Are We Corinthian Christians?
Have the Christians of today improved over the Christians in Corinth? They didn't have a Bible to read but Paul wrote boldly to them, "For I am afraid that perhaps when I come I may find you to be not what I wish and may be found by you to be not what you wish; that perhaps there may be strife, jealousy, angry tempers, disputes, slanders, gossip, arrogance, disturbances." These are all products of the tongue. Hey, friend, before we go any further, make out your checklist. Have you been in unprofitable, ridiculous debates, arguing just to win someone over? So very often we win the debate and lose the friend. Paul said that among these professing Christians there was strife, jealousy, angry tempers, disputes, slander, gossip, arrogance, and disturbances.
After Jesus Himself, I believe that Paul was the greatest preacher who ever lived. But when writing to the Corinthians, he said, "And when I came to you, brethren, I did not come with superiority of speech or of wisdom, proclaiming to you the testimony of God. For I determined to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ, and Him crucified. And I was with you in weakness and in fear and in much trembling." (I Cor 2:1-3) That doesn't sound like the Apostle we think of, clothed with all the armor of God, pulling down strongholds and putting the devil to flight.
But then he goes on in verse 4, "And my message and my preaching were not in persuasive words of wisdom..." I doubt he was a fascinating preacher, juggling with words that sparkled. His job was to glorify Jesus. If we preach and people remember us, we've missed it. He says that his preaching was not with persuasive words of wisdom, "but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power." He didn't spend hours like some preachers, selecting the most fascinating and flashy words. Maybe we might say "fleshy" words. His concern was to project Jesus Christ only and Him crucified. There was nothing flippant or fleshly about what he said, and certainly nothing foolish.
Paul warns us, "In reference to your former manner of life, lay aside the old self...be renewed in the spirit of your mind, and put on the new self, which in the likeness of God has been created in righteousness and holiness of the truth...Let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth, but only such a word as is good for edification according to the need of the moment, that it may give grace to those who hear. Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice." (Eph. 4:22-31)
Paul also exhorts us, "There must be no filthiness and silly talk, or coarse jesting, which are not fitting..." (Eph. 5:4) I've heard preachers eating dinner together get into borderline jokes, and then someone pushes it further until it's totally disgusting. I like humor, but I don't like stupidity, filthiness, or coarse jesting. Oh how many silly, stupid things are said. Dr. Tozer used to say to me, "Len, be careful. Remember, never, never, speak lightly of the devil. Don't tell any jokes about hell." The devil is not almighty, but we must not forget that he is mighty. All too often Christians speak too lightly of the kingdom of darkness, as if to treat the whole thing as unimportant. (Jude 9)
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