1 Corinthians

Be Adults

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I don’t know for sure, but I have a sneaking suspicion that most Americans who call themselves Christians have never advanced in their faith beyond infancy. Some may have never read the word of God for themselves, others may be spiritually conflicted due to the liberal ideology we receive from the media and society in general, and still others may be content with merely dipping their toe into what it means to be a Christ-Follower. As a result, I believe that many who call themselves Christians do not understand the Bible enough, or have grown in their faith enough, to think and understand the deeper things spoken of in the Bible and have never advanced beyond the elementary things. Paul warns the Corinthians about this in first Corinthians chapter 14 verse 20 which says: 

“Brothers, stop thinking like children. In regard to evil be infants, but in your thinking be adults.”

This is found buried in Paul’s teaching about the gifts of prophesy and speaking in tongues. Now, I realize that there have been heated debates as to whether speaking in tongues still happens today, and even what it means to “speak in tongues”. But my question to those who would quickly dismiss the phenomenon is, “if you have a problem with speaking in tongues, what will you do if God decides to do something really crazy?” To have the faith to believe in the miraculous goes beyond thinking like a child. It is the realization that God sets the rules, God sets the boundaries, and at any time and in any way that lines up with his word and his character, he can choose to move. So I encourage you not to put God in a box, because when we decide that there are limits to what God will and will not do, I believe that we are actually revealing our lack of faith.

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Like Paul says, we need to advance in our faith and stop thinking like spiritual children. Yes, we are to be inexperienced - or infants - when it comes to evil, but with regards to the deeper things of God; the things that stretch our faith and grow our understanding of who he is, we should be adults. I encourage you to filter what you hear and learn about God through the Bible aided by the Holy Spirit. Then open your mind and understanding to a mighty God whose power and influence are limitless. If you do, you might be able to stretch your faith in such a way, that God will move in your life in ways that are beyond what you can think or ask.

Not Your Words

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The bible clearly tells us that it is God who draws people to himself. It isn’t really anything we say that lead people to Christ. Yes, I believe God uses what we say, but it is the Holy Spirit that does the work. Most often, I believe the Holy Spirit has already been at work in someone’s heart and you might just be the one to help finish what has already been started. Then there are also those who are simply not ready to hear and receive the message yet. They may even be violently opposed to it. For these individuals, we can only pray that God draw them to himself, because until he does, the message of the cross comes across as pure foolishness. 1 Corinthians 1:18 says:

"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 idea of the gospel on its own can be difficult for people to accept. It is a fantastic story that could read like fiction if only it weren’t true. But it is true, and the Holy Spirit is the one who opens our eyes to that truth. I encourage you to pray that the Holy Spirit work in the hearts of those around you who don’t believe. Because it isn’t really the words that we speak that will win others over to Christ, it is the power of the Holy Spirit, drawing them to himself.

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Remember what first Corinthians says, “For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing.” Nothing we can say will change that mindset. If you know of someone who is totally shut off to the gospel, I encourage you to pray that the Holy Spirit open their eyes, and draw that person to the Father. It may be that God will use you in that process, or maybe he’ll use something or someone else. God assures us that it isn’t his desire that anyone perish, so you know that he wants unbelievers to turn their hearts to him. Knowing that, our prayers should be full of faith, knowing that we are praying within his will.

Bodily Temples

Do you believe that you have the Holy Spirit literally living inside of you? You can’t see Him on an X-Ray scan, and if you cut your body open you can’t remove him with forceps. But I believe that just like our soul is in us but can’t be seen, so is the Spirit who enters us when we choose to accept Jesus. I’ve heard it said that the soul literally weighs 21 grams. That when we die and our soul leaves our body, we actually become 21 grams lighter. If you don’t believe that, that is your choice, but it is the scripture from first Corinthians chapter 6, verses 18 through 20 that make me believe that the spiritual world and the physical world do actually converge inside our bodies. It says:

"Flee from sexual immorality. All other sins a man commit are outside of the body, but he who sins sexually sins against his own body. 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 believe that the Holy Spirit, like our soul, is literally inside of us. When we sin, we grieve the Holy Spirit. Other words for grieve is to mourn, lament, sadden, upset, destress, cause pain or feel sorrow. This is what the Holy Spirit - the third part of the trinity - feels when we sin. How much more so, when we sin with our bodies - or as the bible puts it, his temple or home? If you struggle with sexual sins, I encourage you to remember this verse and pray that the Holy Spirit break any stronghold Satan has in this area. Paul tells us to flee from sexual immorality, and this is one huge reason why.

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Paul says, “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.” We need to take this scripture to heart. When we sin sexually, Paul tells us that we are sinning against our own body - the temple where the Spirit of God lives. I encourage you, if you are struggling with any kind of sexual sin and are finding it difficult to stop by your willpower alone, ask the Holy Spirit, the spirit living inside of you, to help you stop sinning against His temple. He will hear you, and if you’re serious, I know that he will respond.

Whatever Situation

The bible is clear when it explains that if we are already a believer then we shouldn’t marry, or yoke ourselves with, an unbeliever. If you do, you’re just asking for trouble. Your spouse might even eventually lead you away from Christ. But what if you became a believer after you got married? What do you do then? Well the bible has something to say about that too. Paul shares this with the church in Corinth in first Corinthians chapter 7 verse 17 which says:  

"Nevertheless, each person should live as a believer in whatever situation the Lord has assigned them, just as God has called them. This is the rule I lay down in all the churches."

Earlier in verses 12 and 13 Paul says, 

“If any brother has a wife who is not a believer and she is willing to live with him, he must not divorce her. And if a woman has a husband who is not a believer and he is willing to live with her, she must not divorce him.” 

So just as you were a mess before you believed in Christ, your situation may be a mess after you’ve accepted him. But Paul tells us that if we find ourselves in that place, that we should live as a believer in the situation the Lord has assigned us. So if you are a new believer now yoked with an unbeliever, I encourage you not to make any drastic changes in where God has you. Live for Him and allow the Holy Spirit to direct your future. It may be incredibly difficult, but keep your eyes on Jesus. He knows your situation and may want to use you right where you are.

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“Each person should live as a believer in whatever situation the Lord has assigned them.” When we come to Christ, we are a new creation. It may take time for the Holy Spirit to help us conform to the likeness of Jesus, but your life is headed in that direction if you let the Spirit take control. Likewise, it may take time for your current life situation to align with Christ as well. Yes, if there is sin in your life, you will need to deal with that right away. But if your spouse, or your life situation doesn’t lead you into sin, but at the same time isn’t exactly conducive to an easy walk with Christ, I encourage you not to make any drastic changes, but live for Christ and let the Holy Spirit direct your future.

Grow Up

If you are like me, when you were young, you couldn’t wait to be an adult so that you could experience all of the privileges of being an adult. You could stay up late, drive yourself places, and spend your money the way you want. But with age also comes responsibility and an expectation that you will begin to act more mature, and put away childish ways. The same can be said when we grow in our faith. Paul reminds the church in first Corinthians 13:11:

"When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put childish ways behind me."

You see, when we become believers, our goal should be to grow in the Lord, to not remain as children. Do you know people who, by age, are considered adults, but by their actions still act like a child? It shouldn’t be that way for believers and our faith walk. Spiritually speaking, we should no longer talk, think or reason like we used to. We should become more and more mature in our faith, which means our goal should be to become more and more like Jesus. If you’ve been a believer for a long period of time, but still act like a child in the faith, I’d encourage you to take note of this portion of scripture.

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The goal of every believer should be to grow in the faith, to become more and more like Jesus. When we were young in the faith, spiritually speaking, we may have acted like a child. But as we grow, we should put childish things behind us. It should be evident to those around us that we are maturing… conforming into the likeness of Christ.