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Sermon 14 – “Hey Being Scum isn’t so Bad!”

1 Cor. 4:6-13

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         This morning, we come to a climatic point in the Apostle Paul’s letter to the church in Corinth.  What has Paul been arguing….urging the Corinthian Believers to see and come to understand?  Paul has:

Ø    Called for unity and agreement in the Body (1:10);

Ø    Called for this unity and agreement to come through the gospel of Jesus Christ (1:18, 23-24);

Ø    Called on the church to recognize that it is God who grows and transforms the church…..but that each disciple must “take care how he builds upon it [the foundation of Christ]” (3:7, 10b).

And, we have seen over and over in these first 3.5 chapters that the root of all the dissension, bitterness, division and quarreling is PRIDE!

The church in Corinth has been:

Ø    Elevating human wisdom above God’s wisdom.  They have brought division over which is a better preacher (better here meaning more eloquent and exciting);

Ø    They have been thinking themselves mature and gifted spiritually (one more than others) and consider themselves glorious NOW – (2:6-7; 3:1-4).

Ø    And through it all, they have thought much too highly of themselves…..they have thought much too worldly of themselves! (3:18-21; c.f. see also – 1:26-31; 2:1-5, 16).

These have been the major points of Paul in diagnosing and dissecting the problems of division and, understandably, a lack of spiritual maturity (of growing up in the Lord) in the Corinthian Church!

The Model

So, this morning, before we look at our text in detail…..I want to lay out, again, the model of the Church.  This is not exhaustive……but must have been on the heart of the Apostle as he wrote the part of this letter that we’re digesting this morning!  So, let’s briefly look at three characteristics of the NT church:  the Leader (Role Model)…the environment (or world)…and The Calling.

I’m not going to comment on these right now…..I want to allow the Holy Spirit to speak through His Word this morning – to give all of us a clear picture of the church…..and a picture which contrasts against the Corinthian Church…and sadly, to many of the churches today!

The Leader - Is 53:2-5

     2     For he grew up before him like a young plant,

and like a root out of dry ground;

          he had no form or majesty that we should look at him,

and no beauty that we should desire him.

     3     He was despised and rejected by men;

a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief;

          and as one from whom men hide their faces

he was despised, and we esteemed him not.

  4     Surely he has borne our griefs

and carried our sorrows;

          yet we esteemed him stricken,

smitten by God, and afflicted.

     5     But he was wounded for our transgressions;

he was crushed for our iniquities;

          upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace,

and with his stripes we are healed.

Is 53:7-9

     7     He was oppressed, and he was afflicted,

yet he opened not his mouth;

          like a lamb that is led to the slaughter,

and like a sheep that before its shearers is silent,

so he opened not his mouth.

     8     By oppression and judgment he was taken away;

and as for his generation, who considered

          that he was cut off out of the land of the living,

stricken for the transgression of my people?

     9     And they made his grave with the wicked

and with a rich man in his death,

          although he had done no violence,

and there was no deceit in his mouth.

The Environment

Matt 5:1-11

5 Seeing the crowds, he went up on the mountain, and when he sat down, his disciples came to him.

2 And he opened his mouth and taught them, saying:

3 “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

4 “Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.

5 “Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.

6 “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.

7 “Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.

8 “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.

9 “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.

10 “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

11 “Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account.

Matt 5:21-24

21 “You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not murder; and whoever murders will be liable to judgment.’ 22 But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment; whoever insults his brother will be liable to the council; and whoever says, ‘You fool!’ will be liable to the hell of fire. 23 So if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, 24 leave your gift there before the altar and go. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift.

The (Our) Calling

Luke 9:23-24

23 And he said to all, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. 24 For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it.

Our Text - Now, I want us to turn to our text today…where we will see another contrast….another one….BUT the same!  For what Jesus has laid before us in Matt. and in Luke….and what Paul is begging the Corinthian church….and Cragfont Baptist to see….is that ALL disciples of Jesus Christ are called to walk the way of the cross!  We will see the pride and conceit of the Corinthians contrasted with the apostle’s humility.

The Corinthians Pride (4:6-8)

Look, at v.6:  “I have applied all these things to myself and Apollos for your benefit, brothers (and sisters), that you may learn by us not to go beyond what is written, that none of you may be puffed up in favor of one against another.”

First, what does Paul mean - “all these things….?” 

Throughout chapters 3 and 4, Paul has been using allegory to speak to the proper way to minister for the Lord.  He’s used farmers (3.6-9), builders (3.10-15) and servant-stewards (4.1-5)…..and so here, Paul tells us that he’s applied all of these to himself and Apollos to address the central problem in the Corinthian church – Pride!  Servants of Christ are faithful and humble…..Stewards are trustworthy and submissive – never arrogant.  As Christians….we are all called to be faithful Servant-Stewards!

Paul has applied these so that the church will learn how to properly view those in spiritual authority over them.  Paul says that the church should learn how to properly honor and respect the Servant Leaders of the church! 

We are to “….. to respect those who labor among you and are over you in the Lord and admonish you,” according to 1 Thess. 5.12 AND Scripture says, “Let the elders who rule well be considered worthy of double honor, especially those who labor in preaching and teaching.” in 1 Tim. 5:17.

 This is honoring your Servant – Elder within the bounds of God’s Word.  But Paul warns that when the church goes outside these boundaries…..when we “go beyond what is written” (4.6)….then loving gratitude and honor turns into conceit and pride within the church!  And Satan takes what God has meant for unity and turns it into a means of division.  In Corinth, the believers’ following of the respected pastors had led to such division and disunity….and God tells us here that what ensues is a feeding frenzy for pride.  The word translated as  “puffed up” meant to have “an inflated view of oneself”….to be conceited or arrogant! 

1 Cor 4:7

7 For who sees anything different in you? What do you have that you did not receive? If then you received it, why do you boast as if you did not receive it?

1.) The results of pride are devastating to the church…..because pride is idolatry!  Because at the very core of pride lies exaltation……but who is the only One worthy of being exalted?  GOD!  But pride exalts Self!

A prideful person only wants to talk about….think about…..and boast about himself!  One of the key marks of pride is boasting!  The first part of v.7 is better translated, “For who judges you superior?” 

Can you sense the Holy Spirit saying, right after that,…..we are One Body and we have One Lord and One Baptism!  We are all saved only by the grace of our Father through the blood atoning sacrifice of His only Son…..NONE is better than another……The only One to be exalted is God!  The only One worthy of praise is Jesus Christ!!

2.)  And, Paul goes on to say, what do YOU have that’s not given to you? 

We all must know that every thing good…..if you have a great education (it’s because God gave you the intelligence and will to achieve); if you have a job, a family, a spouse….if you have food and clothing…..ALL is given to us.  Yes…we “earn a living” = but all talent and ability we have that allows us to be employed comes from God!  So, Paul says, how can you brag on what you have when it all comes from God! When we boast in ourselves or our possessions or our smarts or anything else – WE ARE ROBBING GOD OF HIS DUE GLORY…..WE ARE IDOLATORS – we are guilty of worshiping ourselves or another man….but not the God of grace who gives every gift!

Finally, Paul turns to sarcasm to drive home the absurdity of the Corinthian pride:

1 Cor 4:8

8 Already you have all you want! Already you have become rich! Without us you have become kings! And would that you did reign, so that we might share the rule with you!

How tricky pride is!  Our flesh will believe anything that exalts itself!  After all, the original sin in Gen. 3 dealt with a desire to “be like God.”  Paul sarcastically congratulates the Corinthian Christians on making it!  They have the glory and the highest spiritual maturity….and they obtained it without any help from Paul or Apollos! 

The Apostle’s Humility

Beg. in v.9…..Paul drops the sarcasm and returns to persuasion….

to almost a sense of pleading with the church to see the truth of who we are in Christ!  In these last verses (9-13), we find spectacles, fools, sufferers, and scum!

Spectacles:  When a Roman general won a major victory it was celebrated by what was called a Triumph.  The general would enter the city in great military splendor, leading his officers and troops. Behind those would come a group of prisoners in chains, with the conquered king and his officers prominently displayed for all to see and mock. The prisoners were under the sentence of death and would be taken to the arena to fight wild beasts. That is the spectacle to which Paul refers.  Christ Followers are on display….the church…the Bride of Christ….is being made a spectacle before all the kosmos – the children of God paraded before angels and men…..And

Foolsfor Christ’s sake!  You, Corinthians, really still don’t understand the cross!  You are strong…but we are weak; You walk in honor…but we walk in the shadow of the cross….without respect…as men condemned to death!

Sufferers:  Paul says we are not a people of much…but of little.  We do not revel in our “stuff” but we live to serve!

Scum: Finally, Paul hits the bottom (literally) of the cultural barrel!  Paul  says in v.13, “We have become, and remain, the garbage of the whole world…the garbage of all things.”

Hey, Being Scum Ain’t so Bad!

Now, this is where we need to be!  You can tell that I’m not a prosperity gospel preacher.  ‘Cause when’s the last time you heard a televangelist plead with his congregation to be scum!  More than that…when did one admit to being garbage!

But, I’m standing before you this morning….and I’m telling you that I’m scum…..and being scum ain’t so Bad!

Remember the verses I read in the beginning of this message…..words about the person of Jesus Christ…..words from His most famous Sermon on the Mount…and His own words of calling!  Line them up right here with 1 Cor. 4:9-13.

Christians                                                          Christ

v.9 – “a spectacle, men sentenced            “He was despised and rejected men;

to death;”                                           a man of sorrows, and acquainted                                                             with grief; and as one from whom                                                              men hide their faces he was despised,                                                           and we esteemed him not.”

v.10 – “foolish / weak /                         “He was despised….we esteemed

              dishonored”                                him not.”

                                                                5 “Blessed are the meek, for they shall                                                                    inherit the earth. “Blessed are those                                                                         who hunger and thirst for                                                                                        righteousness, for they shall be                                                                               satisfied. “Blessed are the merciful,                                                                             for they shall receive mercy.                                                                                     

V.12 - “reviled – we bless                        “7He was oppressed, and he was persecuted -endured                      afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth;

           slandered – bless”                         like a lamb that is led to the slaughter,

                                                           and like a sheep that before its                                                                   shearers is silent, so he opened not his                                                       mouth.

                                                      10 “Blessed are those who are                                                                       persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for                                                                   theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

                                                                              11 “Blessed are you when others revile                                                                   you and persecute you and utter all                                                                        kinds of evil against you falsely on                                                                          my account.

This….my brothers and sisters is the calling of Christ to be a Christian!  It is to be….in the eyes of the world….foolish and stupid!  It is to be, in the eyes of the world – weak and worthless!

But Jesus said…that when they slander you, persecute you and hate you for His Name sake (when you live the gospel and walk humbly before God and others)….then 12 Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.  (Matt. 5.12)

 It is these…..the poor in spirit and those who hunger and thirst for righteousness…..NOT the proud and haughty…NOT the arrogant and self-exalting!  IT IS the lowly and meek who will spend eternity with Christ!

This is the proper way to live in the Body of Christ.  This is Church!  Is this what we are to be?  YES!  We can and will (by God’s grace) be the church that God has called us to be! 

We will be Disciples…Followers of Jesus Christ and makers of Disciples of Jesus Christ!  Brothers and Sisters…..THIS IS OUR CALLING!  The world calls us scum…..But our Heavenly Father calls us to Life with Him forever…..God calls us His child!


Invitation – Matt. 7:12-14

The Golden Rule

12 “So whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets.

13 “Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. 14 For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few.

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