May 30: We the Temple.

1 Corinthians 3:16-17. Do you not know that you are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in you? 17 If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy him. For God’s temple is holy, and you are that temple.

In 1 Corinthians 3 Paul reviews the growth of the church. He compares it to crops growing in a field. Crops that he planted but some one else (Apollos) watered. Then he compares the church to a building. A building that he laid the foundation of and then others have added to that foundation. But at the end of the day we, the church corporately, are that building. And not just any building, the temple of God.

How is such a huge statement possible? It’s possible by our union with Christ. “To live is Christ” means that we are in Christ and Christ is in us. The Spirit is in us. The Presence of God is in us. We are his dwelling place. We are the Garden. We are the Tabernacle. We are the Temple. God’s desire to be our God and live among his people is realized in the church.

“To live is Christ” means that you can never lose the presence of God. You are never far. You are never dirty. You are holy. God’s temple is holy, and you are that temple (v.17). The presence of God is your identity. Paul may have in mind here the pagan temples. At the center of these would be a statue of the god or goddess, the temple of Apollo or the temple of Aphrodite for example. This statue gave the temple it’s identity. Christ is now at our center. He is our identity. His cross gives our life its meaning.

Sometimes as Christians we get so wrapped up in our feelings of guilt that we stop going to church because we feel like we are far from God or too dirty on the inside to be in God’s presence. But we say with our brother Paul “do you not know that you ARE God’s temple?” Are you trying to avoid God at church while God is living inside of your very spirit? Can you see how you can’t hide from God if Christ lives in you?

Do you see yourself as the dwelling place of the presence of God? Is Christ your identity? Have you believed the lie that you can be far from God or too dirty for God, rather than the truth that you are holy and God’s house? What would it look like if you started seeing all other Christians as God’s temple too?

 

May 29: You’re (Not) Only Human.

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? 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?

May 28: Being Spiritual.

1 Corinthians 2:10-16.  these things God has revealed to us through the Spirit. For the Spirit searches everything, even the depths of God. 11 For who knows a person’s thoughts except the spirit of that person, which is in him? So also no one comprehends the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God.12 Now we have received not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might understand the things freely given us by God.13 And we impart this in words not taught by human wisdom but taught by the Spirit, interpreting spiritual truths to those who are spiritual.

14 The natural [psyche] person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned. 15 The spiritual person judges all things, but is himself to be judged by no one. 16 “For who has understood the mind of the Lord so as to instruct him?” But we have the mind of Christ.

Paul is hitting us with some pretty deep truths here. He wants to show the Corinthians that Christ IS spirituality- nothing more nothing less. Consider these truths:

To have the Spirit is to have the mind of Christ. If you have the Spirit you have Christ’s mindset.

Every Christian is spiritual. Equally spiritual. We each have the same amount of Christ- all of him.

The natural person is not spiritual. He or she does not have the indwelling Christ. They do not have the Spirit. They cannot understand spiritual things. They do not have zoe, only psyche (see v.14).

Spiritual things are the things of the Spirit, which are the things of Christ. Spiritual things are not some higher level of human capacity or knowledge.

The spiritual things are the depths of God. They are also, at the same time, the mind of Christ. Therefore Christ IS the depths of God. God is known through knowing Christ.

The spiritual person (every Christian) can understand the things of God. How? Because they are revealed in Christ and his cross. Two things that are now our very life.

The spiritual person (every Christian) can interpret spiritual truths. How? Because every Christian understands the gospel and it is the greatest spiritual truth.

The spiritual person (every Christian) can judge [discern] all things. Christians can now judge both the natural world and the spiritual world. For example: they can see the sin committed by an individual (natural world) and yet discern the spiritual forces behind that sin (spiritual world).

The spiritual person is not judged by the world. Since the mind of Christ and the life of Christ are now our standard for life, how could the world ever judge us? How could those without the mind of Christ ever judge those with it? They don’t operate in the spiritual realm.

“To live is Christ” is to be spiritual, because true spirituality is Christ; nothing more and nothing less.

Which truth above stands out to you? Are you spiritual? How would you define spiritual? Did your definition include Christ? I hope so.

May 27: No More Secrets.

1 Corinthians 2:6-10. Yet among the mature we do impart wisdom, although it is not a wisdom of this age or of the rulers of this age, who are doomed to pass away. But we impart a secret and hidden wisdom of God, which God decreed before the ages for our glory. None of the rulers of this age understood this, for if they had, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory. But, as it is written,

“What no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man imagined, what God has prepared for those who love him”—

10 these things God has revealed to us through the Spirit. For the Spirit searches everything, even the depths of God.

Secret and hidden wisdom?

The depths of God?

Whoa, what is all this about? Well, it’s about “to live is Christ.” The secret and hidden wisdom of God is no longer secret and hidden. It is in us in the person of Jesus Christ. The depths of God have been revealed in Christ and now in us.

In Paul’s day many religions were mysterious. They had secret information that only some could attain. And the Corinthians would have loved this idea. “Oooo we love secrets” they might say. “We want Christianity to have secrets too.” But Paul is redefining these terms. The Spirit is not giving us a secret and hidden NEW knowledge. He is giving us simply the mind of Christ.

1 Corinthians 2:16. “For who has understood the mind of the Lord so as to instruct him?” But we have the mind of Christ.

Spiritual maturity never goes beyond the cross. I remember once a young person in the church saying to me that he wanted to get past the basics of “Jesus loves me this I know.” Nope. There is no getting past that. There is only going deeper into it. The love of Christ on the cross is the depths of God.

“To live is Christ” makes the wisdom of God and the depths of God accessible to us by the indwelling life of Christ inside of us. It makes spiritual maturity possible for all who humbly receive it and seek it. The cross is spiritual maturity. And it is a wisdom that is given not achieved. It is available to all who would humble themselves and repent of their own wisdom and receive the grace of God through Christ.

Are you afraid you’ll never be spiritually mature? Are you seeking a maturity beyond the cross and the self sacrifice it empowers? In what way is the cross the “depths of God?”

May 26: Knowing Only the Cross.

1 Corinthians 2:1-5. And I, when I came to you, brothers, did not come proclaiming to you the testimony of God with lofty speech or wisdom. For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. And I was with you in weakness and in fear and much trembling, and my speech and my message were not in plausible words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, so that your faith might not rest in the wisdom of men but in the power of God.

The super-spiritualists of Corinth may have wanted a grandiose display from Paul. They wanted a philosopher to woo them with mysteries and secret knowledge, not a sweaty leather worker preaching about the messy death of Jesus. They most likely downplayed the cross, maybe even rarely mentioning it anymore. Why should they? They had amazing spiritual gifts and a whole lot of knowledge. So why offend people with the message of the cross?

But what they lacked in all of the “spirituality” was the true spirituality of the love of the cross. The willingness to lay down their lives for one another. The power to get beyond their selfishness and move toward each other in grace and humility. The wisdom to know how to be patient and kind and gentle, all from the freedom that comes in having been already crucified yourself, and found not guilty and raised to new life.

The cross is what they desperately needed. Not rhetoric. Not principles. Not morals. Not philosophy. They needed to understand their union with Christ and their union with one another. They needed to attach their story to THE story- the story of God’s sacrificial love for us revealed in Christ’s death and resurrection.

This comes by the Spirit (v.4). The Spirit is not giving us anything beyond what the cross supplies. There is no spiritual wisdom or power beyond Christ crucified and your co-crucifixion with him. The resurrection power of the Spirit in us is the power of the crucified life, the power of self sacrifice, the power of selfless love. And this power is manifested in Paul’s weakness. Paul came to them in weakness, and the Spirit showed up and demonstrated the power of the cross. The power of love.

“To live is Christ” makes the cross central to all we say and do. It is not just HIS story it is now OUR story. It is all we really can know for sure. It is ultimate reality. It is our very own death and life. It changes the course of all of history and makes all things new. Including us. The cross is all you need. You don’t need more answers or more relational advice beyond the cross. You need to embrace the power of the forgiveness and love of the cross and you need to live the cruciform life- the life of self sacrifice for those around you. You need to embrace both the humility (you are wicked) and the glory (you are loved) of the cross. You don’t need one more self-help book. You don’t need more sermons about claiming things. You don’t need a pep talk or an hour with candles and soft music. The wisdom and power of the weakness and sacrifice of the cross is all you need.

Do you believe this? Have you purposed to know nothing but Christ and him crucified? Do you view all of life through this lens? Do you find yourself still looking for something from God beyond the cross? What if the cross was all you had, would it be enough for you?

May 25: We Are His Salvation.

1 Corinthians 1:30-31. And because of him you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, righteousness and sanctification and redemption, 31 so that, as it is written, “Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.”

Here’s what union with Christ means: Jesus does not just teach us about righteousness, sanctification, and redemption. He IS righteousness, sanctification, and redemption.

And that simple truth is what separates our faith from all others. In every other faith the prophet or messenger of God, told the way to righteousness and holiness and salvation. They gave the mantras, or the principles, or rules necessary for the dedicated followers to find their way to God’s wisdom. But Jesus does not simply show us the way, he is the way. He doesn’t simply teach us the truth, he is the truth. He doesn’t simply live a good life, he is our life. By sheer grace we receive his own acceptance, position, and status. This is imputation. This is being in Christ. This is “to live is Christ.”

And it truly is now our life. In fact, the Greek construction of 1 Corinthians 1:30 may be interpreted in such a way as to read that we are righteousness, sanctification, and redemption. In other words this is not just a gift to us, it is us. Salvation is our new name. It is our identity and our glory. “To live is Christ” means we are collectively righteousness, sanctification, and redemption. We are the work of God.

Righteousness

Jesus’s indwelling life is the righteousness of God in us. Righteousness is God’s action of the restoration of all things. His restorative justice brings people back to himself. Because of this past action we are judged as not guilty, and because of this ongoing action we are able to live in righteousness and justice. We are now the righteousness of God. We are his arm of justice. We are his action of restoration in the world today.

Sanctification

Jesus’ indwelling life is our holiness. He is our separation unto God. He is our final destination- a holy life. This is Christ-likeness. Living the holy life of Jesus is our purpose. Why? To display the glory of God. Just as the Tabernacle was holy (set apart) so as to display God’s glory, we too, in Christ are set apart by grace alone to display the glory of God alone. We are God’s sanctification, his holiness, in the world today.

Redemption 

Jesus’ indwelling life is our freedom from the slavery to sin. He is the price paid and he is the freedom gained. He is the cause and effect of our redemption. He is broken chains and a new beginning. His life offers us not just forgiveness for sins committed, but freedom from the sin making factory in our hearts. We too are redemption. We are the freedom of God incarnated into the world. By this freedom we love and serve the world around us.

Christian, all of this is from grace. Our only boast is Christ and his cross. He has freely given his identity to us and his wisdom and power to us in the form of his very own life- his status, honor, and holiness. If we have these things from him for free, then there is no more earning. No more boasting. No more graceless living. No faking. No self justifying.

Just the freedom to live and love and serve without condition or pretense.

Do you believe that Jesus Christ is the righteousness, sanctification, and redemption of God? Do you really believe that you are the righteousness, sanctification, and redemption of God? How would your life change today if you really believed this? Why is it so important that our salvation be a person and not a plan or principle?

May 24: Nobodies and Somebodies.

1 Corinthians 1:28-31. God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, 29 so that no human being might boast in the presence of God. 30 And because of him you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, righteousness and sanctification and redemption, 31 so that, as it is written, “Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.”

Paul is describing this great reversal that God initiated whereby the “nobodies” of the world become the “somebodies”, and the “somebodies” of the world become the “nobodies.” This awesome work of God prevents all boasting in front of God. The “nobodies” turned into “somebodies” can’t boast because they didn’t acquire their new status on their own, God gave it to them. The “somebodies” turned into “nobodies” can’t boast, well because now they realize they are “nobodies.”

Which are you?

“To live is Christ” makes each of us who are in Christ into one or the other, but mostly into both at the same time. You are a “nobody” that God has graciously loved and exalted in Christ into a “somebody.” And you are a “somebody” that God has graciously humbled in Christ into a “nobody.”

Praise God!

Because of him you are in Christ Jesus. It is because of God alone that we have experienced this amazing grace. Grace that levels us all out socially. Grace that removes all barriers to the Father. Grace that even gives us something to boast in for all of eternity- the Lord Jesus.

We have found many things to boast in haven’t we? Our families. Our careers. Our good deeds. Our good looks. Our politics. Especially our politics. We boast in that thing that makes us feel like we deserve to be alive today. That thing that makes us feel like we are better than others. That thing that keeps us from getting voted off of the island.

As Christians we boast in ministry and “church work.” We use it to gain power and influence. We would never boast about it out loud, but the boast is in our hearts. We even boast in our humility.

We boast in our social status, race, wealth, education, and gender. We cry for unity, but promote division by expecting everyone to look and sound like us. We find our identity in these same things. We look down on those who dress different, think different, and worship different (style not Spirit) than we do.

All of these things keep our boast from being in the Lord. But for those who are in Christ, those who understand that “to live is Christ,” the only boast we have left is in Christ and his cross. As both a “nobody” and a “somebody” we know that all other boasts crumble in the light of his glory and grace.

What is your boast in these days? Can you relate to any of the examples above? Have you seen God turn you into a “nobody” for his glory? Have you seen him then turn you into a “somebody” for his glory? Why can we only boast in Christ?