1 Corinthians: Solving the Problem of Carnality among Christians

12 What we have received is not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, so that we may understand what God has freely given us. 13 This is what we speak, not in words taught us by human wisdom but in words taught by the Spirit, explaining spiritual realities with Spirit-taught words.

Some idealize the church of the first century.  But as today, there were many problems the NT church had to solve.  Paul’s first letter to Corinth is a problem-solving letter.

Corinth.  In Paul’s time, Corinth was the finest city in Greece, a center of industry and trade, and as capital city of Achaia.  Corinth was also a notorious city.  It was so known for wantonness that “to live as a Corinthian” was used throughout the empire to denote a sexually immoral lifestyle.

This was reflected in worship at Corinth.  Over 1,000 priestesses served in the temple of Aphrodite as sacred prostitutes!  Some of the problems experienced by Christians reflect the moral climate of the society in which they lived.

Paul spent about 18 months in Corinth, in A.D. 50-52.  In this time, he founded a large congregation of believers (Acts 18:1-8).  Some five years later, Paul had heard by letter from messengers of problems which were tearing at the unity of this large body of believers.  Quickly he sat down to write words of guidance.

Date and Author.  Paul the apostle who founded the church at Corinth on his first missionary journey (Acts 18).  Paul wrote the letter from Ephesus, probably in A.D. 57.

Theme and Structure. The members of the church at Corinth were “carnal,” for they lived just like the people of the pagan world, without discerning the spiritual realities by which God’s people are to guide their actions.  The bickering, open sin, and pride of these people reveal the to be unspiritual.

The disturbing things which happen at Corinth still happen in modern congregations.  There are still divisions, as believers exalt this or that human leader.  There is still open immorality, for our society, too, is lax and wanton.  Disputes between believers still lead to bitterness and law suites.  Families break up.  Doctrinal disputes divide.  And debate over speaking in tongues still shakes our fellowship.  Misunderstanding of basic truths still raises doubts and uncertainties.

Value.  It reveals for us a Christian approach to problem-solving.  This is illustrated in the way Paul approaches each problem area (Peri de: “now concerning”)  In each case he analyzed the issue carefully, to uncover the underlying issue.  Then he searched out the basic revealed truth which is to be applied to guide our actions.

But can you and I use the method applied by Paul?  The answer is “Yes!”  In the Holy Spirit who is present within us to interpret God’s Word, we have the very mind of Christ (1 Cor. 2:10-16).

15 The person with the Spirit makes judgments about all things, but such a person is not subject to merely human judgments, 16 for, “Who has known the mind of the Lord so as to instruct him?” But we have the mind of Christ.

It’s not easy to address to fellow Christians who are living with habitual sins.  We want to say something about it.  But, then we wonder, “Who am I to judge?  Am I without sins?  But shouldn’t I have the courage to tell the truth if I care about the person?  Do I continue to be friend with her or not?”  It goes round and round in our mind.

In this book Apostle Paul provides an answer.  Pray and seek the guidance of the Holy Spirit.   It’s so simple to the point of sounding mundane.  But it is the one and only solution.  Let God do it through us.  We’ll know when to be silent and when to speak and what to say.  I’m off the hook!


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