In this Ask Pastor Tim, Tim responds to the following question:
So many people around the world say that Jesus is Lord and are probably not saved. I just don’t understand 1 Corinthians 12:3 which says, “Therefore I want you to understand that no one speaking in the Spirit of God ever says ‘Jesus is accursed!’ and no one can say ‘Jesus is Lord’ except in the Holy Spirit.” Please explain why many are not saved yet they say Jesus is Lord. I’m just confused.
Question: Here’s a question put forth by Mako Hughes. He says this, “So many people around the world say that Jesus is Lord and are probably not saved. I just don’t understand 1 Corinthians 12:3.” So we should all turn there. “I just don’t understand 1 Corinthians 12:3.” Now those of you familiar with your Bibles, you may already know what he’s alluding to. 1 Corinthians 12:3, The Apostle Paul speaking to the Corinthian church. “Therefore, I want you to understand that no one speaking in the Spirit of God ever says, ‘Jesus is accursed,’ and no one can say, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ except in the Holy Spirit.” Now, do you all get that? “Therefore, I want you to understand that no one speaking in the Spirit of God ever says, ‘Jesus is accursed,’ and no one can say, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ except in the Holy Spirit.” So now you all see the verse. Now, let me just read this whole question. “So many people around the world say that Jesus is Lord and are probably not saved. I just don’t understand 1 Corinthians 12:3 which says, ‘Therefore, I want you to understand that no one speaking in the Spirit of God ever says, ‘Jesus is accursed,’ and no one can say, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ except in the Holy Spirit.” Please explain why many are not saved, yet they say, ‘Jesus is Lord.’ I’m just confused.”
Tim: So what do you think? Paul says, “No one can say, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ except in the Holy Spirit.” Let me ask you this question. When you were lost, could you verbalize those few words? Did you have it in your capacity to say those three words? Jesus is Lord. When you were lost? So, do you believe like Mako believes that a lot of lost people are saying, “Jesus is Lord”? When the Apostle Paul himself says, “No one can say ‘Jesus is Lord,’ except in the Holy Spirit.” I mean, I would think that most of us when we’re first saved and we’re reading through the Bible for the first few times, we come across that verse, and if you’re reading with any level of discernment, if you’re asking questions as you read, if you’re trying to understand and comprehend as you read through Scripture, you come across that statement and it says that no one, no one can say “Jesus is Lord,” except in the Holy Spirit, and you’re thinking to yourself, well, that can’t be true. There’s lots of people that are lost and they can make statements like that. And yet, it doesn’t sound like Paul is being anything but absolute here. I mean, it’s not sounding like he’s giving any exceptions to this. He says, “no one can say, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ except in the Holy Spirit.”
Well, okay. Let’s think for a moment here. Let’s pick this apart. What I’d like to do is actually read – of course, anytime you’re going to try to understand Scripture, the thing that you want to do is you want to look at the context. That’s always stressed. Any kind of faithful Bible interpretation, you’ve got to look at what’s being said in the broader picture. You need to see what’s being said around this verse.
Now, let me ask you this. 1 Corinthians 12 is a chapter that is primarily known for what? Spiritual gifts. That is true. 1 Corinthians 12, 13, and 14 is the most extensive treatment of spiritual gifts found anywhere in your Bibles. That ought to come to our mind right off. That is what is being dealt with. Now, let’s read these first three verses together. “Now concerning spiritual gifts, brothers…” Okay, see what the context does to help us here? It tells us where Paul’s mind is going. Paul’s mind is concerned with spiritual gifts. He’s not just laying out any old general, generic statements about people’s ability to say “Jesus is Lord” or “Jesus is accursed.” He’s very specifically got spiritual gifts in mind. And notice, “Now concerning spiritual gifts, brothers…” Well, that’s interesting. “Now concerning spiritual gifts…” This phraseology: “Now concerning,” is found repeatedly in 1 Corinthians.
Let’s just look at some. Go to 1 Corinthians 7. “Now concerning the matters about which you wrote…” Okay, that’s helpful. What did they write? Well, they wrote to him. And every place where you pick up “now concerning,” he’s just laid the table for us right there. “Now concerning the things about which you wrote…” And so every time you get that kind of verbiage, “now concerning,” what Paul’s doing is he’s very specifically responding to what they wrote to him about. Let’s just look at the things that they wrote to him about. “Now concerning the matters about which you wrote, it is good for a man not to have sexual relations with a woman.” Now, understand this, Paul is not saying it’s good for a man not to have sexual relations with a woman. That’s what they wrote him about. That’s what they put on the table. And he says, now, hold on. Because of temptation to sexual immorality, each man better be touching his wife and each woman better be touching her husband.
You see, they wrote to him, and they put forth their own ideas about the things that they wrote to him about. And he’s coming back and he’s not only answering them, he’s correcting their faulty thinking in things. And so, you have that here in 7:1. Look at 7:25. “Now concerning the betrothed…” See, this is very familiar language here in this letter. If you go to 8:1, “now concerning food offered to idols.” You see, they’re asking him about all these things. What do we do in this case? What do you think about women? You know what? If you didn’t have the New Testament, and you suddenly got converted, and you’re thinking, well, we know Paul doesn’t have a wife and we know Jesus doesn’t have a wife. Maybe it’s best to be single. Maybe it’s best to put your wife away. What if I have a lost wife? You know he addresses that in 1 Corinthians 7. Those are valid questions. They have questions about all the kind of idolatry they came out of; do we eat the food? What do we do? He says, “Now concerning food offered to idols…” That would be a genuine question. Hey, that food was offered to idols. Is that really something that we should be participating or not participating in? What’s the deal? If you go further, obviously when you get to 12:1, you get this: “Now concerning spiritual gifts, brothers…” Why would he say that? Because they wrote to him about that. They asked him questions about that as well. And that may help us as we dive in to understanding this to recognize that they had written to him about something. Just before we leave this, if you jump to chapter 16:1, you will see, “Now concerning the collection for the saints as I directed the churches…” V. 12, “Now concerning our brother Apollos…” Very interesting. He uses this terminology very often. It’s not typical to his writing in most of his other epistles.
Okay, anyway, I wanted to try to give you the backdrop that they had written to him. And they’re asking questions about different things. And now, what he says here is, “now concerning spiritual gifts, brothers…” And the thing is if you go through and you read these three chapters, well, let me ask you guys. Do you know what spiritual gift gets talked about more than any other one? Tongues. Let’s just look at this. Let’s look at every place where “tongues” shows up. If you look at v. 10, “working of miracles, to another prophecy, another the ability to distinguish between spirits and other various kinds of tongues…” If you look at v. 28, “God has appointed in the church first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then miracles and gifts of healing, helping, administrating, and various kinds of tongues.” V. 30, “Do all possess gifts of healing? Do all speak with tongues?” So you see it showing up.
Look at 13:1, “If I speak in the tongues of men and angels, but have not love, I’m a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal.” If you look at 13:8, “Love never ends. As for prophecies, they will pass away. As for tongues, they will cease. As for knowledge, it will pass away.” And then 14 – 14’s just full. V. 2, “The one who speaks in a tongue speaks not to men but to God. For no one understands him, but he utters mysteries in the Spirit.” V. 4, “The one who speaks in a tongue builds up himself, but the one who prophesies builds up the church.” V. 5, “Now I want you all to speak in tongues, but even more to prophesy. The one who prophesies is greater than the one who speaks in tongues unless somebody interprets, so that the church may be built up.” V. 6, “Brothers, if I come to you speaking in tongues how will I benefit you unless I bring you some revelation or knowledge or prophecy or teaching?” So you see that tongues is all over. V. 9, “So with yourselves, if with your tongue you utter speech that is not intelligible, how will anyone know what is said? For you will be speaking into the air. There are doubtless many different languages in the world, and none is without meaning, but if I do not know the meaning of the language, I will be a foreigner to the speaker and the speaker is a foreigner to me. So with yourselves, since you’re eager for manifestations of the Spirit, strive to excel in building up the church. Therefore, one who speaks in a tongue should pray for the power to interpret.” V. 14, “For if I pray in a tongue, my spirit prays, but my mind is unfruitful.” V. 18, “I thank God that I speak in tongues more than all of you.” 19, “Nevertheless, in church, I would rather speak five words with my mind in order to instruct others than 10,000 words in a tongue.” V. 21, “In the law, it is written, by the people of strange tongues, and by the lips of foreigners I will speak to this people, and even then, they will not listen to Me, says the Lord. V. 22, “Thus tongues are a sign not for the believers, but for unbelievers. While prophecy is a sign not for unbelievers, but for believers.” V. 23, “If therefore the whole church comes together and all speak in tongues, and outsiders or unbelievers enter, will they not say that you’re out of your minds?” So, you can see, v. 26, v. 27. “If any speak in a tongue, let there be only two or three at the most and each in turn and let someone interpret.” V. 28, “If there is no one to interpret, let each one of them keep silent in church and speak to himself and to God.” (incomplete thought) Anyways, I read the wrong verses there, but you get the idea. You get the idea that this is here a lot. V. 39, “So brothers, earnestly desire to prophesy and do not forbid speaking in tongues.” This is key.
Now, you go back to chapter 12. “Now concerning spiritual gifts, brothers, I do not want you to be uninformed.” Well, whatever their question is, we don’t know. It’s not told to us. But it probably has to do with tongues. And it probably has to do with how they’re using it. And the idea that we get is that you see how he hits them with tongues. Look, you guys need to use your spiritual gifts in a way that builds up. You need to use your spiritual gifts in a way that manifests love. Love builds up. You can have the tongues of men and angels, but if you don’t have love, you are nothing. And so, again, he not only answers their questions, he tends to be corrective. They had wrong ideas about things. And they’re coming to him and so often this was the case with Jesus too, people would ask questions and it’s like Jesus would answer, but you get the feeling that He wasn’t answering their question because their question wasn’t right. They have to be corrected. They have to have things set right. And here’s the thing about tongues that I think you and I need to think about. Remember where we’re going with all this: Nobody says “Jesus is accursed” by the Spirit of God. And nobody can say “Jesus is Lord” except in the Spirit. The thing about tongues is most people today have this idea that you can turn it on and turn it off. That you can basically speak in tongues at will. And you know why most people think that? Because most people that claim to have the gift of tongues don’t really have the gift of tongues. And they speak all manner of gibberish and they can turn it on and turn it off like a faucet. (incomplete thought)
I was just listening to something recently Martyn Lloyd-Jones did – he was speaking about tongues. And he said that when he gets people that claim that they can speak in tongues, he says, “Can you speak in tongues any time you want?” And they say yes they can. And he says, “Okay, speak in tongues for me.” And he said typically, they rattle off. And he says, “You don’t have the biblical gift of tongues.” Because, he said the corrective verse in Scripture for that is found in 1 Corinthians 14:18. 1 Corinthians 14:18, Paul says, “I thank God that I speak in tongues more than all of you.” Well, as Lloyd-Jones was saying, that is a totally useless verse if we can just speak in tongues any time we want to. Because you see what he’s saying? He’s saying, “I thank God I speak in tongues more than you.” Well, certainly, he wouldn’t say that if speaking in tongues was just a matter of doing it or not doing it. Because if it was something that he or they could do anytime they wanted, how could he even be certain about a statement like this? He couldn’t be certain. Because how does he know one of those Corinthians didn’t just go out and just jabber in tongues endless for weeks at a time? And do it more than him? You see what he’s saying is this is a gift – now there’s a mystery here, because clearly even when you have the gift of tongues, you can stop yourself from doing it. As he says – if there’s not an interpreter present, don’t do it. And even as somebody who has prophecy revealed to them, they can give place if something is revealed to another person.
So on the one hand, it’s not something you can just manufacture and make happen, but it is the kind of thing that when the Spirit is prompting you to do, there is a measure of control there. That’s the mystery that we get from the things that are said here. But I think one of the corrective verses on a proper understanding of tongues is this. It is something that the Spirit gives. It is something that people don’t just turn on and off. It is something that the Spirit of God has to give and enable the person to do when that gift is being activated. And it’s probably that the Corinthians were asking a question about something – perhaps, they were asking a question about something that was said. Perhaps, this is where their confusion was. They said wait a second. People in the Corinthian church were experiencing all sorts of supernatural gifts. We see it. We see it in 1 Corinthians 12. All manner of gifts. Healing, tongues, interpretation, prophesying, miracles, healing, administration – we see that all of these things were being done in the church. All sorts of things were happening. And perhaps their question was about something that happened in their midst with regards to tongues.
Perhaps what we can glean from this happened is that they had the same mindset so many in the charismatic movement have. That so many people today have. Look, if you can simply do the supernatural, you can typically fool 99% of the people. And in fact, there seems to be the supernatural that even if it was possible, the elect themselves would be deceived. The supernatural is quite convincing to people. And I believe that that’s what tongues is by Paul’s very words there in 14:18, that he thanked God that he did it more than others because it was something supernaturally being given to him and that’s what that gift is like. And I have a feeling people were given these utterances in the church at Corinth, and something was said where people thought, well, that was supernatural, but it didn’t maybe seem to honor Christ so much.
What do we do with that? That is probably something along the line of the question. We get two chapters that deal very emphatically about tongues. And you get this idea about speaking. Listen, look at this. Go back to 1 Corinthians 12. “Concerning spiritual gifts, brothers…” You guys wrote to me about these things. Now concerning those, let me talk to you about them. “I don’t want you to be uninformed.” About what? Not about just somebody out here on the street. Whether you can go across to the neighbor’s house and get somebody to say “Jesus is Lord” or not, that’s not what he’s talking about. He says, guys, now concerning spiritual gifts, I want you to be informed. So that’s what he’s got on his mind. And tongues is a big deal here. He’s got speaking gifts in mind. And so he says – and this is interesting too – he says guys, I want you to remember when you were pagans. Why? What happened when we were pagans? Well, supernatural things happened back then. Do you remember that? “You know that when you were pagans, you were led astray to mute idols, however you were led.” Now, what does that mean? What’s all that about? Why even bring that in? I want you to know, guys, about spiritual gifts, but let me take your minds back. Remember back. Go back in your minds. Remember, you were pagans. You were led astray to these mute idols. They couldn’t talk, but however you were led… However you were led? Some kind of leading. They have mute idols, but they’re being led. What’s that about?
You know what, if you go back not far; if you go back to chapter 10. In fact, it’s right in the middle of chapter 10:19. We’re only talking a chapter and a half before this. “What do I imply then? That food offered to idols is anything?” Here’s the idols. They were pagans. They went after these mute idols. He’s talking about food that was offered in their pagan idolatries before they were converted. He says, “Am I implying that food offered to idols is anything? Or that an idol is anything?” They’re just these mute, dumb idols. They’re nothing. Am I implying that they’re anything? No. “I imply that what pagans sacrifice, they offer to demons and not to God. I do not want you to be participants with demons.” You see the issue here? Their pagan religion – these mute idols – but there’s the idea that they were being led. However you were led. There’s these leading spirits. What is it that leads the pagans to bow down? Brethren, there’s more in idolatry than just what meets the eye. It’s more than just somebody decides. There’s something compelling in idolatry. There’s something supernatural in idolatry. That’s what makes it so convincing. Listen, the people that are bowing down to all the statues of Mary, and these things can weep blood and do all sorts of things, that’s real. People feel things. People have dreams. People are led. Supernatural things happen – they really do. The Catholic church has all manner of supernatural things happen.
We ought not to be amazed. You know, when we were watching on Sunday, Ariandes was showing us some clips from Cuba, and they were talking about carrying around these statues and how heavy they are. Well, you know, in India, same kind of thing. You know what? You go to a different country? Different idol. Same thing. They carry around their gods. Well, James Dali told us that they have one certain festival where they carry the god around on some kind of platform and they say that the longer they go on the parade, the heavier it gets. Heavier, heavier… till it’s almost so heavy they can’t bear it up and they throw it in the river. I mean, that’s what they do with their god. It gets heavy, heavy, heavy, and then they throw it in the river.
But there’s demons – that’s what he says here. There’s demons behind this. And he’s reminding them. Why would he remind them? Probably because he’s saying, look, if you go back to your pagan days, you know people said things then; people got stirred up; people went into trances, people said things. There were supernatural things that happened then. Do you guys remember that? That’s probably what he’s saying here. He’s saying, “concerning spiritual gifts, brothers, I don’t want you to be uninformed. You know that when you were pagans…” Something happened. Remember your pagan days. Remember. Probably, remember, there were some kind of inspired utterances that took place, but not inspired by God; inspired by demons. Things that happened supernaturally that they were part of your idol worship. And it’s demons behind all that stuff. Do you guys remember that? From your pagan days? It seems like that’s the idea here.
Listen, brethren, the thing you and I need to recognize is just because something’s supernatural doesn’t mean it’s from God. Just because it’s supernatural and happens in the church does not mean that it’s from God. And you see, that’s probably the bigger issue here. They’re saying, well, Paul, something happened with regards to tongues in the service. And he’s saying, you have to be discerning. What? How? Well, when subjective things happen, you better check them with the objective. What? The objective is biblical doctrine. You hear something supernatural in the church, if it’s not exalting Christ, there’s the red flag. Don’t be led away by the supernatural even when it happens in the church. You need to be discerning. That seems like where he’s driving in all this. I mean, the whole idea in all this is the Spirit (v. 3), “Therefore I want you to understand, no one speaking in the Spirit of God…” Now, remember, we’re talking about spiritual gifts. We’re not just talking about being a Christian. Or, not a Christian. We’re speaking about spiritual gifts. He says, “Concerning spiritual gifts, brothers, I do not want you to be uninformed.” Not about just what’s possible if you’re lost. But when a gift – a true spiritual speaking gift from the Spirit is always going to exalt Christ. Always. And you could say, well, is it always going to say He’s Lord? I say it more broadly it’s always going to exalt Christ. You know why I say that? Because when you go over to 1 John, 1 John hits on the same thing. 1 John gives us a test – why don’t you guys turn over there?
1 John 4. We dealt with this recently when we went through 1 John. 1 John 4:2, “By this you know the Spirit of God, every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, and every spirit that does not confess Jesus is not from God.” What does that mean? Confess Him? Well, confess Him for what He is. Throughout this letter, we see confessing that Jesus is the Christ, confessing that Jesus has come in the flesh, confessing that Jesus is the Son of God. Over in 1 Corinthians 12, it’s confessing that Jesus is Lord. But in all of them, it is proclaiming the Christ of Scripture. Look, the Spirit inspired the Word. The Spirit carried holy men along. And this book came as a result of that. That Spirit that carried men along to pen this book is never going to contradict this book when He gives spiritual gifts to people. And when He gives unique and special and supernatural speaking gifts, He is not going to inspire people to speak against Christ. Remember your pagan days. Yeah, people got led along, but did they say things that exalted Jesus Christ? No, they didn’t. Behind those mute idols that you were led along to worship were demons. It seems like that’s the issue.
But brethren, I think the thing that we have to remember more than anything here is where Paul takes this whole thing. It’s like the ultimate manifestation of the Spirit; the ultimate identification of the Spirit’s work is to be found in the exaltation of Jesus Christ. And what’s so critical about that is that these people even when they were using the true gift of tongues, we can tell, they weren’t doing it out of love. We know the Corinthians were contentious. They were factious. They were suing one another. Everything he’s saying, he’s having to tell them, look, when you use your spiritual gifts – if you go back to 1 Corinthians, what he’s correcting is this using of spiritual gifts for their own self-exaltation.
The idea here is in 1 Corinthians 12 is look, v. 7, “To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good.” You can speak in the tongues of men and angels, but if you’re not focused on helping, encouraging, and building up God’s people, it’s all wrong. They truly had the gift of tongues. The true gift of tongues, which is a manifestation of the Spirit, has been given them for the common good, but they weren’t using it for the common good. That’s why they have to be exhorted like this. And even when it’s a manifestation of the Spirit and it’s the true gift, and when it is the true gift, it’s going to exalt Christ. But when you have people using the gift who are using it to show how great they are and how gifted they are and they want applause from people and people to pat them on the back, they want to get attention for it, you see how it’s all lost. He’s saying, no, guys. No. You need to be building each other up. The thing is the Spirit’s primary intention is the exaltation of Jesus Christ. And as we’re showing and using these gifts to God’s people in a way that is exalting Christ, that’s really how we’re going to build people up. Using your spiritual gifts. If you’re given a teaching gift, an administrative gift, a gift to do whatever, it’s never to be: look at me. It’s always: look at Christ. If those gifts are given, you can tell the Spirit’s fingerprints are on it when Christ is the one being exalted. And the thing is, what he’s saying is, look, when he says, “No one speaking in the Spirit ever says, ‘Jesus is accursed.’ No one can say, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ except in the Holy Spirit.” I think it’s “in the Spirit” that we have to see here. It’s got to do with v. 1 concerning spiritual gifts. V. 7, “To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good.” This is what he’s talking about. This is what he has in mind. We can always tell the Spirit of God.
I’ve said this, people oftentimes wonder about a good church or a healthy church, and the sign of a good church or a healthy church is a church where the Spirit of God is operative. But the sign of that is not where they make much of the Spirit, which that’s what’s true in charismatic circles. They talk all the time about the Spirit. But you know where the true Spirit of God is found, it isn’t the Spirit that’s magnified, it’s Christ Who’s magnified. Show me a church where Christ is exalted, Christ is central to the ministry, He’s central in the preaching, then you will see a place where the Spirit of God is very active. Whatever you think about whether tongues still exist today, the truth is that in whatever capacity the Spirit of God operates, He always operates in capacities that bring great glory to Jesus Christ. When He sanctifies us, Christ is the mold. He’s the model. He’s the pattern. What are being transformed into? His likeness. Predestinated to be conformed to the image of Him. That’s what the Spirit does. When the Spirit transforms us, it’s always as we behold the Lord. The Spirit is supplied by faith. Galatians 3. Faith in Jesus Christ. The fruits of the Spirit are always provided by faith. The Spirit is supplied by faith, but that faith is in Jesus Christ. It’s looking to Him. This is how the Spirit operates. (incomplete thought) Can anybody think of a place where Jesus said, “He will glorify Me”? In John. He will glorify Me. About John 16. He will glorify Me.
In fact, that’s worth looking at. I hear some of you turning there, so let’s look at it. John 16:14, “He will glorify Me.” That’s what the Spirit does. That’s His hallmark. And so we can always look for it.
So, look, I believe it should be obvious to us now. That 1 Corinthians 12 is not dealing with just what any unbeliever can do or can’t do any more than in 1 John. 1 John is saying that wherever you find the Spirit of God, you’re going to find people who have a right theology of Christ. That’s the idea, that the Spirit is always going to lead us into that right theology. Now whether somebody actually stood up in the church and said, “Jesus is accursed,” or whether they just had a question about it, and he’s saying remember your pagan days because that’s the kind of thing you heard then. You know, exactly what happened; exactly what their question is, it’s hard to know exactly what happened, but you can be sure of this, the Spirit of God is not going to tear Christ down. He’s not going to present a Christ that’s contrary to the doctrine of Scripture. We need to test.
This is the principle that we need to derive from this. We need to test the spirits. Test all the subjective by the objective. Subjective? I mean, when you have things happen; when you have people do things; when there’s teachings; when you get subjective things happening in certain churches or gifts being manifested from certain people, or teachings coming forth from certain places, then everything needs to be tested and checked by objective truth of God’s Word. Objective truths about Jesus Christ must govern everything in the subjective realm. Everything. That’s how you test spirits. And the objective is found right here. The objective is here. And by the way, it ought not to surprise us that the critical points have to do with the Person of Jesus Christ. Because that’s what the Spirit came to do: glorify Him, exalt Him. He is the centerpiece of our Christianity. And the truth about Him, His Person, and His works – brethren, that’s life and death. If you don’t have the right Christ, you don’t have life. So it’s not a surprise that Paul is hitting with the very core, the very essential, the heart of the matter. What do you think? Does that sound like a proper interpretation of that? It makes sense. It certainly doesn’t lead us believing that it’s impossible for anybody who’s not saved and filled with the Holy Spirit to say “Jesus is Lord.” Obviously, people can willingly give lip service to that. Lost people can do that all day long. Just because you stand to look in the mirror and watch your lips say that doesn’t attest to your spiritual condition. This is a matter of some kind of supernatural impartation of a Spirit-given gift that is being put on the table here.
James: Even Matthew 7 where they say – many say, “Lord, Lord,” and then He says, “I never knew you.” Then He even says there they did mighty works – prophesied – and so maybe some of the people in this church fit that description in the end.
Tim: Well, and you know, one of the things that’s interesting about these Corinthians? He said “I speak in tongues more than all of you.” And yet what’s interesting is he is acknowledging that they speak in tongues. And if we go back to 1 Corinthians 1, he says to that church you come behind in no gift. They had the full gamut of spiritual gifts. What’s very interesting is they’re carnal. He said you guys are acting like mere men. You’re carnal. You’re immature. You’re suing one another, there’s sexual sin, you’ve got people that need to be disciplined out of the church that you haven’t disciplined. You guys get together, there’s divisions among the rich and the poor when you take the Lord’s Supper. You’ve got issues going on there with their heads covered, eating food offered to idols. They’re having all manner of problems. They’ve got factions. “I’m of Apollos.” “I’m of Cephas.” All sorts of things going on in this church that they’re carnal. They’re carnal. They’ve got some real issues.
But you know what’s interesting? Their spiritual gifts seem to be flourishing. Paul doesn’t come along and say to them in chapters 12, 13, and 14, well, the gifts you guys are doing aren’t real because you guys are carnal and the Spirit of God only does His gifts where people are mature and not carnal. What’s very interesting is the spiritual gifts were true. They were being exercised by carnal people. You know what that ought to tell you? Just because somebody’s gifted doesn’t mean they’re godly. Beware. There is not necessarily a direct correlation between gift and holiness as is evident here. Sometimes we think that way. And look, I’m not going to argue the fact that you take a guy that goes and preaches every week, and he starts playing too much golf and he’s giving his life to these kinds of things, I’m not saying that the people in the assembly may not recognize that there’s something wrong and there’s emptiness and they feel that the fire’s gone out. I’m not saying that people can’t discern when ungodliness creeps into a life. I’m not saying even necessarily that when ungodliness creeps in, God might not stop using them. I mean, that definitely could happen, but what I can tell you from this account is they had spiritual gifts and they were using them, and yet they were carnal. So, we just want to be careful that we ever make a direct correlation between gift and godliness because it may or may not be the case. Any other thoughts about this?