1 Corinthians 14 36 Or was it from you that the word of God came? Or are you the only ones it has reached? 37 cIf anyone thinks that he is a prophet, or spiritual, he should acknowledge that the things I am writing to you are a command of the Lord. 38 If anyone does not recognize this, he is not recognized.
Spiritual pride was clearly a problem for the first-century Corinthian believers. They prided themselves on being more spiritual than others based on their association with particular teachers (1 Cor. 1–3). They questioned the authority of the Apostle Paul, thinking him less spiritual than they (chs. 4; 9). They measured authentic spirituality by the possession of spiritual gifts, elevating certain gifts such as the gift of tongues as the markers of the truly godly (12:1–14:35).
In today’s passage, Paul argues once again that the spiritual pride of the Corinthians was misplaced. Lest they think that they were too spiritual to heed the Apostle’s instructions concerning proper conduct in public Christian worship, Paul points out in a series of rhetorical questions that they are not the only spiritual people on the planet. That is, they are not the only individuals who have heard the Word of God (14:36). The Apostle implicitly refers back to 14:33, where his guidance for women’s speaking in the church comes in part from the practice of “all the churches of the saints” (see also 11:16). The Christian faith is a public faith, which means that no single Christian congregation should think it unnecessary to learn from the practices of other churches. Unhealthy spiritual pride results in a church’s believing that it has gotten everything right and that it cannot learn anything from other congregations. Churches that believe such falsehoods are puffed up with spiritual pride and must return to humility.
Paul then says in 14:37–38 that one of the marks of the truly spiritual person is that he understands that what he writes is a command of the Lord. Here is testimony to the nature of Apostolic authority. What Paul, Peter, James, and the other Apostles have written under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit are the very commands of the Lord Jesus Himself. Paul, certainly, is referring most directly to what he has just said about corporate worship, but it can be extended to all exercises of Apostolic authority. As Charles Hodge comments, “What is true . . . of this chapter is no less true of all apostolical instructions; because they all rest on the same foundation.” The inspired words of the Apostles are no less than the words of Christ Himself, and we cannot have Christ if we do not also have His appointed Apostles. Let us therefore pay heed to what these Apostles have written to the church.
If we are to avoid unhealthy spiritual pride and be true followers of Jesus, we must pay careful attention both to what God has taught other Christians but especially to the words of the Apostles. If we ignore the Apostolic teaching of the New Testament, we are ignoring Jesus Himself. All the words of Scripture have equal authority, and all must guide Christian faith and practice.
46 1 Corinthians 14-16 – J Vernon Mcgee – Thru the Bible
This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us.1 John 5:14
A 2018 study of adults in the United Kingdom found that, on average, “they checked their smartphones every twelve minutes of the waking day.” But let’s be honest, this statistic seems extremely conservative when I consider how frequently I search Google to find the answer to a question or respond to endless alerts that come to my phone throughout the day. Many of us consistently look to our devices, confident they’ll provide what we need to keep us organized, informed, and connected.
As believers in Jesus, we have a resource infinitely better than a smartphone. God loves and cares for us intimately and desires for us to come to Him with our needs. The Bible says that when we pray, we can be confident “that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us” (1 John 5:14). By reading the Bible and storing God’s words in our hearts, we can pray assuredly for things that we know He already desires for us, including peace, wisdom, and faith that He’ll provide what we need (v. 15).
Sometimes it may seem like God doesn’t hear us when our situation doesn’t change. But we build our confidence in God by consistently turning to Him for help in every circumstance (Psalm 116:2). This allows us to grow in faith, trusting that although we may not get everything we desire, He’s promised to provide what we need in His perfect timing.
God’s promises throughout Scripture testify to His unchanging faithfulness.
To get the most out of this devotion, set aside time to read the scriptures referenced throughout.
The Bible is filled with countless promises from God, but not all of them are for us. Consider how the Lord vowed Jericho would fall after the Israelites marched around the city seven times (Joshua 6:2-6) or how God told Elijah that ravens would bring him food every day (1 Kings 17:1-6). These promises were each meant for a specific person, at a specific time, and in a specific place.
Even though these words don’t apply directly to us, they still serve a divine purpose in our lives. God’s pledges to Joshua and Elijah (and many others throughout Scripture) testify of His relationship with His children: He does not change, and the faithfulness He displayed in the Old Testament is the same faithfulness we experience from Him today. Whenever we read that God delivered on a specific promise, we’re reminded He will also deliver what He has promised us—including eternity with Him for those who believe in His Son’s death and resurrection (John 3:16; 1 Thessalonians 4:14).
Think about it
• Have you ever wondered whether one of God’s promises was directed toward you? What can you confidently claim He has committed to you?
“When Jesus had spoken these words, he went forth with his disciples over the brook Cedron, where was a garden, into the which he entered, and his disciples.” (John 18:1)
As Jesus, after the last supper with His disciples, walked out with them, they soon crossed over a small brook and entered the little garden called Gethsemane. Eventually, He left the disciples and went farther into the garden alone for a time of solitary prayer.
Perhaps He remembered how, long ago, He had walked in His first garden with Adam and Eve in beautiful fellowship. But then they had rebelled against His Word and had to be expelled from the Garden of Eden, leaving Him alone there also (Genesis 3:8).
As He prayed in Gethsemane, He knew that it would be only a few hours before He would be buried in still another garden, one “wherein was never man yet laid” (John 19:41). He would be carried to a new tomb prepared in a newly planted garden by the loving hands of Joseph and Nicodemus, but then He would be alone once again.
He had walked alone in the first garden, seeking His own; then had knelt alone in the second garden, praying for His own; and finally was buried alone in the third garden, after dying for His own.
But because He came “to seek and to save that which is lost” (Luke 19:10), and because He now “ever liveth to make intercession for them” (Hebrews 7:25) after paying the awful price of “redemption through his blood” (Ephesians 1:7), all those who believe and trust Him will spend eternity in fellowship with Him in a beautiful garden city. Here flows “a pure river of water of life” surrounded on both sides by “the tree of life, which bare twelve manner of fruits, and yielded her fruit every month” (Revelation 22:1-2), and all will be “very good” forever. HMM
For as ye have yielded your members servants to uncleanness…even so now yield your members servants to righteous—ness unto holiness. —Romans 6:19
True Christianity deals with the human problem of the self-life, with the basic matter of “me, myself and I.” The Spirit of God deals with it by an intolerant and final destruction, saying, “This selfish I cannot live if God is to be glorified in this human life.”
God Himself deals with this aspect of human nature—the sum of all our proud life—and pronounces a stern condemnation upon it, flatly and frankly disapproving of it, fully and completely rejecting it.
And what does God say about it? “I am God alone, and I will have nothing to do with man’s selfish ego, in which I find the essence of rebellion and disobedience and unbelief. Man’s nature in its pride of self and egotism is anti-God—and sinful, indeed!” WPJ161-162
He who is not a stranger to the spirit of self-denial, has learned to make his own interest bend to the interest of God’s kingdom….It is his great concern that God should be glorified, that His laws should be obeyed, His gospel loved, and the highest interest of His infinitely extended kingdom prevail and triumph. DTC142
When you can stop in the midst of life’s most pressing problems and give yourself eagerly to worshiping God, then you are moving along the road to knowing God more intimately. Sometimes when I have had the occasion to talk face to face with people who were going through difficult circumstances, I have asked them: “How does all this affect your ability to worship God?” Most have responded something like this: “I find it very difficult to give my heart in worship as I struggle with these problems.” And some have said: “I find it utterly impossible.”
Are we justified in refusing to worship God because life has dealt us some hard blows? Those who are at a standstill spiritually might react like this: “Yes, how can God expect me to worship Him when He has allowed these troubles to weigh me down?” Those moving slowly along the road of discipleship might say: “I know I should worship Him, but my preoccupation with my problems makes it almost impossible to do so.” The spiritually mature will affirm: “Nothing is more important than the worship of the One who holds my life in His hands. Because He is God then I know that no matter how things might look to the contrary, all will be well. Thus my heart delights to worship Him.”
Christian counseling ought to be seen (though in some parts of the church it isn’t) as restoring people to worship. This may be hard for some to accept, but it is true nevertheless—nothing that ever happens to us can justify a Christian’s refusal to worship God.
My Father and my God, may this emphasis on worship remain undiminished as I turn to other things. I see it is so central. Help me not only to remember it but to apply it. In Jesus’ name. Amen.
How quick we are to question the motives of others, yet we are so slow to question our own! When others harm us, we may assume the worst of intentions. When we are guilty, we often excuse our offenses, concluding that others are far too sensitive! Regardless of how we monitor our motives, God weighs them in His scales of righteousness. It is futile to try to deceive God with our pious justifications, for He sees our hearts.
Is it possible to do the right thing for the wrong reason? Of course! You can attend worship services with a heart that is far from worshipful (Isa. 1:10–17). Could you show concern for the poor and yet have a heart that is opposed to God? Judas did (John 12:4–8). Could you make bold statements of love for Christ and actually be aiding the work of Satan? Peter did (Matt. 16:21–23). Could you offer sacrifices to God and be in total disobedience to Him? King Saul did (1 Sam. 13:8–9). Could you pray with the wrong motives? James said you can (James 4:3).
Many things cause us to do what we do. We can be motivated by good things, such as love for God, compassion, generosity, and faith. Or our actions can come from unhealthy motives such as pride, insecurity, ambition, lust, greed, guilt, anger, fear, and hurt. It is even possible to do the best things based on the worst motives. When the Lord measures our motives He looks for one thing: love. All that we do should proceed from our love for God and for others (1 Cor. 13). Take time to look past your actions to what lies behind them. Ask God to show you what He sees when He examines your motives.