The Empowered Christian Life - 1 Corinthians 2
We saw in the first chapter of 1 Corinthians, how this church had begun to split themselves up into different “parties” based on which preacher they liked the most. Paul addressed this by pointing these Christians to three key things that unite them: Christ, the Cross, and their Calling.
A certain group within this church that sought to discredit Paul’s authority took full advantage of this division and attacked Paul on several fronts:
For his lack of emphasis on baptism (1 Corinthians 1:4)
For the lack of eloquence in his preaching – especially compared to Apollos! (1 Corinthians 2:4)
For the way he interacted with people (1 Corinthians 2:3)
For even his physical appearance! (1 Corinthians 2:3)
For most of us, if we had been personally attacked, the way Paul was here, we would almost certainly have reacted with as vehement a defense as the attacks had been. But that is not what Paul does here. Instead, Paul uses this opportunity to once again point these Christians to the core idea he was trying to teach them with this letter. Their new life in Christ ought to compel a new way of operating!
The Bible clearly teaches that Satan will do whatever he can to keep people from recognizing their need for Christ.
- 2 Corinthians 4:4, “In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them.”
He does this by setting up a world system opposite the things of God and then deceiving people into accepting the world’s way of doing things instead of doing things God’s way. Paul uses the illustration of blindness to drive this point home. The world elevates those to power that can sing well, dribble a basketball the best, run the fastest, or amass the most money. In many ways, the church at Corinth was still trying to choose their leaders this way. In 1 Corinthians 2, Paul challenges these believers to take the blinders off. They did not understand the true nature of God’s power and how that applied to them in the church.
Paul beings by explaining to them how God’s power is really displayed. Paul asks them essentially, “Why are you focusing on me?”.
Paul lays out very clearly that no man can adequately describe God’s power.
- 1 Corinthians 2:4, “And my speech and my preaching was not with enticing words of man's wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power:”
Paul explains to them that God’s power, even if it could be described, could never be fully understood.
- 1 Corinthians 2:1, “And I, brethren, when I came to you, came not with excellency of speech or of wisdom, declaring unto you the testimony of God.”
Paul declared that no man could fully illustrate the power of God at work.
- 1 Corinthians 2:3, “And I was with you in weakness, and in fear, and in much trembling.”
There was nothing about Paul or any other preacher, no matter how well they spoke, or the power that worldly speaking they seemed to have, that could compare in any way to the power of God. He takes the Corinthians gaze off of man and sets it squarely on the one thing that does completely display the power of God: the Cross!
- 1 Corinthians 2:1-2, “And I, brethren, when I came to you, came not with excellency of speech or of wisdom, declaring unto you the testimony of God. For I determined not to know any thing among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified.”
As an illustration of the tendency we have of being drawn to things that do not display the true power of God, consider some of the reasons people give for choosing a church to go to (or reasons to leave).
The people sure were friendly there.
They had lots of programs that I and my family could benefit from.
The music and worship were top notch!
That pastor really knew his stuff.
All of these are wrong reasons for choosing a church!
Instead, we ought to be asking ourselves, “Where is God’s power evident?” Is my life impacted by the word of God when I am a part of that church? Is the Holy Spirit bringing conviction to areas of my life? Am I challenged to grow in my relationship with Christ and in my service for Him?
When we begin to look at these other things as the “evidence that God is at work,” we set the foundation of our faith in something that cannot stand. Paul states this very clearly in the next verse.
- 1 Corinthians 2:5, “That your faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God.”
And Paul here is not simply speaking of the faith of the preacher, every Christian can experience just as clearly God’s power working in their lives. Every church member’s faith must stand on the power of God! The church in Corinth was still living as the world, being blinded by personalities. As a result, the practical outworking of their faith was established upon what their “favorite preacher” said instead of on the experience of God’s power in their lives.
Paul has shown these Christians what they were missing out on. Now he reveals to them why this had happened and what they needed to do to fix it. Paul lays out in verses 6 and 7 what the Source of God’s Power really is: obedience to God’s word and submission to His will.
- 1 Corinthians 2:6-7, “Howbeit we speak wisdom among them that are perfect: yet not the wisdom of this world, nor of the princes of this world, that come to nought: But we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, even the hidden wisdom, which God ordained before the world unto our glory:”
Paul then proceeds to pull back the curtain a little bit and reveals what God’s power really looks like in the life of the believer. This is what every Christian can and ought to look like!
God’s Power working for us – Requires love
- 1 Corinthians 2:9, “But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him.”
God’s Power working in us – Requires diligence and desire
- 1 Corinthians 2:10, 12, “But God hath revealed them unto us by his Spirit: for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God… Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God.”
God’s Power working through us – Requires righteousness
- 1 Corinthians 2:14-15, “But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned. But he that is spiritual judgeth all things, yet he himself is judged of no man.”
If we are not careful, we too, find ourselves seeking God’s working in our lives, but incorrectly focusing on those things that do not truly indicate God’s power at work.
· Are we measuring power and effectiveness correctly as being surrendered to the word and will of God?
· Are we growing in our walk with Him in love, diligence, and righteousness so that God can work for us, in us, and through us?