Summary: Through a study of 1 Corinthians 2:1-16, Paul will show us where to find the true secret wisdom and real spirituality.

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Spiritual Discernment

1 Corinthians 2

Would you like to know the secret to true wisdom? Would you like to find the keys to deeper living, to higher-level spirituality? From ancient times people have sought some kind of deeper, hidden special knowledge or insight that offers the key to understanding life, the insight that provides happiness and makes sense of the world. The ancient Gnostics were obsessed with this quest. We are on the same search today –the book, The Secret, is still on bestseller lists. From Oprah to Kabala to Scientology, people are driven to find some secret wisdom. Thrillers look to the past for the lost Ark of the Covenant; science fiction looks to higher knowledge from aliens on other planets. More and more people are turning to the supernatural and are intrigued by the mysterious as seen in wildly successful shows such as Lost.

At Christ Fellowship we are in a new series called Spiritual Wisdom in a Foolish World. Come back with me to ancient Corinth in Greece to read a letter written to people also in search of spiritual wisdom in the wrong places who formed elitist groups based on certain teachings. We do the same today. People form groups based on some new spiritual guru’s latest bestseller and seminar seeking with levels of advancement in spirituality. It can get silly.

In Corinth, what they thought was wise, ends up being foolish. Paul takes us back to deep roots of our faith to show us how to live for Christ in a corrupt culture. He urges us to live Christ-like lives by the power of the Spirit as a unified church. We’ve looked at our spiritual identity and spiritual power. Today we embrace spiritual discernment. Paul will show us where to find the true secret wisdom and real spirituality.

In modern Christian circles some groups use buzzwords to express their take on what it means to be mature or really spiritual. Have you ever had someone ask you if you were “full of the Spirit”? Have you got the “second blessing”? Does your church believe in the “full gospel?” The Corinthians had catchwords for their positions. Paul uses their buzzwords and reclaims them by re-defining them in light of Christ and the Holy Spirit. In his using their language but filling it with his own content, Paul refutes them. He uses terms that the Corinthians employed to justify their spiritual elitism (“wisdom,” “mature,” “secret,” “spiritual”) and shows that when these terms are properly understood they include that which is available to all believers, not just the super-spiritual.

The problem in Corinth was not that some Christians did not have the Spirit. It was, rather that though all the Corinthian Christians had the Spirit, they are not living as spiritual persons ought to live. Our problem today is not that we don’t have what we need to live Christ-like lives, but that we are not embracing what has been given. We are instead are misfocused in unfruitful directions.

We are bombarded by claims that the key to a happy, healthy Christianity, is to be found in some new technique of prayer, a new self-help therapy, a certain Christian book, spiritual warfare, a certain style of worship, personal revelation, a prayer tongue and on and on. Similarly, the church has become increasingly populated by single-issue people, analogous to single-issue voters in the political arena. One person constantly clamors for theology to be taught as the cure for all the church’s ills; another repeatedly insists that global missions must overshadow every other commitment. A third is captivated by the writings of a famous Christian celebrity and promotes them as if they never erred. When these so-called “keys” move away from the humbling, central focus on the cross of Christ, they have become elitist, potentially divisive and must be rejected. At Christ Fellowship we are all about Jesus. Our focus is on Jesus Christ. We are not and will not be distracted by secondary agendas. Christ is the center.

Ironically, many deeper life Christian movements have appealed to our text, 1 Corinthians chapter two, to justify their approach when, in fact, that is the opposite of Paul’s intent. Paul’s point is that we should embrace spiritual discernment of God’s wisdom in Christ by the Spirit. When we shift our focus off Christ to some other secondary teaching or emphasis, we have lost our way. When we pursue some “deeper” teaching that only we and our group have seen, we have missed the point that maturity is available to all through Christ by the Spirit. Ironically, the Corinthians thought they were mature and spiritual in their pursuit of wisdom, but in fact they were spiritual infants who missed the true wisdom of God in Christ.

Open your Bible to First Corinthians chapter two, verse six. Paul’s argument in chapter two comes in three parts that I have captured for you in the sermon outline. Your outline also gives you sub-points to help you see the logic of the verses supporting each main point. Verses six to ten show the source of spiritual wisdom, God himself. Then verses eleven and twelve show how we gain an understanding of God’s wisdom. Finally verses thirteen to sixteen explain what we do with that wisdom. For Paul, the Spirit is the key to wisdom in Christ. His contrast is not between classes of Christians, but between those who have the Spirit and those who don’t; in other words between those who are Christians and those who are not.

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