1 Corinthians: 6: 1-11. Lawsuits among believers
Paul continues the theme of judgement but now in another area where he seeks to rectify unrighteous actions which are being carried out amongst the body of believers. Paul is shocked by certain members of the Church who were taking their grievances against one another to outside law courts v1 Does he dare go to law before the unrighteous instead of the saints, also they were total unscrupulous as they were defrauding one another, is this real the actions of the Saints? v8 Paul points out they are qualified to sort out their differences between one another as Saints.
Paul substantiates why they are qualified with two future truths in regard to the Saints and judgement; They will one v2 Judge the world, And two. v 3 & Angels, then he contrasts these sublime future truths to their present situation as a result of the greater judgements, you will be making v2 are you then incompetent to try trivial cases? And so v3 how much more matter pertaining to this life? V4 He wants them to sort out their grievances over property and money (unethical business practices between one another ) not with outsiders not all like cases criminal cases.
Paul is not forbidding all use of the judicial system. Rom.13: 1-3 not they are incompetent, they are very competent, they have been established by God to restrain evil in the world, and do good, but they do not follow the law of God, they have no jurisdiction in the Church, they are not spiritual people, they are the unrighteous
For specific trivial cases in Corinth, which are fraudulent involving money or property between themselves. He seeks to shame them into corrective action, surly there is someone wise enough amongst them to judge such matters V5. Rather than taking one another to court
The reality is that brother goes against brother v6 This is destructive to the body & it’s the opposite to the true Christian model, established by Jesus, rather to suffer wrong v7 Why not rather be defrauded? V8 Yet the reality sadly is these Christians are defrauding and wronging one another – as brothers v8. They are behaving as unrighteous.
Finally Paul doesn’t want them to be deceived, he reminds them that this behaviour of defrauding one another and taking one another to court was all wrong, if it continues these individuals have no part in the Kingdom of God V9-10.
Then he points the Corinthians back to the elementary truths by which they were saved. V11 He reminds them this is what you were past tense, then he reminds them of the Trinitarian work of God in their salvation that they were washed, sanctified, justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God. This should make all the difference.
1. A new identity is to be matched with a new behaviour 1- 8
a. In relationship with one another, when facing grievances v1-6
Firstly he reminds them a new identity v1-2 They are saints, (The sanctified- Holy people) they are now part of the family of God and this new identity is to be matched by a new behaviour they are not to be those who are taking one another to outside law courts over these trivial cases over property & money v7-8, they are not be those defrauding one another. This behaviour, has no part in their new identity, if they have grievances they are called to settle the situation in the Church between themselves. Paul sees these cases, they are taking to courts as trivial cases (3) compared to who they will judge in the future with Christ upon his judgement seat ( 2-3 The world & Angels). He says this to their shame, they should be sorting this out between themselves in the Church v4-5.
• Consider family life often there are problems within the family those problems are sorting in house consider the Mafia as an extreme example, but when there is a problem within the family it is sorted out in house ( the law courts are not used) by the family it’s not taken to outside the family, it’s taken to the god father where a family resolution will be found.
Christians are a spiritual family we are able to judge we are able to bring spiritual resolutions to trivial cases between believers, we can bring a spiritual wisdom & application to God our Father , we can seek the mind of Christ, we can apply the Word of God, to the matter at hand. We are able to bring spiritual judgements to bear where there are disagreements, between brothers, where un- Christian behaviour has been perpetuated upon one another. Judgements can be made.
b. In attitudes & actions towards one another v7-8
What has got hold of these professing believers is their old nature, they are acting as the unrighteous (7,8,9) To have lawsuits at all is already a defeat for them, it doesn’t collate with the profession they have made in Christ. Paul wants them to turn away from their rights, of winning cases, of pursuing the law courts, ( pursuing blame culture today, compensation) even stop from the misdemeanours we pursue, against one another, when we don’t act Christ, we are already defeated. He is saying this attitude is all wrong. When we go down the route of taking one another to court, it brings the Church, the Gospel & Christians into disrepute, just like the unrighteous.
Paul wants them to rethink their attitude, but with the change of attitude a change of action, respond differently, in relating to the injured brother, the one who has been wronged and been defrauded, He says (v7) Why not rather suffer wrong? Why not rather be defrauded? Why not respond in this way? And those brothers who are out of hand, (v8) But you yourselves wrong and defraud - even your own brothers. V9 Or do you not know the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God.
c. The trial and crucifixion of Christ
What is Paul trying to say here well he’s bringing the gospel to bear, the deeper reason why taking one another to court is a defeat for the Christian in such cases; v7 Why not suffer wrong? Why not rather be defrauded? Paul is wanting turn them away from the right of winning cases, of defrauding one another, to look upon the one who carried all their sin, through the shame of an unjust trial, that cost Him his life. That led Him to the Cross.
The spirituality of the cross is at the centre piece here, consider the way of Christ, who suffered, who was maligned, who was mistreated and yet did not rise up and seek justice & a compensation package. This is the wisdom of God in Christ crucified, this is what Paul wants applying to the heart of the situation. This is how he wants them to respond and apply to their Christian lives. The paradox is the cross that looked like utter defeat was utter victory. The love of God was demonstrated, Sinners were reconciled to God. Jesus pronounced victory upon the cross in His death, it is finished!
Consider, did Jesus win us to himself by standing on his rights? By safeguarding his personal interests? And insisting upon his rights? Of course not! The Cross teaches us that sacrifice is the way to forgiveness and reconciliation. This is the path these Corinthians need to tread, this is the path we all need to tread as Christians with one another.
The disputes they were having needed not to go to pagan courts this all arises from pride, self –will, self upon the throne, unrighteousness, the defence of our own interests, rather than the interests of others. Which was not exhibited in Jesus at all, who calls us to be like Him (Philippians 2:1-11 read ).
This is the route we are to travel down with one another even though it be hard to follow and understand, especially when we’ve been wronged and cheated by another, but the defeat comes really when we take one another to courts, seek our rights, it will be costly, compromises will be made, more importantly the spiritual example of Christ has been lost & what seems like justice, compensation and the restoration of your pride, will actually be a spiritual defeat in your life.
Listen to the teaching of Jesus in Matthew 5:39-4139 But I say to you, Do not resist the one who is evil. But if anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also. 40 And if anyone would sue you and take your tunic,[a] let him have your cloak as well. 41 And if anyone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles.
2. The Old identity & behaviour’s have no place in the kingdom of God v9-11
V9b Do not be deceived. - He is speaking to those who are continuing in sinful lifestyles, whether sexual immorality, those who are defrauding others v8 . He wants them to know v9a that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God. If these individuals V9-10 continue to practice unrighteousness in the Church & community they are deceiving themselves, and will be excluded from the kingdom of God.
What is your attitude and application to your own internal sins, the sins which flow out and effect others, in the fellowship and the world The sins which only you know about, the sins which others graciously reprove, how do you respond? Do not be deceived, the unrighteous will not inherit the Kingdom of God
V9-10 Sinful behaviours excluded (these acts are brought out of our nurture & also our old nature, original sin)
Paul mentions a list not an exhaustive list but a list which is specifically with reference to the Corinthian believers, this is what some of them were ( v11 And such were some of you.) no doubt these behaviour patterns were beginning to manifest themselves once again in the Church community ( probably with the wrong understanding of grace 5: 6) . And so he doesn’t want them to be deceived. In regard to their salvation, the continuation of these unrighteous acts means you are not saved and you will not inherit the kingdom of God.
These sinful patterns are rife in the world and often adopted as good traits, ones that are enjoyed, celebrated, pursued, even though they bring death in this life, and have no place in Gods Kingdom. Don’t you become complacent about your relationship with God with the world, this is when sin will seek to destroy you.
Paul actually has a greater hope for them, when he says V11 And such were some of You - This is what you were past tense (Eph 2:1- 5,11-13) this is the emphasis, this lifestyle is finished, you are no longer to carry on in these corruptions, for they have no place in the kingdom of God.
3. A new identity & behaviour enabled by a Trinitarian God. V11-12
Rather now he wants them to see the work of the Trinitarian God in their lives which enables them to destroy the old identity and behaviour traits and to see their new identity and behaviour in the light of the work of the Trinitarian God in their lives.
V11-12 The Work of our Trinitarian God V12 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.
V11 You were washed – this is in reference to their Baptism in the outset of their faith as they came to God in repentance & faith, they experienced a washing away of sins, the filth was removed. Titus 3:5 he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit.
The Corinthians and all believers were baptised upon repentance & faith in the Holy Spirit. Remember what John the Baptist said Mark 1:8 I baptise you with water he will baptise you with the Holy Spirit. Johns Baptism was a baptism of repentance, not of faith in Jesus, the baptism of the Holy spirit is a spiritual baptism which enables us to repent and believe washing away our sins permanently, bringing us onto the community of faith 1Cor 12:13 For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—Jews or Greeks, slaves or free—and all were made to drink of one Spirit.
In Acts 1:5, Jesus promises they would be baptised in the Holy Spirit in v 38 (emphasis is general on languages and tongues) but the people around them were baptised in the Holy Spirit too, for the people ask Peter , what must we do to be saved? Peter replies they must repent & be baptised (water baptism) for the forgiveness of your sins and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. ( You don’t receive the Holy Spirit because you repented and baptised, your baptised in the Holy Spirit, hence your are enabled to repent & believe coming into the community of faith, subsequently you are baptised (Water Baptism) which is a sign of the great washing work of the Trinitarian God which has taken place spiritually inside the heart. Look at the command from Ananias gave to Paul on his conversion to Christ (Acts 22:16) And know why do you wait? Rise and be baptised and wash away your sins, calling on his name.
You were sanctified - Sanctification is an ongoing process in the Christ life where we are gradually increasing in our holiness, where we are in conflict with sin, seeking to be like Christ . This is both a work that God works in us and through us, but its something also we actively pursue as Christians also Phillipians 2:13-14 Therefore, my beloved, fas you have always gobeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, 13 for hit is God who works in you, both to will and to work for ihis good pleasure.
But here he is speaking about that initial act of sanctification (You were sanctified) The meaning here is focusing upon the initial setting apart by God, where there was the first break from the love of sin, and you were given the power to break the practice of sin in your life, and you acted.
You were justified (Greek - dikaioo) this is the counterpart to the unrighteous as spoken of earlier, the justified are righteous, but not a righteousness of their own, but the righteousness of Jesus Christ. Paul is not using this term in the ethical sense be seen as righteous by others, but as a judicial term to be declared as righteous. To be justified is to have the righteousness of Jesus Christ imputed to your account. (Rom 5:1 Justified through faith 8:1 with no condemnation 33 God who justifies )
Key - 2 Cor 5:21 For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.
This transaction was undertaken by the Godhead with sinners - God the Father, made God the Son to be sin , who had no sin , and God the Father did this for our sake, so our sin, was placed upon Jesus and his righteousness was given to us. Our legal status now before God is one of no condemnation we are legally justified, we are righteous, Christ Righteousness has been imputed to us.
We no longer need to fight for or rights one against another , One has already done it on our behalf God the Father, through the Son & By the Spirit of our God, he declares us as righteous, justified, not guilty.
Let’s not become complacent, we have a new identity befitting of a new behaviour, lets together, walk the way of the cross of Christ.