The Freedom in Spiritual Truths
The Freedom of Spiritual Truths
1 Cor 2:1-16
This month is mental health awareness. I used to think mental health was all in people’s heads. It was another way of saying someone is weak or messed up. It started to change a few years ago for various reasons. I heard an analogy that if you lived in the 1850’s during industrial revolution and you worked in a factory for 16 hours a day, physical demands, no breaks, no safety features, extremely hot (some factories like iron factories would get up to 130 degrees) then you would be physically depleted. That makes sense.
Today many of us work behind a computer. Our work takes place in our head and is transposed to action through a keyboard. You do mental work. The problems you encounter are solved through thought. You rarely go over eight hours without being on the computer or phone, so you rarely get time off. You socialize on the computer and don’t have strong personal relationships with family and friends. Your mind is always engaged in work, and your domineering boss (who is yourself) never lets you get very far away from work.
Today is Mother’s Day, and you mothers feel this. As a mom, you are never off duty. You need to take care of your mental health. Don’t minimize it. Take breaks. Get away for times of refreshing. Exercise. Go for a walk. Meditate on God’s word. Connect with others. Value your health and you will serve your family better.
We are looking at a passage today that I think helps us with this. Last week in 1 Corinthians 1:10-31 we saw that Paul establishes the place of God’s power in the cross of Christ. This week he continues that same pattern in chapter 2. He conveys several spiritual truths that are key to us being fruitful in life and work.
And I, when I came to you, brothers, did not come proclaiming to you the testimony of God with lofty speech or wisdom. 2 For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. 3 And I was with you in weakness and in fear and much trembling, 4 and my speech and my message were not in plausible words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, 5 that your faith might not rest in the wisdom of men but in the power of God. 6 Yet among the mature we do impart wisdom, although it is not a wisdom of this age or of the rulers of this age, who are doomed to pass away. 7 But we impart a secret and hidden wisdom of God, which God decreed before the ages for our glory. 8 None of the rulers of this age understood this, for if they had, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory. 9 But, as it is written, "What no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man imagined, what God has prepared for those who love him"-- 10 these things God has revealed to us through the Spirit. For the Spirit searches everything, even the depths of God. 11 For who knows a person's thoughts except the spirit of that person, which is in him? So also no one comprehends the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God. 12 Now we have received not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might understand the things freely given us by God. 13 And we impart this in words not taught by human wisdom but taught by the Spirit, interpreting spiritual truths to those who are spiritual. 14 The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned. 15 The spiritual person judges all things, but is himself to be judged by no one. 16 "For who has understood the mind of the Lord so as to instruct him?" But we have the mind of Christ. (1 Corinthians 2:1-16 ESV)
In chapter 1 Paul shared the power of the cross of Christ and his commitment to that power. In this chapter he begins by discussing how this commitment to the cross of Christ played out in his life. He practiced what he preached!
Prop: He was on a mission to change the world for Christ, and several spiritual truths brought a freedom that enabled his work:
- Gospel Simplicity.
Paul rested in the gospel. There is a simplicity here. I don’t think simplicity is appreciated today. People want to do more, more, more. Faster, faster, faster. There is a frenetic pace to life. You need to know everything about everything.
A lot of times this pace is driven by fear. FOMO.
3 “And I was with you in weakness and in fear and much trembling.”
Fear can wear us out. Fear complicates life. So often in life we are in a role we feel utterly unqualified for. Parenting is part of that. You are never ready. There is always something else that could be put in order, and you may be glad to have gotten that in order, but having it in place does not make you feel qualified.
At some point you have to draw a line. You can’t do everything. You can’t be everything. You can’t know everything.
One of the most important things to me is how to simplify. There are thousands of things I could be doing. For each one thing I choose. What do you do when everyone is telling you that if you don't do their thing your life will end, you will miss out. The Corinthians were hearing they needed the wisdom of the world.
2 For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified.” Paul resolved that what Christ had done for him was so significant he resolved to know nothing else. He brought everything back to this.
Paul knew a lot of other stuff. He could hang with any philosophical argument out there. He was a bright guy. I don’t believe he is saying there is no value to studying those things, but those things don’t take you beyond the gospel. The gospel is the foundation. It is the lens that all other things are known and understood by. Business: income greater than expenses. Keep coming back to this.
Paul had a singular focus on what was most important that brought him a freeing simplicity. What is your singular focus? What is your one goal for your kids. For your church. Is it to know Christ and the power of his resurrection? Is it Christ plus get all A’s, be all star in sports, all state in music, tuck your shirt in, cut your hair…
Are you content to know nothing but Christ and have your kids know nothing but Christ? Paul focused on the most important things. When you focus on the most important things you often get the other things but focusing on secondary things will not produce the most important.
Church. Strategies for church growth. New Name. I think we need to fall in love with Jesus. I think we need to marvel at what he has done. We need to stop relying on the world and being wise or beautiful in the eyes of the world. We need to relish Christ.
Are you overwhelmed? Do you lack joy? Always overwhelmed with guilt. Pushed and pulled by emotions and circumstances. Anchor yourself in the gospel. Preach the gospel to yourself every day. Jesus died for you. HE redeemed you.
George Orwell “Sometimes the first duty of intelligent men is the restatement of the obvious.”
In life, we never move past the core truth of the gospel. It is a key principle that everything comes back to. Business: Income > expense.
John Stott, “All around us we see Christians and churches relaxing their grasp on the gospel, fumbling it, and in danger of letting it drop from their hands altogether.”
Not in wise and persuasive words. Greeks paid a lot of attention in rhetoric. Rhetoric is making your arguments sound good. Rhetoric certainly involves well thought out arguments but it also has to do with the delivery of the message. Paul didn’t want people to decide to follow Christ because of how good a communicator he was. You can get mesmerized by people’s ability to communicate, maybe be entertained by it. Paul didn’t want those to be the reason people.
Sincerity and simplicity. You know this is one of the reasons I don’t want to do a whole lot with lights, sound, speech. We rely on the natural preaching of the gospel and working of the spirit. If those are not there you may get decisions but decisions to do what, certainly not to hope in and trust in Christ.
So that your faith might not be based on men's wisdom but on God's power. (1Co 2:5 CSB)” Where do we find the power of God? It is in the cross of Christ. This is what Paul said he resolved to know and nothing else.
- Revealed Will.
People are stressed out about the Coronavirus. People are trying to figure out what is what. Did the virus originate in a Chinese lab or did it come from another species? Is Fauci covering up for China? Is it all a plan to gain more control over people’s rights and exercise more government control? I don't know. Maybe. Maybe not. And I don't think anyone really knows. I think it will be years before we understand what happened and all the currents that are swirling under the waters. I don’t think the truth has been revealed. We wait for it to be. Right now, it is shrouded in mystery. Secrets and mystery are frustrating.
God has a secret plan. An incredible plan. But you know that in the New Testament, when the word mystery is used, it is used of something once hidden and now made known. This passage points to the same thing.
9 "What no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man imagined, what God has prepared for those who love him"-- 10 these things God has revealed to us through the Spirit.
He has made it known. He has revealed his plan and purpose to us now so we can know how to live and what to do.
V7 this plan was predestined, predetermined before the creation of the world. That means it was not contingent on anything you did.
You are not in the dark. God’s plan is not covered in mystery. Some things about his will you may never learn. But in the gospel you can know you are forgiven, that you have a heavenly father, a savior who loves you, and will redeem you.
God has revealed his plan to us. That should encourage you. He reveals what we need to know for salvation. He reveals what we need to know to honor him. We don’t have a revelation of who created corona, who shot JKF, was the world created in six literal days or were they ages, how does my cell phone work, why do hot dogs come in packs of 10 and buns packs of 8. We don’t know and it is OK. We can still honor God and walk by faith. He has revealed enough of himself to know him, love him, trust him, and follow him. It takes faith because some things we do not know. But we have his Spirit.
Revealed in the gospel: God’s love. His character. His faithfulness. His truthfulness. His power.
You don’t need to fear you are missing out. Don't go looking for some secret will of God hidden and only known by some small class of hermits living in seclusion for thousands of years. A new revelation of some supposed prophet. You simply need to turn to him and his revelation in the word of God and given by his Spirit.
- Dependence on the Spirit
God reveals himself to us by his Spirit. He relates to us through the Spirit. He gives us understanding through his spirit. It is hard enough for us to understand ourselves, much less God, but the spirit relates those to us.
There is a deep comfort here. You can be in extremely difficult situations and have complete peace, a peace that is unexplainable. You don’t know what things happened or how they will be resolved but you know he is with you. That’s powerful. We rest in him and that he has our good in store. Our salvation is secure in him. That is the Spirit at work in you, in your kids, in your family, in your church.
This truth also challenges us. There is mystery in our union with the Spirit. That means it’s about relationship rather than rote obedience. It's not just do this and you are good. It means it is about cultivating a relationship with God.
The natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit. Natural is of life in the natural world and what pertains to it; (1) as governed by sensual appetites and lived apart from the Spirit of God natural, unspiritual, worldly
In Acts 14:10-12 Paul heals a man and rather than them bow down and worship Jesus, they bow down and worship Paul. Unspiritual people encounter the things of God they mess it up.
Unspiritual people do not live in an awareness of the spirit of God at work in them. Paul will call the Corinthians unspiritual (3:1). Are you a fertile field for God’s work. Is the soil of your heart loose and ready to receive, or are you hard in the ways of the world.
A genuine pursuit of God is required. There is a contrast of the work of the Spirit of God and people being carnal, of the flesh. Changes how you pray for people. You have to move past your disinterest in God.
Jim Elliot “”. Are we seeking God, dependent on his spirit and malleable to his leading; or do we ignore his warnings, prodings, and simply continue
We depend on the Spirit of God. We rest on him. We live in a way that doesn’t make sense at times. We are following God and not the ways of the world that are coming to nothing. This also leads to the beginning of gospel rest. The Spirit enables us. For mom’s, dad’s, married, unmarried.
Find rest in God. Find rest in the gospel. The wisdom of the world is perishing. Its fears will toss you like a ball and then crush you. Rest in the gospel
- What all did Paul turn away from in order to know “nothing except Jesus Christ and him crucified?” What do you need to turn from? Is this freeing or challenging?
- What has God revealed that enables us to know how to trust him?
- How are we to depend on the Spirit? Do you rely more on the power of God or on your own wisdom and planning?
- What is one thing you need to do, think or believe as a result of hearing this message?