Act Your Age

1 Corinthains  •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  Presented   •  26:03
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Our Scripture lesson this morning is from 1 Corinthians 3:1-9:
1 Corinthians 3:1–9 ESV
But I, brothers, could not address you as spiritual people, but as people of the flesh, as infants in Christ. I fed you with milk, not solid food, for you were not ready for it. And even now you are not yet ready, for you are still of the flesh. For while there is jealousy and strife among you, are you not of the flesh and behaving only in a human way? For when one says, “I follow Paul,” and another, “I follow Apollos,” are you not being merely human? What then is Apollos? What is Paul? Servants through whom you believed, as the Lord assigned to each. I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth. So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth. He who plants and he who waters are one, and each will receive his wages according to his labor. For we are God’s fellow workers. You are God’s field, God’s building.
There is nothing more beautiful than a newborn infant. Everyone loves a baby!
On the other hand, there is nothing uglier than a grown man or woman acting like an infant. Imagine a thirty-year-old man, not talking but only crying. Eating only from a bottle, and refusing to walk. This would not be cute it would be disgusting!
This disgusting image, is what Paul says the Corinthians were like. They took great pride in their intellectual prowess, they loved sophisticated ideas and speakers, however, in acting like this, Paul was saying that they were acting like “big babies”!
The marks of spiritual maturity and immaturity are not what we would expect. In the world, maturity is something we accomplish. In the Kingdom of God, maturity is something God accomplishes for us through the work of Jesus Christ and the power of the Holy Spirit. Consequently, if you are a born again believer, you are already mature in Christ!

You Are Mature in Christ

Paul has just said this in 1 Corinthians 2:6.
1 Corinthians 2:6 ESV
Yet among the mature we do impart wisdom, although it is not a wisdom of this age or of the rulers of this age, who are doomed to pass away.
Who are the mature? It is those who accept the message of “Christ and Him crucified” in faith.
Too many believers underestimate what Christ has accomplished upon the cross. Earlier in the service today, we confessed our faith using the Westminster Shorter Catechism, Q & A 32; which asks, “What benefits do they that are effectually called partake of in this life?” One of the proof texts given in the Catechism is 1 Corinthians 1:26, 30. Verse 26 speaks of our effectual calling:
1 Corinthians 1:26 ESV
For consider your calling, brothers: not many of you were wise according to worldly standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth.
Then after several verses, Paul list some of the benefits:
1 Corinthians 1:30 ESV
And because of him you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, righteousness and sanctification and redemption,
Notice the three benefits listed: righteousness, sanctification and redemption. These are all things Christ has accomplished for you. If you are in Christ, you ARE righteous. This is what we call justification. If you are in Christ, you ARE sanctified. In other words, God sets you apart as holy and someday when you are glorified, you will be perfectly holy. Finally, if you are in Christ, you ARE redeemed. In other words, you have been ransomed out of the family of Satan, and adopted into the family of God!
In Ephesians 2, we read these amazing words:
Ephesians 2:4–6 ESV
But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus,
When Paul says God has “raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus”, he is not speaking of our physical position, but rather our position spiritually. When the New Testament speaks of Christian growth, it is not speaking of a process by which we attain maturity by our own effort, but rather it is speaking of the process by we conform our lives to the status Christ has already obtained for us by His death upon the cross!
What Paul is saying is this; by virtue the regenerating and illuminating power of the Holy Spirit, the Corinthian believers were already mature. Proof of their maturity is they were now wise in the wisdom of God—they placed their faith in Christ and Him crucified.
Sadly, all too often we fail to live up to our new reality in Christ, we still conform ourselves to the world and in so doing we are acting like big babies!
This brings us to the second point:

You Can Act Immaturely by Conforming to the World

In the opening verses of chapter three, Paul confronts the Corinthians with their spiritual immaturity. In vs. 1, he calls them “infants in Christ”. In vs. 2, Paul says he had to feed them “milk, not solid food” when he first came to them, and now, years later he still does!
Why are they still spiritually immature? They are spiritually immature because they are “people of the flesh” (vs. 2 & 3) and this is evidenced in the fact that “there is jealousy and strife among them” (vs. 3). In vs. 3, Paul says they are “behaving only in a human way” and in vs. 4, that they are “being merely human”.
When we conform our minds and behavior to the standards of this world we are not conforming to our blood bought status in Christ Jesus!
Brother and sisters, this is not mere unnecessary, it is ugly! It is like an grown man or woman acting like a baby!
This is why Paul has spent the last two chapters condemning the use of worldly wisdom and methods in the Church, not only are they ineffective, they are harmful because they make us into spiritual infants! This is clearly seen in the next paragraph (vs. 5-9), where we learn that we grow prow by the Power of God, not man.

You Grow by the Power of God, Not Man

Their party spirit was causing all the “jealousy and strife” among them and so, Paul asks the Corinthians a simple question, “What then is Apollos? What is Paul?” The answer is simple but profound, “Servants through whom you believed”.
Paul goes on to say that God assigned Paul the task of planting and Apollos the task of watering. In other words, Paul was a missionary/church planter and Apollos was a pastor who watered the newly planted seed with preaching and teaching; but then Paul says something shocking:
1 Corinthians 3:7 ESV
So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth.
In other words, this process of conforming our minds and actions to the maturity Christ has won for us upon the cross, is the work of God, not man. Salvation from beginning to end is a work of God the Father through Christ Jesus.
Some of you might be asking at this point, “what of all those passages in the New Testament that exhort us to strive and labor; even comparing the Christian life to a race or battle?”
God forbid that I contradict Scripture and I am convinced I am not. Consider this, what kind of race is God calling us to run and what type of battle is God calling us to fight. Is it a race or battle in which the outcome is in question, or is it a race and battle which we are destined to win?
The American soldiers who fought in the Philippines in 1942 fought very differently than the soldiers who found in 1944. The soldiers who fought in 1942 were all on their own. Their weapons were outdated, their supplies were running out and they were cut off from the home front. They fought hard and bravely, but in the end, the Japanese overwhelmed them.
Now consider the American soldiers who fought in the Philippines in 1944. Now the tables were turned, now the Japanese were cut off from the home front, their weapons were outdated and their supplies were running out. America enjoyed an overwhelming superiority on the land, on the sea and in the air. These soldiers fought just as hard and bravely, but they fought knowing they were destined to win.
Brothers and sisters, we need to labor, run and fight with all our strength, but we must do so as those who know they are destined to win! Christ has won the decisive battle upon the cross two thousand years ago; everything from our predestination to our glorification was accomplished for us by Christ upon the cross!
The spiritual battlefield is no place for infants, only the spiritually mature can stand against Satan and the forces of evil, so put on the full armor of God, because it is only by the power of God that you can stand!
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