How To Destroy Pride - 4:14-21

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1 Corinthians   •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  Presented   •  40:13
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We have a drain in our house that gets plugged up really easily.
Eventually it gets to the point that in order to prevent the sink from filling up with water, you have to turn the faucet on lower and lower, until finally it is barely at a trickle.
There is, however, a way to deal with this problem.
Every few months I take the pipes apart and clean everything out.
I run water through them and I take paper towels and get all the gunk out.
Until the blockage is removed, the water cannot drain and the sink either cannot be used at all, or cannot be used to its full potential.
Paul is writing this letter to a church that has a blockage.
God wants to use them.
He wants to work through their lives to bless people, to draw people, to strengthen and equip the body of Christ.
The problem is, something is preventing this church from being all that God wants it to be.
Paul’s heart is not to hurt or damage this church.
His heart is to remove the blockage, to unstop the drain and allow these believers to reach their full potential for Christ!
Pride is a blockage in the drain pipe of life.
It hinders growth and prevents usefulness for Christ.
To serve the Lord effectively we must destroy pride.
Today we learn how to destroy pride.
Let’s Pray.
Father, we are wholly and completely insufficient to the task you have laid before us. We need you. Apart from the power of the Holy Spirit and the strength of Christ we will never defeat pride. If we remain trapped in pride, we will never be effective for you. Use your Word today. Speak through me. Challenge us. Change us. Make us more like Jesus. Help us to destroy our pride. May Jesus Christ be exalted in this message. May your people be equipped to minister effectively where you have placed them. We pray all of this in the precious name of your Son Jesus, Amen.
How is pride destroyed?

1. Pride Is Destroyed By Progress vv. 14-17

When the pipe in our bathroom gets plugged up, it doesn’t get unplugged in an instant.
It is a process of taking things apart, cleaning things, and putting them back together.
In the same way, pride doesn’t disappear when we trust in Jesus.
Pride is destroyed little by little, bit by bit, as we grow and mature in Christ.
That is what Paul is dealing with here.
We are dealing with maturity.
In order to destroy pride, there needs to be progress.
There needs to be growth in the gospel.
In these verses Paul gives us two requirements for progress.
Requirement #1…

a. To progress we must listen vv. 14-15

Paul has just spoken with some very harsh sarcasm.
He did so to get their attention and to make the point that the Christian life is not about personal advancement.
The Christian life is about the honor, glory, and service of Jesus Christ.
We exist to advance the cause of Christ.
Paul has made his point, now he backs off a little bit and speaks to the Corinthian church like a father to his children.
Look with me at verses 14-15.
1 Corinthians 4:14–15 NKJV
14 I do not write these things to shame you, but as my beloved children I warn you. 15 For though you might have ten thousand instructors in Christ, yet you do not have many fathers; for in Christ Jesus I have begotten you through the gospel.
The first thing Paul wants them to understand is that he’s not trying to shame them.
Paul wants to confront their sin and have them change their behavior!
He is warning them about what the Christian life is really like.
He wants them to be prepared to face suffering.
Paul says to them that he is warning them as beloved children.
Sometimes, in order to get a point across to our children, we need to speak very bluntly and clearly.
That is what Paul has done.
He is not trying to hurt them!
He is protecting them.
If your child is about to touch the hot pan on the stove you are not going to speak softly and slowly.
You are going to yell out “stop! don’t touch that!”
Your goal is get their attention!
Paul is getting the attention of the Corinthian church.
Because they are headed into danger.
And so Paul reminds them of his right and authority to speak to them in this way.
He cares for them like a father.
What Paul says here is true of all of us.
We have a lot of instructors.
In this day and age it is probably even more.
Through digital media we have access to the greatest teachers alive today and many of the greatest teachers of the last several centuries.
We have a lot of teachers. But we only have a few spiritual fathers.
I had the great privilege of my earthly father also being one of my spiritual fathers.
Paul had planted the church in Corinth and was their Spiritual father through the gospel he preached to them.
Here is the picture.
They are Paul’s children and they are playing with fire.
He wants them to stop before they burn the house down.
They need to listen. They need to heed his warning.
If they are going to destroy pride, they need to grow, to progress.
That can only happen as they listen to Paul.
I want to take a little bit of a step back as we learn our lesson here.
All of us should have spiritual mentors, men and women who are speaking truth into our lives.
Are we listening to them?
People who are speaking truth into our lives may see that we are headed for disaster.
They are trying to warn us.
Are we listening?
Here’s the lesson.
Listen to godly instruction.
There is no benefit to having people with permission to speak truth into our lives if we do not listen to them.
There’s a second thing here.
If you do not have anyone with permission to call you out, to speak truth into your life, change that as soon as possible.
Prayerfully pick out some people and ask them if they would be willing to fill that role in your life.
To be useful for Christ and grow in our relationship with Him we need to destroy pride.
To destroy pride we need to progress in the Christian life.
Paul gives us two requirements to progress.
Requirement #1: To progress we must listen.
Requirement #2…

b. To progress we must take action vv. 16-17

Let’s go back to our plugged up sink for a minute.
In marriage there is this thing called unity and peace.
In order to preserve unity and peace, the sink needs to be unplugged.
Here’s how it usually goes.
Jess mentions to me that the sink is draining slowly.
I say, “I should fix that.”
A few weeks go by, Jess mentions it again. I repeat that I should do something about that.
Eventually, peace and unity begin to be threatened or the sink is so bad it drains no more.
Then I fix it.
Here’s the point.
Until I take the time and put in the effort to fix the sink, it stays plugged.
Our lives are the same.
The blockage of pride requires time and effort to remove.
That’s what Paul has in view here.
Look with me at verses 16-17.
1 Corinthians 4:16–17 NKJV
16 Therefore I urge you, imitate me. 17 For this reason I have sent Timothy to you, who is my beloved and faithful son in the Lord, who will remind you of my ways in Christ, as I teach everywhere in every church.
Paul is challenging the Corinthian church to imitate him.
This is not a command.
Why is Paul telling them to imitate him?
They have become puffed up.
They are prideful.
Paul and the other apostles are suffering for Christ!
They are willingly giving up their time and comfort to reach people and minister to the body of Christ.
Paul is their spiritual father.
They need to have someone to follow, someone to imitate so they can learn the right behavior.
Paul says, follow me.
Here is the image.
A father is walking from the house to the barn in the snow.
He goes several steps when he looks back to see his young son struggling to follow him.
The father says, “Don’t try to make a new path, just step where I step.”
There are leaders and Christians who have gone before us.
Because that is true, do two things.
Follow faithful believers.
Be a believer others can follow.
Here’s the thing.
There can be no progress where there is no movement.
We have to take action.
We cannot imitate Paul or others if we are not moving!
The little boy trying to follow his Daddy will make no progress if he never leaves the porch!
He has to start following.
But, as that little boy grows, following will get easier.
We have to take action.
In verse 17 Paul tells them that Timothy is going to reteach what Paul had taught.
They cannot imitate Paul if they do not know what he did.
The little boy cannot follow his Daddy if he doesn’t know which way his daddy went!
They need to imitate Paul and to do that they need to be reminded of what he taught.
Timothy is going to come and he is going to exhort these brothers and sisters in Christ.
Paul just reminded these believers that he is their spiritual father.
Here in v. 17 he tells them he is sending his spiritual son Timothy to them.’
He refers to Timothy as a beloved and faithful son in the Lord.
He is giving the Corinthians something to strive for.
Timothy is beloved and faithful.
He is Paul’s son in the Lord.
The Corinthian’s are his children in the Lord.
Be faithful.
This has been Paul’s message since v. 2.
Look at verse 2.
1 Corinthians 4:2 NKJV
2 Moreover it is required in stewards that one be found faithful.
Timothy is going to remind the Corinthians of Paul’s ways in Christ.
“Way” is the idea of a road or path.
If they are going to imitate Paul, they need to be reminded of how he walked.
They need to be reminded of the road Paul traveled.
They also need to be reminded of His teaching.
Sometimes, to destroy pride, it isn’t new knowledge that we need.
We need to be reminded of what we already know.
Really quickly I want to summarize some Biblical truth about pride.
Pride was what caused Lucifer, whom we know as satan or the devil, to try and usurp the position of God (Isaiah 14:12-15).
God hates pride (Prov. 8:13).
Pride always brings strife (Prov. 13:10).
Destruction and failure are always proceeded by instances of pride (Prov. 16:18).
Pride ultimately results in humiliation (Prov. 29:23).
Jesus placed pride in a list of sins right along with adultery, murder, and blasphemy (Mark 7:21-22).
Pride is serious.
It must be destroyed.
To destroy pride we must grow in the Christian life.
Growth cannot happen until we listen and we take action.
As we remember the teaching and follow the example of Godly men and women, we will grow.
Here is our lesson.
Put truth into practice.
This is how we are going to grow.
We need examples to follow.
We also need to be examples to follow.
How do we know who to follow?
They need to be people who are following the truth we have been taught.
Be reminded of the truth and follow those who live it out.
To be useful for Christ and grow in our relationship with Him we need to destroy pride.
To destroy pride we need to progress in the Christian life.
Paul gives us two requirements to progress.
Requirement #1: To progress we must listen.
Requirement #2: To progress we must take action.
Our goal today is to learn how to destroy pride.
We have just learned that pride is destroyed by progress.
How else is pride destroyed?

2. Pride Is Destroyed By Power vv. 18-21

The first time I tried to clean out the drain pipe in our bathroom I made two mistakes.
First, I tried to get the gunk out with my gloved finger. That didn’t work out too good.
Second, I didn’t clean out all the pipes, just the ones I thought would have gunk in them.
I have now learned that I need to clean out all the pipes under the sink.
I have also learned that the proper tools make the process easier.
The best way to clean out some of the pipes is to go outside and use the hose with the spray nozzle attached.
Why is that best?
Because it works! It gives me the ability to actually get the pipes clean!
Paul has called the Corinthians to faithful service.
He has told them not to be puffed up.
He has educated them about what the life of an apostle is actually like.
He has encouraged them to follow his example.
What the Corinthians need is the power, the ability to accomplish these things.
If we are going to get rid of pride, we need the power, the ability to do so.
This power, this ability does not come from ourselves.
Only through dependence on the Holy Spirit can we defeat pride.
Depending on the Holy Spirit gives us the ability to live with power.
Paul wants them to live with power instead of pride.
Those who live in the power of the Spirit take three actions.
Action #1…

a. Powerful living rejects apathy v. 18

1 Corinthians 4:18 NKJV
18 Now some are puffed up, as though I were not coming to you.
This is denial.
They do not believe that Paul will come and address their issues.
Denial has led to apathy.
Notice the implication here.
If they truly believed Paul was coming, they wouldn’t be puffed up.
What does it mean to be puffed up?
Here you have a normal size puffer fish, then it inflates.
It looks a little silly, because it is.
This is what we look like when we are inflated with pride.
The Corinthian’s are walking around like this, convinced Paul will not come.
They deny he is coming. Their pride is getting in the way.
Pride in our own abilities, opinions, or status can create apathy.
When we live by the power of the Holy Spirit, there is no room for apathy.
Here’s the lesson.
Through the power of the Holy Spirit we live with passion.
Pride drives us to apathy.
The Holy Spirit inspires passion.
To destroy pride we must live by the power of the Holy Spirit.
Living by His power causes us to take three actions.
Actions #1: Powerful living rejects apathy.
Action #2…

b. Powerful living rejects boasting vv. 19-20

1 Corinthians 4:19–20 NKJV
19 But I will come to you shortly, if the Lord wills, and I will know, not the word of those who are puffed up, but the power. 20 For the kingdom of God is not in word but in power.
This word translated “power” is the Greek word Dynamis.
This word means might, strength, force, capability, or ability.
These believers were talking a good game, Paul wanted to know if their actions matched their words.
They didn’t think Paul was coming. He promised that he was coming and coming soon.
Paul inserts a 4 word phrase here that is very important.
“If the Lord wills.”
Paul’s desire was to come and spend time with the Corinthian church.
He wanted to see them growing and maturing and walking after Christ.
He wanted to see the division end!
He wanted to see a church united and pressing forward for Christ!
But more than all of that. Paul wanted God’s will to be done.
This needs to be our primary desire.
It isn’t about what I want or what you want.
Our desires are flawed by our human sinfulness.
What matters most is what God wants.
Whenever the Lord’s prayer is quoted there is this line.
Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done.
Is that really what we want?
Do we want God’s will to be done?
What if it conflicts with our will?
What if what God wants is going to be painful?
Are we willing to seek God’s will no matter what?
That is the attitude of Paul here.
Paul says he is going to come to them and know not the words of those who are prideful, but their power.
Paul already knows their words.
He knows what they have been teaching.
He wants to know their power.
They talk the talk. Do they walk the walk?
The kingdom of God isn’t about what we say but what we do.
The proud and boastful may talk a good game, but it is all talk.
There is no power.
In Mark 10 the mother of James and John comes to Jesus and ask for them to have elevated positions in the kingdom.
When the other disciples hear about it, they are upset.
Here is what Jesus says.
Mark 10:42-45
Mark 10:42–45 NKJV
42 But Jesus called them to Himself and said to them, “You know that those who are considered rulers over the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them. 43 Yet it shall not be so among you; but whoever desires to become great among you shall be your servant. 44 And whoever of you desires to be first shall be slave of all. 45 For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.”
Those who are great in God’s kingdom are not the talkers but the doers.
Jesus said to be the servant of all, that requires action.
There is no room for boasting in the life of God’s children.
It isn’t about our words. It is about our actions.
When we walk in the power of the Holy Spirit, we don’t talk ourselves up.
We desire only to see the will of God done.
Here’s the lesson.
Walk louder than you talk.
Some in the Corinthian church were talking an awful lot, but their lives didn’t demonstrate the power of the Holy Spirit.
If we are going to destroy pride, we must walk in the power of the Holy Spirit.
Living by His power causes us to take three actions.
Action #1: Powerful living rejects apathy.
Action #2: Powerful living rejects boasting.
Action #3…

c. Powerful living accepts correction v. 21

1 Corinthians 4:21 NKJV
21 What do you want? Shall I come to you with a rod, or in love and a spirit of gentleness?
Paul ends this section of his letter with two questions.
Considering everything that has just been said, this first question is interesting.
What do you want?
Paul is going to come visit them.
He is going to find out if they are all talk, or if their lives are lived with the power of the Holy Spirit.
How do they want Paul to behave when he arrives to visit them?
Do they want him to take the role of discipline? Or do they want to be discipled by him?
Paul uses the same word here for “want” as he did for God’s will in v. 19.
Paul wants God’s will to be done. What do the Corinthians want?
What do we want?
Paul is giving them an opportunity to change their behavior.
That behavior will determine his role when he arrives.
Here is the choice that lies before the Corinthians and before all of us.
Self correction or external correction.
They can heed Paul’s warning and correct themselves, or he can come and correct them.
We can correct our course or have it corrected for us.
Hebrews 12 makes it very clear that our heavenly father corrects us.
He disciplines us that we might be partakers of His holiness (12:5-11)!
However, we have the same opportunity given to the Corinthians; we can correct ourselves.
Pride brings a rod.
Humility brings love and gentleness.
Which would we rather have?
Here’s the lesson
Spiritual growth requires correction and change.
We can accept correction, humble ourselves and voluntarily make a change.
We can resist correction, remain in our pride, and be disciplined by God.
One response is motivated by submission to the Holy Spirit.
One response is motivated by selfishness and pride.
Which response will we choose?


Let’s walk through some areas of application.
Personal: On a personal and individual level the destruction of pride requires that we listen to correction and take action. We must walk and live in the power of the Holy Spirit. To do that, seek wise and godly council. Have a consistent time in the Word of God.
Relationships: As we interact with others we must be aware that pride does incredible damage to relationships. It makes us apathetic and boastful and those actions push others away. To have relationships that encourage other believers and draw unbelievers to Jesus, we need to be humble. Humility comes when we have a clear view of God and of ourselves. This view comes through the Word of God. We must get into the Word and allow it to change us. The other part to this is having people with permission to speak into our lives.
Parenting: Pride makes me a terrible parent. The worst moments on my parenting journey can be traced directly back to this sin. Has anyone else found that to be true? So, what can we do about it? We need to understand a very important truth. As a parent, my job is not to be right. My job is to point my children to Jesus. Now, that sounds overly spiritual, so let’s make it practical. In a conflict with any child, don’t try to convince them you are right. Instead, take a deep breath, and ask them questions. “Why do you think that? Is that true? What response are you expecting from me?” The most important thing we can do as parents is have a vibrant and growing walk with Christ.
Marriage: Pride destroys marriages. In marriage two sinners come together and all our baggage comes with us. We have to learn to complement one another. We must learn to bend and compromise and work together. When we are full of pride, there can be no unity, and there can be no care and support of one another. We must learn to admit our wrongs, seek forgiveness, and listen to one another. As we grow in our walk with Christ we will grow together.
One final time lets talk about our bathroom sink.
When it gets plugged up, it becomes useless to us.
The only way for usefulness to be restored is for the drain to be unstopped.
Pride is a blockage that hinders growth and prevents usefulness for Christ.
The good news is, pride can be destroyed.
The blockage can be removed.
We can become growing, useful servants of Jesus Christ.
Pride is destroyed by progress.
We progress by listening to wise council and we progress as we take action.
Pride is destroyed by power.
As we live in the power of the Holy Spirit we will reject apathy and boasting and we will accept correction.
Grow in Christ.
Be a useful servant.
Don’t hesitate. Destroy pride today.
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