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Test Yourself

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A Sermon on 1 Corinthians 12:31

But earnestly desire the higher gifts.

And I will show you a still more excellent way. (ESV)

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The apostle Paul’s most famous chapter on love is often praised for its poetic beauty and aesthetics. But should we reduce 1 Corinthians 13 to ornate language and mere sentimentality? Should we instead tremble at Paul’s love chapter? Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones suggests the latter. The Scriptures are clear about the danger of drifting and it is possible, says Dr. Lloyd-Jones, for a person to think they are Christian when they are in fact not a Christian at all. Therefore, they must examine themselves. But because the heart is deceitful due to sin, one must examine themself in the right way – the true way, and 1 Corinthians 12:31–13:3 is a passage for true self-examination. Dr. Lloyd-Jones argues that Paul is dealing with a church that has put its hope in what they do – miracles, tongues, healings – rather than the most important fact that they are Christians through the new birth. Dr. Lloyd-Jones warns that people can perform extraordinary works and yet not be born again. He says all works of intellect, sacrifice, speaking, gifts to the poor, and general kindness can be counterfeit by sinful people and the devil himself. But there is one proof which cannot be counterfeit, and that is love. True love from the heart manifested outwardly cannot be falsified because God’s nature is love, and the Christian partakes in that divine nature through the new birth. The Christian should test themself according to the sure and true Word of God.


Additional Scripture Translations

1 Corinthians 12:31, New American Standard Bible

31But earnestly desire the greater gifts.

And yet, I am going to show you a far better way.

1 Corinthians 12:31, King James Version

31But covet earnestly the best gifts: and yet shew I unto you a more excellent way.


About Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones

Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones (1899-1981) was a Welsh evangelical minister who preached and taught in the Reformed tradition. His principal ministry was at Westminster Chapel, in central London, from 1939-1968, where he delivered multi-year expositions on books of the bible such as Romans, Ephesians and the Gospel of John. In addition to the MLJ Trust’s collection of 1,600 of these sermons in audio format, most of these great sermon series are available in book form (including a 14 volume collection of the Romans sermons), as are other series such as "Spiritual Depression", "Studies in the Sermon on the Mount" and "Great Biblical Doctrines". He is considered by many evangelical leaders today to be an authority on biblical truth and the sufficiency of Scripture.