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Unity in Diversity – 1 Corinthians 12:1-14

Jun 7, 2020

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A mature individual understands and appreciates his own body.

Likewise, a mature Christian understands the Church, Christ's body, and his role in it.

A mature Christian understands that the Spirit has given him a gift, or gifts, and they are to be used for the building up (edification) of "the body," not himself.

 So it is with you. Since you are eager for gifts of the Spirit, try to excel in those that build up the church.

(1 Cor. 14:12)

And not for personal gain, at the expense of others.

This is the next "church problem" that the Apostle Paul will address in this epistle.

The Corinthians were abusing their spiritual gifts, of which they had been graciously given many (1 Cor. 1:4-5). And this led to disunity (1 Cor. 1:10) and carnality (immaturity) (1 Cor. 3:1-3).

The Corinthians failed to understand that it was the Spirit who gave birth  to the body (Church) at Pentecost (Acts 2:1-4).  And it is the Spirit who ministers in and through the body (Church).

They were grieving the Holy Spirit by the carnal way that they used their spirituals gifts.

They were like kids with toys, tearing up; instead of adults with tools, building up the church body.

Unfortunately, the same problems still exist in the church today.

The first 11 chapters of this epistle dealt specifically with "carnalities." 

Now Paul will deal with "spiritualities.


Spiritual Gifts: Unity in Diversity

Verses 1-11

Vs. 1

          "...the gifts of the Spirit..."

               * Translated as "spiritualities" - Pneumatika (Gk.) - Which is in contrast to "carnalities."

 Brothers and sisters, I could not address you as people who live by the Spirit but as people who are still worldly—mere infants in Christ.

(1 Cor. 3:1)

 Vs. 2

          "...when you were pagans...you were led astray to mute idols."

              * "Pagans" - Unbelievers

              * "Idols" - Unspeaking objects of false worship (Ps. 115:1-8).

 “Of what value is an idol carved by a craftsman? Or an image that teaches lies? For the one who makes it trusts in his own creation; he makes idols that cannot speak."

(Hab. 2:18)

While we are lost, we worship things (dead idols), but now we are to worship the living God only. 

God speaks and directs us through His Spirit, even the "gift of prophecy," which is His Word and will.

 ...for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill His good purpose.

(Phil. 2:13)

While we are lost, we are under the control of demons (1 Cor. 10:20) and easily "led astray" (1 Cor. 12:2).

After we are saved, we can still be led astray by our own desires in the flesh, and our failure to be obedient to the leading of the Spirit.

 Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed—not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence—continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling,

(Phil. 2:12)

 Vs. 3

          "...no one can say, "Jesus is Lord" except by the Holy Spirit."

               * A true believer will be led by the Holy Spirit to proclaim "Jesus is Lord," and the proof will be a changed life.

               *  Many will call Him "Lord" and it not be true.

Matthew 7:21-23

 “But what about you?” He asked. “Who do you say I am?”

(Matt. 16:15)

Vs. 4-6

          Notice the emphasis on the Trinity in this passage:

               - Gifts - Spirit (Vs. 4)

               - Service - Lord (Vs. 5)

               - Working - God (Vs. 6)

           "...but in all of them and in everyone it is the same God..."

               * We, individually, have different spiritual "gifts," "service" (ministries), and ways of "working" but it is.


 “…God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill His good purpose.”

(Phil. 2:3)

           The source of the gift is God!

           The place to use the gift is from God!

           The energy to use the gift is from God!

Romans 12:4-8 

                   Why then glorify men?     

                         Why then compete with men?

Vs. 7

          "Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good."

                * The spiritual gifts are given by Christ for the good of the whole church, Christ's body.

     Let's understand what a "spiritual gift" is:

               1. It is a capacity for service.

                2. It is a function of service.

 "A gift in the spiritual sense means the Holy Spirit doing a particular service through the believer, and using the believer to do it."

                                                      Dr. Lewis Sperry Chafer

 And it must be done in the power of the Spirit of God to be effective.

Ephesians 4:11-13

        In other words:

"The spiritual gifts are not for individual enjoyment, but for corporate employment."

                                                   Dr. Warren Wiersbe

The spiritual gifts are listed in Romans 12:6-8, 1 Corinthians 12:8-10, 28 and Ephesians 4:11, totaling nineteen.

We should accept these gifts with humility and use them to promote unity as Christ desires.

Unfortunately, we, as the Corinthians did, use them to selfishly promote ourselves and not prosper the church! 

Vs. 8-10

          "To one there is given, through the Spirit, a message of wisdom..."

                * "Message of wisdom" - "Word of wisdom" (NKJV)

 We do, however, speak a message of wisdom among the mature, but not the wisdom of this age or of the rulers of this age, who are coming to nothing. No, we declare God’s wisdom, a mystery that has been hidden and that God destined for our glory before time began.

(1 Cor. 2:6-7)

           "Message of knowledge."

                 * "Word of knowledge." (NKJV)

 This, then, is how you ought to regard us: as servants of Christ and as those entrusted with the mysteries God has revealed.

(1 Cor. 4:1)

 I myself am convinced, my brothers and sisters, that you yourselves are full of goodness, filled with knowledge and competent to instruct one another.

(Rm. 15:14)

 Biblical wisdom is knowledge properly applied to life's problems.


Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.

(Heb. 11:1)

2 Corinthians 4:13-14

           "...gifts of healings...miraculous powers..."

                * The laying on of the Apostle's hands (Mk. 3:15, 16:18).

                * Power to cast out demons, raise the dead.

 Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse those who have leprosy, drive out demons. Freely you have received; freely give. (Matt. 10:8)

 But preceded by:

 As you go, proclaim this message: ‘The kingdom of heaven has come near.’

(Matt. 10:7)

These "sign gifts" were given to the Apostles to prove the truth of the "Kingdom of Heaven," the Gospel of Jesus Christ. These "signs" (miracles) were for a testimony to the Truth.

Today, by faith, we can go directly to the "Great Physician" for healing, or miracles in time of need.

Remember the Centurion, he asked for the healing of his servant in faith and Jesus responded to his faith. 

When Jesus heard this, He was amazed and said to those following Him, “Truly I tell you, I have not found anyone in Israel with such great faith.

(Matt. 8:10)

Then Jesus said to the centurion, “Go! Let it be done just as you believed it would.” And his servant was healed at that moment.

(Matt. 8:13)


              * To prophesy means to teach the will of God by His Word, and preach the Truth from it.

It seems today we need more people willing to teach and preach His Truth, and then trust God to use that Word through His Spirit. 

           "...distinguishing between spirits..."

                * Discerning of Spirits (NKJV) - The ability to distinguish between the false and the true, both in the natural and spiritual realms.

 1 John 2:18-24, 4:1-6

2 Peter 2:1-2

          "...different kinds of tongues..."

               * As after Pentecost.

 All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them. Now there were staying in Jerusalem God-fearing Jews from every nation under heaven. When they heard this sound, a crowd came together in bewilderment, because each one heard their own language being spoken. Utterly amazed, they asked: “Aren’t all these who are speaking Galileans? Then how is it that each of us hears them in our native language?

(Acts 2:4-8)

           "...interpretation of tongues..."

               * Speaking in "tongues" must be interpreted for it to be valid and edify the church. (1 Cor. 14:5)

All these are the work of one and the same Spirit, and He distributes them to each one, just as He determines.

(1 Cor. 12:11)

 Unity and Diversity in One Body

Verses 12-14

Vs. 12

          "Just as a body, though one, has many parts, but all its many parts form one body, so it is with Christ."

               * Paul relates our physical body and its parts to Christ's body, the Church, and its parts - believers.

 Vs. 13

          "For we were all baptized by one Spirit...to form one body..."

               * This is the baptism of the Holy Spirit whereby we are placed into the body of Christ, the church, and Christ, the Holy Spirit, now lives in us.

 Now if the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason stop being part of the body.

(1 Cor. 12:15)

 But whoever is united with the Lord is one with Him in spirit.

(1 Cor. 6:17)

Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own;

(1 Cor. 6:19)

           "...whether Jews or Gentiles, slave or free..."

 There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.

(Gal. 3:28)

 Vs. 14

          "Even so the body is not made up of one part but of many."

              * Paul simply reiterates on verse 12 for added emphasis on his point. This is a common rabbinical method of instruction.


Even though we are all "baptized by one Spirit," and it is a one-time event sealing us to redemption and resurrection.

                                                                                             We still leak!

This means we require a constant refilling of the Spirit to be controlled by the Spirit (Eph. 5:18).

And we will be, but it requires our constant, ongoing surrender of our lives to Christ.

 To be "baptized by the Spirit" means we belong to Christ's body.

 To be filled with the Spirit means that our bodies belong to Christ.

 The evidence of this "baptism" is the Spirit's witness within us (Rms. 8:14-16).


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