By Clarence L. Haynes Jr., Crosswalk.com
I had the opportunity to visit a church one time where a well-known evangelist was coming to preach. He was very popular during this period of time and his meetings were filled with the apparent move of the Holy Spirit. Being the curious mind that I am and wanting to see what this was all about I went to that meeting. I will tell you when I first walked into the church my discernment antenna went off. There was certainly a spirit in that place but I didn’t get the sense that it was the Holy Spirit. Needless to say, I went into the service and weird things started happening. People started responding in uncontrollable ways and at one point the service got real “excited” and then the chaos broke out. People were literally running all over the building and there was no sense of order or control. All I could see was confusion. While people were caught up in the moment and a lot of things were happening I cannot say that the Holy Spirit was truly present and moving in that place. I say all of this because Paul addresses this type of scenario in 1 Corinthians. Consider this verse.
"For God is not the author of confusion but of peace, as in all the churches of the saints." – 1 Corinthians 14:33 (NKJV)
Why is it important to know that God is not the author of confusion? I want to walk you through why this is so important not just for the church in Corinth but for the church today.
What Does 'God Is Not the Author of Confusion' Mean in 1 Corinthians 14?
The word for confusion in the Greek is “akatastasia.” Here are the different meanings for this word. This word can be used to mean instability, upheaval, disturbance, or being out of control. While there may be times where upheaval or disturbance are necessary as you will soon see this should not be happening in a corporate worship setting.
In 1 Corinthians 14, Paul is giving instructions to the Corinthian church about how they should maintain order in their services. The church in Corinth was a gifted church. They clearly operated and flowed in the gifts of the Spirit as outlined in 1 Corinthians 12. Even though they were gifted they were immature as a body and often their gifting was being operated in a manner that was simply out of control. Because of this, Paul had to give them instructions so that when they came together as a church, everyone could be edified, built-up or encouraged.
Why Is it Important to Know That God Is Not the Author of Confusion?
If we are going to look at this verse in context then let’s apply it to the context of worship and how we should operate in church today. Let’s first consider two reasons why it is important to know that God is not the author of confusion.
1. It confirms the move of God.
If you ever want to question whether or not the Holy Spirit is really at work, look at the order. When the Holy Spirit is really working and moving within a service or gathering, there is unity and harmony about his work. Since God is a God of order it only makes sense that the Holy Spirit would operate in order too. Don’t get me wrong I know sometimes church services can be emotional and there is nothing wrong with that. However, emotion with no control over those emotions is not coming from the Spirit of God. In this same chapter, Paul says,
"The spirits of prophets are subject to the control of prophets." – 1 Corinthians 14:32
This simply means that there is no such thing as I was out of control or I couldn’t help myself. When God is really moving there will be emotions displayed but it will be under control which will confirm that God is moving in that place.
2. It confirms the purpose of God.
When you look at a service there is one goal and Paul states it very clearly,
"For you can all prophesy in turn so that everyone may be instructed and encouraged." – 1 Corinthians 14:31
The purpose that God has for any gathering of believers in a corporate worship setting is that everyone leaves instructed and encouraged. This type of instruction and encouragement does not happen if there is confusion. God’s purpose cannot be accomplished in this type of environment. Imagine for a second you went to a church where two or three pastors got up at the same time and all started preaching. This would not only be weird it would be confusing to listen to and would not bless anyone. While God is interested in blessing the individual, he also wants to bless the body as a whole. He doesn’t just want to minister to one, he wants to minister to all. This is his purpose and when there is confusion, it distracts from this purpose.
What 1 Corinthians 14 Is Not Saying
When you read 1 Corinthians 14, Paul spends a lot of time talking about the gifts of the spirit, primarily tongues and prophecy. In this chapter, Paul is not saying don’t speak in tongues nor is he saying don’t prophecy. He is saying don’t put your need to prophesy or speak in tongues over the need to bless the body as a whole. In a corporate worship setting the needs of the congregation, as a whole, take precedence over the needs of the individual. Consider this instruction.
"What then shall we say, brothers and sisters? When you come together, each of you has a hymn, or a word of instruction, a revelation, a tongue or an interpretation. Everything must be done so that the church may be built up. If anyone speaks in a tongue, two—or at the most three—should speak, one at a time, and someone must interpret. If there is no interpreter, the speaker should keep quiet in the church and speak to himself and to God. "– 1 Corinthians 14:26-28 (emphasis added)
On a side note, I don’t know if you believe the gifts of the Spirit as mentioned and exercised in the Corinthian church are in operation for today. Please don’t be distracted by that in this passage of Scripture because that is not the point of these verses. The main point here is when it comes to corporate worship Paul places the good of the congregation as a whole over the need of the individual. When your services are structured in this fashion it creates an environment where God can move and everyone can be blessed and built up. If you miss this then you create a scenario where confusion can exist and as we know by our verse God is not the author of confusion.
Does This Apply Outside of a Worship Setting?
You have to be careful when you take this Scripture outside of a worship setting because it may not always apply. While God does not move within chaos in a worship setting, sometimes he will allow chaos and confusion in our lives as a measure of getting our attention and to accomplish his will. The greatest example of that was the cross. The disciples were confused, perplexed, and had no true understanding of what was going on. They saw Jesus being arrested, beaten, and ultimately executed on a cross. Yet this chaos and confusion was exactly what God planned to bring about our redemption. You must keep this verse in context. Yes, it is important to know that God is not the author of confusion. However the primary focus of this verse is within a worship service environment. Do not be surprised if he chooses to use instability, upheaval, or disturbance to bring you to a place of change in your life. Sometimes the confusion is the only way to get your attention.
It really is good to gather together for corporate worship services. I love the fact that when we do, God really does desire to move among us and to bless the body as a whole. By the way, only he can do this. He takes a song, a testimony, an instruction, a message and uses it to minister to everyone that is in the service, regardless of where they are. When God moves in a service he will do this in a manner that has order because he does care about every person that walks through those doors and sits in that service. When we are in tune with what God wants to do then we can accomplish what Paul says at the end of chapter 14.
"But everything should be done in a fitting and orderly way." – 1 Corinthians 14:40
When it is fitting and orderly then you know who the author is because God is not the author of confusion.
Photo credit: ©GettyImages/Nora Carol Photography
Clarence L. Haynes Jr. is a speaker, Bible teacher, author and co-founder of The Bible Study Club. He has spent more than 30 years serving the body of Christ in various capacities and has just released his first book, The Pursuit of Purpose. If you have ever struggled trying to find God’s will, this book will help you discover the different ways God leads you into his perfect will. To learn more about his ministry please visit clarencehaynes.com.
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