Monday, 21 April 2014
And I, brethren, could not speak to you as to spiritual people but as to carnal, as to babes in Christ. 1 Corinthians 3:1
Paul is referring back to the words of the previous chapter, where he is comparing the natural to the spiritual. In verse 2:14, he said this –
“But the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.”
It is important to understand that there is a difference between the word “natural” which is the Greek psychikos, and the word “carnal” in this verse. It is the Greek word sarkinois. The first word, natural, is not one applied to Christians – regardless of their spiritual maturity. It is a person who has never received Christ and is unregenerate.
Instead of this when speaking of the Corinthians, he uses a word which indicates a lack of spiritual maturity in Christ, but not a lack of spiritual nature. They have not developed in their walk and remain no more than spiritual babies. This state of immaturity is well-described by the author of Hebrews –
“For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the first principles of the oracles of God; and you have come to need milk and not solid food. For everyone who partakes only of milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, for he is a babe. But solid food belongs to those who are of full age, that is, those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil.” Hebrews 5:12-14
And this is how Paul now speaks to those in Corinth. “And I” is Paul’s introduction to the coming rebuke based on his previous words concerning spiritual matters. “Brethern” indicates that Paul is writing to the body of saved believers. This is a very important point to understand because by the time he gets to chapter 5, there will be a “brother” who is conducting his affairs in such an inappropriate manner that he will actually advise the body to “deliver such a one to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus.”
Paul’s words in times like this, and in a host of other instances, indicate the eternality of salvation; one cannot lose what has been bestowed by the grace of God. But they can lose rewards at the Judgment Seat of Christ. Paul is hoping to impart spiritual instruction to these immature believers so that they will grow, mature, and be found acceptable in their walk with Christ.
Though these are “brethren,” he says to them that he “could not speak to [you] as to spiritual people but as to carnal, as to babes in Christ.” Though they are brethren, saved by the blood of Christ, he was unable to impart to them anything beyond the first milk of their spiritual meal. Unfortunately, this is a chronic condition in many. There is little desire to ever be weaned off the basics and to dig deeper into spiritual matters. What is all the more saddening is that in our modern world, we have the Bible available at our fingertips at any given moment and yet we find it too much effort to pick it up, study it, and mature in our faith.
Life application: Spiritual maturity can only come through spiritual growth. Spiritual growth can only come through proper instruction in the tools available to the student. And the main tool that we have for spiritual growth and understanding is the Holy Bible. Logic, philosophy, etc are only effective for spiritual growth if they are combined with understanding the nature of God revealed in the Bible. Apart from this, they are ineffective for spiritual maturity. All things must be brought back to harmony with the word of God for spiritual growth to occur.
Lord God, I commit to reading my Bible every morning when I rise and every evening before I go to bed. Amen.