March 19, 2023 | Doug Sauder
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“And I, brethren, could not speak to you as to spiritual people but as to carnal, as to babes in Christ. I fed you with milk and not with solid food; for until now you were not able to receive it, and even now you are still not able.”—1 Corinthians 3:1–2 (NKJV)
The Corinthians are struggling to grasp and apply the basic doctrine of the Scriptures to their lives. Spiritual people would’ve been able to live out the Word of God and be a church of holiness, peace, and unity. However, their spiritual immaturity and their carnal nature drove them far from this ideal.
Word that the church founded in Corinth was filled with divisiveness and arguments had gotten back to the apostle Paul. They were intermingling old pagan beliefs with new spiritual truths. There was rampant sexual immorality, and they were stagnant in their spiritual understanding. His first and second letters to the Corinthians written roughly eight months apart address these issues head on.
Paul uses the contrast of milk and solid food in reference to the believers’ spiritual growth. Before a twinge of judgment bubbles up in us, we need to understand Paul’s correction is timeless. It was meant for the Corinthians as much as it is for us today. Do we truly desire spiritual growth? If so, desire must be met with discipline. What steps are we taking to grow? Do we hunger for the deeper truths of God’s Word and seek to discover them by studying Scripture? Do we have a habit of quarreling with other Christians, creating division? Do we mingle old beliefs with our faith? Are we having sex outside of God’s divine design? Are we practicing sexual immorality? Let us examine ourselves.
A good example of spiritual milk is the gospel message of salvation. It’s basic elementary teachings all Christians should be unified over. Paul wanted to give the Corinthians more, but based on their actions they were not ready. Their carnal behaviors revealed the reflection of their struggling hearts, as actions are an outward expression of our inner beliefs.
Spiritual maturity is the desire to move on from milk to meat (solid food). Jesus refers to Himself as solid food. He calls Himself the “bread of life” (John 6:35 NKJV). We need to spiritually grow so we can “taste and see that the Lord is good” (Psalm 34:8 NKJV). The rebuke is for those who’ve been Christians for a while and are still on milk, not for new believers in the learning process.
Milk Christians want the church to spoon feed them, desiring a message cut up into tiny digestible pieces so they don’t have to think. Whereas Christians on solid food have the ability to utilize utensils to eat and digest their meal. Solid food includes more challenging concepts in the Word, such as sanctification and justification. The benefit of being a solid-food Christian is God grows you into spiritual maturity and gives you a desire to study His Word. He helps you seek and apply the Scriptures because it leads to a deeper, more intimate relationship with Him.
Truly grasping the ultimate sacrifice of Christ and understanding the Scriptures is what changes our lives. Gratitude and love leads us to obedience. It’s in obedience to a good and holy God where we find the fullness of joy.
Pause: Your actions are an outward expression of your inner beliefs. What do your actions reveal about your thought life?
Practice: Write down the questions provided in this devotional. Spend time with the Lord in prayer and reflection as you answer each one honestly. Let the Holy Spirit show you what area(s) of your life needs growth. If you don’t yet understand sanctification and justification, take some time this week to search the Scriptures.
Pray: Dear Lord, I want a more personal relationship with You. I want my obedience to Your Word to be an overflow of gratitude in my heart. Like the Psalmist David, I echo the words, “Search me, O God, and know my heart; try me, and know my anxieties; and see if there is any wicked way in me and lead me in the way everlasting” (Psalm 139:23–24 NKJV). I ask You Lord please shape me and mold me into Your image. Amen.