Thursday, November 3, 2016
Around 56 A.D. Paul addressed several problems at Corinth. Some thought the ultimate spiritual gift was “speaking in tongues.” You were a “somebody” if you could speak in a language you had never learned. That view continues today, but has been transferred to other areas. In other words a person thinks he is a better Christian than another or his spirituality exceeds all others! With this attitude, the individual believes others can be as spiritual as he is if they will do the specific things he is doing. Is that the spirit of Christ, or a spiritless man?
Peter wore several spiritual hats. He was an apostle of Jesus. He was immersed in the Holy Spirit on Pentecost. He was the first to proclaim the good news about Jesus (Acts 2). He was the first to proclaim the good news to the Gentiles (Acts 10). If anyone had a right to be braggadocios, Peter was your man! Yet, Paul had to correct him in Galatians 2 because he took on the facade of a hypocrite. He stopped his fellowship with Gentile Christians. This caused Barnabas and others to mimic his degrading racism!
When Paul wrote to the saved in Corinth, he discussed the spiritual gifts which they possessed (1 Corinthians 12). One of those gifts was the ability to speak a foreign language. Yet, they demoted their spiritual standing with the very gift which supposedly made them superior (1 Corinthians 14). Paul restricted them to silence if they did not have an interpreter. He confined them to no more than three speakers in an assembly and to speak one at a time! These “spiritual giants” had caused mayhem in the assembly which negated their Goliath standing (1 Corinthians 14:26b, 33, 37, 40)! If speaking in tongues elevates a person’s spiritually, why correct them? Paul’s chastisement implies a lack thereof, not a surplus! The gifts were not given to raise one to “a better than thou” position, but to reveal the new covenant which condemned that very attitude!
When the Hebrew writer wrote to the Jewish saved, he outlined the miraculous gifts they had received (Hebrews 6:4-6). Yet, some, in spite of those spiritual benefits, rejected Jesus and were no longer meeting with the saints (Hebrews 10:25-29). If the “heavenly gift” and being “partakers of the Holy Ghost” elevated one into a higher category of spirituality, why did they reject that position of righteousness? They possessed “the powers of the age to come.” So why did this divine reception let them down if it was a guarantee to make one better than his fellow saints?
The Spirit matures us when we put His teaching into practice (1 Timothy 4:16). Those who do not follow the Spirit’s lesson miss out on Christ and His blessings (Romans 8:9). The language speakers of 1 Corinthians 12 and 14 had a special gift, but Paul considered prophesying better (verse 24-25). It is interesting that this better gift did not cause the prophets to have the attitude manifested by the language speakers! The baptism of the Spirit nor His gifts were given to make one “more” spiritual than others. Those who were recipients were “servants” used by the Spirit to deliver His word. The Corinthian language speakers were told to remain silent if they could not edify (1 Corinthians 14:23, 27-28). For any Corinthian saint to speak words that could not be understood, was to display disobedience rather than spirituality (1 Corinthians 14:23, 27-28, 37, 40)! For anyone to believe he is better than another, illustrates his arrogance and demonstrates his failure to display the spirit of Jesus!
“For I say, through the grace given to me, to everyone who is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think soberly, as God has dealt to each one a measure of faith.” (Romans 12:3 NKJV).
“You must have the same attitude that Christ Jesus had. Though he was God, he did not think of equality with God as something to cling to. Instead, he gave up his divine privileges; he took the humble position of a slave and was born as a human being. When he appeared in human form, he humbled himself in obedience to God and died a criminal’s death on a cross.” (Philippians 2:5-8 NLT).