Jesus also, that he might sanctify the people with his own blood, suffered outside the gate. Therefore, let us go forth to him outside the camp, bearing his reproach. For we have no continuing city here, but we seek one to come.
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"Now, in the following instruction, I do not praise you,
for you are coming together not for the better but for the worse."
I have learned now how true Paul's words can be. He saw that the spiritual condition of the saints in Corinth was such that when they came together to worship God, it made their spiritual condition worse than ever. They would have been better off if they had refrained from coming together to worship God, because when they came together, they grew farther than ever from the will of God.
I have seen people spend time reading the Bible and end up deeper in sin than before because they were proud of their having read the Bible. I have seen (and I wish I had never) brothers and sisters in Christ pray with tears, loud cries, and confessions of sin, and that praying take them further than ever from God because in their hearts, they were clinging to the secret sin that God was demanding they turn from. I have seen believers I loved sing songs of praise to God in meetings of the saints, and it accomplish nothing but provoke God's wrath against them because they were offering him a sacrifice instead of simple obedience. They were trying to bargain with God, to trade him praise for obedience, as if He needed anything from us, or would value the praise of transgressors. What good to God are sacrifices from rebels? I have heard tearful testimonies that were, in truth, being used to deceive and confuse even as they appeared to be for edification and love. I have seen men and women refrain from immorality only because it increased their status on earth, not because they felt any conviction for righteousness or love for God.
Religious activity, even the most zealous kind, without the Spirit of God inspiring the actions and the words has never impressed God, but it seems always to impress men. I suppose that is why so much of such ungodly religious activity continues. But participation in religious activity without the holiness and anointing of the holy Ghost, no matter how impressive it is to the eyes and ears of men, only drives sin deeper into the chambers of the heart, and does not fool God at all. As Paul told the saints at Corinth, if the hearts are not pure, if the fellowship of Christ does not govern the assembly, we all would be better off staying at home than coming together to worship God.