First Corinthians 15:31

  

In the King James Version of the Bible it says in First Corinthians 15:31, "I protest by your rejoicing which I have in Christ Jesus our Lord, I die daily." In this verse Paul gives one of the most important principles concerning being a Christian and following Christ in this world. He said, "I die daily." Itís interesting to note that Paul said this in a context in which he was emphasizing the eventual end of physical death. In verse 26 the Bible said that the last enemy that shall be destroyed is death. Itís talking about physical death, but here in verse 31 Paul is talking about another kind of dying: dying to self.

This principle of dying to self is based upon one of the teachings of Jesus. In John 12:24-25 Jesus said, "Verily, verily, I say unto you, except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abides alone: but if it die, it brings forth much fruit. He that loves his life shall lose it; but he that hates his life in this world shall keep it unto life eternal."

Sin is selfishness. When you are selfish, you are sinful. Itís the strong desires that come from within you that will lead you into sin. Jesus told the Pharisees that itís what comes from within a person that defiles them, and not what comes from without. Ultimately, itís this same selfishness that will keep a person from coming with faith to the Lord Jesus Christ. They will not come if they want something more than what God has to offer. "He that loves his life shall lose it." One must be willing to give up what one otherwise would have had in order to go with God. No one has ever been rightly related to God who could not say to the Lord, "I will go where you want me to go, and I will do what you want me to do."

Paul said, "I die daily." The first time that one comes to Jesus in order to believe on Him is also the first time that one dies to oneself. No one can truly come to Jesus for salvation, unless itís their intention to do His will. Repentance involves turning from sin and self, and turning to the Lord to serve Him. But Paul said, "I die daily." Even though you may be saved and born again, you must be careful or your selfish nature will come over you and lead you astray. No one has arrived to the point where they no longer need to "die daily." Each day is a new challenge to go one of two ways: the way of your own selfish nature or the way of God; and Paul said that he had learned to die daily.

In every decision that you make of any consequence, you will go one of two ways. You will either go your own way, or you will go Godís way. Appearances can be deceiving. It will appear as though you will lose if you go Godís way, and sometimes you will lose in the ways that humans look at life in this world. But once things have gone full circle, the wisdom of those who went with God will be manifest, and the truth of the teaching of Jesus will once again be proven. "They that lose their life shall find it." Your greatest enemy will sometimes be your own selfishness. There are many who will bear witness to the fact that things would have worked out so much better if they only had gone Godís way at certain important times in their life, instead of their own way.

Paul went Godís way, and Paul told the Corinthians some of the things that he suffered because of following the will of the Lord. Paul wrote in First Corinthians 15:32, "If after the manner of men I have fought with beasts at Ephesus, what does it advantage me? If the dead rise not: let us eat and drink for tomorrow we die." There have been believers in Jesus in every generation who have suffered great sufferings because they went Godís way instead of their own way. But few have suffered the things that Paul suffered for Christ. We know from the history books some of the horrible ways that the Roman government used against human beings, and at different times they unleashed their terror against the followers of Jesus. Sometimes the Romans would put people into a coliseum and force them to fight with wild animals for their very lives. This was cruel to the animals as well as the humans, and evidently Paul experienced such a trial at the city of Ephesus and survived.

Without a doubt Paul was smart enough to know that he would not have endured such things, if he had retired to some small village and spent his days studying the scriptures in a secluded monastery. But when Paul went Godís way, God led him on a path in which Paul was exposed to all of the dangers that existed in the Roman world of the first century. But one of the reasons that Paul was willing to do the will of God and suffer such things was because Paul knew that there would be a reward given for so doing. Paul was motivated by the knowledge that there is a life after this life, and the consequences of what you do in this life will continue on into eternity.

The explanation that Paul has been giving in the last few verses is another proof of the truth of the resurrection. There is little reason to live for God and go Godís way, and there is little reason to learn to die to oneself if there is no resurrection from the dead. If there is no resurrection from the dead, one might as well find some selfish philosophy of life and live by it. "Eat, drink, and be merry for tomorrow we die." Since the time of the ancient Greeks, many people have held this philosophy and have lived for pleasure and to satisfy their own self-centered desires. If the dead do not rise, then you might as well join them and throw away the teachings of Jesus and live according to license and pleasure.

But the dead will rise, and so the Bible says in First Corinthians 15:33, "Be not deceived; evil communications corrupt good manners." Anyone is deceived who does understand that the dead will rise. Anyone is deceived who does not make going Godís way their highest priority. And anyone is deceived who does not understand that not only can they be led astray by their own selfish desires, but also they can be led astray by the bad influences of others. "Evil communications corrupt good manners." Human beings are social creatures, and even when we are not aware of it, our behavior can be influenced in a powerful way by others. Many people have been corrupted by following too closely to the wrong crowd. You will not be able to follow the Lord in this world if you are not capable of making your own decisions and setting your own standards. You must be able to think independently. Your spiritual education is not complete if you have not learned to think for yourself.

The same thing was taught 1,000 years before Christ in the book of Psalms. The Bible says in Psalm 1:1, "Blessed is the man that walks not in the council of the ungodly, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of the scornful." If you are a believer in Jesus, then one of the reasons that God has you on the earth is to be a witness to a lost world. Your goal should be to influence others for good, instead of them influencing you for evil. You should never join in with the people of the world in such a way that you forget what your purpose should be around them. Jesus said, "Let your light so shine before men that they may see your good works and glorify your Father who is in heaven."

The Bible says in First Corinthians 15:34, "Awake to righteousness and sin not; for some have not the knowledge of God: I speak this to your shame." If everyone in the world is going to hear the wonderful message of the love of God that is in Christ Jesus, then every believer has a part to play and a work to do. No one can do it alone. Paul could not reach everyone in his day. If all of the lost people in ancient Greece were going to hear the gospel, then all of the believers in Corinth had to be involved. Thatís why Paul said, "I speak this to your shame."

When you consider the value of a human soul, and when you think about what Jesus went through so that everyone could be saved, then we must ask ourselves if we also should be ashamed in regards to how many have heard the gospel in our day. Paul did not say how many did not have the knowledge of God. He said, "some have not the knowledge of God." Everyone is important to God, and believers should be involved with the goal that everyone hear the gospel of Christ.

Paul said, "Awake to righteousness and sin not, for some have not the knowledge of God." If you are a believer in Jesus, then your belief should be known by the way that you act and the way that you live. Itís very important to spread the gospel by what you say. The Bible says in the book of Romans, "How shall they believe except the hear, and how shall they hear except someone tell them the gospel?" But there is one thing that is more important than what you say, and thatís what you do. As in many other things in life, for the spread of the gospel actions speak louder than words. Some people eventually do more harm than good because they put a lot of effort into preaching the gospel, but they do not put nearly as much effort into living the way that Jesus taught. Jesus said, "Let your light so shine before men that they may see your good works and glorify your Father who is in heaven." He did not say that they would listen to your words and glorify the Father, but that they would see your good works and glorify the Father.

In verse 35 Paul returns to the main subject of First Corinthians chapter 15: the resurrection from the dead. Evidently a question concerning the resurrection had been raised in Corinth. The Bible says in First Corinthians 15:35, "But some man will say, how are the dead raised up? And with what body do the come?" Paul answers this question in verses 36-41 by giving three examples from the natural world that help to explain the difference between the body that we now have and the resurrected body that we will one day have. There is the example of a seed, the example of the different kinds of flesh on different animals in the world, and the example of differences between the sun, the moon, the stars, and the earth.

In First Corinthians 15:36-39 the Bible says, "Thou fool, that which you sow is not made alive, except it die: and that which you sow, you sow not that body that shall be, but bear grain, it may chance of wheat, or of some other grain. But God gives it a body as it has pleased Him, and to every seed his own body." Strong language is used for those who are contrary to one of the most important doctrines concerning Jesus Christ: the resurrection from the dead. If the wisest thing in the world is to go with God and believe what is true about Him, then the most foolish thing in the world is to not believe that which is true.

The physical and material are often an illustration of that which is spiritual. Jesus Himself often used things from nature to illustrate spiritual truth. He used the opening of a door and the drinking of water from a well to illustrate salvation. He used the blowing of the wind to illustrate the coming of the Spirit upon you. And He used the catching of fish to illustrate the spread of the gospel to the lost souls of the world. Jesus also used in one of His parables seed that is buried in the ground as an example of something that is spiritual.

In this passage of scripture in First Corinthians chapter 15 it is pointed out that a plant that grows from a seed has a direct correlation to the seed, but is still quite different from the seed itself. There will be a resurrected body somewhat in the same way that there is a plant that grows from a seed. Your resurrected body will have a direct relationship to the body that you now have. It will still be you, but it will be quite different from the way you now are. Later on in this chapter some of the differences will be pointed out.

The second example from the natural world to explain the resurrection is given in First Corinthians 15:39. It says, "All flesh is not the same flesh: but there is one kind of flesh of men, another flesh of beasts, and another of birds." How can we believe that there is a resurrected body, that must be so much different than our earthly body? One thing to consider is that different kinds of animals have very different bodies and the characteristics of their flesh can be very different. The flesh of a bird or a fish is much different from that of a mammal. In the light of this, itís not so hard to believe that there will be a resurrected body with different characteristics than our present body.

In First Corinthians 15:40-41 is the third example concerning the resurrection. It says, "There are also celestial bodies, and bodies terrestrial: but the glory of the celestial is one, and the glory of the terrestrial is another. There is one glory of the sun, and another glory of the moon, and another glory of the stars: for one star differs from another star in glory." The human body can be a wonderful thing in the bloom of youth and at the peak of its strength and beauty. After all, it was designed by the mind of God. But as we all know so well, the youth and the strength and the beauty have a glory that lasts only for a time. Thanks to God another kind of glory will be given to it one day: the glory of the resurrection. It will be a heavenly body and eternal.

God is not finished with the human race. He has a wonderful future planned. Even death will be destroyed because of Jesus. Jesus will undo the failures of Adam and the failures of the rest of us. Jesus is the Savior of the world and the Savior of mankind. Have you been to Jesus for the forgiveness of your sins? Have you given yourself to Jesus to follow His teachings in this world? Itís not too late to start, and if you do, you will be a part of the glorious resurrection from the dead.

 

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Copyright; 2000 by Charles F. (Rick) Creech
All Rights Reserved