- Sermon Notes
Live as Spiritual Men
1 Corinthians 16:13-14
This is our last message in the book of 1 Corinthians. Paul is writing to a church that needs a lot of correction because of their spiritual immaturity. He saved his last correction for the end; refuting those in the church who did not believe there is a resurrection. He brought compelling arguments to strengthen faith and then explained that if there is no resurrection, then even Christ Himself has not been raised from the dead. And if Christ has not been raised, then our faith is worthless and we are still in our sins.
But Christ has been raised and therefore we have an anchor for our soul; we have hope beyond this broken world in which we are now living. In other words, Paul is strengthening their faith and bringing them to greater spiritual maturity.
Here in this last chapter, Paul gives them more of a personal message. He gives them details about a collection of funds they were to receive for the church in Jerusalem that was going through a very difficult time, mostly because Rome was growing impatient with the difficult Jewish leadership. Of course we know from history that Rome marched on Jerusalem to destroy it and 66 A.D. and finally succeeded in 70 A.D.
In many ways we do the same thing. We are connected to churches all of the world and send them our support, our prayers, and our encouragement. I was just speaking to pastor George in Nairobi, Kenya who asked for prayer because a large mosque was built just across from them and they are allowed to point speakers directly toward the Bible Institute there and send out calls for Muslim prayers. In a couple of weeks I’m going to visit many churches in Africa and teach at conferences and bring support and encouragement.
Paul also writes to them about his travel plans and about some of the personal friends he ministers with; Timothy, Apollos, and others.
Then, in the middle of the chapter, he turns his heart toward them and gives them specific principles for living out their faith victoriously. We also need to grow in spiritual maturity and live out our faith victoriously, so these verses apply specifically to us as well.
I. Be Spiritually Alert
- We are living in very difficult times and is there any question but that we are engaged in a spiritual battle? If you’re in a spiritual battle, then you must be spiritually alert.
- In biblical times they would set a watchmen on the wall to be on the alert; to watch and be ready.
- When Jesus spoke of the conditions that will take place in the world that will indicate we’re in the last days, He told us to be on the alert.
- He said, “The coming of the Son of Man will be just like the days of Noah before the flood. They were eating and drinking and marrying and giving in marriage and did not understand until the flood came and took them all away.”
- In other words, they were oblivious. Their eyes were blind. They were just going about their business as if there were no dangers. They were living it up and indulging in the world.
A. Be of sober spirit
- The problem is that the spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak. To be of sober spirit means that we’re aware of the importance of being spiritually alert and are aware of the dangers of the flesh.
Matthew 26:41, “Keep watching and praying that you may not enter into temptation; the spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.”
- This was the words of Jesus to His disciples the night He was betrayed. Jesus asked Peter, James and John to stay with Him and keep watch.
- But they were tired and their tiredness made them weak. We all understand the power that sleep has over us.
Illus - When we first wake up Aviah each morning for school she doesn’t want to get up. I was the same way. I almost needed a fire alarm to wake me up. Which reminds me of when we were first married…
- It’s a good picture of the power of the flesh. Many people get irritable when they’re tired and then in their crankiness they throw spiritual principles out the window.
- “The spirit is willing,” Jesus said. Our spirit desires spiritual things; we want to read God’s word, to pray, to stand in victory over sin. The intention is good, but there’s a battle between the spirit and the flesh. Paul is warning them of the danger.
1 Peter 5:8-9, Be of sober spirit, be on the alert. Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. But resist him, firm in your faith.
B. Stand firm in the faith
- To stand firm means to hold fast, to not give way. It takes spiritual strength of character to stand against the forces pushing against us.
Illus - It takes a mighty rock to hold firm in the midst of a river that is pushing against it relentlessly. The culture in which we live is like a great river flowing downhill and many people just go with the flow like so much jetsam and flotsam.
- Can you imagine what it would be like to be a Christian in the city of Corinth? Well, actually, it’s very much like being a Christian in our Western culture. The direction of our lives is pointed in the exact opposite direction than the world.
Illus - In the Chronicles of Narnia books there is a mouse with a noble spirit named Reepicheep. He made a speech that captures the point exactly…
- In the last verse of 1 Corinthians 15 Paul is saying that in light of the victory God gave us through our Lord Jesus Christ, we should be steadfast and immovable…
Illus - David had 30 great mighty men in his army, but three were chief mighty men. One of those, Shammah, was asked to hold a line. Everyone else fell back in retreat, but Shammah refused to give any ground.
C. Beware of spiritual compromise
- To be spiritually alert and to stand firm in the faith requires that we are aware of the dangers of compromise in our lives.
- In Corinth, this was a huge issue because they lived in the very center of immorality of the Roman Empire.
- The same is true for us, we have to decide in which world we choose to live. The world of immorality and the kingdom of God are incompatible.
Psalm 86:11-12, Teach me your way, O Lord, that I may walk in your truth; give me an undivided heart to revere your name. I give thanks to you, O Lord my God, with my whole heart, and I will glorify your name forever.
Illus - When Israel was held in slavery in Egypt, Moses confronted Pharaoh, saying, “The Lord says, ‘Let my people go.’” Pharaoh hardened his heart. But after several plagues he finally said that Israel could worship their God, but that they must stay in the land of Egypt.
- There’s the compromise. “Go ahead and believe in God if you want to, but don’t leave the world.” In other words, don’t change anything, don’t go overboard with this Jesus thing. Don’t become one of those people who raise their hands in church, who actually read the Bible and honor God in how they live.
- What’s amazing is that if someone is sincere and genuine in their faith, the world calls that person a fanatic…
Illus - But if someone goes to a football game in the middle of winter without a shirt on and their chest painted blue and red and wearing a bright orange wig and a hat with horns on it, apparently, that is just being a loyal fan.
II. Quit You like Men
- Earlier Paul admonished them to be more than mere men; it was a call to spiritual maturity.
- Here, he means the same thing; grow from spiritual immaturity to becoming a spiritual man of God, mature in the faith.
A. Put away childish things
- Paul uses a word that is only found here in the New Testament. The King James translates it, “Quit you like men.” That’s a very old English word that works pretty well here. The word ‘quit’ originally meant ‘to be free.’
- Paul is saying, “Become a man of spiritual maturity by putting away, or be free of, worldly, or childish things.”
- The key characteristic of childishness is selfishness. It’s only as we grow in maturity that we put away childish things and open our hearts to the concerns of others.
1 Corinthians 14:20, Brethren, do not be children in your thinking; yet in evil be infants, but in your thinking be mature.
- Too many people are experts when it comes to worldly things and babes when it comes to spiritual things.
1 Corinthians 13:11, When I was a child, I used to speak like a child, think like a child, and reason like a child; when I became a man, I did away with childish things.
B. Be made strong
- The word literally means here to be made strong. In other words, it’s not, “Be strong by pulling yourselves up by your bootstraps.” This is a work that God does spiritually.
Ephesians 3:16, [I pray] that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with power through His Spirit in the inner man…
- To be mature spiritually is going to require that we be strengthened with power through His Spirit in the inner man.
- But this is the way to have a genuine and effective life of faith before God.
James 5:16, The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.
Illus – King Joash came to Elisha the prophet because he was facing the Aramean army and needed a word from the Lord. Elisha asked him to show his heart…
2 Kings 13:18, Then Elisha said, “Take the arrows,” and he took them. And he said to the king of Israel, “Strike the ground,” and he struck it three times and stopped.
- Joash’s heart wasn’t committed; he wasn’t fervent in his faith.
Illus – One of my favorite characters in the Old Testament is Caleb. Only he and Joshua had the faith to believe God to enter the land God promised them, while the rest of the nation of Israel retreated in fear.
- Speaking of Joshua, he is another example of a man that demonstrates the strength that comes from faith.
Joshua 1:8-9, “You shall meditate on it day and night so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it; for then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have success. Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous! Do not tremble or be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”
C. Let all you do be done in love
- What a great way to end this book; reminding them that love is the greatest of all spiritual things.
- It applies to everything you do; it’s character.
1 Corinthians 16:13-14 NASB
13 Be on the alert, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong. 14 Let all that you do be done in love.