Emptied of Its Power

1 Corinthians 1:10 ESV

“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, but that you be united in the same mind and the same judgment.”

I have heard people say that if the majority is of a certain opinion then it must be right, and the minority must be wrong. That is illogical and it is unbiblical. If that were the case, Jesus would have been wrong, and the crowds who yelled “Crucify him! Crucify him!” would have been right.

That also is inconsistent with the teaching in Scripture regarding the narrow road and gate that few travel and enter, that lead to eternal life, and the broad road and gate which many travel and enter, which lead to destruction. Clearly the majority are in the wrong because their path leads them to destruction, and the minority are right, because their pathway leads them to eternal life (Matt. 7:13-14).

So, this is not instructing us to agree with the majority opinion or belief. It is perfectly fine to stand your ground and to disagree if the majority are following the broad road that leads to destruction. You stay on that narrow road! Don’t be talked into following the crowd. Don’t be shamed into unifying with what is wrong, when you know it is wrong, just so everyone is unified and so there are no divisions among you.

The agreement among us and the unity that Paul was speaking of here is agreement with the Spirit of God, and it is unity with the mind of Christ, and it is unity and agreement with the judgment of God. So, don’t be fooled into agreeing together with those who are not united with Christ in heart, mind, and purpose. For, unity is being pushed much these days, but it is usually unity with humanistic philosophy and with marketing schemes of men.

1 Corinthians 1:11-16 ESV

For it has been reported to me by Chloe’s people that there is quarreling among you, my brothers. What I mean is that each one of you says, “I follow Paul,” or “I follow Apollos,” or “I follow Cephas,” or “I follow Christ.” Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Or were you baptized in the name of Paul? I thank God that I baptized none of you except Crispus and Gaius, so that no one may say that you were baptized in my name. (I did baptize also the household of Stephanas. Beyond that, I do not know whether I baptized anyone else.)

We are not to be followers of men (or women), but we are to be followers of Christ Jesus, our Lord. We are not to be followers of the personalities of men (or women), but we are to emulate the character of Jesus Christ. And, we are not to get into bitter debates with people of different church denominations over doctrinal differences, for that helps no one, and it only serves to further divide us as the people of God.

Thus, we are not to be followers of church denominations. We should not identify ourselves as Baptist, Methodist, Presbyterian, Lutheran, or Pentecostal, etc., but we should identify ourselves as followers of Jesus and of his Word. And, we should be seekers of truth, even if that truth goes against what a church denomination taught us early on in our lives.

We need to be those who are listening to the Holy Spirit as we study God’s Word, and who examine the Scriptures (in context) to make certain that what we are believing, and what we are proclaiming, is indeed the truth, to the very best of our understanding.

And, we don’t study the Scriptures to prove ourselves or our church denomination’s doctrines correct. For, they may have something wrong. We may be wrong. We study to learn the truth so that we can obey the truth. And, we ask for the guidance of the Holy Spirit to lead us into all truth and to keep showing us where we have something wrong. For, a lot of us learned things wrong early on in our lives, and we need to be corrected.

1 Corinthians 1:17-19 ESV

For Christ did not send me to baptize but to preach the gospel, and not with words of eloquent wisdom, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power.

For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. For it is written,

“I will destroy the wisdom of the wise,
and the discernment of the discerning I will thwart.”

Is the cross of Christ today being emptied of its power? Absolutely! And, who is emptying it of its power? Men and women in their deceitful scheming who are opposed to the truth and whose goal it is to lead many astray. They are of the flesh of man and not of the Spirit of God, and they are leading many away from the cross of Christ to follow the flesh of man.

These false teachers are twisting the Scriptures to their own advantage, and they are ignoring the bulk of teaching on salvation found in the Scriptures. They are “cherry picking” the Scriptures that they like, which they then teach out of context, and then they make them say what their flesh desires.

These teachers of what is false are of the flesh, glutinous, senseless, self-indulgent, foolish, and irresponsible people. And these character traits, which are in their possession, are in abundance. And, people listen to them because they are charming, manipulative, and persuasive, and because what they are telling the people is what their flesh wants to hear.

But what spews forth from their mouths is worthless, empty, vain, and dishonest. Their words cannot be trusted, though I am certain that some of what they say is the truth, otherwise they would not be able to persuade so many people to believe them. But their words do not come from God, for they are opposed to the holiness and righteousness of God.

For, the gospel that they teach has no power to deliver anyone from slavery to sin, for it coddles them in their sin, instead, and it makes room for them to continue living in sin, too, only now without guilt. And, this is because the authority for what they teach does not come from God but from Satan, and therefore it is wicked, immoral, corrupt, and polluted.

And, so what they produce are a lot of followers, but not of God, but of the flesh of man, who remain dead in their sins, following the lusts of their flesh, and who are not living in submission to God in his holiness and righteousness. So, they continue in their adulteries, their lewdness, and their deceitfulness, for they are followers of the flesh which is inclined that way.

And, they live like this in direct opposition to God and to his Word, opposing his gospel and his servants, too. And, thus they empty the cross of Christ of its power by spewing forth a false gospel which leaves people still floundering in their sin, still trapped in sinful addictions, while convincing them that God will not judge them and that they have nothing to fear.

Sowing and Reaping

But we are all going to reap what we sow. If we sow to please the flesh, from the flesh we will reap destruction (decay, death). But if we sow to please the Spirit, from the Spirit we will reap eternal life (Gal. 6:7-8).

For, Jesus Christ died on that cross that we might die with him to sin and live to him and to his righteousness. His grace, in fact, instructs us to say “No!” to ungodliness and fleshly lusts, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives while we wait for Christ’s return (Tit. 2:11-14).

So, don’t listen to what tickles your itching ears. Don’t follow the flesh of man thinking that salvation permits you to keep on sinning without guilt. For, if we walk according to the flesh, we will die in our sins. But if by the Spirit we are putting to death the deeds of the flesh, then we will live (Rom. 8:1-17; cf. Rom. 6:1-23; Eph. 4:17-24; 1 Jn. 1:5-9; 1 Jn. 2:3-6).

Those false teachers of a false gospel may be charming, and they may be entertaining and very convincing, but if you follow them, and you think that you can be saved and have the hope of heaven, but that you can keep on living to fulfill the lusts of your flesh, then just know that the Scriptures teach that you will end up in hell, not in heaven.

For, Jesus died to deliver us from our slavery to sin so that we might now walk in his holiness and righteousness to the glory and praise of God.

Oh, to Be Like Thee, Blessed Redeemer

Lyrics by Thomas O. Chisholm, 1897
Music by W. J. Kirkpatrick, 1897

Oh, to be like Thee! blessèd Redeemer,
This is my constant longing and prayer;
Gladly I’ll forfeit all of earth’s treasures,
Jesus, Thy perfect likeness to wear.

Oh, to be like Thee! full of compassion,
Loving, forgiving, tender and kind,
Helping the helpless, cheering the fainting,
Seeking the wandering sinner to find.

O to be like Thee! lowly in spirit,
Holy and harmless, patient and brave;
Meekly enduring cruel reproaches,
Willing to suffer others to save.

O to be like Thee! while I am pleading,
Pour out Thy Spirit, fill with Thy love;
Make me a temple meet for Thy dwelling,
Fit me for life and Heaven above.

Oh, to be like Thee! Oh, to be like Thee,
Blessèd Redeemer, pure as Thou art;
Come in Thy sweetness, come in Thy fullness;
Stamp Thine own image deep on my heart.

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