Paul’s Footsteps #150

Footsteps #150

We are reflecting on what we have seen in 1Corinthians. There are few grander statements of the privileges of the Christian than 1Cor.3:21-23. Paul had received the report (1Cor.1:11) that Corinthian Christians were banding together under the banner of preferred teachers. They professed a smug loyalty to this chosen leader at the expense of Christian community. With a superior air, they demeaned those who followed others. 

Behind every dark cloud, so the saying goes, is a silver lining. Paul is moved by the theological cliques that have formed to provide an energizing statement of Christian privileges. He cleverly points to an inversion of truth by the Corinthians. They have claimed, “I belong to teacher X.,” Paul says, “You have it wrong. It is not you who belong to a teacher. That teacher, and every teacher, belongs to you!” In attaching themselves to one proclaimer, they have destroyed their Christian privileges. 

Paul did not write 1Cor.10:13 in a vacuum, a spiritual environment free of any real temptations. He writes the promise with an audience in view. And the members of his audience are tempted in very real ways. In the rough and tumble of their daily lives, they are drawn toward divisiveness and spiritual one-upmanship. They are tempted to find their Christian identity in criticizing rather than in upbuilding. They feel the pull of sexual allure. The social and religious life of idolatry draws them. This is not a promise for the ones living in ivory towers but for those struggling in the trenches of spiritual battle. 

With other passages in the NT 1Cor.10:13 exposes the anatomy of the great controversy as it affects each of God’s children. In the temptations pressed by Satan, Paul invites his readers to perceive the overruling power of God. The tempter would press his temptations with no regard to the spiritual resources of his victim. The tempter would start a fire and then block the exits. God will provide a way of escape. God is not simply a spectator of the affairs of life; he is concerned and active. Believers can count on his help. He will always make a way out.

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