1 Corinthians 4:18
“Now some are puffed up, as though I would not come to you.”
If you are a sports enthusiast, you have watched players guarantee how they are going to beat their opponent only to have their opponent completely humiliate them by beating them, and not just beating them, but blowing them out. To watch players who think they are something learn quickly how they are no match for their opponent is amusing. The false sense of security a player had when they guaranteed a win was quickly diminished by their opponent’s superiority.
Six times in 1 Corinthians, the words “puffed” or “puffeth” are used. Paul told the Corinthians in the verse above, “Now some are puffed up…” The words “puffed” or “puffeth” means to have a false sense of security about something. Just like an athlete can get a false sense of security about their abilities or their team’s ability to win, so the believer can also get the same false sense of security about certain attributes, talents or qualities they have which lead to them being puffed up. Five things can lead to a false sense of security for which the believer must beware.
First, the believer must beware about thinking they are better than another. In verse 6 it says, “…that no one of you be puffed up for one against another.” My mother used to always teach me that I am no better than anyone else, but I’m also not inferior to others. You must be careful that you don’t allow your talents, education, family success, job success or financial success cause you to get a false sense of security about yourself. Just because you have experienced a little success doesn’t make you better than anyone else.
Second, the believer must beware that they don’t think they will get away with sin. In verse 18, some of the believers in the church of Corinth thought Paul would never come and deal with their sin. My friend, the absence of punishment doesn’t mean that sin’s punishment won’t come. Sin’s absence of punishment could mean that God is being merciful in hopes that you will come back to Him before He must punish you. Never let sin give you a false sense of security that you are greater than your sin’s consequences.
Third, the believer must beware that they don’t get a false sense of security because of sin’s pleasure. Those committing fornication in the church of Corinth were puffed up because of their sin. Accomplishing sin doesn’t make you better than others; rather, it makes you the prime target for destruction.
Fourth, a lack of love will always lead to a false sense of security. 1 Corinthians 13:4 says about charity, “…is not puffed up…” Those who are puffed up are normally those who don’t allow the love of God to reign in their life. The love of God always keeps a person humble and in proper perspective of themselves.
Fifth, the believer must beware that they don’t let knowledge give them a false sense of security in themselves. According to the Scriptures, “Knowledge puffeth up…” The person who acquires much knowledge through study and becomes accomplished in a certain area must be careful that they don’t think of themselves better than others.
God warns the believer in 1 Corinthians 10:12, “Wherefore let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall.” A fall is always near those who allow accomplishment to give them a false sense of security in their abilities.