Summary: Paul is chastizing the Corinthians for thinking they are spiritually mature when in fact they are still in need of the milk or basics of God’s word. The question this should cause us to ask ourselves is are we building or breaking!
Intro: Why did Paul write this letter? He wrote it because the conduct of the Corinthians did not match their confession of Christ. Division, strife, incest it sounds like a soap opera gone bad. We have to remember many of the Christians that Paul minister came out of a corrupt and selfish Roman culture. Gladiator, and other movies portray Roman culture as intellectual and kind and only a few of their people were selfish and sinful and corrupt. It is clear from Paul’s letter that the Roman culture and its citizens were sinners in need of a savior. In fact a special word was coined to speak of the debased lifestyle that the Corinthian people lived. To be called a Corinthian meant that you led an extremely lewd and immoral lifestyle.
There isn’t much difference today. The difference is that some of the sinners are regular attendees in many of the churches across the United States. Wherever you go you can find divisions, infighting, and strife, more concern over carpets and music style than missionary zeal and clear concern for people that are separated from God.
Here in Chapter three Paul is not comparing the natural or Christ-less person with the Christian or Christ follower. He is instead comparing the immature worldly Christ follower with the Spirit Controlled follower of Christ.
What are we doing as a church body and building? The dwelling place of God’s spirit is in a place not made with hands. We are the place that God lives. Are we building or breaking are we growing or gripping. Paul clearly rebukes and calls the Corinthians to have their behavior match their belief.
The problem is not in our programs, the problem is not in politics, the problem is in the pulpit, the problem is in the pew, the problem is in the people. If we continue to be babes in Christ immature then we will be immaterial in the spiritual war that rages every moment. If we continue to be immaterial in this war then we sit on the sidelines and watch countless numbers of people enter eternity without Christ! I don’t know about you but I don’t want to be successful I want to be significant. I want to make an impact in the lives of people that are around me. The only way I or your or anyone that is a living stone in the garden, building or body of God is to surrender to the Holy Spirit and grow up!
Grow beyond personal differences, grow beyond petty divisions, grow beyond private agendas, grow beyond going to church and grow into the Head who is Christ!
I. Spiritual immaturity breaks we should be building.
Paul called the Corinthians saints in 1 Corinthians 1.2, here in 3.1 He calls them brethren. There is no doubt that he is talking to believers in Christ. The problem is not their belief it is their behavior. Paul rebukes them pretty harshly. When first you met Christ I fed you milk.
However, 1.2 he says Indeed you are still not able to receive the solid food of the word of God.
1 Peter 2.2 tells us to long for the pure milk of the word so that by it we can grow in respect to salvation.
2 Peter 3.17, 18 tells us to be on our guard and not be carried away by people with no principles. Instead we are to grow in grace and knowledge of Jesus Christ.
Not only were they still not beyond the basics of the faith they were acting like “mere men.” (1 Cor 3.4) Instead of controlling their attitudes and emotions their attitudes and emotions were controlling them. How do we know they were worldly or fleshy? Paul says in 3.3 “since there is jealousy and strife among you.
Chuck Swindoll has the ability to communicate truth so clearly and does in regard to this verse.
Carnal Christians feed their old natures and starve their new nature.
What are the signs of spiritual immaturity? They include following a person, a preacher, a personality instead of the Person Jesus Christ, gripes and complaints instead of grace and compassion, taking instead of giving.
Paul was ashamed that they were still characterized by the flesh when they should have been characterized by the fruit of the Spirit.
What are you characterized by, fruit or flesh?
II. United spiritual leaders are used of God to build the body of believers
What was another of the problems the Corinthians had? They were more concerned about their leader than their Lord. Factionalism, division, happens when leaders become the focus of the body of Christ.
Personalities can quickly divide while the Holy Spirit unites.
A) Superstar leaders
What is the problem with thinking that our leaders need to be superstars? Paul clearly uses a common word to describe himself and Apollus. Deakonai, the same word that was used to speak of the seven servants that were to take care of the widows in Acts 6. This is a word that is used to tell all Christians that we should serve God. It was used of a lowly table waiter. As pastors we are called to lead you into the truth of God’s word. Leaders are not to be lifted to a higher level than the rest of the Body, but are to be loved, respected, and supported in leading the church. 3.8 The workers are one. The workers are to be a team of leaders directing the church to follower Christ.