Tag Archives: carnal

No More Mr. Nice Guy

2 Cor. 9-13 is our passage for the week. Paul has come full circle with the Corinthian church. He has been there extensive time on two previous visits. He has written [I think 4 letters] at least two canonical letters to the church to try and correct behaviors, sin issues and squabbles. He has in my opinion tried to be a “Nice Guy” apostle and give both grace and mercy to them. However, they have continued to be arrogant and carnal in attitude and behavior.

His first issue was with the benevolent offering for the persecuted church in Jerusalem. It had been a year that the church said they would give an offering; yet they had fallen short of doing anything but talk. Paul admonishes them and challenges them with the testimony of the churches in Macedonia [Philippi] who had through great strain asked to be included in the offering; yet were contributing more than money, but devoted themselves completely to the Lord over it. The stark contrast between the Corinthians and the Macedonians is glaring. One is high and mighty, while the other is characterized by great humility and service.  Paul essentially tells the church – Get with it so you nor I will be embarrassed because of the boast I have made about you, then you doing nothing except talk. Obviously great pressure is being applied by Paul for the church to measure up and back up their talk with a considerable offering.

Paul and the church seems to have a very hot and cold relationship. When he is present with them, it seems they are will pleased, but absent with only his letters to them, they become mouthy towards him. In chapter 10, Paul addresses his Apostleship and his credentials. The word “BOAST” will dominate the next three chapters; over 20 times Paul uses the word. Paul boasted in the churches, Christ and in the Gospel. Rarely did he try to bring glory to himself. Yet he wants to make sure that the church knows that he is not inferior to the more eminent apostles. In 2 Cor. 10-11 Paul defends his ministry to the church. I really think it has become a condition of “to familiar ” with Paul where it lessened the strength of his message. I always had to keep in mind the church was in one of the grossly immoral places and at times rivaled Ephesus and Athens with its cultist gods worship.  Paul has a way in these chapters of indicting the church for its attitudes, but brings it in such a way that it makes them “feel guilty” about what they were doing.  Paul has had enough of the criticism and conflict, he tells the church “I am not going to spare anyone when I come.”

The church was embattled with “Judaizers” and other false teachers that had captured the vain minds of the Corinthian Church. Paul is defending his Gospel, His message, reputation, character and calling to this church. Much like the Galatians who were taken in by “smooth talking preachers,” the church was following a false Gospel.

In presenting his case, Paul brings the evidence that he has not taken anything by way of support from the; and admits that it may have been wrong not to do so.  He still hopes that they will invest in Him as he carries his message and Christ’s Gospel to further regions.

In 2 Cor. 12 – we find a controversy over what are the “3 heavens” Paul is talking about. This can be understood better when we look at creation in Genesis 1&2. The three heavens consist of the earth atmosphere, the realm of space and finally the 3rd heaven is the abode of God. It is in the 3rd heaven that Paul speaks of getting his revelation.

Paul has had a ministry that is difficult and filled with hardships, beatings and persecution. Paul also had a thorn in the flesh, he asked God to remove it three times and the answer was no. “My Grace will be sufficient for you.”  We can wonder why God would not relieve the pain of this “thorn” from Paul; however if Paul would have been healed, it could be construed that God would have lost Paul through Pride issues. With the thorn, Paul was kept humbled before God and made to recognize and deal with his own strength limits.

We don’t know if Paul made it one more time to Corinth to pick up the offering that Titus and he would bring to Jerusalem, but we do know if he did, things would be different for the church. No more Mr. Nice Guy – enough of their foolishness. It was time for them to grow up and be who they were called out to be. I find that through talking to other Pastors, our ministry today in the church has similar issues with “finishing the task” and respecting the authority of the Ministers God has placed in the Church.

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Arrogant, Apostasy and Authority

Beginning in 1 Corinthians, the church at Corinth is much like the churches of today. The culture of the church was too much like the community. It was considered an insult to be called “a Corinthian” because of the gross immorality that dominated the people. Corinth was second only to Ephesus in Temple worship. The temple worship consisted of temple prostitutes, both male and female. The truth be known, Paul had more problems with the Corinthians than any other church.  Paul spent most of his time correcting the church and its practices. They were his nemesis church – they constantly were “carnal” in respect to all the teaching of God. They had divisions among themselves, one boasting of Paul, another Apollos and yet another Peter. Factions cause great struggle with the unity in a congregation.

Paul is responding to a letter [previously] written to him about various topics. One can tell the topic change by the word “Now” to indicate a new topic. In the two books to the Corinthian people, there could be as many as four different letters. Some scholars see the four letters combined in the two we have today. As with a carnal church, there are many “childish” opinions. Children or young believers are too immature to understand the deep things of God.  As in most of Paul’s letters they are written to challenge and admonition the church to correct their behaviors or beliefs. [except maybe the Prison letters]

Arrogance is the first problem with the believers at Corinth. [4:6; 4:18 and 5:2] The believers were puffed up with themselves – primarily from their thought of being superior through the “spiritual gifts” they displayed. [Tongues in particular]

Paul tries to correct any attitude of arrogance by letting them know that God uses the “foolish things” of the world, so that He alone will glory.  Paul describes for us three men of the world, [2:14-3:6] the natural man -unsaved; the spiritual man – saved and the carnal man – living like the world. Paul lets them know they are carnal because of the actions and attitudes they display, but also because they are still drinking milk. It is very easy for a baby Christian to become offended, just as a child that doesn’t get their way starts screaming and throwing temper tantrums. The problem with the Corinthian Christians and many Christians today is the point that they think they are better than everyone else. This arrogance will even be projected to the Apostle Paul, in that they will challenge him and his ministry.

The attitude of arrogance drifts to an apostasy type of living. If the believer thinks more of himself than he should, he will think he is above the “law.”  Here is a problem even today, how much should a believer be involved in the world? The question arises because if there is not a balance between living for the Lord in an immoral society, the church will take on many of the customs and practices of the world. In America, I believe this is taking place. To be friends with the world, is to be enemies with God. Too much is being done today in hopes of drawing a crowd of people. Nickels and noses are used to measure success of a church ministry. This is the wrong measurement. How many disciples are we making of believers and how effective is the church in sharing the Gospel to the world; these are the true measurements to be made.

Paul tries to correct the Corinthian church about the lawsuits and such that members were doing to each other. John 13:34-35, “By this all men will know that you are my disciples, in that you have love one for another.” Something the Corinthian Church had missed! The divisions were no different from how we today make distinctions from each other. The apostasy reached epic proportions – Chapter 5, the immorality of a son sleeping with his step mother. How stupid can you get, what was worse is they were glorying in the fact. The influence of the old life was still evident in their walk [or no walk] with the Lord.

The Corinthian church though high of themselves even to the point that they viewed Paul with contempt. He had to defend his apostleship [more in 2 Corinthians].  In his defense, he illustrates how that his life was filled with conflict and struggles for their sakes. However, they see this as a sign of his weakness. More will be addressed in future blogs about Paul and the relationship with the immature Corinthian church. I can remember a time in my distant past where, I thought I knew all the answers to the faith. That I had arrived spiritually and superior to others. Man was I dumb – I didn’t even know all the questions. pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall!

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