1 Corinthians 3:1-4 – “But I, brothers, could not address you as spiritual people, but as people of the flesh, as infants in Christ. I fed you with milk, not solid food, for you were not ready for it. And even now you are not yet ready, for you are still of the flesh. For while there is jealousy and strife among you, are you not of the flesh and behaving only in a human way?”
The church in Corinth during Paul’s day was filled with spiritual infants. That is why Paul is writing the letters to them as he does. He describes them as people of the flesh who are dominated by jealousy and strife. When you read throughout the books of 1 and 2 Corinthians, you find divisions, chaos in worship, sexual immorality, celebrity pastor worship, syncretism, and social snobbery. The church was a mess.
Whenever we think about the church in Corinth, we stand on our high places and think about how much more mature our church is and how we can’t believe a group of people who called themselves Christians could act and behave as they did; but let’s think about who makes up the church in Corinth. Paul writes a letter to the whole church and says that he can’t address them as spiritual people but as people of the flesh, infants in Christ. This church is made up of brand new baby Christians. Some may say that a person of the flesh can’t be a true follower of Christ. On one hand, it seems true to say that a true born-again believer has died to the flesh and will not live in the flesh any more.
However, when you first came to Christ (if you came later in life) were you able to put all of your sinful practices in your past immediately? Did your filthy mouth immediately become clean once you chose to follow Jesus? Did you immediately become a loving and patient person? Were you immediately able to quit certain practices that you know harmed your body? Growing in your sanctification, your practical holiness is something that takes time. It doesn’t happen overnight for all people. Some are able to see miraculous deliverance, but many are not. These Corinthians were baby Christians who needed exhortation and care to grow beyond their infancy. Seeing the Corinthian church in this light gives it a different perspective doesn’t it?
Every church is made up of a mixture of people. In a church, there are people who are spiritually dead, there are spiritual infants, there are growing “adolescent” believers, there are spiritual adults, and then there are spiritual parents. Incredibly, there are many people in the church who are spiritual infants, and they have been spiritual infants for many, many years.
Their flesh dominates. Tithing is seen more as an option. God’s Word is more of a mystery than living bread. Church attendance is a recommendation that feeds me, but isn’t something I need to be involved in or engaged in if I don’t feel like it. Sermons are too long and too difficult to understand. Relationships with other believers are merely an option, not something necessary.
Are you a spiritual infant? Do these statements sound like statements you have made or regularly make? Are you content with yourself after hearing these statements? If not, hear Peter’s exhortation: “Like newborn infants, long for the pure spiritual milk, that by it you may grow up into salvation” (1 Peter 2:2). If you are not a spiritual infant, the infants of Wausau Alliance need you to care for them. They need your exhortation, you love, your concern, and your discipleship!