1 Corinthians 3:1…
Paul next introduces a very strong word when it comes to Church life: carnality.
The word employed is intended to cut to the bone, to cut away the flesh. It is an intentionally harsh word.
The word is intended to get their attention, and to wake them up from the backsliding they have engaged in.
They had been completely carnal when Paul first arrived in Corinth. Mere babes, who had to be fed with the milk of the Word. There was no shame in that then, when they literally were babes who had never heard the Word of God taught by anyone.
But what now? Since you have been well-taught, by none other than the apostle Paul himself?
To have reverted to carnality at this point in their lives in Christ was inexcusable to Paul, and he calls them out on it.
Carnality is such a threat to The Church because it is the re-introduction of worldliness, and of all places in the world, The Church is to be free of it. All of it.
Especially the sort of carnality that places attention on men to the degree they become tempted to seek to draw attention to themselves.
Paul understands the lure of fame and celebrity status for man – any man – and he recognizes this sort of development must be cut to the quick before it arises. People have thought Paul himself to be a god before – at Lystra – and it was at Lystra that he summarily shut that kind of talk down immediately. It is God alone who is to receive glory, because ONLY God deserves glory, and because ONLY God can handle glory.
The first thing that tempts a man to seek glory is to have a crowd of people desire to give it to him. “This,” Paul says, “is how the world operates, and there is to be none of that here.”
Man is nothing but a shell for the Lord Jesus Christ to completely fill. The best man has to offer of himself is nothing. Emptiness. How then can we even begin to think of exalting Apollos, or even Paul himself? Paul shudders to think what may happen if this sort of fleshy behavior is not immediately eradicated from The Church.
We look around at The Church landscape today and what do we see? Paul had herein severely warned The Church about this kind of behavior as being the carnality it is. Yet, we disregard the warnings offered by Paul and dive head-long into it.