1 Corinthians 12:1-7

1 Corinthians 12:1-7

We begin a new chapter of Corinthians. In this chapter, Paul will address the movements and gifts of the Holy Spirit. This is a largely debated passage in history. My hope is that we will approach this passage with zero preconceived notions. My heart cry is that we allow the purity of the Scriptures to teach us what the movement of the Holy Spirit looks like.

1 Corinthians 12v1-7 (NLT)

And now, dear brothers and sisters, I will write about the special abilities the Holy Spirit gives to each of us, for I must correct your misunderstandings about them. You know that when you were still pagans you were worshipping speechless idols. So I want yo to know how to discern what is truly from God: No one speaking by the Spirit of God can curse Jesus, and no one is able to say, “Jesus is Lord,” except by the Holy Spirit.

Now there are different kinds of spiritual gifts, but it is the same Holy Spirit who is the source of them all. There are different kinds of service in the church, but it is the same Lord we are all serving. There are different ways God works in our lives, but it is the same God who does the work through all of us. A spiritual gift is given to each of us as a means of helping the entire church.

1 Corinthians 12v1-7

And now, dear brothers and sisters, I will write about the special abilities the Holy Spirit gives to each of us, for I must correct your misunderstandings about them.

Key Words or phrases:

Special Abilities – pnuematikos (the workings of the Spirit)

I don’t want you to misunderstand – to be ignorant or without proper information; to err from lack of information

Premises to consider:

  1. It is possible to misunderstand the gifts of the Holy Spirit, and a very likely possibility without these teachings of Paul.
  2. Misunderstandings will generally lead to misuses, misapplications, misinterpretations, and the embracing of counterfeits.
  3. Knowledge of how the Spirit moves and how to discern these movements is available to us and we are encouraged to learn how.   
  4. Gifts are give by the Holy Spirit. They are a good thing and have a great purpose.

Paul is teaching about the gifts and movements of the Holy Spirit, because, he believes it is important for the church to know them. Therefore, it is important for us to look at this passage.

You know that when you were still pagans you were worshipping speechless idols.

Key Words or phrases:

“When you were still pagans”

Paul is addressing their tendencies and natures prior to encountering Jesus

led astray – (original language) the root word carries an indication of incarceration or bondage, as in one who is led to trial. The implication is to be under the power or control of another.

worshiping speechless idols – the root idea is, “something seen.” The implication is akin to the idea of something that grabs our attention and woos us to follow.

This leads us to understand that there is a hardwired tendency in the nature of humanity to be influenced by the enemy and moved towards pagan idolatry.

Idolatry?

Idolatry is the allowance of anything other than God to control our decision making and life direction. It can be an animate or inanimate object. The issue is that we give authority to something.

Why would Paul call this out? It doesn’t actually seem to fit the context. He is talking about the person and working of the Holy Spirit. Why bring up idols and our tendency to worship them?

Because this same tendency to move towards and follow idolatry, can exists even after our encounter with Jesus.

Simply put, we struggle with what and who we worship. We are hardwired to worship something.

Consider that statement…do we not tend to elevate and fixate on hobbies, problems, concepts?

Speechless, or mute is an interesting call out. Paul is using this to contrast with something else. What? A God who speaks. The voice of God is a fundamental idea for Paul. We are not serving a mute God. We are serving one who loves to speak, and therefore, we should align ourselves to listen and participate in that conversation.

So I want yo to know how to discern what is truly from God: No one speaking by the Spirit of God can curse Jesus, and no one is able to say, “Jesus is Lord,” except by the Holy Spirit.

In order to combat this, Paul understands they need guidelines. The guidelines can’t be, “is it appealing,” or, “does it sound good,” or does it look good?”  These filters can be misleading. Remember, Paul’s goal is to teach them how to walk in step with the Holy Spirit.

What they need, and I would add, what we need, is a simple way to filter ministry so that deception and counterfeit can’t creep into the church.

Paul’s statement is, “so I want you to know,” meaning, “because of this tendency in you, I want to protect you and give you some guiding truths to follow.” The word for, “know,” means to, “be able to recognize.” 

Paul is showing this young church how to navigate the work of the Holy Spirit.

For us, we must look at these guidelines and ideas with a desire to instill them into our personal lives and our culture.

Paul’s simple rules?

  1. The Holy Spirit never inspires nor influences anyone to say “Anathema”
    1. The root idea here is, “banned, or excommunicated.” The implied idea is to draw attention away or lead another away from, or move attention from Jesus.
    2. The Holy Spirit is never a part of that. Therefore, any work, communication, word, or ministry that draws away from Jesus is not inspired by the Holy Spirit.
  2. The Holy Spirit always inspires and influences the statement of  “Supreme.”

    1. The root idea is, “supreme in authority, Lord, or ruler. In essence, it is an elevating or pointing to Jesus. The fundamental work of the the Holy Spirit, and all works motivated by him, are to point towards Jesus, as Lord.

    2. In this way, we understand that we can test the origin of the ministry, the expression, or the gift with this question:

      Does it point to Jesus? Is it leading me to trust in Him?

    3. Therefore, any ministry, outworking, teaching…any expression that points to Jesus as the source, the Lord, that answer, is inspired by the Holy Spirit.

Paul give this simple grid for the Corinthians, because he is aware of several concerns and potential pitfalls.

Judgement towards what we see and the fear of what we don’t understand tend to live together.

The fear of, “making a mistake, or being led astray,” can set us up to live in a critical and judgmental way. That is not the desired outcome for the work of the Holy Spirit.

What the Holy Spirit does….

Now there are different kinds of spiritual gifts, but it is the same Holy Spirit who is the source of them all. There are different kinds of service in the church, but it is the same Lord we are all serving. There are different ways God works in our lives, but it is the same God who does the work through all of us. A spiritual gift is given to each of us as a means of helping the entire church.

Key Words or phrases:

  1. different kinds – the literal rendering leans into differing items dispersed from one source
  2. gifts – gracious endowments, given freely
  3. different kinds of service – a variety of diakonos, service and ministry, specifically those who execute the commands of another.
  4. works in different waysa variety of things are accomplished and done by God. The word is energies, and deals with the outworking and effects of His power.
  5. same Holy Spirit – the root translation is THE SAME HOLY SPIRIT

Paul’s statements must help us understand that there are a variety of ways the Holy Spirit works. This will be demonstrated in EACH of us through gifts / serving / works. But, the phrase that is key is that it is, “same Holy Spirit working.”

What Paul is targeting is that some people are gifted with special abilities, some are empowered with abilities to serve and take orders, and there are a great variety of outcomes from the work God does through each of us, and we are to watch for the source. Because HE works in a variety of ways.

Our nature, however, is to lean towards filtering what we see through what we understand. We tend to filter gifting, service, and even the effects of ministry this way.

Paul’s admonition in these verses is to get our eyes off of the gift / the serving / the work, and prioritize the focus of it. This should cause me to suspend my judgement in favor of being open to a simple evaluation of where the gift or ministry is pointing to?

Paul’s simple guideline? If the Holy Spirit is the source of it, it will point to Jesus as the Lord and as the answer.

This helps keep me from only knowing how to honor the gifts that are familiar to me, and it keeps me from embracing every ministry that feels good. For again, the issue is Jesus. Because I don’t understand it, because I am not comfortable with it…does not mean it is not of the Holy Spirit.

Consider:

From this teaching of Paul’s we are challenged to evaluate the focus of the ministry.

Is Jesus elevated, pointed to, and glorified?

A spiritual gift is given to each of us so we can help each other.

Key Words or phrases:

each of us – each, the word is very clear. Everyone is graced in a way for a purpose.

so we can help each other – to bear together, as in to carry burdens, to collect, as in a storehouse, to be efficient, to be profitable.

8-11To one person the Spirit gives the ability to give wise advice; to another he gives the gift of special knowledge. The Spirit gives special faith to another, and to someone else he gives the power to heal the sick. He gives one person the power to perform miracles, and to another the ability to prophesy. He gives someone else the ability to know whether it is really the Spirit of God or another spirit that is speaking. Still another person is given the ability to speak in unknown languages, and another is given the ability to interpret what is being said. It is the one and only Holy Spirit who distributes these gifts. He alone decides which gift each person should have.

This is a discussion for another day…

Some takeaways…

  1. I should expect a grace or ministry or gift to be released through me.
  2. I should expect a grace, a ministry, or a gift to be released through others.
  3. I am invited to watch for and encourage all ministry and works to point to Jesus.


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