. Now he rewards unrighteousness and resists the righteous. When the Judgment Day comes, the whole world will know that I reward righteousness and resist the proud...
     Many of My people still love sin. Those who love sin and their own comfort and prosperity more than Me will soon know My severity. These will not stand in the times that are coming…
     My judgment begins with My household to teach you discipline so that you will walk in obedience. The wages of sin is death, and the wages of righteousness are peace, joy, glory and honor. All are about to receive their worthy wages. This is the judgment, and it is justice that it begins with My own household.
(Joyner, The Call, P.54-56)

     As the Spirit is clearly warning, those who are truly His must not shy away from this discipline but desire it as a good thing. The wicked harden their hearts against God even when they have it good. The righteous must praise God even in the midst of hardships, knowing that God's discipline is intended for their good, so that they not only escape eternal damnation but continue being transformed into the image of Christ through that discipline. Praise be to God!
     As for Satan, the words "Do not harden your hearts" shine light on what his strategy and tactics will certainly be when the time comes. He will whisper in the ears of the self-centered that God is cruel and unjust, and begin filling their hearts with resentment over His judgments. However, the longer God delays His discipline, the longer Satan will simply continue seducing the church into believing she is close to the Lord when she is not, "wise" in the Lord when she knows very little, and "powerful" in God when she is actually spiritually very weak. It is in our best interest to seek God in earnest prayer for His judgments to return, praying both corporately and individually, for it is far better to receive discipline than continue remaining distant from Him, and run the risk of potentially being condemned with the world.