I Cor. 14:1-25 - Ministering to the Mind

Dr. Steve Viars August 4, 1992 1 Corinthians 14:1-25

- This morning we're going to be turning to the book of I
  Corinthians and studying the first half of chapter 14
- remember that chapters 12, 13, and 14 of this book form an
  extended passage of Scripture on the subject of the
  spiritual gifts
    - "divine enablements given to each person in the body of
       Christ for ministry and service"

- chapter 12 told us that the many/diverse spiritual gifts
  were to be used in a way that brought unity to the body.
    - if the church isn't unified, and the church isn't
      edified with the way a person is using his/her
      spiritual gifts, then there's something wrong with the
      way that person is viewing/using his/her gift
- chapter 13 told us that the gifts of the Spirit must be
   controlled and characterized by the fruit of the Spirit
     - Paul said in that chapter that the fruit of the Spirit
        that ought to especially characterize our gifts is
        the spiritual love
          - without love, we are nothing, we're becoming
            nothing, and we'll accomplish nothing.

- now in chapter 14, Paul is going to push this subject one
   step further, and in so doing--will be instructing us on
   "Ministering To The Mind"

- now the way that I'd like to study these verses today is to
   begin by walking through verses 1-6 in what we might want
   to look at as an extended introduction.
- in each verse-we'll talk briefly about any questions that
   might come up, but we're especially looking for the main
   point Paul is making -- or what he's trying to "argue"
    - it's going to be kind of like driving from here to
        - we'll look off at some of the exit ramps from time
          to time and we might make a brief stop--but our
          goal is to get to Indy.
        - in this case we'll quickly answer some of the
          questions that come up, but our goal is to
          understand Paul's main thrust, or his main argument

- we've given you a handout in your bulletin to help you and
   so that we can move through the verses as quickly as

- as we go through these next couple of minutes--you might
    - how exactly does this affect my life? - What should
      this mean to me?
        - all I can say at this point is - "trust me"
            - trust me that I have given careful and
              prayerful consideration to that question and
              we'll try to answer it in a few minutes.

"Extended Introduction"

1) verse 1 - (READ) - You could look at this verse as the
     topic sentence. Paul is tying in chapters 12 and 13 and
     telling us what's coming in the next verses.

     - Paul says to pursue love. Of course that ties it back
        to chap. 13.
         - pursue it - "hunt it, chase it with intensity"
            - the gifts of the Spirit must be controlled and
              characterized by the fruit of the Spirit.

    - but then - desire the gifts. There's nothing wrong with
        spiritual ambition. If it's motivated by love for God
        and love for others--go after those gifts.
          - Find out how the Lord has gifted you and desire
            to use those gifts in a way that pleases our Lord
            and builds up his church.

    - the "zinger" comes at the end of the verse.
        - Paul says - "desire especially that you prophesy"
    - that's the first question:

    A. Question - What did Paul mean - "desire to prophesy?"

        - it's critical to know that in the Bible, there have
          always been two kinds of prophecy.

        1) foretelling - receiving a revelation from God
            whereby that person could accurately predict the
             - now we learned a couple of Sunday nights ago
               that all new revelation ceased after the Bible
               was completed.
             - but before the completion of the Scriptures,
               God had prophets who could "foretell" the
             - you may want to jot down Isaiah 53 as a
               beautiful example of how God allowed Isaiah to
               predict exact details about the death of
               Christ 700 years before they happened.
             - that's one of literally hundreds of examples
               of foretelling, or predictive prophecy.

- but the primary kind of prophecy in the Bible was:

    2) forth-telling - Communicating God's already revealed
         Word to man in a way that results in understanding
         and repentance.

         - now we saw two weeks ago that while the first
           aspect of prophecy, the "foretelling," died out
           after the Scripture was completed, the second
           aspect--the "forth-telling" is still an important
           part of life in the church.
             - Some people in the church are especially
               gifted in this area
                - BUT all of us have to be growing in our
                  ability to communicate truth to others if
                  we're going to be effective in carrying out
                  the great commission of making disciples

    B. Main Argument (of verse 1) - Desire especially to
2) verse 2 - (READ)

    - there's a couple of questions we need to touch on there

    A. Questions

        1. What did Paul mean by "a tongue" (or if you have a
             KJV - an unknown tongue)

           - there are three ideas that are interwoven in
             these verses.

            a. (the idea of ) prophecy - we've already talked
                about that

            b. the right use of tongues - we've talked about
                that in other messages and we've had a
                detailed discussion of that in SS
                (some of the classes will be having that
                lesson in the next week or so)
                - the right use of tongues involved a known
                  language that the Speaker had not studied
  - but God allowed him to speak so that those present could
    hear God's Word in their native language (even though the
    Speaker had never studied it)
  - a very important interpretive key to these verses is
     this--every time Paul is talking about the right use of
     tongues--he speaks of it in the plural

- the third idea is:

    c) wrong use of tongues

      - this was the counterfeit gift--this was the gibberish
      - this was people trying to fake the real gift of
      - every time Paul is talking about that--he speaks of
        it in the singular
          - that’s why the translators of the KJV translated
            it as "an unknown tongue"
          - the only exception to that is verse 27--but there
            Paul uses the singular because he's talking about
            a single man exercising the gift.

- so Paul has a lot to say in this chapter about the wrong
   use of tongues.
    - the Corinthians, with their Pagan backgrounds loved the
       - the pagans would often dance and drink themselves
         into frenzies until they went into semi-consciousness
       - they viewed that as the highest communion with their
         gods, where their spirits left their bodies--
            bypassed their minds, and communed directly with
            the gods
       - the Corinthians had tried to bring those same ideas
          right into the church -- and they were using
          gibberish/ the counterfeit of the spiritual gifts of
          tongues/ as a means of bringing that sensuous,
          feeling oriented worship right into the church.

- one other thing about this verse:

        2) What did Paul mean by "speaks...unto God?"

            - you may want to jot down in your Bibles that
              that phrase is probably best understood as
              "unto a god" (with a small "g")
            - there's never an example in Scripture of a
              person communicating with God in anything other
              than clear discernable languages

            - there's no such thing in the Bible as a prayer
              tongue or some sort of heavenly language.

     - even when our Lord was speaking to the father in the
       high priestly prayer in John 17, He spoke words that
       were clear and discernable.
         - no special heavenly language - even in that
           blessed heavenly scene.

- now the most important thing to notice about this verse is
  "What is Paul trying to tell us - what is he arguing?"

    B. Main argument
        Gibberish is not effective because no one understands
        it. (it doesn't minister to the mind) 3) verse 3-4 -

    - Now we can start seeing where Paul's going here.

    A. What impact will prophecy (forth-telling) have on

      1) edifies - gives truth to the mind to build others up
      2) exhorts - gives truth to the mind that encourages
      3) consoles - gives truth to the mind to comfort and
            build hope.

- what is Paul arguing?

    B. Main argument - ministry that's effective sees the
         importance of the mind.

4) verse 5 (READ)

   - there's a couple of questions that come up there

    A. Question - Why did Paul say; "I wish you all spoke in

            - before we answer that question--is Paul
              speaking about the right use of tongues or the
              wrong use?
                - "the right use" - it's in plural

     - the answer to the question can't be - because he
       really wanted every person in the Corinthian church
       to have the spiritual gift of tongues
     - we know that from chapter 12:30 - he asked "Do all
       speak with tongues?" - the obvious expected answer is
     - Paul's purposely exaggerating for two reasons:

        1) to show that he wasn't against the right use of
            the spiritual gift of languages (before the
            Scripture was completed) - we'll talk tonight how
            that was to be regulated in the church.

        2) Paul knew that when tongues ceased, that meant his
            nation Israel was set aside. Verse 21 of this
            chapter says that tongues were a sign of
            judgement on the Jews because they had rejected
            our Lord-when tongues ceased, Paul knew that
            Israel was completely set aside.

- now its important for us to know those things, but what's
    most important is the main point Paul is making, that is:
      - Prophecy (the way we've defined it - communicating
         God's revealed truth to others in a way that causes
         them to understand, repent, and change)...
          - prophecy is far more superior than tongues
            because it ministers to the mind--it may not be
            as showy as tongues, but it's far more superior
            because people can understand it.

B. Main argument - God wants us to minister with our minds to
      the minds of others.

- now, we're not going to take time to read through the rest
   of the verses in this section and study them as
   specifically as we did verses 1-5
     - but I would invite you to do that another time.

- what you'll find is that Paul is emphasizing and
   reemphasizing the same ideas we've just studied - God
   wants us to use our minds to minister to the minds of
   others--he just keeps hammering away at it

- in fact - I think hammering is a good way to say it--have
   you ever seen a skilled carpenter nailing a nail?
     - he drives that thing into the wood--bang, bang, bang
       - and then he takes that last lick, and sets the nail
         - so its not just up to the surface of the wood
            - the head has even gone into the wood some
               - there's no getting that nail out of there

- that’s what these verses are like

- now let me just show you one more that illustrates what I'm
   saying, and could very well serve a s a theme verse for
   the rest of our time together

  - read verse 20 (develop - in understanding, be men/mature)

- so we're talking about "ministry to the mind"
   - tongues, especially the way the Corinthians were
      misusing them, were inferior compared to prophecy,
      because no one could understand them.

- now, a key question is - what does this have to do with us?
   - I said earlier that we'd get to this.
- I certainly don't think the average person here is tempted
  to go out and speak in tongues, especially after everything
  we've studied in SS and in this book about that subject.
    - so the application today isn't - "Don't speak in
       tongues--instead prophesy--we're dismissed"

- no, that's not it - but there are at least two great values
   of these verses:

   1) To understand why the charismatic movement is wrong in
       their placement of experience over truth. We'll have a
       lot more to say about that tonight.  (but even the
       explanations we've already given reveal some real
       weaknesses in those who want to speak in tongues
- but the main point I'd like us to focus the rest of our
   time on is -

   2) The "root sins" that led the Corinthians into a misuse
      of tongues can be alive and well in us. Those "root
      sins" may develop into sinful habits other than
      tongues, but whatever sinful habits are developed--it
      will certainly limit our own growth in Christ along
      with our effectiveness in ministering to others.

- we're talking about a "ministry to the mind"

- Paul says - If we don't understand what the Bible says
    about this issue, we won't be effective in our ministry
    for others.
    - I hope every person here would say--"Oh, I wouldn't
        want that to happen"
     - I want to be effective in ministering for the Lord
     - I want to learn ways to be a more effective
         discipler with my family members.
     - I want to be a more effective discipler in the church.
     - I want my life to count.
     - I want to have a positive spiritual impact on those
         the Lord has placed around me.

- Paul is saying--if that's true--then we have to grow in our
   ability to use our minds to minister to others.

See, 1) Are you growing in your ability to minister to the
           mind of others?

      2) Are you developing your own mind in a way that
           makes this ministry possible?

- In the time we have left, I'd like us to think about four
   steps every believer in Christ needs to take (or to be
   taking) in order to have the kind of mind that can
   minister to the minds of others.

I. Be Convinced That Your Mind Is A Unique Gift From God

    - you'll notice that the first three steps have to do
       with your mind.
    - the reason for that is - many Christians are falling
      short of the ministry God wants them to have to the
      minds of others because they haven't been good
      caretakers of their own minds and therefore they're not
      prepared to minister to the minds of others.

    - so all of this starts by being convinced that our minds
      are a unique gift from God.

- we know that because:

    A. You are made in the image of God

        - let me invite you to turn back to Gen. 1:26 (READ)

        - what sets man apart from the animals is that we are
           made in God's image.
        - now there's a lot involved in that
           - but one of the primary benefits of being made in
             the image of God is that we have a mind
             - we have the ability to think rationally
             - we have the ability to think about meaning and
             - we can understand ethics and values
             - we can make plans and goals
             - we can relate to others and even to God

    - so, yes a animal can think in some senses
        - but nothing like the mental capacities of a person

   - I'm saying that our minds are a tremendous gift from God
- but that truth is a two edged sword

    B. Therefore, we're accountable for how we use it

      - see, what Paul is picturing in I Cor. 9 is a
         believer who is a good steward of the mind God gave
      - that kind of person is:
         1) learning biblical answers for how to grow - so
             he/she can apply them to his/her own life and
             then share them winsomely and intelligently with
         2) learning biblical truth about eternity, and
             about the gospel--so he/she can minister the
             Scriptures to those around who don't know Christ
             in a way that applies the Bible to their minds.

- see, some believers will never have that can of ministry
   to the minds of others because they haven't been good
   stewards of the minds God gave them.
     - that will only happen if I have a burning conviction
       that this mind is a gift from God for which some day I
       will have to give an account.

- when I was about 11 years old, I had a fried named Brian
- Brian and I were messing around by a creek by our house one
    day when we found a little fish - so we caught it and
    took it home.
  - we decided that Brian would keep them at his house
    because he had the fishbowl and he had fish before.

- that worked out fine until Brian had to go one vacation.
   - we decided the best thing to do was to bring them over
      to my house and I would "fish-sit"
   - when that day came, Brian almost drove me crazy with all
      the instructions.

   - feed them so many times a day--keep the tank clean.
       - Change the water after so many days...and on and on.

- I did what I was supposed to do the first couple of days,
   but then it got kind of boring.
    - I didn't mind feeding them, but that cleaning the tank
        business just didn't interest me.
    - I kept telling myself, BRIAN'S GOING TO BE GONE TWO
       WEEKS--I'll get around to it in the next couple of
    - To make a long story short, I never got around to it

    - a couple of days before Brian was supposed to come
        back--I looked at the tank and it was just filthy
         - In fact, the water was so dirty, you have to look
           hard to find the fish.
         - I told myself, I'm going to clean that thing
           tomorrow, and then it will be fine when Brian
           comes home in a couple of days.

- the next morning I'm getting dressed and I hear my mom
   talking to somebody and it was Brian
- I heard her say something like - "Just go on back--he'll
   be glad to see you"
- do you know who it was--It was Brian (develop on back and

II. Be Aware That Your Mind Is In A Great Battle Today And

    - If a believer is going to have the kind of ministry
      Paul is talking about in these verses, he/she is going
      to have to recognize the great battle that exists today
      for the mind.
    - that battle has at least "two fronts."

- part of that battle is:

    A. With our enemy, the devil

       - now we don't look for Satan under every rock around
            - but we do believe in the personal existence of
              a real enemy called Satan

        - the Bible makes it clear that, while Satan cannot
take your salvation away from you if you're a believer in
Christ, he would love to see your Christian life sidetracked
or your ministry ruined by believing his lies.

- Satan has always been a great liar

- he lied to Eve by casting doubt on God's Word and God's
- He said - "you won't surely die" (and Genesis 5 is filled
   with genealogies that read like this---so and lived a
   certain number of years...and he died..so and lived a
   certain number of years...and he died...

- Satan's a liar
- that's why some of the greatest news in the Bible is found
    in Rev. 20:10 where John said - "And the devil THAT
    DECEIVED THEM was cast into the lake of fire and
    brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet are, and
    shall be tormented day and night forever and ever"

- see, Satan's a liar
    - he's also called "the spirit that works in the sons of
    - Satan has always been in competition with the truth of
         - and he would love it if you or I would fail to be
            good stewards of our minds.

- see, some believers are not having the kind of ministry
   Paul talks about in I Cor. 9 - because they're not
   guarding their minds against the lies of the evil one.

- another part of this battle for the minds is:

    B. With the lingering effects of our own depravity

        - after we're saved, we have new abilities to
           understand God's truth
        - there's great hope because we can now, for the
           first time--begin changing and growing in our

        - that’s why Paul said in Romans 12:2 - Be not
          conformed to this world, but be ye transformed by
          the renewing of your minds."

- so salvation makes it possible to change in this critical
     - but its surely not automatic
     - we've still got those habits of thinking we developed
         as unsaved men and women
     - we still have all the temptations out there to buy
       into ideas and ways of thinking that are contrary to
       the Scriptures.

- but the problem is - some believers are so lackadaisical with
   their minds.
    - they're "loose" mentally
    - they're not going to have the kind of ministry Paul is
        advocating because they act as if they aren't aware
        of the mental battle that is raging with the evil
        one, and with our own creaturely weakness.

- a couple of years back, Kris and I had a neighbor who
   planted a garden
    - I'm not sure if this person hadn't gardened before, or
      if got extra busy that summer or what
    - But his garden was just filled with weeds
    - In fact after a while, the weeds just took over the
    - if you looked real close, you could see a little tomato
      plant in there, or a little pepper plant
        - but the poor thing couldn't grow  (Develop on back)
- now, I recognize that there are many, many people here
   today who would say
     - that’s not the kind of person I want to be
     - I want to live in recognition of the truth that my
         mind is a gift from God
     - I want to live in recognition of the truth that
         there's a mental battle raging
     - I want to have the kind of mind that is prepared to
         minister to the minds of others the way Paul is
- if that's true, then here's what needs to be done next:

III. Be Willing To Take Clear Definable Steps To Develop
     Your Mind In A Way That Pleases The Lord

    - that has a positive component and a negative component

    A. (negatively) I must close off input to my mind that is

        - let me ask you to think about this question this
            - what sources of mental input do you currently
              have in your life that make it most difficult
              to obey what God's Word is saying this morning?

        - the Psalmist said - "I will set no wicked thing
            before my eyes" (101:3

        - Job said - "I have made a covenant with my eyes"

        - Paul told the Philippians - "Whatever things true,
           whatever things are honest, whatever things are
           just, whatever things are pure, whatever things
           are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if
           there be any virtue, if there be any praise, THINK
           ON THESE THINGS. (4:8)"

- point is - our Lord wants us to control the kinds of
   things we allow into our minds.
- let's think of some possible sources of wrong input

    a. wrong kinds of friends

        - Paul's going to say in the next chapter - I Cor.
            - "be not deceived-Evil company corrupts good

        - now, sure, we ought to be kind and friendly to
          every person we come in contact with
         - but we ought not to let every person automatically
           influence the way we think about life
            - some believers are like sponges (so and so said
              it--it must be true, so and so said it - it
              must be true)
   - then when it comes to facing a problem in life
    - the person knows more about what the guys in the office
       would say
    - or more about what the girls down the block would say
      - then what God's Word would say - how did that happen?
      ***by not guarding the input that comes into our minds.
- now what does that have to do with I Cor. 9 and ministering
   with our minds to the minds of others?

     - the answer is that some believers are totally
       unprepared to minister to the minds of others because
       they haven't carefully GUARDED THEIR OWN MINDS

     - see, we would look at what was happening in the
       Corinthian church
          - with people whipping themselves into some
            charismatic frenzy -- trying to bypass their
            minds -- and experientially commune with the gods
            and say...
        - that’s a terrible way to minister and use your gifts
           - that kind of thing is not going to edify
              - its not going to exhort--console
- That kind of ministry is not going to work
    - it's not going to have a lasting impact for God

- and I think the apostle would say "That's right"
    - but how much different are we?
      - see, God wants us to minister to the minds of others
         but that assumes that we are taking clear definable
         steps to develop our minds in a way that pleases the
           - that surely includes cautiously limiting any
             negative input to the mind God gave us.

- one of the questions this morning is - Do you do that?
   - I wonder if there aren't folks here today who would say
      - PV - there's some things that are going to have to
        change at our house if we're going to have the kind
        of ministry Paul is advocating here.

- now I've mentioned one possible source of bad input - the
   wrong kinds of friends
     - but we could talk about more, couldn't we?

- How about the music you listen to?

    - Does your music make you more in love with God?
    - more in love with your spouse and kids?
    - does it nurture your faith and stimulate you to love or
        good works?
          - or is it sensuous, feeling oriented, or laden
             with ideas that are contrary to God and His Word

- you know, it was great the other night when Ron Hamilton
  was here
    - folks from our church bought every adult music tape
      that he had.
        - I believe that says that there are folks--probably
          many folks who have real convictions in this area.
- that’s what the Lord wants--he wants us to carefully guard
   against any negative influences that come into our minds.

- How about what you watch on Television?
   - do you have some standards?
   - have you set up some biblical criteria to govern what
        you watch?

- now I realize some folks might say, boy PV, you sound like
   you're against any relaxation.

    - no there's nothing wrong with relaxation
     - but there's something wrong with unguarded relaxation
     - there's something wrong with relaxation which allows
       ideas and attitudes into my mind that don't please God

- you're familiar with the word "amusement"
   - have you ever thought about what that word means?
      - "muze" - Latin for mind or think
      - "a" - no, not

        - amuse literally means - to not think, to not use
           our minds
        - I believe the authors right when he says some have
           amused themselves to death

- so we're saying that in order to have the kind of ministry
   Paul is advocating here, we've got to be willing to take
   clear definable steps to develop a mind that pleases the
     - that includes stopping some input that’s wrong

        - are you willing to do that this morning if that's
          what God would want you to do?
        - growing in Christ isn't sitting around waiting for
          some mystical zap
            - growing is responding to God's Word with the
              appropriate changes

- of course the other side of what we're saying in this point

    B. By opening up input to your mind that is right

        - see, are you developing the kind of mind that can
          minister to the minds of others because you're
          regularly exposing yourself to God's truth.

        - Kris and I saw a great example of a person not
          doing this not to long ago at another church.

        - We were sitting in an adult SS class--and Kris said
           "Steve"  (I know something is up)
              - I'm sure I responded with something like "Yes
                 darling, how can I help you?"

              - "look over there"

- folks - there was a guy sitting in SS class reading the
   Sunday Morning paper
     - not on his lap--he had it all spread out just reading

- now I hope everyone here would say - I would never do that
   - You would say that, wouldn't you (my luck, everyone will
     come to church tonight with newspapers!)

    - but surely everyone here would say - I would never have
      such audacity, and such disrespect for the things of
- but wait a minute - we can do that same thing without the
   newspaper, can't we?
    - where we're in church in the body, but our minds are
      hundreds of miles away
       - there's probably folks here today who during this
         service, have cooked dinner, planned out the
         afternoon, decided who they're going to vote for
         for President, and laid out plans for a Caribbean

- see, are you opening up your mind to God's truth?
   - do you attend the services regularly?  (could develop
        Allchin's challenge?)

   - when you come, do you concentrate and think hard about
      what God's Word is saying, and what steps you'll need
      to take to obey?

   - Do you study the Word on your own?
      - are you getting some other good Christian literature
        in your home?

- Russ/Jean illus.  (point - able to minister to neighbors,
    insurance people, emergency people)


IV. Learn To Minister To The Minds of Others

Dr. Steve Viars


Senior Pastor - Faith Church

Director - Faith Legacy Foundation


B.S.: Pre-Seminary & Bible, Baptist Bible College (Now Clarks Summit University)
M.Div.: Grace Theological Seminary
D.Min.: Biblical Counseling, Westminster Theological Seminary

Dr. Steve Viars has served at Faith Church in Lafayette, IN since 1987. Pastor Viars leads and equips Faith Church as Senior Pastor with a focus on preaching and teaching God’s Word and using his organizational skills in guiding the implementation of the Faith Church mission and vision. He oversees the staff, deacons, and all Faith Church ministries. Dr. Viars serves on the boards of the Association of Certified Biblical Counselors, Biblical Counseling Coalition, Vision of Hope, and the Faith Community Development Corporation. Steve is the author, co-author, or contributor to six books and numerous booklets. He and his wife, Kris, were married in 1982 and have two married daughters, a son, and three grandchildren.

Read Steve Viars’ Journey to Faith for the full account of how the Lord led Pastor Viars to Faith Church.

View Pastor Viars' Salvation Testimony Video