Marks of Carnality:
(Read 1 Corinthians 3:1-5)
Paul calls the Corinthian believers, carnal Christians because they act like spiritual babies (Galatians 5:17). He could not speak to them as spiritual. The clearest evidence of their spiritual immaturity is the strife among them. They are carnal and not growing spiritually (1 Corinthians 3:1). Their envy, strife and division are the marks of their carnality. Carnality will destroy the unity in the church by not living by the Spirit. The party spirit in the church shows its carnality. Apostle Paul and Apollos are only ministers and fellow workers in the gospel (Acts 18:9-10). Christians should beware of carnality. This warfare between flesh and Spirit will continue throughout Christian life (Galatians 5:17). However, because of the Spirit at work in us, we can live a godly life. We should not despair when carnality tries to influence our behavior. Regular confession of sin to God and dependance on Christ will free us from carnality. Only spiritually mature believers are capable of making spiritual discernment and recognize the difference between good and evil (Hebrews 5:14). We should keep a short account by admitting our sin to God daily. Pray for humility to make things right with those whom you have sinned against. Christians should take both sin and repentance seriously.
Fellow Workers in the Gospel:
(Read 1 Corinthians 3:6-17)
God used Paul to start the church at Corinth and was blessed with able leaders. While Paul sowed the seeds, Apollos watered it but it was God who made it grow. Paul reminds the Corinthians that Paul and Apollos are only the servants of the Lord (1 Corinthians 3:9). They cannot take any credit for the work God has accomplished through them. God gives them the grace to serve, so God gets the glory (1 Corinthians 3:10). Human labor is fruitful because God gives growth. 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 Corinthians 3:11). Believers 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 will be tested by fire. Anything built on Christ is compared to gold, silver and precious stones. They are materials that last. The wood, hay and straw are temporary and will not withstand the test of fire. Every man’s work will be openly displayed at the judgment seat of Christ (1 Corinthians 3:13; 2 Corinthians 5:10). There the quality of our work will be tested, as well as the motives for doing it. Our reward will reflect what were the motives behind our work. Those who faithfully serve Christ will hear from the Lord “Well done, good and faithful servant” (Matthew 25:21). If any one’s work does not survive the test of fire, he will lose rewards but will not suffer the loss of his salvation (1 Corinthians 3:15; 5:5). He is likened to the stick snatched from the fire (Zechariah 3:2). The church is God’s temple and holy (3:16). It is a reference to the local church and not a believer. If anyone dishonors God’s temple, he will be judged. Paul warns that Christians should not waste their God given gifts.
Do not be deceived by Human wisdom:
(Read 1 Corinthians 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 (3:20; Job 5:13). So, let no one boast in human leadership or wisdom. God is the source of all blessings in our lives (1 Corinthians 3:22; Romans 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. Everything God has given to us in Christ. Christ is not subordinate to God the Father. He is the anointed Son of God. He is God in the flesh reconciling the world to himself (2 Corinthians 5:19). We serve Christ because of God’s grace. We must give him glory for the work he is doing in and through us. Our strength to follow Christ is the result of God's grace in our lives.