At the conclusion of yesterday’s lesson, we looked at the many problems in the Corinthian church. Today we continue to explore the depth of their struggles.
Chapter 6 of 1 Corinthians talks about lawsuits. Here were Christians suing one another in the church, the very fellowship of the people who were called by the name of Christ, suing one another because they could not agree on matters concerning property and such things.
There were problems at the Lord’s Supper. They had a great big fellowship meal. There was not anything wrong with that. But those who had a lot came with a lot. Those who had nothing came with nothing. And so, some were gorging themselves, while others were starving. Those who were gorging themselves were also getting drunk. It was a disgrace.
There was disorder in the worship service. Paul talks about that in chapters 12 and 14. And then, just so we do not get the idea that their errors had only to do with matters of practice, when we read chapter 15, we discover in the context there that some of them were even denying the resurrection of the dead. So, they were erring in doctrinal matters, too.
You look at that and may say, “My goodness, what a church. I would not want to belong to a church like that.” But I am afraid I have to say that I also belong to a church like that. It is the same church that I mentioned yesterday when we looked at those who were separated unto Christ and given all spiritual gifts, and knowledge, and understanding because that is the way it is. We are on the way. We are called by Christ. But, at the same time, this or other problems are among us. We experience the same difficulties, and factions, and jealousy, and misunderstandings, and misuse of the gifts of God that were present in the church at Corinth.
You say, “Well then, I suppose that is the way it is. Does that mean then we just accept it, we just go on?” Well no, that does not necessarily follow. Certainly it did not follow for the Apostle Paul. The Apostle Paul was describing a church very much like the churches in all ages. However, Paul was not writing to them to say, “Go on in the way you are going. It is all right to be separated unto Christ, but sinning at the same time.” Oh no! Paul said that does not follow. God forbid that Christianity should teach anything like that! Instead, what the Apostle Paul tries to do in this letter is to bring those whom God has brought into his kingdom to a fuller measure of devotion to God and a greater experience of the holiness of God. He is writing about it in this first section, where he is talking about divisions. You notice in verse 10 the way he is going to handle this throughout the letter: “I appeal to you, brothers, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree with one another so that there may be no divisions among you and that you may be perfectly united in mind and thought” (v. 10). That is what he wants. You say, “How is that to happen?”
Well, he spells it out later in the book. He also spells it out in Philippians in a passage where he had a similar problem. There was an insipient division in that church. Two women were fighting. He knew how that would spread. So, he writes to deal with that. He encourages them to be of one mind. It is virtually the same phrase he uses here.
To show them how to do it, he says, “Let that mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, who thought it not robbery to be equal with God, but humbled himself, became obedient unto death, even death on the cross” (Phil. 2:5-6 KJV). Let that mind be in you. Be like Jesus Christ. Draw near to him. Then, these divisions begin to fade away. The sin begins to be conquered. The knowledge gives expression to the glorious reality of the fellowship of the people of God.