Sermon Manuscript . . .
Becoming a Mighty Man
Five commands to becoming a mighty man of God
1 Corinthians 16:13-14
There have always been mighty men of God–history is full of examples. Joshua led the nation, generaled the army of Israel and took back the land. Caleb–80 years old, yet he says, “Give me the toughest region and I will rid it of enemies.” David’s mighty men, who kill lions on snowy days, who sneak behind enemy lines to get David a drink from his favorite well, who are seemingly unbeatable on the battle field. Elijah, who took on 600 prophets of Baal without breaking a sweat. Daniel, who spends the night in a pit of hungry lions. Shad, Mesh, Abed, who tell the most powerful Gentile king who ever lived, they would not bow down to him, even if he burns them alive.
Church history has mighty men. Latimer and Ridley, two godly, born again preachers who were burned alive by Catholic Queen Mary for their sound, biblical faith. Ridley suffered greatly because the fire only burned his lower parts at first, and not his upper body. As they were both being burned at the same time, Latimer encouraged his friend Ridley with these words. “Be of good comfort, Mr. Ridley, and…play the man…we shall this day light such a candle by God’s grace in England, as I trust never shall be put out.”
Play the man–become the mighty man. But where are the mighty men today? Right here in this room there are men becoming mighty men. We are blessed to have some senior Calebs, a few Daniels, a couple of Joshuas, and other various men of might. But any man in our midst is only mighty because he was willing to battle.
To become a mighty man today means you fight against the pressure of feminism, the confusion of the media, the attacks of the LGBTQ, the desire of ease from millennials, the laziness of our own flesh, the massive attack of the enemy to remove you as a threat, to even fight against the craving of some wives and children to head and lead–to be less than a biblical man. Less than a mighty man.
In the midst of a culture which has lost biblical manhood, Christian men and women must reclaim God’s perfect design for men, as well as women. So on this Mother’s Day, as a gift to all women, married and single, I wanted to present you with the perfect gift–the mighty man of God. For you married ladies, “How can my husband become a mighty man of God?” For you single gals, “Who do I look for?”
And for the answer, turn in your Bibles to 1 Corinthians 16:13 to 14, and as you do, realize the battle for biblical manhood is nothing new–it was a struggle in Corinth. Most of the Corinthian letter is made up of correction. The first 14 chapters primarily deal with errant behavior, and chapter 15 deals with errant theology. And even though Paul’s correction is motivated by love and given in love, in today’s world, it would sound harsh, judgmental, unloving, and insensitive.
Paul speaks the truth in love. He confronts error graciously. But we live in a day when biblical confrontation in the Church is viewed as hate speech in the world. Becoming a biblical man of absolutes will not be easy in this world of relativism. Sanctification, obedience, Christlikeness all require correction and change. For you to become like Christ, your sin must be hated, your behavior corrected, your habits changed, your thinking conformed, your attitudes adjusted and your mentality transformed. So regardless of a politically correct culture, for a believer to mature, to become like Christ and to glorify God, you must be confronted.
So Paul corrects the Corinthian believers in 1 Corinthians, and underneath his rebukes is a strong exhortation to the church leadership and to the men to spiritually lead. Take the lead, don’t be passive, take responsibility, stop being afraid of what anyone thinks, live courageously, only seek God’s approval, trust in the Lord, and correct any and all behavior, and all theological thinking not in line with God’s Word. God is sovereign in our growth, but you are responsible to pursue, and leaders exhort.
And because men can often miss the obvious, Paul states his expectations for the men of the church at the end of this letter in the clearest, in-your-face manner. This is God’s will for men. This is what I have been saying the entire letter. This is what you must become in order to lead in the church and lead in your homes. This is what you must do in order to become a biblical man–a truly mighty man.
Read it aloud with me–1 Corinthians 16:13 to 14, “Be on the alert, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong. 14 Let all that you do be done in love.” In these two verses, Paul gives five final imperatives. These five last commands are the positive side of what Paul told the Corinthians not to be in the earlier chapters. Paul wraps up this epistle commanding men to live God’s design for manhood. Paul concludes this letter by exhorting the men of Corinth to grow up and act like men.
Paul summarizes the solution to the sins and struggles found in 1 Corinthians by commanding the men of the Church to behave like mature men who follow God. Paul has already commanded the Corinthians in 1 Corinthians 14:20, “Brethren, do not be children in your thinking; yet in evil be infants, but in your thinking [what?] be mature.” Grow up and get after the issues found in this letter. Solve the issues of lawsuits, immorality, Christian liberties, sexual intimacy in marriage, singleness, marriage, God’s design for women, spiritual gifts, the motives for ministry, tongues, prophecy, even correctly understanding the resurrection–by acting like biblical men.
Men, today is your opportunity to grow more into the man God desires you to be. But remember, men–you can’t become a mighty man of God in your own strength. In this letter alone, Paul reminds the Corinthians almost thirty times of their need of the Spirit. First Corinthians 3:16, “Do you not know that you are a temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you?” First Corinthians 12:13, “For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body.” Dependence upon the Spirit of Truth, walking according to the Word of Truth is the only way for a man to become a man of truth. What does a mighty man look like?
#1 The mighty man will accept the RESPONSIBILITY to lead
There are divisions in Corinth, moral issues, undealt with sin, and confusion–so Paul gives the first command to men. First Corinthians 16:13, “Be on the alert,” meaning–it is your job to watch out. The flesh, the world and the devil are at work–pay attention. Men, it is your responsibility to lead the Church, lead your homes–and you must be responsible to remain vigilant, because you will be attacked.
The enemy opposed the ministry of Paul, Timothy, Apollos, and later Titus in Corinth. The enemy attacked the leaders and the men of the Church in many ways in the body, in order to move a church from obeying the Scripture by the power of the Spirit. So mighty men must be aware, be awake, and be alert–meaning, be responsible. Alert is used 22 times in the New Testament, most often calling believers to not be indifferent, to not say, “Whatever,” nor be in any mental or moral stupor. Wake up and fulfill your responsibility as a man–you are responsible.
At Corinth, the men had failed to remain alert. They substituted human wisdom for God’s Word (chapters 1 and 2). They were factious (chapters 1 to 3), immoral (chapter 5), litigious (chapter 6). They had perverted ideas about marriage, divorce, and celibacy (chapter 7), they were self-indulgent (chapter 10), they were indifferent about others (chapter 10), they misused spiritual gifts (chapters 12 to 14), and they were unloving (chapter 13). The men of Corinth had failed to remain alert in their homes and in their church.
In the New Testament, John MacArthur points out there are six additional areas every believer is to watch out for–you are to be alert . . . first) against Satan in 1 Peter 5, second) for the subtlety of temptation in Mark 14, third) against indifference in Revelation 3, fourth) for false teachers in 2 Peter 2. All of those are negative, and the last two are positive–be alert fifth) in prayer Ephesians 6, and sixth) for the Lord’s return in Matthew 24.
And here, Paul commands the men of Corinth to be responsible to remain alert, making certain the church is following God’s Word and not following man’s wisdom–obeying God’s truth and not man’s ideas, pursuing heavenly priorities and not earthly ones. That is the job of the man–to become a mighty man means you accept the responsibility to make certain your home and your church stay on biblical target.
As you travel through life, you men make certain the family and the church do not steer onto the wrong road, take the wrong trail, go through the wrong door–that’s your job. “Be on the alert.” In your home, if you’re off-center with money, in debt, maxed out on credit cards, with no budget and no plan–it is the man’s fault. You’re the head of the home–you’re responsible. Stop quoting Adam–“It’s the woman You gave me, God.” It is not her, it’s you. Get a biblical plan together–get help and get after it.
It is your responsibility to live obedient to the Scriptures. “Be on the alert” with your children. The alert father studies his kids and if he sees an unbiblical trait developing, like lying, laziness, like effeminate sons or masculine daughters, an overt emphasis on appearance, uncontrolled lust, materialism, or a total focus on self–the mighty man comes up with a biblical game plan to pray, teach the Word, memorize Scripture, give lessons, expose them to biblical priorities, models, experiences and discipleship which will address those issues biblically. “Be on the alert,” men.
You say, “That’s Mom’s job.” No it isn’t. That is your job–you are responsible. You are to be alert. Pay attention. Fulfill your responsibility. Remember Ephesians 6:1 to 4, “Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. 2 Honor your father and mother (which is the first commandment with a promise), 3 so that it may be well with you, and that you may live long on the earth. 4 Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.”
When Paul addresses the parenting process, he puts it on the shoulders of fathers in verse 4. You say, “When he says fathers in verse 4, he meant both parents.” No, he didn’t. Paul uses the Greek word for parents in verse 1. You say, “Paul meant fathers and mothers in verse 4 when he says fathers.” No, Paul uses the Greek words father and mother in verse 2. The discipleship of parenting is first the responsibility of the father. Alongside of him is his wife, the mother of his children–but it is first the responsibility of the father to become a mighty man of God. “Be on the alert.”
Men are not responsible for every want of their wives and children, but men are responsible for the needs of their family–food, clothing and housing falls on you. And like the men of Corinth, all biblical men will engage in a church, cultivating a community relationship–not just with the leadership, along with sacrificial giving, faithful service, embracing sound doctrine while caring for the spiritual health of the church.
The biblical man is also concerned his home lives worthy of the Gospel and shares the message of the Gospel, and like Christ, is burdened for those who are lost. Paul commands the men to pay attention to the doctrine and direction of your family and your church. Be ready to raise the alarm to return to truth. Every man is responsible to watch for error and redirect lifestyle to live obediently to the Word of God. Accept the responsibility to lead.
#2 The mighty man will seek God’s APPROVAL over man’s
Verse 13, “Be on the alert, stand firm in the faith.” Paul says develop mature stability. Men are to grow up. Men are no longer children. This second command means to be steadfast. Paul just told the Corinthians in 15:58, “My beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your toil is not in vain in the Lord.” And here, “stand firm” means to be steadfast “in the faith.”
When the article the is used with faith, it most often means objective faith. This is not speaking about a subjective reliance needed to trust God here. This is an immovable dependence upon the Scriptures–depending on God’s Word alone. This admonition to stand and be firm is directed against wavering, uncertainty, or doubt. Men are to stand in the faith–not like a dead post that has been driven into the ground, but like a living tree that fixes its roots ever deeper into the ground.
Becoming a mighty man and standing firm assumes growth and increasing firmness. In every way, in every decision, with every direction, in every discussion the true man of God, the mighty man, depends on God’s Word. The man’s main concern is his reliance on God’s will by obediently following God’s Word. The born again man does not want his will, but God’s will. The mighty man depends on objective truth found only in the Bible. Mighty men want God’s approval over man’s.
Christian men today no longer know the Word nor the God of the Word. Therefore, they are subject to opinions, culture, feelings, ideas and immature examples for their life direction and leadership. Like the Ephesians, they are carried about by every wind of doctrine–Ephesians 4:14, “tossed to and fro.” Today’s man is not firm on anything. Many modern churches have adopted this secular approach–to not take a stand on anything, so as not to offend. So everything is uncertain and nothing is absolute. Friends, that approach denies God’s character and renders God’s Word as useless.
Standing firm “in the faith” means affirming the truth of Scripture and the content of the Gospel. Standing firm “in the faith” is Jude 3, “the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints.” It’s 1 Corinthians 15, “the gospel which I preached to you, which also you received, in which also you stand.” Mighty men know standing firm is the faith of the good fight of 1 Timothy 6–learning and living sound doctrine. Satan cannot take saving faith away, but he can obscure the content of our faith.
If men do not stand firm on right interpretations of Scripture, then they will slip into wrong thinking, errant beliefs, and aberrant behavior. Today, churches avoid talking about sin, Hell, judgment, Christ’s return and reign–but the mighty man never avoids them. Weak Christians avoid speaking of Christ as the only way, only truth and only life, but biblical men take their stand on Christ alone. Wimpy men embrace a victim mentality, but biblical men accept the consequences of their sins, embrace trials with joy, even seek to love those who attack or offend. Mighty men do not live by fear, except to fear God.
Mighty men are afraid of God, but are not afraid of anything or anyone else–even their wives. If their wife wants to gossip, they confront them and lovingly exhort them not to. If their wife wants to parent by fear, they share passages they can follow so as not to. If their wife wants to live at a distance from God’s people, they will take the family to church anyway. If their wife loves things, he seeks to model a love for the Lord over things, seeks to oversee the budget, controls the credit cards and more. If their wife wants to argue, the mighty men will pray. Why? The mighty man wants eternal things over earthly things. The biblical man wants to please Christ over pleasing his wife or kids or others. The godly man seeks God’s approval over man’s.
#3 The mighty man will reject PASSIVITY and follow God’s Word
First Corinthians 16:13, “Be on the alert, stand firm in the faith, act like men.” Some versions say, “Quit you like men,” which means act like men, not children. It is a call to courageous manliness in an hour when mature leadership was needed. The Greek means be men constantly, or show yourselves men always–be manly. Paul refers to the virtue of Christian manliness with its strong connotation of bravery and unflinching courage, but it’s used here in connection with faithfulness. The opposite is to be cowardly, fainthearted like some women, or timid like children.
The imperative plural means acquit yourselves like men. This is the only place in the New Testament where the verb appears, yet the sense is sufficiently clear. No soldier in the army of Jesus Christ may be fainthearted–in Christ’s presence there is no place for cowards and weaklings. Biblically mature men act like men. They manifest a mature courage which includes a sense of control, confidence, and courage the immature or childish person does not have. Paul already told the Corinthians to not be children in their thinking, to grow into spiritual men, not babies. And Paul even said to them, “do I have to bring the rod to spank you?”–actually threatening them with discipline, just like a parent does with a stubborn child.
How do men show fear? By avoidance–they keep their mouth closed when it should be open. They avoid a situation when they should walk right in. They ignore a conversation when they should interrupt. And they remain passive about truth when they should be aggressive about the truth. Some men are afraid to bring up a difficult issue with their wives. Some men are afraid to open up a difficult conversation with their teenagers. Some men are afraid to speak up about a biblical truth to non-Christians.
Biblical men reject passivity by living for, obeying, and intimately knowing God. Biblically manhood is almost always defined by your knowledge of God. John tells us the child understands the Gospel, the young man battles for the Truth, and the mature man intimately knows God. Paul tells us the mature man knows the fullness of Christ. Peter and Hebrews tell us the mature man grows from milk to meat. Paul tells us that Scripture teaches, corrects, reproves and trains, so the man of God will be equipped for every good work. The mighty man pursues learning the Word of God to know God.
Men don’t know God if they continue to allow attitudes and actions in their home for years that are contrary to the Scripture. It doesn’t mean you’re not to be patient or gracious, but it means you stop being passive and work towards having your life and your home under the authority of the Word in all things. As a biblical man, you are first an example of living the truth for others around you. Then you lead by calling others to live the truth you are currently living or are pursuing.
You initiate with the truth. You lead with the Word. You often say, “Let’s do what Jesus says.” You make certain your family pursues God’s priorities and obeys Christ’s commands. You apologize first in an argument. You get your family engaged in the local church. You make certain you are all pursuing Christ’s mission of making disciples. Overall, you take responsibility for the spiritual health of your home. The passive man is not a biblical man or mighty man–God says constantly, “Act like men.”
#4 The mighty man will LEAD courageously in all of life
First Corinthians 16:13, “Be on the alert, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong.” “Be strong” is frequently used in the New Testament to describe inner, spiritual growth–but here the verb is in the passive voice and literally means be strengthened, reminding men, you can’t do this. You can’t be the mighty man, the biblical man, a godly man in your own strength–you can’t strengthen yourself. The Lord must work through you. The Lord must empower you and mature you by working in you and through you by His Holy Spirit. The part men play is to submit themselves to Christ through His Spirit, in order to be strengthened in order to live out the role of the mighty man.
Paul uses the same term in Ephesians 6:10, “Be strong in the Lord“–literally, be strengthened in the Lord. And he uses it in 2 Timothy 2:1, “Be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus,” which is literally be strengthened in the grace in Christ. This strength is especially necessary in the New Testament, when men face spiritual opposition. The Corinthians were still fleshly, living by their own strength. Some of them were false, so-called believers, who like all unbelievers, live in the flesh. Some of them were believers temporarily living in their own strength, being fleshly. But in order for the men of the Church to see Christlike changes in the Corinthian church, biblical changes–they had to be strong, strengthened by the Spirit of God.
Don’t miss this vital point–this strength is designed to be seen, to show through you. When you are filled with the Spirit, you demonstrate the fruit of the Spirit. When you are dependently strengthened, people see the Lord through you. Some of the men here are battling with the same difficulties as the Corinthian men. The Corinthian men thought they were wise, yet they were foolish. They thought they were strong, yet they were weak. And if any man thinks he is strong, he is in great danger of falling.
Some men here have walked with Christ a long time–they have the lingo down, they’ve served in significant ministry, they have functioned in high spiritual positions…and because of that, they start thinking they’re strong and wise without depending on the Spirit. This is where men fail–they stop depending. With maturity, true men of God are not to be children, but in their dependence upon Christ, they are to be childlike reliant. The incredibly mature apostle Paul expressed this heart in 2 Corinthians 12:9, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness. Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me.”
Mighty men are continually dependent men. Men who continually live by faith. Men who continually trust in God. Men who don’t trust themselves, but only trust in God’s Word. And because they have the Spirit, they are not timid. Second Timothy 1:7, “For God has not given us a spirit of timidity, but of power and love and discipline.” That means the mighty men are courageous men–they are not afraid of their situations, their bosses, their limitations, their wives, their weaknesses or their kids. They are men dependent upon the Holy Spirit who powerfully works through them to only accomplish God’s purposes and live out God’s Word, but not without opposition.
Spurgeon reminds you, “Boldhearted men are always called mean-spirited by cowards.” When a mighty man leads, they want to do what Christ wants over what they want. When a mighty man leads, they want to lead in the same manner Christ leads. This is what makes a biblical man’s leadership so attractive. In fact, Paul adds one more description necessary for the mighty man.
#5 The mighty man will LOVE God and others sacrificially
Verse 13, “Be on the alert, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong.” Verse 14, “Let all that you do be done in love.” True manliness is balanced with love, lest their leadership become fleshly and harsh. Leadership is firm and black and white as it relates to truth–it’s unbending in conviction. But spiritual leadership it is also to be loving–and often misunderstood.
Mighty men are like Abraham Lincoln, who was called velvet steel. True manliness does not exclude tenderness. Like 1 Corinthians 13, leadership is loving. Men, 1 Peter 4:8 says to you, “Above all, keep fervent in your love for one another, because love covers a multitude of sins.” Firm convictions must be accompanied by love–doing what is best for others. Even though biblical love is tough, firm and unbending, there is also compassion. Mighty man leadership seeks the glory of God and the best for others.
The Corinthians forgot to uncompromisingly battle sin, along with unconditionally loving the sinner. In verse 14 Paul gets really pointed, “Continually in all you do…love…” John MacArthur says, “Love complements and balances everything else. Love keeps our firmness from becoming hardness and our strength from becoming domineering. Love keeps our maturity gentle, our sound doctrine from becoming obstinate dogmatism, and our right living from becoming smug self-righteousness.”
Love is what the Corinthians needed most. They were tolerant when they should have been strict, and intolerant when they should have made allowances. Where do you get love? First John 4:7 says “love comes from God” and you are only able to love God and others because 1 John 4:19 says, “Christ loved us first.”
A Becoming a Mighty Man makes you ATTRACTIVE, in spite of the desire to control
Spiritual leadership in the church and in the home is an attractive quality. When you function by God’s design and lead your homes by His Word through His Spirit, it is a blessing–but it’s not without conflict. When women were cursed in the fall, in Genesis 3:16, God said “her desire would be for her husband.” To help us understand what God meant by desire, the exact Hebrew word, desire, is used in the very next chapter. Genesis 4:7, when God warns Cain, “Sin is crouching at the door; and its desire is for you, but you must master it.” The idea is control–so men are to lead, but wives will desire control.
The solution is God’s grace in salvation and God’s fruit in sanctification. Men pursue truth and love–never compromise truth, never abandon responsibility, and seek to display the fruit of the Spirit as they pursue God’s will by following God’s Word.
B Becoming a Mighty Man means following TRUTH, in spite of offense to others
John Calvin says the mighty man is set apart from others and singleminded in his devotion to Christ. This is seen in how he follows truth. You will not be understood or liked by everyone if you live by truth, but you must live by God’s Word. Whatever keeps you men from the Scripture, no matter what it is, must be overcome. The true man, the mighty man, is a man who knows and lives by truth.
C Becoming a Mighty Man means accepting RESPONSIBILITY, in spite of opposition
If you’re currently sinning in some way forbidden in Scripture–sins of commission, or you’re not obeying in an area commanded in Scripture, or sins of omission, like you’re not giving, not serving, not in church relationship, or your marriage is not functioning biblically or the discipleship of your children is absent . . . then embrace the responsibility, pray and set a direction to honor God’s Word no matter what. Be the mighty man, the obedient man.
D Becoming a Mighty Man means you MINISTER, in spite of additional priorities
All these qualities are attached to relationship with others in the context of a church. Only a foolish believer or a false believer doesn’t inter-relate in the local church. Godly men are busy, with wives, children, work, provision, homes–but they know they are called to represent Christ by serving Him. They know the greatest among believers are the servants. They know they can’t model to their children unless they serve. They know they can’t become a mighty man without ministry.
E Becoming a Mighty Man means SALVATION in Christ and SANCTIFICATION in the Spirit
Let’s pray. You can’t live for Christ without Christ as a non-Christian. You can’t live for Christ without dependence upon the Word and the Spirit as a Christian. What makes you a believer is not something you do, but becoming a Christian is something God has done and then does to you. Christ takes your sin upon Himself on the cross, then transforms you internally, making you a whole new person whose life has died and Christ is now their life.
Ask Christ to give you a new heart so you can turn from your sin and follow Christ. Ask Christ to forgive you so you no longer love sin. If you love sin, then you are still the servant of sin and not a child of God. But if you hate sin, repent of sin, and seek to follow Christ with your life, you are saved. Become the might man for His glory, the joy of your spouse, the blessing of your children and the strength of the church.