At the risk of understatement, the Corinthian church had issues. But, the church had issues because it was made up of sinners. One of the problems that they had was a penchant for exalting people and then identifying with them (to give them a sense of status). Even in the church there arose various personality cults (1 Cor 3:1-6). One says, “I am of Apollos.” Another says, “I am of Paul.” Someone else boasts, “I am of Cephas.”
Can you see what a problem this would be? After all, the church is supposed to be united together under a common savior, common mission and saluting the same gospel flag. Instead they were acting like fanboys of their favorite pop icons.
This immaturity brought about the fleshly fruit of jealousy, arguments and bitterness (1 Cor. 3:3). Many in the church were producing this bad fruit. And as is always the case, those governed by the flesh are drawn to controversy like undeterrable fruit flies.
The church exists to glorify God by helping people to know and follow Jesus. We do this by means of the ministry of the Word of God. The result of this, by God’s grace, is that people grow and look more and more like Christ. We become conformed to his image (Eph. 4:11-15). But what are we being “deconformed” from (if I can use that term) as we are being conformed to Christ? It is self. Sadly, in Corinth the very thing that the church endeavors to cultivate was being seditiously undermined by a dangerous knockoff. Instead of cultivating contentment in their Creator through the gospel they were pursuing contentment in creation through personality cults.
What was their chief issue? They had bad memories. They had something of a gospel amnesia that brought about Christian apathy. They had forgotten who Christ is and what he had done (1 Cor. 1:29-31). But they had also forgotten who they were. In effort to remind them of both of these things in one fell swoop, the Apostle lovingly reminds them,