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Spiritual Immaturity

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SPIRITUAL IMMATURITY[1]

(1 Cor. 3:1-9)

INTRODUCTION:

1.       Read the text: (1 Cor. 3:1-9).

2.       Regarding the text:

(1)       Paul, in this chapter, is on familiar ground with the Corinthian church.

(2)       Paul reprimands them for their pride in philosophy and vain wisdom.

(3)       In fact Paul affirms that they are under the influence of a greater wisdom (2:12-16), the wisdom of the Holy Spirit.

(4)       Someone would surely argue, “If you have some greater wisdom by the Spirit, how come it is that there is such ‘spiritual immaturity’ among the Corinthians? (Hence the attacks on Paul’s ability).

A.      We know there was no deficiency in Paul’s ability (2:6).

B.      We know there is no deficiency in the Spirit.

C.     BUT there definitely was a spiritual deficiency/immaturity at Corinth!

3.       The term “spiritual” appears 27 times in the New Testament.  16 of which occur in the book of 1 Corinthians.

(1)       Spiritual = “things that have their origin with God and which, therefore, are in harmony with His character” (Vines);  Webster = “of, relating to, or consisting of spirit.”

(2)       The word does not describe a “fixed position!”

A.      Spiritual is something we seek to become and maintain.

B.      Spiritual is something we may grow in, or we may shrink in.

4.       We must be careful not to make babes in Christ feel guilty / inadequate / or overwhelmed.  The Holy Spirit describes them as babes!!!

5.       However there are some who never grow spiritually!!  These we should make uncomfortable.  God desires for us to develop Christian / Spiritual maturity.

DISCUSSION: IN HIS INSPIRED WRITING TO CORINTH PAUL SHOWS --

I.             WE CANNOT BECOME SPIRITUAL IF WE CONTINUE IN IMMATURITY (1 Cor. 3:1,2).

1.           Paul had two things to say about their condition:

(1)          Carnal (four times vv. 1,3,3,4).

A.        Carnal = made of flesh. sapx = controlled by animal appetites.

a.         Nothing wrong with being attracted to opposite sex…

b.         Nothing wrong with eating a good meal…

c.         Nothing wrong with getting mad…

B.        It is not wrong for us to live “in the flesh” but we must not live “according to the flesh” (Rom. 8:12;  1 Pet. 2:11).

(2)          Childish (v. 2).

A.        We expect babies to grow physically (1 Pet. 2:1-5).

B.        In the spiritual realm growth takes time as well, unfortunately some people don’t grow because they can’t grow – malnourished.

a.         Maybe it is the preachers fault if not preach whole counsel.

b.         Maybe it is the elders fault if they not feed the flock.

c.         Maybe it is the Bible class teacher because not prepared.

d.         Maybe it is too cold, too hot, too loud, too quite. 

e.         MAYBE IT IS BECAUSE A PERSON IS CONTROLLED BY CARNAL APPETITES INSTEAD OF SPIRITUAL!!!!

C.        A time comes to put away childish things (1 Cor. 13:11).

2.           Status quo is Latin for “the mess we are in.”

(1)          An alcoholic, smoker, etc. will not quit until appetite is replaced!

(2)          A Christian will not grow if carnal appetite isn’t replaced with spiritual.

3.           Cf. Gal. 5:19-21 (adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lewdness, idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outburst of wrath, selfish ambition, dissensions, heresies, envy, murders, drunkenness, revelries…)

II.           WE CANNOT BE (MAINTAIN) SPIRITUAL IF WE DO NOT POSSESS BASIC CHRISTIAN ATTITUDES (1 Cor. 3:3-4).

1.           It never ceases to amaze me what a thin crust exist is so many people’s lives holding them together.  It takes little pressure for it to erupt/crack.

(1)          This limited their teacher.

(2)          They were left in spiritual infancy.

(3)          This led to division.

2.           Paul identifies three causes.

(1)          Jealousy (KJV) or envy (NKJV).

A.        Zhlos = zeal = “is not necessarily evil, but good if under control, It may not be according to knowledge and easily becomes jealousy.” (Robertson’s).

B.        People become “distrustful, watchful” working against each other.

C.        Such an attitude will stifle Christian growth.

(2)          Strife (KJV) , quarreling (NIV) = wrangling of words.

(3)          Divisions =dissension / factions.  Contended with one another until they separated and split the church at Corinth.

(4)          NOTICE – Paul says it was your Thoughts, Words, & Deeds.

A.        Self assertive and not God assertive.

B.        Notice Paul’s focus (1 Cor. 3:6-9).

3.           If your life is not God based you will lack in the fundamentals for sprituality.

III.         SPIRITUAL MATURITY COMES FROM THE MIND OF CHRIST (1 Cor. 2:13-16).

1.           A man does not become “spiritual” by a sudden and miraculous working of the Holy Spirit.

(1)          We do not deny the power of the Holy Spirit nor His influence.

(2)          We do not deny that some men in time received the Holy Spirit in a miraculous measure , but that was for a specific purpose (Mk. 16:20).

2.           A man does not become “spiritual” by following the natural man (v. 14).

(1)          Possibly here a reference to one not a Christian.

(2)          Definitely a reference to a man controlled by animal appetites.

3.           A man becomes “spiritual” by living as the Lord lived and doing as the Lord did.  Spirituality comes from having the mind of Christ.

(1)          The only way for me to know what the Lord thought is to turn to His Word (Read Phil. 2:5-11).

(2)          The only way to do what the Lord did is to become “spiritual” rather than “carnal.”

CONCLUSION:

1.         There is something to be desired in “spirituality.” For to be carnally minded is death, but to be spiritually minded is life and peace” (Rom. 8:6).

2.         We are right to desire the blessings of spirituality.  It is worth the cost.

3.         To attain and maintain the rewards of a spiritual life in a world of sin will be a constant challenge to God’s people, but it is a challenge with rewards worth it all.00


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[1] Outline idea from Tom Holland’s book Christ Crucified.  Adaptations made by Toby Soechting.

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