Wednesday, February 8, 2012

1 Corinthians 1-7

1 Corinthians 1:1-9 – The People

Corinth was a wealthy, but wicked sinful city.  The new church in Corinth found it hard not to act like their neighbors; therefore they had problems.  Some members were arguing and taking sides and some were living sinful lives.  Paul wrote his letter to scold them and teach them how Christians should act. 

He used the phrase “Do you not know” several times.  He wanted so much more for them and was concerned how they were living.  Being a Christian is living differently from others.  He reminds them that they are set apart and chosen.  This letter is to believers not unbelievers.  He had confidence in them for they were enriched in every way – in all their speaking and in all their knowledge and they were not lacking in any spiritual gifts. (1 Corin. 1:5-7)  

1 Corinthians 1:10-6:20 – The Problem

The problem was their quarreling which caused division in the church.  They were divided in beliefs and were definitely not living in Christian unity.  Paul reminded them that Christ was not divided and we are all followers of Christ so there was no reason to be divided.  They should live by the fruits of the Spirit.  (See Galatians 5:22-26 for a list of the fruits of the Spirit.) 

Paul talks about human wisdom and God’s wisdom.  For the foolishness of God is wiser than man’s wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than man’s strength.” (1 Corin. 1:25)  God gives wisdom to His people through His Holy Spirit.  Paul’s message illustrates God’s wisdom and the Spirit’s power.  I came to you in weakness and in fear and with much trembling.  My message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the Spirit’s power, so that your faith might not rest on men’s wisdom, but on God’s power.” (1 Corin. 2:3-5)

God calls believers to live according to their new identity in Christ.

We are called to live differently.  We are set apart.  Where are you not living set apart?  Standing out for Christ is not easy.  Maturity in Christ is hard, but don’t give up.  Is there someone in your life not living up to Christ’s standards?  How are you encouraging your brothers and sisters in Christ?  It’s not easy, but we don’t have to do it alone.

With division in the church Paul reminds them to be careful on what kind of foundation they lay.  If we build on a weak foundation which is our own will and self-serving, it will not stand up to the test.   Nothing is this world lasts forever.  Nothing will stand up to the test.  Christ has already laid the sure foundation, which is His will.  Only God’s way will stand up to the test.  Look at Paul’s life.  It shows the power of Jesus Christ.

How does the power of God show in your circumstances?  Are you walking in your own power?  Ask God to move you out of the way.

Paul was hindered from speaking of the deep wisdom of God because they were still worldly and infants in Christ.  They were still on “milk” and not ready for “solid food”.  They were only ready for the basics and not for the deep teachings of scripture.  God’s word sometimes is not easy to understand and they needed to become more mature before getting the “solid food”. 

By worldly Paul meant they, like the world today, did not submit to God, they judged others, they loved money, power, success, self, etc.  They lived by the standards of the world – under Satan’s control. 

The foundation on which we should live is Jesus Christ and God’s Word.  Jesus died in our place so we would not have to suffer God’s wrath.  Now we have access to God.  This doesn’t really make sense to us, but we don’t need to understand it.

The persons who have knowledge of scripture are servants of Christ, entrusted with secret things of God, faithful and non-judgmental. – (1 Corin. 4:1-5)  People who are inflated with pride think highly of themselves and think they are kings.  They put themselves above others.  Persons who have true spiritual power are humble, fools for Christ but wise in Christ, weak but strong, honored but dishonored. – (1 Corin.4:10-13) 

Paul gives them instructions:
  • Sexually immoral – If anyone among you is sexually immoral, he should be expelled from the church.  Of course you should continue to pray for him and if he repents bring him back into the church.
  • Lawsuits – Believers should not bring lawsuits against another believer.  It should be settled amongst believers.  We as saints will one day judge the world so we are competent to judge trivial cases.
  • Judging angels – One day believers will judge angels and the world.
  • Christian freedom of physical appetites – Everything is permissible, but not everything is beneficial.
  • Sexual purity – You are not your own.  You were bought with a price.  Our bodies are not meant for sexual immorality.  Our body is the temple of God.  Honor God with your body.
Christ’s power and wisdom is the solution to all sin and its resulting problems.

What sin do you bring to church?  Pride, gossip, criticism, entitlement? 
Is there a sin that keeps coming up?  Bring the power of the cross to that sin.  You must give it to Him.  It will be taken away by His power not yours.

1 Corinthians 7:1-40 – The Question

Paul gives instruction about marriage:
  • A man should have 1 wife and a wife should have 1 husband.
  • Each should fulfill their marital duties and don’t deprive each other so Satan will not tempt you.
  • If you divorce and remarry, you commit adultery.
  • You should not separate from your spouse, but if you do, you should not remarry.
  • If the unbelieving partner chooses to leave, the Christian must let him go.
  • Widows are free to marry, but should marry a Christian.
Paul believed it is better not to marry, unless you cannot control your sexual desires which might make you give in to sexual immorality.  He knows those who marry will face many troubles in life – (1 Corin. 7:28).  Marriage is hard work.  If you do want to get married, you should think long and hard about it.  Make sure you know the other person seeing them in all kinds of situations.  Marriage is not between 2 people, but between husband, wife and God. 

How will you use your marriage for His purposes? 
What newlywed will you mentor?

If you find that you have sinned in this area, remember God forgives sins - and the sin of divorce.  If you are struggling in your marriage, stay in His Word and on your knees in prayer asking God for guidance.  He will guide and comfort you, give you strength and can change your hopeless situation.  If He doesn’t change you situation, He will use it for your good.
Christ's power and wisdom of God enable the believer to obey God.

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