THE CHALLENGE OF 1 CORINTHIANS 2
By Rodney W. Francis
In the First Book of Corinthians Chapter Two we have the reasons as to why it is so important that Christians be filled with the Holy Spirit. We are clearly told that the way of the Spirit is very different to the way of the natural mind. Whether we realize it or not, the biggest battle that Christians have is that which is within their own minds. God, and the things of God, cannot be understood by the natural, logical mind of reasoning. Even Nicodemus, the most learned theologian of his day, did not comprehend when Jesus spoke to him about the need to be born again by the Spirit of God (John 3 ). The spiritual realm where God dwells is very different to the natural realm we have been educated with. That is why so many do not understand or comprehend the true Christian Message. And because they do not understand the spiritual realm, they either reject Jesus, or live in a false religious realm that is totally powerless of the Holy Spirit life. Religious beliefs do not take people to heaven!
In 1 Corinthians 2 Paul tells his listeners that the battle they had with the “carnal mind versus the Spiritual life“ had kept them as “carnal babes”. He told them that divisions, envy, strife, etc., are all a product of the carnal mind taking precedence over the spiritual mind (which we receive in Christ Jesus). We have to learn to “sow to the Spirit” (Galatians 6:7-8 ) and “be renewed in the spirit of our minds” (Ephesians 4:23 ). Notice that Paul avoided obtaining all kinds of knowledge and information about his hearers; he wanted to keep his heart and mind as free as possible of all carnal information, knowledge, opinions, etc., so he could be available to the Holy Spirit and so minister “in the demonstration of the Spirit and of power (“dunamis”)”. The result of that kind of preaching was that the hearers would have faith in the power of God and not in the wisdom of men.
Paul’s example is a challenge to all preachers. Are we preaching what the Holy Spirit guides us to preach; or do we preach topical subjects that do not generate faith or demonstrate the power of God? The result of not generating faith or the power of God is that the hearers do not receive faith to mix with the word they have heard spoken ~ and so the whole exercise becomes profitless (Hebrews 4:2 ). This is why the Prophetic Ministry is so important. It enables us to minister in the Gifts of the Holy Spirit that bring revelation knowledge and gives answers to peoples’ needs, etc. We preachers need to ask ourselves: What is the fruit of our ministry right now? I have personally witnessed so many more miraculous happenings of God as a result of the Gifts of the Holy Spirit operating through my life than any other way: people saved, backsliders restored, healings, provision of finances, doors of opportunity opening up, miracles, deliverances, etc.
- When we do things God’s way we get God’s results.
As we read through this Chapter we discover that the things of God are only revealed to us by the Spirit of God: "no one knows the things of God except the Spirit of God".
- The natural man does not understand the purpose and ways of God.
- To the natural man/mind the ways of God are foolishness.
- The natural mind is unable to spiritually discern the things of God.
- This is why the world is so religious today.
It is trying to work God out through the natural mind; and it cannot be done that way. Religious ideologies will never experience the true power of God the Holy Spirit, until such time as they experience a genuine, born-again of the Holy Spirit, personal experience with Jesus Christ Himself. When we seek Him with a whole heart we will be found of Him and experience what it is to be born-again and come into a whole new realm of understanding and life-style. Unless we are born-again we cannot enter or see the Kingdom of God! (John 3:3-5 ).
To be a true follower and disciple of Jesus Christ we have to come to God on His terms; yield all of ourselves to Him; allow the old to be crucified so we can step into a whole new life that is permeated and empowered by the Holy Spirit of God. (Look at the Apostle Paul’s confession of faith in Philippians 3 ). There is no other way to God, to follow Jesus, or to fulfil His purposes in our lives.
As I look back over 56 years of serving Jesus Christ, I am still amazed at how wonderful things work out when we allow Jesus to be Lord. His ways are far superior to our own natural, logical ways at looking at life. Jean and I have lived totally by faith for over 17 years (after pastoring churches for the previous 25 years on a salary) and seen God provide miraculously for us time and time again. Not only that but we have watched God grow this ministry like we never thought could be possible. From very small beginnings ~ but listening to the Holy Spirit ~ we have seen the ministry grow and grow. Currently we are touching many thousands of lives in more than 215 nations. We do not know where our next dollar is coming from, yet every month every bill is paid. It is amazing. And the ministry continues to grow daily. I share this as a testimony of how different life is when we follow the Holy Spirit rather than our own natural mind and thinking.
- When we follow and obey the Holy Spirit’s leadings, we are right in the very centre of God’s will for us.
And that is a very wonderful place to live in. God wants every one of us to learn to be "led by the Spirit of God" (Romans 8:14 ). That is what makes us true sons and daughters of God.
- Being led by the Holy Spirit is spiritual maturity.
- Are you being led by the Holy Spirit?
- Are you listening to His voice?
- What is He saying to you today?
God is so desiring to be GOD in the lives of every Christian believer. But until we understand the message of 1 Corinthians 2 , and learn to follow His ways rather than our own, we will never really experience the power of God working in and through us to make a very positive difference in this desperate and needy generation. Jesus has saved us to be His witnesses in this hour (Acts 1:8 )! But we have to be filled with the Holy Spirit of God! He makes all the difference.
The natural mind causes us to "crucify Jesus" and His ways. It was because of the natural, religious mind that the rulers of Jesus’ day crucified Him. Had they known Who He was they would not have done so (1 Corinthians 2:6-8 ). Sadly, many religious leaders have not grasped this truth yet.
THE HOLY SPIRIT FREELY GIVES
The work of the Holy Spirit in us is to reveal those things that are freely given to us by God (1 Corinthians 2:12 ). Everything that God has given is for a real purpose. Jesus went back to the Father in Heaven so the Holy Spirit could be sent.
- He has now come and His place of residence is within us.
- Have you received Him yet?
Let me emphasize what the Scripture says: "No one knows the things of God except the Spirit of God" (v. 11). Make no mistake about this. We all need the Holy Spirit abiding within us, speaking to us, leading and guiding us into all truth, so we can accomplish the very things that Jesus saved us for. We cannot do it in our own strength, learning, or theological knowledge. Let Him lead and guide you today. You will be surprised at what will happen as a result of your obedience to what He asks of you. Trust Him and see. When we are following the ways of the Holy Spirit and walking in obedience to what He says, then we have the mind of Christ working in and through our lives (v. 16).
I encourage you to make a study of 1 Corinthians Chapter Two and allow the Holy Spirit to speak to you through it. God bless you as you seek to be more effective for Jesus Christ in these days.