Pastor James J. Barker

Text: I CORINTHIANS 3:16-23


  1. Over and over in the Bible we are told not to be deceived.
  2. In His Olivet Discourse, our Lord said: "Take heed that ye be not deceived" (Luke 21:8).
  3. On several occasions, Paul says, "Be not deceivedÖ" (I Cor.6:9; 15:33; Gal.6:7).
  4. Here in I Cor.3:18, Paul says, "Let no man deceive himself." Even Christians can be deceived. In Corinth there were deceivers infiltrating the church and Paul wanted to warn the Corinthians about their deceptions.



    1. Some weeks ago, we noted that there are certain Christians who are working hard to build the local church (3:9-14). The local church is "Godís building" (3:9).
    2. If we are faithful in our work in the local church we can expect a reward (3:8,14).
    3. Then there are some Christians who are not doing much for the Lord; it is all "wood, hay, and stubble" (3:12). If they have truly been born again, they will make it to heaven but they "shall suffer loss" (3:12-15).
    4. Unfortunately there are those who are seeking to defile and destroy the local church. To these wicked individuals, Paul says: "If any man defile the temple of God, him shall God destroy" (3:17).
    5. In this context, Paul is not referring to the individual Christian as a temple of God but to the local church. Later on he uses the same figure of speech in referring to the Christianís body (I Cor.6:19).
    6. Paul uses several different figures in chapter 3, and here he says, "Ye are the temple of God" (3:16,17). The local NT church is the only temple God recognizes Ė not the Masonic temple, not the Hindu temple, not the Jewish temple, not the RCC, etc.
    7. This is one of the many warnings to those who would seek to hurt Godís church Ė "him shall God destroy" (3:17).



    1. The folly of worldly wisdom has been a reoccurring theme in this epistle (cf. 1:17-31; 2:1-7) and now Paul touches upon it again (3:18-20).
    2. This is a warning to those who think they are wise. The word translated "seemeth" should be understood as "seemeth to himself" or "thinketh" (3:18).
    3. With God, the vaunted wisdom of worldly philosophers is utter and absolute foolishness. The best reasoning of the finest minds is unable to lead a lost sinner to salvation.
    4. This is one of the dangers of seminaries. On the one hand it is commendable for a preacher to get a good education. If he is balanced and spiritual, it can help him immensely in his ministry. However, oftentimes seminaries turn out worldly-wise "intellectuals" who are puffed up and good for nothing. Many of these seminary graduates never start churches or even win souls. Most of them canít even preach!
    5. Education without God can be very dangerous. The Bible says that the things of God are foolishness to worldly people (cf. 2:14).
    6. Therefore, Paul says if anyone is to have real spiritual insight he must become what the world considers "a fool" (3:18) Ė not what God calls a fool, but what the world calls a fool.
    7. Because "the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God" (3:19). The worldly wise, whom the Corinthians held in such high esteem, were totally ignorant of the things of God. As far as God is concerned the worldly wise are fools.
    8. To drive home his point, Paul quotes two OT Scriptures (Job 5:13; Ps.94:11). The best this world has to offer is "vain," i.e. empty, futile and fruitless.



    1. This is something to consider: the Corinthians were glorying in men (3:21; cf. 1:11-13; 3:3-6). We must never glorify a human leader and then follow him to the exclusion of all other Bible preachers.
    2. "For all things are yourís; Whether Paul, or Apollos, or CephasÖ" (3:21,22a). In other words, every true Bible preacher is for the benefit of each Christian: Paul, with his outstanding preaching and burning zeal for the Lord; Apollos with his great eloquence in expounding the Word of God; Peter, with his warm personality and wonderful recollections of his personal ministry with our Lord, and so on.
    3. And since they belong to us, Paul is saying that is foolish for us to claim that we belong to any one of them (3:21,22).
    4. Let us look now at some of the other blessings we have in Christ: the world itself (3:22). In this sense, the word world is not used in a bad sense but in a good sense (the earth as Godís creation).
    5. Heavín above is softer blue,

      Earth around is sweeter green!

      Something lives in every hue

      Christless eyes have never seen Ė Wade Robinson.

    6. Some of our leaders and their friends over at the UN, and the other worldly politicians and big shots do not recognize this but they are just temporarily running the show for us. The world is ours by divine promise and we will take possession of it when our Lord sets up His kingdom (cf. Rev.20:6).
    7. Next, "life" (I Cor.3:22). Life in its truest, fullest sense. Our Lord said: "I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly" (John 10:10).
    8. And after life, "death" (I Cor.3:22). For the Christian, death has lost its sting Ė "To be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord" (II Cor.5:8).
    9. "Or things present, or things to come; all are yourís" (I Cor.3:22b). We need not fear the future for it is ours. Indeed "all" are ours.
    10. "And ye are Christís; and Christ is Godís" (I Cor.3:23). Paul is refuting the divisiveness so prevalent among Christians. We all belong to Christ. We are His the same way He is Godís.



I Cor.3:23 speaks not only of privilege but of responsibility.

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