【Bible Study】1 Corinthians 1: The Devil's Three Schemes
Bible Study: 1 Corinthians
- 【Bible Study】1 Corinthians 04: To Be a Shepherd With the Heart of a Father and Mother
- 【Bible Study】1 Corinthians 1: The Devil's Three Schemes
- 【Bible Study】1 Corinthians 2: What God Has Given Us Is The Wonderful Holy Spirit
- 【Bible Study】1 Corinthians 3: Do Not Boast About The Worldly Wisdom, Do Not Build with Worldly Methods
The "First Corinthians," it has its historical background. Today, we are discussing the first chapter of "First Corinthians." I oppose a dangerous viewpoint, which is that reading the Bible requires checking its historical background. I oppose checking the historical background because God's word is God's word. I teach everyone to read the Bible, and I hope you can agree with me that what Paul wrote two thousand years ago, what Moses wrote three and a half thousand years ago, or what David wrote in his psalms three thousand years ago, are all addressed to people of our era without needing to examine the background of that era. And to say that these words are no longer applicable in this era is a lie of the devil. So, what do we read in the Bible? We read how we should apply these words to our lives. After reading, we understand that these words speak to the problems of our modern times, not the problems of that era, and we no longer have those problems.
God's word endures forever. Heaven and earth may pass away, but God's word will always remain. We must always abandon the practice of reading God's word in the context of its background, as it can be very misleading. I have encountered people who listen to our recordings online and tell me, "Pastor, your way of studying the Bible is interesting. I used to search for information online after reading the Bible, and I would read it when I found it, but it didn't edify me. So, where is the key to reading the Bible? It's to edify ourselves. I believe that when we read "First Corinthians," although we may want to know the historical background, that is by no means a crucial thing. You can skip it; you can do without knowing that background. If you know it, thank the Lord; if you don't, it doesn't matter. But don't make that background into something very important.
As we read the first chapter of "First Corinthians," if we set aside the era and context in which the Corinthian church existed, what will we read when we approach it today? Suppose Paul wrote this letter two thousand years ago for us, knowing that we should consider "First Corinthians" as a message for us. In that case, you will read that this letter aims to address a problem, which is the scheme of the devil. So, First Corinthians chapter 1 can be summarized as “The Devil's Three Schemes.”
So, what is the first scheme of the devil? Let's go back and read from verse 1 to verse 9, but let's start reading from verse 10 and continue from there. The first scheme is called "strife," which leads to divisions within the church. People start forming factions, saying, 'You belong to this group,' or 'You are part of that group.' Some might say, 'You are of the charismatic group,' or 'You belong to the evangelical group.' When you hear such things, do not accept them. Instead, say, 'We belong to the Jesus group.' There is only one group for us, and that is the group of Jesus.
As long as we are in the group of Jesus, everything is fine. We are not about any particular group; we are about Jesus. We strive to adhere to and follow everything written in the Bible; that's the key.
Now, the people in Corinth started forming groups, and you know what happens during this process. The people in Corinth couldn't see the devil; they were completely oblivious to the fact that they were under the influence of the devil. Those who are controlled by demons often do not realize it. They might think, 'I'm fine; I have no problems,' but as soon as they pray, they start shouting and behaving erratically, and the demonic influence becomes evident.
I want to share an important concept: strife originates from the thoughts and intentions of the heart. In other words, the battleground for strife is in the spiritual realm. The Corinthian church, despite their lack of education, had eloquent speakers. We know this because Paul mentions in verse 5 that 'in every way you were enriched in him, in all speech and all knowledge.' This eloquence allowed strife to enter the Corinthian church.
We can understand that even if you have eloquence, knowledge, or any other gifts, they cannot stop the demonic influence of strife. So, how do we deal with strife? I will give you a lesson: guard your thoughts and intentions, and set your heart on maintaining unity in the church. Refuse to engage in strife. This is how you can resist the spirit of strife. Strife is a spiritual battle, and unity is the key.
If you cannot resist the spirit of strife, then despite your reasons, wisdom, and abilities, your church will eventually be in chaos. So, what does Paul say in verse 10? 'I appeal to you, brothers, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree, and that there be no divisions among you.' Set your hearts on unity.
God wants to do marvelous things among us: increase our spiritual gifts, make us abundantly rich in all things, give us eloquence, and grant us knowledge. However, these gifts cannot replace the importance of united in mind and thoughts. Do you understand? Your thoughts and intentions, your heart, are where it all begins. You are responsible for your thoughts and intentions.
We can renew our thoughts and intentions by reading God's Word. In 1 Corinthians 1, it tells us to be united in mind and thoughts, resisting the spirit of strife. Strife is a spirit, and we must be cautious. When dealing with such issues, stand firm in your position and, at the same time, learn to speak with gentleness, grace, and wisdom. Even if you resolve the issue, remember that the person on the other side may still be hurt. Do you understand? Use wisdom when handling conflicts.
Conflicts are often hard to judge in terms of right or wrong. Going back to Genesis, eating from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil brought knowledge but also death because you began to judge according to your own standards. When you judge according to God's standards, it's right, but if you use your own standards, even if you are correct, you can still fall into the devil's scheme. Remember this when dealing with all other aspects of ministry.
Some ministries are entrusted to our brothers and sisters, and we must be vigilant. If you are in a leadership position, learn how to handle these matters wisely and with discernment. The issue of strife is crucial. It's not about doing everything diligently; it's about safeguarding unity in the Holy Spirit. This is the devil's first scheme.
The second scheme is about human wisdom. Humans have a natural habit, and that is to admire human wisdom.
I once met a person who initiated a ministry called the 'Bible Research Ministry.' As a result, this ministry spread globally, and people from various churches participated in it. What you will find in this ministry is that it primarily emphasizes wisdom, which is human wisdom.
Humans have an innate liking for these things; they enjoy knowing. The most obvious example is gossip news. It may not be very useful, but people still love to read it, and gossip newspapers make a lot of money.
We know that human wisdom has great appeal, but the devil will never miss this point. The devil uses the glorification of human wisdom to corrupt, and this wisdom replaces the power of God. If God's power is replaced by human wisdom, you can be sure that it's the work of the devil.
When we cast out demons from those who are under their influence, we notice an interesting phenomenon: speculation is a spirit. Once people possess the spirit of speculation, it takes over their thoughts, and they become even more controlled. Usually, when we cast out demons from those who love to speculate and nitpick, we encounter this symptom: when we command the spirit of speculation to leave in Jesus' name, they can't speak; they stammer, 'In the name of J-J-Jesus...' like that. The spirit of speculation does this to people.
I realized how powerful this is! So, be cautious. Speculation can replace God's power. Once God's power is absent from the Christian faith, no matter how well you articulate these things through speculation, it's useless.
I once bought several books from a person. Later, I threw them away because after reading them, I realized they were causing confusion. The revelations in those books were not from God; they were explorations based on human wisdom.
Let me give you an example, the Trinity. Is the term 'Trinity' mentioned in the Bible? I've searched the entire Bible, and the term 'Trinity' is never used. If it's the God of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, then it's the God of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. You don't have to insist on using the term 'Trinity.'
God reveals to us what we need to know. So, the Bible clearly states that the obvious things belong to us humans, but the mysteries belong to the Lord. That's crystal clear! So, let's not focus on the part that belongs to God. If it's not written in the Bible, don't speculate about it. Stick to what's written in the Bible.
Human wisdom can be dangerous. Don't delve into very complex matters. Isn't it clear enough? The cross, for example, is indeed the power of God. While the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, to us who are being saved, it is the power of God.
You must understand what Paul was opposing. He was against speculation and using human wisdom to understand profound matters because it cannot save us. Salvation comes through the power of God. How are people saved? They are saved by God's power, by being able to solve problems and address everyday issues.
We were powerless, but now we have power. We were once impoverished, but now we are rich. We were lacking eloquence, but now we have it. We lacked eternal life and hope, but now we have hope and eternal life, enabling us to solve problems. If we cannot solve problems, then no matter how much we talk, it's useless.
So, everyone should start learning to avoid indulging in empty talk, discussions about trivial matters, and nitpicking. If you find yourself enjoying family histories, discussing things that are seemingly profound but ultimately unclear, then you will realize that the spirit of speculation has come. It will lead you into endless, confusing thoughts. If you have this problem within you, spiraling your thoughts in circles until they become chaotic, you will know that a spirit has come, and this is a dangerous situation.
The Greeks sought wisdom, and the Jews sought signs. Can you see the dark power behind this? The dark power behind this is Satan himself.
The third scheme is all about boasting in things of the carnal.
So then, no more boasting about human leaders! All things are yours, (1 Corinthians3:21 NIV)
You should know that people love to boast, and humans love to boast the most. Why do they love human wisdom and such things? Because they can use them to boast, and as soon as they boast, they fall into the devil's scheme.
So, what about the people in Corinth? Weren't they becoming prosperous? People really enjoy boasting. For instance, they boast about owning luxury brands items. Because they want to boast. They like to flaunt these things.
Then they acquire eloquence, just like the Corinthians did. These are all gifts from God, aren't they? And they gain knowledge. Originally, what kind of people were they? Originally, they were what we might call 'losers' today.
Brothers and sisters, think of what you were when you were called. Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were influential; not many were of noble birth. (1 Corinthians 1:26 NIV)
You see, they were all considered good-for-nothing person. Then suddenly, they became prosperous, gained eloquence, started buying brand-name items, and suddenly acquired knowledge. Do you think they could escape the devil's scheme of boasting? Generally, they didn't give glory to God but rather to themselves. 'I was originally this intelligent; it's just that I didn't receive a good education. You all have opportunities for education, but I was born into a poor family. If I had been born into a wealthy family, I would be even more remarkable today!' After they achieved all this, they completely forgot that everything is by God's grace.
I encourage everyone, no matter what, that one day we become people with wisdom, understanding, eloquence, and knowledge, having studied many courses, received an MBA, and obtained various certificates. If you start boasting, you fall into the devil's scheme. If you must boast, boast in the Lord, because all these things come from the Lord. Once we learn to boast in the Lord, I can tell you that there will be less strife, and you will be less corrupted, because the devil makes you boast not for anything else but to corrupt you.
Boasting too much can be deadly. Let me give you a few examples: one day boasting, the next day a medical check-up reveals cancer. Boasting leads to that. The sinking of the Titanic wasn't due to technical failure; it was due to boasting. People said, 'Even God cannot sink this ship.' With just one boast, it sank. I want to say that if people boast, they will be attacked wherever they fall into the devil's scheme.
So, even until today, when we haven't become so prosperous, so eloquent, or gained so much knowledge, as we read 1 Corinthians Chapter 1, we should be cautious of these three demons: firstly, strife; secondly, human wisdom; thirdly, things of the carnal.