The Corinthian church had many problems: division, gossip, backbiting, envy, strife and sexual sin. There was compromise and tolerance in the church and the attitude attitude of the people seemed to be, “Well, we all slip or stumble at times. We’re not really so bad.” In 1 Corinthians 3 the apostle Paul writes to the church.
“But I, brothers, could not address you as spiritual people, but as people of the flesh, as infants in Christ” (1 Corinthians 3:1, ESV). Paul was not attempting to give them a word of encouragement but was preaching a strong word that would convict them and tear up the fallow ground of their hardened hearts.
Paul went on to say, “I fed you with milk, not solid food, for you were not ready for it. And even now you are not yet ready” (verse 2). Paul longed to speak a meaty word to them that would fill their souls and nourish them in ways that would raise them up in Christ to new development and stability. Because of their immaturity, however, he had to keep giving them milk.
“For you are still of the flesh” (verse 3). The Bible uses the word flesh (carnal), which means “having the spirit of the age.” This fleshly, carnal spirit that we are talking about can be described as not having the Holy Spirit’s power but, instead, doing things in your own strength.
“For while there is jealousy and strife among you, are you not of the flesh and behaving only in a human way?” (verse 3). Paul describes some of the ways this human, fleshly spirit works. It is always jealous. It is always envious. It is always causing strife and division in the house of God. The fleshly spirit accuses others or has an attitude that says, “I’m better.”
God is using Paul to call this church to repent and say, “God, I want all that You have!” If we repent and become willing to lock ourselves in the secret closet alone with God, we will become old-fashioned men or women of prayer.