If anyone does not love the Lord, he is to be accursed Maranatha.1 Corinthians 16:22(NASB)
Paul concludes his epistle to the Corinthians by exhorting them to engage in appropriate Christian conduct. Be on your guard and stand fast in the faith, he commands, and let everything be done in love.
Paul had exposed many problems in the conduct of these believers, earlier in his letter. He addressed many doctrinal issues that were inhibiting their spiritual development and gave some stern warnings to these carnally-minded Christians - appealing for them to abandon their worldly ways, cease from any internal disputes, and live in a bond of peace and brotherly love.
In his closing comments, Paul speaks a word of encouragement, while exhorting them toward sound doctrine, maturing in the faith and developing Christ-like love, by making this solemn pronouncement: If anyone does not love the Lord, he is to be anathema. Let him be accursed, were Paul's stern words - concluding with the wonderful entreaty Maranatha - Come Lord Jesus!!
False teachers had been responsible for many worldly attitudes, and unorthodox doctrines, that had infiltrated this church at Corinth, and quite possibly some would be the recipients of this corrective letter. So dangerous and abhorrent were these false teachings to Paul, that he pronounced an anathema on those that led others astray.
'Anathema', is a Greek word that translates into abhorrent, hateful, odious, repugnant, repellent, offensive; an abomination and accursed. The terrible consequences of false teaching and demonic doctrines, percolating into the body of Christ, cannot be over-emphasised.. which is why Paul made this shocking invocation on all who do not love the Lord with all their heart and soul and mind and strength. Love of God can never translate into deceiving His children with false teachings and demonic doctrines, and so Paul proclaimed a curse on all who peddle false teachings and demonic doctrines.
It was JC Ryle who said: 'Paul allows no way of escape to the man who does not love Christ. He leaves no loophole or excuse. A man may lack a clear head-knowledge and yet be saved. He may fail in courage, and be overcome by the fear of man, like Peter. He may fall tremendously, like David, and yet rise again. But if a person does not love Christ, he is not in the way of life. The curse is yet upon him. He is on the broad road that leadeth to destruction.'
Ryle continued: 'The judgement on false teachers and those that do not love the Lord is tremendously severe, which is why Paul used the word 'anathema', to label such a person. But each member of the body of Christ has the responsibility to know the truth, contained in the word of God, so that they will not be tossed about by every wind of doctrine nor seek after teachers that spew out an egocentric Christianity, rather that the Christ-focused truth.'
Let us examine ourselves to see if we are in the faith and secure in the truth of the word of God, and let us study to show ourselves approved unto God... and to love the Lord with all our heart and soul and mind and strength.
Heavenly Father, thank You for Your Word and this instructive letter to the Corinthian church. I pray that I may know You more each day and grow in grace and in a knowledge of Jesus Christ my Lord. Give me discernment, I pray, so that I may not be tossed about by false teachings and I pray that the love of Christ may fill my heart and become a conduit, through which Christ's love spills out to those I meet - this I pray in Jesus name, AMEN.