Quit you like men (1Cor 16:13)
The Church in Corinth was struggling to discharge its ministry and gospel mandate to the society. It was failing in some very important areas: in readiness for faithful service, in courage to deal with moral decadence among its members, and in conviction to declare the gospel. The Corinthian Church was a mixture -Natural, Carnal and Spiritual people, though powerfully endowed with spiritual gifts, especially vocal and expressive gift of prophesy. They appeared to be carried away by noise and outward show, while neglecting Christlikeness and Character expressed in the fruit of the Holy Spirit.
Carnality is going about God’s task or business with our human agenda (2Cor.4: 1-2). The bigger problem was its failure to carry out its God-given purpose in the land. We have been called out of darkness into the Kingdom of His dear Son in the light, first to be light and then to proclaim the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Our post Eucharist prayer in the CON BCP reflects this divine expectation, “We whom the Spirit lights gives light to the world…” It is, therefore, imperative that as Christians, we yield our lives for the illumination and transformation of the Holy Spirit through the Word of God. We cannot fulfil our divine purpose as the Ecclesia Dei, the Church of God, unless we first yield to the Holy Spirit to deal with the Old man, the flesh and carnality. Carnality is doing God’s work with the fleshly human motive. Why is carnality dangerous? It is dangerous, because it keeps us from fulfilling the purpose for which God has left us on earth and limits the impact of our ministry. It is like a cancer or yeast, which spreads and contaminates others. More so, it is enmity against God (Romans 8:7)
St Augustine said: “The evil in me was foul, but I loved it. I loved my own perdition and my own faults, not the things for which I committed wrong, but the wrong itself ….my beauty washed away and in your sight I became putrid by pleasing myself and being ambitious to win human approval.”
Charles Hardon Spurgeon puts it thus: “The carnal mind, he says, “is ENMITY against God.” It is a noun, and not an adjective. He does not say it is opposed to God merely, but it is enmity. It is not black, but blackness; it is not at enmity, but enmity itself; it is not corrupt, but corruption; it is not rebellious, it is rebellion; it is not wicked, it is wickedness itself. It is the distillation, the quintessence of all things that are vile…”
In the World but Not of this World (John 17:16-17):
The first cause of the failure of the Corinthian Church was that the spirit of “the city/age” had invaded the Church like a virus. Every evil thing in the Church to which Paul referred was prevalent in Corinth. Three things merit particular mention.
One of the symptoms of Corinthian cultural influence was intellectual freedom. Corinth glorified human wisdom. The Corinthians discussed and debated all sorts of opinions. Each intellectual leader had his group of disciples. We have continued to see the destruction of exalting human reasoning and intellect above the Word of God in the Body of Christ, particularly from the Western world that is fast invading our part of the world. Our faith must not rest on any man or human wisdom. Rather, our faith must rest on Jesus Christ, crucified and on the Eternal Word of God. Look unto Jesus not any human being; make Him your standard for life and ministry. Contend for this faith that has been delivered to the Saints.
The second evidence that “the city/age” had invaded the Church was the moral laxity that prevailed. Intellectual and cultural permissiveness led to the lowering of moral standards, because people viewed all ideas as legitimate and there are no moral absolutes. We face a similar spirit of Post modernism in our time. The Orthodox Evangelical Christian faith, which is our heritage in the Church of Nigeria, holds unto Biblical absolutes as spelt out in our 39 Articles of faith and the GAFCON 2008 declaration. As Evangelical Anglicans, we are convinced that every human being needs to be saved through a personal encounter with Jesus Christ. And that Christians must be witnesses of Christ on earth through their deeds and the proclamation of the gospel of Christ. Hold to the Bible as the inspired by God and sufficient for salvation (2Tim.3: 16-17). The Word of God is our moral guide and standard for living.
Lastly, a third mark of the city’s effect on the Church in Corinth was personal selfishness. In the city, every person did what was right in his own eyes. And sought self-satisfaction and aggrandisement. The result was that there was very little concern for other people and their welfare. Philippians 2:1-5 encourages us to consider other people and have the mind of Christ.
(Culled from the Address to the 2021 DIVCCON at the Christian Centre, Abuja by the Most Rev. Henry Ndukuba, Primate of All Nigeria by The Ven. Dr. Princewill O. Ireoba)