1 Corinthians 3:3-4. For while there is jealousy and strife among you, are you not of the flesh and behaving only in a human way? 4 For when one says, “I follow Paul,” and another, “I follow Apollos,” are you not being merely human?
The Corinthians thought they were super spiritual because they had really awesome spiritual gifts. But, as we saw yesterday, they did not understand what true spirituality is. It is the mind of Christ. It is his life of self sacrifice and humble service for each other. As we can see in 1 Corinthians 3:3 they were living in division, jealousy, and strife. Not humility, love, and service- not in true spirituality.
In fact, Paul says they are living in the flesh, not the spirit. The flesh is all about self promotion. It is about making yourself look good, being on the winning side, making sure that everyone knows that you’re special. The flesh is the self in pursuit of its own ends (Thiselton, 1 Corinthians). In Romans, Paul will call the flesh “hostile to God.”
But wait, aren’t they arguing about bible teachers? How could that be self promoting or “hostile to God?” Isn’t placing yourself under a bible teacher a spiritual act, rather than a fleshly act?
Not in Corinth. It was just more self justifying- a way to feel good about yourself. In Corinth it was flat out divisive. This wasn’t just some friendly debate at the book club. This was literally destroying the church. Of all the problems Paul addresses in this “super-spiritual” church, this is basically #1 (see 1 Corinthians 1:10-17).
And here’s the amazing thing that we want to see from the scripture above, look at how Paul describes the Christians in Corinth- being merely human (v.4).
Wow. What this implies is that those with the indwelling life of Christ are no longer mere humans. We are partakers of the divine nature. We have zoe life, not just psyche and bios. We are Christ’s life lived out in the flesh. We have the capacity for divine instincts (faith).
Mere humans seek their own way. They cause division. They aim to survive rather than sacrifice. But to submit to each other requires a divine mindset that only comes from the life of Christ in us.
The Corinthians are saints. They aren’t mere humans. But they are acting as mere humans. They are behaving in a human way. Why? Because they have let the flesh take over. This is the same problem the Galatians had as law keepers. The flesh was battling the Spirit. Here we see the same battle, flesh v. Spirit, but not over law keeping. Instead, in Corinth, its over freedom. The Corinthians were free in Christ but they didn’t use their freedom to love, they used it to argue, divide, and fight.
“To live is Christ” removes all of this childish, “human” behavior from our hearts. We no longer have to be the best, or promote our own self worth. Our worth is in Christ. That is true spirituality- loving, giving, sharing, submitting.
Is your behavior divisive? In what area of your life are acting “merely human?” How does your union with Christ empower your behavior to match your identity?