Study Sheet for I Corinthians 3:18-23 (click here for Study Notes)
Do not deceive yourselves. If any one of you thinks he is wise by the standards of this age, he should become a "fool" so that he may become wise. For the wisdom of this world is foolishness in God's sight. As it is written: "He catches the wise in their craftiness"; and again, "The Lord knows that the thoughts of the wise are futile." So then, no more boasting about men! All things are yours, whether Paul or Apollos or Cephas or the world or life or death or the present or the future-all are yours, and you are of Christ, and Christ is of God. (NIV)
1. Paul recaps his opening appeal to the Corinthians: "Do not deceive yourselves. If any one of you thinks he is wisehe should become a "fool".For the wisdom of this world is foolishness in God's sight." (I Cor. 1:18, 20-23) He cautions them against self-deception. Often we think of deception as being external, something done to us by someone or something else. How is self-deception associated with perceiving oneself as "wise"? What is the "wisdom" against which Paul is warning the church? Is it secular wisdom, or might it be "spiritual" wisdom? (see Is. 5:21; I Cor. 8:1-3; Gal. 6:1-3; I Cor. 1:19-20) Explain.
2. The wisdom of this world, Paul says, "is foolishness in God's sight." If the "wisdom of this world" is really foolishness, what gives it the appearance of wisdom? How might God "catch the wise in their craftiness"?
3."no more boasting about men!" Paul admonishes the Corinthians. How was their championing of certain religious leaders related to the worldly wisdom he's calling them to forsake? (see I Cor. 4:6) What were the problems caused by their becoming "disciples" of various teachers?
4. "All things are yours," Paul says to the church collectively. Paul, Apollos, Peter, life, death, the world, the present, the future-all are the church's. How is this view of the church's spiritual teachers different from the view the Corinthians had been practicing? How is it different from the way most Christians today think of spiritual leaders? What does Paul mean when he says the world, life, death, the present, and the future all belong to the church? What qualifies the church to have these things? What is the significance of these things belonging to the church? (see Romans 8:38)
5. "you are of Christ," Paul says, "and Christ is of God." If we are of Christ and Christ is of God, we are also of God. What ensures that we are "of Christ"? (see I Cor. 15:23, II Cor. 10:7, Gal. 3:29) What are the implications of being "of Christ" and having "all things"?
6. By its nature deception is difficult to identify. Feelings of defensiveness can be indicators that we are holding onto viewpoints or behaviors that are not rooted in truth or integrity. Are there certain doctrines or practices about which you feel defensive if you talk with someone who sees them differently from your viewpoint?
7.When we are of Christ, we must be willing to lay everything before Him as he reveals things to us. What areas of defensiveness do you have that you need to submit to Christ? What do you fear giving up? What beliefs or behaviors do you hold that you know you need to open before the light of His truth and love?
8. What is most significant to you about being "of Christ"
and of being part of His body to whom "all things" belong? What
praise do you want to offer to Jesus?
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Studio, Redlands, CA USA. All rights reserved. Revised April 23, 2000.