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The Scriptorium

Grow Up!

We can't keep being babes in Christ. 1 Corinthians 3.1, 2

1 Corinthians 3 (1)

Pray Psalm 32.1-4.
Blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven,
Whose sin is covered.
Blessed is the man to whom the LORD does not impute iniquity,
And in whose spirit there is no deceit.
When I kept silent, my bones grew old
Through my groaning all the day long.
For day and night Your hand was heavy upon me;
My vitality was turned into the drought of summer.

Sing Psalm 32.1-4.
(Hendon: Take My Life and Let It Be)
Blessed are they whose sins the LORD has forgiven by His Word!
Pure their spirits are within; them He charges with no sin;
them He charges with no sin!

When in silence I remained, groaning in my sinful pain,
You Your hand upon me lay; all my strength You drained away,
all my strength You drained away.

Read and meditate on 1 Corinthians 3.1, 2.

1. What did Paul not use in his ministry in Corinth?

2. What did the Corinthians’ divisions demonstrate?

Paul turns from telling it slant to telling it blunt: The Corinthians were immature, childish, and carnal in their faith. They needed to grow up, and quick.

During the nearly two years Paul was with them, he only managed to get the Corinthians started in the faith. He could only feed them the “baby food” of the Gospel, not the “solid food” every believer needs to keep growing in the Lord (vv. 1, 2).

But the Corinthians misjudged their level of maturity and, rallying to this or that teacher or preacher, settled into a carnal—fleshly, merely “natural”—way of faith. The divisions they had fallen into were proof of that fact. They were “behaving like mere men” (v. 3)! Paul had to go back to square one with the Corinthians and teach them how to think about themselves, the life of the faith, and the role of godly leaders and teachers.

But first they had to face up to their childish conduct, get refocused, and open their self-centered hearts to the teaching of the Spirit Paul would offer in this epistle. Chapter 3 is a reset chapter in 1 Corinthians. Paul has been trying to get the Corinthians to see their folly. In these verses he gets right in their face: Grow up!

Because deep and important truths will follow in this book, and the Corinthians would need a total reset to receive and act on them.

Treasures Old and New: Matthew 13.52; Psalm 119.162.
Although David first penned these words, we can hear Paul asking these same questions of the Corinthians; and by extension, through David and Paul, God is delivering this same query to us:

“Who may ascend into the hill of the LORD?
Or who may stand in His holy place?
He who has clean hands and a pure heart,
who has not lifted up his soul to an idol,
nor sworn deceitfully.
He shall receive blessing from the LORD,
and righteousness from the God of his salvation.
This is Jacob [the mature in Christ],
the generation of those who seek Him,
who seek Your face” (Ps. 24.3-6).

All of our life and work and worship and meaning and purpose are, or should be, fully related to the LORD:
“Have mercy up me, O God…Against You, You only, have I sinned, and done this evil in Your sight…Behold, You desire truth in the inward parts…Make me hear joy and gladness…Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me…Restore to me the joy of Your salvation…The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit, a broken and a contrite heart—these, O God, You will not despise…”
(Ps. 51.1, 4, 6, 8, 10, 12, 17).

Everyone of adult age wants to be treated like an adult. And others like to do business with an adult—as does God, Who longs to do adult work with us. He has work for us to do: “For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God has prepared beforehand that we should walk in them” (Eph. 2.10). As mature adults in Him—not mere humanity (1 Cor. 3.3).

Many people, especially for example farmers of old, used to train their children to do the work of the farm, to carry on the business generation after generation. But they would never expect a newborn to drive a team of oxen to cultivate the fields in the spring. The parents, though, had great plans and anticipation of that happening one day. As does God. He knows the thoughts and plans He has for us, “thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give [us] a future and a hope” (Jer. 29.11).

But we must be mature enough in our faith to take on His work; for in truth, as the metaphor states, “one bad apple can spoil the barrel”. Envy, strife, and divisions within the Body of Christ are sure signs of carnality, worldliness, and a church filled with mere men—spoiling the atmosphere with captivity to sin, for “the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God” (1 Cor. 2.14). Mere men and women behaving like sinful humanity when they could be behaving like Christ, filled with His mind and His Spirit (1 Cor. 2.16).

We have been “called out of darkness and into His marvelous light” (1 Pet. 2.9).

Paul shouts to us from centuries ago: “Grow up! Adulting in Christ—for the glory of God!”

For reflection
1. According to Paul, what are the signs of immaturity in Christians? What are the signs of maturity?

2. How would you counsel a new believer to press on to maturity in the Lord?

3. In which areas of your own walk with the Lord do you hope to realize greater maturity in the year ahead?

Men may have much doctrinal knowledge, yet be mere beginners in the life of faith and experience. Contentions and quarrels about religion are sad evidences of carnality. True religion makes men peaceable, not contentious. But it is to be lamented, that many who should walk as Christians, live and act too much like other men.  
Matthew Henry (1662-1714), Commentary on 1 Corinthians 3.1-4

Pray Psalm 32.5-11.
Devote yourself to the Lord. Confess and repent of any sins. Call on Him to be your Teacher and Guide, and rejoice that you belong to Him.

Sing Psalm 32.5-11.
Hendon: Take My Life and Let It Be)
I confessed my sin to You; You forgave me, ever true!
Let confession’s pleading sound reach You while You may be found,
reach You while You may be found!

When flood waters threaten me, You my hiding place will be.
O’er them I will rise above, buoyed by Your redeeming love,
buoyed by Your redeeming love.

Teach me, LORD, how I should live; sound instruction ever give.
Let me never stubborn be; let Your eye watch over me,
let Your eye watch over me.

Though the wicked wail and weep, they rejoice whose souls You keep.
Trusting, we exult with praise, joyf’ly singing all our days,
joyf’ly singing all our days!

T. M. and Susie Moore

The Church in Corinth was in need of revival. But there was much to be done before that would happen. The Church today is in need of revival, and the same is true for us. Our book, Revived!, can help us to discern our need for revival and lead us in getting there. Order your copy by clicking here.

Support for Scriptorium comes from our faithful and generous God, who moves our readers to share financially in our work. If this article was helpful, please give Him thanks and praise.

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Except as indicated, all Scriptures are taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. For sources of all quotations, see the weekly PDF of this study. All psalms for singing are from The Ailbe Psalter, available free by clicking here.


T.M. Moore

T. M. Moore is principal of The Fellowship of Ailbe, a spiritual fellowship in the Celtic Christian tradition. He and his wife, Susie, make their home in the Champlain Valley of Vermont.
Books by T. M. Moore

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