I’m continuing my study of Paul’s first letter to the Corinthian church. As we go forward, we need to see each part within the whole context. Without an understanding of the first two chapters, we will not fully grasp the rest of his exhortations.
In my last post, we saw that the Corinthian church was described as spiritual infants. Paul continues to explain his reasoning.
I gave you milk, not solid food, for you were not yet ready for it. Indeed, you are still not ready. You are still worldly. For since there is jealousy and quarreling among you, are you not worldly? Are you not acting like mere men?
1 Corinthians 3:2-3
Paul describes the teaching he gave them as milk. Nothing substantial; nothing deep. It was just the basics.
When I’m hungry, I want something that I can chew. I’m not the type of person who can survive very long on a liquid diet. It’s the same for me with the things of the spirit.
I want to hear a message that I have to think and pray about. I want to be able to apply it to my life so that it will bring change. I’m not into nice, forgettable sermons.
According to Paul, their problem was that they were not ready for spiritual meat. That literally meant that they did not have the power (dunamis) to receive it. That kind of power can only come from the Spirit.
In the first two chapters, we’re told that the soulish man can’t receive things from the spirit. It only happens when you spend time in the spirit.
However, the problem was worse than that. This church was not even at the level of being soulish. The word used for worldly is actually the word, carnal in the Greek.
They were trying to serve God by the desires of their flesh. This was borne out by the fact that their meetings were full of jealousy and quarreling.
These two words are important to our understanding. The first means that you have an emotional attachment to what you desire. The other means that you’re willing to get very defensive about your opinion.
Because of all this, Paul lets them know that they aren’t acting as the people of God. Instead, they’re behaving like the world; mere men.
In the world, you have to fight for what you want. In an organization, that means debate, politics, leverage, and in some cases downright bullying. That’s what Paul was seeing in the church at Corinth.
This is why he laid down his foundation at the beginning of the letter. Through the spirit, we have access to the mind of Christ. It’s not about what I think is best, it’s the Lord’s agenda that matters.
Mere men decide what they want by a combination of logic and emotion. Spiritual people, on the other hand, spend time in the spirit accessing God’s thoughts.
If they were truly spiritual, they would concentrate on prayer in the spirit. This would include both public and private prayer times. Then they would hear from the Holy Spirit.
When that happens, you find that strife ceases. If you’re truly hearing from the Spirit, then the Lord will speak the same word to each person. It’s easier to walk in unity when you’re all hearing from God.
I think that a lot of the division and strife in modern church meetings could be done away with if we spent more time listening to the Holy Spirit. Our goal should be to move in the direction of God’s plan over and above what we desire.
Question: How have you seen unity resulting from believers praying together?
2019 Nick Zaccardi