Lawsuits Against Believers
6 When one of you has a grievance against another, does he dare go to law before the unrighteous instead of the saints? Or do you not know that the saints will judge the world? And if the world is to be judged by you, are you incompetent to try trivial cases? Do you not know that we are to judge angels? How much more, then, matters pertaining to this life! So if you have such cases, why do you lay them before those who have no standing in the church? I say this to your shame. Can it be that there is no one among you wise enough to settle a dispute between the brothers, but brother goes to law against brother, and that before unbelievers? To have lawsuits at all with one another is already a defeat for you. Why not rather suffer wrong? Why not rather be defrauded? But you yourselves wrong and defraud—even your own brothers!
Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you. 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.
Flee Sexual Immorality
“All things are lawful for me,” but not all things are helpful. “All things are lawful for me,” but I will not be dominated by anything. “Food is meant for the stomach and the stomach for food”—and God will destroy both one and the other. The body is not meant for sexual immorality, but for the Lord, and the Lord for the body. And God raised the Lord and will also raise us up by his power. Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ? Shall I then take the members of Christ and make them members of a prostitute? Never! Or do you not know that he who is joined to a prostitute becomes one body with her? For, as it is written, “The two will become one flesh.” But he who is joined to the Lord becomes one spirit with him. Flee from sexual immorality. Every other sin a person commits is outside the body, but the sexually immoral person sins against his own body. Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.
1 Corinthians 6 Commentary
by Hank Workman
“Such were some of you; but you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of our God.”1 Corinthians 6:11
The power of Jesus brings a changed life. It should change everything about how we think, how we react, where we place our investment. We all know it’s not an instantaneous event of that life being completely changed. It’s a process. Yes, the forgiveness offered and taken is instantaneous. Then the Holy Spirit begins His work in us and begins pointing out, maneuvering Himself more prominently in our behavior and thought process.
It’s tough, right? Because suddenly things that weren’t a concern before, now we’re convicted about and so on. But there should be a changed life regardless through this event of bringing Christ to the forefront as we make Him our foundation.
Paul here is very specific as he writes to the church of Corinth about their war really with society and culture. The old man of self is hard to put down and he gives specific points and thoughts led by the Spirit of God as to what that looks like.
In the middle of these thoughts he reminds the reader we once were of this world, now we’re not. We once were marked with things, now through the power of Jesus, we are not. He uses 3 statements to consider.
You were washed. Thanks be to God, all the sins of our life were washed away when we put our trust in Jesus. The severe mercy of God came through what Jesus did for us and all the filth that has been part of our life is gone. This washing goes on though as we continue to give ourselves to the Word of God and allow it to speak so boldly to us. (Ephesians 5:26) As expected on any journey, we get dirty throughout the day. It is no different on our Christian journey, which is why the Word of God is so important to bring to mind, show us our errors and wash us again.
You were sanctified. We have been set apart from the world. We’ve been set apart by God to be used for Him and be glorified. This has been done once again by the work of Jesus on the cross and by His word. Our faith in him and reliance and continual openness to the Holy Spirit brings about that change we cannot muster on our own.
You were justified. By the grace of Jesus, we deserve so much more than we get. He stepped in our place before the Holy Father, taken the blame for our continual sins, and brings a justification before the God of all.
These three words and thoughts should bring a bit of pause. Stop, reflect, and consider what each of us deserve because of our sin and life and what we get instead through Jesus. The work of God in our lives is absolutely amazing. I think we sometimes forget that.
I think of the blind man who was healed. He was marched into the court of the Pharisees over this and interrogated twice. They simply could not believe this man born blind could have sight. The questions were ridiculous as was the event. But where the frustration level hit for them and they finally put him out began with the man’s statement, “This I do know, I once was blind but now I see.” Check out the whole story in John 9.
The point being, Jesus opens our eyes and brings healing to us. Through that opening of, the Holy Spirit then directs us toward things that once were but calls us to let those go. This is our new identity. It’s something we should never take for granted as it’s an amazing aspect to the grace and mercy of Jesus.
1 Corinthians 6 Commentary
by Brad Boyles
Paul’s had some specific issues with the Corinthians in regard to legal matters.
First and foremost, the disputes in question were between two believers. Paul is working under the assumption that Jesus has given us a foundation for confrontation and accountability in Matthew 18. If two people disagree on a matter and are truly believers, they should be able to work things out privately.
This leads to the second important point of Paul’s letter which emphasizes wisdom (v.5-6). It is wise to operate under a Biblical framework and go to through the authority structures within the body when you have an issue. This is why churches have a board of directors and/or elders which are subject to a higher standard of qualifications (1 Timothy 3). These leaders are equipped by God to settle legal disputes according to Kingdom values. Many today would rather shame individuals publicly than go through the proper authority structure.
Another misconception with regard to legal matters is using 1 Corinthians 6 as a way to shield abuse. No Christian has the right to break the law, or to abuse/harass others in the church and then assume they are exempt from prosecution because they go to church.
Let me be clear. Any interpretation of 1 Corinthians 6 that accommodates the abuse of another Christian is absolutely wrong. When Jesus taught on family life in Matthew 19, He emphasized legal authority to divorce based on sexual immorality. Paul adds abandonment by a spouse in 1 Corinthians 7. Technically, this would involve a legal procedure with the court system, yet, Jesus approves it. Considering this, we know that Paul’s warning here is not without exceptions.
Based on all of this, we can ask ourselves…
- Have I followed Matthew 18 with my grievance?
- Is there a way to settle the disagreement without displaying dissension to the unbelieving world?
- Is the problem at hand only an issue of material or financial loss, or does it place others lives in continual danger and abuse at the hands of unspiritual people?
I am by no means advocating finding exceptions to Paul’s writing. However, a balance needs to be found between escalating petty issues that damage the reputation of the church and neglecting the abuse of divisive people.