Text: 1 Peter 2:2; 2 Corinthians 2:17

Parents are careful with what they give their children to eat. They will make sure the child will be given clean and nutritious food so that they will grow up strong and healthy. No loving parent would deliberately give their child food that is poisonous for fear that it would harm the child.

Similarly, we are also careful to ensure what we eat is hygienic. Ingesting anything that is tainted can cause a stomach-ache. In severe cases, there can be extensive vomiting and diarrhoea, and even death. This is the reason why the Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority of Singapore (AVA) imposes stringent food standards in Singapore. The food we eat has a great impact on our life.

The Christian lives by the Word of God (Deut. 8:3; Matt 4:4). It is food to our soul. Thus, the Bible tells us that we should “desire the sincere milk of the word” that we may “grow thereby” (1 Pet. 2:2). The word “sincere” in this verse refers to something that is pure and unadulterated. If we are to grow spiritually, then we must make sure we must feed upon the pure Word of God. To do otherwise would be spiritually dangerous. It is not something that we should play a fool with.

Dr. Carl McIntire states the severity of the issue well, “Experience warns us that the food for our bodies must be pure, and without poison. So, also, God’s Word demands that the food for our souls be pure, and without poi-son. When physical food is poison, the body dies. When spiritual food is poison, the soul perishes.” It is thus an “absolute requirement” that our food must be pure.

Alas, the Bible tells us in 2 Corinthians 2:17 that there are many who corrupt the Word of God. It is not just “a few”, or “some”, but many who handle the Word of God deceitfully! They twist and turn the Holy Scriptures to suit their nefarious ideas and practices, peddling the Word of God to make merchandise of God’s people. There is no concern whether the souls of men would perish due to their tainting of God’s Word. They will do what it takes to corrupt the truth so that their fleshly lusts may be fulfilled.

How thankful then that Paul and his associates were true to their calling as servants of Christ. Firstly, they were serving in “sincerity” (i.e. with pure motives). The proof of this was how they handled the Word of God. They preached faithfully according to the Word and refused to “sugar-coat” the scriptures to defraud God’s people. They are committed to speaking the truth because they knew they were sent by God and thus accountable to Him. Thus, they spoke the whole counsel of God even if it meant that it may not be well-received by some. They also lived out the Word of God. These are the marks of one who is truly called of God to be a messenger of His Word.

The problem of false messengers was not new. Israel was plagued with false prophets throughout her history before her dispersion. In order to boost their popularity and elicit gain, the prophets preached false messages of health, wealth and prosperity to the people. They refused to rebuke the people for their sin, neither did they preach the judgements of God. Concerning these prophets, the Lord said, “I have not sent these prophets, yet they ran: I have not spoken to them, yet they prophesied.” (Jer. 23:21)

Sadly, the nation of Israel did not reject such prophets but embraced them. Jeremiah 5:31 is a sad indictment of the Jews – “The prophets prophesy falsely, and the priests bear rule by their means; and my people love to have it so: and what will ye do in the end thereof?” (Jer. 5:31) They loved food that was tainted with poison!

Similarly, the church at Corinth ought to have noticed the difference in the message of Paul and that of the false messengers. However, they allowed themselves to be swayed by the false messengers. That ought not to be the case. They should have taken heed to Proverbs 19:27, “Cease, my son, to hear the instruction that causeth to err from the words of knowledge.”

In application, Tabernacle BPC must guard the pulpit ministry zealously, for God’s people must be fed with the pure Word of God. Every speaker who is invited must be in the same spirit as Paul and his associates. They must be well-trained to handle the Word of God, and also be proven to be men of integrity. The same principle applies to those who are invited to speak in the fellowship groups. Our teachers in the Sunday Schools must also be men and women of sincerity and truth. The strictest standards must be maintained, for God’s people must be protected and given the very best.

At the same time, let us as God’s people guard our hearts, that we may love to hear the truth, and not that which is false. We must not make the same mistake as the church of Corinth, who went through many pains and sorrows because of their carnality.

If we are stringent with our physical food, we must be even more so with our spiritual food. Our food matters. Let us take heed what we eat.

Yours affectionately,
Pastor Clement Chew