Exaltation of human leaders—-especially one against another when there were multiple leaders in a church—-was one of the signs of carnal attitudes in Corinth. Paul wrote, “It has been declared to me concerning you . . . that there are contentions among you. Now I say this, that each of you says, ‘I am of Paul,’ or ‘I am of Apollos,’ or I am of Cephas [Peter],’ or ‘I am of Christ.’ Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Or were you baptized in the name of Paul?” (1 Cor 1:11–-13).
Later, he described the situation that limited their exposure to the truths of God’s word: “I fed you with milk and not with solid food; for until now you were not able to receive it, and even now you are still not able; for you are still carnal. For where there are envy, strife, and divisions among you, are you not carnal and behaving like mere men? For when one says, ‘I am of Paul,’ and another ‘I am of Apollos,’ are you not carnal?” (1 Cor 3:1–-4).
Their preconceived ideas of the Christian life closed their minds and spirits to hearing from anyone but these special teachers.
There will always be a slight difference of opinion or priorities as God guides different teachers or preachers in their application of the Bible. Listeners or students should not exaggerate these distinctions out of proportion, pitting one against another, as long as the word of God is the supreme authority.
However, if the Bible is neglected or considered an ancient, obsolete text and a teacher gives a special or fresh revelation, those followers who consider those teachings as sacred as the Bible have slipped into the carnal attitudes of the Corinthians.
When the word of God ceases to be studied carefully with the challenge to obey His commands, self–help psychology or philosophical arguments become the core of the messages. Most people cannot tell the difference.
Jesus said, “Teach to obey all that I have commanded you” (Matt 28:20). After leaving a church service, ask yourself, “How am I to obey the word of God this week?”
“Dear Father, help me never to allow another person or human teaching to be more important than that which You have taught in Your word.”