Vs. 11, “And that is what some of you were. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.” Paul makes this comment after rebuking the Corinthians of suing each other in the secular courtrooms (vs. 1-11). The Corinthians claimed to be so wise (chapter 4), but couldn’t even settle disputes within the church. It wasn’t that the Corinthians Roman courts were bad, but it was the testimony behind it (vs. 6). They were to stop living like people who are of this world (vs. 9-10) and be reminded that they are new creations (vs. 11). A lasting comment, be mindful that there are some disputes and situations where we certainly can seek justice in the court of law by way of suing. Paul was more focused on the fact that it was Christians suing Christians without seeking wisdom from the church. In yesterday’s chapter, we read about how the Corinthian church was not dealing with a sexually immoral family in the church. Now, Paul directs his attention to sexual immorality on a broader scope (vs. 12-20). Remember, Corinth had a temple dedicated to the love goddess Aphrodite and prostitution was a huge business. Paul quotes a well known saying in Corinth at the time (vs. 12) about everything being permissible. Just because they were no longer technically under the letter of the Old Testament law, didn’t mean that they shouldn’t follow the spirit of the Law. The Corinthians logically stated that if they were hungry they ate, likewise, if they wanted sexual desires, they satisfied those too. Sexual immorality cannot rightly be addressed in a simple paragraph reflection. There is something very sacred in the joining of sex that God gave to His creation (vs. 15-17).
Regarding application…We Were Bought. Vs. 20, “you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body.” Here we are reminded of the picture of being a slave. We were bought at a price. Paul reminds us in his letter to the Romans (Which he later wrote while in Corinth on his 3rd missionary journey) that we were once slaves to sin, but we are now slaves to righteousness (Romans 6). That is why we flee. Like young Joseph who fled from Potipher’s wife (Genesis 39). When you think about it, no one in the church proudly runs around saying they are committing fortification (sex before marriage) or adultery (cheating on your spouse). No one generally is declaring they are steeped deep into sexual addictions. Why, because we know it’s wrong. It’s a foothold the enemy is quite effective in the church still today. We were bought at a price that is more than we can imagine. Let that be a reminder of His love and desire to sanctify us and move on towards living as new creations! If you struggle with this, pray to the Lord and talk to people in the church that can help you.
Vs. 1, “It is actually reported that there is sexual immorality among you, and of a kind that does not occur even among pagans: A man has his father’s wife.” Question: What is going on here? Almost all biblical scholars point out that a “man’s father’s wife” is referring to his stepmother. In this particular instance, she might have been significantly younger and this might have led to the immorality. In fact, this kind of sexual immorality was even frowned upon by a very sexually immoral culture in the Greco-Roman world. God had made it very clear in Leviticus 18:8, that this type of sexual immorality was forbidden. To make matters worse, the church in Corinth handled it incredibly poor. There was pressure in this young church to conform to the pattern of the world. Question: How do live pure lives in an immoral world? Paul’s charge for the Corinthians to hand this man over to Satan (vs. 5) can be a confusing one. In Paul’s time, the world was considered Satan’s territory, so in essence, Paul was saying let this man go back into the world. What we are seeing here is church discipline. Question: Why should we cast out a Christian who is sinning? Because, Jesus gave us this very mandate (Matthew 18:15-20). Church discipline is done not for condemning, but rather to bring this person to a deep repentance. This sexual sin became quite public and the Corinthians didn’t want to do anything about it. In many ways, the church was prideful and thought that they were exercising their freedom and love in Christ by not disciplining their brother and being open to any type of wayward life (vs. 6-8). In the last part of our passage (vs. 9-13), Paul is exhorting the Corinthians to have nothing to do with professing Christians who deliberately live a public sinful life. Notice, it’s professing Christians. We are to reach out to a sinful world who needs to know Christ. The issue here was that in order for the church to be a light to the world, we cannot be sinning in ways that even the world would find offensive.
Regarding application…Do Something. Vs. 12, “It is actually reported that there is sexual immorality among you, and of a kind that does not occur even among pagans: A man has his father’s wife.” It’s interesting to note that when it came to divisions in the church, people were doing something about it, but when it came to sexual immorality, no one wanted to respond. By not responding, the testimony of the church in Corinth was at a huge risk! The unsaved world is living by their old nature of sin. When the church lives in the same way, it is a very serious thing. For some, it almost seems like the bible is contradicting itself regarding judging. But the distinction is important because we are to exercise discernment and judgment in the church, but it is not our role to judge the world (Matthew 7:1). I’ll give a hypothetical situation: There is a deacon in the church who is very influential and serving very faithfully. However, it becomes a very public thing to the church and the community of a sex scandal where he has committed adultery with several women. The church takes all the steps mandated by Christ to help reconcile this man back to repentance, but he refuses to change his lifestyle. It is at this point that it is appropriate to do something about it. In the end, if the deacon leaves the church and over a few months of sinful living realizes his situation and comes back with a repentant heart, the church should absolutely accept him back into the fold. This was a very difficult passage today, but I encourage you to realize that God has a purpose for His church! We must be loving and obedient in all that we do with the full intention of bringing people back into a relationship with the Lord. The more we know God’s word, the better testimony we have as a church to the world that God loves so much!
Vs. 14 “I am not writing this to shame you, but to warn you, as my dear children.” Question: What is Paul writing them that may have seemed to shame them? He was calling them out and concluding his statements about their division. They were putting their spiritual servants on pedestals and rivals against each other (We were reminded of that in chapter 3). Instead, God was raising up servants to help the Corinthian church work together (vs. 6-7). And you may be surprised to see sarcasm in the Bible, but that is exactly what Paul uses (vs. 8-13) Their pride had made them think they were more mature than they were (vs. 8). By doing this, they were treating God’s servants like slaves in a gladiator arena not realizing that the road to being a Christian was a road of humility not pride. Paul then ends this section of our chapter with some measured sensitivity (vs. 14-17). Though there were many who could help, it was God who appointed Paul to be their spiritual mentor/father (vs. 15). Lastly, though Paul couldn’t come right away (He was in Ephesus), he would send Timothy with a warning to them all to get divisive attitude out of their hearts (vs. 18-21).
Regarding application…No More Pride. Vs. 6, “Now, brothers, I have applied these things to myself and Apollos for your benefit, so that you may learn from us the meaning of the saying, “Do not go beyond what is written.” Then you will not take pride in one man over against another.” It was pride that was their downfall with division. They were exalting each other and their leaders. Their pride clouded their judgment and they were going beyond what God had taught them. We must exercise faith in such matters and realize that God has appointed leaders to imitate (in a Godly way). We should do our part in supporting each other and not favoring others. It seems pride is easier to accuse in others than realize that it is in us. Question: What is pride? Rebellion against God (Holmans Bible Dictionary). Take time to prayerfully consider how pride may be affecting your relationships in life. Be honest and bring it to the Lord!
Vs. 5, “What, after all, is Apollos? And what is Paul? Only servants, through whom you came to believe—as the Lord has assigned to each his task.” This chapter continues the serious topic of division and why we need wisdom. Earlier, we were reminded that the Corinthian Christians were claiming to follow Paul, Apollos, Cephas and even Christ (I Corinthians 1:12). Paul could not share such deep things of God because they were still immature Christians (vs. 1-4). It’s safe to say many today still stunt their growth by not eating solid food (vs. 2). Paul goes on to illustrate how God appoints each leader to do a specific task (vs. 5-9), but God is the source of any growth (vs. 6). The last half our chapter can be easily misunderstood. Paul begins by reminding us the types of foundations we build on (vs. 10-12). We can either build our life on the foundation of Christ or the foundation of this world. However, the Day (vs. 13) will come signifying the coming of the Lord in judgment. All believers will stand at the judgment seat (Romans 14:10, II Cor. 5:10) where the Lord will reward us for the foundation we helped build. This section of Scripture (vs. 13-15) is really addressing God’s grace despite some who may not wisely build. And lastly, Paul closes this chapter with reminder to stop the divisions they were creating in Corinth (vs. 18-23).
Regarding application…You are God’s Temple. Vs. 16, “Don’t you know that you yourselves are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit lives in you?” Question: What is this temple? For the Corinthian audience, Paul was referring to the temple area where only the high priest could enter the Most Holy Place (Holy of Holies) This temple was synonymous with the presence of God. We the church are the Most Holy Place where God dwells. Paul asked the Corinthians this question of “Don’t you know…” nine other times in his letter. The issue wasn’t that they didn’t know, it’s just that they were not practicing what they knew. Knowing is only half the battle. We must be doers of God’s word! The Holy Spirit resides in each believer and in the church. Let us do our part to allow God’s grace to be evident so we may be united as one body (John 17). Being God’s temple is not some mystical thing, it’s just an awesome reminder that God is with us! Let us live in such a way that we don’t forget!
Vs. 7, “No, we speak of God’s secret wisdom, a wisdom that has been hidden and that God destined for our glory before time began.” Remember, in yesterday’s chapter Paul had to address to the Corinthian church the issue of division. They had thought they were wise, but sadly, they were using worldly wisdom. Paul uses himself as an illustration of the humility it takes to preach the Gospel (vs. 1-5). Before Paul had come to Corinth, he had to address the Greek philosopher’s in Athens and wanted to ensure that the Gospel not be watered down by his own persuasive words. There is a deep wisdom through the Holy Spirit (vs. 10) that can only be given to believers. This is the secret wisdom that Paul referred to in our aforementioned verse (vs. 7). Paul expounds upon the foundation of the Holy Spirit being the source of wisdom and enlightening our hearts (vs. 12-13). Paul contrasts two things: a person without the Spirit and the one with the Spirit (vs. 14-16)
Regarding application…Knowing God Deeper. Vs. 10, “but God has revealed it to us by his Spirit. The Spirit searches all things, even the deep things of God.” Question: Do you want to know God? This can seem like an obvious answer. When I met my wife before marriage, it was my goal to get to know her own a deeper level. It wasn’t an obligation, but rather a true desire in my heart. We are reminded that God loves us (John 3:16), and that we love because He first loved us (I John 4:19). When we possess a love that comes from God, we would naturally want to know Him more. Question: Do you want to know God more/deeper? I suspect that if you are even reading this, you have a desire to know God deeper. That is why the church is there to help us know Him deeper. Reading the Word, prayer, worship, fellowship, etc…are all things that can help us know Him more. Pray that the Holy Spirit would reveal to you the wisdom of the deeper things of God.
Vs. 2, “To the church of God in Corinth, to those sanctified in Christ Jesus and called to be holy, together with all those everywhere who call on the name of our Lord Jesus Christ—their Lord and ours.” The Corinthian church was probably comprised of several small house churches, but Paul writes to them as a collective whole (vs. 2). Paul takes the time for a gracious greeting to encourage and thank them from the onset (vs. 1-9). Paul sets an example for the church today that though we too have problems, we should not forget the good things and affirm them too. As we venture into Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians, we will see all sorts of things that Paul needs to correct, but the first and major issue is division (vs. 10-17). Most of you reading this will be able to know this all too well in your own experiences in the local church. The Corinthian Christians were aligning themselves with different leaders. It wasn’t necessarily that the leaders were in contention with each other, but that the believers were favoring one above the other. Some scholars have speculated perhaps they were favoring the leaders who had brought them to salvation or baptized them. In the latter half our chapter, Paul continues to refer to the divisions by addressing the fact that the Corinthians were using worldly wisdom (vs. 18-25). Corinth was a multi-cultured city with both Jews and Greeks. The Jews had a hard time wrestling with the fact that the Messiah had to die on the cross. The Greeks had a hard time because of the fact that Greek philosophy was very respected at that time. In the end, it was human thought and wisdom that was being put before the truth of the Gospel.
Regarding application…Are You a Fool? 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.” The Greek word that Paul used is μωρία which is pronounced (mōria) and we get the modern day word ‘moron’ from it. Are you a moria? Are you moron? Are you a fool? This message of the cross certainly does not make sense in any human logical rationale. Yet, there are many fools who are walking down the broad road to destruction (Matthew 7:13). For us today, we can act like fools when we allow divisions to take precedence over the message of the cross. Let us be part of the solution not part of the problem. Question: Is there any division in your family or in your church? I exhort you to pray and humble yourself and seek God’s guidance.
Vs. 2, “On the first day of every week, each one of you should set aside a sum of money in keeping with his income, saving it up, so that when I come no collections will have to be made.” While these instructions deal with a missionary offerings, the principles apply to Christian giving in general. A church member owes it to the Lord and to his church to bring his or her tithes and offerings to the church. In fact, a church member who has the capacity to give, but does not…is stealing from the Lord! Our lives, our money, our possessions have never been ours…it belongs to the Lord. Therefore, we must give what we have and give it freely! Tithing was a practice that was done even before the LAW came, so this is not a matter of legalism.
Regarding application…Changing Leaders. Vs. 10, “If Timothy comes, see to it that he has nothing to fear while he is with you, for he is carrying on the work of the Lord, just as I am.” Its never easy having change and especially change in leadership. But we must embrace new leaders and realize they are carrying on the work of the Lord. Even our own church at CTC lost one of our paid staff recently. Let’s ensure that we cherish the time we have with each other. The passing of the torch will come in all of our lives. Paul showed his love by making sure there would be shepherds to take over the flocks!
Vs. 1, “Now, brothers, I want to remind you of the gospel I preached to you, which you received and on which you have taken your stand.” The main audience to this letter would be the Greek Gentiles. One of their stumbling blocks would be their unbelief in resurrection of the dead. Paul reminds them of the undeniable fact of Jesus’ resurrection and how because of that reason they are saved. He goes on to share some of his points on why the resurrection of the dead is such an important doctrine to the Christian faith. We are reminded of the wonderful fact that we all will be resurrected and one day live with Jesus! Therefore, we must do everything we can to grasp that hope and never take for granted the bodies He gave us for His glory!
Regarding application…Victory. Vs. 57, “But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.” We have no reason to give up because Jesus has conquered sin and death! If you really believe in the resurrection and return of Jesus, the end of this chapter should characterize your life. The best is yet to come!!! So let us give Him our best now…in all that we do! It’s never easy giving 100% and believe me…I was a total slacker in high school. But, never underestimate the power and motiviation that Jesus can give us to conquer any obstacle (School, relationships, careers, life choices, families) in our lives! The victory has already been won…all we have to do is join fight and know one day we will truly rejoice in the final victory for eternity!
Vs. 26, “What then shall we say, brothers and sisters? When you come together, each of you has a hymn, or a word of instruction, a revelation, a tongue or an interpretation. Everything must be done so that the church may be built up.” Why do we go to church? To build each other up! Part of the issue in this chapter was the emphasis on speaking in Tongues (strange that we still have this issue today). The Corinthians equated spiritual maturity with the evidence of sign gifts and they were focusing on gifts that did not need to be lifted up as . While the NT church was growing, it was not perfect. Unbelievers were coming and were discouraged by the chaotic gatherings of the Corinthian church (vs. 23). Signs and miracles don’t save a person…it is the clear presentation and lifestyle of the Gospel!
Vs. 13, “And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.” Ahhh yes…the love chapter! Keep in mind, we must remember context when it comes to this chapter. In light of the spiritual gifts, Paul emphasizes the fruits of the Spirit are far more powerful than the spiritual gifts. Whenever the church strives for miraculous experiences rather than Christian holiness and character, there will almost always be division, confusion, and dissension.
Regarding application…LOVE. Paul pretty much steals thet thunder from everyone when it comes to explaining love. There is not much more to say when we ponder the word “love”. There are many things in this world we must keep in mind. Christian charater, Christian growth, school, college, career, family, children, elderly parents, grandchildren…yet none of these will mean nothing if we do not have love! Don’t ever waste a day without sharing love in some form. It is the greatest gift we have been given and the greatest gift we can give is the love of Christ!