- LESSON 33
1 Corinthians 1-6
A study of this lesson should inspire
us to seek the blessings that come from being unified in Christ, following
the Spirit, and being morally clean.
Avoid contention and be unified.
Rely on the Spirit rather than on the
wisdom of the world.
Be morally clean.
"In Paul's day, Corinth was a
large and prosperous Greek trading center. Although most of its population
was pagan, many Jews lived there also. During his second missionary
journey, Paul stayed in Corinth for eighteen months, establishing a branch
of the Church there. The converts had committed to forsake the wicked
ways of their city, but Paul apparently received reports that some of them
had formed cliques and divisions, committed sexual sins, taken their brethren
to court, trusted in the wisdom of men, squabbled over minor points of
doctrine, returned to pagan practices, perverted the sacrament, and denied
the Resurrection. In addition, the Judaizers (Jewish Christians who
still clung to the Mosaic law) were trying to discredit Paul. Paul's
letter to the Saints in Corinth was intended to respond to these disquieting
reports." (Gospel Doctrine Teacher's Manual ©1989, p32)
1 Corinthians 1
Division & lack of unity in the Church.
READ 1:19-31. The
Lord to destroy the wisdom of the wise.
WHAT PROBLEM IN THE CORINTHIAN CHURCH
SEEMED TO CONCERN PAUL THE MOST?
Divisions and cliques that had formed
within the church.
TO WHAT EXTENT DOES THIS PROBLEM EXIST
WITHIN THE CHURCH TODAY?
I believe that the vast majority of
active members are unified as a people.
There are some major schisms and divisions
within the church today including intellectualism, feminism, political
thought, and standard of living. Sometimes divisions occur over simple
disagreements. We still have work to do as a people to reach the
kind of unity that existed in the city of Enoch.
HOW CAN WE RESOLVE THIS PROBLEM?
As long as we live in this temporal
society, I am not sure we can totally eliminate these divisions within
the Church. We each have our agency. What we can do is to make
sure that we don't become part of the problem. We can set a loving
example for those who participate in cliques and schisms or otherwise cause
divisions within the Church..
There are steps we can take to see that
we do not become part of the division:
Hold to the rod.
Follow the Brethren.
Be faithful in our prayers.
WHY IS IT IMPORTANT THAT CHURCH MEMBERS
D&C 38:27: "I
say unto you, be one; and if ye are not one ye are not mine."
President Benson: "There
is a 'union required by the law of the celestial kingdom; And Zion cannot
be built up unless it is by the principles of the law of the celestial
kingdom.' (D&C 105:4-5.) Among the required principles and attributes
is a unity of mind and heart. 'I say unto you, be one; and if ye are not
one ye are not mine,' is the Savior's injunction to His modern Church (D&C
38:27; John 17:20-23)." (Teachings ETB, p372)
Lorenzo Snow: "Be
in readiness to build the city of Zion. Then let us practice honesty and
diligence in our various callings, seeking unity and to cultivate the spirit
of brotherhood financially as well as spiritually, that we may be in readiness,
upon call, to go forth and build up the center stake of Zion and prepare
a house in which to meet the Lord our Savior and Redeemer."
(Teachings of Lorenzo Snow, p185)
Ezra Taft Benson: "There
is a real sifting going on in the Church, and it is going to become more
pronounced with the passing of time. It will sift the wheat from the tares,
because we face some difficult days, the like of which we have never experienced
in our lives. And those days are going to require faith and testimony and
family unity, the like of which we have never had." (Teachings
WHAT ARE THE DANGERS OF EMBRACING THE
WISDOM OF THE WORLD?
The wisdom of man does not recognize
The wisdom of man does not encompass
By following the wisdom of the world
we made be led into uncertain paths and forfeit our opportunity for eternal
life. Bruce R. McConkie states that, "Salvation
comes through the knowledge of God and his laws and not through the learning
of the world" (Mormon Doctrine, p375).
IN WHAT WAYS CAN SECULAR LEARNING BE
A BLESSING TO US?
It enables us to improve ourselves,
build skills, and obtain knowledge in order to better provide for our families.
Much of what we enjoy in the modern
world is the result of men and women who studied learned and applied that
learning to practical applications.
Secular learning can better help us
appreciate the world around us.
One example: One of my favorite
subjects is U.S history. As one makes an objective study of the history
of this great land, one discovers that the hand of God was evident in its
founding. We also learn that the price of liberty is not cheap.
We come away from this study with a better appreciation of this land and
a desire to be a good citizen.
HOW CAN WE BALANCE SECULAR AND SPIRITUAL
Consider these thoughts from President
Spencer W. Kimball: "The secular without the foundation
of the spiritual is but like the foam upon the milk, the fleeting shadow.
"Do not be deceived! One need not choose between the two... for there
is opportunity to get both simultaneously....
"If we spend our mortal days in accumulating secular knowledge to the
exclusion of the spiritual then we are in a dead-end street, for this is
the time for man to prepare to meet God; this is the time for faith to
be built, for baptism to be effected, for the Holy Ghost to be received,
for the ordinances to be performed. Contemporary with this program can
come the secular knowledge, for even in the spirit world after death our
spirits can go on learning the more secular things to help us create worlds
and become their masters.
"A highly trained scientist who is also a perfected man may eventually
create a world and people it, but a dissolute, unrepentant, unbelieving
one will never be such a creator even in eternities....
"Our training must not only teach us how to build dams and store water
to dampen parched earth to make the desert blossom as the rose and feed
starving humanity, but it must prepare us to dam our carnal inclinations
and desires with self-denial, creating reservoirs to be filled with spirituality."
(Teachings SWK, p390-391)
HOW DO THE WEAK THINGS OF THE WORLD
CONFOUND THE WISE?
Many years ago, General George S. Patton,
the great World War II general met one of the Twelve in Mexico. He
said of this apostle, "Very interesting and educated." He
went on to say, "It seems strange that such a smart man could be a leader
in such a fool religion." (The Patton Papers 1885-1940, p360)
Consider the story of young Joseph Smith
the coming forth of the Book of Mormon. The world thinks that this
is foolishness. The world cannot understand our belief in these things,
but consider their fruits.
Instead of sending seasoned salesmen
out as missionaries, the Lord has chosen to send young men, many still
teenagers, out into the world to preach the gospel. Consider their
Bruce R. McConkie: "Question:
How is it that the weak things of the earth confound the mighty and strong?
"Answer: True religion is not a matter of intellectuality or of worldly
prominence or renown, but of spirituality; and they are not weak but strong
in the realm of spiritual things.
"Question: How is it that weak and untried persons have spiritual powers
and understanding which is often denied the learned and worldly wise?
"Answer: It is in large measure a matter of pre-existent preparation.
Some people developed in the pre-mortal life the talents to recognize truth,
to comprehend spiritual things, to receive revelation from the Spirit;
others did not. Those so endowed spiritually were foreordained and sent
to earth to serve at God's command as his ministers." (DNTC,
1 Corinthians 2
Among the Greeks, the popular means
to ascertain truth and knowledge was through philosophical debate.
Consider Paul's teachings to the Corinthian saints about how to obtain
the truth about God.
The things of God can only be known through the Spirit.
WHAT ARE THE PROBLEMS WITH USING PHILOSOPHICAL
DEBATE TO DETERMINE RELIGIOUS TRUTH?
There is only one way to ultimately
obtain religious truth and that is through "revelation". Any other
method is subject to falsehoods. If we are honestly seeking truth,
then we must use the only proven method.
Debating or arguing may lead some people
from considering the truth. As we have often heard spoken, "A man
convinced against his will, is of the same opinion still."
WHAT DIFFERENCES HAVE YOU OBSERVED BETWEEN
THE LEARNING THAT COMES BY THE SPIRIT AND THE LEARNING THAT COMES ONLY
1 Corinthians 2:14: "But
the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they
are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually
Speaking on the subject of religion,
the Prophet Joseph Smith once said, "Could you
gaze into heaven five minutes, you would know more than you would by reading
all that ever was written on the subject" (TPJS, p324).
Learning from the Spirit leads a man
to do good and find true peace and happiness.
The learning of man seems to send one
an endless course of trying to find the truth and unable to find satisfaction
in the answers.
Bruce R. McConkie: "Pure
religion is a thing of the Spirit and not of the intellect alone, and its
truths must be carried into the hearts of hearers by the power of the Spirit,
otherwise the human soul is not changed...and the seeker after salvation
does not become alive in Christ." (DNTC, 2:318)
WHY DO SOME CHURCH MEMBERS RELY MORE
ON THE WISDOM OF MEN THAN ON REVELATION THROUGH THE SPIRIT?
The wisdom of men is more popular.
It seems to hold more credibility in
their own minds and, thus, they think they are more credible among others.
Revelation through the Spirit requires
a man to take action related to the knowledge received. Not all men
wish to change their ways and take action.
Paul says that "the natural man receiveth
not the things of the Spirit of God". Those who lean towards the
"natural man" will tend to find more credibility in the teachings of man.
WHAT MUST WE DO TO OVERCOME THE NATURAL
Mosiah 3:19: "For
the natural man is an enemy to God, and has been from the fall of Adam,
and will be, forever and ever, unless he yields to the enticings of the
Holy Spirit, and putteth off the natural man and becometh a saint through
atonement of Christ the Lord, and becometh as a child, submissive, meek,
humble, patient, full of love, willing to submit to all things which the
Lord seeth fit to inflict upon him, even as a child doth submit to his
1 Corinthians 3
The Corinthians saints were unable to learn because of their carnality.
WHAT LIMITATIONS WERE PLACED ON PAUL
BY THE WORLDLY ORIENTATION OF THE CORINTHIAN CHURCH MEMBERS?
He could not teach the full gospel because
of their carnality - their envying, strife, and divisions. He could
only give them milk and not meat. Without the full teachings, they
were being denied the greater blessings.
WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN MILK
The Law and the higher gospel.
Salvation and exaltation.
WHAT BLESSINGS MIGHT WE TODAY FORFEIT
BY BEING TOO WORLDLY?
Those that are worldly may not qualify
for a temple recommend thus be denied the great blessings that are initiated
by the those sacred covenants.
The Church as a whole may be denied
additional scripture because of its worldliness and inability to utilize
and accept that which we have. We know for a fact that the Prophet
Joseph Smith translated only one-third of the gold plates. WHY haven't
we received the additional two-thirds of the plates?
Paul On Morality
Paul condemns immorality. There is no place for it in the Church.
READ 3:16-17. Ye
are the temple of God.
In the original writings Paul used the
word porneia (not fornication) and this meant any illicit sexual
Corinth of this day had a worldwide
reputation for immorality. The Corinthians saints truly lived in
Bruce R. McConkie: "Apparently
a member of the Church in Corinth had married his stepmother, either because
she was a widow or had been separated from her prior husband. Such marriages
were forbidden by the Mosaic code under penalty of excommunication. (Lev.
18:68, 29.) Paul endorses the Mosaic prohibition, describes the intimacies
resulting from such unions as fornication, condemns his Corinthian brethren
for winking at the offense, and directs the excommunication of the offender.
If the sinner were left in the Church, Paul reasons, his influence, as
leaven, would spread throughout the whole Church. The Church must, therefore,
purge out this old leaven of wickedness and replace it with a new influence
or leaven of righteousness." (DNTC, 2:335)
WHY WAS PAUL SO CONCERNED ABOUT REMOVING
THE UNREPENTANT SINNER FROM THE CHURCH?
Paul said, "Know
ye not that a little leaven leaveneth the whole lump?" (v6).
He seemed concerned that immorality left unchecked within the Church would
affect many of the members. Several years ago I lived in a ward where
a negative attitude developed. It spread to many throughout the ward
and negatively affected lives. Like a cancerous growth, immorality
must be removed and it must be done with love and compassion for the sinner.
my mission, I served with a wonderful senior couple. The husband
was a member of the mission presidency and responsible for the Church in
the districts. He told me of one branch where there were several
members who had engaged in immoral conduct. The progress of the branch
stopped. It did not begin to grow and prosper again until those members
were properly dealt with by Church disciplinary councils.
1 Corinthians 6:9-10: "Know
ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not
deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate,
nor abusers of themselves with mankind, Nor thieves, nor covetous, nor
drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of
WHY DO YOU THINK THIS IS AN APPROPRIATE
To realize the full impact of this statement,
we must consider the eternal implications. Our eternal goal is to
become like our Heavenly Father. In order to eventually achieve this
lofty goal, we left our heavenly home to come to this earth to obtain a
physical body and to gain necessary experience. A physical body is
necessary to achieve eternal exaltation. Given the sacred and eternal
nature of our bodies, we can thus draw the comparison to the sacred nature
of the temple. We enter our physical bodies in order to achieve our
ultimate destiny of becoming like the Father. In like manner, we
enter the temple to make covenants and perform ordinances that are necessary
to return to the Father. Should we then treat our physical tabernacles
any different than the House of the Lord?
WHAT THINGS CAN DEFILE OUR BODIES?
WHAT SHOULD WE DO TO TREAT OUR BODIES AS TEMPLES?
5:9: "I wrote unto you in an epistle not
to company with fornicators."
that unchecked immorality would destroy one's opportunity to progress and
obtain the kingdom of God.
WHAT IS GOD'S
LAW OF SEXUAL MORALITY IN OUR TIME?
he that looketh upon a woman to lust after her shall deny the faith, and
shall not have the Spirit; and if he repents not he shall be cast out.
"Thou shalt not commit adultery; and he that committeth adultery, and
repenteth not, shall be cast out."
shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. Thou shalt not steal; neither commit
adultery, nor kill, nor do anything like unto it."
Richard G. Scott:
sexual intimacy outside of the bonds of marriage--I mean any intentional
contact with the sacred, private part of another's body, with or without
clothing--is a sin and is forbidden by God. It is also a transgression
to intentionally stimulate these emotions within your own body."
(Ensign, Nov 1994, p38)
WHY ARE SEXUAL
SINS TO SERIOUS?
Joseph B. Wirthlin:
of the most pervasive deceptions in recent years is the notion that immorality
is normal and acceptable and has no negative consequences. In truth,
immorality is the underlying cause of much suffering and many other problems
that are prevalent today, including rampant disease, abortion, broken families,
families without fathers, and mothers who themselves are children."
(Ensign, Nov 1994, p76)
Boyd K. Packer: "[Satan]
knows that this power of creation is not just an incident to the plan,
but the key to it. He knows that if he can entice you to use this
power prematurely, to use it too soon, or to misuse it in any way, you
may well lose your opportunities for eternal progression."
There was no excuse in Paul's day for
immoral behavior and there is no excuse today. We must protect ourselves
from worldly forces and not allow ourselves to be led down the slippery
HOW MIGHT THIS
COUNSEL APPLY TO US?
I have heard it
said that what we become depends on the people we associate with and the
books we read. What we feed into our minds affects our actions.
We do not want to associate with those who are bent on living an immoral
life. Certainly, we want to reach out to those who are involved in
immorality, but we do not want them to unduly influence our own thoughts
and behaviors by to close or frequent of an association. As Alexander
is a monster of so frightful mien,
As to be hated needs but to be seen;
Yet seen too oft, familiar with her face,
We first endure, then pity, then embrace.
Not only do we need to be careful of the company we keep, but we also need
to be judicious in the use of our time. We cannot allow the use of
our idle time wander to books, magazines, television, movies, videos, or
internet sites that can influence our thoughts in immoral ways.
I am often surprised at what a single "seed thought" can do to influence
our behavior. Back in March 1984, I watched on television the inaugural
Emerald City Marathon. As I watched the marathon, I thought to myself
that running a marathon would be an interesting challenge. Up to
that point in my life, over 30 years, I had never been able to keep a running
program going for more than a few weeks. But the thought of the marathon
and the challenge kept working on my mind. A few weeks later,
I participated in a run called the Slug Run. I think it was
only a couple miles and I had to walk part of it, like a slug. I
didn't run again for another three months. But the thought of running
a marathon kept working on me.
In August I started running. Little did I know what I was getting
into. Over the next eight months I felt that I was always pushing
the edge of my endurance. I endured a period of a sore hip.
I ran through lots of Seattle rain. I ran through a blizzard.
I ran through freezing weather. I ran when I was tired. As
time progressed, I ran until I was almost faint. In the early spring
of 1985 I found myself in downtown Seattle on the starting line of the
second annual Emerald City marathon. The first 13 miles went smoothly.
Just past the halfway point, my neck started hurting. I worked through
that just in time to hit the proverbial "wall" near the 20 mile mark.
The last 6 miles was a combination of walking and running. But I
finished the race.
It was only a single thought that led me to this odyssey of running a marathon.
As I finished, I vowed I would never run another marathon. I was
tired and I hurt. Within days, my body healed and wanted to go running.
Within a week I ran a 10K. And I ended up running four more marathons.
The power of a single thought. Certainly, if it is a good thought,
we want to cultivate it. We also need to find ways to displace negative
thoughts before the "seeds" can germinate, sprout, and grow into uncontrollable
weeds. Elder Packer suggests keeping in mind a favorite hymn
to recite. We can use a number of other diversions such as prayer,
the playing of sacred music, reading an uplifting book or the scriptures,
or calling a righteous friend.
Spencer W. Kimball:
"Oh, if our young people could learn this
basic lesson to always keep good company, to never be found with those
who tend to lower our standards! Let every youth select associates who
will keep him on tiptoes, trying to reach the heights attained. Let him
never choose associates who encourage him to relax in carelessness."
(BYU Speeches, January 5 1965, p8)
WHAT METHODS DOES
SATAN USE IN TRYING TO PERSUADE US THERE ARE EXCEPTIONS TO GOD'S LAWS OF
Richard G. Scott:
"Satan tempts one to believe that there
are allowable levels of physical contact between consenting individuals
who seek the powerful stimulation of emotions they produce, and if kept
within bounds, no harm will result. As a witness of Jesus Christ,
I testify that is absolutely false.... Decide what you will and will
not do. When temptation comes, do not change your standards."
(Ensign, Nov 1994, p38)
Hundreds of years ago Paul was concerned
about the behavior of the Corinthian saints. Many of them were going
beyond gospel standards. As an apostle, and as their friend, he wrote
a letter of counsel. Though his advice was directed at these ancient
members of the Church, his counsel is still valid today. As members
of the Church, we need to strive towards unity. We need to beware
of the counsel and wisdom of the world and seek for the guidance of the
Spirit. Today we live in a world that often tells us that there is
nothing wrong with immoral behavior. We have been commanded by the
Lord in our time to stay pure and clean. We need to be ever diligent
in watching our thoughts and behavior and never cross any boundaries that
can lead to our downfall.
Lesson 34: 1 Corinthians
3 Nephi 18:1-14; Moroni 7:44-48; 10:8-18; Doctrine & Covenants 46:1-26;
76:50-119; 88:27-32, 95-102.
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