First Corinthians 15.34 


1.   The man who is credited with formulating the Second Law of Thermodynamics was named Rudolf Julius Emanuel Clausius (1822-1888).  He was a German physicist and he was the first to apply the word entropy to the study of thermodynamics.[1]

2.   My guess is that he borrowed the word from the Greek New Testament, because our text for today is one of only two verses in which the Greek word entroph is found.theresa

3.   I would like for you to turn in your Bible to First Corinthians 6.5, where we find the first verse in which Paul makes use of this word.  When you find that verse, stand for the reading of God’s Word, and remain standing after that for the reading of our text.  Paul writes, “I speak to your shame.  Is it so, that there is not a wise man among you?  no, not one that shall be able to judge between his brethren?”

4.   In this verse, Paul seeks to shame the Corinthian church members for daring to take other church members to court to air out their differences in front of unconverted people.  What issue between two church members could possibly be so important that you are willing to embarrass the cause of Christ in an effort to resolve it?

5.   Far better to allow yourself to be grievously wronged by another church member than to ever allow unsaved people to know of such differences existing in our congregation.  This principle would have application whenever a Christian feels like mentioning a difference he has with a church member to someone who is not a church member.  Such a thing should never happen.

6.   Now turn to our text, First Corinthians 15.34, where Paul again uses this word entroph:  “Awake to righteousness, and sin not; for some have not the knowledge of God: I speak this to your shame.”

7.      Interestingly, the phrase that we read at the beginning of First Corinthians 6.5, “I speak to your shame,” is identical in Greek to the final phrase in our text, “I speak this to your shame.”  Of course, the translators italicized the word “this” to show readers that the word is not found in the Greek New Testament.

8.   So, what was Paul attempting to do, first in First Corinthians 6.5, and then in First Corinthians 15.34?  He was attempting to put an entire congregation of Christians to shame for two different offenses.  The phrase that appears in both verses, “I speak this to your shame,” shows us that Paul’s intent is to make them feel ashamed of their behavior.[2]

9.   To understand Paul better, take a step back and consider the whole of his First Corinthian letter.  The people in the congregation he wrote to were guilty of many serious sins and lapses of judgment.  Think about the myriad of problems the Corinthian Christians had: 

ź         They were divided into cliques. 

ź         They were men-followers, with some being Hyles men, and others being Falwell men, or Rick Warren men, or Joel Osteen men.  Then, of course, there were some who thought themselves so spiritual that they would follow no spiritual leadership, but said they only followed Jesus Christ.

ź         They denigrated the importance of their church congregation.

ź         They engaged in harsh and arrogant judgmentalism, usurping the role of Jesus Christ as our judge.

ź         They tolerated scandalous sex sin, all the while thinking themselves broad-minded for it.

ź         They were unconcerned about offending Christian brothers with weak consciences.

ź         They refused to properly meet the material needs of their pastor.

ź         They abused the communion of the Lord’s Supper, both by getting drunk at communion and by segregating the rich from the poor so that the rich could eat before the poor had a chance to arrive.

ź         They had women in their church who dressed like whores.

ź         They allowed women to speak out in the worship service.

ź         And they misused and misunderstood different kinds of spiritual gifts.

10. Folks, this is not even a complete list of the things that were wrong in that Corinthian church.  Interestingly, Paul made no attempt to embarrass or shame his readers for the sins I have just mentioned.  Instead, he focused on two things that would no doubt surprise most Christians, who would think Paul’s choices unusual.

11. First, in First Corinthians 6.5, Paul sought to shame the Corinthian church members for airing out their dirty linen in front of unsaved people.  The specific practice Paul criticized was one church member taking another church member to court and trying to settle a grievance in front of an unsaved judge.

12. The apostle was very clear and quite reasonable when he insisted that it is better for the aggrieved church member to suffer wrong than to discuss such things before the unsaved.  Church member?  The application of that principle is broader than you might think.

13. If you are a church member, any issues that you have with other church members are completely off limits as topics of discussion with anyone who is not a church member.  Thus, if church member A has an issue with church member B, non-church member C, who might even be A’s best friend, should never even know of the problem A has with B.  And this applies even if, and maybe especially if, non-church member C is A’s spouse.

14. I wonder how many Christians ruin any chances of their spouses getting saved by telling them of grievances or differences they have with church members.  All that unsaved person needs is some small excuse to justify himself in his own mind for rejecting the gospel.

15. Sometimes we fall into the trap of thinking we have more in common with a longtime friend or a spouse who is not saved than with a rather new acquaintance who is a church member.  But that is not true.  Bob and Bert have worked together for years, and have seen eye to eye on almost everything.  Young Billy enters the picture as a new church member who is sometimes foolish and naive.

16. What Bob needs to keep in mind is that he must never discuss young Billy’s shortcomings or offenses with Bert.  Why not?  Because Bert is not a church member, that’s why.  In First Corinthians 6.5, Paul seeks to shame church members for daring to discuss another church member’s shortcomings with a non-church member.

17. If you feel the need to talk about Billy’s shortcomings with someone, you make arrangements with the pastor to have another church member act as mediator to resolve that problem.  Do not discuss it with anyone who is not a church member; no exceptions!

18. Now, why do you suppose Paul was more interested in provoking the Corinthians to shame over that issue than, say, for tolerating sex sins in the church, or abusing the communion of the Lord’s supper?  Allow me to suggest two things for your consideration:

a.   First, tolerating sex sins in the church is a passive sin.  That is, though it is very wrong, it is an example of church members doing nothing when they should be doing something.  Still a sin, to be sure, and a serious sin, but a sin of omission.  Thus, the church member is not, by his omission, taking actions to make things that are wrong known to non-church members.

b.   Next, there is the sin of abusing and dishonoring the communion of the Lord’s supper.  Why not try to make church members feel ashamed for that sin?  Let me suggest that such a sin is internal, within the body, out of sight of the unbelieving world.  Again, no actions are taken to make non-church members aware of problems and issues that would distract them from consideration of the gospel message.

19. So, when one church member takes another church member to court, or even a less extreme example, such as when one church member discusses with a non-church member problems he has with another church member, he is holding the cause of Christ up to public ridicule.  Are we not supposed to be one in Christ?  But that truth is denied in practice when you air out a church member’s dirty linen to the lost.

20. The other cause for which a Christian ought to be ashamed is found in our text for this morning.  After brother Isenberger comes to lead us in a song we will deal with the second thing church members should be ashamed about.

21. Please stand now as brother Isenberger comes. 


1.   Each of us has blind spots that hide flaws, personal defects, and even sins that we embrace and bury deep out of sight in the depths of our hearts, so we won’t have to deal with our greater love for them than for Christ.  Let me give you three examples:

2.   Proverbs 23.21 reads, “For the drunkard and the glutton shall come to poverty: and drowsiness shall clothe a man with rags.”  We are quite willing to acknowledge that drunkenness is sinful and seriously compromises a Christian’s testimony, but how many of us are willing to own up to the wrongness of being seriously overweight?  What a great sin obesity is in the eyes of so many unconverted people.  Amen?  Let us not be blind to the fact that gluttony harms a Christian’s testimony, in addition to just being wrong.

3.   How about playing God?  Is it wrong to play God?  Of course it is, yet many Christians justify playing God for a variety of reasons.  And how do some Christians play God?  One way is by using birth control devices to interfere with God’s prerogative to give children to married couples.

4.   The Bible declares, “Lo, children are an heritage of the LORD: and the fruit of the womb is his reward.”  Yet Christians see nothing wrong with denying that truth and behaving just like the wicked heathens of the developed nations.  How so?  Despising children so much, or loving their so-called freedom and higher standard of living so much, birth control is resorted to to prevent conception.

5.   Their claim is that “it’s not the right time,” or “a child should be wanted,” or “there are things we want to do before we have children,” or “we already have enough children.”  Whatever the justification, the end result is just like the heathens of the developed countries of western Europe, Japan, and our own United States, whose desire to play God results in birth rates that are so low that the population of some countries is threatened with decline.  This, despite God’s command to go forth and replenish the earth.

6.   Now, I am sure that many Christian couples who resort to birth control have no conscious thought of playing God.  But consider what they do:  They have bought into the worldly notion of wanting to engage in certain kinds of behavior without any desire to face the possible consequences of their actions.  But God is the God of consequences, and His desire is for Him to control the consequences of His creature’s conduct.  Using birth control is wrenching from God the control over our bodies and our families that should be His and His alone.  This truly is a sin that is oftentimes a blind spot in people’s thinking.

7.   Third, there is the cigarette habit.  It is true that there is no specific command in the Bible to abstain from the use of tobacco.  And until recent decades no one had any idea of the damage to the body that results from smoking.  But smoking has become such an issue among the unsaved that it is a terrible stumbling block for a professing Christian to smoke.  It shocks and dismays children to see professing Christians smoking.

8.   Now, what experience do I have with this issue?  I used to pastor the Smoking Baptist Church in Brawley, California.  That’s right.  There were two independent Baptist churches in my town.  One was referred to as the Republican Baptist Church, and I became the pastor of the Smoking Baptist Church, for reasons that were obvious both before and after each church service.

9.   Whatever the Bible says about the issue of smoking (and the Bible has a great deal to say about being in bondage to any habit), the fact remained that the church I pastored had a terrible testimony in that town, and the entire congregation was held up to ridicule because of professing Christians who smoked cigarettes.

10. Did those who smoked think it was wrong?  Probably.  Did they quit?  Most of them did not.  Why not?  Just like with gluttony and playing God with birth control pills, we sometimes get blind spots in our lives that cloud the truth from our eyes, that interfere with our discernment, so that we do not see what great harm we are causing, what idolatry we are guilty of, what offense to the cause of Christ we are.  They just did not see how much damage their cigarettes caused in a society that is increasingly intolerant of smoking.

11. Maybe you are thin.  Maybe you are not yet married and have no birth control decisions to make.  Perhaps you quit smoking long ago, or have never smoked.  No matter who you are you have some blind spots in your life that conceal from your own mind your sins against God.  You thereby acquit yourself.

12. The Corinthians had many such sins.  Paul rebuked a number of them in his first letter to the church.  I am sure that he dealt with many Corinthians face to face about other sins.  But there were two, of those he dealt with publicly, that were so serious he was inspired by the Holy Spirit to provoke his readers to shame for committing them.

13. The first one, of course, I dealt with in my exposition.  That was the shameful sin of airing out disputes between church members in front of those who are not church members.  The second one, mentioned in my text for this morning, is the subject of my sermon.

14. First Corinthians 15.34:  “Awake to righteousness, and sin not; for some have not the knowledge of God: I speak this to your shame.”  Inspired by the Holy Spirit of God, Paul pointed out to the Corinthian church members that “some have not the knowledge of God.”

15. So, what did Paul expect the Corinthian church to do about that problem?  They were to “Awake to righteousness, and sin not.”  Notice, Paul spoke to them corporately about this problem.  He expected them to respond as a congregation.

16. In the time we have remaining, I would like to address this problem Paul deals with, working our way back from the end of the verse to the beginning, by applying what he says to our own situation here at Calvary Road Baptist Church: 


1B.    My friends, there are things we should be ashamed of here at Calvary Road Baptist Church.  And my comments about blind spots in our lives should serve to convince you that we each have things that are an embarrassment to us.  To be sure, some of the things that embarrass us are purposely concealed from others.  But some of the things that we should be ashamed of we simply are not ashamed of.

2B.      Why is this?  It is a matter of conscience.  We are creatures of conscience.  God gave a conscience to every one of us.  But our consciences are far from perfect, with some being weak and others being seared.  The result is, there are some things about which we ought to be ashamed which do not shame us at all.

3B.    In our text, Paul shows us one of the things that should embarrass each of us to the point of shame.  So, unless you reject the Word of God as your final authority for faith and practice, unless you are a god unto yourself and you establish your own standards of righteousness to live by, unless you see yourself as autonomous and separate from this church you are a member of, prepare to be shamed. 

2A.   Moving On, What Should We Be Ashamed About?  “some have not the knowledge of God”

1B.      Many commentators make what I think is the mistake of suggesting that the Corinthians should have been ashamed because many in the city of Corinth were not Christians.[3]  But the Lord Jesus Christ, Himself, said “. . . narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.”[4] 

2B.      Thus, we know that in any city the majority of those who live there will never come to Christ.  So how can the apostle Paul be urging shame upon them for unsaved Corinthians?  The point is, that is not what Paul is challenging them to be ashamed about.

3B.      What Paul is challenging the Corinthians to be ashamed about is the ignorance of the people of the city of Corinthian concerning the things of God.  That is, there were inhabitants of that city who had never had declared to them the truth about God, about His eternity, about His holiness, about His goodness and righteousness, and about His Son.

4B.    My friend, you need to get your thinking straight about this thing we call evangelism.  While it is true that we cannot make anyone become a Christian if he does not want to become one, we are not to wait around for permission to talk to people about God, about His Son Jesus Christ, and about their dire straits as lost people.

5B.    I have oftentimes said that decisionists make the mistake of thinking that evangelism is a contest of wills between the sinner and the soul winner.  It is not.  Real conversion takes place when the sinner sees that his conflict is with the will of God, not with the will of the preacher or the soul winner.  But before conversion takes place there is frequently a conflict of wills between the Christian and the lost man, with the Christian duty bound to speak the truth in love to the lost man whether he wants to hear it or not.

6B.    The Corinthians were guilty of shameful behavior because they did not engage in telling lost people what they did not want to hear.  And you are guilty of shameful behavior if you do not tell sinners what they want to hear about God, about the things of God, and about their need to be saved.  But keep in mind that Paul spoke to that church as a corporate entity and not as individual Christians.

7B.    Do you participate in our evangelism on Saturday nights?  Perhaps you should feel ashamed about that.  We have two women in our church who have made arrangements with me to do evangelism at another time.  They have nothing to be ashamed of.  But if you are not actively and energetically involved in somehow and in someway addressing the lost people of our city and region about their lost condition, you should be ashamed of yourself. 

8B.    If you are not ashamed of yourself, but rather disturbed at me for pointing out your spiritual lethargy and lack of concern for the lost, then your conscience is in all likelihood seared.  You may be lost. 

3A.   Finally, What Should You Do About Your Shameful Behavior?  “Awake to righteousness, and sin not.”

1B.      Paul is suggesting two things here:  First, he is urging the Corinthians to wake up from their spiritual lethargy, to be aroused about the condition of the lost around them and their own complicity in the problem their church was dealing with.  And second, he told them to stop their sinning, to stop doing nothing.

2B.    My friend, that is what you should do.  You should clear the clutter off of the deck of your life and man the battle stations.  You should recognize that there is a reason God left you here after you got saved, to engage in the work of faith, which is evangelism with the congregation.

3B.    Of course, I have no expectation of any lost person or non-church member to participate in our church’s outreach, but I am delighted when they choose to come along with us.  What a blessing.  But church members should own up to our duty, to our privilege, of seeking to turn the world upside down for Jesus Christ.

4B.      And what should you do if you have a job that regularly and routinely prevents you from participating in our church’s regular Sunday services and evangelism?  Do what any self-respecting church member would do, quit that job and get another one.  After all, it’s only a job and not a calling.  Church attendance and the work of faith is your calling.  Amen? 


1.   I will have to admit to you that when I arrived here as your pastor I did wrong in this regard.  Though I steadfastly refused to work on Sundays when I got saved, and was threatened with termination for my stand, I was timid about keeping the bar high for our church members after I became your pastor.

2.   My own lack of courage resulted in allowing a guy who did shift work for one of the big airlines to hold positions of responsibility in our church.  He worked day shift for a year, swing shift for a year, and night shift for a year, four days on and two days off.  That resulted in one whole year of him missing many morning services, and the next year he would miss many evening services, and the third year he would attend all services.

3.   I should have directed him, as his pastor, to quit that job and find another job somewhere.  As well, I should not have allowed him to function in any high profile ministry at the church.  It was a bad example for our entire church, especially the young people.

4.   Please forgive me for my combination of timidity and lack of foresight.  I will do my best to be a better pastor in the future.  And though I will not take issue with any current church member’s present involvement in ministries, I will promise you this:  From this moment forward, no one will be allowed to join in any ministry of Calvary Road Baptist Church who does not fully participate in our church services, which includes our evangelism outreach.

5.   You see, we really ought to be ashamed about shameful behavior.  And it is just shameful for church members to not seek the conversion of the lost.  You who are lost among us, I apologize on behalf of our church for us not being more zealous, for us not doing more to reach the lost.  What we do to reach others might very well affect your own response to the gospel message.

6.   I am thankful for you church members who have made conscientious stands at work against bosses and management that tried to force you to work on Sundays.  I am thankful for the private and courageous decisions that you have made to do right that go unrecognized and without commendation from men.  I believe that there will come a time when you are commended by the Savior you serve, the Lord you make personal sacrifices for.  You not only have no cause to be ashamed now, but at the judgment seat of Christ you will stand before the Lord Jesus Christ without shame.

7.   May God help us as we examine our consciences.  May God help us to be ashamed of shameful behavior.  And may God help me to be a better pastor to you all.

[1] Isaac Asimov, Understanding Physics, Vol I, (New York, NY: Dorset Press, 1966), pages 230-231.

[2] R. C. H. Lenski, The Interpretation of St. Paul’s First and Second Epistles to the Corinthians, (Minneapolis, Minnesota: Augsburg Publishing House, 1963), page 701.

[3] John Gill, The Collected Writings of John Gill - Version 2.0, (Paris, AK: The Baptist Standard Bearer, Inc., 2000-2003), Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary, Vol III, Part Two, (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson Publishers, Inc., 1997), page 330, and Harry Ironsides, Addresses On The First Epistle to the Corinthians, (Neptune, New Jersey: Loizeaux Brothers, Inc., 1938), pages 503-504.

[4] Matthew 7.14

Home   Sermons   Sermon Outlines   Christmas Outlines   Easter Outlines  Funeral Outlines   Who Is God?   God's Word   Tracts   Q & A  Missionaries  Feedback  Dr. Hymers' Website  

Order this sermon on CD or  tape: or Mail/Phone