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Ironside's Notes on Selected Books Ironside's Notes
1 Corinthians 3
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Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Ironside, H. A. "Commentary on 1 Corinthians 3". Ironside's Notes on Selected Books. https://studylight.org/
commentaries/ eng/ isn/ 1-corinthians-3.html. 1914.
Ironside, H. A. "Commentary on 1 Corinthians 3". Ironside's Notes on Selected Books. https://studylight.org/
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It is only as the Spirit of God lays hold of him and gives him to see his lost condition that the gospel appeals to this man. Believing it he ceases to be a natural man, he is no longer to be placed in that category. He may be a babe in Christ but he is a Christian. However, when you turn to consider Christians, you find two classes suggested in these words of the apostle Paul. He uses these words in verse 15, “He that is spiritual,” and then in the first verse of chapter 3 he says, “I…could not speak unto you as unto spiritual, but as unto carnal.” Let us look at the word carnal. Literally it means “fleshly”; it is an adjective formed from the Greek word for “flesh.” The term flesh as used doctrinally in Scripture does not refer to human flesh, but rather to the nature which we have received from Adam, “That which is born of the flesh is flesh.” Now a carnal man, strange as it may seem, is a fleshly believer. There are many such persons. The carnal man has been regenerated, he has received a new nature, his spirit has been quickened into newness of life, and that spirit that fell into the basement is being elevated into its proper place by divine power, but the man finds he is still under the power of that old carnal fleshly nature in a large measure. Many a Christian’s life is made up of mingled victories and defeats. As he walks with God, as he takes the place of lowliness and humiliation before God, as he feeds upon the Word, as he breathes the atmosphere of prayer, his spiritual life is developed and he grows in grace and in the knowledge of God. But if this believer is slothful in availing himself of the means of grace, he may find that even after being saved for some years he is still far from being the kind of a Christian that it is the desire of the Lord that he should be.
What is a carnal believer, a fleshly believer? It is best to find out from Scripture. In verse 3 we read: “For ye are yet carnal: for whereas there is among you envying, and strife, and divisions [or factions], are ye not carnal, and walk as men?” Here is a Christian, one who has really trusted the Lord Jesus Christ, but as you get intimately acquainted with him, you find he is a very selfish person. He is delightful to get along with as long as he can have his own way. As long as he can run everything to suit himself he is perfectly happy and agreeable, but cross him in the least degree, bring something before him that is contrary to his own desires, and at once there is a stirring of the flesh within him and he is manifested as a carnal man because there is strife. Think of the Lord Jesus Christ. They could treat Him as they would, but He was always the meek and lowly One; they could not rouse His temper by ill-treatment and yet He had a temper. A spiritual Christian is not one who has no temper. Just as that knife of yours would amount to very little if not properly tempered so the Christian amounts to nothing if he is not properly tempered. We read of our Lord Jesus Christ being angry. He was in a synagogue on a Sabbath Day and there was a poor woman there bowed with disease, and His enemies were watching Him to see whether He would heal her on the Sabbath. He asked the question, “Is it lawful to do good on the sabbath days?” (Mark 3:4) but they would not answer Him, and we read, “He…looked round about on them with anger, being grieved for the hardness of their hearts” (v. 5). What made Him angry? It was their hypocrisy. Hypocrisy always stirred the indignation of the Lord Jesus Christ. They could heap every indignity upon Him they desired, that never stirred Him to anger, but let them heap indignities upon one of the least of His children and that stirred Him to the very depth of His being. When Saul of Tarsus was persecuting the Christians, Christ Jesus spoke to him and said, “Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me?” (Acts 9:4). He never talked in that way to people when they ill-treated Him on earth, but when they ill-treat His own while He is in glory, He feels it keenly. When you find a Christian quick to resent what you do to him but not at all quick to resent what is done to others, you may be sure he is still carnal.
Then there is envying. A person who envies another manifests the marks of carnality. We are members of one body. If that is really so, if I am a member of one body with every other Christian, I ought to be just as delighted when my brethren are honored as though it were I, and I ought to be as deeply concerned when my brethren are distressed and in trouble as if I were in their place. Scripture says, “[If] one member be honoured, all the members rejoice with it” (1 Corinthians 12:26). And we are exhorted to “rejoice with them that do rejoice, and weep with them that weep” (Romans 12:15). How different it often is! I can do something reasonably well, but when somebody else is preferred before me, I cannot appreciate what they do. I think I can preach a little bit, but somebody else is enjoyed more than I am, and instead of saying, “Thank God for the way He is using His servant,” I sit in a corner and think, “What is it that makes the people so interested? I don’t see anything in that kind of preaching.” When I do this, I am carnal. You can apply that to everything else. If you cannot enjoy having somebody else preferred before you, you are carnal.
Then there are the faction-makers, the division-makers, those who try to bring in strife among the people of God. Here at Corinth they were divided into little cliques and were saying, “I am of Paul; and another, I am of Apollos,” and every one had his favorite. Paul says, “That is just carnality. When you go on like that, you are acting like little babes.” “I, brethren, could not speak unto you as unto spiritual, but as unto carnal, even as unto babes in Christ.” If Christians could realize that when they compare one with another, say unkind things about some and laud others to the skies, it is just baby talk, they would be ashamed of it. Paul is telling us that it only shows carnality. It is not anything to be proud of, it is something that may well cause one to bow the head in shame. Paul says, “Here you are in Corinth, you have such wonderful attainments and are so proud because you come behind in no gift, and yet you are just babies, so that I cannot unfold to you the things that I would like to. I have had to feed you with milk, and even now you are not able to be fed with meat. You are still big babies.” Paul was very faithful. The Corinthians gloried in men and they gloried in great swelling words, and some, I suppose, listened to Paul and said, “We don’t see anything in his preaching; we learned that years ago. Why doesn’t he go into the deeper things?”
A brother was a candidate for the pastorate of a church and he preached for the congregation on the text, “Thou shalt not steal.” The congregation thought it was great, and the pulpit committee met after the service to decide whether to give him a call. Finally one of the brethren spoke up and said, “I don’t believe in calling any man on one sermon. That was a fine sermon he preached, but I think we should ask this brother to come back again before we call him.” So they decided to ask him to come back the next Sunday. He did and he used the same text, “Thou shalt not steal,” and preached the same identical sermon. At the close the committee met again and said, “He must have forgotten that he preached that sermon last Sunday, we had better ask him back again.” So the next Sunday he got up in the pulpit and said, “You will find my sermon in the twentieth chapter of Exodus, ‘Thou shalt not steal.’” Before he could go on, a member of the pulpit committee got up and said, “You are forgetting that you preached that sermon here twice already; we want to hear you in something else.” The preacher replied, “I am going to preach on that text every time I come to this church until you learn to keep away from Widow Jones’s hen-coop of a night.”
So Paul says, “I cannot unfold the great things to you, you are still little babes, you are not developed yet, you are just carnal.” But now he says, “The spiritual are a different class.” Who are the spiritual? Those who walk in a spiritual way, those who are guided by the Spirit of God. The highest part of the man is now in ascendency. Self does not predominate in this man, he lives to glorify Christ and walks on a higher plane than the carnal man.
“He that is spiritual judgeth all things, yet he himself is judged of no man.” What does he mean by this? The word translated “judgeth” is the same as in the fourteenth verse, “But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned” (emphasis added). “He that is spiritual [discerneth] all things, yet he himself is [discerned] of no man.” He is able to see the difference between what is of God and what is of man, what is of the flesh and what is of the Spirit, what is of the new and what is of the old nature. The spiritual man discerns all things but he himself is discerned of no man. Other men cannot understand him, if they are not spiritual. They say, “He is a queer kind of a man; he does not seem to be actuated by the motives of other men, he is not dominated by the principles that dominate other men.” Sometimes they even say as in Isaiah’s day, “The spiritual man is mad, he is not normal.” Of course not, according to the present order, because he is controlled by a higher power. One of those old New England philosophers wrote, “If I do not seem to keep step with others, it is because I am listening to a different drumbeat.” And if a man of God does not seem to keep step with the carnal and the worldly and the Christless, it is because his ear is attuned to heaven and he is getting his instructions from above. I remember reading, about forty years ago, a little poem that seems to me to bring out very preciously what should characterize the spiritual man:
There is no glory halo around his devoted head,
No luster marks the sacred path in which his footsteps tread;
But holiness is graven upon his thoughtful brow,
And all his steps are ordered in the light of heaven e’en now.
He often is peculiar and oft misunderstood,
And yet his power is felt by both the evil and the good,
And he doth live in touch with heaven a life of faith and prayer,
His hope, his confidence, his joy, his all are centered there.
Would you like to be a spiritual man, a spiritual woman? If you would, there is a price to pay. You must surrender your own will, you must yield yourself unreservedly to the control of the indwelling Holy Spirit of God. And that means the end of all human ambitions, that means that it makes no difference henceforth what men may think or say, you have only One to please, and that is the Lord Jesus Christ. There is a great deal of talk about surrender, about spirituality, on the part of Christians who manifest by their very demeanor the carnality that controls them. God give us to be controlled by Him!
Let us then as believers not be occupied with man but with Christ. “Who then is Paul, and who is Apollos, but ministers by whom ye believed, even as the Lord gave to every man?” And what are ministers? They are servants, and so God’s ministers are servants of the people of God. Just imagine a family with a number of servants. Here is Chloe and Nellie and Tom and Bill, and the whole family is upset because some are saying, “I am of Chloe, I am of Nellie, I am of Tom, and I am of Bill.” What, the whole family divided over the servants? What absurdity! God’s ministers are the servants of the people of God; let them accept the service thankfully, but never let them put the servant in the place of the Master. “I have planted, Apollos watered; but God gave the increase.” The servant has no power to cause the Word to produce fruit.
“So then neither is he that planteth any thing, neither he that watereth; but God that giveth the increase.” The servant is nothing, but God is everything. “Now he that planteth and he that watereth are one.” And what is that? They are both just nothing; they are two ciphers. But put Christ in front of the ciphers and then you have something worthwhile. “And every man shall receive his own reward according to his own labour.”
The Testing Of The Believer’s Works
1 Corinthians 3:9-23
For we are labourers together with God: ye are God’s husbandry, ye are God’s building. According to the grace of God which is given unto me, as a wise masterbuilder, I have laid the foundation, and another buildeth thereon. But let every man take heed how he buildeth thereupon. For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ. Now if any man build upon this foundation gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, stubble; every man’s work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man’s work of what sort it is. If any man’s work abide which he hath built thereupon, he shall receive a reward. If any man’s work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire. Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you? If any man defile the temple of God, him shall God destroy; for the temple of God is holy, which temple ye are. Let no man deceive himself If any man among you seemeth to be wise in this world, let him become a fool, that he may be wise. For the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God. For it is written, He taketh the wise in their own craftiness. And again, The Lord knoweth the thoughts of the wise, that they are vain. Therefore let no man glory in men. For all things are yours; whether Paul, or Apollos, or Cephas, or the world, or life, or death, or things present, or things to come; all are yours; and ye are Christ’s; and Christ is God’s. (vv. 9-23)
We have noticed how the apostle warns the people of God against putting His servants in a place that should belong only to the blessed Lord. Every minister is simply what that name implies, a servant, and the danger is that the servant will be exalted and the Master lost sight of, or the servant be so censored and blamed that the message will be refused and the Master dishonored. The servants in themselves are nothing but channels through whom God speaks to His people. The important thing is the message they bring. And so Paul speaks of himself and his fellow servants in this way: “We are labourers together with God.”
The wonderful thing is that God could do all His work without us. It is not necessary that He should take up any of us and use us to spread His gospel. He could write it in letters of fire upon the heavens, He could send angels of glory to preach the “unsearchable riches of Christ,” even as of old they came to proclaim the birth of Christ and to direct the shepherds to Bethlehem’s manger. But He has chosen to give to us the privilege of making known the riches of His g holy privilege, and yet a very responsible one. It should lead every servant of Christ to ask himself, “Am I really in touch with God, am I seeking my own interests, can it be that I am actuated by selfish motives, by vain glory, simply trying to attract attention to myself and my ministry instead of taking a place like that of John the Baptist of old who pointed the people away from himself to Christ saying, ‘He must increase, but I must decrease’ (John 3:30)?” This was the attitude of Paul and this will be the attitude of every true minister of God. “We are labourers together with God.” They are not left to work in their own strength, but are to give out their message in dependence upon the indwelling Holy Spirit. That is the difference between preaching and worldly oratory. An orator may take a passage from the Bible and read it in a most thrilling way, but that would not be preaching, because he would not be doing it in the power of the Holy Spirit. A poor uneducated man may stand up and preach the gospel in halting English, and yet in such divine power that men would break before it and be led to confess their sins and trust the Savior. That is what He means when he says, “The preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God” (1 Corinthians 1:18). God’s servants would preach better if you prayed for them more; there would be more response to the preaching if they were more upheld in the secret closet by the people of God. How the apostle felt his dependence on the prayers of God’s people! You find him pleading with the saints to remember him in prayer that he might preach as he ought to preach. That is the petition that we bring to you, and we plead with you for Christ’s sake and for the sake of dying men, bear up the ministry before God, take it daily to God in prayer that those who preach the Word may give it out in the demonstration of the Spirit and in power. “We are labourers together with God,” and it is only as God works in and through us that anything is accomplished.
Then he turns to the servants as a whole and likens them to a field and a building. First we read, “Ye are God’s husbandry”-or God’s tilled field. You remember how the Lord Jesus Christ used that figure. The sower sows the Word and when the Word is sown and people believe it, He likens them to wheat in a field. That is a beautiful picture of His people, God’s tilled field. One lovely thing about a field of wheat is that the heads are rising up toward the sun and they are very much on a level. We are all members one of another; one is not to tower above the other, but together we are to bring forth fruit to the glory of the Lord Jesus Christ.
Second, “Ye are God’s building.” The building is really the temple referred to in verse 16, “Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you?” Of old when Solomon built the temple, he built it upon the solid rock of Mount Moriah. That was an oval-shaped hill and so it was necessary to make a level foundation. Vast stones were brought from the quarries below and thus made a great platform upon which the building stood, and so the apostle says, “Ye are God’s building,” God’s temple. That is, the church of God collectively is the temple of God. He is not speaking of the individual now. In the sixth chapter and the nineteenth verse he says, “What? Know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you?” That is another thing. In that sense you are a temple of God apart from every other believer, but here he is speaking of the assembly of God who as a whole constitute the temple of God, “The church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth” (1 Timothy 3:15).
“According to the grace of God which is given unto me, as a wise masterbuilder [or as a wise architect], I have laid the foundation.” Just as that foundation had to be laid before the temple was erected, so Paul came to Corinth and there laid the foundation by preaching the Word, and was used to bring the first members into the church of God in that locality. Very few of us can do foundation work like that in these days. Our missionaries have that privilege, they do not have to build upon another man’s foundation, but with most of us the foundation has been laid, and so in the same way the foundation of the church in Corinth was laid when Paul first went there to labor. Now he says, “That foundation does not need to be laid again. Others build upon it-but let every man take heed how he buildeth thereupon.” In other words, they must preach the truth of God in the power of the Holy Spirit and not allow unscriptural and worldly and carnal things to come in to mar the work that the Spirit of God is doing.
“Now if any man build upon this foundation gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, stubble.” That word precious should be “costly,” like the great and costly stones built into the temple of old. It is not the thought of diamonds and rubies, but great costly stones, built into the spiritual temple of the Lord. If unconverted, worldly, careless people are brought in, all these hurt and hinder the work of Christ; and so if you apply this to every individual believer, though primarily it has to do with building up the church through the servants of God, the same principle abides. You rest on the one foundation, Christ, and you are building a life, a character, that must stand the test of that coming day. How are you building and what are you building? You may build with gold which speaks of divine righteousness, silver which speaks of redemption, costly stones speaking of that which will abide the day of testing. Or, on the other hand, you may build with wood, hay, or stubble-wood, which may be fashioned to be very beautiful and has a certain value attached to it, but which will not stand the fire; hay, which is of less value than the wood and yet also has a certain measure of worth because containing nourishment; stubble, that which is utterly worthless, that which should have no place whatever in the thoughts of the people of God. How are you building?
God has undertaken for us so marvelously. We have often wondered what we were going to do, how we were ever going to get through, and yet God has brought us through, and we have found that a great deal we worried about we had better left with Him. Someone has said, “I have had a great many troubles in my life, but most of them never happened.” God has been so gracious. Is this not a good time to look back and take stock? How have we been building? Everything that has been to the glory of God will be looked upon in that day as the gold that has His approval. Everything in our life that has been the result of our recognition of redemption, if we have acted as men and women redeemed by the precious blood of Christ, will shine out as silver in that day. Everything that has been in accor- dance with the Word and has sprung from that renewed nature which we have through grace, will be as costly stones built into this edifice of our life. How have you been building? Do you see a great many things that give you pause? Do you say, “There has been so much selfishness, so much carnality, so much downright bad temper, so much just of the flesh and so much that was un-Christlike”? Then, dear believer, go to God and judge all these things in His presence, and they will be burned up now and you wont have to face them later. If you do not judge them now, you will have to face them at the judgment seat of Christ. “If we would judge ourselves, we should not be judged” (1 Corinthians 11:31). We are called to confess all these things that the Spirit shows us are just of the flesh.
A great deal that is called Christian work may be only the energy of the flesh. It is not done for the glory of God at all. What motives actuate us? How do we feel if others are preferred before us? This is a good way to test ourselves as to whether what we are doing is for the Lord. Only that which is done for Christ will be rewarded in that day. Notice, it is He Himself who will point out the differences.
“Every man’s work shall be made manifest.” This is at the judgment seat of Christ, not at the judgment of the Great White Throne. Believers will stand before the judgment seat of Christ at the Lord’s coming. “For the day [that is, the day of Christ] shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire”-the purging, testing fire of divine approval, discernment, righteousness; for He is going to judge everything by His standards, not by ours. “And the fire shall try every man’s work of what sort it is.” I beg of you, consider that little word, sort. “Of what sort it is.” Not how much it is. There may be much that amounts to very little in that day, but “of what sort it is.” It is the character of our work that counts, the motives that lie behind our service. The secrets of the heart are to be made manifest. God will test everything in the light of His own truth. It is a great comfort sometimes when you cannot do all you would like to do to know that if it is of the right character, you will be rewarded just the same.
That is so lovely in connection with that dear woman who anointed the feet of the Lord. When others objected, Jesus said, “She hath done what she could.” Is that what the Lord will be able to say of you in that day?-”He hath done what he could”-”she hath done what she could.” And then, I do like that word that the Lord spake to David. Solomon tells how David wanted to build a temple to the Lord, but God did not allow him to do so, but the Lord said, “Thou didst well that it was in thine heart” (1 Kings 8:18). Possibly there is a sister who wanted to be a foreign missionary, but she lost her health and was not able to do so. She has been perhaps a semi-invalid at home for years, but has been able to write kind and helpful letters to those in distress. She gave of her slender means to others to take the gospel to the ends of the world, yet she says, “I feel as though my life has amounted to so little; I wanted to be a missionary, and instead of that I have lived this humdrum existence.” Do not be discouraged; if done for Christ, He will say, “She hath done what she could.” “Thou didst well that it was in thine heart.” Perhaps there is a brother who as a young man thought, “How I would like to go into the ministry, how I would love to devote my life to proclaiming the gospel.” But that necessitated study, years of preparation, and during those years when he would like to have gone to school perhaps he had a dear aged mother depending upon him, or a sick father, and he had to be the wage earner of the family. And so he has toiled on, labored on, helping to keep these dear ones, and many a time he has said, “Well, I have missed it; my life has not been the kind I wanted it to be; I wanted to be a minister of the gospel and here I have had to live in this matter-of-fact kind of way, handling butter and eggs, working in an office, or something like that.” My dear brother, the Lord has taken note of all that self-denying care you have given that dear father or mother. He is not going to lose sight of any of it, and in that coming day He will say, “Thou didst well that it was in thine heart,” and will give you the same kind of a reward as you would have earned if you could have gone out and preached the gospel. It is the heart God looks at-”of what sort it is.” God grant that our work may be of the right sort.
“If any man’s work abide which he hath built thereupon, he shall receive a reward.” This is in addition to salvation. We are saved by grace, but this is for faithful service. After we have been saved, there is superabounding grace for, of course, the reward too is of grace, for we could not have earned anything but by divine power. He enables us and then rewards us. But, on the other hand, “If any man’s work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss.” What does that mean? Will I not feel unhappy even in heaven if I suffer loss in that day? You see, I will come before the Lord and He will go over my life from the day His grace saved me. It will pass like a panorama before me, and for everything that was the outworking of His Holy Spirit, for everything that was in accordance with His Word, He will give a reward. He will gather that which was for His glory together, and will say, “I am going to reward you for that.” But He will bring everything to light which was of self, contrary to the Spirit of Christ, and say, “All that is just so much lost time. If you had devoted all that time to My glory, I could have rewarded you, but I cannot reward you for that which did not please Me. But I tell you what I am going to do with it, I am going to burn it up, and you will never hear of it again for all eternity.” There will be nothing left but that which was to the glory of the Lord Jesus Christ.
Suppose that in that day I have really nothing to glorify Him, I have trusted Him as my Savior but my life seemingly amounted to nothing. “If any man’s work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire.” You may have a beautiful home, you may have spent a long time in building it, but one day it takes fire, and you are wakened in the middle of the night to find the flames roaring through the halls. You leap out of the window and are saved, but the house is burned up. That is the way it will be for many a believer; the life will go for nothing, the life and testimony will be wasted, there will be no reward, but the individual believer will be saved yet so as by fire. Look at Lot. He spent years in Sodom building up a great reputation, he became a judge, but he had no business being there. We read: “That righteous man…in seeing and hearing, vexed his righteous soul from day to day with their unlawful deeds” (2 Peter 2:8), but Abraham’s soul was not daily thus distressed. Why? Because he was not there at all, he was separated from it all. Finally God destroyed Sodom with fire and saved Lot. “Saved yet so as by fire.” Everything he had lived for was burned up. Believer, what a solemn thing if that should be true of you or of me, when the blessed Lord takes account of our service.
The apostle goes to the farthest extreme here, but in the next chapter he shows that there will be no believer of whom that is actually true. Chapter 4 verse 5 reads: “Therefore judge nothing before the time, until the Lord come, who both will bring to light the hidden things of darkness, and will make manifest the counsels of the hearts: and then shall every man have praise of God.” He will find something in every believer’s life that He can reward, some little act of unselfishness, some trembling testimony for Himself, everything that was of the Spirit will be rewarded in that day. But he puts it in the third chapter in the strongest way that we may distinguish between salvation, which is of grace alone, and reward which is for service.
In the last part of the chapter he refers to another class. He has been speaking of members of the church of God, in the temple of God, some who build gold, silver, precious stones, and some who build wood, hay, and stubble. Now he speaks of a third class in verse 16, “Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you?” And then in verse 17, “If any man defile the temple of God, him shall God destroy; for the temple of God is holy, which temple ye are.” Of whom is he speaking now? “If any man defile the temple of God”-those who are the enemies of God’s truth, those who try to destroy His church, seek to ruin the work of the Lord, men from the outside who creep in. I tremble when I think of what it will mean for men who today profess to be servants of Christ and ministers of God but despise this Book and deny every fundamental truth of Holy Scripture, and yet for filthy lucre’s sake get into pulpits of orthodox churches, and instead of building gold, silver, or precious stones are only building wood, hay, and stubble, and they are destroying, as much as in them is, the temple of God. God says, “I will destroy them; they will have to account to Me by-and-by.” I dwell upon this because some have misunderstood this passage and think of the temple as the temple of the human body; they have thought it might mean if somebody fell into some kind of habit that defiled the body it would mean that God would destroy him. If you allow yourself to indulge in any habit that injures this body, you will have to have answer for that, but here He is talking about the temple that is being built upon the one foundation, the church of the living God.
“Let no man deceive himself. If any man among you seemeth to be wise in this world, let him become a fool, that he may be wise. For the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God.” “The wisdom of this world,” not the knowledge of this world. Knowledge is perfectly right and proper; gain all you can; but the wisdom, that is, the philosophy, the reasoning of this world, is foolishness with God. “For it is written, He taketh the wise in their own craftiness.” Men may think they are very wise but God is ahead of them, and therefore because He has made foolish all the wisdom of this world, how absurd it is for Christians to glory in that which is just of man. “Therefore let no man glory in men. For all things are yours.” Let me give you a title to a fortune. You are rich beyond your wildest dreams. Note carefully this closing passage.
“Whether Paul, or Apollos, or Cephas,” the ministers of Christ, “or the world.” Is the world mine? Yes, because, “The earth is the LORD’S, and the fulness thereof” (Psalms 24:1). This is my Father’s world. I can say, “Thank God, it all belongs to me, and I am going to reign over it someday.” “Or life”-yes, life is mine in which to glorify God. “Or death”-death is the servant to usher me into the presence of the Lord. “Or things present”-they are all mine, the trials, the difficulties, the perplexities as well as the happy things. “Or things to come.” What riches are soon to be revealed! “All are yours; and ye are Christ’s; and Christ is God’s.” What a wonderful culmination to this chapter that emphasizes our responsibility!