The church of Corinth was a thriving church. Paul had planted it on his second missionary journey through many hardships. He labored there well over a year preaching the gospel with all boldness in the midst of some of the grossest sexual immorality and the darkest perversions that you can imagine. The people of Corinth were considered to be drunkards with reprobate minds given over to sinful passions. The Corinthians drew attention to their sexual perversity through their worship of Aphrodite, whom they called the goddess of love. But in the midst of Satan’s domain, through Paul’s persistence and prayer, the grace of God opened the hearts of some of the people, and a small church began to form. The apostle loved this church, he cultivated it and nourished it in truth. He sought to build it up in the faith before he had to leave, knowing that the enemy would come in like a flood and try to pervert what he had taught them.
Many years later, the Apostle was laboring to advance the gospel in Ephesus. He was informed from some people who lived in Corinth of some serious issues that had risen up within the church. The small church had lowered its shield of faith and the enemy’s arrows had pierced through their breastplate of righteousness. They allowed the dictates of human philosophy to corrupt their minds The culture of the immoral city had influenced them back into their old ways of living and thinking. All kinds of divisions rose up among them. They were elevating men above the worship of God, the homes were breaking down because of marital problems, and they were engaging in sexual immorality that wasn’t even named among the pagans. The struggling church was falling apart and was being devoured by ignorance and disobedience. So Paul sought to strengthen them by confronting the sinful issues. He used his life testimony as an example of God’s sovereignty in his calling to sustain him in obedience. He told them, “By the grace of God I am what I am, and His grace toward me did not prove vain; but I labored even more than all of them, yet not I, but the grace of God with me.”
Paul wanted this young church to understand that he too, was in constant warfare against his own lust and worldly temptations. But Christ came to him and awakened him. He gave him a new heart with new desires and new affections. He gave him the strength to persevere through these temptations by His grace. He gave him a hatred for sin, and even if he wanted to he couldn’t indulge himself in its fleshly delights. Paul points out that if Christ had truly come to them, and converted them, they couldn’t either, for they had been redeemed by the blood of Christ and were sealed by the Holy Spirit. They were new creatures in Christ, Jesus; the old things had passed away; behold, new things have come. The grace of God that worked through Paul and helped him overcome sin, is the same grace that would empower them to overcome the desires of the flesh.
Are you in Christ today? Is His work in you not proving to be done in vain by your loving obedience to His word? If you are in Christ today, may William Masons quote encourage you to press into the kingdom of God, “Let us see to it, then, that we wrestle with God in prayer, study the precious word of his grace, and be diligent in attending his ordinances, that we may ever have a lively sense of God’s pardoning, justifying, sanctifying grace in Christ upon our hearts, ever cautiously avoid all persons, places, and things, which tend to grieve the Spirit and quench his lively influence.”
“But by the grace of God I am what I am, and His grace toward me did not prove vain; but I labored even more than all of them, yet not I, but the grace of God with me.”
Corinthians 15:10 NASBS