The Holy Spirit in 1 Corinthians
When Paul came to Corinth to preach the Gospel he did not endeavor to present his message in such a way as would naturally appeal to the learned Greeks. He preached Jesus Christ and Him crucified, telling them that the only way of procuring eternal salvation for their souls was to accept that Jesus died for their sins on the cross, and that He rose from the dead. It was foolishness to the learned of this world, asking them to believe in a Man who died upon a malefactor’s cross, crucified in weakness. But what was foolishness to man was the wisdom and the power of God; for the cross was the fruit of God’s wisdom, the means whereby His glory in regard to sin was secured and it was the power that brought salvation to ruined sinners.
Preaching in Demonstration of the Spirit
Not only the subject matter of his preaching but the manner of it was distasteful to the learned of this world. There was nothing of oratory or rhetoric, no “enticing words of man’s wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power” (1 Cor. 2:4). Weakness, fear and trembling marked the vessel, but the message came with the wonderful demonstration of the Holy Spirit and the power of God. What is accepted through the enticing words of man’s wisdom can be overthrown by another exhibition of the same, but what is received through the Spirit’s power stands in the power of God.
Divine Revelation by the Spirit
The Old Testament Scriptures were given by the inspiration of God’s Spirit, as the Apostle Peter writes in 2 Peter 1:21. Paul’s writings, which bring to us the revelations of God, were also inspired. The revelations of which the Apostle writes here are of things which “Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love Him” (1 Cor. 2:9). These things had been spoken of before in Isaiah 64:4, but they remained undisclosed until the Son of God took His place on high after completing the great work of atonement.
From the ascended Christ the Holy Spirit has come, as the Lord Jesus foretold His disciples, to speak of coming things, and to tell of the glories of Christ. Searching the deep secrets of God, the Spirit has come to reveal them to us, and many of these deep secrets are unfolded in the writings of the Apostle Paul, even as he speaks of himself and those associated with him, as “stewards of the mysteries of God” (1 Cor. 4:1). Paul was unable to write of these revelations by the Spirit to the Corinthian Christians because of their low spiritual state, but he writes of them in his letters to the Ephesians and the Colossians.
Divine Knowledge by the Spirit
To understand the revelations of God by the Spirit it is necessary for us to have “The Spirit which is of God” (1 Cor. 2:12). The great men of the world have the spirit of the world, and so are engaged with the things of the world; but God has given us His Spirit that we might be occupied with His things, and enter into them. If it were possible for a man to part with his spirit, the one who received it would be able to know all about him, every secret of his heart and mind would be disclosed. The last thing that any man would do would be to let anyone know the deepest secrets of his heart. But this is exactly what God has done. In order that we might know His secrets He has given us His Spirit.
God desires us to know all that He has communicated to us in divine revelation, “the wisdom of God in a mystery, even the hidden Wisdom, which God ordained before the world unto our glory” (1 Cor. 2:7), the things that He hath prepared for those who love Him. We have not only the gift of the Spirit who indwells us, but the Spirit, through spiritual exercise, gives us the state that enables us to know the deep secrets of the heart of God.
Divine Inspiration by the Spirit
The divine revelations which were to be passed on to the saints of God were first given to His servants, and they have left them on record for us in the Holy Scriptures. To write these things, the servants of the Lord were inspired by the Holy Spirit. The things they wrote about were not their own, nor were the words in which they penned them for us; they were “not in the words which man’s wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth” (1 Cor. 2:13). God took care that His thoughts would not be affected by the weakness of the human instrument, so the Spirit chose the precise words to convey the divine thought. Spiritual things were communicated by spiritual means, even by the Holy Spirit controlling His instrument. The words of the most learned of men would but have adversely affected the message of God. God’s secrets were first revealed to the instrument; the Spirit of God enabled him to understand the truth revealed; then the Holy Spirit inspired the writer to give the truth in writing.
Man in his natural estate cannot know the things of God. He does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, he considers them to be foolish, because he has not the capacity for knowing them: and not having the spiritual capacity it is impossible for him to apprehend spiritual things. But the Christian, as having the Holy Spirit, and the state the Spirit gives, has the mind of Christ.
David’s last words show the difference between inspiration and revelation. In verse 2 of 2 Samuel 23 David says, “The Spirit of the Lord spake by me, and His word was in my tongue.” This is inspiration, the Spirit of God speaking by the human instrument, God’s word in the tongue of the one who speaks for Him. The next verse is revelation, where David says, “The God of Israel said, the Rock of Israel spake to me.” God Himself speaks, disclosing to His servant that which He desires him to convey to others.
“The Spirit of God Dwelleth in you”
This was addressed to the saints at Corinth collectively. Together, they formed God’s temple, and as such they were the dwelling place of the Holy Spirit. If this was true of the saints at Corinth it is true of the local assembly in any city. The Holy Spirit is not only in each one who composes the assembly, but He dwells in the assembly as a company. It is this that makes it such a serious matter for any one to defile the temple of God. The natural man, in his religious zeal, carefully safeguards his religious buildings, though they are only stone and lime, with some adornment of material things; how much more does God care for that which is His temple, wherein dwells His holy Spirit (1 Cor. 3:16).
The realisation that the local assembly is the habitation of God’s Spirit should solemnise every Christian, but also cause him to rejoice in the greatness of the privilege of being and forming part of such a dwelling place. This is revealed to us so that we might know how to conduct ourselves in God’s assembly, both in relation to its functioning for God’s pleasure, and in helping those who are with us in it, seeking to answer in all things to the holiness of Him who dwells there, and building that which is precious.
Justified by the Spirit of Our God
Like other Gentiles, the Corinthians naturally had been marked by the features of the flesh, some by the ugly traits mentioned in chapter 6, 9 and 10. Through the grace of God they were washed from their former polluted state and set apart for the will of God. If they had been cleared from the guilt of their sins, justified, it was in the Name of the Lord Jesus who had died for them, and by the Spirit of our God by whom they were sanctified.
The presence of God’s indwelling Spirit in them was the proof that they had been justified, for only those who were cleared of their guilt were sealed of God. God’s Spirit did not dwell in the Old Testament saints, though He sometimes came upon them. It was not until the Lord Jesus died for our sins, and rose again for our justification, that the Spirit made His abode in those who received the blessing of the free grace of God.
Your Body the Temple of the Holy Spirit
In 1 Cor. 3 the local assembly is viewed as God’s temple, the Spirit of God dwelling there; but in 1 Cor. 6:19 it is written, “What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own?” Coming out of heathendom, the Corinthians had to be rid of the immoral practices and unholy customs that had marked them previously, and to view all these things in the light of the holiness of the God who had called them. The Holy Spirit had taken up His abode in the body of the believer so that it might be used in the service of God.
A price has been paid for our redemption; God had to give His only Son and He has purchased us with the blood of His own. Having thus made us His own, God has given us His Spirit that every member of our bodies might be for Himself in all things and at all times. God’s Spirit is a Holy Spirit, and holiness is to mark us in thought, word and deed. How very often holiness is enjoined upon the Christian, surely because of the grave dangers around and the awful consequences of an unholy act.
Saying “Lord” by the Holy Spirit
Professing Christians call Jesus Lord now. Luke 13 warns that after the Master of the house has “risen up, and hath shut to the door” some without, who have neglected the blessing of God, will stand without and “knock at the door, saying, Lord, Lord, open unto us,” but His answer will be, “I know you not whence ye are” (verse 25). What is brought before us in 1 Corinthians 12:3 is very different. The Apostle Paul is writing there of spiritual manifestations and those who are speaking under the influence of spirits.
No man, speaking under the influence of the Holy Spirit would call Jesus accursed; such would be speaking under the power of an evil spirit, a demon. Nor would any demon confess that Jesus is Lord; so that anyone calling Jesus Lord under the influence of a spirit is evidence that it is the Holy Spirit that controls him. When Jesus was on earth, the evil spirits confessed that He was Son of God, but never did they call Him Lord. The day is coming when they will be compelled to own Him Lord, as will every tongue in the vast universe, to the glory of God the Father.
The Manifestation of the Spirit
The Spirit of God is manifested in the gifts that He gives, and these gifts are according to His sovereign will, even as it is written, “All these worketh that one and the selfsame Spirit, dividing to every man severally as He will” (1 Cor. 12:11). All the gifts are given by the Spirit for the profit of all the saints, though some in Corinth were evidently using them for their own aggrandisement, and this part of the epistle was written to correct the abuse of that which the Spirit gave for blessing, and not for the glory of the flesh.
In the assembly all is to be controlled by the Spirit of God, worship, prayer, singing and ministry all being directed by Him. Simplicity and spiritual intelligence will mark every gathering in which the Holy Spirit is free to act, and there will be for God that which gives Him pleasure, and for the saints that which will edify, encourage and comfort. Even in days of ruin and weakness, such as the present day, the saints of God who acknowledge the presence of the Holy Spirit among God’s people will find blessing and profit.
Baptized into One Body by One Spirit
On earth there is a living organism that has been formed by the Spirit of God. It came into being on the day of Pentecost, when the Holy Spirit came from heaven and indwelt every believer on the Lord Jesus in the upper room in Jerusalem, formed the House of God and baptized all into one body. The baptism of the Spirit is a corporate formation, and every one who believes in the Lord Jesus is brought into the one body that the Spirit formed at the beginning, so that the Apostle could write, “For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free” (1 Cor. 12:13).
All too drink into One Spirit, so that we are all to be united in a practical way under the control of the Spirit of God. With our own spirits subject to the One Spirit there will he no room for disunity among the saints of God, but rather always acting for the good of all God’s people, as subject to the will of God. Divine provision has been made for the manifestation of divine unity among the saints, and where there is exercise before God, and true hearts, there will surely be the practical realisation of this unity.