To Avoid Confusion (part 1) - 14:26-33

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1 Corinthians   •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  Presented   •  42:23
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There is an interesting phenomena associated with motherhood.
We call it Mom brain.
Mom brain is why you can’t remember that you told your child to do 5 different things in the space of 3 minutes.
Mom brain is why you try to say a sentence and it comes out all backwards and twisted.
Mom brain is why you look at your child and emphatically tell them to brush their hands and wash their teeth only to be frustrated by the confused look on their faces.
In short Mom brain often leads to confusion.
This usually happens most when we are tired, stressed, or just overwhelmed.
All things that tend to come with motherhood.
When there is adequate rest, decreased stress, and solutions to problems, the confusion lessens.
My point is that there are ways to avoid confusion.
This is true in the spiritual realm as well.
The best solution to confusion is focus and clarity.
To avoid confusion we are given three priorities.
Lives are changed when communication is clear.
Three priorities to avoid confusion.
Priority #1…

1. Maintain Proper Order vv. 26-33

I like things organized.
At least I used to, before we had kids.
Once upon a time, I had all my DVD’s alphabetized. My books were sorted by author then by series.
Back when people used to keep CD’s in book like cases I even had those alphabetized by artist.
I did this because it was easier to locate what I wanted.
The problem was that if you bought something new, the entire system had to be shuffled and reordered.
Over the years I have not had the time or energy to keep up with this system, the result is that things are now way more difficult to find.
When things stay in order, their function is enhanced.
In the exercise of Spiritual gifts, it is essential that we use them in an orderly fashion.
To maintain proper order in the use of Spiritual gifts, there are some things we need to know.

a. Know the goal v. 26

1 Corinthians 14:26 NKJV
26 How is it then, brethren? Whenever you come together, each of you has a psalm, has a teaching, has a tongue, has a revelation, has an interpretation. Let all things be done for edification.
This verse comes immediately after Paul demonstrated how prophecy is superior to tongues in the corporate gathering of the church.
He has presented the ideal.
When the Church gathers, teach the Word.
When we do, sinners are convicted and saints are edified.
The way Paul starts this verse lets us know that he is addressing a problem.
The Corinthians have been getting this wrong.
“Come together” is the idea of assembling.
When the Corinthian church has been gathering together, they have not been doing what Paul just described!
Instead, everyone has tried to speak.
They’ve been quoting from the psalms, or giving a teaching, or speaking in tongues, or speaking through revelation, or interpreting tongues.
When Paul writes that “each of you” have been doing this, here’s the idea.
Literally every single member of the Corinthian congregation had something they wanted to share each meeting.
Paul has already addressed the conflict, disunity, and discord present in this church.
Now we are seeing there was competition as well.
Everyone had something to say.
But there was a problem.
Their focus was wrong.
How do we know that?
Because of how the verse ends.
Let all things be done for edification.
This is an imperative.
It is a command.
The fact that Paul has to command it indicates that it has not been happening!
They have been missing the whole point of gathering together as the body of Christ!
We have looked at this word “edification” before but here is a reminder.
Edification – οἰκοδομή (oikodomē) edification; building. building up n. — the act of bringing something closer to fullness or completion; understood as if assisting in the construction of an incomplete building. Noun (prepositional object), accusative, singular, feminine.
Edification – οἰκοδομή (oikodomē)
This is the goal of using our spiritual gifts.
This is the goal of meeting together as a church!
We want to build one another up!
Everything is to be done for edification.
The implication here is that they had a different purpose in the things they were doing.
What purpose? Considering the things listed, psalm, teaching, tongue, revelation, interpretation; they wanted to be noticed.
Edification is the goal.
Not personal advancement.
Getting your gift out there for others to see is not as important as building up the body of Christ.
To avoid confusion, and maintain proper order, we must know the goal.
The Church gathers to build up the Body of Christ.
Repeat - Read Aloud
This is what we are to do!
Paul’s point is not that psalms, teaching, languages, revelation, and interpretation are wrong.
His point is that our motivation matters.
Doing good things for the wrong reason makes it wrong for us.
To maintain proper order in the use of Spiritual gifts, we must
#1: Know the goal.

b. Know the limits vv. 27-32

We are about to see the limitations placed by God on the use of tongues and prophecy.
With that in mind we must understand that much of what passes for speaking in tongues today is rendered illegitimate by what we are about to read.
That does not mean that people who practice speaking in tongues contrary to what is described here are not believers.
It does, however, mean they have been deceived.
Look with me at verses 27-28.
1 Corinthians 14:27–28 NKJV
27 If anyone speaks in a tongue, let there be two or at the most three, each in turn, and let one interpret. 28 But if there is no interpreter, let him keep silent in church, and let him speak to himself and to God.
A few points of clarification.
1 - The Biblical use of tongues always refers to a real known and spoken language.
2 - As we explained in Ch. 13, the gift of speaking in tongues ended before the completion of Scripture.
3 - IF tongues continued, we do not believe they did, but IF they did, this is how they were to be exercised.
Verse 27 could be translated, if anyone speaks in a language.
How were they to do it?
2 or 3 at the most, taking turns, and 1 interpreter.
Not 1 interpreter per speaker, 1 interpreter period.
If there is no interpreter, be silent in the church.
If there is no interpreter, only speak to yourself and God.
Because Without an interpreter there is no ability to edify the church!
The whole purpose of the church gathering is to edify!
If you cannot speak and build up your brothers and sisters in Christ, be silent!
Paul gives us limits here.
Parameters around the use of tongues and prophecy.
Anything that falls outside of this is illegitimate.
In a church setting, if more than three people speak in tongues, they have crossed the Biblical line!
If there is no interpreter, there can be no tongues speaking!
If they do not take turns, meaning everyone talking at once, they are engaging in disobedience to the Word of God and they are sinning.
The bigger issue here is that tongues have ceased.
They were given as a sign of the gospel going to all nations.
They were given as a sign of judgment on Israel which would have ended in AD 70 with the destruction of the temple.
They were given to authenticate the ministry of the apostles.
John died in AD 90 so if nothing else, tongues would have ceased with his death.
With all of that in mind we come to the following conclusion.
The modern practice of speaking in tongues directly violates the Word of God.
It does so in three ways.
1 - It violates the understanding that tongues have ceased.
2 - It is not real languages so it cannot be the Biblical gift.
3 - It is not done one at a time and with an interpreter.
That sums up Paul’s teaching on tongues here in 1 Corinthians.
Now he turns to prophecy.
Look with me at 1 Corinthians 14:29-32.
1 Corinthians 14:29–32 NKJV
29 Let two or three prophets speak, and let the others judge. 30 But if anything is revealed to another who sits by, let the first keep silent. 31 For you can all prophesy one by one, that all may learn and all may be encouraged. 32 And the spirits of the prophets are subject to the prophets.
Again we have a limitation, only 2 or 3 were allowed to speak.
Here we find an interesting statement.
“and let the others judge.”
Judge – διακρίνω (diakrinō) waver; doubt. to evaluate discerningly v. — to evaluate by recognizing or perceiving differences. Finite verb, present, active, imperative, third person, plural.
Judge – διακρίνω (diakrinō)
As one prophet is speaking, all others with that spiritual gift are to be judging the speaker.
This speaks of a discerning evaluation.
They don’t just get to say whatever they want!
Anything said by a prophet must conform itself to the Word of God.
If something is revealed to another prophet, the first stops speaking.
The idea here seems to be that the first speaker was relaying something previously revealed when the Lord gives a message to someone while the church is gathered.
In that situation, the message given in the moment is to have priority.
Now, as we noted in Ch. 13, this type of prophecy ceased with the completion of Scripture.
God has already said everything He needs and wants to say.
The function of modern prophets is to proclaim the truth of God’s Word.
Paul explains in v. 31 that, just like with tongues, prophets take turns.
So all can learn and be encouraged.
Implied here is that if there is no order and no rules there will be discouragement and a lack of learning.
This is what the teaching and preaching of the Word of God is intended to do!
Learn – μανθάνω (manthanō) learn. to learn (knowledge) v. — to gain knowledge or skills. Finite verb, present, active, subjunctive, third person, plural.
Learn – μανθάνω (manthanō)
Encouraged – παρακαλέω (parakaleō) urge; implore; exhort. to be exhorted v. — to be or become earnestly supported or encouraged for a response or action. Finite verb, present, passive, subjunctive, third person, plural.
Encouraged – παρακαλέω (parakaleō)
We do not simply give inspiring talks at church.
We teach.
However, we are not simply imparting information.
We are encouraging.
Every time we come together, the goal is for there to be learning and exhorting, urging to change our behavior to more closely mirror that of Christ!
These limitations are put into place to ensure that the body of Christ is exhorted, encouraged, and edified.
Because if we are not, we fail to function as Christ has designed!
Finally, Paul informs us that those who proclaim God’s truth are subject to one another.
Scripture gives us tools for the evaluation of prophets.
If they consistently foretell things that do not happen or declare things that are not true, they are to be removed.
Those claim to speak from God are to hold one another accountable.
These are the limitations.
Anything outside of what we have seen here is not a legitimate use of spiritual gifts.
Spiritual gifts strengthen and equip the body of Christ.
Repeat - Read Aloud
If that isn’t happening, the gifts are not being used correctly.
Gifts are wonderful things, but they have limits.
Violating those limits has consequences.
We must be careful to exercise our gifts within the limits set by God.
To maintain proper order in the use of Spiritual gifts, we must
#1: Know the goal.
#2: Know the limits.

c. Know the outcome v. 33

1 Corinthians 14:33 NKJV
33 For God is not the author of confusion but of peace, as in all the churches of the saints.
Why is all of this to be done?
Why all the limitations on speaking in tongues and prophecy?
God is not the author of confusion.
“Author” is added by the translators of the NKJV.
ESV, NASB = God is not the God of confusion.
NIV = God is not the God of disorder.
This verse is the key to understanding this section.
Not just what we have already looked at, but what comes next.
If everyone is speaking in tongues all at once, it’s confusion.
If there is no interpreter, it’s confusion.
If prophets are talking at once, it’s confusion.
If every single person present wants to have their turn on the stage, it’s confusion.
God is not the God of confusion!
Confusion – ἀκαταστασία (akatastasia) disorder; insurrection. upheaval n. — a state of violent group disturbance and disorder; especially as in politics or social conditions generally. Noun, qualitative genitive, singular, feminine.
Confusion – ἀκαταστασία (akatastasia)
This is where our title comes from.
What Paul wants is to avoid confusion.
Because confusion benefits no one!
There is a result, an outcome, that God desires.
Look at the verse again.
Peace. That is the outcome God desires.
When the above rules are not followed the result is confusion.
This confusion does not come from God.
It comes from human sinfulness and Satanic attack.
That will never lead to peace!
When we do things God’s way in submission to the Holy Spirit, there is peace in all the churches.
There is also a reminder here for the Corinthians.
Everyone is following these rules.
They were the exception.
The other churches were walking in submission to the Holy Spirit and were at peace.
The conflict and chaos in the Corinthian church was present because they were walking in disobedience!
If they want unity, they must submit to the Holy Spirit and be obedient.
Submission and obedience bring peace.
Repeat - Read Aloud
This is the opposite of what we think.
The opposite of human nature.
We think that freedom and independence will bring peace.
They don’t. Getting my way and doing my own thing leaves me in bondage to selfishness.
When I submit myself to the Holy Spirit and walk in obedience to Christ and His Word, that is when I find peace.
To avoid confusion we are given three priorities.
Priority #1: Maintain proper order.
Priority #2…

2. Maintain Proper Roles vv. 34-35

In our culture and world today there exist words that are loaded with meaning they did not previously have.
“Patriarchy” is one example.
This word used to mean “a system of society or government in which the father or eldest male is head of the family and descent is traced through the male line.”
Bing search result powered by Oxford dictionary. Accessed 2/12/2022
Now its most common usage is “a social system in which men hold primary power and predominate in roles of political leadership, moral authority, social privilege and control of property.” Accessed 2/12/2022
Patriarchy has become a word loaded with seemingly sinister meaning.
It is used to refer to female oppression by males and reflects distrust and fear of men especially in positions of leadership.
The difficulty lies in the reality that for many years, there was inequality and oppression of women. In some places, this is still the case.
However, our natural reaction when faced with a system we disagree with is to swing the pendulum the complete opposite direction.
That is what we see taking place in our society.
Christians have often been accused of patriarchy.
Unfortunately, these accusations have far too often been grounded in fact.
Historically, there has been a patriarchal attitude in the church.
However, as we seek to correct that error, we must be careful not to swing the pendulum to the other extreme.
Our best resource to guard against extremism on either side is a proper understanding of the Word of God.
When handled correctly, Scripture offers clarity and guidance on the issue of gender roles.
While the teaching of Scripture may still not be popular or in agreement with society, it comes from the loving heart of our good God.
Understanding is needed to maintain proper roles.
What do we need to understand?
First we must…

a. Understand the roles v. 34

1 Corinthians 14:34 NKJV
34 Let your women keep silent in the churches, for they are not permitted to speak; but they are to be submissive, as the law also says.
Before we all get bent out of shape, before Paul is accused of misogyny and chauvinism, before any of that, we need to remember what Paul has been talking about.
He has just finished explaining that when God’s rules are not followed, there is confusion.
The Corinthian church was not following God’s rules, that is why Paul sent them this letter of correction.
When tongues are practiced improperly, there is confusion.
When prophets speak improperly and out of turn, there is confusion.
In the same way…
When men and women reject the role and place God has given to them, there is confusion.
The first half of this verse hits pretty hard.
Women are to be silent, they are not permitted to speak.
This is a blunt statement that must be viewed in light of what has already been revealed.
With that in mind, go back with me to 11:5.
1 Corinthians 11:5
What we pointed out when explaining this verse is that women were praying and prophesying in the church!
Scripture gives us several examples of female prophets.
Miriam in Exodus 15:20.
Deborah in Judges 4:4.
Huldah in 2 Kings 22:14.
An unnamed woman in Isaiah 8:3.
Anna in Luke 2:36.
Philips daughters in Acts 21:9.
In light of these things it is very important for us to understand what Paul is not saying.
He is not saying that women cannot speak at all in the gathering of the church.
He is not saying that they must maintain absolute silence when the body assembles.
vv. 34-35 must be understood in the context.
Consider Paul’s topic.
The nature of tongues and prophecy is revelation.
Revelation is instruction or preaching.
Paul is discussing what should and shouldn’t happen in the preaching portion of the service.
In that portion of the service, women are to be silent.
It seems that women in Corinth were using this as an opportunity to teach.
They were speaking in tongues, interpreting, and prophesying.
Paul has just said that the prophets were subject to other prophets.
This would mean that for women to engage in this judgment would be exercising spiritual authority over men.
This is explicitly forbidden in 1 Timothy 2:12. More on that in a moment.
Furthermore, this introduces confusion into the God-given roles of men and women in the church.
The issue seems to be the confusion that is caused when roles are ignored.
However, as already stated, the women are not to be silent all the time because of what Paul states in chapter 11 verses 5 and 13.
Basically, the only thing forbidden is for a woman to preach the message.
Why are women not to be pastors of churches?
Now let’s go to 1 Timothy 2:11-14.
1 Timothy 2:11-14
It’s not that women cannot teach!
It’s not that they are inferior!
It is about the created order of God!
This is what God has ordained, will we submit to it?
God has exclusively called men to serve as leaders in the church, why? Because He did.
He created them first giving to men the rights and authority of the firstborn.
Also noted here is that Eve was deceived and Adam was not.
We could spend a lot of time here explaining the differences in the roles of men and women.
However, back in 2017-2018 we did a class that did a deep dive into all these issues.
If you go to our website, click on sermons, and sort by series you will find those lessons.
There are about 30 lessons total.
This is a difficult and controversial issue.
We want to handle it with grace, love, and carefulness.
With that in mind, I do want to comment on a few things from our passage.
Based on 1 Tim. 2, there are two things women are not to do in the context of the local church.
Teach men and have authority over men.
Let me stress something here. Both of these statements apply only to the local church.
The leadership of the local church is given to men according to 1 Tim. 3 and Titus 1.
The elders are required to be able to teach.
Therefore, in 1 Cor. 14, when Paul says women are to be silent and submissive, it is the local church context that he has in mind.
Women who prophesy were not included among those who judged the other prophets, to do so would be to take authority over men.
It is also clear that prophesy was different than teaching or preaching.
Women could prophesy, but they could not teach or preach in the sermon portion of the service.
Let’s talk about submission for a minute.
This is not a forced submission.
It is a voluntary submission.
The context here is that of the local church.
Just so everyone is clear, Both men and women are to submit to local church leadership.
In Acts 21 the apostle Paul himself submits to local church leadership.
This is something all of us are to do.
It is illegitimate to use this passage to teach about a wife submitting to her husband.
Ephesians 5 does command that, only after commanding us to submit to one another.
The idea here is that Submission is given as the leaders are following Christ.
Why does Paul go into all this?
This is where we need to take a step back and be reminded of the big picture.
Paul is writing to correct the Corinthian church for their disunity and misuse of spiritual gifts.
As he answers their questions about spiritual things he describes how to properly use spiritual gifts.
As the Corinthian believers were using their gifts they were crossing boundaries set up by God.
One of those boundaries was the role of men and women in the church.
In their desire for prominence and popularity they ignored God’s instructions about church leadership and structure.
The result was confusion.
As Paul writes to correct what they have been doing, he has to speak to the roles of men and women in the church.
Women are not to teach or have authority over men.
Not because they are less than, Scripture is clear that men and women are both created in the image of God and co-heirs with Christ.
Men and women have different roles and functions because that’s what God has given them.
We are going to be most fulfilled and satisfied in Christ when we function within our God-given role.
Embracing your God-given role is about obedience to Christ.
Repeat - Read Aloud
We place ourselves under His authority and function as He has directed.
Only when we do this can we have internal peace, joy, and fulfillment.
This is not an easy thing to do.
It is, however, a necessary thing.
Understanding is needed to maintain proper roles.
What do we need to understand?
First we must: Understand the roles.
Second we must…

b. Understand the responsibility v. 35

1 Corinthians 14:35 NKJV
35 And if they want to learn something, let them ask their own husbands at home; for it is shameful for women to speak in church.
Again, before we react, we consider the context.
Consider again 1 Timothy 2:11.
1 Timothy 2:11
1 Timothy 2:11 NKJV
11 Let a woman learn in silence with all submission.
People look at this verse and get all bent out of shape and miss one of the most important things the verse says.
The first four words: “Let a woman learn.”
This is a culture defying statement from Paul.
In a time where many preferred their women to be ignorant, Paul demands that they be taught!
We must understand that Paul is not contradicting Himself here.
He doesn’t say that women can only learn at home in 1 Cor. 14 only to say that they must learn in the church in 1 Tim. 2.
These passages must fit together. And they do.
The context in 1 Cor. 14 is of prophets judging other prophets.
As we have noted, for the women to do this would be exercising authority over the men which violates God’s design.
What I believe Paul is referring to here is that particular issue.
If the women have a question about something that was done in holding other prophets accountable, the appropriate place for that question is not the corporate gathering of the church.
Why not?
Because it could violate the boundaries placed by God around church leadership.
To avoid confusion, it is better to ask those questions at home.
Paul says it is shameful for women to speak in the church.
The idea is that it brings dishonor to Christ.
At the risk of sounding like a broken record let me clarify this one more time.
He is not saying they cannot utter any speech.
This is clear because they are to pray and prophesy.
What is shameful is if they speak in the preaching portion of the service.
Because it violates the God-given order and authority structure.
It brings confusion on the roles God has given for the home and the church!
The corporate church setting is not the place for a woman to teach.
Why not?
Is it because she is not capable?
Is it because she is less than a man?
So why?
Because of the God-ordained order.
I know that is not a satisfying answer to everyone.
But it is the only answer God gives us.
This does, however, raise another very important issue.
We are going to end with this and come back next time to do verses 36-40.
The command here is for the women to bring questions to their husbands.
First issue: What if you don’t have a husband? OR. What if your husband is an unbeliever?
Answer: Ask your Dad, Pastor, or one of the elders after the service. You can also ask your unbelieving husband. It may peak his interest into spiritual things.
Second issue: What if your husband doesn’t know the answer?
Answer: Ask him anyway. It may prompt him to get deeper into the word.
Men, I’m going to talk to you for a minute.
This verse implies that the husband is an active and engaged part of the church who is approachable and able to answer the questions his wife has!
Let’s deal with a few things here.
#1: Are you actively growing in your walk with Christ?
Here’s what I mean.
Are you spending time in God’s Word for yourself?
Are you praying?
We have a Bible reading plan and a prayer guide. Use them.
#2: Are you engaging with the church?
Are you using your spiritual gifts to benefit the body of Christ?
Are you enjoying the fellowship of other believers?
Do you stay for the luncheons? Come to any of the extra classes?
#3: Can your wife approach you with questions?