Designed By God - 11:2-16

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1 Corinthians   •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  Presented   •  49:51
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Here I have a cheese grater, and a can opener.
Let me tell you about them.
Cheese grater - two different size grater. lid. easy to clean.
Can opener - soft grip handle. Easy turn. sharp blades. can opener.
Now, the big question.
Which one is better?
It’s an impossible question, isn’t it?
Because the answer depends on several things.
It depends on what you want to do.
It may also depend on whether you are a cheese grater or a can opener!
The bottom line is that these two items have a different role and function.
This means that it isn’t about which one is better, it’s about the purpose for which they were created.
The reality is that these both have a designer who made them intentionally and purposefully for a specific task.
They will function best when used for that purpose and in the accomplishment of that task.
The same is true of you and me.
As men and women we have been created by God.
We have been designed by Him intentionally for a specific role and purpose.
We will function best when we live out that role and purpose.
It is this idea, the roles of men and women, that is at the heart of our passage today.
Nothing difficult today, just a nice simple countercultural nuclear bomb.
For the Church to be healthy we must fulfill our God-given roles.
To fulfil our roles must ground ourselves on three truths.
When the Church is healthy the Church is effective.
In our outline of the book we are now entering a new section.
Unity Through A Proper Understanding Of Roles
3 truths we must know to fulfill our God-given roles.
Truth #1…

1. Our Roles Have A Source vv. 2-6

In my home town the tap water is amazing.
Everyone drinks it.
We love getting to have some of that Burney water when we are there.
What makes the water so amazing is that it comes from a natural spring.
That’s right, the water you pay someone to bottle is what came out of my tap growing up.
The water was good because it came from a good source.
We must understand that our roles as men and women come from a good source.
There are two ideas that help us grasp this idea of the source of our roles.
Idea #1…

a. God prescribes vv. 2-3

1 Corinthians 11:2 NKJV
2 Now I praise you, brethren, that you remember me in all things and keep the traditions just as I delivered them to you.
Paul is still dealing with our freedom in Christ, here he is dealing with it as it applies to gender roles.
So this is not a new question, but a new consideration within the question about Christian liberty.
Paul begins this section by praising them. Why?
He has said hard things and will say more hard things.
Correction needs to be mixed with praise.
A little later in this chapter, Paul will specifically not praise them.
Paul refers to them again as “brethren” grounding this discussion as a family meeting.
Why is Paul praising them here?
Two reasons.
1 - They remember Paul.
2 - They keep the traditions.
Paul just said in the previous verse that they need to imitate him.
I believe he is indicating here that they are taking steps in that direction.
They are remembering him, who he is, how he behaved, what he taught.
They are also keeping the traditions.
When Paul refers to traditions, he is referencing the revealed truth of Scripture.
They did not have the completed canon of Scripture at this time.
The Corinthian church is striving to keep what they have been taught, but they have questions and they have some areas in which they need correction.
“Traditions” here are best understood as the revealed truths that would later make up the canon of Scripture.
What is interesting here is that they are keeping them just as Paul delivered them.
There is no deviation or twisting.
There are, however, some areas where their understanding is incomplete.
That is what Paul needs to address.
This reminds us of an important point.
What we are about to study is not Paul’s opinion or, as some have claimed, “the misogynist dictates of an ancient culture.”
This is the revealed Word of God. This is Scripture.
Look at v. 3.
1 Corinthians 11:3 NKJV
3 But I want you to know that the head of every man is Christ, the head of woman is man, and the head of Christ is God.
The Corinthian believers have done well in their remembrance of Paul and their holding fast to the traditions.
However, there is something they need to know.
Paul is correcting an error in their thinking.
Without getting too far into the grammatical weeds let me just note that the understanding of the second two statements in this verse hinges on the understanding of the first.
This means that it is vital for us to understand the phrase “the head of every man is Christ.”
There is a lot of contention about this verse and I think we can clear the air a little bit this morning.
The sense in which Christ is our head is the same sense in which the man is the head of his wife and the way God is the head of Christ.
Therefore, the question becomes, what does it mean for Christ to be our head?
To answer that, go with me to Ephesians 5:25-30.
Ephesians 5:25-30
Ephesians 5:25–30 NKJV
25 Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her, 26 that He might sanctify and cleanse her with the washing of water by the word, 27 that He might present her to Himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that she should be holy and without blemish. 28 So husbands ought to love their own wives as their own bodies; he who loves his wife loves himself. 29 For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as the Lord does the church. 30 For we are members of His body, of His flesh and of His bones.
There is, of course, a sense in which Christ is our authority.
But that is not all Christ is!
Men, to be the head of our wives, the head of our family means sacrifice!
It means we nourish, cherish, and protect!
It means we love unconditionally as Christ loves us!
Christ is our head, we submit ourselves to Him just as He submitted Himself to the Father.
When a man is walking in submission to Christ, he is then a fitting head for his wife.
This is the order that God has ordained.
Now, before anyone gets bent out of shape, we must understand that the headship of a husband is not about who is better, it is about role and function.
To illustrate that, let me quote from a pastor friend of mine named Rick Gregory. In teaching on this passage he noted six truths relating to the equality of men and women.

a) Women stand before God as equal to men, being made in His image.

b) Women are fellow heirs of the grace of life, not second class citizens of God’s Kingdom – cp. 1 Peter 3:7

c) Women are as fully gifted by the Holy Spirit and empowered by Him to do God’s will as men are – cp. Ephesians 5:15-21

d) Women shared in the early church’s struggle for the progress of the Gospel – Philippians 4:1-3, and will continue in that same struggle in the church today.

e) Women fulfill a vital part of the ministry in the work of building God’s church.

f) Believers must hold every woman who serves her Lord Jesus Christ and His church in the highest regard.

This is the truth about women.
Paul does not write this verse to give permission to treat women poorly or as second class citizens.
Paul wants the Corinthians to understand the truth revealed by God.
Men and women are equal in value but different in role and function.
Every relationship has distinct roles and functions. This is part of creation and even part of the God-head.
This reality tells us that what is being discussed here is not importance or value, it is function.
God the Father and God the Son and God the Holy Spirit are co-equal, however, they also have a structural function where the Father sends the Son and the Father and Son send the Spirit.
So, when we step back and look at the big picture this is what we see.
God has designed men and women to function together in specific roles as equals.
God’s design is for the men to lead as Christ leads, with loving, gracious, service.
This is the principle Paul is laying out.
We have been designed by God as men and women, as husbands and wives, to function in specific roles.
I have a God given role and function.
God prescribes. He has designed us and given us a role and function.
Christ is the head of man, man the head of woman, God the head of Christ.
This idea of headship sets up Paul’s specific argument for the next few verses.
Our roles have a source. That source is first and foremost God Himself.
God prescribes.
Idea #2…

b. Culture expresses vv. 4-6

In these next few verses we have a back and forth between a physical and spiritual head.
1 Corinthians 11:4 NKJV
4 Every man praying or prophesying, having his head covered, dishonors his head.
When the physical head of a man is covered and he prays and prophesies, he dishonors his spiritual head.
According to v. 3 his spiritual head is Christ.
Why is this an issue? Why does it matter for a man to be covered?
Because of the culture.
The culture of that time had women covered and men not.
Therefore, the issue here really isn’t about the head covering at all!
The issue is that men need to look like men and women like women!
The issue is that when men are praying (speaking to God) or prophesying (speaking to men about God), they need to look like men!
They need to demonstrate their submission to Christ by submitting to their God-given role as men.
The interesting thing here is that the Christian practice stands in contrast to the Jewish custom.
The Jewish custom was for men to have something on their head.
They formed a new Christian culture and custom.
Look at v. 5.
1 Corinthians 11:5 NKJV
5 But every woman who prays or prophesies with her head uncovered dishonors her head, for that is one and the same as if her head were shaved.
To be uncovered was like having a shaved head.
A shaved head in that culture for a woman was to be like a prostitute.
Hopefully we can all understand that for a woman to be a prostitute is a dishonor.
It is specifically a dishonor to her husband or father because they have the God-given responsibility to protect and provide for her.
To help us understand we need to know what was going on in Corinth.
The Corinthian believers were caught in the pendulum effect.
Here’s what I mean.
When we first grasp a truth of Scripture, the temptation is to swing on a pendulum away from whatever we previously believed.
For example, consider what Paul has just been discussing, meat offered to idols.
They learned of their freedom in Christ and some swung so far as to eat meat in the temple of idols!
They took the Biblical principle a little too far.
The same thing was happening here.
Because men and women are one in Christ Jesus and co-heirs with Christ. Because men and woman are equal in the blood of Jesus, some believers in Corinth swung the pendulum to mean that distinctions between male and female were no longer important.
Paul is writing here to bring the pendulum back into balance.
When - in prayer or prophesy. Physical and spiritual head in view. - SIDE NOTE = women were expected to pray and prophesy.
They could have leadership roles in churches just not authoritative roles eg: elder.
Look at v. 6.
1 Corinthians 11:6 NKJV
6 For if a woman is not covered, let her also be shorn. But if it is shameful for a woman to be shorn or shaved, let her be covered.
This is obviously cultural.
Here is the issue.
In Paul’s day, a woman covering her head was an indication that she was married, that she was identifying as a woman, and that she was taking her place in the role God had given her.
All of these things were indicated by the head covering.
It was a big deal.
However, the issue is not about the covering per say.
The bigger issue is of submission to the authority of Christ and to God-given roles and functions.
Let’s take the question head on.
Should women be wearing head coverings today?
Why not?
Because that is not how submission to Christ and God-given roles is signified in our culture.
Added to this fact is that we have no idea what the head coverings were.
God prescribes roles for men and women.
We are designed by God with different roles and functions.
Some of the expression of those roles will be derived from culture.
To be clear: Our roles as men and women are given by God. Some of the expression of those roles can be determined by the culture.
This is where it becomes a Christian liberty issue.
Are we willing to limit our freedom to keep a good testimony in our culture?
I represent Christ to the culture.
Represent Him well.
If we are going to fulfuill our God-given roles we need to know 3 truths.
Truth #1 - Our Roles Have A Source. That source is God.
Truth #2…

2. Our Roles Make Us Strong vv. 7-12

Have you ever used something for a purpose its maker never intended?
Remember our cheese grater and can opener?
Let’s get those out again and try something.
Grate the cheese with the can opener.