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Conflict Resolution - 1:10-13

1 Corinthians   •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  Presented   •  53:16
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The source of confilict is usually misunderstanding. Therefore, to resolve conflict we must correct our understanding. Resolving conflict requires clarity in three areas of understanding.



As we begin, a statement and two questions.
Conflict happens.
How do I react to conflict?
How should I react to conflict?
11 years and 2 1/2 months. That’s 4102 days.
That’s how long my bride and I have been married.
Every single one of those 4102 days have been incredible.
However, as I am sure many of you can relate to, it didn’t take very many days of marriage before we encountered conflict.
One of the things we have discovered over the years is that we will have a situation where I assume I know how Jess is going to react.
Then I react to how I think she will react regardless of how she actually reacts.
That might be a little confusing, so let me give you an example.
Let’s say, I go shopping and spend more than we had budgeted for that shopping time.
I use this example because it has been known to happen. :)
I assume that Jess is going to be frustrated with me. So, when I tell her how much I spent, I react as though she was frustrated.
But, let’s say she doesn’t get frustrated and she simply asks me what we bought that took us over budget.
This is a reasonable question. But because I am assuming she is frustrated, I react as though she is.
That’s when the conflict starts.
I am happy to say that after years of work learning to avoid this, we still have more work to do.
The reality is that Conflict tends to happen when we make assumptions or misunderstand.
There was an internet cartoon that I used to watch in high school. In one episode this guy calls his girlfriend and leaves her a message all upset because she told him to go away and pick up sticks. Then he calls right back and says that after listening to her message a second time he realized she asked him to go to the store and pick up some garbage bags.
He misunderstood the message and conflict was the result.
Conflict often arises out of misunderstanding.
To resolve conflict we must correct our understanding.
To resolve conflict we must correct our understanding.
Resolving conflict requires clarity in three areas of understanding.
Resolving conflict requires clarity in three areas of understanding.
Only when conflict is resolved can we be effective for Christ.
Only when conflict is resolved can we be effective for Christ.
Area of clarity #1. To resolve conflict we must...

1. Understand The Objective v. 10

As mentioned when we did our book overview, I believe this is the key verse to 1 Corinthians.
Here is where Paul lays out his desire for the Corinthian church.
He has stated their positional unity.
They are all called. All saints. All enriched with everything. All had Christ’s testimony confirmed in them. All come short in no gift. All confirmed. All will be presented blameless. All called into fellowship.
In light of their positional unity, Paul reveals his desire that the Corinthian church experience three practical expressions of unity.
To get the Corinthian church through conflict, Paul is reminding them of the goal. This is how we work through difficulties. We get focused on something else.
So what is their objective? It is three fold.
Before we get to that look with me at the beginning of the verse.
READ v. 10
Everything Paul is about to say is rooted in the authority of Christ.
“I plead with you by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
This is the source of Paul’s authority.
This also serves to communicate the seriousness of what Paul is going to say.
He is pleading with them for the practical manifestation of unity.
A second key thing Paul does here is refer to this church as brethren. He is emphasizing the reality of their salvation.
They are believers. They have been redeemed. They are brothers and sisters in Christ and they need to act like it!
His plea is based on the name of the Lord Jesus Christ. This idea of “name” encompasses all that Jesus is.
They have an objective to which they have been called by Jesus Christ Himself!
If they want to resolve their conflict, they must understand the objective.
This goes for us as well. To resolve conflict, we need to see the objective outside of ourselves.
This objective is threefold. Objective #1. They have...

a. A message to proclaim v. 10a

READ v. 10a
Now Paul comes to the substance of his plea.
This word “speak” means to declare.
Paul wants them to declare something together.
He wants them to have the same message.
This is where we take our eyes off the conflict, and get them on the bigger picture.
What is our big picture?
The gospel of Jesus Christ.
Consider what Paul wrote to the Colossian church. Colossians 1:27-28.
Colossians 1:27-28
Colossians 1:27–28 NKJV
To them God willed to make known what are the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles: which is Christ in you, the hope of glory. Him we preach, warning every man and teaching every man in all wisdom, that we may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus.
I love the simplicity of this statement from Paul. “Him we preach.”
Christ in you the hope of glory.” That is our message.
How does someone get Christ in them?
Place your faith in the one who died to redeem you. Place your trust in Jesus.
Believe that He died on the cross for your sin. That He was buried. That He rose again.
When you do, He lives in your life.
We need to keep our eyes on this message. It is vital. It is important. It must be proclaimed.
Conflict comes when we lose sight of our objective.
We have a message to proclaim! We don’t have time to waste.
Conflict has no power when confronted by the gospel.
The gospel is our objective, we want to reach lost people with the gospel of Jesus Christ!
This is our first objective. To know our message and declare it with boldness and clarity.
Objective #2…

b. People to partner with v. 10b

When we understand that we have a message to proclaim, we also understand that we have people who are to work with us toward that end.
READ v. 10b
A divided assembly.
A fractured body.
A broken building.
These are pictures that portray something very wrong.
A divided assembly is a contradiction.
A fractured body indicates trauma and abuse.
A broken building cannot be used for it’s intended purpose.
Division in the body of Christ is a serious situation.
This plea for them to have no division is based on everything Paul has already said.
They are part of the church. This means they are part of the body of Christ.
They are saints. They have been granted the grace of God, been blessed with utterance and knowledge, and had the testimony of Christ confirmed in them!
They have been given Spiritual gifts, they are awaiting the revelation of Christ, they will be confirmed to the end and presented blameless in Christ!
They have been called into fellowship with Christ through the faithfulness of God!
In light of all these things, division should never happen.
Look at Galatians 3:27-28.
Galatians 3:27-28
Galatians 3:27–28 NKJV
For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.
All believers are one in Christ Jesus!
We dare not fight amongst ourselves! We must work together.
Paul pleads for the absence of division.
They have a message to proclaim.
They cannot proclaim it apart from others in the body of Christ.
We need one another. Division in the body of Christ is a cancer that must be cut out.
That’s what Paul will be doing in the verses ahead.
Conflict cannot survive when we stand together.
We must partner with our brothers and sisters in Christ to declare the message.
Objective #1. Know the message and declare it with boldness and clarity.
Objective #2. Partner with the body of Christ to proclaim Him.
Objective #3…

c. A mission to accomplish v. 10c

READ v. 10c
Perfectly joined together – καταρτίζω (katartizō) prepare; complete; restore. To be prepared. To be made or become ready, suitable, or equipped in advance for a particular purpose or for some use or event. Verb, perfect, passive, attributive participle, plural, nominative, masculine.
Perfectly joined together – καταρτίζω (katartizō)
This is in the perfect tense meaning that this is a past action with continuing results.
They are perfectly joined together, they need to act like it.
Paul pleads for unity in their mind and judgment.
The idea of these two words is that there would be unity in what they believe and in the actions that flow from that belief.
They have a mission to accomplish.
We have a mission to accomplish.
The best way to resolve conflict is to re-center on the big picture.
We exist to proclaim a message, partner with people, and accomplish our mission.
We have an objective. To accomplish that objective we need to focus on the mission.
Our mission is to live out the gospel as we proclaim it.
This is made clear in Matthew 28:19-20.
Matthew 28:19-20
Matthew 28:19–20 NKJV
Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Amen.
Division makes fulfilling this commission impossible!
Paul presents a contrast here. Division vs. unity in belief and action.
Which one better accomplishes our objective?
When we focus on our mission, conflict vanishes.
We have an objective.
A message to proclaim.
People to partner with.
A mission to accomplish.
As conflicts arise, and they will, we must remain focused on the objective.
Look to the big picture.
Paul has laid out his plea. He desires for the Corinthian church to be unified. To remember their message, to remember we cannot reach people alone, to remember the mission.
Now we arrive at the conflict.
Paul has spent the past 10 verses preparing to address the issues in the Corinthian church.
He reminded them who they are in vv. 1-3. He reminded them of God’s faithfulness in vv. 4-9. He has just pleaded with them for unity.
With all that foundation laid, he now addresses the issue.
Area of clarity #1. To resolve conflict we must understand the objective.
Area of clarity #2. To resolve conflict we must...

2. Understand The Conflict vv. 11-12

This might seem really basic, but it is vital.
We cannot resolve a conflict if we do not fully understand it.
Have any of you husbands out there attempted to address a disagreement, only to discover you have no idea why she’s angry in the first place?
A conflict must be understood to be resolved.
To understand a conflict we must grasp two elements.
Paul identifies those here.
Element #1. To understand the conflict we must…

a. Identify the complication v. 11

READ v. 11
This verse explains why Paul is pleading for unity.
They have been fighting.
Contentions – ἔρις (eris) strife; contention. A bitter conflict; heated often violent dissension.
Contentions – ἔρις (eris)
To understand a conflict we must identify the problem.
We have to call it what it is.
That’s what Paul does here. They are contending with one another.
They are quarreling. They are fighting and arguing.
Paul doesn’t sugar coat it.
He names it for what it is.
Scripture does not reveal who Chloe is, but apparently Paul considered her and those in her household to be trustworthy in this matter.
They had communicated with Paul concerning the contention taking place.
Notice that Paul mentions her by name. This is no anonymous criticism. This is a sister in Christ concerned about what’s taking place in her church. She is willing to be named and to do something about the division and contention. She is not gossiping, she is part of the solution.
We need to be very clear about something here.
Fighting, arguing, and striving with one another is sin.
Look with me at Ephesians 4:25-32.
Ephesians 4:25-32
Ephesians 4:25–32 NKJV
Therefore, putting away lying, “Let each one of you speak truth with his neighbor,” for we are members of one another. “Be angry, and do not sin”: do not let the sun go down on your wrath, nor give place to the devil. Let him who stole steal no longer, but rather let him labor, working with his hands what is good, that he may have something to give him who has need. Let no corrupt word proceed out of your mouth, but what is good for necessary edification, that it may impart grace to the hearers. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, and evil speaking be put away from you, with all malice. And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you.
This is how we are to treat one another.
Notice the motivation Paul gives us in v. 25. We are members of one another!
Speak the truth, don’t be sinfully angry, don’t steal, don’t speak corruptly, get rid of all these bad behaviors and be kind, tenderhearted, and forgiving!
When we argue and fight and and contend with one another. We sin.
Paul is pointing out their sin.
It needed to be named for what it is so that they can turn from it and change their behavior.
All disunity is rooted in sin.
Sin is to be confessed, repented of, and eliminated.
The sin the Corinthians were guilty of is fighting amongst themselves.
If we are not careful, every church can face this same issue.
Sin cannot be tolerated. It must be named, confessed, repented of, and eliminated.
This is the first element. To understand the conflict we must identify the complication.
Element #2. To understand the conflict we must…

b. Identify the cause v. 12

The complication is their contention. They are fighting. Why are they fighting? What are they fighting about?
READ v. 12
This is the source of the conflict.
There are basically 5 factions in the Corinthian church.
Some identify themselves with Paul, some with Apollos, some with Cephas or Peter, some with Christ.
I say there are 5 factions because I presume that “those of Chloe’s household” are not part of any of these.
What is going on here?
This is what we commonly refer to as a cult of personality.
Those in Corinth have chosen to identify themselves with certain teachers.
Some like Paul. He planted the church and spent several years teaching in it. He is a well known figure and they felt a sense of loyalty in sticking with him.
Some like Apollos. We first meet Apollos in Acts 18:24. Turn there please. Acts 18:24-19:1a.
Acts 18:24-19:1a
Acts 18:24–19:1a NKJV
Now a certain Jew named Apollos, born at Alexandria, an eloquent man and mighty in the Scriptures, came to Ephesus. This man had been instructed in the way of the Lord; and being fervent in spirit, he spoke and taught accurately the things of the Lord, though he knew only the baptism of John. So he began to speak boldly in the synagogue. When Aquila and Priscilla heard him, they took him aside and explained to him the way of God more accurately. And when he desired to cross to Achaia, the brethren wrote, exhorting the disciples to receive him; and when he arrived, he greatly helped those who had believed through grace; for he vigorously refuted the Jews publicly, showing from the Scriptures that Jesus is the Christ. And it happened, while Apollos was at Corinth, that Paul, having passed through the upper regions, came to Ephesus. And finding some disciples
Apollos was kind of the second pastor of the church at Corinth.
What’s important here is that Apollos was eloquent and mighty in the Scriptures.
Also, he greatly helped the believers in Achaia, which is the region Corinth was in, as he refuted the Jews and showed that Jesus was the Messiah.
He is eloquent and knowledgeable.
According to 2 Corinthians 10:10, Paul was not so eloquent (S).
2 Corinthians 10:10
2 Corinthians 10:10 NKJV
“For his letters,” they say, “are weighty and powerful, but his bodily presence is weak, and his speech contemptible.”
Some follow Paul because he’s the founding pastor.
Some follow Apollos because he is a better speaker.
Does this happen today? With the rise of podcasts, YouTube, and television preaching, people have access to very talented preachers. Guys who are very eloquent.
The temptation can be to follow them. Or to compare your local pastor to them. We are commanded in Scripture to follow those God has called into the leadership of our local church.
Some like Peter. Peter was one of Jesus’ apostles. More than that, he was one of the inner circle of 3 who Jesus spent extra time with.
A pastor friend of mine refers to those following Peter as one’s seeking prestige. They wanted status. They wanted to be known as followers of Peter, the disciple of Jesus.
Peter never pastored the Corinthian church, they simply want the status of identifying with his name.
The last group of people in Corinth were the ultra-spiritual ones. People who “only follow Jesus.”
This attitude is alive and well today. People who reject God-given spiritual authority claiming they only answer to Jesus. People who say the only part of the Bible that really matters is what Jesus said.
This was the source of their conflict.
The bottom line is that many things lie behind their desire to follow certain men.
We find ourselves today in a culture obsessed with status.
I am of Calvin, I am of Arminius, I am Luther, I am of Wesley.
Or to bring it closer to home, I am of Jon, I am of Sean, I am of Daryl, I am of Bill Fox.
Beloved brothers and sisters in Christ. There is nothing wrong with preferring one person’s style over another.
Where we cross the line is when we refuse to follow the God-ordained leadership of a church because we like this person better!
The believers in Corinth had become blind to the division they were causing!
They had lost sight of the goal.
They were so worried about themselves, about what they liked or didn’t like, who they followed or didn’t follow, they lost sight of the mission.
The mission is to see people saved and to train them up as disciples of Christ!
This division was a distraction. It was a tool of our enemy to make the body of Christ less effective.
All division has that same result.
When we are divided, we are ineffective.
Paul has identified the cause of the conflict.
We know the complication, contention. And we know the cause, hero worship.
Area of clarity #1. Understand the Objective.
Area of clarity #2. Understand the conflict.
Area of clarity #3. To resolve conflict we must...

3. Understand The Truth v. 13

As we began this morning we mentioned that misunderstanding is a leading cause of conflict.
Paul has begun to correct the understanding of the Corinthian believers.
Now he is going to present them with the truth they need to hear.
There are two powerful truths presented here.
Powerful truth #1…

a. Christ is not separated v. 13a

READ v. 13a
“Is Christ divided?”
Three words, one powerful question.
If we are the body of Christ and we are working in obedience to Him, there can be no division.
A divided body is a contradiction.
A body that is divided is a dead body.
When we are divided, we are useless.
The Corinthian church is not accomplishing it’s mission!
Paul states the truth here in question format because he wants them to refocus.
Get your eyes off of people and onto Christ.
In commenting on this passage, Warren Wiersbe writes,
The Bible Exposition Commentary Chapter One: Be Wise about … the Christian’s Calling (1 Corinthians 1)

human nature enjoys following human leaders. We tend to identify more with spiritual leaders who help us and whose ministry we understand and enjoy. Instead of emphasizing the message of the Word, the Corinthians emphasized the messenger. They got their eyes off the Lord and on the Lord’s servants, and this led to competition.

We must keep our eyes on the Lord!
Paul’s question here is a rhetorical one with an implied answer.
The answer is no!
Christ is not divided!
Therefore, as the body of Christ, we ought not to be divided!
This is the focus we need.
As we are focused on Christ and moving toward Him, we move closer together and get more in step.
How do we gain unity in our message, partnership, and mission? We move toward Christ!
In Ephesians, Paul reveals that we already have the unity, we just need to maintain it.
Go to Ephesians 4:1-6.
Ephesians 4:1-6
Ephesians 4:1–6 NKJV
I, therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you to walk worthy of the calling with which you were called, with all lowliness and gentleness, with longsuffering, bearing with one another in love, endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all.
We keep the unity of the Spirit.
One body, one Spirit, one hope, one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God.
We have unity, we just need to live in that unity.
The closer we draw to Christ, the more unified we become.
Intimacy with Christ resolves conflict.
Christ is not divided. His body shouldn’t be either.
This is the truth the Corinthian Church needed to hear.
It is a truth we too need to hear.
Conflict comes when we take our eyes off of Christ and put them on ourselves, our likes, our desires, our wants.
To resolve conflict we must get our eyes back on Christ.
As we do this, we learn powerful truth #2…

b. Christ is sufficient v. 13b

READ v. 13b
This is a question of sufficiency.
It is foolish to follow Paul when Christ is the one who died for you!
It is foolish to follow Paul when you were baptized in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit!
Christ alone is sufficient. Not Paul. Not Apollos. Not Peter.
It is ridiculous to follow men, when Christ is the one who saves. When Christ is the one who sanctifies. When Christ is the one whose blood was shed to take away our sin!
Follow Christ!
Following men instead of Christ minimizes Christ.
Again these are rhetorical questions with an implied answer of no.
Colossians 2:10 declares that we are complete in Christ.
This means that we lack nothing.
Christ is sufficient.
When we experience conflict, the reality is that we have turned from Christ and sought satisfaction in other things.
Far too often we look to men for the safety and security that only Christ can bring.
We are complete in Him!
Not in Paul, not in Apollos, not in Jon Winkelman, not in any other human being.
We are complete in Christ!
He is sufficient.
Behind what Paul is saying lies an implication.
As members of the body of Christ, we are not supposed to live this way.
Go with me to Titus 2:11-14.
Titus 2:11-14
Titus 2:11–14 NKJV
For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men, teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in the present age, looking for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, who gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from every lawless deed and purify for Himself His own special people, zealous for good works.
The grace of God teaches us to live differently.
We are a redeemed people, purified and zealous for good works.
We cannot live the way we are called to live if we are divided.
The sufficiency of Christ leaves no room for conflict.
This is what we focus on. This is the truth we need.
Christ is sufficient. And we are complete in Him.
As we grasp this truth. As we internalize it, conflict melts away.
How can we be in conflict when we have everything we need in Christ?
Understand the objective.
Understand the conflict.
Understand the truth.


Conflict happens.
How do I react to conflict?
How should I react to conflict?
Personal conflict comes when I misunderstand what God is doing in my life. In those moments, I must remember the big picture. I have a message and a mission. God is at work in my life giving opportunities to share the message and equipping me for the mission. A commitment here could be focusing on the truth that will get me through the conflict. This requires times spent in God’s Word.
I am going to have conflict in relationships and friendships. When they come I must commit to seeing the bigger picture. Why do I have relationships? They are gifts from God in which I am to shine the light of Christ! Therefore, I don’t run from conflict. I move toward it so that resolution can happen. Get to the truth and resolve the conflict. If you are making a commitment in this area, it could be committing to move toward conflict so that there can be understanding.
Every single day there are conflicts in parenting. Sometimes these conflicts are the expected ones that come with raising children. Other times they are conflicts about things we never would have anticipated. Regardless of what the conflict is about, we must look at the big picture. God did not give us children so that life would be easy. He entrusted hearts and minds to our care so that we can “bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.” A good commitment in parenting would be to always seek understanding. Identify what is going on and why there is a conflict. Don’t react, seek truth.
Marriage. There is never any conflict in marriage, right? So we don’t even need to talk about this one. Just kidding. You know why there is most often conflict in my marriage? Because I am a selfish sinner who is in desperate need of the grace of God. A marriage is the union of two sinners. Therefore, when conflict comes, we need to take a deep breath and own our part of the conflict. The reality is that God has a plan and purpose for our marriages. We are a picture of Christ and the church. That picture doesn’t work well when we don’t resolve conflict. A commitment here could be a willingness to admit wrong.
COMMITMENT: ____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
Resolving conflict requires a proper understanding.
There are three areas in which we must correct our understanding.
Understand the objective.
The Christian life is not about me. And it is not about you.
The Christian life is about the glory of God.
He has given us a message. He has given us partners. He has given us a mission.
These are not optional things!
We need to stop whining when we don’t get our way and start living for the mission!
Understand the conflict.
Take the time to identify the complication. What form is the conflict taking? Are we arguing? Gossiping? Complaining? What is going on?
Once we know what’s happening, we can get to the source. What is causing the conflict?
Once the conflict is understood. Resolve it.
Understand the truth.
In every conflict there is a truth that will help us see it from the proper perspective.
The bottom line is that only when we are focused on Christ, are we able to resolve conflict.
To resolve conflict, stop thinking about yourself.
Four final thoughts.
Disunity limits effectiveness.
Unity empowers ministry.
To be effective we must be unified.
To be unified we must be centered on Christ.
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