11 It is a trustworthy statement: For if we died with Him, we will also live with Him; 12 If we endure, we will also reign with Him; If we deny Him, He also will deny us; 13 If we are faithless, He remains faithful, for He cannot deny Himself. 14 Remind them of these things, and solemnly charge them in the presence of God not to wrangle about words, which is useless and leads to the ruin of the hearers.
God made me chuckle with today’s passage. At first, I read verse 11-13. If you look it up in your bible or online, you will find it is written in an almost poetic format, as we generally find the Psalms written. I recognized the content as it is relative to the other letters Paul has written. Suddenly my mind raced to discover the etymology of the words he used and find out where these principles were in the bible. Sometimes I feel as though I need to defend the bible and what it says because when others challenge it, I feel as though I too am being challenged. Then comes verse 14. Don’t be a word wrangler. It sounds like a free game app for the iPhone, doesn’t it? Let’s look at what Paul is saying here.
Verse 11-13 are a quick recap of what Paul teaches to everyone. We find verse 11 in Romans 6:3-7, “3 Or do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus have been baptized into His death? 4 Therefore we have been buried with Him through baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life. 5 For if we have become united with Him in the likeness of His death, certainly we shall also be in the likeness of His resurrection,6 knowing this, that our old self was crucified with Him, in order that our body of sin might be done away with, so that we would no longer be slaves to sin; 7 for he who has died is freed from sin.”
Verse 12 can be found in the 6th chapter of Paul’s 2nd letter to the Corinthians, “6 And working together with Him, we also urge you not to receive the grace of God in vain— 2 for He says, “At the acceptable time I listened to you, And on the day of salvation I helped you.” Behold, now is “the acceptable time,” behold, now is “the day of salvation”— 3 giving no cause for offense in anything, so that the ministry will not be discredited, 4 but in everything commending ourselves as servants of God, in much endurance, in afflictions, in hardships, in distresses, 5 in beatings, in imprisonments, in tumults, in labors, in sleeplessness, in hunger, 6 in purity, in knowledge, in patience, in kindness, in the Holy Spirit, in genuine love, 7 in the word of truth, in the power of God; by the weapons of righteousness for the right hand and the left, 8 by glory and dishonor, by evil report and good report; regarded as deceivers and yet true; 9 as unknown yet well-known, as dying yet behold, we live; as punished yet not put to death, 10 as sorrowful yet always rejoicing, as poor yet making many rich, as having nothing yet possessing all things. 11 Our mouth has spoken freely to you, O Corinthians, our heart is opened wide.12 You are not restrained by us, but you are restrained in your own affections.13 Now in a like exchange—I speak as to children—open wide to us also. 14 Do not be bound together with unbelievers; for what partnership have righteousness and lawlessness, or what fellowship has light with darkness? 15 Or what harmony has Christ with Belial, or what has a believer in common with an unbeliever? 16 Or what agreement has the temple of God with idols? For we are the temple of the living God; just as God said, “I will dwell in them and walk among them; And I will be their God, and they shall be My people. 17 “Therefore, come out from their midst and be separate,” says the Lord. “And do not touch what is unclean; And I will welcome you. 18 “And I will be a father to you, And you shall be sons and daughters to Me,” Says the Lord Almighty.”
Paul’s declaration in verse 13 can also be found in his letter to the Galatians in chapter 2, “17 But if, while seeking to be justified in Christ, we ourselves have also been found sinners, is Christ then a minister of sin? May it never be! 18 For if I rebuild what I have once destroyed, I prove myself to be a transgressor. 19 For through the Law I died to the Law, so that I might live to God. 20 I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me. 21 I do not nullify the grace of God, for if righteousness comes through the Law, then Christ died needlessly.”
I know I just laid a lot of scripture out there, but I think it is important to understand what Paul is saying in these few short sentences. If anything, we can at least say he is consistent! Now let’s look at the verse that slapped me in the face: verse 14. I find that “the church” often creates more chaos than order by overlooking this simple statement by Paul. I tend to do the same thing, most notably getting offended when someone calls me “religious” or refers to my faith as “religion”. I find that this is in congruence with much of the movement of the protestant church out of the stigma of religious organizations in an attempt to explain that being a follower of Christ isn’t about religion, but about relationships. But, as Paul says here, what good is it going to do for the unbeliever? What good does it do for us other than build up our pride? We can argue over word choice, definitions, origins, and even completely separate languages. We get caught up in the technicalities and miss the point altogether!
Does it matter if we are called religious or not? James relates to us what religion is, “27 Pure and undefiled religion in the sight of our God and Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their distress, and to keep oneself unstained by the world.” Maybe we could just follow this template, then we won’t have as much trouble being “religious” or classified as such. I’m just talking to myself here, but what about you? Do you get caught up in wording, classification, and definitions or do you focus on the love of Christ and how to share it with others? Let’s reread these principles that Paul shared with us and search our souls to see how we can be more “on point” in our lives.