This chapter deals with problems of marriage and in the home. In order to understand this passage, we must consider the sign of the times at Corinth. Corinth was a place of extreme sexual immorality, Paul was dealing with some unique local situations which we may not be dealing with today, and this was also a tumultous time for believers and their personal futures with persecution & trials. Paul tries to answer some misconceptions about marriage and being single. It’s not wrong to marry and it’s not wrong to remain single. Each person is gifted for either way of life…but if you are meant to marry, it is better to marry than burn with passion (vs. 9). We are reminded also that we must be married to Christians (Vs. 39), but Paul gives us examples of married couples who were not Christian at marriage and then one of them becomes one. That spouse is to not divorce even though their partner is not a Christian. This passage also suggests how we are to deal with seperation & divorce in the unique situation where the unbeliving spouse leaves the believer. Regarding the latter part of this passage, where Paul comments on the unmarried, we see that there might have been some tough times for young couples. Regardless, we see Paul’s emphasis on how important marriage is and why we must pray & know we are marrying the right person!
Regarding application…Sanctity of Marriage. It is one of the biggest decisions you will ever make besides accepting the Lord Jesus into your life. You should never ever be in a rush to get married. Being married is a tremendous opportunity…but also a tremendous responsibiilty! Perhaps that is why we have so many divorces because people do not comprehend the magnitude of the sanctity of marriage. Though most of you are still young, there is nothing wrong with beginning to pray now if it is the Lord’s will for you to be married…and if so…start praying for yourself & that person in the future. Praying for others is always a good way to learn to be less selfish and more sensitive to others!
Vs. 6, “But instead, one brother goes to law against another—and this in front of unbelievers!” Not only were the Corinthian believers compromising with the world, but they were also losing their testimony before the world by taking each other to court before pagan judges. Here is a basic truth about us: When Christians are immature and not growing…we will never truly get along with each other. It’s bad enough when Christians fight in the church…it’s so much worse when we take that to the world to see. The court & the laws have been setup by God…but were not meant for us to use against each other. The testimony for Christ can be absolutely ruined when non-Christians witness it. The other vice that Paul mentions is one that is more prevalant today than ever before in history! During Paul’s time, Corinth was probably one of the worst cities for encouraging sexual immorality. The very religion of the city (the worship of the Goddess Aphrodite) was nothing but prostition in the name of religion. Vs. 13b, “…The body is not meant for sexual immorality, but for the Lord, and the Lord for the body.” One of the refutes people give is, “If we are saved, then we can go on sinning!” But true salvation brings a new body in both mind & spirit. Our lives are not about our own attitudes or desires, but rather to have the mind of Christ. While we are free from the strict rules of the LAW, we are not free to sin! Our bodies do not belong to us. This means the way we care for the body, the way we dress the body, the places we take the body, the deeds we do in the body. It is dangerous for Christians to use their bodies for sin. Remember what happened to Samson. The attitude that everybody is doing it, so it must be okay is absolutely wrong!!!
Regarding application…Purity. Vs. 19, “Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body.” I don’t envy you young people these days. You live in a world where a simple click of a mouse button can satisfy some of the worst sexual temptations. You live in a world where sexual activity is nearly the norm in your schools. By 18, you are the minority if you have not engaged in some type of sexual activity. It’s a crazy world you live in and I’m saddened by all the temptation you have to deal with. In a world where everyone accepts, we must strive to remember God desires a pure heart, mind, soul & body! The temptations of sex have literally caused tragedy in so many lives. It might all start out innocent, but it is like playing with fire in a house built of paper doused with gasoline. My dearest brothers & sisters….pray, pray & pray some more that you would flee sexual immorality of all kinds.
Vs. 5, “Now it is God who has made us for this very purpose and has given us the Spirit as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come.” Paul’s confidence was not of this earth, but rather of things above! He understood that God gave us a 100% guarantee with the Holy Spirit as our deposit. Paul’s motivation was inspired by none other than the love of Christ (vs. 14). He would not let the opionon of others sway his conviction. Paul understood he was called by God. That is the unfortunate fact of that many Christians have failed to realize…we are all comissioned into God’s army! We have all been drafted to play a role in this spiritual battle between goodness and the most evil of evils!
Regarding application…To Be Righteous. Vs. 21, “God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” This has to be one of the most inspiring verses in the Bible! This standard of righteousness cannot be attained by our human effort. We needed Christ to intercede so that we could come before God clean & white as snow. This is such a powerful reminder for the sinner & the saint! This is a characteristic that can only be attributed to God…yet he would bestow this upon us. Now our goal is to be motiviated to live up to the standard that God has lifted us up to.
Vs. 2, “Now it is required that those who have been given a trust must prove faithful.” Paul continues his subject on servants. Remember the context: The Corinthians were comparing the leaders of the church and fighting amongst themselves who was right. Paul reminds them a true servant is simply obedient to his Master. A true servant does not let what others think of him/her affect his ministry that God has given. They were to honor and obey the leaders God had given them, but they were not supposed to compare. Their arrogance got to Paul and he showed them that boasting was wrong and it was better to be a servant/slave. Paul could have been a strong & powerful Rabbi in the church, but he took on the simple servanthood of Christ. While Jesus told us to call no man on earth Father (Matt 23:9)…Paul does us the picture of a father regarding the servants of Christ. They should have respected Paul more and listened to him, but they were like rebellious children while their father was away.
Regarding application…Imitate. Vs. 16, “Therefore I urge you to imitate me.” They say imitation is the biggest form of flattery. What that means is that when you start acting like the people you hang out with…you imitate them for some reason…usually because you want to become that way. Paul would in the most humble of ways state this exhortation to them. Think about it…you would have to be pretty confident in your walk with the Lord to tell others to imitate your walk in the Lord. Paul was able to confidently say such a thing because he put forth effort to be the father figure of the early churches.
You probably don’t even realize it…but you often imitate the people you hang out with the most. If a teenager hangs out more with his school friends than his Church family…more than likely he will talk like the world. If a teenager puts forth effort in the church, they will more than likely begin to imitate the people from church. Of course, it is our ultimate goal to imitate Christ. But remember, we are respresentatives of Christ in this world. When you see a tangible thing like a person who loves Jesus and shows it in their life….it would be a wise thing to imitate them because Jesus is so evident in their lives. Pray that you would not only imitate Christians who walk with the Lord…but you would be trailblazing Christian who helps others to follow your steps as you walk with the Lord!
Vs. 16, “Don’t you know that you yourselves are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit lives in you.” These well known passage was written for a reason and as we look at the context of this chapter, we see why. The Corinthian Christians had forgotten a foundational truth. The church is God’s temple & each of us are part of God’s temple. When we choose to create divisions by putting one on a pedestal and another we scoff at…when we judge & fight other Christians on who is right…we are destroying the very temple of God. They were still immature in their thinking…and didn’t realize that each person has his/her own gifts they bring to the church. Paul also compares & contrasts the different builders/workers in the church in the last part of the passage (Vs. 10-23).
Regarding application…Wise Builders. Vs. 15, “If it is burned up, he will suffer loss; he himself will be saved, but only as one escaping through the flames.” This is one of those easily misunderstood passages. Remember the context: Paul is comparing the different church builders/leaders. There is the wise builder from Vs. 14, and then the builder who destroys in Vs. 17…and then we come to the builder who is worldy from vs. 15. There were three types of leaders/builders emerging in Corinth. And likewise, there were three types of followers who were following these three types of builders (pastors & teachers). Vs. 15 is speaking of the kind of builder that uses materials that cannot stand the test. This is the pastor who is in a hurry to build a crowd, but does not take time to build a church. The materials come from the world. These workers do not test people’s confession by the Word to see if they are truly born again; they merely take them into the church and rejoice in bigger statistics. When this ministry is tested in eternity, it will burn up. The worker will be saved, but there will be no reward. Question: Does that make sense? To expound a bit…this happens more often than we realize even today. It goes to show you that just because a church professes Christ…doesn’t mean it is a good place to go. That is why I cannot stress enough over and over again to KNOW GOD’S WORD! Then you will be able to discern not only what kind of church is truly building on Christ…but also when you serve the Lord…that you would be a builder who builds from His living Word!
Vs. 13, “This is what we speak, not in words taught us by human wisdom but in words taught by the Spirit, explaining spiritual realities with Spirit-taught word.” There are many people who are very charismatic and eloquent in their personality and speech. They are gifted orators who can inspire a crowd no matter what topic they speak on. The Apostle Paul, on the other hand, was not the natural gifted speaker that we would assume from his letters (vs. 1). Greek Philosophy in the culture of the Corinthians was very popular at the time. Likewise, many people of intelligence will look down upon Christians and their supposed simple way of thinking. But their wisdom compared to God’s was nothing (vs. 6).
Regarding application…Mind of Christ. Vs. 16, “for, “Who has known the mind of the Lord so as to instruct him?” But we have the mind of Christ.” A person who is walking with the Lord has the mind of Christ. Isn’t that great? The Lord gives us His mind, His thought process, His wisdom to those who seek after Him. When we have our own mind, we shudder at the very thought of someone else being able to read what we are thinking. Yet, God does not strike us down for such thoughts…however, He does have a desire to help us to think like Christ. WWJD bracelets look to action, but perhaps we should WWJTD (What Would Jesus Thoughts Do) as we look to the thing that can prevent the action in the first place!
Corinth was a huge metropolitan city center with over 400,000 people during Paul’s time. Paul would write this letter to the Corinth church around 56 A.D. While the Corinthians were spiritually blessed, they were also very troubled. Corinth was kind of like our Las Vegas equivalent of today. It was a very worldly city known for it’s sins.
Vs. 18, “For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.” While the Gospel is the power of God, many of the Christians in Corinth were not operating on God’s power. They were putting their dependence upon human leaders rather than God (vs. 12). It was a church that was divided (sadly, we still deal with that today in many of our churches). They were using human logic and wisdom rather than the wisdom of God to sort out their issues. Their heads were getting big and they were too confident in their own supposed knowledge.
Regarding application…Stopping Divisions. Vs. 10, “I appeal to you, brothers and sisters, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree with one another in what you say and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be perfectly united in mind and thought.” The Church is God’s gift to us, but we often do not glorify His gift when we use it. What creates divisions? Pride, racism, selfishness, etc. The list can literally go on and on. I think we need to start taking this topic more seriously than we treat it. Let’s put our trust in the Lord and start being a part of the solution rather than the problem or a bystander who doesn’t care. The Youth Group can be a very influential part of the body and the church if we can show testimony to the rest of the church of the unity that is found in Christ! What can you do to help?
Vs. 19, “Everyone has heard about your obedience, so I rejoice because of you; but I want you to be wise about what is good, and innocent about what is evil.” The apostle Paul first takes the time to thank many people (26 people) for their contribution in the ministry of the Gospel! What a wonderful example of being thankful for others and it shows us Paul’s deep relationship with so many. Paul goes on to exhort us to be careful with how we approach our lives and discerning what is good and what is evil. As the early church was growing, leaders naturally began to rise up…but some of them were leading people astray.
Regarding application…Know What is Right.. Vs. 18, “For such people are not serving our Lord Christ, but their own appetites. By smooth talk and flattery they deceive the minds of naive people.” Always weigh what someone teaches from the Bible with Scripture. Always. Don’t be naive with preachers just because they proclaim the name of Jesus. Like vs. 19, be wise but also innocent. Jesus would remind us how during the end times, many would come preaching in His name. As you desire to grow, the enemy will surely try to bring distractions and false teachings our way. The more you know His word, the more you will be able to know what is right!
Vs. 4, “For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through the endurance taught in the Scriptures and the encouragement they provide we might have hope.” Paul is addressing both the Jews & Gentiles of the Roman Church…for both found a history in God’s ultimate plan. Jews were chosen to be a light in the world, but many rejected that light…but that light was for the Gentile too! Paul also wanted to remind the Gentile Christians in Rome to remember to tithe and share offerings to the Jews in Jerusalem. Giving promotes our obligation, our love and the unity that comes forth with seeing other’s encouraged by our sacrifices.
Regarding application…Accepting Each Other. Vs. 7, “Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you, in order to bring praise to God.” What an appropriate reminder as we have our CTC Youth “Reality” Series on Racism. The Jewish Christians and Gentile Christians were still learning what it meant to accept one another. It’s like when an older brother and a younger brother get in a fight. The older one has had all the responsibility and pressure to live up to being a first child. The younger one simply had to look up to the older brother. Simple analogy, but one that should help give a little bit more insight with how God looks at us and how we should love and accept our fellow brothers and sisters.
Vs. 19, “Let us therefore make every effort to do what leads to peace and to mutual edification.” This is a very important passage that applies to relevantly to the church today. Some Christians will drink in a public setting, others will observe Halloween, other’s will participate in secular activities…is one right and one wrong to do? Basically those Christians who are not hindered by such should not look down on those who are and those who do not participate in such things should not judge those who do. How do we as Christians respond to other Christians when it comes to how we live our lives? The bottom line is that we must do all that we can to allow love to cover our lives.
Regarding application…Stumbling Blocks. Vs. 13, “Therefore let us stop passing judgment on one another. Instead, make up your mind not to put any stumbling block or obstacle in the way of a brother or sister.” As Christians, we must choose not to be stumbling blocks to others in the life we live. Question: How does this look? Let’s say I enjoy drinking some wine for a dinner once or twice a week. We invite some youth and their families over. Hyojin and I serve wine for dinner to the adults and we drink a bit too. Now, as the Youth Pastor…I could have some students and their parents both be stumbled by my actions. Even though it is perfectly fine to drink wine for a dinner (Not get drunk on it…Ephesians 5)…this doesn’t mean that I should do it if other’s are stumbled. And that goes with all other areas in our lives too. Be wise and unselfish on how you choose to live your lives so that other’s are encouraged by you.