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Theme: A correct understanding of God in your mind makes clear Christian service
In chapter 2, we saw Paul present two classes of people: the natural man and the spiritual man. Now he makes a further division, and it is among believers: carnal Christians and spiritual Christians. Their status as carnal or as spiritual will prove itself in their lives and in their Christian service.
1 Cor. 3:1 And I, brethren, could not speak unto you as unto spiritual, but as unto carnal, even as unto babes in Christ. (KJV)
And I, brethren, could not speak unto you as unto spiritual, but as unto carnal, even as unto babes in Christ . . . here we have the third class; the unnatural Christian or the unnatural man. We learned about the natural man, also we learned about the spiritual man and now we an unnatural man. He is unnatural because he is a Christian, he has been born into the family of God, BUT . . . he is still carnal. He is still a babe in Christ, a little child (1 Jn.2:12-14).
In the entire first part of this Letter Paul is speaking about carnal lifestyles. In the last part of the Letter he speaks of spiritual lifestyles.
The carnal Christian is the one who has not grown up spiritually, and it is clear that he lacks spiritual discernment . . . NOT because he does not have the Holy Spirit dwelling within him, but because he is NOT growing in the grace and in the knowledge of Christ. This is a result of a person’s relationship to the Word of God. This unnatural man, this carnal Christian, is a babe in Christ. He has the ability, but no desire to grow. A baby has the potential to become a very educated man, but he has to start out by drinking milk. Paul carries this figure of speech over to the spiritual level. Only the Word of God can FEED Christians! Heb. 5:12-13 For when for the time ye ought to be teachers, ye have need that one teach you again which be the first principles of the oracles of God; and are become such as have need of milk, and not of strong meat. 13 For every one that useth milk is unskilful in the word of righteousness: for he is a babe. (KJV)
Paul had two kinds of opponents in Corinth. The false teachers, #1. Some whom he condemned as anti-Christian; and #2. The members of the church who had been taken in by these false teachers.
1 Cor. 3:2 I have fed you with milk, and not with meat: for hitherto ye were not able to bear it, neither yet now are ye able. (KJV)
Milk means what the writer to the Hebrews calls the first principles of the oracles of God, and so is opposed to sublime spiritual doctrines, here set out under the notion of meat; called strong meat (Heb.5:14), above. Since young children's stomachs will not endure strong meat, so too are deeper spiritual mysteries not fit for new converts. Paul gives this as a reason, why he had not communicated the deep things of God (2 Cor.2:10) to them, because as of yet they had not been able to bear them. Paul cannot talk to these people about spiritual things because they are not yet ready for it. First he will talk to them about their carnal drawbacks. Sad to say, that is the level that most church members are living today. For more on a carnal Christian, see: www.jesus-is-savior.com/Believer%27s%20Corner/carnal_christians.htm
1 Cor. 3:3 For ye are yet carnal: for whereas there is among you envying, and strife, and divisions, are ye not carnal, and walk as men? (KJV)
For ye are yet carnal: for whereas there is among you envying, and strife, and divisions, are ye not carnal, and walk as men . . . not totally carnal, but very much so, for they had not yet not restrained their lusts and corrupt affections entirely to the will of God, as they should have done. As an evidence of this he reminded them of the envying, strifes, and divisions that were among them.
Strife and envy are counted among the works of the flesh. Gal. 5:19-21 Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, 20 Idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, 21 Envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God. (KJV) . . . These works all oppose love, in which the perfection of a Christian lies.
Three sources of sin:
#1. Thoughts: attitudes, arrogance, conceit, coveting, envying, jealousy
#2. Words: strife, contention in words; backbiting, badmouthing, blasphemy, cursing, gossiping; false witnessing, lies
#3. Actions, deeds: any sin in conduct, actions, activities, discretions, divisions, undertakings
1 Cor. 3:4 For while one saith, I am of Paul; and another, I am of Apollos; are ye not carnal? (KJV)
For while one saith, I am of Paul; and another, I am of Apollos; are ye not carnal . . . both Paul and Apollos held the same creed; between them there was not the slightest difference . . . so . . . when the disagreements began to prefer one to the other, it was the fullest proof of their carnality. This confirms the fact that there were divisions among them, and proved they were governed by unholy feelings, and also explains the nature of those divisions. There were in Corinth, as appears from (1 Cor.1:12), more than two parties; but Paul confines himself to those mentioned here. The peace of the Corinthian church was disrupted by wrong views in the relationship of ministers to the church. Paul tries to correct the evil by presenting that relationship in its true light.
1 Cor. 3:5 Who then is Paul, and who is Apollos, but ministers by whom ye believed, even as the Lord gave to every man? (KJV)
Who then is Paul, and who is Apollos, but ministers by whom ye believed, even as the Lord gave to every man . . . pastors are just instruments in God's Hands. The doctrines which they preach are not of their own, and the power which makes their preaching successful is not theirs. Paul and Apollos, men of the highest office and of the highest gifts are servants, so called not just from their relationship to God, as those who serve Him, but also because of their relationship to the church, whose they are, to whom they belong, and whom they serve.
1 Cor. 3:6 I have planted, Apollos watered; but God gave the increase. (KJV)
I have planted, Apollos watered; but God gave the increase . . . Paul planted the seed of the Gospel in people's hearts. He was a missionary pioneer, bringing the message of salvation. Apollos watered the seed . . . helping the believers to grow stronger in the faith. Paul founded the church in Corinth, and Apollos built upon that foundation. Sadly, the believers in Corinth had split into groups, pledging loyalty to different teachers (1 Cor.1:11-13). When the preachers' work is completed, God is the one who makes Christians grow. Our pastors certainly should be respected, but we should never place them on pedestals that create barriers between people and NEVER set them up as a substitute for Christ.
1 Cor. 3:7 So then neither is he that planteth any thing, neither he that watereth; but God that giveth the increase. (KJV)
So then neither is he that planteth any thing, neither he that watereth; but God that giveth the increase . . . neither is he that planteth any thing . . . only God alone should have all the glory, for the seed is His, the ground is His, the laborers are His, and the produce all comes from Himself.
1 Cor. 3:8 Now he that planteth and he that watereth are one: and every man shall receive his own reward according to his own labour. (KJV)
Now he that planteth and he that watereth are one: and every man shall receive his own reward according to his own labour . . . both Paul and Apollos had received the same doctrine and preached the same doctrine, working to promote the glory of God in the salvation of their souls. They should not be divided in regard to Paul and Apollos, for these two servants of Jesus were intimately one in spirit and intention. God does not reward His servants according to the success of their work, because that depends on God Himself . . . He rewards them according to the amount of faithfulness which they give to His work, so that none can say, I have labored in vain, and spent my time for nothing.
You will NOT receive rewards by being associated with a church that does good works. You will receive rewards because of what YOU do personally, work that is good. Each of us will be judged INDIVIDUALLY for our own good works. The word reward means wages. What does this mean? It means that even though we will get to Heaven free of charge because of Jesus, we must earn what enjoyment we receive in Heaven (the rewards). We are now, here on Earth, earning the wages (the rewards) that we will be given later which will determine our degree of enjoyment, or position in Heaven. A person who has served the Lord for many years will have a different reward than that of a person who turned to Christ on their death bed. Anyone who is sincerely “in Christ” is assured of Heaven. The judgment is to decide rewards or discounts (losses). When a weak or carnal Christian comes before the Judgment Seat of Christ, there shall be some worrisome moments. I truly do believe there are various degrees of Heaven AND Hell (Lk.12:48). How we live now (here on Earth) will decide our eternal future. We all must watch (Mat.24:42-43).
1 Cor. 3:9 For we are labourers together with God: ye are God's husbandry, ye are God's building. (KJV)
For we are laborers together with God . . . Paul says that we do nothing of ourselves, for we labor together in that work which God has given us to do. Their success came from God, and they gave Him all the glory. Neither Paul nor Apollos wanted this division, for they worked together, just as two oxen under the same yoke, to promote the honor of their beloved Master.
Ye are God's husbandry . . . husbandry here properly means an arable (workable) field. This could be translated: Ye are God's farm.
Ye are God's building . . . they were not only the field which God cultivates, but they were the house that God builds, and in which He intends to dwell. Since no one who looks at a beautiful building praises the quarryman that dug up the stones, nor the man that cut and squared the stones, nor the mason that placed them in the wall, nor the man that cut the timber, nor the carpenter that put them all together . . . but instead, praise the architect who planned it all, and who directed the entire work to completion . . . so too, NO one should consider Paul, or Apollos, or Cephas (1 Cor.1:12), anything, but persons employed by the great Architect to form a building which is to become a habitation of Himself through the Spirit, and the plan of which is entirely his own. Indwelling of Holy Spirit: (Jn.14:17; Rom.8:9-11; 1 Cor.3:16-17; 6:19; 1 Jn.2:27).
For what labor will we receive these wages? We will receive wages (rewards) for the work we do for God. If we labor in our own flesh, we will receive NO rewards. God wants to work in each one of us to bring Himself a crop. We are the ground God cultivates to bring forth fruit. That is how we labor with Him, and that is how we receive rewards.
1 Cor. 3:10 According to the grace of God which is given unto me, as a wise masterbuilder, I have laid the foundation, and another buildeth thereon. But let every man take heed how he buildeth thereupon. (KJV)
According to the grace of God which is given unto me . . . Paul says that it was by the favor (kindness) of God which is given to him. Anything that Paul had done, was done solely by God’s grace. The building figure is here continued with some striking additions. Paul most likely refers to his apostleship to the Gentiles, which had been conferred on him by God (Acts 9), and all the wisdom, skill and success which he had shown in founding the church.
As a wise master-builder . . . this does not mean that Paul had any pre-eminence over his brethren; it means that he had proceeded in his work as a skillful architect, who first secures a firm foundation. Every builder must begin with the foundation; and Paul had proceeded in this manner, first in laying a firm foundation on which the church could be raised. The word wise here means skillful, judicious (Mat.7:24).
I have laid the foundation . . . what this foundation was he states in verse 11. The church at Corinth had been at first established by Paul (Acts 18:1).
And another buildeth thereon . . . other teachers followed Paul, and kept educating the church.
But let every man take heed how he buildeth thereupon . . . every man who is a professed teacher must be careful what doctrines he shall bring to a church that has been founded by apostolic hands, and that is established on the ONLY true foundation, Jesus Christ! This is designed to guard against false instruction, and the instructions of false teachers. Pastors should take exceptional caution what instruction they give to a church (Jam.3:1).
My dear friend, BEWARE!!! There are MANY false, smiley-faced preachers today that are NOT feeding their flocks as they should.
2 Timothy 4:3 For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; (KJV) . . . BEWARE!!! At that time they would seek a kind of preaching more conformable to their wishes and feelings. This is what is taking place in the majority of churches today! BEWARE!!!
But after their own lusts . . . this is being fulfilled today! People will NOT go to a church where the preacher is teaching the whole Truth . . . where he is preaching in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine (verse 2). They are seeking only the kind of preaching that will agree with their carnal desires; or words that will ease the pain of their evil inclinations, and deal gently with their vices. Isaiah 30:10 Which say to the seers, See not; and to the prophets, Prophesy not unto us right things, speak unto us smooth things, prophesy deceits: (KJV) . . . Time have not changed! Also see: (Mic.2:11; Jn.7:7; 8:45; Rom.16:18; Gal.4:16).
Shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears . . . the word rendered heap does not occur elsewhere in the New Testament. It means to heap up upon, to accumulate; and here to multiply. The word rendered itching also occurs only here in the New Testament. It means to rub, to scratch; and then to tickle, and here to feel an itching for something pleasing or gratifying. The image is derived from the desire which we have when there is an itching sensation, to have it rubbed or scratched. These persons have such an uneasiness within them, to have some kind of teaching that would put to rest their restless and uneasy desires (brought on by the Holy Spirit). They just want that uneasiness gratified. The disease of lust in their souls brings forth an itch in their ears that they want only to hear what will by scratching please them.
Verses 10-13 . . . God is the architect who draws the plans for our life and our work. Our rewards come when we labor with Him in the plan He has drawn up or designed for our lives. We get rewards for working in God's intended plan for our lives, which is to build upon the foundation of the grace of God. Every work we do will be made clear when it is put under a light and judged it for its motive. IF we build with wood, hay and stubble, it will burn; but if we build with gold, silver and precious stones, it will stand up to the fire. To receive a reward, our motive must be able to withstand the fire of judgment. We will get rewards only for the labor which we do with God and for God. We will NOT receive rewards for labor which is NOT done with Him and for Him.
1 Cor. 3:11 For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ. (KJV)
For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ . . . it is implied here, that this was the foundation upon which had been laid at Corinth, and on which the church there had been raised. And it is affirmed that NO other foundation can be laid. A foundation is the doctrine on which it is established, and that doctrine was the Gospel. For other foundation can no man lay . . . there is NO other TRUE foundation. Which is Jesus Christ . . . Christ is often called the foundation; the stone; the corner stone on which the church is reared (Isa.28:16; Mat.21:42; Acts 4:11; Eph.2:20; 2 Tim.2:19; 1 Pet.2:6).
The meaning is, that no TRUE church exists in God’s eyes which does not embrace and hold the TRUE doctrines regarding Christ, those which relate to His incarnation, His Divine nature, His instructions, His example, His atonement, His resurrection and His ascension. A TRUE church must embrace the Truth as it is in Christ alone, and that it is by Him alone that men can be saved. NO foundation can be modified or shaped to suit the wishes of mankind. It must be laid as it is in the Scriptures; and the building must be raised on that Foundation alone.
1 Cor. 3:12 Now if any man build upon this foundation gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, stubble; (KJV)
Now if any man build upon this foundation gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, stubble . . .
Paul is speaking symbolically, comparing the church of Corinth to a building in verse 9. He had called them there God's building. They were built upon the doctrine of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Paul had preached Christ to them, this was their foundation. No one had any right to lay on any other foundation. But, there was to be a building raised upon this foundation, which might consist of different materials. Paul names six; three very good and exceptional ones: gold, silver and precious stones; and three others vile and worthless, wood, hay, stubble. By these materials, Paul either means good or bad works, or good or bad doctrines. Good doctrine is meant by gold, silver and precious stones; bad or false doctrine by the wood, hay, and stubble. These various degrees of bad doctrine may be understood as some doctrines are more wicked and damnable than others. Even though some may be false, unprofitable, trivial, and of no significance to the good of soul; they are still bad, for they do not profit the soul.
Those preaching the Gospel Truth are building with durable and sturdy materials gold, silver, precious stones which all can withstand fire (Rev.21:18-19), and are teachings that will stand the fiery test of judgment. But those teaching bad doctrine, a mixture of human philosophy and Judaism, cannot stand up to fire.
Some say this Passage refers only to preachers and teachers, and if this is so, then this applies to the doctrines that they bring. But on the other hand, if this refers to ALL Christians, then this would refer to our works. Good works = gold, silver, precious stones. Bad works = wood, hay, stubble.
Personally I believe it refers to us all, but especially to the preachers and teachers.
James 3:1 My brethren, be not many masters, knowing that we shall receive the greater condemnation. (KJV)
Believers will be judged on:
#1. Doctrines (Rom.2:14-16; Rom.ch.14)
#2. Conduct to others (Mat. ch.18; Rom.ch.14)
#3. Carnal traits (Col.ch.3; Rom.ch.1-2; Rom.8:1-13; 14:1-23
#4. Words (Mat.12:32-37; Rom.14)
#5. Things that affect others: slander, quarrels, idle words, foolishness (folly), dishonesty, broken promises, wrong dealings, etc. (Rom.1:29-32; 1 Cor.6:9-11; Gal.5:19-21; Col.ch.3; Eph.4:1-32; 5:1-33; 12:1-21; 14:1-23)
#6. Things that affect themselves: neglected opportunities, talents wasted, loose living, lack of spirituality, etc. (Rom.2:14-16; Heb.2:1-4; Gal.5:1-26; 6:1-10; Col.ch.3)
#7. Things that affect God: refusal to walk in the light, disobedience, rejection, failure to cooperate and yield to the Spirit, etc. (1 Cor.12; Rom.12; Eph.ch.4-5)
See end of chapter for more on the Judgment Seat of Christ, and what will be judged.
1 Cor. 3:13 Every man's work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man's work of what sort it is. (KJV)
Every man's work shall be made manifest . . . there is nothing covered that shall not be revealed, neither hid, that shall not be known. Ecc. 12:14 For God shall bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing, whether it be good, or whether it be evil. (KJV)
It seems to me that Paul’s main idea here is that it shall be made clear what kind of materials EVERY spiritual builder will use, and what kind of doctrines every preacher preaches, whether they are true or false, important or unimportant, intended to produce genuine repentance, faith, and holiness in the hearers, or not; to promote TRUE conversion of sinners, and to enlighten and educate believers, or turn them away in apostasy.
Paul is concerned what kind of converts pastors will make . . . will they be able to with stand the fiery trial that will come or not.
For the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire . . . or time will declare it. Only time will make clear IF a pastor’s doctrine is Scriptural and sound, and his converts genuine or not. If his preaching produces no saving effect upon his hearers, if none of them are reformed in their ways and renewed in their hearts; if none of them are turned from sin to righteousness, and made new creatures in Christ Jesus, there is good reason to doubt the doctrine delivered to them is NOT of the right kind, and therefore is not pleasing to God. And the fire shall try every man’s work . . . just as fire tries metals, finding and separating the dross mixed with them; or, as the fire of that great and awful day will penetrate the earth and consume whatever is burnable, so shall the strict process of the final judgment try, not only the works of every private Christian, but the doctrine of every public teacher, and manifest whether it came up to the God’s standard or not. Although there is here a plain mention to a general fire, yet the expression, when applied to the trying of doctrines, and consuming those that are wrong, and the trying of the characters of professors, is clearly symbolic; because NO literal fire can have any effect on what is of a moral nature.
The fire shall try every man's work of what sort it is . . . so, by the fire mentioned here, is not the fire of God's wrath, or the fire of affliction and adversity, or the fire of the last judgment, but the Truth of the Gospel shining forth in the world, and burning up the trash and stubble of corrupt, false doctrine, that will bring all the doctrines which men teach, to the final trial.
Judged According to Works: (Ps.62:12; Pro.24:12,29; Isa.59:18; Jer.21:14; 25:14; 32:19; Lam.3:64; Eze.7:8-9; 18:30; Hos.12:2; Zec.1:6; Mat.16:27; Rom.2:6; 2 Tim.4:14; Rev.2:23; 18:6; 20:12-13; 22:12).
1 Cor. 3:14 If any man's work abide which he hath built thereupon, he shall receive a reward. (KJV)
If any man's work abide which he hath built thereupon . . . this may be a reference to the purifying of different kinds of vessels under the law. All that could stand the fire were to be purified by the fire; and those which could not resist the action of the fire were to be purified by water (Num.31:23). The gold, silver, and precious stones could stand the fire; but the wood, hay and stubble would be consumed. Believers are at liberty to build on the Foundation (Jesus) with any of these materials: gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, stubble; teaching that the believer can work for a reward. If any man's work abides (stands up, hangs in there), meaning the work that he has built on the foundation that has already been laid . . .
He shall receive a reward . . . He has not only preached the Truth, but he has labored in the word and doctrine, and the reward is to be according to the labor, according to the nature of his work (verse 8). Works that stand the test of trial, will be rewarded. There shall be stars in his crown.
1 Cor. 3:15 If any man's work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire. (KJV)
If any man's work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss . . . if his work does not abide, if he has built with wood, hay and stubble, meaning mixed fables, idle stories and corrupt doctrine with the doctrine of the Gospel, he shall suffer loss by it, either by the afflicting hand of God, or by a loss of his reputation, or some other way.
But he himself shall be saved, yet so as by fire . . . God will not cast off a soul for such error, if he keeps to the main Foundation, Jesus Christ . . . he shall be saved, although it be as by fire, meaning with difficulty. The FIRE in this Passage is NOT purgatory! There is NO purgatory in the Bible! The HOLY WORD of GOD NEVER mentions this falsehood, ever!
Verses 14-15 . . . amplifies what was said before. If the materials used by a spiritual builder stand the test of the Day of Judgment, he will receive the reward of a faithful servant. If our work is done with the right motive, we will be rewarded. If our work is done with the wrong motive, we will suffer the loss of a reward. That is exactly what Jesus was teaching in Matthew chapter 6. If our praying and fasting is done to impress men, our reward will be taken away at the Judgment Seat when our motive is put under the light and judged. If we fast and pray with a sincere heart to God and hide it from the eyes and attention of man, we will be rewarded at the Judgment Seat when our motives are put under the light of judgment. To suffer loss means to lose something we already have. We can LOSE rewards that we already have earned by doing things in the flesh. In God's method of justice, we can earn rewards for works we do, and then lose those rewards by doing something in the flesh. But, it seems that we can also do things for God's glory that will earn back rewards that we have lost.
We must remember that the Apostle Paul is writing to the believers at the church of Corinth. The Bible is NOT talking about the fool who built his house upon the sand (Mat.7:26-27). This Passage of Scripture in 1 Cor.3:10-15, is speaking to those who already have a sure foundation, which is Jesus Christ. The Word of God proclaims that Jesus Christ is the ONLY TRUE FOUNDATION. The foolish man in Matthew 7:26-27 represents the unsaved man (unbeliever) who rejects Christ for salvation. His destruction is sure to come. 1 Cor. 3:10-15 is speaking to the man who has already placed his faith in Christ, he is a born-again believer; BUT he is unwisely building upon that foundation with unreliable materials. Only that which we do for Christ will last.
NO one will fool God on Judgment Day. Proverbs 24:12 If thou sayest, Behold, we knew it not; doth not he that pondereth the heart consider it? and he that keepeth thy soul, doth not he know it? and shall not he render to every man according to his works? (KJV) . . . My dear friend, God knows who is sincere and who is not (hypocrites). There will NOT be any need for juries in Heaven, because the eyes of Lord are upon the evil and the good (Pro.15:3). God is omniscient. He knows everything, even or thoughts (Eze.11:5). God ponders the thoughts of an estimated 7,000,000,000 people on the Earth, as only this awesome and amazing God could do. This is why Jesus warned that men will be held accountable even for the very words they speak. Mat. 12:36 But I say unto you, That every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment. (KJV)
NO one will escape God's judgment. All evil and good will be accounted for. NO one will be able to deceive God, make excuses or lie, for God knows all. Eternal life is a free gift from God, paid in full by Jesus Christ with His precious literal Blood (1 Pet. 1:18-19). We live right because we are saved; NOT to get saved. NO one can work for salvation. It is a Gift (Eph.2:8; Rom.6:23).
1 Cor. 3:16 Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you? (KJV)
Know ye not that ye are the temple of God . . . the apostle Paul here carries forward and completes the figure which he had commenced in regard to Christians. His illustrations had been drawn from architecture; and here he proceeds to say that Christians are that building (verse 9); that they were the sacred temple which God had reared; and so they should be pure and holy. This is a practical application of what he had said before.
And that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you? . . . the reference is probably to the fact that God dwelt by a visible symbol (the Shechinah) in the Temple, and that His abode was there. Just as God had dwelt there among the Jews, as He had there in a Tabernacle and then a Temple (a dwelling place) . . . so too he dwells among Christians. TRUE Christians are His temple, the place where He abides. His home is with them; and He is in their midst. This figure the apostle Paul uses several times (1 Cor.6:19; 2 Cor.6:16; Eph.2:20-22). A temple was a building built for the service of God. The Temple at Jerusalem was not only magnificent, but was regarded as sacred. Dwelleth in you . . . as God formerly dwelt in the Tabernacle, and afterwards in the Temple, so too, does His Spirit now dwell among Christians. Holy Spirit abiding in Believers: (Jn.14:17,23; Rom.5:5; 8:9; 1 Cor.2:12; 3:16; 6:19; 12:7; 14:25; 2 Cor.6:16; Gal.4:6; Eph.2:22; Phil.2:13; 2 Tim.1:14; 1 Pet.1:11; 1 Jn.2:27; 4:12).
1 Cor. 3:17 If any man defile the temple of God, him shall God destroy; for the temple of God is holy, which temple ye are. (KJV)
If any man defile the temple of God, him shall God destroy . . . Paul presents this in the form of a proverb. The Truth stated here is based on the fact that the Temple of God was sacred; that Temple was holy; and if any man subsequently destroyed it, it might be supposed that God would destroy him.
For the temple of God is holy . . . the temple of God is to be regarded as sacred and holy. This was without a doubt the common opinion among the Jews regarding the Temple at Jerusalem, and it was also the common policy of the Gentiles regarding their temples. Sacred places were regarded as sacred; and this general truth Paul applies to the Christian church in general. Some think that here Paul referred to the false teachers in Corinth, but the expression, "if any man," seems to equally apply to all believers.
Which temple ye are . . . this proves that although Paul regarded them as unfortunately corrupt in some respects, he still regarded them as a true church . . . as a part of the holy temple of God.
1 Cor. 3:18 Let no man deceive himself. If any man among you seemeth to be wise in this world, let him become a fool, that he may be wise. (KJV)
Let no man deceive himself . . . let no one doubt the truth of what I have said about the worthlessness of human wisdom, and of the danger of substituting it for God's wisdom. If he does, he will find himself to be very wrong.
If any man among you seemeth to be wise in this world . . . if anyone pretends to be wise; this seems to refer to some individual in the Church of Corinth, who had been very troublesome to its peace and unity: probably Diotrephes (1 Cor.1:14), or someone with a similar spirit, who wanted to have the pre-eminence, and thought himself wiser than seven men. I think that every Christian Church has at least one of these.
Let him become a fool, that he may be wise . . . let him separate himself of his worldly wisdom, and be content to be called a fool, a respected one, that he may become wise unto salvation. Only by renouncing his own wisdom, and seeking that which comes only from God can anyone gain eternal life.
1 Cor. 3:19 For the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God. For it is written, He taketh the wise in their own craftiness. (KJV)
For the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God . . . the wisdom of this world, whether it is the pretended deep and occult wisdom of the rabbis, or the thoughts and speculations of the Greek philosophers, is foolishness with God. WHY? Their folly consists in spending time, strength, and pains for no purpose, so these may be rightly termed fools, for they acquire absolutely NO saving knowledge by their assumptions. There has NEVER been one soul that has been made wise unto salvation through the wisdom of the world, and there NEVER shall be! Pride, insolence, self-conceit and complacency, forgetfulness of God, contempt for His Word, and despising the poor, are their overall characteristics.
He taketh the wise in their own craftiness . . . . Paul is quoting: Job 5:13 He taketh the wise in their own craftiness: and the counsel of the froward is carried headlong. (KJV) . . . Paul ever so powerfully shows what the wisdom of this world is: a sort of craft, a skill, a subtle trade that they carry on to do wrong to others and benefit themselves; and they usually have too much cunning to be caught by men . . . but God often overthrows them with their own planning. Paganism raised up persecution against the early Church, in order to destroy it: but this became the very means of quickly spreading it over the Earth, and of destroying the whole pagan system. Thus the wise were taken in their own craftiness.
1 Cor. 3:20 And again, The Lord knoweth the thoughts of the wise, that they are vain. (KJV)
And again, The Lord knoweth the thoughts of the wise, that they are vain . . . this is a quotation from: Psalm 94:11 The LORD knoweth the thoughts of man, that they are vanity. (KJV)
What is said here of the vanity of human knowledge is true of every kind of wisdom that does NOT leads immediately to God Himself. The Lord knows the thoughts (Eze.11:5), of these supposedly wise ones, and those thoughts are always full of chaotic schemes and plans. God knows that all this is vain, empty and unsatisfactory.
1 Cor. 3:21 Therefore let no man glory in men. For all things are yours; (KJV)
Therefore let no man glory in men. For all things are yours . . . To have a high opinion of our own wisdom, is to flatter ourselves . . . and self-flattery is the next step to self-deceit. The wisdom of the world is that worldly men (unbelievers) highly regard, and it is utter foolishness with God. How rightly He despises it, and how easily can He baffle, confuse and confound it! The thoughts of the wisest worldly men possess vanity, weakness and foolishness in them. All this should teach us to be humble, and make us willing to be taught of God, so as not to be led astray, by deceptions of human wisdom and skill, from the simple Truths revealed by Christ. Mankind is very apt to oppose the plan of the mercies of God, which makes them a fool. We should never forget that the spiritual riches of a TRUE believer belong to us, "All are yours." We as TRUE children of God are so very privileged! 1 John 3:1 Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God: therefore the world knoweth us not, because it knew him not. (KJV) Also see: (Rom.8:38-39).
1 Cor. 3:22 Whether Paul, or Apollos, or Cephas, or the world, or life, or death, or things present, or things to come; all are yours; (KJV)
Whether Paul, or Apollos, or Cephas . . . I think that God plans to help you by all things and persons. Every teacher sent from God will be a blessing to you, if you abide faithful to your calling. The pastors of the Church of Corinth were appointed for the hearers, not the hearers for the pastors. In the same way, all the ordinances of God’s grace and mercy are appointed for the congregation, not they for the ordinances.
Or the world, or life, or death, or things present, or things to come . . . the inhabitants of the world, is what we commonly understand by the world itself (Jn.3:16-17; 6:33; 14:31; 17:21). Paul's meaning clearly is: Not only Paul, Apollos and Cephas, are yours, appointed for you and employed in your service; but every person as well, with whom you may have any contact, whether Jew or Greek, whether enemy or friend. God will cause every person, as well as every thing to work for your good, as long as you love, cherish, cleave to and obey Him.
All are your's . . . all things shall tend to promote your comfort and salvation.
1 Cor. 3:23 And ye are Christ's; and Christ is God's. (KJV)
And ye are Christ's . . . all TRUE Christians belong to Jesus! He paid a tremendous price for us. Romans 14:7-9 For none of us liveth to himself, and no man dieth to himself. 8 For whether we live, we live unto the Lord; and whether we die, we die unto the Lord: whether we live therefore, or die, we are the Lord's. 9 For to this end Christ both died, and rose, and revived, that he might be Lord both of the dead and living. (KJV) . . . For we are not our own masters when we live or when we die. While we live, we live to please the Lord and bring glory to Him. And when we die, we go to be with the Lord (2 Cor.5-9). So in life and in death, we belong to the Lord. Christ died and rose again for this reason, so that He might be Lord of those who are alive and of those who have died.
Every Christian’s life affects other Christians around them. He should remember this and feel love and kindness towards them. He should not only think about himself.
And Christ is God's . . . Christ Jesus belongs to God because He is the only begotten Son of God. Only begotten Son of God: (Jn.1:18; 3:16,18; Heb.11:17; 1 Jn.4:9).
Christ is the Mediator between God and man. He came to do the will of God. He was, and still is, devoted to the service of His Father . . . as we should be. And just as Christ did all to promote the glory of His Father, so should you in all things.
Judgment Seat of Christ
I Corinthians 3:10-15 According to the grace of God which is given unto me, as a wise masterbuilder, I have laid the foundation, and another buildeth thereon. But let every man take heed how he buildeth thereupon. 11 For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ. 12 Now if any man build upon this foundation gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, stubble; 13 Every man's work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man's work of what sort it is. 14 If any man's work abide which he hath built thereupon, he shall receive a reward. 15 If any man's work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire. (KJV)
Do you see that the Christian will either receive a reward or suffer loss? But to say that this is the only outcome would contradict the very well-known doctrine of sowing and reaping.
Gal. 6:7-9 Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap. 8 For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting. 9 And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not. (KJV)
Since sowing to the Spirit will reap life everlasting in the next life . . . sowing to the flesh will also reap something in the next life too . . . corruption. What IS the loss spoken of in 1 Cor. 3:15? Many Christians think they are getting away with their sin because they continued in it for so long. Sin always has a consequence attached to it and WE do not know what the outcome will be.
When does the Christian reap life everlasting? In Heaven (if we faint not)! When will the carnal and weak Christian reap the corruption of the flesh? I believe it will be at the Judgment Seat of Christ.
I think we need to understand the difference between our standing and our state. A Christian’s standing is permanent; but our state is always changing. A saved person is destined for Heaven, which reflects on their standing and a result of their relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ.
On the other hand, a Christian’s state can change day by day . . . as a result of our spiritual walk (either obediently or disobediently). A TRUE Christian can NEVER be condemned to Hell, but their lifestyle here on Earth . . . but, that does NOT mean, that no condemnation can come upon a Christian’s life.
Romans 8:1 There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. (KJV) . . . This promises NO condemnation for the Christian who walks after the Spirit. But this verse also suggests that there IS condemnation (admonition, censure, criticism, reprimand, reproach, scorn), IF the person decides to walk after the flesh. The condemnation has NOTHING to do with the standing of the Christian, but everything to do with his state. Just because our standing is guaranteed, it does not mean that we will not have to give an account of how we have lived following salvation.
Romans 14:10-12 But why dost thou judge thy brother? or why dost thou set at nought thy brother? for we shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ. 11 For it is written, As I live, saith the Lord, every knee shall bow to me, and every tongue shall confess to God. 12 So then every one of us shall give account of himself to God. (KJV) . . . WHAT are we going to have to confess before God? WHAT are we going to have to give an account of? Consider the following:
What Will Christ Judge?
- 1. How we treat other believers. Hebrews 6:10 For God is not unrighteous to forget your work and labour of love, which ye have shewed toward his name, in that ye have ministered to the saints, and do minister. [KJV] God is never unfair. He will not forget how hard you have worked for Him and how you have shown your love to Him by caring for other Christians.
- 2. How we exercise our authority over others. Hebrews 13:17 Obey them that have the rule over you, and submit yourselves: for they watch for your souls, as they that must give account, that they may do it with joy, and not with grief: for that is unprofitable for you. [KJV] We must respect and obey our spiritual leaders, for their work is to watch over our souls, for they are accountable to God. Give them reason to do this joyfully and not with sorrow.
- 3. How we use our God given abilities. 1 Peter 4:10 As every man hath received the gift, even so minister the same one to another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God. [KJV] God has given gifts to each of us from His great variety of spiritual gifts. We must manage them well so that God's love and generosity can flow through us to others.
- 4. How we spend our time. 1 Peter 1:17 And if ye call on the Father, who without respect of persons judgeth according to every man's work, pass the time of your sojourning here in fear: [KJV] We must remember that our heavenly Father to whom we pray has no favorites when He judges. He will judge or reward us according to what we do. So you must live in reverent fear of Him during our time as foreigners here on Earth.
- 5. How we use our money. 1 Tim. 6:17-19 Charge them that are rich in this world, that they be not highminded, nor trust in uncertain riches, but in the living God, who giveth us richly all things to enjoy;  That they do good, that they be rich in good works, ready to distribute, willing to communicate;  Laying up in store for themselves a good foundation against the time to come, that they may lay hold on eternal life. [KJV] Most people who are rich are proud and trust in their money; but money and possessions are short-lived. We should trust in the living God, who richly gives us all we need for our enjoyment. We should be rich in good works and should share with those in need, always being ready to share with others whatever God has given us. In doing so we will store up "treasure in Heaven" as a good foundation for the future so that we may take hold of real life.
- 6. How we run our race. Philip. 3:14 I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus. [KJV] We should strive to run our race (our life) to the best of our ability.
- 7. How we control our old nature. Ephes. 4:22 That ye put off concerning the former conversation the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts; [KJV] We should cast off our old evil nature, as we would dirty clothes; and our former way of life, which is rotten through and through.
- 8. How many people we witness to. Daniel 12:3 And they that be wise shall shine as the brightness of the firmament; and they that turn many to righteousness as the stars for ever and ever. [KJV] Those who are wise will shine as bright as the stars, reaching out to the lost souls around them.
- 9. How we react to temptation. James 1:2-3 My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations;  Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience. [KJV] Whenever trouble comes our way, it can be an opportunity for joy. For when our faith is tested, our patience and endurance has a chance to grow.
- 10. How we react to temptation. James 1:2-3 My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations;  Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience. [KJV] Whenever trouble comes our way, it can be an opportunity for joy. For when our faith is tested, our patience and endurance has a chance to grow.
- 11. How much the coming of Christ means to you. 2 Timothy 4:8 Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing. [KJV] The crown of righteousness (a grand reward) will be given by the Lord on that great day; to all who eagerly look forward to His glorious return.
- 12. How much you think of Christ. Matthew 10:41-42 He that receiveth a prophet in the name of a prophet shall receive a prophet's reward; and he that receiveth a righteous man in the name of a righteous man shall receive a righteous man's reward.  And whosoever shall give to drink unto one of these little ones a cup of cold water only in the name of a disciple, verily I say unto you, he shall in no wise lose his reward. [KJV] You can be sure that whoever gives even a drink of cold water to one of the least of Jesus’ followers will certainly receive a reward. Christ does not say we deserve a reward; for we CANNOT merit ANYTHING from the Hand of God; but we shall receive a reward as a free gift from God. Let us boldly confess Christ, and show love to Him and His followers in all things.
- 13. How we use words. Matthew 12:36 But I say unto you, That every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment. [KJV] You can be sure that on the Judgment Day you will have to give account of EVERY useless word you have ever spoken.
- 14. How we treat God's land and animals. Psalm 24:1 The earth is the Lord's, and the fulness thereof; the world, and they that dwell therein. [KJV] The world and all that is in it belong to the Lord; the Earth and all who live on it are His, and we should treat it accordingly. 15. What motivates you to serve God. 1 Cor. 3:13-15 Every man's work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man's work of what sort it is.  If any man's work abide which he hath built thereupon, he shall receive a reward.  If any man's work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire. [KJV] Believers must build on Christ, not on any other person or principle. Christ will evaluate believers at the Judgment Seat ("the Day") and will reveal the sincerity of each person’s work. He will determine whether or not we have been faithful to His instructions. Good work will be rewarded; unfaithful or inferior work will be discounted. The builder "will be saved, but only as one escaping through the flames" meaning that unfaithful workers will be saved, but will be like people escaping from a burning building. (Escape by the skin of their teeth, as the old expression goes). All their possessions (accomplishments) will be lost. Only what we do for Christ will stand. Matthew 6:20-21 But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal:  For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.[KJV]
These are just some of the things that will be brought up at the Judgment Seat of Christ. I’m sure there are more. Anyone “in Christ” is assured of Heaven. The judgment is to decide rewards or discounts (losses). When a weak or carnal Christian comes before the Judgment Seat of Christ, there shall be some troublesome moments. I believe there are various degrees of Heaven AND Hell. How we live now (here on Earth) will decide our eternal future.
The Bible clearly teaches that the Judgment Seat of Christ for a carnal or weak Christian is not just a matter of losing rewards. Christians will receive something too. What may that be? My purpose is to warn every believer based on my knowledge of what the Bible says about the terror of the Lord and the fact that God is not mocked. Christian, won’t you renew your commitment to Him?
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