Conviction Is The Goal - 14:20-25

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1 Corinthians   •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  Presented   •  47:27
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I really enjoy watching young kids play sports.
One thing that always makes it entertaining is that when they are really young, there is always a few times where they don’t know exactly what they are supposed to be doing.
I remember watching a T-ball game where this little boy was trying so hard to hit the ball, but every time he just kept hitting the tee and knocking everything over.
3 times he tried, then finally he carefully lines up the bat rears back and BAM! He hits that ball to the outfield.
He is so excited that he finally hit the ball that he takes off running, the wrong direction.
He runs from home to third and from third to second and on to first before he finally hears the coaches calling him back.
I remember watching a soccer game where this little girl was desperate to kick the ball and so when she finally got it, she kicked it the wrong direction.
A few years ago when Joseph was playing basketball, one of his teammates shot a perfect basket, into the wrong hoop.
All of these illustrate an important point.
When we don’t know the goal it is impossible to achieve it.
This is just as true in the Christian life.
If we don’t know the goal, if we don’t know why we are doing something, we will not be effective in our service for Christ!
When it comes to the use of spiritual gifts, it is vital that we know what we are meant to accomplish through them and we were are meant to serve.
In our passage Paul addresses who tongues were meant for as well as the limitations tongues have.
A spiritual gift is effective only as it is used correctly.
To use spiritual gifts correctly we must identify two areas of focus.
Using our gifts with a proper focus results in conviction and encouragement.
To use our gifts correctly we must identify two areas of focus.
Area of focus #1…

1. Know Your Who vv. 20-22

You should go say hi to your uncle _____.
That’s what my mom said to me.
Obviously she didn’t say blank because she knew who it was.
Not only did I have no idea who she was talking about, to this day I don’t even remember the name she said.
I looked around the room and had no clue who it was that I was supposed to go say hi to.
We eventually got it figured out and I met an uncle I had never met before!
The point is this, I couldn’t say hi to uncle so and so until I knew who that was.
Spiritually speaking, if we don’t know who we are trying to serve or who we are reaching out to, we cannot minister effectively to them!
I didn’t want to go say “hi uncle whoever” and have it be the wrong person!
Paul is telling the Corinthian believers that they have been trying to use their gifts to minister to the wrong people!
To use our gifts to the glory of God and the good of the church we have to know our who!
There are two actions we take to help us know our who.
Action #1…

a. Be prepared v. 20

1 Corinthians 14:20 NKJV
20 Brethren, do not be children in understanding; however, in malice be babes, but in understanding be mature.
“Brethren” is a word used to speak of our brothers and sisters in Christ.
Paul uses it here to remind the Corinthians of who they are.
They are part of the body of Christ.
They are brothers and sisters.
He is also reminding them of his care for them because he is about to speak some hard truths.
“Do not be children in understanding”
This phrase is a present imperative which means Paul is telling them to discontinue something.
He wants them to stop being children in their understanding.
Understanding – φρήν (phrēn) understanding. thinking n. — the process of using your mind to consider something carefully. Noun, dative of respect, plural, feminine.
Understanding – φρήν (phrēn)
The way that those in the Corinthian church have been thinking is childish.
They have not been considering the purpose of spiritual gifts!
They have only been thinking of personal advancement.
Personal glory.
Paul tells them to stop.
Stop thinking like children when it comes to the exercise of spiritual gifts.
Paul just said he’d rather speak 5 words with his understanding than 10,000 in an unknown tongue.
In order to talk like that, to speak with understanding, we need to grow our understanding.
We cannot use our gifts effectively if we are childish in our thinking!
How do we grow our understanding?
We get into the Word!
It is the Word of God that matures and grows us.
We must also remove hindrances.
What hinders us from gaining the understanding we need?
The deceptiveness of our own hearts.
“In malice be babes.”
Don’t be children in your understanding, but be infants in your malice.
Malice – κακία (kakia) wickedness; evil; malice. depravity (perversion) n. — the perverting of virtue and moral principles from their purposes to evil ends. Noun, dative of respect, singular, feminine.
Malice – κακία (kakia)
Again this is an imperative.
This is a command for believers!
Don’t embrace evil!
Don’t be cunning in your depravity!
When it comes to evil activities, we are to be innocent as babies.
Does that describe us?
How do we avoid being childish in our thinking?
We get into the Word.
How can we be infants in malice?
I want to look briefly at a few passages.
Go with me first to
Colossians 3:12-15
Colossians 3:12–15 NKJV
12 Therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, put on tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, longsuffering; 13 bearing with one another, and forgiving one another, if anyone has a complaint against another; even as Christ forgave you, so you also must do. 14 But above all these things put on love, which is the bond of perfection. 15 And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to which also you were called in one body; and be thankful.
How do we be infants in malice?
We are merciful, kind, meek, and patient!
We suffer long, we forgive as we have been forgiven!
We love with the love of Christ!
We embrace the peace of God in thanksgiving!
We must also confess regularly.
This has also been called keeping short accounts.
James 5:16
James 5:16 NKJV
16 Confess your trespasses to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much.
Sin thrives in darkness, drag it into the light!
Confess and pray.
1 John 1:9
1 John 1:9 NKJV
9 If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
Don’t just confess to one another, confess to God!
I think the most powerful thing we can do to be infants in our malice, to deal with the evil that resides in our own hearts is pray.
1 Thessalonians 5:17
1 Thessalonians 5:17 NKJV
17 pray without ceasing,
In every situation and in every circumstance take your burdens, trials, and joys to the Lord!
Paul ends 1 Corinthians 14:20 by issuing a third command.
“In understanding be mature.”
Mature – τέλειος (teleios) perfect; mature. spiritual mature adj. — being at an advanced stage of spiritual development; usually as a result of experience, teaching, and in most cases time. Predicate adjective, nominative, plural, masculine.
Mature – τέλειος (teleios)
This same Greek word appears in a couple other key passages.
Colossians 1:28
Colossians 1:28 NKJV
28 Him we preach, warning every man and teaching every man in all wisdom, that we may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus.
We preach Christ because it is only in and through Him that maturity is possible!
We need to be warned against bad behavior and taught what we are to think and do.
Hebrews 5:14
Hebrews 5:14 NKJV
14 But solid food belongs to those who are of full age, that is, those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil.
Maturity leads to greater responsibility.
As we grow in Christ we are expected to grow in discernment.
This is how we prepare to know our who.
First we have to think clearly.
Our thinking is transformed through the Word of God.
Second we need to behave in a way that is consistent with the character of Christ.
To be infants in malice we must forgive, confess, and pray.
The effective use of spiritual gifts requires a life of spiritual discipline.
Repeat - Read Aloud
That’s what these things are!
Being in the Word, forgiving, praying, confessing, these are spiritual disciplines.
There are two actions we take to help us know our who.
Action #1: Be prepared.
Action #2…

b. Be perceptive vv. 21-22

Paul has made it very clear that tongues were not meant for the church.
This makes us ask the question, who are they for?
Here is where Paul answers that.
Look at vv. 21-22
1 Corinthians 14:21–22 NKJV
21 In the law it is written: “With men of other tongues and other lips I will speak to this people; And yet, for all that, they will not hear Me,” says the Lord. 22 Therefore tongues are for a sign, not to those who believe but to unbelievers; but prophesying is not for unbelievers but for those who believe.
In verse 21 Paul is quoting from Isaiah 28:11 and the end of v. 12.
Isaiah is pronouncing judgment from the Lord on the nation of Israel for its disobedience.
One of the ways in which God will judge His people is with foreign nations.
Historically we know that Israel was eventually conquered and enslaved.
Over and over again, God used foreign nations to drive Israel back to Himself.
What Paul reveals here is that Isaiah’s prophecy was only partially fulfilled in the physical judgment of Israel.
From this verse in 1 Corinthians 14 we learn that there was a spiritual component as well.
At the day of Pentecost in Acts 2, languages were spoken demonstrating that God was now working with all peoples, tongues, tribes, and nations.
God was placing His plan for Israel on hold and working with the Gentiles.
Because of Israel’s rejection of Jesus the Messiah, tongues were given as a sign of God’s judgment on them.
They have to wait longer for the fulfillment of God’s promises to them.
Even when they heard people speak in languages they had never studied, they said they must be drunk.
Their hearts were hard.
They still didn’t listen.
They arrested the disciples, killed Stephen, stoned Paul, and more.
So in v. 22 Paul reveals that tongues are meant for unbelievers.
Specifically, unbelieving Israel.
v. 22 couldn’t be more clear!
Tongues are a sign for unbelievers!
Tongues are for a sign. This is why they are called sign gifts.
They had a limited time-frame and a specific purpose.
“Are” is a quality of being statement.
This is the reason tongues exist!
This is why they are.
Tongues existed to be a sign.
For who?
Unbelieving Jews.
Paul specifically contrasts believers and unbelievers here.
This is important because the gathering of the church is about believers.
Therefore, the conclusion Paul is driving us toward is the same one he hinted at in v. 19.
In the church, it is better to proclaim the Word of God than to speak in tongues.
Tongues were never meant to be a sign to believers.
This is what they are often treated as today.
They are called a sign of the Holy Spirit’s filling.
They are held by many to be a sign of God’s blessing and of spiritual maturity.
Paul denies all of that here.
Tongues are a sign for unbelievers.
Prophecy, however, the teaching of the Word of God and the will of God is not for unbelievers.
Why not?
Look back at 1 Corinthians 2:14.
1 Corinthians 2:14
1 Corinthians 2:14 NKJV
14 But the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.
Proclaiming the truth of God’s Word has no benefit for those who do not have the Holy Spirit within them.
What they need is the gospel.
Once they have trusted in Jesus, then the Word of God will be opened to them.
Now, remember Paul’s point.
Spiritual gifts are for the benefit of the church.
Tongues was never intended to be a permanent gift.
The purpose of tongues was to be a sign to unbelievers, specifically the Jews.
Therefore, tongues do not benefit the church as much as other spiritual gifts.
With all that being true, It is the preaching and teaching of God’s Word that should have the primary place in the gathering of the church.
To know our who we must be perceptive.
We must know who our who is and who it is not.
Tongues are a sign for unbelievers, prophecy is for believers.
The effective use of a spiritual gift is focused on the benefit of others.
Repeat - Read Aloud
If we do not care to benefit others, we are not using our spiritual gift correctly.
The Corinthian church got it wrong.
They cared more about self promotion than the health of the church or the salvation of the lost.
To use our spiritual gifts correctly we identify 2 areas of focus.
Area of focus #1: Know your who.
Area of focus #2…

2. Know Your How vv. 23-25

Ring game.
This is one of those things that seems really complicated until you know the solution.
Once you know the solution, it is easy.
You have to know how to solve the puzzle for the puzzle to make sense.
Knowing how to do something is the key to accomplishing a task.
If someone were to tell me to paint a picture, it probably never get done because I don’t really know how to paint.
We have to know how to do something if we are going to do it.
Paul has made it clear that preaching is for the church and tongues are for unbelievers.
Now he is going to make clear how preaching benefits both believers and unbelievers.
To know how we to use our gifts we need two things.
First we need to…

a. Be aware v. 23

1 Corinthians 14:23 NKJV
23 Therefore if the whole church comes together in one place, and all speak with tongues, and there come in those who are uninformed or unbelievers, will they not say that you are out of your mind?
When the whole assembly assembles, what should we do?
That is the question Paul is answering.
He is also addressing the practice of the Corinthian church.
The implication of this verse is that this is how they have been using tongues.
They have been gathering together and everyone has spoken in tongues.
The first part of this verse is all well and good.
We are called by God to assemble as a church.
Hebrews 10:24-25
Hebrews 10:24–25 NKJV
24 And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, 25 not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching.
So they are being obedient in their gathering, however, just gathering is not all the verse says, is it?
We are to stir one another up to love and good works!
We are to exhort one another!
Tongues that are not understood cannot accomplish these tasks!
More than that, Paul calls the Corinthians to be aware of the impact tongues could have on others.
Paul is introducing a hypothetical situation.
The church has gathered and everyone is speaking in tongues.
Now remember, the spiritual gift of tongues is always a real spoken language.
However, Paul made it clear in Ch. 12 that not everyone has the same gift.
This means that some in the Corinthian church were faking it.
They were speaking gibberish.
Some likely had the real gift of tongues and some did not.
Because of the extreme emphasis placed on tongues by the Corinthian church, people felt that they needed to fake it to be accepted.
Does that sound familiar?
Into this situation walk two people, one an unbeliever, the other someone who is new to the church and doesn’t know much about spiritual gifts.
They come in and everyone is speaking at the same time.
Some speaking a different language, some speaking gibberish.
What conclusion would they come to?
These are crazy people!
There is something terribly wrong here!
They are insane, crazy, uncontrolled lunatics!
We might be tempted to laugh, but really we should weep!
The purpose of the church is to equip, build up, and strengthen the saints.
Chaos does not do that!
If an unbeliever walks into the church, they shouldn’t walk out thinking we are insane!
Conviction is the goal.
To bring conviction we must not bring confusion.
Leaving someone questioning our sanity is not going to bring them to Christ!
It is not going to build them up!
When used correctly, our spiritual gifts point people to Jesus.
Repeat - Read Aloud
If the use of your spiritual gift isn’t pointing people to Jesus, it is not being used correctly.
We need to be aware of how our behavior is impacting others.
We must remember who we represent.
To know how we to use our gifts we need two things.
First we need to be aware.
Second we need to…

b. Be able vv. 24-25

1 Corinthians 14:24–25 NKJV
24 But if all prophesy, and an unbeliever or an uninformed person comes in, he is convinced by all, he is convicted by all. 25 And thus the secrets of his heart are revealed; and so, falling down on his face, he will worship God and report that God is truly among you.
Still speaking hypothetically, Paul presents an alternative scenario.
He starts v. 24 with a word of contrast.
He is setting up an opposite to what was just said.
If these same two people walk in to a gathering of the church and instead of speaking in languages and gibberish, everyone is proclaiming the Word of God, the outcome will be much different.
What is the outcome in this scenario?
Being convinced and convicted.
Let’s look at these two words.
Convinced – ἐλέγχομαι (elenchomai) expose; reprove; convict. to be convicted v. — to be proven or shown to be guilty. Finite verb, present, passive, indicative, third person, singular.
Convinced – ἐλέγχομαι (elenchomai)
This would probably be better translated with the word “convicted.”
Convicted – ἀνακρίνομαι (anakrinomai) examine; judge; question. to be evaluated v. — to be subject to the critical scrutiny of another. Finite verb, present, passive, indicative, third person, singular.
Convicted – ἀνακρίνομαι (anakrinomai)
ESV and NASB both translate this as “called to account.”
The idea is that when the Word of God is proclaimed we are convicted, shown to be guilty, and we are judged.
It is not just that we are guilty, it’s that we are condemned as well.
Scripture lays this out clearly.
Romans 3:10-12, 23; 6:23
Romans 3:10–12 NKJV
10 As it is written: “There is none right