“Awake up righteously, and sin not; for some have no knowledge of God: I speak this to move you to shame.” 1st Corinthian 15:34 (KJV)
Paul is writing to the Corinthian believers about the Corinthian believers. The “some” are not the unbelievers on the streets of Corinth who do not know God and run to idols but Paul is addressing those in the church who were teaching the error of no resurrection of the believer’s physical body.
Amid the assembly of believers there were those who had “no knowledge of God”. Sounds like an oxymoron, a Christian believer with no knowledge of God. In the Greek “no knowledge” does not mean “mere ignorance” (agnoia) but “reprehensible ignorance” (Vines). They were not just lacking facts, but they were guilty before God for their own sloth (spiritual apathy and inactivity) and slight of God.
How do we slight God? They were guilty of treating God with indifference, treating His revealed will and ways as something of truly little importance, and pursuing their spiritual growth and relationship with Him in a careless manner.
The Amplified Bible puts it this way:
“…for some of you have not the knowledge of God [ you are utterly and willfully and disgracefully ignorant, and continue to be so, lacking the sense of God’s presence and all true knowledge of Him]. I say this to your shame.” (emphasis added)
Denying the resurrection was giving evidence of this type of ignorance in some of the people.
Are we guilty of slighting God? Are we living our lives in a manner that displays indifference to God’s will and ways, considers them of little importance and pursuing our spiritual growth and our Kingdom of God responsibilities in a careless manner? Are we “gathering” with the Lord Jesus or “scattering”?
Not everyone in the Corinth Church believed this error. The “you “ in the latter part of the Scripture refers to the whole body of believers in Corinth. Paul is saying that because they pride themselves on their wisdom and intelligence, the spread of this error in their midst “displayed their culpable inability to recognize the character and power of God” (Henry). For this, the whole body should be ashamed, experience grief or inward pain because they now realized that they did not measure up to what they thought they were, in God’s eyes.
And herein is the danger of our walking in pride.
In the first half of the Scripture Paul tells them “Awake up righteously, and sin not…”.
Their pride, rooted in their perceived wisdom and intelligence, had put them in a state of spiritual stupefaction. A state where the saint experiences a profound spiritual drowsiness or stupor. They had drunk deeply of the poison, their delusional pride, by comparing themselves among themselves and measuring themselves by themselves and not measuring themselves against God’s standard. Oh, how we need to heed Paul’s admonition in 1st Corinthians 10: 12 “…let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall”.
This produced in the church a state of spiritual lethargy where they were devoid of spiritual energy and interest. They had grieved (Ephesians 4:30) and quenched (1st Thessalonians 5:19) the Holy Spirit with their pride. He is the Giver of the desire and will “to work for His good pleasure”. (Philippians 2:13) His ministry was stopped by the pride in their lives. Now the Church was not a place of spiritual edification but a place of danger for the saints. God now opposed them (James 4:6)!!!
Therefore, Paul commands them “Awake up righteously and stop sinning…”. The NASB says “Become sober minded as you ought and stop sinning,”. The Amplified Bible says “Awake [from your drunken stupor and return] to sober sense and your right minds, and sin no more.”
Matthew Henry (1700s) says:
“Rouse yourselves, break off your sins by repentance: renounce and forsake every evil way, correct whatever is amiss, and do not by sloth and stupidity, be led away into such conversation and principles that will sap your Christian hopes, and corrupt your practice.”
This is what the Holy Spirit is telling the Corinthians through the pen of Paul.
What saith we? Do we see ourselves in Paul’s rebuke of the Corinthian believers? Oh, Father God remove the blinders of pride from our understanding that keeps us in darkness.
Do we need to wake up, to rouse ourselves, to become sober minded about our spiritual state? Have we quenched and grieved the Holy Spirit in our life? Have we stopped the rivers of living water (John 7:38) that are supposed to flow out of our innermost being and replaced it with a muddy slough of arrogance, self-indulgence, and worldly ways from our carnal nature.
Are we slighting God?
If the rapture of the believers happened today and we, in the twinkling of an eye, went from earth to His presence, what would be in our hand, in our mind and in our heart? Would we be ashamed of what He caught us doing, thinking about, and craving for?
It is going to happen one day. Let us be sober minded. Get right (with God) and ready (to stand in His Presence).
Believer, the Judgement Seat of Christ is also drawing closer. Are you ready to stand before your Savior and give an account of what you have done in this earthly life? Are we ready to receive our rewards or will we suffer loss ….for eternity?
Will He have to “wake us up” for the momentous occasion?
May Paul’s words to Timothy move us to self-examination in the light of His Word:
“Pay close attention to yourself…” (1st Timothy 4:16)
With repentance, love, and concern for the Church,