Thursday, November 08, 2012

1st Clement 48 - The gates of righteousness

Clement tells the Corinthian church that it is time for them to put away, or to remove, this sin in their midst and he identifies their first step in this process as repentance.
"Let us therefore, with all haste, put an end to this [state of things]; and let us fall down before the Lord, and beseech Him with tears, that He would mercifully be reconciled to us, and restore us to our former seemly and holy practice of brotherly love." (1 Clement 48)
Someone once asked me, "If the scriptures say there is a time for everything under heaven, when is the time for sin?" The answer is "the past." Sin must be eradicated, it cannot be allowed to grow and fester; sin is one thing we cannot afford to ignore. Sin was destroying their relationships with one another and with their Lord. They needed a reconciliation with their Lord first and also with each

Clement describes repentance as a door or gate.
For [such conduct] is the gate of righteousness, which is set open for the attainment of life, as it is written, 'Open to me the gates of righteousness; I will go in by them, and will praise the Lord: this is the gate of the Lord: the righteous shall enter in by it.' Although, therefore, many gates have been set open, yet this gate of righteousness is that gate in Christ by which blessed are all they that have entered in and have directed their way in holiness and righteousness, doing all things without disorder." (1 Clement 48)
The "conduct" he is speaking of here is not "brotherly love" but repentance. There are many options available to us, many different gates open, many different ways we could go, but the gate of righteousness leads to life. The gate of  righteousness is pursued by those who desire righteousness; by those who desire what lies beyond its gates. However, it is repentance that turns us from the world towards that gate.

Repentance, among other things, is a change of mind. It is a change where we choose to prefer the things of righteousness rather than the things of sin. Where we choose to look towards Jesus rather than to ourselves. Where we prefer the fruit of the Kingdom of God rather than the fruit of this world. When we thus turn and implore Jesus for His mercy and reconciliation, we find ourselves passing through the gates of righteousness.

Clement finally offers this caution to those who believe that they stand, those who have already passed through the gates.
"Let a man be faithful: let him be powerful in the utterance of knowledge; let him be wise in judging of words; let him be pure in all his deeds; yet the more he seems to be superior to others [in these respects], the more humble-minded ought he to be, and to seek the common good of all, and not merely his own advantage." (1 Clement 48)
What keeps us inside the gates? Humbleness and a lifestyle that looks out for the needs of others before the needs of ourselves. If we remain humble as to the accomplishments and merits of our own life and rather focus ourselves on the needs and interests of others, then we will safeguard our lives inside the gate.

David Robison

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