Nepaug Bible Church - - Pastor's Evening Sermon Notes -

Part XXI: God's USE Of Carnal Church Divisions To SANCTIFY His People
(1 Corinthians 11:17-19)
  1. Introduction
    1. When divisions and cliques exist among God's people in the Church, and when nobody seems to be able to get a "handle" on the problem to solve it, we often wonder what to DO! We may also ask why God permits such difficulties to exist when they arise!
    2. Paul reveals God's use of such evils in 1 Corinthians 11:17-19, a revelation that can benefit us as follows:
  2. God's USE Of Carnal Church Divisions To SANCTIFY His People, 1 Corinthians 11:17-19:
    1. It is sometimes more edifying for Churches not to meet together than to meet together, 1 Cor. 11:17.
    2. The reason for this difficult reality is the presence of divisions in the local assembly: the gathering can become a focal point for some to express only their carnal hostility rather than love, 1 Cor. 11:18.
    3. However, God allows these divisions to occur because their existence produces a reaction in the godly that lays the groundwork for a body's future edification as follows:
      1. The fact that such divisions lay a groundwork for future local body edification is stated in 1 Cor. 11:19, and is explained in the Ryrie Study Bible, KJV footnote to 1 Cor. 1:10 as follows: "Though severely condemned [by Paul], these factions were allowed to exist in order that approved' believers could be recognized . . ." (brackets ours)
      2. Explaining just how God uses such godless factions to lay a groundwork for the local body's future edification is given in other Sciptures as follows:
        1. The Church at Corinth was an immature church: many of the congregation were living by means of their sinful natures, cf. 1 Corinthians 3:1-3 with Galatians 5:19-21.
        2. In this carnal state, such believers were vulnerable to accepting what false teachings came their way, and were open to follow leaders who led with worldly lusts rather than by God's power, 2 Cor. 3:1ff
        3. To help develop discernment, something that takes practice according to Hebrews 5:13-14, God permitted evil people to go unchecked in the local assembly until their godlessness became so fully apparent that even the immature could recognize it, 1 Cor. 11:19 with 1 John 2:19; 2 Tim. 3:8-9. At such a point, even the immature would get so distressed over this revelation that they would want the truth, and come to VALUE those who taught it and lived it, 1 Cor. 11:19.
        4. With believers who had such discernment, the godly leaders only had to get out the truth and the whole church body would eventually nicely develop and be edified (cf. 1 Thess. 2:13-14).
Lesson: When we cannot get a "handle" on divisiveness in the local church, we need to (a) accept it as a divinely allowed evil, as God's "wake up call" to the immature, deceived believers in the church. (b) Meanwhile, those who are mature enough to DISCERN what is going on must prepare to "pick up the pieces" for the afflicted, immature ones once the evil has played itself out, and left hurt and fear in its wake for the immature. This is a necessary path for God's people to take if they will not first HEED true instruction from God's approved overseers, thereby obeying the Lord and His Word in their lives.

Application: (1) To AVOID getting "burned" by being misled by ungodly people even in a CHURCH setting, EACH INDIVIDUAL MEMBER of the church needs be sure HE HIMSELF is heeding God's Word so he can DISCERN good from evil, Hebrews 5:13-14. (2) If we then see an "evil" influence blossoming in the body, we should (a) pray for God's help to lead to repentance and (b) follow the Lord's lead in DOING what we CAN to instruct others PEACEABLY so as to AVOID a division in the body. (c) Yet, IF we see that there is NOTHING we CAN do to avoid a divisive "showdown," we must trust Christ's lordship over the Church (cf. Eph. 1:22-23) and view the developing "showdown" as a divinely allowed one for the sake of "waking up" the immature to begin growing in God's "tough love" program! Also, prepare to EXPLAIN this program ONCE the division has blossomed, leaving hurt in its wake, and be ready to warn the immature to GROW in Christ in order to AVOID future such pain!