Oct 11, 2007 What Are You Building With? Kathleen Maples
Paul was speaking to the Corinthian church, and to better understand this epistle,
it's helpful to have insight into the area, and its inhabitants. It was located about
40 miles west of Athens, Greece. Modern day Turkey is bordered on the West side
by the Aegean sea. Approximately 150 miles separates Turkey from the
southernmost parts of Greece. Corinth is located on a small bridge of land that
connects the southern peninsula of Peloponnese to mainland Greece. Corinth is
bordered on the north side by a harbor that faces toward southern Italy. The other
side of this narrow strip of land is bordered by another harbor facing toward Asia.
Parallel across the Aegean sea, on the west coast of Turkey is Ephesus.
Corinth was a very wealthy commercial city. Being a hub of shipping activity,
there were influences from many areas of the world, and thus many cults and
many different religious practices. Corinth was notorious for the wealth, vice and
extravagant spending of its inhabitants. There was a large population of Romans,
Jews and Greeks. The Roman goddess, Venus, was one of the main attractions of
worship to the people here. She was the Roman idol that symbolized beauty and
fertility. In the Bible, God warned the people against worshiping the host of
heaven but many did anyway and were always trying to bring it down to man's
level. That is why there is mythology. Man trying to bring 'god' down to their
level. They even created a soap opera of love entanglements, battles and murders
to go along with their idols. The planet, Venus, was visible in the evening, and in
the morning. Before it was known that this was the same planet, the people had
two names for this planet. Evening star, Venus, and the morning star, was called
Lucifer. Interesting fact, huh? Wonder who inspired the people to call a star
"Lucifer" for that is what he was called before he was kicked out of heaven. Hmm.
He is so good at manipulating people's minds. Now, here's something else I didn't
know: The word "Venus" literally means venom, to poison, fret or irritate. The
primary sense of the root word is to shoot, or rush, as light or wind. (Webster's
1828 Dictionary) This sounds exactly like what the adversary does to the minds of
God's children. Just as God uses light to open our eyes and hearts to truth, this
'angel of light' called the devil uses a pale imitation of light to blind people's minds
and eyes to truth.
It was well known at the time that the immorality of the Corinthian people was
notorious, even to the pagan world. The temple built for the worship of Venus,
which was the counterpart to the Greek's Aphrodite, was serviced by around a
thousand female slaves, who were kept there as sexual entertainment for
strangers, and 'worshipers'. This presented a great threat to the purity of the
church. Many of those saved had come out of this idolatry and when we come to
Christ, we tend to come with our previously formed ideals about things, just as
they did. Remember, this society was one of wealth, extravagance, extreme self-
indulgence, no matter what the appetite, and gross sexual immorality.
Paul has received letters from the church at Corinth, detailing problems in the
congregation, and asking questions and instruction for handling these things.
There were also many questions being asked of Paul, which he painstakingly
addressed in this most lengthy, 2 part epistle. He reminds them in Chapter one
they are called to be saints, and they are sanctified in Christ Jesus, and as such are
to be set apart from the immorality of this world. He wants to see them enriched
by the Lord, and the testimony of Christ confirmed in them. He wants them to be
blameless in the day of the Lord. He also reminds them God is faithful, by whom ye
were called unto the fellowship of His Son, Jesus Christ, our Lord. (1Co_1:9) He
addresses the division between the people, the carnal favoritism. They had begun
to form their own clicks, and these were men centered. They had their favorite
speakers, and disregarded the others, carnally setting ministers of the Word at
nought. He tells them their faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the
power of God. (2:5) Paul warns them that they have not received the spirit of the
world, but the Spirit of God, which would teach them the deep things of God, given
the opportunity. They have been given the mind of Christ, in the Holy Spirit who
would teach them all things.
1Co 3:1 And I, brethren, could not speak unto you as unto spiritual, but as unto carnal, even as
unto babes in Christ.
1Co 3:2 I have fed you with milk, and not with meat: for hitherto ye were not able to bear it,
neither yet now are ye able.
He identifies with them, as part of the family of Christ, but flatly tells them they
are carnal, not spiritual. What is the difference and why is this so important?
Spiritual means one who is filled with and governed by the Spirit of God. Carnal
means one who is filled with and governed by animal appetites, human nature,
including the potential for depravity. It is all of, by and for the gratifying of the
flesh. Paul said you act like babies, able only to handle the least difficult Christian
truths. They were not able to bear strong truth, which would go against the desires
of the flesh, but promote righteousness and the kingdom of God.
1Co 3:3 For ye are yet carnal: for whereas there is among you envying, and strife, and
divisions, are ye not carnal, and walk as men?
He said you are so willing to be religious, but only when it is easy. They were
envious of each other, arguing and debating over who is the best speaker, purely
because certain speakers would appeal to their intellectual ideas and educated
minds. Those who weren't as well educated as these former pagans, those who
weren't as knowledgeable of the law, as were the Jewish converts, and those who
had little philosophical understanding, as the Greek and Roman converts, well,
you can begin to understand why they were having trouble getting along. There
was so much quarreling and debating over ideas and man centered focus, when
the main focus should have been the Word, and Christ Himself-not the minister.
It's not the messenger that is to be glorified, and exalted, but the Message. The
Christ, the Holy one of God who shed His blood for us that we might have life. This
was all still desiring to please the flesh, certain speakers appealed to certain ideals
and expectations they brought with them out of the world.
Paul said, you are acting like normal, earthly men, not sons and daughters of God
who have eternal life living within them. You make too big of a deal about the
things that don't really matter, in this temporary life. It's the world and day that is
coming that matters. He reminded them, we are only ministers, teaching what we
have learned from the Lord, by the power of the Holy Ghost, to you. We try to
instill within you the seeds of truth, and doctrine, and we try to water what we've
sowed, by building on it, truth, upon truth. But it's the life of God, the power of God
that enlarges and causes the seed to grow.
1Co 3:7 So then neither is he that planteth any thing, neither he that watereth; but God that
giveth the increase.
1Co 3:8 Now he that planteth and he that watereth are one: and every man shall receive his
own reward according to his own labor.
There should be no Christian celebrities. You might not like that statement, and
you might not agree with it. Consider what the Word says. So much of the church
copies the world. The world has their celebrities, so does Christianity. The movie
stars and music stars are grossly overpaid, live in luxury, and have their award
shows and pat each other on the back, and that is the world. The celebrity
mentality is guilt over success and a need to feel like they are actually "making a
difference" and they pass out awards to each other and praise each other. That is
the way of the world, one can expect this kind of behavior. But, Christians are
supposed to be different. Christ is supposed to be the focus and receive all the
glory. It bothers me that the Christian singers and musicians have been tricked
into following this same example. So much flesh being glorified, while God gets lip
service. How much money is wasted to put on these 'awards shows' and hand out
meaningless trophies for 'best song of the year' or best new vocalist, and how in
the name of all that is holy does God get glory out of those who are supposed to be
a separate, called out people, following the traditions of the world? If we are doing
all we do for the glory and honor of God, as it is supposed to be, then why, oh why,
do we give in to this need to be recognized, and honored by the public, for what we
do? That need for self recognition must be crucified. People, those who walk this
path have already received their reward in the public recognition and praise of
men they have received. (See Matthew 6:2-5) Can you imagine the Lord, and His
disciples, the apostles, behaving in such a way? No. Flesh wants to stand in the
spotlight, even if it's a religious spotlight and bask in adoration, compliments, and
praise of men. Those who plant and sow the seed of the Word, the Gospel, whether
in song, music, or ministry, should not think more highly of themselves than they
should. Paul said I was with you, and I spoke to you the things of God, but I didn't
use big fancy words, or flashy gimmicks, no, but there was a real demonstration of
the Holy Spirit and the power of God because flesh did not try to touch the glory.
Paul did not want to draw attention and build their faith up on the man speaking,
but in the invisible, and almighty God. (1 Cor 2:3-5). That's the pattern, church.
Self gets nothing and God gets everything. That's only fair, since HE alone brings
life, deliverance, help and hope. He alone makes the difference. I love good Gospel
music. I love Christian praise and worship music. But flesh is polluting so much of
it. When the Holy Spirit is in charge, advertisement and marketing methods are
not necessary. He draws, He provides, He moves, and Christ is glorified and people
are truly delivered as HE breaks the yokes.
1Co 3:9 For we are laborers together with God: ye are God's husbandry, ye are God's building.
1Co 3:10 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
We are supposed to be building for Christ, right? We are supposed to be laboring,
working in the kingdom, the vineyard of God, the field which is the world of lost
souls, who desperately need HIM not men's schemes, ideas and merchandise. HE
alone can save them-not our 'best song of the year' or 'latest Christian best-seller'.
Men should not be seeking earthly awards. There was a time or two that God's
true prophets, ministers and apostles were lavished with honor of men, especially
and usually after being the vessel through which God worked a visible miracle,
BUT they immediately backed away, in horror, refusing the 'honor' and attention
and warning them to give praise to God! Apostle Paul didn't want this kind of
thinking corrupting the church. This is how the world does things and are we not
to come out from among them and be separate? We are not to seek the praise and
honor of men. How many times have you looked through a Christian magazine
and saw "Dove award winning group has new number one single?" advertising a
new CD? Well, right there, all the glory for the success of the song went to the
artist who is supposed to be a servant. Jesus said in Luk_17:9 Does the servant who
did the things that were commanded him receive thanks from the Master for doing
what was commanded? I think not. They have only done that which was their
duty, which they were obligated to do.
1Co 3:11 For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ.
1Co 3:12 Now if any man build upon this foundation gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay,
Consider that very carefully. You can't add philosophy or humanistic theories to
the Gospel. You can't add man's thoughts or ideas. Jesus Christ, the Holy One of
God, the Way, the Truth, the Life, the Anointed Messiah, the Son of the Living God,
the Author and Finisher of our faith, the Master, glorious Redeemer, is the
Foundation. He is HOLY and PURE. Incorruptible. Absolutely perfect. What can
stand on such a foundation? What are we building with? Oh, let's take time to
consider ourselves very slowly, and pray for the precious Holy Ghost to enlighten
us and show us the truth about ourselves.
First in the list is gold. It's symbolic of purity, nobility, substance, treasure. (The
word, spirit and power of God). Then there is silver. Silver is also a precious metal,
of substance, but it tarnishes easily when exposed to pollutants in the air. Pure air
and pure water does not tarnish silver. It's not used for building much because of
its tendency to tarnish and oxidize. However, it's widely used for coins and is a
great conductor of electric currents. Normally has to undergo a purification
process in a fire so that foreign substances float to the surface and can be removed
before it is used. Precious stones are valuable, as jewels, for their beauty, and
substance. They are like gifts. (i.e. gifts of the Holy Spirit working to edify and
strengthen the Body of Christ and unite it with the single purpose that the Body
may totally agree with the Head as One.) Wood, hay and stubble are things easily
consumed, easily destroyed, and lack enduring substance. They are vulnerable to
attack from pests, i.e. termites, wind, rain, mold, sun, etc. So what are we building
with? Can it survive testing? Can it endure hardship, scorn, persecution, and
attack? If we are building with our own ideas, and methods we got from some
Purpose driven book, or other self improvement help book you found in a Christian
bookstore, it's wood, hay and or stubble.
Luk 6:46 And why call ye me, Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say?
Luk 6:47 Whosoever cometh to me, and heareth my sayings, and doeth them, I will show you
to whom he is like:
Luk 6:48 He is like a man which built a house, and digged deep, and laid the foundation on a
rock: and when the flood arose, the stream beat vehemently upon that house, and could not
shake it: for it was founded upon a rock.
Luk 6:49 But he that heareth, and doeth not, is like a man that without a foundation built a
house upon the earth; against which the stream did beat vehemently, and immediately it
fell; and the ruin of that house was great.
We have to dig deep into this Holy Word of God, and not take somebody else's
word for what it says and means, but search it out ourselves. Take what we find to
our knees and ask the Lord to enlighten us and help us see how this all applies to
us, and ask for grace and strength to walk and live in this Book. That requires time
and discipline in a fast paced society of people who are used to getting instant
everything. But this is life to our soul. It will keep us from deception, even self-
deception. It will keep us from getting lost along our way. It will protect, defend,
and strengthen us against evil. When we stand before Him, will our work for Him
be based on things accomplished as we yielded to the guidance of the Holy Spirit,
through prayer and fasting and seeking God, learning to wait on Him for
instruction and understanding, motivated by love, or will we jump the gun in our
impatience and do what we think is best, because it's easier, and because the rest
of Christianity ad nauseum is doing it and it seems to be meeting with success
because the Harvest Crusades are packed, and the Worship teams are filling
stadiums, and huge auditoriums and selling lots of CD's and DVD's? Which do you
think will make it through the Refiner's fire? (Mal_3:1-3) IF all that was as
successful as it appears, why is our society decaying so fast? Why is there so much
trouble in our schools, in our government, and why so little tolerance for Truth
and why is the name of Christ, and the Commandments being systematically
stripped from all aspects of society? Why is everyone pushing the envelope to see
what they can get by with? Because by and large it's a sham. There's no substance,
no demonstration of the Spirit and Power.
1Co 3:16 Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in
1Co 3:17 If any man defile the temple of God, him shall God destroy; for the temple of God is
holy, which temple ye are.
God has connected all of His children together by and through Christ. You can't be
a part of this Holy Body (because the Head is Holy, the Body is Holy), if you are
willing to verbally assault or judge or discount another member of this Body. Be
so careful about this. Remember who lives in that member of the Body. The word
"defile" here (G5351) is phtheiro. When I saw that I was reminded of the word
"theory". This Greek word means to corrupt or destroy, to spoil by any process,
including moral or intellectual influence, which would lead one away from the
truth in holiness to another path. Webster's 1828 Dictionary says it's to make
unclean, render foul and dirty, make impure, tarnish or pollute; to taint, corrupt,
violate or render impure with sin.
The Lord knows our thoughts and feelings. He knows our hearts and minds. If He
who is Holy lives in us, we should never take that for granted. We should always
be alert, and not set any wicked thing before our eyes, we should not listen to
anything that glorifies that which He hates and has rejected. We should not
indulge that which He said make no provision for. We should not seek our own,
but His. We are not our own, we are His. We will give account for what we do with
what is His. Will we give Him our time, our life, so He can use us to reach out to
those around us who are lost and on their way to an eternal hell, or will we just
give him our mediocre left overs and consume our lives on what we think is best?
He said lean not to our own understanding, but to trust in Him, and let Him direct
us. It's not in us to successfully direct our own path. It may look that way for a
while, but we will ultimately end up in a mess unless we give up and let Him take
over. So much is at stake. Do we love Him enough to give Him everything or are
our hearts too far from Him to make the sacrifice? He made it for us, He thought
we were worth dying for. Is He, this glorious and wonderfully magnificent King, Is
He not also definitely worth living for and dying to self so we might have MORE of
HIM and not ourselves?
If we don't give Him all now, when we face Him, we'll wish we had and it will be