1 And I, brethren, could not speak unto you as unto spiritual, but as unto carnal, even as unto babes in Christ. 2 I have fed you with milk, and not with meat: for hitherto ye were not able to bear it, neither yet now are ye able. 3 For ye are yet carnal: for whereas there is among you envying, and strife, and divisions, are ye not carnal, and walk as men? 4 For while one saith, I am of Paul; and another, I am of Apollos; are ye not carnal?
According to verses 1-4, when we have not progressed in our spiritual walk, but continue with envy, strife, and divisions we are being carnally minded.
Hebrews 5:12 For when for the time ye ought to be teachers, ye have need that one teach you again which be the first principles of the oracles of God; and are become such as have need of milk, and not of strong meat. 13 For every one that useth milk is unskilful in the word of righteousness: for he is a babe. 14 But strong meat belongeth to them that are of full age, even those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil.
1 Peter 2:1 Wherefore laying aside all malice, and all guile, and hypocrisies, and envies, and all evil speakings, 2 As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby: 3 If so be ye have tasted that the Lord is gracious.
Ephesians 5 speaks of the relationship of the husband and the wife, as the relationship of Christ and the church. As the church, we are to submit ourselves to Christ because He loves us and gave Himself for us. His desire is to present us without blemish, cleansing us by ‘the washing of water by the word.’ Just as we are to grow closer to our spouse by taking time to intimately know them, so must we desire to ‘grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ’ to ‘beware lest ye also, being led away with the error of the wicked, fall from your own stedfastness.’ [2 Peter 3:17-18] A marital relationship can’t simply stay at the same stage as when two people first met, and neither can our relationship with Jesus Christ remain the same as the day we were saved. We must mature in our love and knowledge of the things of God through the study and meditation of His Word.
4 For while one saith, I am of Paul; and another, I am of Apollos; are ye not carnal? 5 Who then is Paul, and who is Apollos, but ministers by whom ye believed, even as the Lord gave to every man?
We have to guard ourselves from becoming –ites. It is okay to say ‘my pastor is Bro. Martin’ and that ‘I attend Fellowship Baptist Church’ but we must remember the gospel message of Jesus Christ is about His death, burial, and resurrection, not about our pastor and our church. When we witness, we are to share with persons the Word of God, not try to convert them to be Southern Baptist on their door step. We should support our pastor and our church, but we must guard against simply becoming a follower of a man (any man). We are to be followers of Christ, but testing all things against the Scriptures. 2 Timothy 2:15 Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. Acts 17:11 These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so.
6 I have planted, Apollos watered; but God gave the increase.
As Christians we are to be about witnessing and spreading the gospel message to those around us. As the parable of the sewer (or the seed) [Matthew 13, Mark 4, Luke 8] the seed may indeed fall upon various grounds, but how then shall the seed find the good ground unless we are willing to plant and water with the abilities God has given us? We shouldn’t choose by outward appearance to where or whom to plant and water, but obey the moving of the Holy Spirit.
7 So then neither is he that planteth any thing, neither he that watereth; but God that giveth the increase. 8 Now he that planteth and he that watereth are one: and every man shall receive his own reward according to his own labour.
As Christians we must be conscious that we do not allow pride to have us see ourselves as higher than all other Christians and better than all sinners, for we will become self Pharisaical making ourselves of no profitable use to the cause of Christ. We must remember that by grace through faith we have been converted – by God – ‘Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost; Which he shed on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Saviour; That being justified by his grace, we should be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life.’ [Titus 3:5-7] For it is Christ who is the ‘author and finisher of our faith’ knowing He which hath begun the a good work in us continues to work in us to do His good pleasure. We have not made ourselves saved, nor can we make someone else saved. We must present the gospel, pray, and trust the Spirit of God will move in the hearts of people.
This also does not mean our service to God means nothing, for Romans 10 shows God uses men to further the gospel in that it ask ‘how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard and how shall they hear without a preacher? And how shall they preach, except they be sent?’ And here in 1 Corinthians 3 and verse 13 it declares, ‘Every man's work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man's work of what sort it is,’ and so shall there be reward and loss based on our honest deeds toward God and the spreading of His gospel message. Honest deeds means our heart also, not just what we see each other do on the outside, for the Pharisees appear good on the outside but were corrupt within. [Matthew 23:27]
What this does mean is that we are not the focal point, nor is it us or our ideas which save the lost. God and His gospel of Jesus Christ is the focal point, and He is the one who saves sinners. I mean, what is it that we plant and water? We must choose to plant and water that which God has provided, for if not, we will sin in planting and watering with man-made ideas and quick ‘easy believism’ schemes which may show numbers, but not truly converted hearts.
9 For we are labourers together with God: ye are God's husbandry, ye are God's building.
The only way that we can be ‘labourers together with God’ is to preach and teach the same gospel message He has already declared through Jesus Christ. Paul declares unto us the gospel in 1 Corinthians 15, but also elsewhere throughout Scripture. Verse 11 states, ‘For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ.’ Paul says in Galatians 1:8 But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed. 9 As we said before, so say I now again, if any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed.
Just as 2 Timothy 2:16 following telling us to study the Word in verse 15, says ‘shun profane and vain babblings: for they will increase unto more ungodliness.’ How are we to witness to others and avoid deceit unless we grow from being babes in Christ and keep ourselves from being carnally minded?
We must humbly submit ourselves to the Holy Spirit, allowing Him to work through us, using that which He has given us through Scripture, so that we will grow as Christians, souls will be saved, lives changed, and God receives all of the glory. We do not glory in ourselves when a soul comes to Christ, but glory in the One who has opened our eyes to see and our ears to hear, the One who has given us the seed and the water and works in us to plant and water wherever His Spirit shall lead us, that others may come to know Him also.