1 Corinthians 12.1-11 15816
August 16, 2015
The Corinthian church as we’ve been looking at through the study of 1 Corinthians has a lot of issues in their immaturity, right? And so, the problem of course and we’ve been looking at it, is that they came to Christ out of the city of Corinth. And the city of Corinth is like the center of immorality of the Roman Empire, so what a huge challenge it is to bring in people from that background you know, coming to faith out of immorality and bring them to spiritual maturity. That is a huge leap to go from one extreme into Christian maturity. Now, I think this is important because the same is true for people today. We live in a culture very much like Corinth and immorality is everywhere around us, and when someone comes to faith in Christ, they are coming out of that culture, there’s a lot of areas that needs to be transformed, there’s a lot of areas where we need to grow in maturity.
Now, when you get to chapter 12, Paul is correcting them in regards to spiritual matters; you know, in earlier chapters he said “I really wanted to speak to you as spiritual people, but I couldn’t do it, I had to speak to you as carnal, as babes, as immature Christians”. Now, here’s the thing that we got to see: they are Christians. They were Christians that are in Corinth and therefore they had the presence of the Holy Spirit. And even spiritual gifts were been manifested, there in the church among them. But, they were immature; the spirit of the living God is given to everyone who receives Christ. That’s important. But it doesn’t mean that they are immediately mature. There’s a lot of areas that has to grow. They may even have spiritual gifts. Does that mean that they are spiritually immature? This is very important thing. There were abuses even of spiritual gifts. In fact, one of the biggest issues had to do with the fact that, that some are acting superior or arrogant because they felt that there spiritual gifts were greater someone else’s spiritual gifts. And this is really an interesting thing. They… you know, because they, they felt they had the evidence of the Holy Spirit, more abundant in their life – they were arrogant.
And right away you think “well wait a minute, there’s something wrong with this, it’s not the heart of Christ”. Now others looked at that and they were responding “I want nothing to do with that”, and they just kind of went the other extreme so the church has divided. Lot of application here for us because everyone who receives Christ today, receives the Holy Spirit. And God gives through his holy spirit gifts to every single person. But we need to grow in maturity along with that. Personally I think that there’s actually less of an issue today of spiritual superiority than there used to be. Because I’ve been around a while and I know, it wasn’t that long ago that some people, and in some cases entire churches used to take on an attitude of superiority over other churches because they believe they had greater spiritual gifts, maybe they manifested speaking in times or prophecy, and the whole church take on an attitude of superiority.
Now what’s interesting, is that here in 1 Corinthians Paul is correcting those who are acting spiritually superior, because in spite of their thinking after all that, they are quite immature. And they need a lot of correction. Spiritual maturity is seen first and foremost in character. Godly character is where it must be seen, in fact at the end of this chapter it says “yea, earnestly desire greater gifts, but I’m going to show you a still more excellent way. He teaches them that that means love. In fact, in the list of the fruit of the spirit, love is the first of the list. And then in 1 Corinthians 13, verse 13 he says “now, abide faith, hope and love, these three. But the greatest of these is love”.
I. You are a Spiritual Person
Christian maturity is seen in love above everything else. If you have Christ, if you have the spirit, if you have maturity, it’s seen in that first. Let’s read it: 1 Corinthians chapter 12, beginning in verse 1 “Now concerning spiritual gifts”, actually the word gifts is not in the original, “now concerning spirituals” literally, “brothers, I do not want you to be unaware. You now that when you were pagans, when you were in the world, in the city in that culture, you were led astray to dumb idols, however you were led. Therefore I make known to you that no one speaking by the Spirit of God, says ‘Jesus is accursed!’ or anathema, and no one can say ‘Jesus is Lord’ except by the Holy Spirit. Now there are varieties of gifts, same Spirit; there are varieties of ministries, same Lord; there are varieties of affects, of manifestations, same God who works all things in all persons;” that’s a really important phrase, we see the trinity there by the way. “But to each one, we could say to everyone, is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good. To one is given the word of wisdom through the Spirits, and to another the word of knowledge according to the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit”, it seems to be a repeat of the phrase here; “and to another the gifts of healing by one Spirit, to another the affecting of miracles, to another prophecy, to another distinguishing of spirits, to another various kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues. But one and the same Spirit, works all things, distributing to each one and literally everyone individually just as he wills.” All right, great verses, great application for us, because we need to see the point in all of our lives. One of the things we are going to see right away is this: you are a spiritual person. If you have the Holy Spirit, you have Spiritual bearing and he wants us to long for, seek after, pursue, ask and, and find the desire for spiritual maturity.
In other words, we all receive the same Holy Spirit; the same spirit that fills me is the spirit that fills you, so why the attitude. So here’s what he’s really helping us to see. You speak from that which fills the heart. He said now look, when you were pagans, you were led astray to dumb idol. They were dumb, they were dead, they couldn’t speak, and he is trying to humble them, which is a great way to start, in contrast, you have the Holy Spirit. They were dead and they were dumb, you have the spirit of the living God. In other words, do spiritual words come out of you? That’s the Holy Spirit. If you have spiritual bearing, that’s the spirit alive; if you have the manifestation of spiritual things, that’s the result of the spirit. So don’t be superior, it’s not your doing it’s the Holy Spirit that’s giving you all these things. He says “no one speaking by the Spirit of God says Jesus is accursed and no one can say Jesus is Lord, except by the Holy Spirit”.
I think that’s a really key phrase.
Speaking by the Spirit! What does this mean, speaking by the Spirit? It means when, when a person is speaking of spiritual matters like this, it’s the Holy Spirit. Can you say Jesus is lord, do you believe that Jesus is Lord? How many people would say: I believe Jesus is Lord. See, this is important because you would not say that except for the fact that the Holy Spirit ignited you and the desire is in you to say that because of the Holy Spirit. That is like evidence one on one, that you have the Holy Spirit alive in your heart. When you worship the Lord, is there something alive in you when you’re worshiping? That is evidence one on one that you have the life of the Holy Spirit within you. That is evidence of the Holy Spirit, of the life of God within you. That is evidence for us to understand. He says “no one can say Jesus is Lord, except by the Holy Spirit”.
Now, he means saying it and meaning it. In other words, it’s not just the words. That’s important. It’s not just a formula of words. See, when I was in the restaurant, this many years ago, my partner came to faith in Christ. And when he came to faith in Christ, I mean, he came all in. I mean he jumped in the deep in, he was excited, and he had the zeal about him, he wanted to just grab everybody he could find “you need the Lord in your life, you need the love and accept the Christ” and it was really awesome. Maybe you’ve known someone who has come to his faith in Christ, and they are full of joy and zeal; well, he took a little bit far. One day I came in the restaurant, he had one of our cooks, buttonholed there, you know, kind of cornered him, you know, and he was saying to him “just say the words man, just say the words”! He, he wanted this guy to come to faith in Christ and he thought that if he just said that, that prayer of salvation, “just say the prayer, just say the prayer”. I’m sorry, it doesn’t work that way. It’s not just a magic formula of saying the words. If you say those words, you say those words because you believe those words, and there’s something ignited in your life, you do that because of the Holy Spirit.
A. You speak from that which fills the heart
Now Paul knows this, because he’s been on both sides of it. Because he did say at one time “Jesus is accursed”. He was on the other side of the story, if you remember his own life. He was completely against Christ. Maybe he took hold of that verse, you know, in Old Testament, that says: “Cursed is a man who hangs on a tree”, and so he, he was completely against the church. Did everything he can against the church. But God literally knocked him off his high horse, blinded him, and he came to faith in Crist Jesus and did a complete turnaround, so that he declared with all of his heart, “Jesus is my Lord, Jesus is my savior”, and went around the world teaching it to everybody he could get a hold of. He was on both sides, he so understands!
The speaking by the Spirit of God means that you are speaking from that which fills your hearts! This is key. What’s filling your heart. See this is what Jesus spoke of in Luke chapter 6 verse 45. You want to talk about transformation, you want to talk about spiritual maturity, he gives us a great inside in Luke 6.45, he says: “The good man, out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth what’s good”. Now, I love that phrase! I love that verse. Because it helps us to understand what happens in a person’s life, where do good things come from; that comes from the treasure of your heart. The good man, out of the good treasure of his heart, brings forth what’s good. In contrast, the evil man, out of the evil treasure of his heart, brings forth what’s evil. For the mouth speaks, the life is lived, from that which fills the heart.
This is a great picture of spiritual transformation and then necessity of spiritual maturity. Long for this, long for desire – I want that treasure! I want something inside of me that’s good, Godly, of the Lord. I want that maturity. See what’s the treasure of your heart, what is it you’re treasuring. What is it that you value! See, that is not the idea of treasure. What do you value? Do you value spiritual maturity? Do you value spiritual things? See, you’re a spiritual person, with spiritual bearing. Do you not understand that when the Holy Spirit is your treasure. And good things come out of your life. See, long for, seek after, desire these things!
In fact in Luke chapter 11 Jesus gave a very – what I think is a humorous – added a perspective on this. You know Jesus had a sense of humor. And in Luke 11 verses 11-13, you see this sense of humor when he said it this way: “Now, suppose one of you fathers is asked by his son for a fish”. So, we can relate to this right away, they could. Just imagine the son, “dad, I’m hungry, can I have something to eat? Can I a fish?” Now kids today wouldn’t ask for a fish, but they did, in fact, remember the little boy that had his lunch, remember the day Jesus fed 5000 and he had his lunch, what was in his lunch? Five loaves and two fish. It was very common to have fish in your lunch. See it Godly, you know, they didn’t have MacDonald’s, that’s was the thing. Right, so he says “dad, I’m hungry, can I have something to eat, can I have a fish?” So he says if your son asks for a fish, the father would not give him a snake instead of a fish, now would he? “Sure son, you’re hungry, there’s, there’s something in the basket there for you”. No, you wouldn’t do that. If your son says “Dad, I’m hungry, can I have an egg?” “sure son, right there in the basket, there’s a scorpion”. No, you wouldn’t do that. He says, “therefore, if you being evil”, he means being of the world, “know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask?” “Dad, father, I want, I’m asking for more of the Spirit in my life. I want, I want spiritual maturity. I want to grow in spiritual things. I want, I want the treasure in my heart to be you God”. How much more would the heavenly father give Holy Spirit to those who ask? See, here’s really what we see, here’s the point. Seek spiritual maturity first. Extremely important to understand. It is possible to receive the Holy Spirit when you ask Jesus to come in to your heart, and even to have spiritual gifts, even to have the manifestation of the spirit, and to be spiritually immature. It is possible.
Case in point, the church right there in Corinth. That’s exactly what was happening at the church. That’s why Paul is correcting them. And, I’ve seen it myself personally. I personally know Christians, I personally know Christian leaders who pride themselves on how much the Spirit moves in their lives; and yet demonstrate immaturity in how they treat people. And in their lack of love. Well wait a minute; you are putting on a big demonstration about how much you have of the Holy Spirit. Where, where’s the love here?
See, in 1 Corinthians 12 verse 31, I referred to it earlier, he said “earnestly desire”, that’s a good word, “earnestly desire the greater gifts”. Sure. But I will show you a still more excellent way. There’s something more excellent than that. You want to see this spirit moving in manifestation? I want to show you something more excellent than that. And then he goes into chapter 13, in fact we are close to it, would you turn just a page over to 1 Corinthians 13, and lets just read the first few verses – we are going to look at this next week but I wanted us to just look at these verses right now. He says: “if I speak with the tongues of men and angels”, in other words, the manifestation of the spirit in my life is such, that I speak in tongues, with the tongues of men and angels, “but I don’t have love, I have become nothing but a noisy gong or a clanging symbol”, you can just imagine that: smash, cling, bang, that’s just all it is. It’s really nothing. “If I have the gift of prophecy and know all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith to as to remove mountains, but do not have love” look at this phrase, “I am nothing”! Wow! There’s a bold statement right there. Apparently what he is suggesting, is that it’s love that makes that something. God is love. It’s its nature, it’s its character. It’s who he is! God is love! And when we take on that character, that nature, within ourselves, then we’ve become more after him. We’re following after him! If I don’t have love, I am nothing. If I give all my possessions to feed the poor, if I deliver my body to be burned but do not have love - it prophets me nothing.
My secretary Joe, she used to be the executive personal secretary for a famous TV Evangelist, which if I give you his name, you’ll probably know him. The problem is this: he used to make a great show on television, on how much of the manifestation he had of the spirit, as you can imagine. But the problem was he was one way on camera and a completely different way at the office. The way he treated people; and the disrespect, and the dishonor, and the bossiness that he had when he was at the office; she finally came to point of saying “I can’t work for this guy any more”. See, I’m convinced that Christian maturity is seen first and foremost in the fruit of the spirit, rather than the gifts of the spirit. Desire this first. Seek desire, long for it. In fact, let me give you that list, it’s in Galatians chapter 5, verses 22 to 23, this is that famous list that gives us… this is the evidence of the Holy Spirit, this is the fruit of the Holy Spirit. And it’s listed like this: “The fruit of the spirit is love”! First, highest, foremost. If you have the Holy Spirit in your life and there is the maturity of Christ that is moving you, it will be seen. First, foremost, highest, in love; God is love. It’s its nature, it’s its character, and it’s calling us to do the same. In fact, when Jesus was asked “What is the highest, foremost of all the things that God is ever given or ever said?” Jesus’s answer, “Love”. “You shall love the Lord your God”. Start with that. Love God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, with all your strength. “And you shall love your neighbor as yourself”. On these two commandments, on these two words, hang the entirety of the old testament. All of it is hung on those two things. Love.
II. Use the Gifts God Gives You
See, the fruit of the spirit is first and foremost Love. Love should be the evidence of the spirit. It goes on, joy. If you got the life of the Holy Spirit in you, you got joy. That’s, that’s an evidence that the life of God is moving in you. There’s joy. There’s peace. There’s a peace that passes understanding. That guards your heart and mind. Patience, patience, if the Holy Spirit is moving in your life and you are moving in the maturity of God, patience is an evidence that God is in fact moving on your life. Patience. Patience – why does he have to be so practical, why does he have so in our homes? Why does it have to be so every day? Cause isn’t that word that the Holy Spirit shouldn’t be evidenced? Every day? In our homes, in our life, the way we live and move and have our being? Patience, kindness, it should mark who we are. But it should be our reputation – oh I know, yea, I know her, very kind, very kind. Goodness – oh, you can just depend on that. There’s a, there’s a goodness in that character. Faithfulness – oh, he’s faithful as the day is long, they say. Oh gentleness – oh, she is so gentle. Self-control, evidence of the spirit, maturity…
So, let’s go back to the 1 Corinthians 12. Here’s where he’s helping us to see in regards to these things. So therefore, use the gifts that God gives you, use them. God gives variety of gifts, all from the same spirit. Varieties of ministries, varieties of effects, but he says “it’s God who works all things in all people”. See, all these things come from God. And he expects us to use them to build up the church whom he loves. “I’m going to give you these gifts, I’m going to give you these things, because I love my church. And I want you to use these things to build up the church”. Now it makes sense, that there’s a variety of gifts, and varieties of ministries, and effects, variety is needed. What if everyone had the same gift? Imagine… lets use the building of this building, the physical building of this building as an illustration. You know, we, we want to build this building and imagine what if everybody in the church was electrician. Other than the strangeness of that, we wouldn’t get a building build very well. What if everyone was a plumber? What if everyone was, you know, etc. etc.
A. God expects us to use our gifts
See, it’s beautiful to see how everyone has a different, you know, gift, different ability, and brings it. And it’s beautiful to see how wonderful many people bring their gift. And, and all the varieties of it, and how they contribute to us. Really amazing! Steve’s electrician, oh what he’s done for us. Tom the plumber, Mark paints and, and Rich and his son help up and Jenell, she’s an interior designer; we got an amazing interior designer. And on and on, too many to list, all the volunteers and children’s ministries, all volunteers in the office, and the kitchen, and serving, and you know, it takes hundreds of volunteers to make this place come together. And yet everyone brings a different gift. And they come and they bring and they contribute it all, beautiful to see. See, doesn’t God say to us “use your gifts and your natural ability, to build up”. Se, I’m convinced that both of them are from God. Don’t you think that if you have any natural ability God gave to you also? God gives spiritual gifts and God gives natural abilities. See, the more you love him the more you want to do something for him. Isn’t that true? The more you love him the more you want to do something for him! Because you realize how much he’s done for you. How much has God done for you? When you realize what God has done for you, isn’t there something inside you that say “God, you’ve done so much for me, I want to do this for you”.
B. Spiritual gifts are given to bless others
See and that’s why when we look at these verses we understand: God expects us to use our gifts. He gives us gifts for the purpose of using them. Imagine you’ve got, lets say, a piano virtuoso. He is like top shelf!. But he refuses to play. “Really? You’re not going to bless us?” “No, it’s just for me at home.” Really? Imagine a beautiful singer, beautiful, amazing, gifted voice, you know, there’s some, there’s some beautiful music coming out of the church today, that just blesses my soul. Can you imagine someone with a really awesome, beautiful gift of writing songs and singing, but won’t share with anybody; “really, you won’t share with us? You are not going to bless us with this?” “No, it’s just me in the shower, it’s good”. What if Kari Jobe or Chris Hamlin had that particular attitude – no, it’s just for me in the shower. Really, you’re not going to bless us? Didn’t God give you that gift? Wasn’t that from God, bless us man! Share it with us! Ignite us too!
See, I love Luke chapter 12 verse 48, Jesus says: “From everyone who has been given much, much will be required. To whom they entrusted much, of him they will ask all the more”. See I’m convinced also. There’s a joy, there’s a satisfaction in knowing that they are living as God made you to live. So God gave you that gift and I’m using that gift for his glory. There’s joy in that. See, you’re taking the gifts that he gave you and you’re using them for his purpose in your life? There’s joy in that. It reminds me of Eric Liddell, remember the famous Olympic runner. And he was being interviewed one time and, and someone says “Why do you run? Why is that dedication, why do you run?” And Eric Liddell said “because God made me fast. And when I run, I feel his pleasure”. I love that. What a great answer! “Why do you run?” “God made me fast. God did that. God made me fast. And when I run, I feel his pleasure”. What a beautiful perspective. What did God make you to be? See, when you, when you use whatever gifts God gave you, whether it’s spiritual gifts or natural abilities, they all came from God; he uses them to bring joy and in fact, I’m convinced, he uses them to bring maturity in your life. See, here’s the thing that he’s trying to show us: spiritual gifts are given to bless others. Verse 7: “To each one is given, literally to everyone is given the manifestation of the spirit for the common good. See, when God gives gifts to the spirit, it isn’t for my own personal benefit, it’s for the church, it’s to bless, it’s to edify, it’s for the common good that others will be blessed and edified, build up. See, if all spiritual gifts and all natural abilities are given by God for the good of others, doesn’t that kind of exclude the attitude of arrogance or superiority? I mean, can’t… how’s any superiority there? God gave me this to lift you up. How’s that, how can you combine that with arrogance? God gave me this gift that I might bless you! Well how can you combine that with the attitude of superiority? The problem is our natural tendency, the problem is the flesh’s natural tendency to think more highly of itself then [inaudible 00:28:14]. Isn’t that just another symptom of spiritual immaturity?
I’m sure we all have classic examples, as it reminds me of a classic example in my life which is very embarrassing. But I’m going to share it with you. When I was in, in my late teens – let me emphasize that – I was young! In my late teens, I, I had achieved early success in the restaurant; I was moving up in restaurant management and at one point I needed a letter of recommendation. So I went to the, the owners and, and I asked for letter of recommendation. And, I can get it, I can get it, I kept asking and I finally said “I really do need, I was hoping to get that letter of recommendation”. And the owner said: “look, I’m just really very too busy, why don’t you write your own letter of recommendation and I’ll just sign it”. Oh, what an opportunity was that. I am ashamed to admit to you what I wrote in that letter. I had the audacity to write in that letter that, here’s the capstone sentence of that letter, promise me before I tell that you will not hold this against me; I had the audacity to write in that letter, ready for this? “His desire for excellence is only exceeded by his ability to do it”, hahaha. Wow! God had to knock me down a few notches, and I can guaranty you he did. After a letter like that, amazingly, hahaha, he signed it. Probably didn’t read it. See, the idea is that each one of us is blessed and gifted by the Holy Spirit, so that we have something from which we can bless others. Some way that we can encourage and build up those around us; God gives every single person something, some way to build up and edify those around us.
There’s a beautiful person in our church who has been going through many physical challenges in her health. Great pain, suffers tremendous pain and must endure this for years to come. And yet, she blesses others. I went to the hospital to visit someone who had a debilitating stroke. Young man, terrible stroke. When I arrived at the hospital, who should be there? But this woman! In her pain, in her enduring, there with her cane; she’s there to encourage, to pray for, to edify, to strengthen faith. And here’s the thing, she’s got something to say. They respect because she’s got something to say. I look at that and I thought, you know what? That is amazing. That is amazing. Good uses that in her life to bless and edify others. She got something to say. You know this fellow, his last name is difficult to say, Nick Lukacik? Has been born with no hands no legs, you know that? Powerful amazing testimony. Can you imagine what tragedy to be born with no arms no legs? And yet he blesses, he encourages, he edifies. In fact he says you know “I think God uses me more in this condition than if I was born with all limbs”. Millions of people have heard the gospel of Jesus Christ. And thousands have come to faith in Jesus Christ because of his powerful testimony of his faith.
C. There are many kinds of gifts
God gives everyone something. God gives everyone something. Some way to encourage, to bless, to edify, and God uses; when they bless and edify he uses it in our life to bring joy, the satisfaction to the soul, to bring maturity in the spirit, see, and then he goes on to emphasize that there are many kinds of gifts, all kinds of gifts. He makes a point of saying this over and over, varieties of gifts, varieties of ministries, varieties of this – same God, same God, it’s important because some people they look at this list, and the other list, and they try to identify themselves with that particular thing, you know, which one is mine. This… that just is sampling, I’m convinced there’s so much more, that God does, God uniquely moves in every person. Uniquely moves. Jesus often accomplished his work in unique ways, varieties of ways. You know, he healed the blind. Many times he healed the blind. Interestingly, he rarely did the same thing twice. What, I mean; he healed the blinds simply by speaking the word. Another time, he, he spit in the man’s eye. But you see, I see people like trees, he prayed, put his hands on his eyes and he was completely healed. Another time he spit on the ground, made, made mud out of spittle and he pressed it into the man’s eyes. Interesting. Why all the different ways? I’m convinced because he doesn’t want us to look to the method, he wants us to look to the God who is the one who is behind the power. Because everything is unique, see. Each person has their own unique gifts. Each person has been honored with something.
And then verse 6 “and then there’s God who works all things in all people”. See, this is important because many people compare themselves to others. And they become very self-critical if their gift doesn’t seem as great as someone else’s gift. And they get discouraged. But such discouragement – see, God doesn’t want us discouraged and self-critical. Such discouragement keeps us from a) enjoying the gift, the God gives and b) having the freedom to give that gift away to others and having the freedom to develop that gift to maturity. And he goes on and gives examples: one has the word of wisdom. I, I myself have seen, I’m, lets say, sitting in the counseling office, listening to someone’s story and while they are telling the story in my mind I am saying, I have no idea what I’m going to say here. Lord, this is so far beyond me, I have no idea what to say. And I’m just praying, God you’re going to have to give me some wisdom because I have, I don’t have wisdom. Invariably verses begin to, to come to my heart and wisdom begins to come out of his word. I see it over and over. He says “some have the word of knowledge”. Word of knowledge – that’s an interesting thing. Some, sometimes people come out to me and they say “you know that message was like you were speaking right to me, like you have the word of knowledge or something, you just spoke right to me” actually that wasn’t the word of knowledge, that was your wife, she called me to say – no, I’m just kidding. But it does remind me of a funny story. One day my, my son-in-law was over and he was watching the University of Oregon game on the computer. And, and I couldn’t hear it very well so I took out my phone to listen to the game and I took out my ear piece, which is over here and which he could see, and my feed was about 20 seconds in front of his feed. And I thought Ok, this is going to be good. So, you know, he said “this is going to be a great game”, and I said “yea, it is going to be a great game but boy, something could happen, you never know. You know, we could, we could have a fumble right down there in the red zone, you know, that could happen”. Next play - fumble. He looks at me like, well, that’s interesting. Things are going bad now. Next thing you know they are going a reverse and strike up the sideline. Reverse, strike up the sideline. Now he’s looking at me like – you are amazing. Well, some have a gift you know, some don’t, what can I say. So, I said, things are getting bad now, things are getting bad now, huh, I hope they don’t do a long bomb. Pup, they do a long bomb. Long bomb makes it, wow! I said yea but you know, I’ll say what we need right now. What we need right now is an interception, probably would happen. Interception. Ok, that’s it, how are you doing this? And then of course I had to confess.
He says, “into another”, verse 9 “faith”. That’s interesting. Faith, by the Holy Spirit. Hmm, the ability to trust God, against all circumstances is something that is strengthened by the Holy Spirit. Now, this is important for us to understand. When we lost our daughter last year, oh do we need the Holy Spirit. But the Holy Spirit strengthened our faith. We saw it, we understood it, God strengthens our faith. He wants us all to grow in faith. He wants us all to grow in faith. Me, maybe we would say as this man said to Jesus in Mark 9 verse 24, “Lord I believe but help me in my unbelief”. Amen. I mean, the same way maybe we grow in our faith and we grow in our maturity and we would draw near to Lord and he would use us in some way. Let’s pray.
- Sermon Notes
1 Corinthians 12:1-11
The Corinthian church had many, many issues of immaturity. The problem was that they came to Christ out of the city of Corinth, a city plagued with immorality and filled with pagan idols. It’s a huge challenge to take the church from that background and bring them to a place of spiritual maturity.
The same is true for people today. We live in a culture very much like Corinth; immorality is everywhere around us and when someone comes to faith in Christ there are many, many areas in a person’s life that need to be transformed.
In chapter 12, Paul is correcting them in regards to spiritual matters. In an earlier chapter Paul said, “I wanted to talk to you as spiritual people, but I couldn’t, I had to speak to you as carnal, as immature Christians.”
They were certainly Christians and therefore had the presence of the Holy Spirit in them, and spiritual gifts were manifested among them, but here again, they were immature. The Spirit of the living God is given to every person who receives Jesus Christ into their heart as Lord and Savior, and the Holy Spirit gives gifts to each person. But in Corinth there were abuses. You can have gifts of the Holy Spirit and still be very immature.
One of the biggest issues had to do with an air of superiority that some people had; perhaps believing that they had “greater gifts” or that they were superior because they seemed to manifest their spiritual gifts more abundantly. But such an attitude of superiority certainly isn’t the heart of Christ.
Others were responding by wanting nothing to do with spiritual gifts or the manifestation of spiritual things and so here again, the church was divided.
These verses have great spiritual application for us because, in the same way, everyone today who receives Jesus Christ in their heart as Lord and Savior has been given the presence of the Holy Spirit in their lives and everyone has been gifted by the Holy Spirit as well.
Personally, I think that there is less of an issue of spiritual superiority today than there used to be. It wasn’t that long ago that some people, and in some cases, entire churches, took on an attitude of superiority over other churches because they believed they had greater spiritual gifts because they manifested speaking in tongues, or prophecy, or whatever.
What’s interesting is that here in first Corinthians Paul has to correct those who are acting spiritually superior because in spite of their thinking that they’re ‘all that’ they were actually quite immature and needed a lot of correction.
Spiritual maturity is seen in godly character first and foremost. At the end of this chapter Paul says, “Earnestly desire the greater gifts, and I will show you a still more excellent way.” He then teaches them what it means to love. In fact, Paul says, the first in the list of the fruit of the Holy Spirit is love.
In 1 Corinthians 13:13, Paul wrote, “But now abide faith, hope, these three, but the greatest of these is love.”Christian maturity is seen in love above everything else.
I. You are a Spiritual Person
- Paul wants them to be aware of spiritual things. The first thing he wants them to be aware of is that you are a spiritual being and that everyone who receives Jesus Christ receives the Spirit of the living God.
- In other words, we all received the same Holy Spirit, so why all the attitude?
A. You speak from that which fills the heart
- “When you were pagans,” Paul said, “you were led astray to dumb idols.” In other words, those idols were dead and dumb. Paul’s intent is to humble them, and this is a great place to start.
- In contrast, now you have the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of the living God. In other words, if spiritual words come out of you, if you have spiritual bearing, if there is a manifestation of spiritual things, then that’s the result of the Spirit, so don’t act superior.
- “No one speaking by the Spirit of God says, “Jesus is accursed” and no one can say “Jesus is Lord” except by the Holy Spirit. He means of course, saying “Jesus is Lord” from the heart and meaning it.
Illus – My restaurant partner came to faith in Christ and in his zeal had buttoned-holed one of the cooks and was trying to get him to “just say the words, just say the words.”
- Before Paul was saved he did say that Jesus was accursed. He was completely against the church and did everything he could against it.
- But then God literally knocked him off his high horse and he received Jesus Christ in his heart as Lord and Savior and was filled with the Holy Spirit and, speaking by the Spirit of God, said, “Jesus is Lord.”
- That phrase, “Speaking by the Spirit of God,” is interesting. When a person says, “Jesus is Lord,” he is speaking from that which fills the heart.
Luke 6:45, “The good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth what is good; and the evil man out of the evil treasure brings forth what is evil; for his mouth speaks from that which fills the heart.”
- What a powerful picture of spiritual transformation.
- What is the treasure of your heart? A godly man builds godly treasure by growing spiritually.
Luke 11:11-13, “Now suppose one of you fathers is asked by his son for a fish: he will not give him a snake instead of a fish, will he? Or if he is asked for an egg, he will not give him a scorpion, will he? If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him?”
B. Seek spiritual maturity first
- This is extremely important to understand. It’s possible to receive the Holy Spirit when you ask Jesus to come into your heart, to have spiritual gifts, and even to have the manifestation of the Spirit and be spiritually immature.
- Case in point; that’s exactly what was happening in the church at Corinth, which is why Paul is correcting them.
- I have seen that myself. I personally know Christians, even Christian leaders, who pride themselves in how the Holy Spirit moves in their lives and yet demonstrate immaturity in their lack of love.
1 Corinthians 12:31, Earnestly desire the greater gifts; and I will show you a still more excellent way.
1 Corinthians 13:1-3 If I do not have love, I am nothing.
Illus – Jo, my secretary, used to be the executive secretary for a famous TV evangelist who would make a great show on television of how he had so much of the Holy Spirit, but she was greatly troubled by the lack of spiritual maturity in how he treated those around him.
- I’m convinced that Christian maturity is seen first and foremost in the fruit of the Spirit rather than the gifts of the Spirit.
Galatians 5:22-23, The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.
II. Use the Gifts God Gives You
- God gives a variety of gifts, all from the same Spirit. And there are varieties of ministries and varieties of effects, but God works all things in all people.
- All of these come from God and He expects us to use them to build up the church whom He loves.
- It makes sense that a variety of gifts and ministries and effects are needed. What if everyone had the same gift?
Illus – Use the actual building of the church as an illustration. What if everyone was an electrician, what if everyone was a plumber? It’s been so wonderful to see so many people not only use their spiritual gift but also their natural abilities for God’s glory. Doesn’t God give us our natural abilities as well as spiritual gifts?
- The more you love Him the more you want to do something for Him.
A. God expects us to use our gifts
- God gives us gifts for the purpose of using them.
Illus – Imagine a virtuoso pianist that refuses to play or a great singer that refuses to sing except when she’s in the shower.
Luke 12:48, “From everyone who has been given much, much will be required; and to whom they entrusted much, of him they will ask all the more.”
- There is also joy and satisfaction in knowing that you’re living as God made you to live; that you’re taking the gifts that He gave you and using them for His purpose in your life.
Illus – An interviewer asked Eric Little, the Olympic runner, why he ran and he answered, “God made me fast and when I run I feel His pleasure.”
- When you use the gifts God gave you to bless others, He uses them to bring maturity in you.
B. Spiritual gifts are given to bless others
- Verse 7 – When God gives gifts of the Spirit it isn’t for my own personal benefit, it’s for the common good, that others will be blessed and edified and built up.
- If all spiritual gifts, and even natural abilities, are all given by God for the good of others, doesn’t that exclude the attitude of arrogance or superiority?
- The problem is the natural tendency to think more highly of ourselves then we ought, but isn’t that just another symptom of spiritual immaturity?
Illus – When I was in my late teens, I achieved early success and was moving up in restaurant management. At one point I needed a letter of recommendation and asked the manager to write one, but he was too busy, so he just told me to write my own letter of recommendation and he would sign it. I’m sorry to say I didn’t resist the temptation. Let’s just say that when you look up humility in the encyclopedia, you won’t find that letter of recommendation there as an example.
- The idea is that each one of us is blessed and gifted by the Holy Spirit so that we have something from which we can bless others, some way we can encourage and build up those around us.
Illus – There is a beautiful person in the church who has been going through many physical challenges and difficulties in her health. She suffers with pain and must endure for many years to come, and yet she blesses others. I went to visit someone at the hospital and there she was at the hospital encouraging, praying for them, and strengthening their faith.
C. There are many kinds of gifts
- Paul makes a point of saying over and over that there are varieties of gifts, varieties of ministries, varieties of effects, but all given by the same God.
- This is important because some people look only at this list or other lists found in scriptures, yet God works in many various ways, often uniquely in each person.
- Jesus Himself often accomplished His work in many different ways, perhaps so we don’t get hung up on the method, but rather set our heart on God alone.
Illus – Jesus healed the blind in many different ways. Once He simply said, “Your faith has saved you.” Another time He spat in a man’s eyes, the man could then partially see, so Jesus prayed and laid His hands on the man’s eyes. Another time he spat on the ground, made mud, and then applied it to the man’s eyes.
- Each person has their own gift. Every person in Christ is honored with something, but each is unique in some way. Verse 6 – it is God who works all things in all persons.
- Many compare themselves to others and become very self-critical if their gift doesn’t seem as great as someone else’s, but such discouragement keeps us from enjoying the gift God gave us and having the freedom to develop that gift to its maturity.
- One has the word of wisdom through the Spirit – there have been times in counseling when I had no idea what to say, but I found that God always revealed something through His word.
- Another has the word of knowledge – sometimes people think I have the word of knowledge when a message seems directed at them. No, that was because your wife called and told me what you needed.
Illus – That reminds me of the time our son-in-law was watching an exciting U of O football game and I was listening to the game with an earpiece (which he couldn’t see), and my feed was about 20 seconds ahead of his.
- To another faith – the ability to trust God against all circumstances. Some people have extraordinary faith, but God wants us to all grow in faith.
Mark 9:24, “Lord, I believe, help me in my unbelief.”
1 Corinthians 12:1-11 NASB
1 Now concerning spiritual gifts, brethren, I do not want you to be unaware. 2 You know that when you were pagans, you were led astray to the mute idols, however you were led. 3 Therefore I make known to you that no one speaking by the Spirit of God says, “Jesus is accursed”; and no one can say, “Jesus is Lord,” except by the Holy Spirit.
4 Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit. 5 And there are varieties of ministries, and the same Lord. 6 There are varieties of effects, but the same God who works all things in all persons. 7 But to each one is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good. 8 For to one is given the word of wisdom through the Spirit, and to another the word of knowledge according to the same Spirit; 9 to another faith by the same Spirit, and to another gifts of healing by the one Spirit, 10 and to another the effecting of miracles, and to another prophecy, and to another the distinguishing of spirits, to another various kinds of tongues, and to another the interpretation of tongues. 11 But one and the same Spirit works all these things, distributing to each one individually just as He wills.