Summary: With mixed groups of individuals in Corinth, a crisis was rising.
It was October of 1962. I was a strapping youth of 12 years old, with my entire life before me, living in constant fear of a nuclear bomb blowing us all away. An Air Force reconnaissance plane had taken pictures of Russian built missile silos sitting inside the island of Cuba just off the coast of Florida. These missiles had nuclear warheads capable of reaching strategic areas in the United States.
President John F. Kennedy sent a clear message to the Premier Nikata Khrushchev that these missiles were to be dismantled and returned to Russia. The President also ordered an immediate naval and air blockade of Cuba, stopping any Russian ships or aircraft from entering Cuban airspace or shoreline.
At the time I was in the sixth grade. We begin watching films on the effects of fallout from a nuclear blast. We discovered the horrors of a nuclear winter where the sun would be blocked out for months. We did fallout drills where we curl up into a ball and hide under our desks. It was a frightening time for a child.
At the end of October Khrushchev decided to test the resolve of the United States. He sent ships armed with weaponry intended for Cuba to break the blockade that the United States had set. It became a deadly war of “chicken” to see who would back down first.
The Russian ships came within a hundred yards of U.S. warships. Warships that had been ordered to stop the Russian ships at all cost. Within feet to spare, the Russian ships turned and proceeded back to Russia. Eventually, the missiles would be dismantled and nuclear war would be averted.
The church in Corinth was facing a spiritual crisis much like the crisis we just discussed. They were in the midst of an immoral society that was infiltrating the church. It had led to questions and confusion, so Paul decided to erect a blockade of truth in a letter written to them around 55 AD. And in that letter he described four types of individuals found in the fellowship.
Let’s read 1 Corinthians 2:13-14 “When we tell you these things, we do not use words that come from human wisdom. Instead, we speak words given to us by the Spirit, using the Spirit’s words to explain spiritual truths. But people who aren’t spiritual can’t receive these truths from God’s Spirit. It all sounds foolish to them and they can’t understand it, for only those who are spiritual can understand what the Spirit means.”
The first group of people is the non-spiritual. They may attend church occasionally but they cannot grasp the truth of what is being taught. The idea of God in flesh becoming his own Son and dying when everyone knows that God can’t die is foolishness to them. Praying prayers to an unseen force that may or may not answer those prayers is in comprehensible to them.
Isaiah 40: 12 asks the question “Who else has held the
oceans in his hand? Who has measured off the heavens with his fingers? Who else knows the weight of the earth or has weighed the mountains and hills on a scale? Those that are spiritual understand that only God can make that claim. However the non-spiritual would answer “No one.”
The non- spiritual is just that. They do not have the spirit living in them. They are not a Christian. But they do not deserve to be condemned.
Think about things in your life you don’t understand and cannot do. I can read books and watch videos on how to repair a car engine for example. But I do not have the dexterity or skills to accomplish the task. The only ones who would want to condemn me for that would be those who could. Those who are like me would understand.
The same is true with unbelievers. Rather than be handled as those who do not understand, they are cornered and often feel berated. This is why the non-spiritual is driven to hang out with other non-spiritual. It’s our job to love them and share Jesus with them when they are willing. It’s the Holy Spirits job to conform them.
On the opposite end of the spectrum are these individuals.
1 Corinthians 2:15-16 “Those who are spiritual can evaluate all things, but they themselves cannot be evaluated by others. For, ‘Who can know the Lord’s thoughts? Who knows enough to teach him?’ But we understand these things, for we have the mind of Christ.”
This group of people is the mature Christians. They are not perfect but everything they do is done with a desire to do so from God’s perspective. They evaluate their actions in all they do. They are not concerned with how others observe them. Their concern is how God observes them.