1 Corinthians 3:1-3 Brothers, I could not address you as spiritual but as worldly – mere infants in Christ. I gave you milk, not solid food, for you were not yet ready for it. Indeed, you are still not ready. You are still worldly. For since there is jealousy and quarrelling among you, are you not worldly? Are you not acting like mere men?
I have just been reading ‘Renovation of the Heart’ by Dallas Willard, and today’s familiar words of the Apostle Paul to the Christian believers in Corinth came to me with a new force when I read them.
As descendants of Adam we are all born with a nature that is hostile to God, and how easy it is for us to allow this ‘old nature’ to resist (if only passively) any reforming or renovating work by the Holy Spirit in us. How comfortable we can become in our ‘natural’ attitudes and behaviours under the influence of the world and the culture around us. We live in a culture that increasingly distances itself from the God who is Creator of all things, who made us in his own likeness and image, who reveals himself to us clearly and unambiguously in the Scriptures, his inspired, written Word, and who loves us so much that he sent his Son to die in our place, to redeem us. Just as Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden chose to make up their own rules and run their lives independently of, and without acknowledgement of or submission to, their Creator, so our culture defines itself in this same way.
What Paul is implying in these verses is that we need continually to recognise this factual reality around us and consciously and conscientiously to oppose its subtle influence on us. This is doubly necessary because our ingrained natural Adamic inclination sits more comfortably with our culture than it does with the written Word of God. Dallas Willard rightly warns Christians today of the grave danger of not realising the importance of the complete ‘renovation’ and ‘reformation’ of the heart, the very core of our being. This renovation is an ongoing process and is the work of sanctification by the Holy Spirit within us.
Apparently, the Christians at Corinth were totally unaware of the need for such sanctification, and were happy and content with their ‘old nature’ as if no change were necessary. Let us examine ourselves to make sure we are not making the same mistake, a mistake that is so easy to make! A similar plea had to be made to the Christians in Rome: “Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God – this is your spiritual act of worship. Do not conform any longer to the pattern (culture) of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is – his good, pleasing and perfect will” (Romans 12:1-2).
– Bruce Christian