On Spiritual Gifts


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1 Corinthians 12:1-3 Now concerning spiritual gifts, brethren, I would not have you ignorant. 2 Ye know that ye were Gentiles, carried away unto these dumb idols, even as ye were led. 3 Wherefore I give you to understand, that no man speaking by the Spirit of God calleth Jesus accursed: and that no man can say that Jesus is the Lord, but by the Holy Ghost.

Everybody loves receiving gifts. But not everybody gives good gifts. I remember many years ago my wife and I attended a Christmas party hosted by Sherry’s Aunt Stevelin. We called her Aunt Steve, and I really loved her. She was a lot like my own Aunt Dot, full of mischief and joy of the Lord. Anyway, Sherry and I took our friend Joe Czajkowski with us. Aunt Steve wanted us to give out gifts that night, but they really weren’t expecting Joe. Anyway, as we gave gifts out Aunt Steve gave my friend Joe a gift – something I have to believe was a re-gift. She gave Joe three pairs of “Santa Claus” underwear. Joe was embarrassed, but accepted with a grin. I can only expect he re-gifted this “present” somewhere else.

We all like to receive gifts – but if you’re like me, there are gifts you have received that you didn’t really like. You might have received something that you couldn’t use – like Santa Claus underwear. But if you’re a Christian, saved by faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, God has given you a gift beyond grace. He has not only given you Himself, but God gives us all spiritual gifts.

Every Christian should be interested in spiritual gifts, because every Christian has a spiritual gift.

Our God Gives Good Gifts

What is a “Spiritual Gift”? Dr. Charles Stanley wrote in The Believer’s Toolbox:

A spiritual gift is a special ability from God. William McRae, who wrote {the book} Dynamics of Spiritual Gifts, defined it as “an ability to function effectively and significantly in a particular service as a member of Christ’s body, the church.” In {his book} The Holy Spirit, Billy Graham compares spiritual gifts to tools. Each member of the body of Christ has been given one of these tools to use in building the body.

Through the distribution and networking of spiritual gifts, God has created a system ensuring that: (1) every believer has a significant role in the body of Christ; and (2) believers work together to accomplish His overall purpose.”

Many Christians or professing Christians have never discover their spiritual gifts. Why? Because they do not try to fulfill the will of God in their spiritual lives. As we studied last Sunday in:

Philippians 1:21 For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.

The Christian who refuses to put on his “armor of God” daily will never discover their spiritual gift. Remember this?

Ephesians 6:10-11 Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might. 11 Put on the WHOLE armor of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.

If you do not put on the whole armor of God daily then you are not able to stand for God.

No one gives a car key to a four year old toddler and says, “Go ahead and drive”. Spiritual gifts are given
to obedient stewards of the Grace of God.

Are you living within the Grace of God?
Are you honoring God by rejecting sin and living for the Savior?
Are you in obedience to the Scripture which says:

Ephesians 4:22-24 That ye put off concerning the former {way of life} the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts; 23 And be renewed in the spirit of your mind; 24 And that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness.

Every Christian is indwelt by the Spirit of God, but the Spirit will not manifest a spiritual gift in a dirty and disarrayed temple. Twice Jesus cast sin out of the Temple of God in Israel (John 2:13–15; Matthew 21:12–13; Mark 11:15–17; Luke 19:45–46). Like Jesus we must CONFESS SIN and CLEANSE ourselves – our temple – or the Spirit will not be manifest. Sin must be confessed (1 John 1:8-10). The believer must humble himself to where he or she can hear God.

1 Peter 5:6-7 Humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in die time: Casting all your care upon Him, for He careth for you.

An Idolater Cannot Exercise A Spiritual Gift

In the Old Testament God’s Israel sometimes moved into idolatry. When Moses went up Mount Sinai to receive the Law from God, he was only gone 40 days before Israel decided to create a god. They took all of the jewelry that they were given by the Egyptians as they left that land, and had Aaron melt it down, telling him “make us gods which shall go before us” (Exodus 32:1). Why did they do this? Because they had not been following God, but they were following Moses. Aaron quickly agreed, and made a molten calf (Exodus 32:4), saying,

These be thy gods, O Israel, which brought thee up out of the land of Egypt.”

The idolatry of Israel nearly caused God to destroy it. Beloved, any time a church or a people are destroyed, it is because of idolatry. When a person or a thing or a concept takes the place of Almighty God, He is not pleased. Let me give you my definition of an idol – and you are free to disagree. But to me,

An idol is anything that requires nothing of me but my own desire and pleasure. An idol is a reflection of a disobedient soul. Rather than maintain the standard that the true God establishes, an idol allows me to put words in the mouth of my god. An idol is truly a reflection of man’s rebellion against the True God.

Where did Israel learn idolatry? Israel lived in Egypt for 430 years, much of that time as slaves. The Gentiles developed idols. That’s why when the Apostles addresses this predominately Gentile Church he says:

1 Corinthians 12:2 Ye know that ye were Gentiles, carried away unto these dumb idols, even as ye were led.

Gentiles love idols. I was listening to a song by Toby Mac the other day called Lose My Soul, when these lyrics caught my attention:

America has no more stars, now we call them idols,
You sit idle while we teach prosperity,
The first thing to prosper should be inside of me.

Gentiles have always been good at creating idols. We have idols out of sex (both heterosexual as well as homosexual), money, power, technology … and on and on. Notice how the Apostle says it. “Gentiles CARRIED AWAY unto these DUMB idols.” Why “CARRIED AWAY”? Because when you reject the counsel of God and listen to the counsel of sin it carries you far away from God. Albert Barnes in his commentary said:

Carried away – Led along; that is, deluded by your passions, deluded by your priests, deluded by your vain and splendid rites of worship. The whole system made an appeal to the senses … The word which is used ἀπαγόμενοι apagomenoi conveys properly the idea of being carried into bondage, or being led to punishment”

Idols are make believe gods – that’s why they are called “dumb idols”. The Bible describes idols this way:

Psalm 115:3-8 But our God is in the heavens: he hath done whatsoever he hath pleased. 4 Their idols are silver and gold, the work of men’s hands. 5 They have mouths, but they speak not: eyes have they, but they see not: 6 They have ears, but they hear not: noses have they, but they smell not: 7 They have hands, but they handle not: feet have they, but they walk not: neither speak they through their throat. 8 They that make them are like unto them; so is every one that trusteth in them.

You can follow God and be empowered, or follow an idol and be carried away. You cannot be both.

God does not operate through an idolater. He will not empower spiritual gifts to those who are carried away by themselves. Spiritual gifts are not given to bless the receiver. No, absolutely not! A spiritual gift will not magnify the darkness, nor tolerate sin. The Holy Spirit is given to every believer to do what? Jesus said:

John 16:13-14 Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come. 14 He shall glorify me: for he shall receive of mine, and shall shew it unto you.

The Spirit cannot give a gift that does not glorify Jesus as Savior and Lord. This is why we are told in our context:

1 Corinthians 12:3 … no man speaking by the Spirit of God calleth Jesus accursed: and that no man can say that Jesus is the Lord, but by the Holy Ghost.

Where a spiritual gift is in action, that which is glorified will always be Jesus. The spiritual gift that is indeed a spiritual gift does not puff us up, but magnifies God the Son. The spiritual gift promotes the Kingdom of Christ. If you are an idolater you will not be exercising a spiritual gift. If you have unconfessed sin in your life you will not be exercising a spiritual gift. Sin both quenches as well as grieves the Spirit of God (Ephesians 4:28-29; 1 Thessalonians 5:19).

Sin is not negotiable.

Isaiah 59:2 But your iniquities have separated between you and your God, and your sins have hid his face from you, that he will not hear.

1 Peter 3:18 For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God

To be used of God the idols must be cast away. Sins must be confessed. We must humble ourselves. It is the Holy Spirit Who bestows the Spiritual gifts. Why?

1 Corinthians 12:7 But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to every man to profit {with all}.

The spiritual gifts bless the Body of Christ, the church. Who decides what gifts each believer has? We are told:

1 Corinthians 12:11 But all these worketh that one and the self same Spirit, dividing to every man severally as he will.

A Divided Church Cannot Enjoy Spiritual Gifts

It is not just idolatry that deprives us of spiritual gifts. Idolatry drives a wedge between us and God. Selfishness and self centeredness also damages a Church.

I was reading an article today about the Methodist Church. Entitled “United Methodist Leaders Propose Plan To Split Church Over LGBTQ Ordination, Marriage”, the article describes the troubles that are plaguing Methodists. The article stated:

Pressure to split one of the largest denominations in the United States has grown since last year’s special session of the United Methodist General Conference approved the so-called Traditional Plan strengthening the church’s bans on the ordination and marriage of LGBTQ United Methodists. … “All of us are servants of the church and realize that we are not the primary decision makers on these matters,” Bishop John Yambasu of Sierra Leone said in a written statement on behalf of the group that wrote the proposal.”

Without getting into this debate I can tell you that Methodists in Africa and Asia are much more conservative and Bible believing than their American counterparts. Idolatry crept into the church when the Bible, God’s Word, was no longer regarded as truthful in all that it affirms. This idolatry has led to a division in that church. God will not bless an idolatrous church, nor will he bless a divided Church.

The Apostle emphasizes the importance of unity insofar as spiritual gifts are concerned by writing:

1 Corinthians 12:11-13 For as the body is one, and hath many members, and all the members of that one body, being many, are one body: so also is Christ. 13 For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit. 14 For the body is not one member, but many.

It is God’s intention that the body be ONE. We are to be at ONE with God and His Word, and at ONE with one another. We dare not be as Israel was and be at one with idolatry – for God will not bless this. What did John say?

1 John 1:5-7 This then is the message which we have heard of him, and declare unto you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. 6 If we say that we have fellowship with him, and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not the truth: 7 But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin.

God will not walk in the darkness. He will not justify sexual sin, a defiance of His created order. God stays in the light, so we are to walk in the light with Jesus and with one another. As we do so the blood of Jesus Christ cleanses us from all sin.

The Holy Spirit applies the sacrifice of Christ to our lives, thereby saving us. The Holy Spirit indwells us so that He can guide us in God’s Truth. And it is the Holy Spirit that unites us into one body, the local church. The Apostle now illustrates this:

1 Corinthians 12:15-19 If the foot shall say, Because I am not the hand, I am not of the body; is it therefore not of the body? 16 And if the ear shall say, Because I am not the eye, I am not of the body; is it therefore not of the body? 17 If the whole body were an eye, where were the hearing? If the whole were hearing, where were the smelling? 18 But now hath God set the members every one of them in the body, as it hath pleased him. 19 And if they were all one member, where were the body?

Two questions came into my mind as I read these texts. Let’s examine the first:

1 If you had to lose a body part (and I am not speaking of hair or nails), what part would you willingly get rid of? What would you cut off? Would you lose a little finger willingly? How about a little toe? The little toe has the hardest nail to cut on your whole body. Would you cut it off and limp away happy? What about the eyes or ears. You have two of each of those organs. Would you cut those off? Just one. Just one.

My friend, there is no body part that I want to do away with. No matter how small, or insignificant, that part is part of me. In the same way every part of the body of Christ is valuable. Some parts do one thing. Other parts do another thing. When all of the parts work together under the leadership of the head (and our Head is Jesus Christ) then things get done. In the article I read to you a little while ago one of the Methodist Bishops, Will Willimon (a professor of the practice of Christian ministry at Duke Divinity School) said:

Schism is always sad for a church”

God does not want His church divided. His church is to follow His Word, not worldly opinion. His church is to imitate Christ in love and service. The Apostle said:

1 Corinthians 12:24-26 For our comely parts have no need: but God hath tempered the body together, having given more abundant honor to that part which lacked: 25 That there should be no schism in the body; but that the members should have the same care one for another. 26 And whether one member suffer, all the members suffer with it; or one member be honored, all the members rejoice with it.

God is not in division or schism. God sets the members in the body as it pleases Him – and each member should work together to please the Head – our Lord Jesus Christ!

The second question that came to my mind was this:

2 If you were a body part, which part would you want to be? Now some might quickly say, “I want to be the head”. It’s like that old song, Everybody Wants To Rule The World. People love power. Ok. Let’s say you are the head. What can you do as the head? Absolutely nothing. A head without a body is just a bowling ball with hair. Some would say, “I’d like to be the eyes”. Ok, so you’re the eyes. What can you do other than sit there and look? If you were a hand or finger without an arm you are totally useless. If you are feet or legs without a torso to pump blood or a head to direct, you are absolutely nothing. What is the point of this? Beloved, the body is composed of many different parts, and all parts must work together if anything is to be done. When I get hungry I get in the car and find food. Once I find it, I eat it. How many parts had to work together for me to feed myself.

Every single one.

No parts are invaluable – unless those parts refuse to be part of the whole. That’s what cancer is. It is when part of the body goes rogue, and decides it wants to do its own thing. If cancer continues unabated it is not long before the body is dead, head and all.

Beloved, we need one another.
And Family, we desperately need God.
We need Jesus, and God’s written Word.
We need to follow Him.

1 Corinthians 12:27 Now ye are the body of Christ, and members in particular.

You are God’s Church. If you are saved by faith in Christ, you are indwelt with His Spirit. God wants you to use your spiritual gifts to build up the Body. He wants you to win other souls to join in our mission, to win the world for Christ. We cannot do this compromising with the world. We must follow God’s Word. We must be imitators of Christ. We must share the Gospel with the lost, encouraging them to repent and give themselves to Jesus. We must! May God touch you with His Word and His Spirit! Amen.

About bibleteacherorg

A searching Pastor, I am looking for a people who love the Lord and love one another. Daily I pray for the Church. Most of what the world sees today is not the Church, but clubs pretending to be the Church. God is calling to Himself a people willing to be righteous, not self righteous, serving not served. I am called to pastor God's people, those who want to change the world by willingly and willfully following Jesus Christ. Only God is able to change the world, and we must follow His Christ. He is able! Praise His Name! Come quickly Lord Jesus!
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