Summary: The church at Corinth was one of the most gifted churches in the New Testament. Due to her misunderstanding of and misuse of those gifts, she was failing miserably in accomplishing the task God had given to her.
Members of One Body -Understanding Our Spiritual Gifts
The city of Corinth was a beehive of activity. It was a major city in the Roman Empire that had not one, but two major ports. Corinth was built on a land bridge between two separate seas and as a result became an influential city of commerce. But Corinth is not remembered for this particular achievement. Instead, we remember Corinth because of a church that the Apostle Paul planted. The Corinthian church was a church of unparalleled potential. It was planted in one of the most successful and sinful places in all the Roman Empire. In fact, the Corinthian society was so renowned for its debauched behavior that the name was used as a byword –a slanderous accusation, synonymous with sin. When someone behaved in a self-serving and sinful manner, they were said to have been ‘Corinthianized.’ Or someone would give another the advice, “Don’t be a Corinthian” as a means of encouraging them to do right.
This was the culture in which Paul planted this church. As you read this first epistle to the church at Corinth, it becomes obvious that many of the trappings and carnal lusts of the pagan world had crept into that local assembly. God’s plan for this church was to be a lighthouse in a darkened world. God’s plan was that they would be a beacon of hope and a catalyst for change. God’s plan was that they might be salt and light to a multitude of people who were slaves to sin and bound for hell. That was God’s plan. And God had equipped them for this task!
The Corinthian Church was one of the most gifted churches we read of in the New Testament. It was truly unparalleled in its potential. You see, God always equips His people to accomplish His plan. The believer’s in Corinth were blessed with spiritual gifts. You cannot read this chapter without recognizing that fact. God the Holy Spirit had given to this local church every gift that was needed for them to be effective in reaching and ministering to the multitudes around them. Yet with all that potential –with all that promise –they were failing miserably at the task God had called them to.
*Satan cannot take away your spiritual gifts, but he can fool you into not using them appropriately. Satan cannot rob you of your gifts but he can lie to you and lead you to believe that you do not have any or dismiss the one you do have. This is exactly what was happening in Corinth. Some were completely ignorant that they had gifts. Others did not know how to use them. They still had the gifts, but because they were caught up with pride, ambition and selfishness –their spiritual gifts were being neglected and misused.
But let’s not be too hard on the church at Corinth. The truth is, this same scenario is repeated time and time again today. There are multitudes of local churches that God has strategically placed in a specific area to be salt and light to a dying community. These local churches have been equipped and gifted in such a way that their effectiveness is guaranteed. Yet church after church –Christian after Christian struggles to make any headway in accomplishing God’s plan. Why? This happens for many reasons, but perhaps the most common is because God’s people are not utilizing their unique gifts for His glory and the advancement of His kingdom.
This was a major problem at Corinth. They did not understand their gifts or the reasons behind them and therefore they were ineffective in both their private and public walk with God. Friend, it is just as true for us today –we will never reach our full potential in Christ until we understand and utilize the gifts God has given to us. Paul understood this and sets out to correct their error. This morning, I want to highlight some of the things Paul highlighted to the believers at Corinth. There are 3 very important themes that we find in every passage that deals with Spiritual Gifts.
Let’s notice them quickly:
1. There is a Diversity of Gifts verse 4
And there are differences of administrations, but the same Lord. And there are diversities of operations, but it is the same God which worketh all in all. But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to every man to profit withal. For to one is given by the Spirit the word of wisdom; to another the word of knowledge by the same Spirit; To another faith by the same Spirit; to another the gifts of healing by the same Spirit; To another the working of miracles; to another prophecy; to another discerning of spirits; to another divers kinds of tongues; to another the interpretation of tongues: