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Summary: There are spiritual infants and spiritual adults. Infants are characterized by envy, strife, and division. Adults, in Christ, are characterized by love, forgiveness, and peace. Which are we?

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I. Introduction

A. Mr. Lee was terribly overweight, so his doctor put him on a diet. "I want you to eat regularly for 2 days, then skip a day, and repeat this procedure for 2 weeks. The next time I see you, you'll have lost at least 5 pounds." When Mr. Lee returned, he shocked the doctor by losing nearly 20 pounds. "Why, that's amazing!" the doctor said, "Did you follow my instructions?" Mr. Lee nodded. "I'll tell you though, I thought I was going to drop dead that 3rd day." "From hunger, you mean?" asked the doctor. Replied Mr. Lee, "No, from skipping."

II. Body

A. Lets begin by reading 1 Corinthians 3:1 - 4

1 Corinthians 3:1-4 (NKJV)

And I, brethren, could not speak to you as to spiritual people but as to carnal, as to babes in Christ. {2} I fed you with milk and not with solid food; for until now you were not able to receive it, and even now you are still not able; {3} for you are still carnal. For where there are envy, strife, and divisions among you, are you not carnal and behaving like mere men? {4} For when one says, "I am of Paul," and another, "I am of Apollos," are you not carnal?

1. The word translated “carnal” is a word that means “flesh”

a. The Greek ending of one word, means “made of”

b. The Greek ending of another word means “characterized by”

2. So that Paul is saying in one place that the Corinthians church is made up of humans, characterized by following the flesh

a. Simply put, they were very immature Christians

(1) Now Paul says that in the years he spent preaching and teaching in Corinth he did not see spiritual growth beyond the stage of spiritual infancy

(2) And consequently, he found that they had not advanced beyond the spiritual infancy they had achieved before

(a) Dietrich Bonhoeffer wrote during the German church's controversy over Hitler, “The unrest in church politics! ‘The heart is a stubborn and despondent thing.’ Stubbornness and despondency--these can only be overcome in prayer”

(b) Can you imagine Christians having any controversy over Hitler?

(c) Even Christians can support the wrong issues

3. Paul points out the several signs, that is evidence, that they are mere babes in Christ

a. Note that he does attribute believing faith to these people

(1) He calls them babes in Christ

b. But he points to these evidences of their infancy

(1) Envy

(a) Envy of some one else’s position

i) Position in this world

ii) Or position in the church

a) Pastor

b) Deacon

c) Or door keeper, greeter

(b) Of another’s influence

i) Influence in the world

ii) Or influence in the church

(c) Of another’s financial position

i) Financial position in the world

(2) Strife

(a) Envy can cause strife

i) A battle to increase one’s position often means tearing down another

ii) This battle may manifest itself in many ways

a) A battle for position of influence

b) A battle for doctrinal influence

c) A battle for financial influence

d) A battle for recognition

(3) And divisions

(a) The natural consequences of envy and strife is divisions in the church


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