Needed Advice in an Evil Day

Acts 18:1  •  6 min. read  •  grade level: 9
Listen from:
In the first verse of Acts 18, two cities of Greece are mentioned by name-Athens and Corinth. They were very different in character, although located within less than 100 miles of each other. Athens was the great center of learning and philosophy, far out-distancing any other city in the world. Corinth was a dissolute and licentious place, so much so that if a Greek turned to lead a loose life, he was said to have gone to Corinth. Its inhabitants, although they sought after wisdom, and gloried in erudition, generally wanted ease and fleshly indulgence.
The Apostle Paul visited and preached the gospel in both cities. At Athens he had to descend to the lowest point and speak of the Creator's power and the evidences of His work, for with all their striving after knowledge (Acts 17:2121(For all the Athenians and strangers which were there spent their time in nothing else, but either to tell, or to hear some new thing.) (Acts 17:21)), they did not know the living God. (How often this has been true among the wise of this world!) Notwithstanding the earnest efforts of the greatest preacher of the cross of Christ, there was little fruit from his labors. Dionysius and Damaris, with a few others, believed on the Lord Jesus; but we never read of Paul's going there again, nor of an assembly being formed there. No apostolic letter addressed to saints at Athens has been left to us.
To Corinth, Paul went once and again. At first the opposition was strong, but he was encouraged by the Lord with these words: "Be not afraid, but speak, and hold not thy peace: for I am with thee, and no man shall set on thee to hurt thee: for I have much people in this city." (Acts 18:9, 109Then spake the Lord to Paul in the night by a vision, Be not afraid, but speak, and hold not thy peace: 10For I am with thee, and no man shall set on thee to hurt thee: for I have much people in this city. (Acts 18:9‑10).) What? much people in the rich, profligate Corinth, and not in Athens? Yes, God has salvation for lost, ruined sinners; but the proud, philosophic reasoners against God knew no need. The Areopagites might speculate about the "new things" the "babbler" said, but they cared not for that which made nothing of man or his boasted wisdom. It was foolishness to them.
At Corinth a flourishing assembly was formed, and Paul addressed two long epistles to them. Various other brethren visited them, and the saints there came behind in no gift, but they were inclined to glory in men and in the gifts which they possessed. They were carnal and walked as men, and had to be reproved for it (1 Cor. 3:33For ye are yet carnal: for whereas there is among you envying, and strife, and divisions, are ye not carnal, and walk as men? (1 Corinthians 3:3)), for party spirit and strife was the evidence of carnality.
Before they were saved some of them had been "fornicators... idolaters... thieves... drunkards... extortioners," etc.-"such were some of you:"-but they had been saved, washed, and justified (1 Cor. 6:9-119Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind, 10Nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God. 11And such were some of you: but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God. (1 Corinthians 6:9‑11)). What a wonderful change the gospel brings into the lives of people! "Moral rearmament" and social reforms might effect certain changes in people's conduct, but it cannot wash and justify sinners, and transform them from within.
There was, however, a danger that when the love of the truth had lost its power over their souls, there might be some slipping back and occasional falling into old ways and habits. This happened at Corinth, and gave occasion to the Apostle to write to them to put out a man guilty of fornication. The assembly was responsible to judge them who were within their ranks, for they were unleavened-evil had no place there. To meet this ever-present danger, the Apostle reminded them that they had been purchased at a great price, and hence they were no longer their own-they belonged to another whom they were to please. They now were to glorify God in their bodies and not live like the careless heathen around them-the body was for the Lord, not for self and indulgence of fleshly lusts. (1 Cor. 6:18-2018Flee fornication. Every sin that a man doeth is without the body; but he that committeth fornication sinneth against his own body. 19What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? 20For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God's. (1 Corinthians 6:18‑20))
These warnings in the Word of God are particularly salutary in the days in which we live. Morality is at an all-time low in so-called Christian countries. People are abandoning themselves to indulgence of the lusts of the flesh and of the mind We are living in the last days, when Christendom, by and large, is loving pleasure rather than God. (See 2 Tim. 3:1-51This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come. 2For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, 3Without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, 4Traitors, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God; 5Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away. (2 Timothy 3:1‑5), J.N.D. Trans.) Our dear young people (even children in grade schools) are being brought up in an increasingly corrupt atmosphere in the world, and need to be instructed, like the Corinthians, that we are joined to the Lord, are one spirit with Him. Hence all we do and allow should bear the impress of our being His: "Let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God." 2 Cor. 7:11Having therefore these promises, dearly beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God. (2 Corinthians 7:1).
The Apostle Peter addressed the Christians, referring to their "pure minds." We need to guard our minds that they do not become defiled by the filthy conversation of the wicked, as poor Lot's was after he went to Sodom (2 Pet. 2:7, 8; 3:17And delivered just Lot, vexed with the filthy conversation of the wicked: 8(For that righteous man dwelling among them, in seeing and hearing, vexed his righteous soul from day to day with their unlawful deeds;) (2 Peter 2:7‑8)
1This second epistle, beloved, I now write unto you; in both which I stir up your pure minds by way of remembrance: (2 Peter 3:1)
). "Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you, and will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be My sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty." 2 Cor. 6:17, 1817Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you, 18And will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty. (2 Corinthians 6:17‑18).
Thessalonica was not far removed from Corinth, and the same general moral conditions prevailed in that vicinity; in fact it was widespread in the days of the old Roman Empire, so the Apostle exhorted them: "Furthermore then we beseech you, brethren, and exhort you by the Lord Jesus, that as ye have received of us how ye ought to walk and to please God, so ye would abound more and more.... For this is the will of God... that every one of you should know how to possess his
What we all need more and more is attachment of heart to the Lord Jesus-ardent affection in the soul-with the Word of God having power over our consciences. Thus we shall be able to "walk and to please God." Enoch "walked with God" and he "pleased God" (Gen. 5:2222And Enoch walked with God after he begat Methuselah three hundred years, and begat sons and daughters: (Genesis 5:22); Heb. 11:55By faith Enoch was translated that he should not see death; and was not found, because God had translated him: for before his translation he had this testimony, that he pleased God. (Hebrews 11:5)), although he lived amid surrounding corruption and moral depravity; for the world was then heading for the flood, as now it is going on to the perils and destruction of the great tribulation and the subsequent judgment of "the great and terrible day of the Lord." Enoch so walked "three hundred years," but that was done just one day at a time. We need grace for each day as it comes-"Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof." "He giveth more grace," and we need not anticipate the difficulties or trials of tomorrow. We have only to "walk and to please God" today with the grace and strength supplied by Himself; it is available to all who wait upon Him.