Marks of Carnality: 3:1-5.
(Read 1 Cor 3:1-5)
Paul calls the Corinthian believers, carnal Christians because they act like spiritual babies (Gal 5:17). He could not speak to them as to spiritual men. The clearest evidence of their spiritual immaturity is their strife with one another. They are carnal and not growing spiritually (1 Cor 3:1). Their envy, strife and division are the marks of their carnality. They destroy the unity in the church by not living by the Spirit. The party spirits in the church shows its carnality. Apostle Paul and Apollos are only ministers and fellow workers in the gospel (Acts 18:9-10). The warfare between flesh and Spirit will continue in Christian life (Gal 5:17). However, because of the Spirit at work in us, we can repent and live a godly life. We should not despair when carnality tries to influence our behavior. Regular confession of sin to God and turning to Christ for mercy will free us from fleshly behavior. Only spiritually matured believers are capable of making spiritual discernment and recognize the difference between good and evil (Heb 5:14). We should keep short account with God by confessing our sins regularly. Pray for the courage to make things right with those whom you have sinned against.
Fellow Workers in the Gospel: 3:6-17.
(Read 1 Cor 3:6-17)
God used Paul to start the church at Corinth. While men sow the seeds, only God makes them to grow. Paul reminds the Corinthians that Paul and Apollos are the servants of the Lord (1 Cor 3:9). They cannot take any credit for the work accomplished through them. God gives them the grace to serve, so God gets the glory (1 Cor 3:10). Paul uses two illustrations to explain this principle. The Corinthian church is compared to God’s field and God’s building. Paul had laid the foundation and Apollos built upon it. The foundation is Jesus Christ (1 Cor 3:11). We are saved to serve. Many believers are wasting their lives by not serving the Lord. The quality and motives of our works are important. One day our works will be evaluated. So it is important what we do with the gifts God has given us. Paul warns that anything that is built by human strength and wisdom will be exposed and destroyed. Our work is compared to gold, silver and precious stones. They are materials that last. The wood, hay and straw are temporal and will not withstand the test of fire. Every man’s work will be openly displayed at the judgment seat of Christ (1 Cor 3:13; 2 Cor 5:10). Those who faithfully serve Christ will hear from the Lord “Well done, good and faithful servant” (Mat 25:21). If any one’s work does not survive the test of fire, he will lose rewards but does not suffer the loss of his salvation (1 Cor 3:15; 5:5). He is likened to a stick snatched from the fire (Zech 3:2). The church is God’s temple because it is made up of believers in whom the Holy Spirit dwells (John 14:16). God's temple is holy. If anyone dishonor God’s temple, he will be judged.
Do not be deceived by Human wisdom: 3:18-23.
(Read 1 Cor 3:18-23)
Paul warns Corinthians that they should not be deceived by human wisdom. The wisdom of this world is foolishness and worthless in God’s sight. God catches the wise in their own craftiness (1 Cor 3:20; Job 5:13). So, let no one boast in human leadership for God gives everything for our blessing (1 Cor 3:22; Rom 8:32). It is because of our union with Christ all these blessings are ours. And we belong to Christ and Christ belongs to God. Christ is not subordinate to God the Father; He is the anointed Son of God. We serve Christ because of God’s grace. We must give him glory for the work he is doing in and through us.