Calvary Road Baptist Church


Luke 13.24


The sixth example of a fruitless profession is the Corinthian fornicator, referred to by the Apostle Paul in First Corinthians 5:

 1      It is reported commonly that there is fornication among you, and such fornication as is not so much as named among the Gentiles, that one should have his father’s wife.

2      And ye are puffed up, and have not rather mourned, that he that hath done this deed might be taken away from among you.

3      For I verily, as absent in body, but present in spirit, have judged already, as though I were present, concerning him that hath so done this deed,

4      In the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, when ye are gathered together, and my spirit, with the power of our Lord Jesus Christ,

5      To deliver such an one unto Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that the spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus.

6      Your glorying is not good. Know ye not that a little leaven leaveneth the whole lump?

7      Purge out therefore the old leaven, that ye may be a new lump, as ye are unleavened. For even Christ our passover is sacrificed for us:

8      Therefore let us keep the feast, not with old leaven, neither with the leaven of malice and wickedness; but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.

9      I wrote unto you in an epistle not to company with fornicators:

10     Yet not altogether with the fornicators of this world, or with the covetous, or extortioners, or with idolaters; for then must ye needs go out of the world.

11     But now I have written unto you not to keep company, if any man that is called a brother be a fornicator, or covetous, or an idolater, or a railer, or a drunkard, or an extortioner; with such an one no not to eat.

12     For what have I to do to judge them also that are without? do not ye judge them that are within?

13     But them that are without God judgeth. Therefore put away from among yourselves that wicked person.

 We know this subject of our consideration is a professing Christian, that he has been baptized, and that he is a member of the Corinthian church because Paul’s instructions to put him out have no application whatsoever to someone who is not a church member, and no one becomes a church member who has not professed faith in Christ and been baptized. Therefore, we know he heard the simple gospel story of Christ’s love for him and His sacrificial death on Calvary’s cross for his sins. He seemed to the Corinthian Christians to have responded to the gospel of God’s grace toward sinners. My contention that this young man, this church member, is actually a lost man, clinging to a false hope, and that he exhibits a fruitless profession, is based on a number of discreet observations. Allow me to list them:

 #1     Severely criticizing the congregation for tolerating such sin in their midst, the apostle pronounces judgment in verse 5: “To deliver such an one unto Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that the spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus.” Notice the phrase “may be saved.” As I understand Greek verbs, the subjunctive mode is used to describe possible future actions, with the future tense use to describe probable future actions. That Paul used to the subjunctive mode and not the future tense reveals that the Corinthian fornicator was lost and would possibly be saved in the future as a result of his expulsion, not that he would probably be saved and therefore someone who would certainly be saved in the future.[1]

#2     Paul further describes him as a fornicator who is only called a brother, verses 9-11.

#3     Paul describes him as a wicked person, in verse 13.

#4     Finally, in First Corinthians 6.9-11, Paul shows this young man is of a type and category that cannot be considered Christian:

 9      Know 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,

10     Nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God.

11     And 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.

Is it not frightening to consider the presence of unsaved church members? What damage they are capable of causing to the members of our congregation who think they are Christians. What destruction to the church’s witness and testimony in the community is brought on when they decide to act out. How they harm our children and others who are lost by creating a false impression of Christianity. Here is another thought. What about those with false hopes who never really discover their true condition, and never reflect upon their eternal destiny even if they do not wreak havoc with their sins? When the young man began his drift away from others in the Corinthian congregation, what did those members do? Did they say anything to him? Did they do anything for him? Sadly, we are told that once his flagrant immorality with his father’s wife began to be commonly reported in the community and beyond, they did nothing to stop him. Instead, Paul tells us that they became puffed up in their toleration of the sin, rather than mourning the sin and removing the young man from the church.[2] I suspect the Corinthian church members were paralyzed into inaction of any kind. Is it not sad that so many who do the rebuking and chastising are false professors, while those who really know Christ so often say and do nothing when they see something amiss? Who knows how this case of a fruitless profession might have turned out had someone with real concern and wisdom approached the young man to challenge him about the absence of real fruit in his life before he acted out with this older unsaved woman married to his father?

The seventh example of a fruitless profession is Demas, the man who forsook Paul. This example is not a clear and convincing one, and you have my permission to completely disagree with me. I admit at the onset that I call attention to Demas because of two very unfortunate things we find out about him in scripture. The first has to do with Demas’ abandonment of the Apostle Paul while he was in Roman imprisonment. This is a shocker. It comes out of the blue. In Colossians 4.14, Demas is with Paul and Luke, and is included in Paul’s closing remarks in the Colossian epistle. We next find Demas mentioned in the letter to Philemon, where he is described with three other men by Paul as “my fellowlabourers.”[3] Then, taking readers completely by surprise, Timothy is told in Paul’s second letter to him, “Do thy diligence to come shortly unto me: For Demas hath forsaken me, having loved this present world, and is departed unto Thessalonica.”[4] Come quickly, Timothy. Demas has abandoned me. As stunning as is that revelation, Paul’s explanation concerning the motive for Demas’ bug out is even more ominous: “For Demas hath forsaken me, having loved this present world.” Taking note of what the Apostle John wrote in First John 2.15-17, Paul might very well be calling Demas’ relationship with Christ into question:

 15     Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him.

16     For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world.

17     And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever.

If Demas entertained what Paul came to realize was a false hope, how could it happen? It happens when you consider someone who is part of a team of spiritually dynamic people, with fruit bearing being the result of a concerted team effort. Is it possible for a lost man to be nestled in amongst others actively serving God for a considerable time, with fruit being produced by the efforts and blessings in the life of others? It is possible. It is also possible for God to bless His Word, even when it is uttered by a lost man with no obvious contradictions in his life. So, how did Demas’ condition become known, if he was a lost man after all, with a false hope, and without fruit that remains? He left, “having loved this present world.” He ended selfishly, just walking away from the cutting edge of Christian ministry. I am at a loss about how a Christian can do that.

Let us now review the Apostle John’s comments about a man named Diotrephes, in Third John 9-11:

 9      I wrote unto the church: but Diotrephes, who loveth to have the preeminence among them, receiveth us not.

10     Wherefore, if I come, I will remember his deeds which he doeth, prating against us with malicious words: and not content therewith, neither doth he himself receive the brethren, and forbiddeth them that would, and casteth them out of the church.

11     Beloved, follow not that which is evil, but that which is good. He that doeth good is of God: but he that doeth evil hath not seen God.

 Verse 9 clearly indicates that Diotrephes is in the church the apostle is writing to, and that he is a man who loves to have the preeminence among them, filoprwteuw. The Greek word refers to being fond of the first position, to wish to be first, to like to be the leader. The word expresses ambition, the desire to have the first place in everything.[5] Notice how different from Diotrephes’ actions the words of John the Baptist, in John 3.30 are: “He [Jesus] must increase, but I must decrease.” Prating words are the words of someone who loves to hear the sound of his own voice, always has to express dominance and talks about others incessantly. Malicious words are more obviously bad and harmful to others. Imagine Diotrephes talking, always talking, and never knowing when to just be quiet. When he talked, he always had comments about others, typically injurious comments about others. It would not surprise me if Diotrephes was immune to rebuke and correction, but saw himself as a wounded victim whenever anyone took issue with the things he said or did. From verse 9, we learn that he was not receptive to the words of the gentle and aged John: “Diotrephes . . . receiveth us not.” From verse 10, we learn that his words were directed against John (“prating against us with malicious words”), that he was unreceptive to the brethren who wanted to visit (“neither doth he himself receive the brethren”), and expelled from the congregation those who refused to go along with him (“forbiddeth them that would, and casteth them out of the church”). My friends, this is hardly the conduct of someone who was spiritual, or qualified for the gospel ministry as one given to hospitality. Verse 11 clinches it, John urging the congregation not to follow the leadership of Diotrephes (“Beloved, follow not that which is evil, but that which is good”), and saying in so many words that Diotrephes is not a Christian (“He that doeth good is of God: but he that doeth evil hath not seen God”). I am filled with sadness as I consider the harm that is done when someone with a false hope actively seeks to influence others, and especially when such a person attains a significant leadership role in the church, be it pastor, music director, youth pastor, or deacon. Incredible damage has been done to the cause of Christ by that one who claims to be a Christian but who bears none of the fruits of salvation in his life.

The Apostle Paul makes mention of two men, Hymenaeus and Alexander, in First Timothy 1.18-20:

 18     This charge I commit unto thee, son Timothy, according to the prophecies which went before on thee, that thou by them mightest war a good warfare;

19     Holding faith, and a good conscience; which some having put away concerning faith have made shipwreck:

20     Of whom is Hymenaeus and Alexander; whom I have delivered unto Satan, that they may learn not to blaspheme.

Take note of verse 19, particularly the phrase “which some having put away concerning faith.” The word translated “having put away” refers to pushing away, thrusting from themselves. Thus, there are those who once seemed to embrace the Christian faith and professed to know Christ as savior, but who now put away or pushed away the faith. Are you surprised that the Apostle Paul actually names two such men, Hymenaeus and Alexander? They were blasphemers, so Paul delivered them to Satan. That is, they would not stop bad mouthing people, so Paul directed their congregation to expel them. Beyond the protection of a church congregation, a person is turned over to Satan. The question is what is blasphemy? Blasfhmew is typically translated evil speaking. Though the blasphemy against the Holy Spirit usually comes to mind, most blasphemy does not rise to that level, but is confined to harsh, unkind, or evil comments about another person. Thus, what exposed Hymenaeus and Alexander as being lost though they had professed Christ and were once members of the church, was their bad habit of speaking against others and their refusal to stop once they had been confronted. This left Paul with no choice but to put them out of the church, to deliver them to Satan. As well, to diminish the impact they had on others, Paul was inspired by the Holy Spirit to name them. What does a child of God do when he sees something worthy of criticism in another person’s life? He does not trash talk that person, or berate them. The child of God is instructed to go to that person in private and address the matter in a humble and meek spirited way, prayerfully attempting to help that other person, Galatians 6.1. Blasphemy is really putting others down in a vain attempt to lift yourself up at their expense. It is the opposite of the humility that God prizes.

Turn to First Timothy 5.8, where we see a rising problem Paul addressed in the church: “But if any provide not for his own, and specially for those of his own house, he hath denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel.” Paul addresses the problem of men who seem to embrace the Christian faith, certainly profess the Christian faith, but who have denied the Christian faith by their actions. This problem is so serious that Paul declares one who is guilty of this sin is worse than an infidel is, this is worse than being an unbeliever. How is this person’s false hope exposed? He does not provide for his own, especially those of his own house. A man’s own, those of his own house, refers to those that even nature itself teaches to be under his care and protection. My friends, under normal circumstances it is the man who is responsible to be the primary provider for those living in his house. If a man cannot rise to that level of responsibility, he is worse than an infidel is, and his lost condition is thereby exposed.

Paul in Second Timothy 2.14-18 mentions two more men, Hymenaeus and Philetus:

 14     Of these things put them in remembrance, charging them before the Lord that they strive not about words to no profit, but to the subverting of the hearers.

15     Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.

16     But shun profane and vain babblings: for they will increase unto more ungodliness.

17     And their word will eat as doth a canker: of whom is Hymenaeus and Philetus;

18     Who concerning the truth have erred, saying that the resurrection is past already; and overthrow the faith of some.

Paul is instructing young Timothy about being a better minister of the gospel, encouraging him to charge people not to argue, verse 14, to rightly divide the Word of truth, verse 15, and to shun profane and vain babblings, verse 16. While we are supposed to minister grace to others with our words, Ephesians 4.29, the wrong kind of utterances eats like a canker, the Greek word translated canker being the word from which is derived the word gangrene.[6] Though these two men spouted nonsense about the resurrection being past, overthrowing the faith of some, the same damage can be occur from spouting nonsense about other things. The real evidence of a false hope that results in a fruitless profession in this case is the damage that is caused by their speech, doing the very opposite of ministering grace.

[1] Fritz Rienecker & Cleon Rogers, Linguistic Key To The Greek New Testament, (Grand Rapids, MI: Regency Reference Library, 1980), page 399.

[2] 1 Corinthians 5.2

[3] Philemon 24

[4] 2 Timothy 4.9-10

[5] Rienecker, page 801.

[6] A. T. Robertson, Word Pictures In The New Testament, Vol IV, (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House, 1931), page 620.

Would you like to contact Dr. Waldrip about this sermon? Please contact him by clicking on the link below. Please do not change the subject within your email message. Thank you.