Summary: The Corinthian error of stopping at salvation and seeking to add to our faith from other sources is an easy and common one to make - but also dangerous and harmful to our spiritual health.
SERIES: PRESCRIPTIONS FOR A HEALTHY & HOLY CHURCH:
A Study in 1 Corinthians Applied To The Church Today
II. DEALING WITH OBVIOUS DISEASES A. CANCER
“STUNTED GROWTH” (1 Cor. 3:1-23)
Rev. Todd G. Leupold, Perth Bible Church, February 8, 2009 AM
Ever try arguing with a baby? Toddler? Teenager? Did you have much success? Why not?
Then, I think we should all be able to understand at least somewhat how Paul is feeling in dealing with the Corinthian Christians. He tries to teach them what is absolutely right, but they are don’t understand him, are too busy babbling to hear his words, or think that they already know it all.
The problem is that they accepted only the most basic and rudimentary things of Christ as taught them by Paul, but then sought to add to that from other outside sources – the ’wisdom of the world.’ In short time, they began to see themselves as the spiritual giants and Paul as the little guy – the fool who only knows one thing. You see, in their minds, they had Paul’s message of Christ’s salvation plus all kinds of other wisdom. Paul, however, just kept saying the same things over and over again and didn’t ’expand’ his wisdom like they had.
Of course, as we will greater see this morning, we will terribly and pridefully deceived! The sad result was that their Christian growth was stunted, and years after they got saved and were first taught by Paul, they continued to be spiritual babies.
You know what the real ’kicker’ is, though? That far too often we’re no different and we don’t even know it!
THEIR GROWTH WAS STUNTED BY:
I.) POOR DIGESTION (3:1-4)
Paul directly points out that the Christians in Corinth have a faulty spiritual digestion system. It is faulty because they have the digestion of a baby.
He diagnoses this as being the result of 2 significant problems.
First, they continue to have immature systems that can’t handle spiritual food of genuine substance.
The spiritual ’milk’ Paul refers to is the basic gospel of salvation in Jesus Christ. The spiritual ’meat’ is understanding and applying the full implications of the reality of our salvation in Christ.
Like ’milk’ the basic facts of salvation in Christ are essential for life and growth and yet is easily swallowed and digested. Similarly, only infants can survive on this alone. As any mother can verify, it does not take long at all before a baby figures out that milk is not very filling. If, however, a mother were to continue to feed a growing child only milk as a newborn infant, that child will experience stunted growth and malnutrition.
Similarly, Paul is here saying, that Christians cannot continue to feed their spirits on nothing but the basics of salvation without also suffering from stunted growth, malnutrition, and even starvation.
Instead, it’s not long before that spiritual milk needs to be complemented with some spiritual ’meat.’
That is, understanding and applying the full implications of the reality of our salvation in Christ. Not just the fact that we are saved, why we are saved, or our eternal security in Christ, but also how are we to be changed as a result, what are we supposed to grow up to be, how do we keep ourselves fit and healthy, and how should our relationship to Christ and others change as we grow and mature ourselves!
So why would someone continue with a staple of milk-only?
Simple. Milk is easily and quickly swallowed. Meat, on the other hand, is much more substantial. It needs to be chewed, savored and broken down before it can be swallowed. Usually, we have to wait for it to cook. Sometimes, we even have to gnaw it off the bone or cut out some of the fat and gristle that is too much for us. Even when we have learned and are willing to invest the extra effort this takes, we need to gradually allow our digestive systems to get used to this different and more complex diet. It might not all digest completely or as well as we like at first. And, then, there are a varieties of meat to get used to eating and digesting.
Second, their spiritual growth is stunted because they keep insisting on eating the wrong things and believing they are the right things.
Even as the Corinthian Christians (like so many people today), began to realize they needed more than just milk to fill them up and energize, they sought it with their taste buds rather than follow the instructions of good nutrition. That is, they gorged on the sweet, tasty, good-looking candy instead of the real food they needed. It tasted great, was a lot of fun and for a while provided a great rush of energy, excitement and the perception of being full. As a bonus, it was also very popular – everyone likes it and everyone was eating it!