The church at Corinth in Paul’s day was drowning in serious problems. Just a glance at Paul’s first epistle to them reveals, at the very least, the following issues. (1) They were carnally divided. (2) They were spiritual infants. (3) They were arrogant. (4) They misunderstood Paul’s message. (5) They were content to cohabit with serious immorality. (6) They were taking each other to court. (7) They were abusing Christian liberty. (8) They were abusing the Lord’s table. And (9) they misused their spiritual gifts. Paul will address each of these serious sins, failings, or weaknesses. But he opens his epistle to this real church with an incredible barrage of positive statements about the Lord Jesus Christ—truths which, if observed, would have prevented the problems he is about to address, and now, if remembered, will lay the foundation for deliverance from the trouble they have brought on themselves. Consider them yourself, for they will inoculate us against much sin and error and provide the antidote when we succumb to either one. They are found in the first nine verses of the first chapter of 1 Corinthians.
1. Believers have been “sanctified in Christ Jesus” (v. 2). As believers, we have been sanctified, or “set apart” from sin, Satan, and the world to God. The reality of that supernatural deliverance from eternal death and positioning in eternal life through the crosswork of Christ ought to be a constant source of strengthening in righteousness.
2. Believers receive the immeasurable privilege of “call[ing] on the name of our Lord Jesus Christ” (v. 2). Paul emphasizes the unity of this relation-based privilege by adding “their Lord and ours.” Five times he refers to the Lord as “our/s,” a reminder of the oneness that we have been brought into by Christ’s saving work. That all believers share the privilege of praying to Him should bind us together.
3. Believers enjoy “grace . . . and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ” (v. 3). No one has any merit of his own; every believer receives the benefits of the meritorious work of Christ, plus nothing. Being fellow heirs of undeserved favor should bind us together in love. And it should shame us that as recipients of a peace that passes understanding we would carnally violate that blessing by quarreling.
4. Believers experience “the grace of God” as “given . . . [us] in Christ Jesus” (v. 4). This restatement is not empty redundancy on Paul’s part, but emphatic repetition for the purpose of driving into our hearts and minds our indebtedness to Christ to live righteous, godly lives in unity before Him.
5. Believers enjoy “the testimony concerning Christ . . . confirmed” in us (v. 6). What a glorious blessing! In one sense the testimony of Christ is confirmed in believers when “the Spirit Himself testifies with our spirit that we are children of God” (Rom. 8:16). In another sense, the testimony of Christ is confirmed in us when we bear the fruit of the Spirit and when we obey the Word of God.
6. Believers are “awaiting eagerly the revelation of our Lord Jesus Christ” (v. 7). That blessed expectation has a purifying effect on our lives (1 John 3:3) as well as buoying us up during the storms of life with the sure hope of His imminent return. We thrive thinking that we might see Christ at any moment.
7. Believers will be “blameless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ” (v. 8). By grace through Christ we have no fear of future judgment because all our sins have been placed on Christ. God will charge no sins to our account. Praise the Lord!
8. Believers have been “called into fellowship with His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord” (v. 9). Human beings long for connections with others. We are and will be forever in close, personal, intimate relationship with the Son of God, a privilege of grace beggaring description.
Given this rich heritage, how can we behave carnally, fuel or perpetrate dissension among our brothers, allow ourselves to sin or be defeated by the natural vagaries of life, or fill our lives with empty natural things? May we keep Christ in the forefront of our hearts and minds and live for His honor.
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