Summary of the last two messages from 1 Cor. Chapter 1, 2:
Thesis: We are the Temple of God because His Spirit dwells within each of us who are “Born Again” and sanctified. We need to make sure that we build up our temple by the ways of God and not destroy this precious residence of the Spirit.
Scripture Text: I Cor. 3:
Brothers, I could not address you as spiritual but as worldly—mere infants in Christ. 2I gave you milk, not solid food, for you were not yet ready for it. Indeed, you are still not ready. 3You are still worldly. For since there is jealousy and quarreling among you, are you not worldly? Are you not acting like mere men? 4For when one says, “I follow Paul,” and another, “I follow Apollos,” are you not mere men?
5What, after all, is Apollos? And what is Paul? Only servants, through whom you came to believe—as the Lord has assigned to each his task. 6I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God made it grow. 7So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God, who makes things grow. 8The man who plants and the man who waters have one purpose, and each will be rewarded according to his own labor. 9For we are God’s fellow workers; you are God’s field, God’s building.
10By the grace God has given me, I laid a foundation as an expert builder, and someone else is building on it. But each one should be careful how he builds. 11For no one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ. 12If any man builds on this foundation using gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay or straw, 13his work will be shown for what it is, because the Day will bring it to light. It will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test the quality of each man’s work. 14If what he has built survives, he will receive his reward. 15If it is burned up, he will suffer loss; he himself will be saved, but only as one escaping through the flames.
16Don’t you know that you yourselves are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit lives in you? 17If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy him; for God’s temple is sacred, and you are that temple.
18Do not deceive yourselves. If any one of you thinks he is wise by the standards of this age, he should become a “fool” so that he may become wise. 19For the wisdom of this world is foolishness in God’s sight. As it is written: “He catches the wise in their craftiness” ; 20and again, “The Lord knows that the thoughts of the wise are futile.” 21So then, no more boasting about men! All things are yours, 22whether Paul or Apollos or Cephas or the world or life or death or the present or the future—all are yours, 23and you are of Christ, and Christ is of God.
The church in Corinth planted in the city known for its wickedness and temple prostitution.
The City of Corinth is described by Ryrie as follows: “Located on the narrow isthmus between the Aegean and Adriatic Seas, Corinth was a port city and wealthy commercial center. Ships wanting to avoid the dangerous trip around the southern tip of Greece were dragged across that isthmus. The city boasted an outdoor theater that accommodated 20,000 people, athletic games second only to the Olympics, a Greek, Roman, and Oriental population, and the great temple of Aphrodite with its 1,000 prostitutes. The immoral condition of Corinth is vividly seen in the fact that the Greek term Korinthiazomai (lit., to act the Corinthian) came to mean “to practice fornication.” There were taverns on the south side of the marketplace, and many drinking vessels have been dug up from those liquor lockers. Corinth was noted for everything sinful.”
I want to remind you that in Corinth there is an evil temple – The Temple of Aphrodite – where sexual prostitution is practiced daily. This church was constantly being bombarded with sin and immorality. It was flaunted in their faces daily – the immoral and evil society led by the enemy of Jesus would have focused on destroying this beacon of light in this city. He wanted to remain in control of these people and he did not want this church to become mature and then become a threat to his wicked ways.
As we continue to progress in this letter to the Corinthians if will become obvious that the sinful culture of this city was infecting the holy church. In chapter 1 we saw a church which is divided over different personalities and leaders within the church of Jesus Christ. In chapter two we hear Paul challenging this church to re-tap into the wisdom of the Spirit and not tie into the worldly philosophies of the day. He tells this church to tap into the Spirit’s power – the spirit is the one that will establish and grow the church not man’s wisdom or philosophies of ministry. He tells them in 2:4, 5 to recall that this church was established by the demonstration of the Spirit’s power so that their faith would rest on God’s power not man’s wisdom.
Video Illustration: Last week we looked at a clip from the “Finger of God” and today I want to show you another clip which shows individuals tapping into the power of God and not into the philosophy of men or man’s intellect. Really the person documented in our clip today is led by the Spirit and God has been using this man in the shadow of man’s intellect on the Campus of Yale University to open people’s eyes to the power of the Gospel.
Show clip: I find this clip just amazing! This young man is demonstrating the power of the Gospel to people who have no clue. But he is making a difference for the Kingdom of God. He is using his life – his temple – for the glory of God. This man taps into the Spirit’s power and wisdom. He is role-modeling what it mean to live a an ordinary life as a fully devoted follower of Jesus Christ.
This church in chapter 3 is addressed by Paul – the founder and father of this congregation and he challenges them about their apathetic spiritual condition. He corrects them and even tells them to grow up and act like Christians. They need to put on the mind of Christ and start feeding on the meat of the Gospel so as to impact this city with the power of the Gospel. He reminds them who they are suppose to be in Christ – he reminds them that they are “God’s Temple”
Turn with men to 2 Chronicles 7:1-3 and lets be reminded of the establishment and dedication of God’s Temple by its earthly builder Solomon and learn what it means to be the Temple of God.
2 Chronicles 7:1-3: 1When Solomon finished praying, fire came down from heaven and consumed the burnt offering and the sacrifices, and the glory of the LORD filled the temple. 2The priests could not enter the temple of the LORD because the glory of the LORD filled it. 3When all the Israelites saw the fire coming down and the glory of the LORD above the temple, they knelt on the pavement with their faces to the ground, and they worshiped and gave thanks to the LORD, saying,
“He is good;
his love endures forever.”
J-F-B Commentary notes these thoughts about this important moment in the history of Israel and the world:
2 Chronicles 7:1-3. God gives testimony to Solomon’s prayer; The people worship.
Verse 1. the fire came down from heaven, and consumed the burnt offering—Every act of worship was accompanied by a sacrifice. The preternatural stream of fire kindled the mass of flesh, and was a token of the divine acceptance of Solomon’s prayer (see on Leviticus 9:24; 1 Kings 18:38).
the glory of the Lord filled the house—The cloud, which was the symbol of God’s presence and majesty, filled the interior of the temple (Exodus 40:35). See also 2 Chronicles 5:13,14!
Verse 2. the priests could not enter—Both from awe of the miraculous fire that was burning on the altar and from the dense cloud that enveloped the sanctuary, they were unable for some time to perform their usual functions (see on 1 Kings 8:10). But afterwards, their courage and confidence being revived, they approached the altar and busied themselves in the offering of an immense number of sacrifices.
Verse 3. all the children of Israel … bowed themselves with their faces to the ground upon the pavement—This form of prostration (that of lying on one’s knees with the forehead touching the earth), is the manner in which the Hebrews, and Orientals in general, express the most profound sentiments of reverence and humility. The courts of the temple were densely crowded on the occasion, and the immense multitude threw themselves on the ground. What led the Israelites suddenly to assume that prostrate attitude on the occasion referred to, was the spectacle of the symbolical cloud slowly and majestically descending upon the temple, and then entering it.
It’s also important to note the response of God to Solomon’s prayer of dedication of the Temple in 2 Chron. 7:11-22:
11When Solomon had finished the temple of the LORD and the royal palace, and had succeeded in carrying out all he had in mind to do in the temple of the LORD and in his own palace, 12the LORD appeared to him at night and said:
“I have heard your prayer and have chosen this place for myself as a temple for sacrifices.
13“When I shut up the heavens so that there is no rain, or command locusts to devour the land or send a plague among my people, 14if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land. 15Now my eyes will be open and my ears attentive to the prayers offered in this place. 16I have chosen and consecrated this temple so that my Name may be there forever. My eyes and my heart will always be there.
17“As for you, if you walk before me as David your father did, and do all I command, and observe my decrees and laws, 18I will establish your royal throne, as I covenanted with David your father when I said, ‘You shall never fail to have a man to rule over Israel.’
19“But if you turn away and forsake the decrees and commands I have given you and go off to serve other gods and worship them, 20then I will uproot Israel from my land, which I have given them, and will reject this temple I have consecrated for my Name. I will make it a byword and an object of ridicule among all peoples. 21And though this temple is now so imposing, all who pass by will be appalled and say, ‘Why has the LORD done such a thing to this land and to this temple?’ 22People will answer, ‘Because they have forsaken the LORD, the God of their fathers, who brought them out of Egypt, and have embraced other gods, worshiping and serving them—that is why he brought all this disaster on them.’”
I want to highlight to you God’s promises of healing and blessings in God’s response and then also God’s warning that if they forsake God and worship and serve other Gods then judgment will come from God and He will uproot them and remove them from the promised land and reject this very temple – which we know God does because sin invaded this nation and contaminated the temple of God and God left the house because it was unholy and defiled (see Ez. 11:23).
T.S. - This becomes important to compare this scene with the condition of the Corinthian Church and the message Paul is delivering to this church.
I. God’s Temple is to be a dwelling place for those who are growing spiritually (1 Cor. 3:1-9).
a. Paul opens up our chapter slamming the spiritual condition of many in this church.
i. He tells them that they are not spiritually mature but that they are acting like mere babies.
ii. He tells them he has to address them for what they are worldly.
1. Means carnal – fleshly or immature!
2. Not godly, holy and Christ like.
iii. They are called infants – babies to be exact– most know that this last week my daughter Tiffany had twin boys – here is a picture of the twins Ayden was 4lbs 13oz and Keagan was 5lbs 3 oz?
1. I am going to highlight what I observed about what it means to act like an infant!
a. They are totally dependent on others for their care.
b. They cannot eat solid food because otherwise they will choke on the food and die.
c. They are small and fragile
d. They are helpless
e. They are vulnerable
f. The boys were having a hard time maintaining their body temperature so they had to be placed in incubators to stay warm and healthy.
g. They struggled with getting enough nutrients to grow and get healthier.
3. But the boys have a tremendous blessing:
a. They have parents who will care for them and love them and even correct them.
i. These parents are united together and committed to raising these two for the Lord.
b. They are blessed in that they have grandparents who are committed to their growth both physically, spiritually and mentally.
i. We will love them, care for them and “yes” even correct them when they are wrong.
b. The following ideas come from “Stop Acting like Babies” from Shawn Drake sermoncentral.com and my own personal observations this last week spending time at St. Francis Hospital with my new born grandsons.
i. Babies will always act their age and the truth is babies should act like babies. This last week Keagan and Adyen acted their age both as premies. They cried, whimpered, looked to others to feed them, clean them and change them –
1. Show the pictures:
2. But there are many Christians who act like babies even after they are more than two years old in the Lord because they have refused to grow up.
a. If two years from now Ayden and Keagan were still acting like newborns, then this would be a tragedy for both Josh and Tiffany.
b. They both believe that their boys will grow and mature.
c. As a matter of fact that has been the concern for both of the boys. This is why they are in incubators and why Keagan was on an IV for a while.
d. The hospital staff also expects and wants the boys to grow and mature!
ii. Babies cannot eat solid food, they must have milk. If they eat solid food they will choke to death. This is why they feed the babies with formula or breast milk so that they get the proper food and type of food that they can handle so as to grow.
1. But it would be a problem if 2 years from now once again the babies are only drinking formula and not eating solid food.
2. A spiritual baby can only handle the milk of the Word for their first year of life also. The basics of the Bible are wonderful, but there is much more that God has for us. Paul tells this church that they need to grow up and start feeding on the meat of the God’s Word.
iii. I observed this week that babies do fight for their way and they do this by crying and whining.
1. I noticed that when the boys were being cleaned that they really screamed and cried. They did not like this!
a. But this was done for their personal benefit – but the boys did not understand that.
2. I observed that when they did not like something they would let you know it- especially all the medical checkups.
a. They through fits but this did not stop the medical staff from doing their jobs,
3. They also let you know when they were hungry, wet and uncomfortable!
a. The staff did not become angry at this they went and cared for their needs because they were babies!
4. But I know that my very intelligent and cute grand babies will grow out of this stage as mom and dad do their jobs and parent these young preachers for the Lord.
a. Drake notes, “Baby Christians do the same. If they don’t get their way, they fight and fuss. But they too should grow out of this stage and become mature in the things and the way of the Lord.”
iv. I observed that babies are usually particular in who they want to hold them and take care of them.
1. I didn’t mind holding the babies at this age because they liked being cuddled. But their always comes that time when they want their mother.
2. But once again I am glad that I don’t have to hold my kids today and rock them to sleep and still feed them – especially now that Tiffany has her own babies to feed.
a. Drake notes, “Baby Christians are the same way. They become very attached to certain people. Maybe their Pastor, Sunday School Teacher, Deacon, etc… and what you end up with if you are not careful is a bunch of clubs with a bunch of leaders. Paul is telling them to stop letting this happen.”
i. The truth is for a baby to properly mature and be healthy they have to learn to stand on their own, take care of themselves, and be who God has called them be.”
b. Drake also notes the following, “God is the One that puts the people and leaders you need before you. God is the One that will guide those leaders in a way that will help you grow. You need to worship God not man. Leaders are like farmers. They can plant and water, but only God can grow produce. Notice in verse 9 that there are three examples given of what we are as Christians and whose name is in front of each example? God’s Name. We are God’s fellow workers. We are God’s field. We are God’s building.”
v. I also know that as a baby grows, they start interacting with other kids. The older you get the more you look for others to imitate. It is a proven fact that children are a lot like their parents. Children build their beliefs and attitudes around the influence of other people in their life and through the lessons they learn as they progress through the stages of life.
1. Drake notes, “Christians must be cautious about what they build their spiritual life upon. If it is built upon anything or anyone besides Jesus, It will fall down.”
vi. As Ayden and Keagan grow they will at times forget who is in charge – mom and dad and “yes” even Grandpa and Grandma.
1. The older a child gets the more they think they know and the more some of them think they know the dumber their parents get.
a. Drake notes, “When I was 16 to about 21 my parents just got more stupid every year; but at 32 years old I believe my parents are some of the smartest and wisest people I know. What happened? Did I get more stupid? Did my parents get smarter? What happened is I grew up.”
b. But this too changes with time and experience. When we enter into a new phase of life. I observed how Tiffany really wants her mom around now because this mom thing is so challenging and she wants the help and experience of her mother.
i. She believes now – “Mom does know best – especially with newborn babies.”
T.S. - Paul makes it clear in this section that the Christians in Corinth need to grow up and act like the mature Christians that they should be after so many years of being in the Lord. To grow they must be building up the temple that God resides in – their own lives.
II. God’s temple is to be built up by using the right building blocks of life – really eternal life (1 Cor. 3:10-15)
a. Each person who resides in God’s temple needs to be careful how they build onto the Temple of God.
i. Jesus Christ is the foundation and the footing that we need to build upon.
1. Paul warns this church that if they decide to use the building material of the world then their temple will end up being destroyed in the end at the Day of Judgment.
a. The Temple of God is built only upon the foundation of Jesus.
2. Illustration: The Leaning Tower of Pisa in Italy was going to fall over. Scientists traveled each year to measure the building’s slow descent. They reported that the 179-foot tower moved about one-twentieth of an inch a year, and was once 17 feet out of plumb. They further estimated that the 833-year old tower would have leaned too far and collapsed onto the nearby ristorante unless drastic measures were undertaken. Several metric meters of soil from underneath the raised end were eventually removed and this action moved the tower one inch towards the center. While this does not seem like a major stride, the action makes the tower stable for at least another 300 years. Quite significantly, the word "pisa" in our leaning Tower of Pisa actually means "marshy land," which gives some clue as to why the tower began to lean even before it was completed. Also--its foundation is only 10 feet deep. No wonder why the building never stood entirely erect, the foundation was flawed from the beginning (From Kenneth Anthony, sermoncentral.com).
ii. We need to build cautiously because the Day is coming when all of our labor and building skills will be tried by the fire of Heaven.
1. The fire of heaven will test the authenticity of the builder and their building material.
2. God is a consuming fire and only that which is holy and sacred will survive the fire of God.
3. The Corinthian church had evolved into a church that was filled with bickering, pride, arrogance and lack of love and Paul lets them know that this along with the wealth of the world will not survive the testing from God’s holy fire.
iii. Only that which stands the test will be rewarded whereas that which fail’s the test will suffer great loss.
1. But there is a word of encouragement for some that they will slide into heaven with the flames of Hell stinging their back side but they will squeeze in.
b. Paul wants this church, and us, to know that using the right building materials and following the right building codes is essential to a successful building project that will stand the test of time.
i. The building code is found in the Master Architects plan for a successful life and temple – God’s Word – The Bible.
1. It tells us how to build and what material to use to build this holy life for the Lord.
2. It tells us how to endure the fire of heaven.
3. It tells us everything we need to know about building successfully!
c. Kenneth notes, “Just as the building’s foundation is important to a building’s long-term sustainability and strength, the foundation of our faith is equally important to the viability and quality of our soul. Even though we may be teachers, accountants, firemen, lawyers, or restaurateurs, the bible tells us in 1 Corinthians 3:9-17 that we are all builders. Each of us is involved in a life-long construction project building a temple for the Holy Spirit.”
d. What are the right building blocks of life?
i. The Foundation – which is Jesus is to be what everything else is based off – without this proper start everything else will fail the test of eternal time.
T.S. – We have to build up the temple of God and help it expand and grow and in the process of building we also need to protect the temple from anything that would make it collapse or be destroyed.
III. God’s Temple is to be protected, guarded and preserved for eternity (1 Cor. 3:16-23)
a. Paul tells us and this church that as believers we are God’s temple and that because we are the temple of God – His spirit resides within us.
i. Greater is He that lives within us then he that lives in the world and we must make sure that we guard this temple from anything that would try to tear it down.
b. Paul really does give this a church a critical “Warning: Do not destroy the temple of God!”
i. Why, because God will destroy them!
ii. God’s temple is to be holy and sacred.
1. Paul warns this church that sin – immorality – dissension – division will destroy God’s temple.
2. That which is not sacred will destroy the temple of God! Remember Israel’s warning back in 2 Chronicles 7?
c. Deception to the things of God will also bring destruction to the temple!
i. The wise standards of this age and sinful culture will destroy the temple of God.
ii. The culture of the day said, ‘Go ahead commit sexual immorality – God won’t mind – God is okay with it. The Corinthian city was evil because they practiced “Sexual immorality in the temple of Aphrodite.”
1. It was considered normal!
2. It was considered even a way to honor other gods!
3. It was a way of life for many!
4. Paul warns them your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit – do not defile it or the Spirit will leave! These sinful acts will destroy your temple.
a. Reference “Sex in the City”
i. Comments in the Hospital from staff!
d. The truth is if God dwells in our temple then we should act spiritually mature. There should be no jealousy, no divisions, no playing favorites, no following of personalities, no sexual immorality, no idol worship, arrogance, and no works of the flesh.
i. Galatians 5:16-26:16So I say, live by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature. 17For the sinful nature desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the sinful nature. They are in conflict with each other, so that you do not do what you want. 18But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under law.19The acts of the sinful nature are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; 20idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions 21and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.22But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. 24Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires. 25Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. 26Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying each other.
1. Paul makes it real clear what the life of spirit looks like and what the life lead by carnality and worldly ways looks like.
2. As followers of Jesus we need to guard our Temple and keep it holy – so that God’s Spirit does not depart.
Illustration: GOD ONLY LIVES IN THE BEST The Old Testament Temple was only 30’ wide by 90’ long-- a mere 2700 square feet. It was smaller than many homes today. It has been estimated that to rebuild the Temple by the directions in the Bible would cost today about four billion dollars! It would take incredible amounts of gold, expensive wood and tapestries, and the finest stone. It was the most expensive building per square foot ever built. Queen of Sheba saw it and swooned. And now, we have become the dwelling place of God!! We are of great value to God as the place where His Spirit takes up residence (From Guy McGraw sermoncentral.com).
THE SHANTY REMODEL "In the upper portion of New York City, many citizens may often have noticed, especially in the past years, a great number of miserable shanties, standing on the choicest sites. Though perhaps on the corner of a splendid new avenue or looking out on a magnificent prospect, the house was utterly unworthy of the site. Suppose that a millionaire should want to purchase this site, and that the owner should begin, before giving possession, to repair the old shanty for the new owner, putting fresh thatch on the miserable roof and a new coat of whitewash on the dirty walls. How the purchaser would laugh at him and say, "My friend, I do not want your miserable old wreck of a tenement fixed up like this. At the best, it will only be a shanty when you have done all you can to it and I will never live in it. All I want is the ground, the site, and when I get it I will raze the old heap of rubbish to the foundations, and dig deep down to the solid rock before I build my splendid mansion. I will then build from the base my own new house according to my own magnificent plan. I do not want a vestige of your house, all that I require is the location." This is exactly what God wants of us and waits to do in us. Each of us has a splendid site for a heavenly temple. It looks out upon eternity and commands a view of all that is glorious in the possibilities of existence. The house that is built upon it now, however, is a worthless wreck, it is past improving. Our patching and repairing is worse than waste. What God wants of us is simply that we give him the possibilities of our lives and let him build upon them a temple of holiness which he will make his own abode and which he will let us dwell in with him as his happy guests in the house of the Lord forever. SOURCE: A.B. Simpson, founder of the Christian and Missionary Alliance, in his book Wholly Sanctified (From Jim Luthy sermoncentral.com).
1. God’s Temple is to be filled with the spiritual mature not the immature and worldly ones (1 Cor. 3:1-9).
2. God’s temple is to be built up by the using the right building blocks of life – eternal life (1 Cor. 3:10-15)
3. God’s Temple is to be protected not destroyed (1 Cor. 3:16-23)
God’s Temple is filled with His glory and this glory is manifested by His presence in the Temple - Christians with God’s presence in their life will reflect His glory by their actions.
God’s Temple is to be built up and expanded by using the right building blocks for eternal life.
We are responsible to protect, to guard and to preserve the Temple of the Lord for eternity.