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Are you not to judge those in the Church?

1 Corinthians 6:1-20

Jim Davis

Wise Christians should live in expectation of problems. As long as humans are converted to Christ there will always be problems arising among individuals. We must expect problems. After all, Satan walks about as a roaring lion seeking to devour us. When he attacks there will be problems. Expecting problems not only gives us a chance to seek wisdom in solving our problems, but it will give us the insight we need to prevent unnecessary problems.

Having problems is not our problem. Our greatest problem is how we seek to solve our problems. Do we drag one another before the civil courts? Do we broadcast our problems to the entire congregation in the presence of non-believing visitors? Do we handle our problems in such a way so as not to destroy the faith of the babes in Christ?

Becoming Competent Christians

Problems become solvable when we have the right Christian values. Corinthian Christians were so carnal that they lacked the spiritual vision and wisdom to do anything but split the church into warring factions.

1 Corinthians 6:1-8
If any of you has a dispute with another, dare he take it before the ungodly for judgment instead of before the saints? Do you not know that the saints will judge the world? And if you are to judge the world, are you not competent to judge trivial cases? Do you not know that we will judge angels? How much more the things of this life! Therefore, if you have disputes about such matters, appoint as judges even men of little account in the church! I say this to shame you. Is it possible that there is nobody among you wise enough to judge a dispute between believers? But instead, one brother goes to law against another-and this in front of unbelievers!

The very fact that you have lawsuits among you means you have been completely defeated already. Why not rather be wronged? Why not rather be cheated? Instead, you yourselves cheat and do wrong, and you do this to your brothers (NIV).

Most problems in a local congregation emanate from personal conflicts. These verses are really a continuation of the personal problems of the Corinthians, which Paul started discussing in chapter 5. A man was going to bed with his father’s wife—his stepmother. It was a personal issue but it became a church problem. Chapter six is a continued discussion of the personal problems at Corinth. Paul writes, "Instead, you yourselves cheat and do wrong, and you do this to your brothers."

Personal conflicts are the result of immaturity (3:1-4). A lack of spiritual growth destroys our influence as Christians. When we destroy the godly influence of the church we bring disgrace and reproach upon the body of Christ. It is better to be cheated—to suffer wrong—than to destroy the influence of the Church of Christ. Peter says, "Love covers a multitude of sins" (1 Peter 4:8).

1 Peter 4:7-11
"The end of all things is near. Therefore be clear minded and self-controlled so that you can pray. Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins. Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling. Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God's grace in its various forms" (NIV).

Our love for Christ and his church should motivate us to bear the sin and reproach of those who offend. If we find it difficult loving the person, just do it out of your love for Christ. Jesus instructs us as how to solve our personal problems in order to keep them from becoming a congregational problem (Matthew 18:15-20).

The church’s inability to solve its problems is a sure sign of defeat. Paul writes, "The very fact that you have lawsuits among you means you have been completely defeated already."

Satan Seeks Our Defeat

The immorality of the city of Corinth gives us an understanding of the immorality within the church in Corinth. They had been saved from their past sins, but were having difficulty ridding their lives of sin. Some were becoming experts in finding excuses to sin. In the previous chapter some were becoming proud of the man who took his father’s wife. How often is the concept of grace warped to such an extent that we convince ourselves that we can continue in sin.

It is hard to believe grace would give us the liberty to pursue that which it is seeking to save us from. Grace frees us from guilt and condemnation, but it is not designed to allow us to willfully continue in sin without guilt and condemnation.

A liberty to sin is the worst kind of enslavement for we are the servant of whatever it is that controls our lives. Sin is the worst master because it convinces us to serve ourselves. It breeds individualism, which is the greatest threat to the church. Individualism breeds the attitude that "All things are lawful for me" (6:2; 10:23).

A compulsion to press our personal rights leads us to defraud others to get what we have convinced ourselves is lawful for us. Individualism gives way to sexual promiscuity, drunkenness, greed, slander and thievery.

1 Corinthians 6:9-11
"Do you not know that the wicked will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor male prostitutes nor homosexual offenders nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. And that is what some of you were. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God" (NIV).

There is an irony to Paul’s statement, "And that is what some of you were." It is a reminder of why they were saved. When the Corinthians were baptized they were sanctified and justified by the authority of Christ. Justification has set us free from the condemnation of the rules and regulations, but it has not freed us from the responsibility of seeking to live righteous lives.

You don’t have to rob a bank to be a thief. You don’t have to walk the streets in a drunken stupor to be a drunk. You don’t have to hoard material wealth to be greedy. You don’t have to join yourself to a prostitute to engage the body of Christ in adultery. You can something that is lawful and be guilty of all.

1 Corinthians 6:12-17
"Everything is permissible for me"-but not everything is beneficial. "Everything is permissible for me"-but I will not be mastered by anything. "Food for the stomach and the stomach for food"-but God will destroy them both. The body is not meant for sexual immorality, but for the Lord, and the Lord for the body. By his power God raised the Lord from the dead, and he will raise us also. Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ himself? Shall I then take the members of Christ and unite them with a prostitute? Never! Do you not know that he who unites himself with a prostitute is one with her in body? For it is said, "The two will become one flesh." But he who unites himself with the Lord is one with him in spirit" (NIV).

The question is, who is our master? What you are doing may be permissible, but what is driving you to do it? There may not be anything wrong with what you are practicing, but does it benefit others. The mere act of eating meat offered to an idol wasn’t wrong unless it encouraged others to have a loose moral attitude.

Corinth was filled with immorality and vice which found its roots in idolatry. Aphrodite was an idol god of love, which called upon its adherents to engage in prostitution. Animal sacrifices were offered to these idol gods. The meat was often sold in the market place to raise money for the particular god worshipped. There was nothing wrong with eating the meat, but if eating meat offered to an idol made others stumble it was sin.

A roast beef sandwich from the meat offered to an idol wouldn’t be expedient if it encouraged one weak in faith to commit adultery. There may seem to be a great distance between eating a roast beef sandwich and adultery, but it wasn’t for those weak in the faith. Some were interpreting eating the meat offered to an idol as consent to idolatrous practices. The pagan world faced these sorts of problems.

1 Corinthians 10:23-26
"Everything is permissible"-but not everything is beneficial. "Everything is permissible"-but not everything is constructive. Nobody should seek his own good, but the good of others.

Eat anything sold in the meat market without raising questions of conscience, for, "The earth is the Lord's, and everything in it." NIV

What do you do when someone raises a question of conscience about what you are practicing?

Romans 14:13-18
"Therefore let us stop passing judgment on one another. Instead, make up your mind not to put any stumbling block or obstacle in your brother's way. As one who is in the Lord Jesus, I am fully convinced that no food is unclean in itself. But if anyone regards something as unclean, then for him it is unclean. If your brother is distressed because of what you eat, you are no longer acting in love. Do not by your eating destroy your brother for whom Christ died. Do not allow what you consider good to be spoken of as evil. For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking, but of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit, because anyone who serves Christ in this way is pleasing to God and approved by men" (NIV)

Sadly, Christian liberty often turns to arrogance as we try to impress others with our freedom to do things they can’t engage in conscientiously. Our liberty may lead us to only be concerned only about feeding ourselves.

Jude 1:12-13
"These men are blemishes at your love feasts, eating with you without the slightest qualm-shepherds who feed only themselves. They are clouds without rain, blown along by the wind; autumn trees, without fruit and uprooted-twice dead. They are wild waves of the sea, foaming up their shame; wandering stars, for whom blackest darkness has been reserved forever (NIV).

Our Bodies Belong to Christ

Disciplined lives are beneficial to the church, for discipline will eventually bring a person to maturity in Christ. An undisciplined life disqualifies us to be Christians. Christians who have disciplined themselves spiritually make a strong church.

1 Corinthians 9:24-27
"Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last; but we do it to get a crown that will last forever. Therefore I do not run like a man running aimlessly; I do not fight like a man beating the air. No, I beat my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize" (NIV).

"The body is for the Lord, and the Lord for the body." Paul is speaking of the spiritual welfare of the church Our bodies are mere extensions of the body of Christ, which is the church (Ephesians 1:22-25). What is good for my body is good for the church—Christ’s body. What is good for the body of Christ is good for the members of the church.

Sometimes what we do in our personal lives is everybody’s business. 1 Corinthians 12:12-31 teaches that we are members of each other.

If what I do encourages others to sin, I sin against the body of Christ.

1 Corinthians 6:18-20
"Flee from sexual immorality. All other sins a man commits are outside his body, but he who sins sexually sins against his own body. Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body" (NIV).

The church is the temple of God.

1 Corinthians 3:16-17
"Don't you know that you yourselves are God's temple and that God's Spirit lives in you? If anyone destroys God's temple, God will destroy him; for God's temple is sacred, and you are that temple" (NIV).

We are each members of God’s temple. To use God’s temple in any way to encourage sin and immorality will only bring God’s judgment. The Hebrew writer reminds us of the dangers of continuing in willful sin.

Hebrew 10:26-31
"If we deliberately keep on sinning after we have received the knowledge of the truth, no sacrifice for sins is left, but only a fearful expectation of judgment and of raging fire that will consume the enemies of God. Anyone who rejected the law of Moses died without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses. How much more severely do you think a man deserves to be punished who has trampled the Son of God under foot, who has treated as an unholy thing the blood of the covenant that sanctified him, and who has insulted the Spirit of grace? For we know him who said, "It is mine to avenge; I will repay," and again, "The Lord will judge his people." It is a dreadful thing to fall into the hands of the living God" (NIV).

The Hebrews were in the process of forsaking Christ because of the harshness of their circumstances. The Corinthians were in the process of forsaking the wise counsel of God for their own sinful ways. Either way Christ was about to be trampled underfoot.


Christians will judge the world, therefore are we not competent to pass judgment upon our personal actions as well as those within the church without depending upon the civil courts for justice.

It is immoral when our desire for freedom enslaves others to serve us. We are equally guilty of the sin of others when our freedom becomes a stumbling block that leads others to sin.

We cheat and defraud others when we insist upon our rights to the exclusion of what is best for the church.

When our liberties encourage others to lead lives that end in drunkenness and debauchery we are equally guilty. You don’t have to get drunk or be a glutton, all you have to do is encourage others to do so by your actions. What may be a simple glass of wine with a meal may send a signal to another that drunkenness is fine.

Hebrews 12:14-15
"Make every effort to live in peace with all men and to be holy; without holiness no one will see the Lord. See to it that no one misses the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many" (NIV).


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