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Spiritual vs. Worldly (Mature vs. Immature) (1 Corinthians 3:1-9)

1 Corinthians: The Application of Christian Principles, Pastor Heo, Sermons

Spiritual vs. Worldly (Mature vs. Immature) (1 Corinthians 3:1-9)

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Spiritual vs. Worldly (Mature vs. Immature)

2 Corinthians 3:1-9 (Pastor Heo)

On Divisions in the Church

3:1 Brothers, I could not address you as spiritual but as worldly–mere infants in Christ. 2 I gave you milk, not solid food, for you were not yet ready for it. Indeed, you are still not ready. 3 You are still worldly. For since there is jealousy and quarreling among you, are you not worldly? Are you not acting like mere men? 4 For when one says, “I follow Paul,” and another, “I follow Apollos,” are you not mere men?

5 What, after all, is Apollos? And what is Paul? Only servants, through whom you came to believe–as the Lord has assigned to each his task. 6 I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God made it grow. 7 So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God, who makes things grow. 8 The man who plants and the man who waters have one purpose, and each will be rewarded according to his own labor. 9 For we are God’s fellow workers; you are God’s field, God’s building.


We are God’s fellow workers and partners. Last Sunday, we saw there are two kinds of humanity:

  1. Spiritual Man – decisions and exercises under the guidance of the Holy Spirit – lives in light of eternity
  2. Natural Man – the lost, unsaved, non-Christian, lives according to physical life

Then, there is another kind of humanity – in all there are three kinds. Last week, we saw two, but there is a third:

  1. Spiritual
  2. Natural
  3. Worldly – this is between spiritual and natural man

We also may be tempted to be worldly because we are still in this world – so we must be careful not to be worldly as long as we stay in this world.

Worldly = immature Christian – yes, they are Christians, but baby Christians. Worldly man, baby Christian, etc are synonyms

Let us see the characteristics (4) of a Worldly man, immature Christian

v. 1-4

“1 Brothers, I could not address you as spiritual but as worldly–mere infants in Christ. 2 I gave you milk, not solid food, for you were not yet ready for it. Indeed, you are still not ready. 3 You are still worldly. For since there is jealousy and quarreling among you, are you not worldly? Are you not acting like mere men? 4 For when one says, “I follow Paul,” and another, “I follow Apollos,” are you not mere men?”

4 Characteristics of Worldly Man (Immature Christians)

1. Not ready for solid food

What is solid food? What are the marks of maturity?

We can tell the mature person by his diet. I have my own diet, and so do you. A physical man needs a balanced diet to be physically healthy, so also a spiritual man needs a balanced diet to be inwardly healthy.

Babies need milk, grown adults need meat.

  • Milk = easy stories in the Bible
  • Meat = hard doctrines to obey

This is the traditional definition, and it may be right, BUT according to the teaching of Hebrews (remember?) we can say,

  • Milk = what Jesus DID on earth in his body;
  • Meat = what Jesus is DOING now in heaven as our High Priest.

It is not difficult to determine a believer’s spirituality based on this.

For example, every Christian knows the facts, the stories about Jesus’ ministry on earth. But not every Christian enjoys Jesus’ ministry in heaven as our High Priest now and here.

It is important to preach the gospel to the lost, but also it is important to interpret the gospel to the saved. We must know not only HOW to be saved, but also WHAT is really included IN this salvation and enjoy it.

Immature Christians are not ready for meat. Are you ready?

The Word of God = milk, bread, honey, meat, solid food

2. Easily jealous, envious, quarrelsome

v. 2

“2 I gave you milk, not solid food, for you were not yet ready for it. Indeed, you are still not ready. 3 You are still worldly. For since there is jealousy and quarreling among you, are you not worldly? Are you not acting like mere men?”

Jealousy is a spiritual stopping point, just before murder (in your heart).

Maturity is not a matter of how long I’ve been a Christian, but how I deal with others.

Immature Christians compare themselves to one another and compete for recognition like children. This leads to divisions and factions among Christians.

We can tell a man’s relationship with God by looking at the relationship he has with his fellow men. If we are envious, jealous, quarrelsome, argumentative, even though we are regular church attenders, we are immature. But if our attitudes are loving, care-giving, etc then it shows that we are well on the way to be a mature person of God.

If we are divided with fellow men, we are divided with God. If we are united with fellow men, we are united with God.

“Do nothing out of vain conceit, but consider others as better than yourselves. Look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others.”

3. More interest in human leaders than in God

More concern in visible things than invisible things.

Children like to disagree and be false. They like to fight and identify themselves with human heroes (sports, entertainment, etc).

  • “I follow Paul”
  • “I follow Apollos”
  • “I follow Peter”

These were babies in Corinth – fighting over who was the greatest preacher. This is just like children.

  • “My daddy can beat up your daddy!”
  • “Oh yeah? My daddy is taller than your daddy!”
  • “My daddy has more chest hair than yours!”

In the spiritual world, this is the same. Immature Christians have more concern for the things in this world than the things of this world. Things that are seen over things that are unseen. Present things over future things.

4. Little desire to grow

Children -> Teenagers -> Adulthood

Everything is expected to grow. Hard working employees are expected to advance in their careers, but it is strange to say that in the spiritual world, immature, worldly man has no desire to grow. This passion to grow is a desire from God.

In Genesis, God designed human beings to flourish in every front – physical, mental, social, cultural, etc. After his job of Creation, God said, “Be fruitful, increase in number, fill the earth, subdue it, rule the fish of the sea, the birds of the air, and all that moves on the ground.”

  • Growth, development, flourishing are God’s design.
  • Spiritual man has a strong desire, strong passion to grow.
  • God bless your passion / desire to grow.
  • Who can make life grow? Only God.

v. 7 “…but only God…”

v. 5-9

“5 What, after all, is Apollos? And what is Paul? Only servants, through whom you came to believe–as the Lord has assigned to each his task. 6 I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God made it grow. 7 So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God, who makes things grow. 8 The man who plants and the man who waters have one purpose, and each will be rewarded according to his own labor. 9 For we are God’s fellow workers; you are God’s field, God’s building.”

In this passage, Paul is using agriculture metaphors. We are God’s garden.

John 15, Jesus says, “I am the vine, you are the branches.”

We can learn 3 lessons from this image.

1. Diversity of ministry

v. 6 – Each of us has his own ministry, service, job, activity.

Example, in agriculture:

  1. One plows
  2. One sows the seed
  3. One waters it
  4. One cultivates the soil
  5. One harvests the food
  6. One enjoys the benefit of the harvest

Each one in the church (like the body of Christ) are part of the ONE church. There are many members – like our physical bodies – and all members have different jobs and functions.

God’s work requires very different individuals in variety – diversity in gifts, talents, and abilities.

There are very few superstars like Rambo. Each team member is needed to serve their own roles.

The effectiveness of ONE member depends on the effectiveness of ALL members.

Diversity in ministry – each one of us has our own ministry in church. What is YOUR function in AICF (this church)?

2. Each has ONE purpose (v. 8)

We all have ONE purpose – ONE mission. Eph “One Spirit, one Lord, one body, one church, one mission…”

There is ONE mission, ONE goal – to glorify the name of Christ and confess Christ as Lord.

Yes, we have many different, various ministries and services, but we have ONE mission.

3. Humility of spirit for the reward

Only God can give life and make that life grow. Only God gives abundant, spiritual, heavenly life. Jesus, “I have come that you may have life and have it to the full.”

One can plant, one can water, one can harvest, but the power to make it GROW belongs to God and God alone. We have no power to create life nor make it grow. Thus, it is only God.

So, why does God want to use us in his ministry then? Because he loves us and wants us to enjoy being his fellow workers.

4. To give us reward

v. 8

“8 The man who plants and the man who waters have one purpose, and each will be rewarded according to his own labor.”

God does not need our service, but he wants it, to give us a reward. That’s why we call God a God of love.

God bless our life, faith, ministry, service, for his glory, for our reward.

Let’s pray.

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