Sexual freedom is prided and celebrated by the world today.
Beginning around the 1960’s, a social movement commonly known as the Sexual Revolution challenged the traditional codes of behavior related to sexuality and relationships for increased acceptance of sex outside of traditional heterosexual, monogamous relationships. As a result same-sex marriage and sexual promiscuity is praised and promoted in the world more than ever today.
The church in Corinth was no different. After hearing reports of sexual immorality by some and the attitude of the congregation toward it, Paul rebukes the Corinthian church with these words – “And you are arrogant (or puffed up)! Ought you not rather to mourn?” (1 Cor. 5:1-2)
What does it mean to mourn?
It is an outward visible evidence of the condition of the heart due to grief or great loss that cannot be hidden. Mourning can result due to general sorrow of life. Sorrow may come as a result of loneliness as expressed by the Psalmist (Ps. 42:1-3), or discouragement that Timothy felt that drove him to tears (2 Tim. 1:4), or disappointment (Jer. 9:1) or even because of guilt similar to how David felt as he mourned the death of his son Absalom (2 Sam. 18:33).
All these kinds of mourning, although natural, are worldly sorrow with no ultimate eternal value.
So when the apostle Paul rebuked the Corinthians, if he did not mean any of the above, what did he mean when he said “ought you not rather to mourn?”
- Believers mourn the PRESENCE of sin in their hearts
Jesus is saying, there is a kind of mourning that produces life.
Jesus is saying there is happiness by way of mourning. This kind of mourning does not make sense to the world, and it does not make sense apart from the cross. His kingdom citizens mourn the presence of sin in their hearts. (2 Cor. 7:9-10)
This is what Paul was getting at. The church in Corinth had not felt sorrow and loss over what was happening among them, but rather they were proud of their sexual freedom. He is saying “grief over sin has not taken hold in you soul, for if it did, it would have manifest in mourning.”
This mourning is not a state of mind. It’s a presence of sin – we’ve done such horrible wrong that it engulfs our entire being. James 4 says this presence of sin causes mourning, weeping and lamenting. It turns laughter into mourning and joy into gloom.
- Believers mourn the POWER of sin in their hearts.
The apostle Paul suffered much grief as he struggled with this. In Romans 7 he says “I know I shouldn’t, I know I must not, but those are the very things I end up doing.”
Sin is a powerful foe. When Jesus pronounces blessing, it’s not for those who just acknowledge there is sin in the world. It’s for those who mourn the presence and power of sin in their lives. And thirdly it is for…
- Believers who mourn what their sin PRODUCE.
Sin is devastating not only for it’s presence and power in our lives, but for what it produces. The most devastating truth is not that sin has produced turmoil and pain in our family and lives, or that it has caused much suffering and hardship in our vocations. These are the consequences and effects of sin, but the most devastating truth is that my sin put Jesus on the cross!
Isaiah 53 and rest of scripture explain in graphic detail what Jesus, the sinless, spotless, Holy and righteous Lamb of God had to go through because of my idolatry, my disobedience, my lust, my hatred, my pride and my greed.
Calvary is a horrific, explicit description of what our sin produce.
I do not believe we will mourn simply by looking at the presence and power of sin within us. Only a careful, truthful look at the cross through scripture will be the thing that presses grief and sorrow into our hearts.
And in seeing what this sin produced, it will produce in us a righteous hatred toward sin and everything that is sinful.
If we say we love God, we will hate sin.
If we say we love truth, we will hate falsehood.
They shall be comforted (Matt. 5:4)
It is through this mourning that we receive a blessing of great comfort.
Jesus sat on a mountain and pronounced this blessing fully knowing the price He would have to pay to make that statement true.
The same gruesome sight of seeing Christ mocked, whipped, spat upon, ridiculed by man and forsaken by the Father – produces the deepest comfort. With all its horror we cannot take our eyes away from the cross.
We should never take our eyes away from the cross!
True love for Christ is in knowing what that sin produced, and not just in it’s presence and power. We don’t sin not because it’s just and offence to God but because of what it produced.
So it is to His kingdom citizens who mourn over their sin that Christ pronounces a blessing of comfort. And it’s a guaranteed comfort, ‘They SHALL be comforted. Christ promises to soothe, cheer up, and bring consolation to those who mourn over sin.
Blessing comes after obedience. Comfort comes after the mourning.
Assurance of comfort through scripture.
For whatever things were written before were written for our learning, that we through the patience and comfort of the Scriptures might have hope. – Rom. 15:4
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort those who are in any trouble, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. For as the sufferings of Christ abound in us, so our consolation also abounds through Christ. – 1 Cor. 1:3-5
The comfort we receive is not like the world and is not based on our feelings that are up one day and down the next. No, the comfort we receive from God is based on His sure and living and abiding Word.
Jesus looks at his mourning kingdom citizens who struggle with much grief over the presence and power of sin in their lives, and who mourn with loud lament over the vileness their sin produced – and, like a banner over their heart He writes; NO CONDEMNATION!! (Rom. 8:1)
Christ comforts us with the assurance that WE ARE FORGIVEN!
No longer strangers, but as sons and daughters we can cry out Abba Father!!
His sure Word of promise soothes our greatest fears by re-affirming;
“Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? As it is written: “For Your sake we are killed all day long; We are accounted as sheep for the slaughter.” Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. – Rom. 8:35-39
There is a guarantee to those who mourn: They Shall Be Comforted.
It’s not just a future comfort, but is a present comfort. And it all rests on Christ, which brings us back to the cross.
Next: Blessed are the meek.