you not to judge those in the Church?
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,
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?
"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.
"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
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
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.
"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
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.
"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).