PRINCETON CHRISTIAN CHURCH
1 CORINTHIANS 2:10-3:3 13 AUGUST 2023
In this passage, Apostle Paul first sets the tone for what he is wanting these early Christians at Corinth to know about their condition or situation in the Body of Christ.
He lets them know or reminds them that when he came to them it was not with an excellent way of speaking; he didn’t come with great wisdom. He simply came to proclaim the testimony of God.
His aim was not to show the Corinthians how wise he was, or how spiritual
he was. His intention was to reveal to the Christians in Corinth what had already been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit.
His attitude toward the Corinthian Christians was one of weakness, fear, and trembling. And he wanted to instill that same attitude in their lives and hearts. Now, don’t hear that wrong. He and his preaching were not weak; he didn’t fear preaching the gospel to them, nor did he want them to be afraid of what they heard from him.
Paul did want to be sure that he did not fail the Lord Jesus Christ.
In verse 4 he explains that the words of his message were not persuasive words of his wisdom, but they were words of the Spirit and of Power. These words he was speaking to them were revealed by the Holy Spirit. He wanted to be sure that they would not pla
ce their faith in him, or in the wisdom of men, but that their faith would be in the power of God alone.
When we were children, we couldn’t absorb everything around us. We couldn’t understand complex ideas. And as young Christians, we couldn’t grasp all that the Word of God says to us.
That is what Paul is talking about here in 1 Corinthians 2. The wisdom he refers to is full-grown wisdom. For full-grown Christians.
Apparently, there were some in the church at Corinth who were very prideful of their own wisdom. And this pride caused them to look upon the Gospel as foolishness. These were people who thought they had gained an enormous amount of wisdom concerning the Gospel.
Paul considered this wisdom to be for those Christians who were mature enough in Christ to appreciate it and handle it rightly.
In verse 6 he says it like this: “Yet we do speak wisdom among those who are mature; a wisdom, however, not of this age nor of the rulers of this age, who are passing away, but we speak God’s wisdom in a mystery…”
Man’s wisdom could not compare with the revealed wisdom spoken by the inspired apostles.
So, what we need to do, as Christians today, is to look at our lives and locate our level of spirituality.
There are three conditions of spirituality we as Christians live within.
Here they are:
1. The Natural Man
2. The Carnal Man
3. The Spiritual Man
The Natural Person Does What Comes Naturally (2:14)
The person who does not have the Spirit – that is the natural person, does not receive what comes from God’s Spirit. The natural person is spiritually dead. As Paul says In Ephesians 2:1 – That those who are without the Spirit are “dead in your trespasses and sins. There is no spiritual life within those people. They do not have what is required to correctly process spiritual truth.
It is not that cannot mentally comprehend the message of the Gospel. It is that they are unable to understand the truth and significance of the Gospel because they can only be discerned through the Gospel. And the reason for their inability to understand is because they do not have the Holy Spirit working within them.
So, it is not an intellectual barrier that causes the natural person’s inability to accept the Gospel. It is instead a moral inability to understand it.
To the natural person, the truth of the Gospel of Jesus Christ and Him crucified is foolishness. Paul refers to that fact in verse 2 of chapter 2.
Again, this natural person cannot appreciate the Gospel is that the Gospel is alive in the Spirit and presented spiritually. The natural person without the Spirit cannot make appropriate judgments about what God is doing in the world.
The natural person can read the Bible, hear the Gospel, and weigh its meaning. But witho
ut the Spirit, they will not, as Paul says “boast in the Lord.”
The Carnal Person Does What Comes Unnaturally (3:1-4)
The Carnal Person can also be called fleshly or worldly.
These are people who believe they are saved but too often behave like those who are lost. Paul says they are captive by the flesh.
As Paul describes these people, he is saying these things:
Christians can be slow to mature in their faith without proper nourishment.
Christians sometimes act like spiritual babies when they should act like spiritual adults.
Christians need to be reminded of the basics of the Gospel even as they grow in their understanding of the Gospel. Remember, the Gospel is both milk and meat.
Here is a danger – Nominal (or weak, ineffective) Christianity is not authentic Christianity.
Here is another danger – Spiritual backsliding can happen.
Paul addresses these dangers when he writes to the church in Galatia – Galatians 5:16-17: “But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh. For the flesh sets its desire against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; for these are in opposition to one another, so that you may not do the things that you please.”
That carnal person is willfully in sin (3:3-4)
Babies are not accountable for their actions. But adults are. Paul shows the Corinthians this reality when he says that they are still “worldly” “of the flesh”, “carnal”, and “controlled by your sinful nature.”
He saw envy and strife among them. He saw them behaving as worldly, and walking as mere men – acting like pagans, persons without the Spirit.
Carnal Christians will never build up the church. They will always knock it down. They will never exalt Christ, but ignore Him, thinking they are saved.
These words from a poem by Drummond describe the Carnal person well:
“I lived for myself, I thought for myself,
For myself, and none besides
Just as if Jesus had never lived,
As if he had never died.
The Carnal Christian has never grown up.
Now, let’s look at the Spiritual Person. Paul describes this person in 1 Corinthians 2:10-13, 15-16.
The Spiritual Person Does What Comes Supernaturally
These are saved people who act and live like saved people. They are captive to the Spirit of God because God’s Spirit lives within them.
These are people who love the Word of God. God, Jesus Christ, the Gospel, the cross, the holy life. They love all the things that glorify God.
This person is informed by the Spirit (2:10-11)
We are promised that the Holy Spirit will come to us and be our Counselor.
This person is instructed by the Spirit (2:12-13)
Our understanding and believing in the Gospel are gifts of the Spirit. We receive it by divine revelation, not merely through human information.
We need the Holy Spirit to give us the truth of the crucifixion and the resurrection of Jesus and to provide the significance and value those events are to our lives.
This person is given insight by the Spirit (2:15)
Obeying the Gospel message to hear the Word, believe that Jesus is the Son of God, repent of sin, be baptized into Christ, and be raised to a new life guided by the 5Spirit – all of that changes everything in our lives.
Some of that insight we receive opens our eyes to see life in a new way – a more accurate way – a way with sure promises.
When the Spirit enters our life, everything is changed and one new thing that appears is our ability to make the right judgment. It does not mean that we have acquired a level of greatness. It means that the Spirit of God is guiding us.
This person is made incomprehensible by the Spirit (2:15-16)
Now, that is a kind of big word that simply means that with the Spirit living within us, we have no limits on our spiritual growth.
What the natural person or the carnal person cannot do, those who are spiritual persons can do. And the reason for that truth is this --- We have the mind of Christ.
We have the Indwelling of the Holy Spirit. The mind of Christ is ours. We have made His perspective ours.
However, none of that gives us the assurance that we can stop growing and maturing in our understanding of the things of God.
Where do you see yourself today?
Even more vital – Where does God see you today?