Why Then is All This Befallen Us?

Judges 6:13  •  7 min. read  •  grade level: 7
Judg. 6:13
If we study the history of Corinth and of Ephesus as given to us in Scripture, we shall learn where and how we have failed, and that the state of things which we deplore is the result of our departure from the grace made known to us.
The church at Corinth came behind in no gift. God's favor to them was very manifest; all that the Head could confer by the Holy Ghost to them in the way of gift was theirs, and yet we know that they were a reproach; no testimony for Christ in the assembly, in the world, or in private life. Now Ephesus was greatly in advance of Corinth. The fullest light had been communicated to them, and we may assume that the saints there were "perfect," able to receive the wisdom of God in its entirety. They were also most zealous in their care of the assembly. The Lord says to them, "I know thy works, and thy labor, and thy patience, and how thou canst not bear them which are evil: and thou hast tried them which say they are apostles, and are not, and hast found them liars: and hast borne, and hast patience, and for My name's sake hast labored, and hast not fainted. ' Rev. 2:2, 3. And yet after all this they were disqualified and unfitted to be a candlestick to hold the 'light of God in testimony here, because they had left their first love.
Now in Corinth, they were not in practical deliverance; that is, they were not free of the old man, and were walking after the flesh. If I am living in the pleasures of the flesh or of the mind, it is very clear that I am not delivered from it. As I am delivered I am morally apart from that wherein I was held. It is very humbling to note that at Corinth, though so largely blessed by the Holy Spirit, yet they were carnal and walked as men. They had not accepted the cross as the termination of man morally in the sight of God. They gloried in men, and they reigned as kings on the earth. It is important to bear in mind that if we seek exaltation for man, we have not accepted the cross of Christ. No flesh can glory in His presence; the natural man does not understand the things of the Spirit of God. If a saint is carnal, he is not able to receive the wisdom of God, and the same one who cannot receive the things which God has prepared for them that love Him, which are beyond all human conception, will, as a necessary consequence, seek to enjoy the earth and its things as much as he can; that is reigning as kings; he has not learned the untold blessings on God's side which are his own; but he seeks what is not his own—even earthly things. Because he has not the greater, he seeks the lesser.
Thus we see that these two are concurrent; when the joys on God's side are unknown, all that ministers to man is coveted.
It is easy to see the difference between the Corinthian and the Ephesian declension; the Corinthians had not accepted the cross (when the snare is to exalt the man, there will be concurrently an attempt to advance or enjoy one's position on the earth, so forcibly expressed in the words "reigned as kings"), while the Ephesians had lost what they had held in faith, and thus were unable to be in testimony for Christ. It is a great help to learn from Scripture the cause of our low estate. The first thing for an invalid to ascertain is, from what does his ill health spring; and the next is to obtain the remedy which will effect a cure. After the Apostle had exposed to the Corinthians all that had befallen them, the reproach they had incurred in every circle they were found in, he addresses them in chapter 10, "I speak as to wise men; judge ye what I say." v. 15. He directs their attention first to the obligation they were under at the Lord's table, that they were in communion with Christ's blood, and with His body; that is His death; thus establishing that they were identified with Christ's death here on the earth; consequently they could not minister to the flesh for which Christ died, in any form; that is, if He, the perfect Man, was dead as to the man here, and that they had avowed themselves to be identified with Him in His death, how could they acknowledge the man in the flesh, or accept distinction for the man here? They all as partakers of the one loaf were in this common bond. This is the responsible side. There is beside what I may call the heart side, where they were to answer to the Lord's desire, "This do in remembrance of Me." Where were they to remember in this world the One who loved them best? They were to remember Him in death. How could they reconcile this with their self-consideration and reigning as kings? What a moral denial were they in their own ways of the One they assumed to remember! And more; they betrayed themselves. One is hungry, another is drunk. The rich lived in excess, even at the Lord's supper, and the poor were neglected. Sad indeed all that had befallen them; they did not discern the Lord's body. "For this cause many are weak and sickly among you, and many sleep." 1 Cor. 11:30.
Next, the Apostle dwells on their corporate responsibility baptized by one Spirit into one body—the Holy Spirit the power—He is to lead and to guide; all must be determined by Him; man's mind has no place there in any form; every one is in relation to the rest by the Spirit of God, not by any human means. So, if one member suffer, all suffer with it; or if one be honored, all rejoice with it. At the Lord's table they avowed their identification with the death of Christ, and thus morally abrogated all the glory of man in the flesh; while as the assembly of God, they have no power nor ability but by and through the Spirit of God. Now the Apostle in the second epistle, not only reminds them of his ministry (in chap. 3), finishing up with their beholding the Lord's glory, where no flesh could be, but also he tells of the effect on himself, "Always bearing about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus." Thus the surpassingness of the treasure on the one hand, and the dying of Jesus on the other hand, completely distanced them from the flesh. Also it was of great importance that they should walk agreeably to the Lord, even with regard to the future (which they had overlooked), because "we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad." 2 Cor. 5:10.
One word more as to the Corinthians. The Apostle has been led in a very full way to establish them on true Christian ground; and now he presses on them that the first distinct mark that they had not received the grace of God in vain, would be that they would come out and be separate and touch not the unclean thing (2 Cor. 6:17). It is evident that it was here their failure began. They were caught in the Balaam snare. The point of departure must be the point of restoration. A warning word to us all, intimating the failure which is imminent when we touch the unclean, when our divine sensibility is so weakened that we can admit of and enter on social intercourse with the world—the dead bone.