Division (1 Corinthians #1)

Text: 1 Corinthians 1:1-25

If there is a theme in 1 Corinthians, it is found in 1 Corinthians 1:29, 31.

When you read 1 Corinthians you are reading about a church that had an abundance of problems brought on by putting the flesh first.  The Corinthian church was the most carnal of all the churches Paul wrote to.  That means this church disobeyed God more than any other church Paul dealt with (1 Corinthians 3:1).  Paul dealt with carnality in three respects in chapter one of 1 Corinthians.  All of these three carnal problems are the result of putting the flesh on a pedestal in order to magnify it.

Distracted from Christ (vss 1-9)

  • The Corinthians lost sight of Jesus Christ and began to focus on what they could see.  The flesh became the focus and this is the seed of carnality and the beginning of divisions.
  • No more walking by faith, but now walking by sight.
  • Notice Paul is filled with the spirit of God in directing the Corinthians to the Lord Jesus Christ.  The name of the Lord shows up 9 times in the first 9 verses (John 16:13).
  • Hymn Be Thou My Vision
  • Eternal security in these first nine verses showing the work of Jesus Christ.  If any church could’ve lost their individual salvation it was these folks who were divided and disobedient to the will of God.  But Paul shows clearly that the Lord Jesus Christ’s position before the Father is transferred to sinners who call upon the name of the Lord.  In Christ you are:
    • Sanctified (1:2)
    • Given Grace (1:4)
    • Confirmed to the end (1:8)
  • The following serves as a preview of what Paul is going to say in the rest of his letter and serves to refocus the Corinthians back to Jesus Christ in these areas
    • 1:4 Overextension of grace
      • Guidelines for applying grace
        • Grace is not an acceptance of sin it is a provision for sin (Romans 6:1-2)
        • Grace is not extended to those who don’t want it (Romans 10:13)
        • Grace not extended to brothers who endanger the holy spirit of Jesus Christ in the congregation (1 Corinthians 5:11)
    • 1:5 Utterance and knowledge –  knowledge is what’s coming and utterance is what’s going out highlighting the truth that you and I are vessels.  Knowledge puffeth up (1 Corinthians 8:1) so you have to have an outlet, you have to be telling folks about the Lord and remember that you don’t have knowledge if the Lord Jesus Christ doesn’t give it to you.
    • 1:6 Testimony of Jesus Christ – Testimony of Jesus Christ, not your reputation (1 Corinthians 6:1-5, 9:27).  We gauge success wrong many times.
    • 1:7 Gifts of the spirit – gifted does not mean spiritual
    • 1:8 Blameless before God
    • 1:9 God is faithful, we are not

Divided by contentions (vss 10-17)

  • Different authorities bring division
    • Genesis 3 and the serpent’s voice versus God’s voice
    • Having the flesh interpret scripture is carnality.  Be sure you have scriptural convictions then temper them with charity.
    • Modern versions of the Bible have created carnal Christians, not a better understanding of the Bible
  • Different loyalties bring division
    • Paul, Apollos, Cephas, Christ, which clique are you in?
    • Some Christians just like to pick fights, particularly those with a lot of convictions.
  • Some things are important and others aren’t.  Carnal Christians have a way of taking things that aren’t important and making them overly significant, then taking things that are very significant and making them unimportant.
  • Verse 17 shows some have deviated from the cross to embrace water baptism as part of the gospel.
    • Is water baptism a part of the gospel?  This verse (1:17) shows that baptism is not part of the gospel.
    • It also says that the cross mixed with something else causes the cross to lose its effect.

Detoured from the cross (vss 18-25)

  • The world typically says the Bible is a book written by man.  So tell me Mr. Scoffer, what man wrote your books?
  • The deviation from the cross is to accommodate the world’s system of wisdom.  The world hypocritically hates the gospel because it is:
    • contrary to the world
    • exclusive
    • condemns sin
    • humbling
  • Verse 21 explains why some Christians have given up on the world’s education.  “Wisdom” is our culture’s method of dismantling the gospel in the minds of kids, teens, young adults, and adults.
  • It also explains why so many Christians go off to college and lose everything they were taught (Proverbs 19:23).
    • Parents sometimes say kids who go astray would go astray anyway.  When they go astray we say they were just rebellious and there is nothing we could do.  That defeatist attitude is a poison to parenting.  it ignores the battle for your child’s heart and mind.
    • Strengthen the inner man.  Get some scripture in there.  Don’t allow the world to crack the foundation before they ever really begin to live their lives.  Give them a fighting chance.  Be their parent.