“But I, brothers, could not address you as spiritual people, but as people of the flesh, as infants in Christ. I fed you with milk, not solid food, for you were not ready for it. And even now you are not yet ready, for you are still of the flesh…” 1 Corinthians 3:1-3 ESV
“Let no one deceive himself. If anyone among you thinks that he is wise in this age, let him become a fool that he may become wise. For the wisdom of this world is folly with God. For it is written, ‘He catches the wise in their craftiness,’ and again, ‘The Lord knows the thoughts of the wise, that they are futile.’ So let no one boast in men...” 1 Corinthians 3:18-21 ESV
A lot of the context of this chapter is centered around the subject of being followers of man rather than followers of Christ. But this isn’t just about being followers of human beings over being followers of Christ, but this has to do with buying into the teachings and philosophies and theologies and the cultural and religious traditions of human beings. This has a lot to do with replacing the teachings of the Scriptures with the teachings of man/flesh.
Sometimes “milk” is used as a symbol of the purity of God’s word, like the milk coming from the breast of a mother who is feeding her infant. But in the same manner, if “milk” remains our total diet, we will be lacking in much of the other nutrients we need to grow up to become healthy adults. And it is the same on a spiritual level. If we only take in little bits of God’s word, and we build our doctrines around those, and if we then ignore the meat of the word, we will remain in the flesh, and we won’t become spiritually mature followers of Jesus Christ.
And if that excludes walks of obedience to the Lord and to his commands, and if that excludes the forsaking of our sins to follow Jesus in living holy lives, pleasing to him, in moral purity, uprightness, godliness, honesty, faithfulness, and righteousness; and if it includes continuing in deliberate and habitual sin against the Lord, in defiance of his commands, while claiming Jesus as your Savior and Lord, and heaven as your eternal destiny, then that also means that you don’t know the Lord, you are not in fellowship with him, and you will not inherit eternal life with God.
So, what this is a warning against is being followers of man and of their philosophies and traditions and culture and theologies and doctrines, etc. And it is an encouragement (a strong urging) to make certain that what we are hearing and believing is what the Scriptures teach, in context. For many lies which are being spread and accepted today come from people taking Scriptures out of their context and twisting them to say what they don’t say.
So many people today are teaching a “gospel” message which is all about what Jesus does for us, all about his love for us, and his grace, and his mercy, and his forgiveness, and his promises, but all usually taken out of context and applied wrongly to people to whom they do not apply. And they give the picture that Jesus does it all for us and that nothing is required of us other than a profession of faith in him. But that is not what Jesus taught, and that is not what his NT apostles taught. They taught self-denial, death to sin, and living to God and to his righteousness, as required for salvation.
So, what that does is it teaches people who profess faith in Jesus Christ that they can go on living in sin, deliberately and habitually sinning against God, and against other humans, and they can ignore the commandments of God, and ignore God’s divine will and purpose for our lives, and ignore all the teachings of the Scriptures which speak to the church warning them against continuing in sin and of the consequences of them continuing in sin.
And so they end up teaching and preaching and believing a false gospel of man, which is really of Satan, which tells them that no matter what they do, not matter how often or how much they willfully sin against the Lord, and against their fellow humans, that God/Christ is always going to be there for them to support them, to hold on to them, to keep loving and forgiving them, and to meet all their needs, and to answer all their prayers.
But do we have to be absolutely perfect to be acceptable to God? No! This is not about perfect or not perfect. This is a matter of lifestyle, of what we practice, and it is a matter of commitment and obedience to the Lord. This is not saying we will never fail, but that failing should not be our practice, especially not with this attitude that what we do and how we live doesn’t matter to God for he just does it all for us. Just not true!
For Jesus said that if anyone would come after him, he must deny self, take up his cross daily (die daily to sin) and follow (obey) him. For if we hold on to our old lives of living in sin and for self, we will lose them for eternity. But if for the sake of Jesus we deny self, die to sin daily, and follow him in obedience, then we have eternal life. And he also said that not everyone who says to him, “Lord, Lord,” will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one DOING the will of God the Father who is in heaven. So it is not enough to just profess faith in Christ. We must do as he commands, in practice.
[Matt 7:21-23; Matt 24:9-14; Lu 9:23-26; Rom 1:18-32; Rom 2:6-8; Rom 6:1-23; Rom 8:1-14,24; Rom 12:1-2; Rom 13:11; 1 Co 6:9-10,19-20; 2 Co 5:10,15,21; 1 Co 1:18; 1 Co 15:1-2; 2 Tim 1:8-9; Heb 9:28; 1 Pet 1:5; Gal 5:16-21; Gal 6:7-8; Eph 2:8-10; Eph 4:17-32; Eph 5:3-6; Col 1:21-23; Col 3:5-17; 1 Pet 2:24; Tit 2:11-14; 1 Jn 1:5-9; 1 Jn 2:3-6,24-25; 1 Jn 3:4-10; Heb 3:6,14-15; Heb 10:23-31; Heb 12:1-2; Rev 21:8,27; Rev 22:14-15]
Trust and Obey
Words by John H. Sammis, 1887
Music by Daniel B. Towner, 1887
When we walk with the Lord
in the light of His Word,
What a glory He sheds on our way!
While we do His good will,
He abides with us still,
And with all who will trust and obey.
Not a shadow can rise,
not a cloud in the skies,
But His smile quickly drives it away;
Not a doubt or a fear,
not a sigh or a tear,
Can abide while we trust and obey.
Not a burden we bear,
not a sorrow we share,
But our toil He doth richly repay;
Not a grief or a loss,
not a frown or a cross,
But is blessed if we trust and obey.
But we never can prove
the delights of His love
Until all on the altar we lay;
For the favor He shows,
for the joy He bestows,
Are for them who will trust and obey.
Then in fellowship sweet
We will sit at His feet.
Or we’ll walk by His side in the way.
What He says we will do,
Where He sends we will go;
Never fear, only trust and obey.
Trust and obey, for there’s no other way
To be happy in Jesus, but to trust and obey.
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