If anyone does not love the Lord Jesus Christ, let him be accursed. O Lord, come! The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you. My love be with you all in Christ Jesus. Amen. (1 Corinthians 16:22-24)
The Harsh Truth About Love
Corinth was a city filled with pagan worship and carnal passions. Nestled within its borders a church of God was thriving through the many disciples that had been brought to Christ by the work of the apostle Paul. His first letter to the saints of the Corinthian church was a brutal treaty of ferreting out the division, immorality, false teachings and lack of spiritual growth that characterized the young church. 1 Corinthians is a blunt letter of clear teachings by the Holy Spirit that the church needed to put into effect. There were no punches pulled when Paul wrote his letter. Filled with demonstrative admonitions the Corinthian epistle addresses the challenges of what happens to a church when the wisdom of man takes precedence over the wisdom of God. Paul gave no quarter and he left no doubt in the minds of the brethren what must be done. This stern tone of godliness was carried through to the end of his letter. His final words summed up the situation: if anyone is not willing to do what is required by the Lord they do not love the Lord Jesus Christ and if this lack of love is evident then these individuals should be cursed above things.
There were serious problems in Corinth. These difficulties were not to be viewed with a casual eye of unconcern. Without direct changes in the hearts and attitudes of the brethren the church of God in Corinth was in danger of falling into the mire of apostasy and being destroyed. An iceberg of incredible proportions loomed over the horizon if this titanic problem was not solved. The church must change and change immediately. If the brethren were unwilling to make those necessary changes then they did not love the Lord and stood condemned. Paul is blunt in his final admonition. If anyone does not love the Lord Jesus Christ there is no hope. In any congregation a time can come where there is a spirit of complacency. Problems arise that involve people (like the man with his father’s wife) and often the solution is to turn a blind eye. The disruption of worship services brings shame to the glory of God and yet because of indifference little is done. Teaching false doctrines where men deny the resurrection of Jesus Christ, the role of the family, interpersonal relationships between brethren and the abuse of the gifts of the Holy Spirit cannot be tolerated. If the brethren are unwilling to stand for truth they do not love God. That is the harsh reality. The Corinthian church faced a deluge of spiritual problems and without great courage would never have any hope of finding peace in the grace of God. Thankfully they did heed the stern warnings of Paul and made changes as evident in the second letter preserved by the Spirit. They showed they loved the Lord and would seek His will to do what was right.
The church of the Lord faces obstacles in every generation. One of the greatest problems does not come from “outside sources” but the inward denial of truth within the borders of the local congregation. When men refuse to stand up for Biblical teachings with the courage of Paul and deny the word of God – they do not love the Lord and should be accursed. Divorce and remarriage has once again found its way into the teachings of the church where the clear truth of scripture is denied. Carnality with social drinking, immodest dress, sexual promiscuity and materialism has corrupted the hearts of Christians. Worship has become the dull and lifeless form of the burden of Malachi written four hundred years before Christ. Knowledge of God has become less and less as the wisdom of the world has become the mantra of modern man. The church is crumbling under the weight of the lifeless love of those who wear the name of Christ. Paul’s admonition still rings clear: either you love the Lord and are willing to stand for truth or you hate the Lord because you are unwilling to stand for truth. Jesus said in the sermon on the mountain that it is impossible to love God and love the world at the same time and yet many in the church try to do that very thing. In reality they love the world more than God and should be accursed. If there is any message gleaned from Paul’s final words to Corinth it must be the reality that it is high time for the people of God to awaken from their dulled senses of apathy and start living lives full of God’s love by doing what God commands in His book. If you love Jesus Christ you will do what He commands. Any questions?