Summary: A textual sermon on 1 Corinthians 4:6 (Material taken from Dave Swavely's book, "Who Are You To Judge? The Dangers of Judging and Legalism", Chapter 5 "Two Dangers of Legalism")


"What must I forsake to follow Christ?" a young man asked.

"Colored clothes for one thing. Get rid of everything in your wardrobe that is not white. Stop sleeping on a soft pillow. Sell your musical instruments and don't eat any more white bread. You cannot, if you are sincere about obeying Christ, take warm baths or shave your beard. To shave is to lie against him who created us, to attempt to improve on his work."


“Do not go beyond what is written.”

Many others through the ages have created standards beyond what the Scripture has revealed to judge the behavior of other Christians. They were in danger of placing their man made and cultural standards on an equal level with commands and principles of Bible.

Remember Paul is confronting the problem of division here. “For when one says, “I follow Paul,” and another, “I follow Apollos,” are you not mere men?” 1 Corinthians 3:4, NIV.

Paul begins to correct this by talking about judging in vs. 3-5. Many of the judgements made of Paul and Apollos were based on extra biblical standards, because this is where Paul mentions “learn not to exceed what is written.” What issues were dividing the Corinthians into various camps based on various teachers?

1. How many converts they each had. Issue from 4:2 is not the number of converts he has, but whether he is faithful to the Lord.

2. Ministry style. With their personalities and gifts they did things differently. 3:10-15

3. Certain extra biblical standards of conduct. “Do not go beyond what is written” This is what we are focusing on tonight.

For us the HS is warning about the danger of drawing conclusions in our minds about matters not addressed in the Word of God. We must confine our opinions about spiritual truth and morality to the teachings of the Bible. Speak where the Bible speaks and be silent where the Bible is silent.

“All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness,” 2 Timothy 3:16, NIV. This book has everything we need.

Why should we, as individual Christians and churches, be committed to guarding against “going beyond what is written”? The answer lies in all the problems that result from it.

Thesis: 2 dangers that Paul mentions in 1 Cor. 4:6

For instances:

The danger of spiritual pride

“so that no one of you will become arrogant”- NASB.

How exactly does this happen? It centers around a Greek word that means “to be puffed up”, and is found several times in Paul’s writings.

1. “Now about food sacrificed to idols: We know that we all possess knowledge. Knowledge puffs up, but love builds up. The man who thinks he knows something does not yet know as he ought to know. But the man who loves God is known by God.” 1 Corinthians 8:1-3, NIV.

Knowledge puffs up. The study of spiritual issues can actually produce bad results if it is divorced from love for God and others.

“The goal of this command is love, which comes from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith.” 1 Timothy 1:5, NIV.

Without love, the knowledge we gain just makes us prideful and unloving toward others. Along these lines, it is interesting to notice how many judgmental conversations begin with words like “I’ve studied this extensively,” “I’ve been around the block a few times,” or “I know why this is happening.” The more people think they know about a particular issue, through study or experience, the more qualified they feel to make judgments about it- even if the Scriptures do not make such judgments.

2. “Therefore do not let anyone judge you by what you eat or drink, or with regard to a religious festival, a New Moon celebration or a Sabbath day. These are a shadow of the things that were to come; the reality, however, is found in Christ. Do not let anyone who delights in false humility and the worship of angels disqualify you for the prize. Such a person goes into great detail about what he has seen, and his unspiritual mind puffs him up with idle notions.” Colossians 2:16-18, NIV.

This whole section deals with issues that go beyond what is written. Spiritual pride actually makes us spiritually immature and ungodly. The more we add to the Scriptures, the more we go backward instead of forward in our relationship with God.

why does this happen? When we learn and obey the commandments and teachings of Scripture, the HS is present and working within us as we do. When we are learning and obeying the “commandments and teachings of men,” HS is not. If we grow in our godliness by the power of the HS, He makes sure that we progress in humility as well. When we are going by man made ideas, we can only grow arrogant as we surpass other Christians in our “spiritual success.”

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