1 Corinthians 3:1-3 – Divisions in the Church

Divisions in the Church

 But I, brothers, could not address you as spiritual people, but as people of the flesh, as infants in Christ. 2 I fed you with milk, not solid food, for you were not ready for it. And even now you are not yet ready, 3 for you are still of the flesh. For while there is jealousy and strife among you, are you not of the flesh and behaving only in a human way?

Verse 1:

“But I, brothers, could not address you as spiritual people, but as people of the flesh, as infants in Christ.”

God wants believers to grow-up spiritually. We never grow spiritually as long as we stay preoccupied with the things of this life. Our flesh demands attention.  It wants its way. It wants us to put it first. It will convince us that its desires are the most important things in this life. Those who heed the continual cravings of the flesh remain spiritual babies and never become spiritual people.

When I say flesh (Gr. sarx) I am not referring to your body per se. The flesh is the sinful nature of Adam that we all have because we are born of the human race. Jesus, whose father was God, is the only one who did not have this bent toward sin as we all have. The flesh is the sin principle Paul refers to in Romans 7:1819, And I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature. I want to do what is right, but I can’t.  I want to do what is good, but I don’t. I don’t want to do what is wrong, but I do it anyway” (NLT). This is not an excuse for sinning. This is merely an explanation of why it happens. Paul doesn’t leave us there acting like spiritual infants.

The body is not evil but it is fallen. It will remain such until the resurrection. The body is the mechanism we use to function in this world. It can do good or bad depending on the mind that is driving it to act. If it is driven by the flesh nature (sarx) it will fulfill the desires of that nature. If it is controlled by the Holy Spirit it will produce fruit to that effect (Gal 5:22-23). It is a wonderful servant, but a terrible master. The spiritual person uses their body to glorify God not to fulfill the desires of the flesh nature (6:20).

The spiritual infant then has little time or even interest in the things of the Spirit. Paul wanted to teach the Christians in Corinth spiritual truths that will revolutionize their lives. But he couldn’t talk to them about spiritual things. They could not receive it.

Realize that it is one thing to hear truth and another thing to receive it. We must set our heart and mind to be in the receiving mode when the Word of God is being taught or preached. We should ask the Lord to help us receive His truth when we read and study His Word. Remember, spiritual truth is spiritually discerned.

Verses 2-3:

2 I fed you with milk, not solid food, for you were not ready for it.  And even now you are not yet ready, 3 for you are still of the flesh.  For while there is jealousy and strife among you, are you not of the flesh and behaving only in a human way?”

    What a person is on the inside will show-up on the outside. Paul could easily see that these folks were not spiritual people because they were still operating as if they were mere unchanged people of the world. God doesn’t leave people as they were when they come to Him. The truth transforms us. To the casual observer, one couldn’t tell the difference between the Christian and the unbeliever at Corinth when it came to fussing among one another. We must not allow jealousy and strife to be among us as believers. It will certainly come but we must keep it from being the way we operate. When folks live in strife it reveals they are not spiritual people. It should be a red flag to us.  Living our faith means acting differently from the way the world acts. It affects our relationships. The world and the flesh always puts “self” first. When someone is overly concerned about their rights, their feelings, how someone made them look or feel, etc., we can guess they are not walking after the way of the Spirit. Spiritual folks train themselves to be quick to forgive, not to hold grudges or seek revenge, and to do their level best to avoid strife. There will be times when it is unavoidable. But, we can learn to rise above it and walk in the Spirit. Jesus certainly had strife around Him in His earthly walk. But it did not control His life. He walked in the wisdom of God among men. He was led by the Spirit and did not allow the flesh to control His actions.

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