Through the Bible with Les Feldick
LESSON 2 * PART 3 * BOOK 26
I CORINTHIANS 2:6 – 3:9
Now let’s get right back to where we left off in the last lesson, and that will be in I Corinthians Chapter 2, and verse 13. We get such a thrill when we receive letters and phone calls from people who tell us that, for the first time in their life, they are enjoying Bible study. Well, that’s as it should be, and I think the number one criteria for understanding the Scriptures is to separate God’s dealing with Israel from His dealing with the Gentile Body of Christ. That answers most of your questions right up front.
Now to get back to our study, and remember the whole theme of this Chapter 2 especially, is comparing the wisdom of men against the things that are of the wisdom of God. And we must also understand that this Book is a closed book to the unbeliever. He cannot comprehend it, it’s beyond him, it goes over his head, but for even the new believer, it just becomes so understandable, and of course we grow in our understanding as we grow in our Christian experience. Verse 13:
I Corinthians 2:13
“Which things also we speak, not in the words which man’s wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth; comparing spiritual things with spiritual.”
And remember that’s what we looked at in our last lesson, how that all the way from the Book of Genesis to the Book of Ephesians we have one continuing premise, and that is that man in his natural state is spiritually dead. He’s died by virtue of Adam’s original sin. Now we begin verse 14 with our flip side word again.
I Corinthians 2:14a
“But (even though we as believers can understand the Scriptures, and we can compare Scripture with Scripture) the natural man (the unsaved person) receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God :…”
The unbeliever cannot comprehend the deeper things. They may be able to understand the story of Bethlehem, and maybe some of the other things, but when it gets down to the deep doctrinal aspects of the Word of God, it’s a closed Book to them. For example when it comes to end-time prophecies they can’t understand it. Now basically, why doesn’t the natural man comprehend these things? He doesn’t want to, and why doesn’t he want to?
I Corinthians 1:14b
“…for they are foolishness unto him:…”
I think most of you are aware of that. Your unsaved neighbors think that there’s something a little bit wrong with you to go to a Bible study on a week night. Oh it’s all right if you go to Church on a Sunday morning, because that’s normal, but go to a Bible study on a week night? Hey, there’s something wrong with you. That foolishness! Well that’s the unsaved worlds opinion. So consequently, since all of this is foolishness to the unbeliever:
I Corinthians 1:14b
“…neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.”
In other words it’s just like a layman like me trying to converse with a medical doctor. Our languages are just not the same. Have you ever been in the midst of two or three doctors, and try to comprehend what they’re talking about? If they are talking “shop” can you and I get anything out of that conversation? No, because they’re talking a language all their own. Of course you can bring me in with a bunch of farmers, and you try to understand all that we’re talking about, and you wouldn’t be able to understand that either usually. But we’re all like that. When we talk shop of that which we live and breathe, someone from another discipline can’t understand what we’re talking about. Now just think how much that is magnified then when we bring it into the realm of the “spiritual versus the natural.”
I always have to go back to poor old Paul when he came up in Athens to Mars Hill, where those philosophers called him, “The Babbler.” But even today there’s a bronze plaque dedicated to Paul there. You don’t find one of the other philosophers. Paul the babbler is still held in high esteem, and tourists coming to Athens are constantly reminded of this man, and not the philosophers of the Greeks. So Paul is bringing out that all the things that he taught were inspired by the Holy Spirit of God, and not the natural intellectual aspect of men’s thinking, and what a different that makes. But you know it hasn’t changed a bit today. The media is always expounding on the think-tanks, all the great intellectual minds, but how much do they ever put of the Word of God on national television? None. Why? Because to them this is foolishness, it has nothing to do with everyday man, but if they only knew, it’s the other way around. Once you get an understanding of the Word of God, then you get an understanding of almost everything. Now verse 15:
I Corinthians 2:15
“But he that is spiritual (he that has been regenerated by the power of God, he that has believed the Gospel for salvation (Ref. I Corinthians 15:1-4)) judgeth (or discerns) all things, yet he himself is judged of no man.”
Now the reason I used `discern’ is I’m not a grocery shopper, my little wife takes care of all that, very seldom do I get into a supermarket. But I know that the once or twice in the forty-plus years we have been married that I have gone with her, that as we went down the aisle, we pick and choose. Well to a certain extent we’re judging aren’t we? “This isn’t what we want, but this is.” But I prefer the word `discern.’ We have that capability of discerning, and we can compare. Now that’s exactly what Paul is talking about. We have that ability as believers to discern. “Is this scriptural or is this something that man has thought of?” I’ve been warning my classes here in Oklahoma, and most of you have heard me say this over and over. We see this in Matthew Chapter 24 when those Twelve disciples approached Jesus:
“And as he sat upon the mount of Olives, the disciples came unto him privately, saying, `Tell us, when shall these things be? and what shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the world?'”
Jesus didn’t say to look for globalism, and look for the Anti-christ, but rather He said:
“And Jesus answered and said unto them, `Take heed that no man deceive you.'”
Now just add to that in your own thinking, if Jesus said, “Don’t be deceived,” what is going to come on the world in the closing days? Mass deception! In other words they’re going to use the Word of God, but they are going to be deceptive as they use it. For a moment let’s go back to the little Book of Jude, and this is exactly how the world thinkers operate. And this is why the little Book was written to prepare us to not be deceived by all this good-sounding stuff. And I’ll admit it sounds so good. In fact, I just finished reading a good book about a gentlemen that had got sucked into the “New Age Movement.” And he went into very high echelons of it, and became a well-known author, and suddenly the Lord opened his eyes, and saved him, and fortunately brought him out of it. But you’d be amazed at how this New Age stuff appeals to seeking minds. And here we have it in verse 10 of the Book of Jude.
“But these (speaking of false teachers who are going to be deceptive in the closing days) speak evil of those things which they know not (these people are going to ridicule, and scorn the truth of God’s Word, and they are going to have their own Bible so to speak.): but what they know naturally (from the energy of the flesh), as brute beasts (in other words their thinking does not go any deeper spiritually than an animal. And that’s why their behavior almost becomes animalistic), in those things they corrupt themselves.”
“Woe unto them! for they have gone in the way of Cain,…”
What was Cain’s major problem? He rationalized from the human side, and as he rationalized, remember Cain said, “Well surely God won’t expect me to go beg, borrow, or barter for an animal from my brother Abel. I’ll just bring God what I’ve grown by the sweat of my brow, and surely God will accept me.” So you see Cain rationalized, and so do these people. Listen to these New Agers, read some of their stuff, and every bit of it is rationalization from the human side. That’s what it is, and it sounds so good. Now reading on in verse 11:
“…and ran greedily after the error of Balaam for reward (now those of you who were with me back there in the Book of Numbers, who was old Balaam? He was a false prophet, and he was after money, that was all that motivated him: “What’s in it for old Balaam,” and it’s the same way with these false teachers, they are motivated by materialism), and perished in the gain saying Core.”
And what happened to Core? He introduced strange fire into the altar, and what did God do? The earth opened up, and swallowed them. But what was their premise? They were going to institute something that was foreign to what God had instructed. Now reading on down:
“These are spots (now he’s talking about false teaching) in your (love) feasts of charity, when they feast with you, feeding themselves without fear (now look at the description of these false teachers): clouds they are without water (they are like clouds in a drought that come, but all of a sudden they’re gone, and that’s what these false teachers are. My, they get people pumped up, and they think they’re really getting into something, but it never satisfies that inner longing, that inner peace.), carried about of winds; trees whose fruit withereth (before it’s ready to eat. It looked so good coming along, and all of a sudden it’s not worth eating), without fruit, twice dead, plucked up by the roots;”
“Raging waves of the sea, foaming out their own shame (I’m sure most of you have visited the sea shore at least once in your lifetime. And as those waves come breaking in what does it leave on the sand as it backs out? Foam, nothing pretty about it at all, and that’s exactly what these New Agers do.); wandering stars, to whom is reserved the blackness of darkness for ever.”
Now all of that is exactly what Paul is referring to, and now if you will come back to I Corinthians again, and we’ll look at verse 16:
I Corinthians 2:16
“For who (in the secular world) hath known the mind of the Lord (how many of these intellectual, the philosophers have known the mind of God? Almost zero), that he may instruct him? But (and there in the last part of this verse is the flip-side where Paul is bringing you and I back into the picture. What do we have?) we have the mind of Christ.”
You see we are to think differently, our whole attitude, our whole mindset is totally different from the unsaved world. Now I’ve always told my classes, my own kids, and every body that I have an opportunity, to become a believer doesn’t make you some kind of an odd ball with a halo over your head, but rather the true believer is the common, ordinary good parent, good citizen, good church member, he is the person who is operating according to God’s precept. And yet I think our lifestyle is such that the world can recognize us everywhere we go. At least they will sooner or later. Now let’s go into Chapter 3:
I Corinthians 3:1a
“And I, brethren, could not speak unto you as unto spiritual,…”
Remember these people are believers, and if you don’t believe me come back to Chapter 1 for a moment.
I Corinthians 1:2a
“Unto the church of God which is at Corinth, to them that are sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints,…”
These are believers, they’re in the Body of Christ, and even though they have all these hang-ups and shortcomings, and failures, they’re still Christ’s, they’re His own. Now if that isn’t enough, come on over to Chapter 12, and remember Paul is still talking to the same people in Chapter 12 that he talked to in Chapter 1. Paul hasn’t changed the direction of his approach, and look what he says in verse 13:
I Corinthians 12:13
“For by one Spirit (that one and only Holy Spirit) are we all baptized (notice he says we are all baptized) into one body whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit.”
So you can see that Paul’s not picking out just a few of the more spiritual at Corinth, but rather he’s addressing all of them. Now what kind of people were most of them? Look now at Chapter 3 again, and we have that answer.
I Corinthians 3:1
“And I, brethren, could not speak unto you as unto spiritual, but as unto carnal (or fleshly), even as unto babes (but where are these babies) in Christ.”
Now don’t you forget that, because it’s awfully easy to say, “Well these people weren’t even believers.” Oh yes they were. They were in the Body of Christ, but they’re carnal, they’ve got a long way to go. Remember a month ago in our last taping, I told you the reason that Paul wrote these two letters to the people at Corinth was because these believer had questions. Number one, “How were they to handle the marriage relationship?” And the other big question they had was, “How are we going to handle meat that had been offered to idols?” Now these were all hang-ups of these people mostly because they were so carnal, and that’s why Paul had to address it. Now verse 2:
I Corinthians 3:2
“I have fed you with milk, and not with meat: for hitherto ye were not able to bear it (bear what? Strong meat. They couldn’t any more handle meat than an infant could handle solid food.) neither yet now are ye able.”
Isn’t that a sad commentary? I mean let’s face reality. We don’t know how long after these people were saved that Paul is writing this letter, but it was probably a year or two. And they haven’t gone any further in their spiritual experience than what they were at the beginning. They are still babes in Christ. I’m sure that it just tore the Apostle Paul up. Why can’t these Corinthians begin to grow? But listen! Look at us today. How many professing Christians today are in the same state. They have nothing that they can handle of the meat of Scripture. They’re not ready for it, they’re still down there on the milk of the Word. And I think it’s a sad commentary today as it was then, but nevertheless this is the way it is. Now verse 3. Why can’t they grow?
I Corinthians 3:3a
“For ye are yet carnal:…”
Remember the word carnal here refers to believers who are still controlled by the flesh, rather than by the Holy Spirit. I shared with our class last night that God, through the Word, divides the whole human race into three categories. First in two, they are the Lost and Saved, but the saved He divides into two more categories, giving us a total of three. The believers are divided into the Spiritual, and Carnal. So you have spiritual believers, carnal believers, and unbelievers, and those are the three segments of the human race as God sees us. Now the Corinthian believers for the most part were carnal believers, they were not growing as Paul expected them to. How did they show they’re carnality? The first thing he deals with was:
I Corinthians 3:b
“…for whereas there is among you envying, and strife, and divisions,…”
They had their pet people that they want to follow, and that’s the first thing Paul is going to have to deal with in Chapter 3. Now we were talking about some of this in our Wilburton class last night, and I shared with them this very same thought. Divisions! In other words, even though their congregations weren’t up in the hundreds and thousands like so often we think of churches today, yet I would make a guess they didn’t have over 50. Because this Church met in the house of Chloe, and I don’t know how rich she was or how big a home she had, nevertheless it was small enough in size that they could meet in a home. Yet even in that little congregation there were divisions, and I will just give it to you quickly as we close this lesson. There were four divisions: there were those who followed Paul, those who followed Apollos, those who followed Peter, and those who followed Jesus Himself. And it just played havoc in the Church, because there was no unity. They couldn’t get anything done because of the constant bickering, and their bickering was all centered on an individual man. And many churches are caught up in that same problem today. Don’t set your eyes on man, set your eyes on the Word of God, set your eyes on the Crucified One, the One Who died for you, and rose from the dead.