September 24, 2023 | Doug Sauder
Watch our most recent mid-week message here.
We're so glad you're taking a next step to get connected! Login or create your Calvary account below.
Don’t have an account? Sign up ›
“You are still worldly. For since there is jealousy and quarreling among you, are you not worldly? Are you not acting like mere humans? For when one says, ‘I follow Paul,’ and another, ‘I follow Apollos,’ are you not mere human beings?”—1 Corinthians 3:3–4 (NIV)
Have you ever played the game where you’re shown two photos, told there are six differences between them, and then asked to spot the differences? And after staring at them for a while, and straining your eyes, you say, “They’re the exact same pictures. They’re indistinguishable.”
Friends, think of today’s passage and the text surrounding it as Paul looking at two photos and unable to spot the difference. In his eyes, they’re indistinguishable. The problem though, in this case, is that they ARE two completely different photos.
The first photo is the world apart from Christ and the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit, and the second is the Corinthian church. And yet, he says to them, “I could not address you as people who live by the Spirit but as people who are still worldly” (1 Corinthians 3:1 NIV). Basically, he’s saying they were indistinguishable from the world.
Why did Paul to say this? Because he saw jealousy, infighting, and division among them. And not just that, but there was also tribalism and idolatry. In Titus 3:3 (NIV), Paul explains that prior to receiving Jesus, like the world, we were “foolish, disobedient, deceived and enslaved by all kinds of passions and pleasures. We lived in malice and envy, being hated and hating one another.” Sound familiar? It sounds a lot like how the Corinthians were behaving.
This can’t be! As believers, we must not conform to the world’s patterns and behaviors (Romans 12:2). Instead, we must resemble Jesus, which will “make the teaching about God our Savior attractive” (Titus 2:10 NIV).
But mark my words, when a believer, a church, or the Church in an entire region of the world are indistinguishable from the world, then their/our witness has been tarnished and the light of Jesus has been hidden. If our lives resemble the world, how can we possibly expect to light the way for them to see Jesus and receive Him? How can we be the light of the world and light the way for others to seek Him when we’ve hidden His light within us? How can we judge, preach, or witness when our lives are no different? We can’t.
This is precisely what was happening in Corinth—and in many large segments of the Church today. We’ve become so fixated with superficial, unimportant, fleeting fads, trends, and appearances in order to create an experience for non-believers that we’ve forgotten what it looks like to resemble Christ and reflect Him to those who don’t yet know Him.
So, what’s the solution? It’s quite simple: worship and follow Jesus! Not the world, not the trends of the world, not a human teacher . . . but Christ alone. Learn to live, walk, and think like Jesus (Romans 12:1–2; Philippians 2:12–16); seek unity, humility, and faithfulness to Christ. I promise you that what will draw people to the Church and her Head (Christ), won’t be how similar we look, but how much we resemble our beautiful Savior!
Pause: Why is it important for believers to not look like the world?
Practice: Examine your life. Ask the Spirit to reveal areas and attitudes in you that you’ve not surrendered to Christ and in which you still resemble the world. Then, pray and ask for the Spirit to lead you into truth and submission in these areas so you may walk and live in the light of Jesus and effectively reflect that light to those who don’t know Him.
Pray: Father, help me to be mature and Spirit-led; Christ-like and not worldly. I desire to shine the light of Jesus and be His ambassador. Purge and purify any areas in me that are not surrendered to You and that have not been taken captive in Christ. Amen.
Danny Saavedra is a licensed minister who has served on staff at Calvary since 2012, managing the Calvary Devotional and digital discipleship resources. He has a Master of Arts in Pastoral Counseling and Master of Divinity in Pastoral Ministry from Liberty Theological Seminary. His wife Stephanie, son Jude, and daughter Zoe share a love of Star Wars, good food, having friends over for dinner, and studying the Word together as a family.