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1 Corinthians 12

DAILY DEVOTION

FOR

FRIDAY, MARCH 16

 

SCRIPTURE: 1 CORINTHIANS 12

Those of us who are familiar with the Bible, particularly the New Testament, probably connect 1 Corinthians 12 with the topic that we have before us today.  The book obviously has a lot to say about a lot of things, but we often make a strong connection between 1 Corinthians and spiritual gifts.

When the chapter opens, Paul says “Now concerning spiritual gifts”.  There are a couple of things here that might be of importance.  One, it appears this is another subject that the Corinthians addressed in their letter to Paul.  Two, in the original language is it not specifically spiritual gifts but literally “spirituals”.  The Greek word used here is Pneumatikon.  This word is a direct reference to the Holy Spirit.  Spiritual gifts are the result of the indwelling Holy Spirit.  We will see this stated even more clearly in the following verses.

It then seems as if Paul changes subjects in verse 2 as he talks about the Corinthians lives before they were believers.  He talks about how they were led by mute idols.  In Corinth, the pagans did indeed worship a collection of idols.  This worship included immorality and “ecstatic utterances”.  Paul’s comment on this is anyone speaking against Jesus or claiming allegiance to Him is not the result of someone not being able to control what they said or how they said it.  On the other hand, the Holy Spirit does direct our thoughts and then we choose what we say.

In the next few verses, Paul speaks of gifts, services, and activities.  These could be seen as synonyms.  But Paul also speaks of the Trinity in these same verses when he speaks of the same Spirit, the same Lord, and the same God.  In other words, as Christ followers, we are influenced by the Holy Spirit, by Jesus, and by Father God.  All three are at work in the lives of those who have been born again.

In verse 7 we discover where these spiritual gifts or spiritual abilities are the manifestation of the Holy Spirit in us.  In other words, regardless of what gift you may have, that gift is proof of the Holy Spirit in you working to do what you could not do before you were saved. 

This verse also says that spiritual gifts are for the common good.  This means that we aren’t given spiritual gifts or abilities for our own sake or for our own good.  These gifts/abilities are given to us to benefit others.  Every time.  Among other things that means when we are engaged using our gifts, the attention must be directed to the Lord and the benefit directed at others.  If we use our gifts to get attention or benefit ourselves we have sinned against the divine plan of the Lord.  Another important aspect of the use of gifts is they should always be used to build up the church and never cause confusion or chaos.  God does not create confusion or chaos.

From there Paul gives us a partial list of the spiritual gifts.  There are at least a couple of other places that we find similar but somewhat different lists.  One is in Romans 12 and the other is in Ephesians 4.

In verse 12 Paul begins a masterful piece of analogy.  He compares the church body to the human body.  His point is that in the same way we are all have different physical body parts, we all also have different spiritual giftedness that puts us in the different places in the church body.  And then his main point is that all of those different parts are not only designed by God but they are also very important.  All of them.

Spiritual gifts are a remarkable work of God.  Healthy churches practice the gifts as needed in healthy and holy ways that point to God and build up others.  When that happens, the church flourishes.  When that doesn’t happen in any aspect of what is directed by Scriptures, the church is injured.

Posted by Joe Ligon with

1 Corinthians 11

DAILY DEVOTION

FOR

THURSDAY, MARCH 15

 

SCRIPTURE: 1 CORINTHIANS 11

Sometimes there are chapters that are so good and full of great stuff, I wish I had more than one page to write about them.  Sometimes there are chapters that are so difficult I wish I had more than one page because I need more space to teach through the difficulty.  And sometimes there are chapters that are so difficult I wish that I had less than one page…  This chapter is somewhere between the second and third kind of chapter.

As we step off into this chapter, it is important to remember that the Christian faith brought freedom and hope not only to men but also to women, children, and slaves.  In fact, the local church, at this time in history, was undoubtedly the only institution in the Roman Empire that welcomed all people regardless of nationality, social status, age, gender, or economic status.

This is important to remember because as you work through this chapter, it would easy to think that Paul is bashing on women and trying to make them second class citizens in God’s Kingdom.  But nothing could be further from the truth. 

In fact, in verse 3, Paul makes the statement that the head of Christ is God.  Remember that God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit are all God.  So for God to be the head of Christ does not mean that the Son is of less value than the Father or is in a lower class than the Father.  What it means is the Son made conscious decisions to submit to the Father.  In other words, this notion of God being the head of Christ cannot suggest a difference in value between the two but a conscious decision of obedience.

If we apply this to the other relationships mentioned in the first part of the chapter, then we can understand that women are not of lesser value than men and wives are not less important than their husbands.  Instead, what we must come to is an understanding of the difference in authority and responsibility.  Biblical authority is always accompanied by personal responsibility.

So, much of the rest of the chapter is a statement that the men in Corinth, the women in Corinth, the husbands in Corinth, and the wives in Corinth all remember the authority and position that each holds.  And that they be responsible within those relationships to exercise their position in a way that not only honors God but also others who are watching.

Although we read a lot about head coverings and no head coverings, the principle behind all of this is a willingness to submit to those who have Biblical authority over you and responsibility for you.

None of this sells well in today’s economy.  We live in a time that is supposedly all about personal freedom and no responsibility to those around us.  That quickly devolves into chaos and will eventually slide into anarchy.  God’s Word unapologetically establishes levels of authority not only in the home but also in the church and in human government as well.

The second part of the chapter deals with the practice of and participation in the Lord’s Supper.  Our Corinthians friends were messing that up as well.  They had developed a practice of bringing a full meal to church as a prelude to the Lord’s Supper.  There is nothing wrong and a lot right with eating together at church.  But in Corinth the only ones who were eating were those who could afford to bring food in the first place.  And they were over indulging even as others were going hungry.

So, Paul says that shouldn’t be happening.  The Lord’s Supper is a table we all come to on equal footing.  None of us deserve to be there.  But all who have been saved are invited to come together in unity to acknowledge the good work that Jesus did in our behalf.

Posted by Joe Ligon with

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