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The world is full of false worship
Today’s text is one of the hardest chapters in the Bible.
It’s a difficult chapter.
There’s certainly plenty of controversy and confusion regarding this chapter.
It’s a chapter written by Paul, and it’s hard.
In , Peter said of some of Paul’s writings, “And count the patience of our Lord as salvation, just as our beloved brother Paul also wrote to you according to the wisdom given him, as he does in all his letters when he speaks in them of these matters.
There are some things in them that are hard to understand, which the ignorant and unstable twist to their own destruction, as they do the other Scriptures.”
So if you find it confusing or difficult, you aren’t alone.
Peter, thought that at times Paul was hard to understand.
But others have found it hard to understand as well, and in that confusion, they twist it and take people captive to false ideas, and manipulate them.
What makes this chapter so hard is that it deals with false worship, and false worship that is common within the church.
And when it comes to worship, we are timid and afraid to critique others.
We say it doesn’t matter how people worship God.
But it does matter.
One of the first sins to enter into humanity was the idea that man can worship God however he wants.
Remember Cain and Abel?
The fight was God telling Cain he needed to change the way he worshipped.
Cain didn’t change.
Instead, he remained in his vain worship, then to top it off, killed his brother.
God forbid the Israelites from worshipping however they wanted, or like everyone else.
, “You shall not do as they do in the land of Egypt, where you lived, and you shall not do as they do in the land of Canaan, to which I am bringing you.
You shall not walk in their statutes.”
That’s why there are such specific instructions on priests, sacrifices, incense and fire within Leviticus.
That’s because God was laying out, “This is how I want you to worship, not how you want to worship.”
Within the 10 Commandments, God explains He doesn’t want pictures of Him, or statues of Him.
He explains how we are to speak of Him.
And even when we are to worship Him.
All that to say, God cares how we approach Him.
Now we fast forward to the Corinthians Church.
The Corinthian Church was not the model church.
No one should ever say, “Let’s become more biblical, let’s be like the Corinthians.”
The Corinthian Church was more like the world around them then anything else.
The Greek Culture had their heroes that they worshipped.
Think of Zeus and Hercules.
They worshipped the Caesar, and the legends of old.
The Corinthians did the same thing.
They favored Paul or Apollos.
In II Corinthians we learn that there were so called, super-apostles, that were magnified.
The culture around them was extremely sexual.
The Corinthian church followed the sexual revolution of the culture as well.
Chapter 5 says that there was a man who was having an affair with his step mom, and they were so proud of him.
The culture was violent, and in conflict.
The Corinthian church, was active in suing each other.
It was ripe with conflicts and disagreements.
Family life was a disaster in culture.
And the Corinthian church went right along with them.
Divorce was present in the church.
People used their conversion experience or their spouses lack of conversion, to make an excuse for divorce.
They worshipped like the pagans.
The pagan religions would have idolatrous feasts of food.
The Corinthian church modeled those pagan feasts in their observance of communion.
The pagans who would work themselves up into ecstatic frenzies.
They would babble, mutter and stutter incoherent words.
They claimed to speak in mystical languages, that only the gods and the spirits could understand.
And guess what … the church followed right along with them, by babbling in strange tongues.
For our time in I Corinthians:
Paul has been explaining what gifts there are.
The diversity of the Gifts.
Then last week, we saw that they are to be used in love.
Then we come to .
A passage that is often used to support the gift of tongues.
And even used to support the abuse of tongues in the church today.
But as we go through this chapter, we will see that Paul is explaining that the their
Let’s go ahead and read Paul’s response to the Corinthians worship.
Open your Bibles to .
There are 4 indictments against the church and their worship.
Worship must be understandable.
Worship must communicate something.
Third what they thought was worship, was actually a display of God’s judgment.
And fourthly, worship must build up the church.
The first indictment and the first point of our sermon is that worship is to be understandable.
In verse 2, Paul says, “For one who speaks in a tongue speaks not to men but to God; for no one understands him, but he utters mysteries in the Spirit.”
Like today, there was this idea, that if you spoke in tongues, you were speaking in a mystical language, some language that was heavenly.
The people took the pagan worship that was around them, and imported it into the church.
They babbled unintelligibly, thinking that God was understanding what was being said.
Even they didn’t know what they were saying.
Today, this same idea is prevalent among those who practice tongues.
Some call it a prayer language.
They say it is between them and God.
Perhaps you know people who speak in tongues, maybe you’ve even gotten caught up in it in the past.
At times, I’ve come up here and said things, and made fun of these types of people.
At this point, I am not making fun.
I know that this is a hard topic.
And for some it’s a very personal topic.
So let’s address this it gently and biblically.
Paul explains that this type of speaking, the babbling in secret languages, is not real.
Verse 9 says, “So with yourselves, if with your tongue you utter speech that is not intelligible, how will anyone know what is said?
For you will be speaking into the air.”
In fact, even the one speaking in the mystical language doesn’t know what is being said.
Verse 11 says, “but if I do not know the meaning of the language, I will be a foreigner to the speaker and the speaker a foreigner to me.”
He says that if others don’t understand what you are saying, you are a foreigner to them.
So suppose, one of the folks from the Korean church came in and started talking to us in Korean, we’d get no benefit, and wouldn’t understand.
But suppose even the speaker doesn’t understand what he’s saying.
Paul says you become a foreigner to yourself.
Now that’s just crazy talk.
If you are a foreigner to yourself, something is wrong.
Please remember what tongues really were.
Tongues were actual languages.
They were understandable languages.
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