The greatest dangers to a church often come from within the body. Paul wrote 1 and 2 Corinthians to correct major problems among the congregants at the Church at Corinth. The first letter was written in response to another letter Paul received about the internal problems there. The news was not good. Factions existed in the church. There are major sin issues: horrific sexual sins, believers suing each other, and terrible doctrinal errors. Both 1 and 2 Corinthians are corrective and instructive letters.
Use the following guide to prepare for Sunday. Onward!
Monday’s Passage to Read: Read 1 Corinthians 1:10-31. Corinth was a wealthy but largely wicked city. As an ancient “sin city,” public immorality was rampant. Rather than reaching their neighbors, the church reflected the sins of their neighbors. And internally, they were creating rivalries in the church. As you read, consider the unhealthiness of the church. These letters contain a lot of tough love because the church was in a rough spot.
Tuesday’s Devotional Thought: The most ridiculous divisions in the church occur around preferences and personalities. In 1 Corinthians 1, Paul condemns the divisions within the Church at Corinth.
- Some claimed to be in Paul’s camp. “We have more authority!”
- Others claimed to be with Apollos. “We have more knowledge!”
- Another group claimed Cephas. “We have more power!”
- The last group wrongly used Jesus’ name. “Your groups are inferior to my group!”
Take a moment and read 1 Corinthians 3:1-4. Paul loved them, but they had forgotten who was in charge. The people in the church elevated preferences and personalities above Christ and His truth. Divisions formed, and it took two long letters to set this church straight.
What distinguishes 1 and 2 Corinthians? Why two letters? In 1 Corinthians, Paul focused on the Lordship of Christ. In 2 Corinthians, Paul highlighted the sufficiency of Christ. Jesus rules over everything (1 Corinthians), and we do not need anything or anyone else but Him (2 Corinthians). 1 Corinthians offers practical advice for the church and addresses internal problems of sinful conduct. 2 Corinthians is a more personal response from Paul. He responded to a group of people who wrongly accused him, and he gave warnings against false teachers.
The Church at Corinth had even messed up something as basic as the Lord’s Supper, which was supposed to be a reflection and examination of sin and a celebration of Christ’s sacrifice and forgiveness. What had the church made it? In 1 Corinthians 11, we see how the Lord’s Super had become a party where the rich got drunk while the poor were given leftover scraps of food. Clearly, the church had lost its way.
Without Christ, we will divide. If Jesus is not at the center of your life, you are! Human opinion makes for a terrible god and empties the effect of the cross. As clever as we may think we are, when we elevate our own “wisdom” above God, all we will do is divide people. If you are a Christian, then you should live like Christ.
Be what you are. Since you are a Christian, then you should live like Christ. Have you ever met a writer who did not write? Or a musician that did not play an instrument? Or a fisherman that did not catch fish? Claiming the label means nothing unless you do the job. A Christian is supposed to live like it! We have a job to do. The strongest churches are the ones most unified around sharing the gospel.
Those who follow the right path fear the Lord;
those who take the wrong path despise him.
The right path always includes a healthy respect for God. Yet, how often do we make choices without considering God’s wisdom? Take some time today to invite God into more of your decisions. When you seek His will, you honor Him. When you leave Him out, you despise Him.
Thursday’s Prayer through Scripture: Read 1 Corinthians 1:10. Ask God to make you a peacemaker. Harmony in the church cannot be achieved without bridge builders led by the Holy Spirit. Seeking unity is one of the most spiritually mature actions you can do.