1 Corinthians chapter 3

God Doesn’t Need Men of the World

“Are you not acting like mere men? – Vs 3b NIV

The first few verses of chapter three are very sobering. Whenever I read them they speak volumes to me. They are a reminder that I have been called to something far greater than the status quo. God didn’t save me through the sacrificial death of His Son so that my life would blend in with the woodwork of this world. No, I have been chosen by God for a life of holiness. I have been set apart. I am called to a life that is to be distinctively different than the rest of the world. I have a wisdom they don’t have. I have access to a power they don’t possess. I have a peace they can’t experience. I have an inheritance that makes their possessions look paltry in comparison. I am a child of the living God.

But I am struck by what Paul says to the Corinthians, “I could not speak to you as spiritual people, but instead as people of the flesh, as infants in Christ” (Vs 1 NET). There was a time when Paul had to talk to the Corinthian believers as spiritual babies. They were immature and weak. They lacked spiritual wisdom and understanding. He had to give them spiritual milk to drink because they couldn’t handle the “solid food” of God’s Word. That was normal and expected. But then Paul says something that really hits home: “…even now you are not yet able” (Vs 2 NASB). You can almost hear the disappointment in Paul’s voice as he writes these words – even now. Instead of growing in their faith and maturing in their knowledge of the ways of God, they had remained just as they were. They were still spiritual babies. Paul describes them as fleshly or carnal (sarkikos). The Greek word means “having the nature of flesh, i.e. under the control of the
animal appetites.” It is to be governed by mere human nature instead of by the Spirit of God. Their lives look no different than the lives of the lost. They have no distinctiveness. How does Paul know this? Because their lives are marked by jealousy and quarrelling. They can’t seem to get along. And the sad thing is, they are fighting over spiritual matters. They have taken up sides in the church. One group has sided with Paul and another with Apollos. They had become followers of men instead of followers of Christ. They were debating over which leader was the most important for crying out loud!

Paul was looking for spiritual maturity, but what he found was spiritual immaturity. These people had been saved long enough to grow up. But they were still being controlled by their sensual appetites. They were living according to their flesh instead of the Spirit within them. Paul describes the outcome of this kind of life in Galatians 5:

“It is obvious what kind of life develops out of trying to get your own way all the time: repetitive, loveless, cheap sex; a stinking accumulation of mental and emotional garbage; frenzied and joyless grabs for happiness; trinket gods; magic-show religion; paranoid loneliness; cutthroat competition; all-consuming-yet-never-satisfied wants; a brutal temper; an impotence to love or be loved; divided homes and divided lives; small-minded and lopsided pursuits;the vicious habit of depersonalizing everyone into a rival; uncontrolled and uncontrollable addictions; ugly parodies of community. I could go on” – Galatians 5:19-21 MSG

Whenever we see these characteristics in our life, we know that we are walking like mere men. We are acting as if we are not saved. We are exhibiting the characteristics of the lost and not the redeemed. But Paul goes on to remind us that we belong to Christ. We are His. We have His Spirit within us. We are to be growing, maturing, changing, and becoming more and more like Him every day. Yes, we will still struggle with our old fleshly desires. When we do, it should remind us just how much we need His Spirit to lead and guide us. It should make us more dependent on Him than ever. Our sinfulness should lead us to repentance. We should desire change from the inside out. We should long for maturity. We are not mere men, but sons of God.

Father, I don’t want to live my life like a mere man. I want to see Your power revealed in my life each and every day, transforming me from infancy to maturity. I want to see my childish habits fade away with time. I want to see my life characterized by the fruit of the spirit, not the deeds of the flesh. I want these things because that is what You desire for me. That is why Your Son died for me. May I continue to grow in Christ-likeness so that every day I become less and less like a mere man. Amen

Ken Miller
Grow Pastor & Minister to Men
kenm@christchapelbc.org