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Spiritual Immaturity Exposed

1 Corinthians 3:1-4
Brothers and sisters, I could not address you as people who live by the Spirit but as people who are still worldly – mere infants in Christ. I gave you milk, not solid food, for you were not yet ready for it. Indeed, you are still not ready. You are still worldly. For since there is jealousy and quarrelling among you, are you not worldly? Are you not acting like mere humans? For when one says, 'I follow Paul,' and another, 'I follow Apollos,' are you not mere human beings? (NIVUK)

The human race has an inbuilt blindness (2 Corinthians 4:4), thinking that we are better than we are; and as believers in Jesus we can fall into the same trap.  We may presume a greater spiritual wisdom than is true.  The Corinthian church was like that and it had become a den of ungodly spiritual arrogance.  Yes, they were in Christ, but behaved much as they did before they were saved, but with a spiritual gloss.

They had assumed that worldliness was normal before they were saved, and were still trapped in those ungodly habits.  They certainly had new life in Christ but they were like small children – self-centred and unable to discipline themselves.  They were spiritually immature and so Paul could only teach them the 'spiritual basics'.  God had blessed them with spiritual gifts, but they were treating them as toys to please themselves and not as tools to serve Him.

Childish squabbling demonstrated their immaturity.  They had transferred the world's 'tribal instincts' into the church.  They were jealous of God's gifts to other believers and formed party alliances, some supporting Paul but others preferring Apollos.  Their arguments were not so much about the gospel itself but about style and other personal preferences.  It was human nature and not Godly wisdom.  Even if Paul had taught them deeply they could not receive it: what they needed was rebuke.

Today's church is often the same.  Gospel joy needs to be followed by gospel obedience (Titus 2:12).  Otherwise, worldly habits will become normal in the church, holding back those who want to grow in faith and making the church spiritually sterile, unable to reproduce because the gospel is distorted.  Jealousy and quarrelling are little signs of a much deeper disease which needs radical treatment (2 Corinthians 12:20).  Paul's rebuke needs to be heard and heeded today; each of us needs the humility to admit that our spiritual maturity is only as real as our obedience.

Lord of the church. Thank You for the gift of salvation through Christ and ministry gifts through the Spirit. However I repent of my failure to obey Your Word at the same time as assuming that I am spiritually more mature than I am. Please help me to see myself truthfully, and put aside worldly attitudes towards others in the church. May I learn how to obey You at work and in the community so that my life will validate Your gospel, as I rely on Your grace. In Jesus' Name. Amen.
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© Dr Paul Adams