FLESHLY SECTARIANISM IS AN UNNATURAL STATE FOR THE BELIEVER AND STUNTS SPIRITUAL GROWTH
I. (:1) SOME BELIEVERS REMAIN SPIRITUAL INFANTS IN THE AREA OF DISCERNMENT FOR AN EXTENDED TIME
A. Context = Family of Christ – not talking about unbelievers here
“And I, brethren,”
B. Capacity for Discernment Not Consistent With Spirituality and Maturity
“could not speak to you as to spiritual men,”
C. Capacity for Discernment Limited by Carnality and Immaturity
“but as to men of flesh, as to infants in Christ.”
II. (:2-3a) FLESHLY LIVING LIMITS ONE’S ABILITY TO PROCESS DEEPER SPIRITUAL TRUTHS
A. Restricted to a Diet Appropriate for an Infant
“I gave you milk to drink, not solid food; for you were not able to receive it.”
B. Problem is Fleshly Living
“Indeed, even now you are not yet able, for you are still fleshly”
Piper: So what is it about a person that makes them unable to digest solid food? It’s pride. Or to put it positively, the organ that properly digests solid food is humility. As long as a person is still largely influenced by a spirit of self-exaltation he is not able to digest solid food. The throat of pride is too narrow and unpliable to handle the solid food. . .
What then is solid food? Notice that it is not something that takes more intellect to grasp. What it takes is less jealousy and strife, less pride and self-assertion. The solid food is not for smart people. It’s for humble people — people who have stopped pursuing the pleasures of self-confidence and self-exaltation and self-determination — people who now want only to boast in the Lord and give him all the glory for whatever good there is in the world and in their lives.
MacArthur: There is no difference at all between the truths of a spiritual milk diet and a spiritual solid food diet, except in detail and depth. All doctrine may have both milk and meat elements.
III. (:3b-4) SECTARIANISM DERIVES FROM JEALOUSY AND PRODUCES STRIFE IN THE CHURCH – DESTROYING UNITY AND STUNTING SPIRITUAL GROWTH – CHECK OUT WHETHER YOU HAVE THE SPIRIT
A. Signs of Carnality
1. Root Indicators: Jealousy
“For since there is jealousy”
2. Surface Indicators: Strife
“and strife among you,”
Signs of the Holy Spirit would be in contrast to these traits:
– the Holy Spirit glorifies Christ, not the individual
– the Holy Spirit promotes peace and unity in the body
Stedman: Now the mark of spiritual babyhood, Paul says, is “jealousy and strife.” Where you have Christians who are still baby Christians and who are all too long in that condition, you will always have divisions, factions, strife, and breaking into little cliques and groups in the Church. This arises out of a sense of competition.
B. Carnality Should Trigger an Examination of Whether You Possess the Spirit
1. Fleshly = Unnatural State for the Believer
“are you not fleshly,”
2. Not Manifesting the Spirit = Danger Zone
“and are you not walking like mere men?”
C. (:4) Sectarian Spirit Makes Us No Different Than the World of the Unsaved
“For when one says, ‘I am of Paul,’ and another, ‘I am of Apollos,’ are you not mere men?”
Piper: But let’s not treat continued immaturity as unimportant. It could be a sign that no true spiritual life was ever present and that the professing Christian is only a natural man after all. This is very rarely for us to decide. But it is our responsibility to warn the careless drifter, as Peter says to make his calling and election sure, by trusting in Christ TODAY and following him in the obedience of faith.