The Local Church, One in Holiness

Division in the local church doesn’t just result from false teachings, it also results from sin that is allowed to fester among us. The answer is that we must come to the master’s table as …


I. Selfishness divides the church our desires supersede others’ needs (I Corinthians 11:21).
The members of the church at Corinth brought their old ways of pagan feasting with them into the church. They didn’t do so necessarily because they were under the false impression that it was a legitimate way of worshiping Christ; they did so because they wanted to. It was their desire to engage in a hedonistic parade of gluttony, engorging themselves on food and drink, and so they did. And in doing so, they gave no thought to their brothers in their presence who were hungry. The apostles’ example was to sacrifice in order to meet one another’s needs, but many in Corinth were so overcome with their own selfishness that they could not spare a morsel, adding humiliation to hunger. A church could hardly be in “one accord” while so neglecting one another’s needs.

II. Sin divides the church when our desires supersede God’s will (I Corinthians 11:21).
Letting their brothers go hungry while they indulged was not the only sin in the way the Corinthian church conducted the “Lord’s Supper.” Our remembrance of the broken body and shed blood is supposed to be a sacred, solemn, and holy occasion. Yet they misused and profaned it. They took this precious ordinance and perverted it into something God did not intend. They took it as an excuse to get drunk. It did not matter to them what God’s will was. Many chose to exploit the Lord’s Supper as a pretext for revisiting their pagan partying while justifying it as Christian worship. So clear a rejection of God’s will made it such that they could not even be said to be participating in the Lord’s Supper. They were all sitting down together. But they were not there for the same reasons.

III. Regardless of its good deeds, there is nothing praiseworthy about an unholy church (I Corinthians 11:22).
There are some things that the Corinthian church did right, that Paul commends and praises them for. But when it comes to the Lord’s Supper he tells them, “I praise you not!” A church may do good works: give to the poor, care for the sick, support missions, or any number of other things that are looked on as praiseworthy. But if it is unholy, the church is rotten to the core, and no amount of good work can change that. When an unholy church is divided by sin and selfishness, the same word is true today: I praise you not!