1 Corinthians 6
1Does any one of you, when he has a case against his neighbor, dare to go to law before the unrighteous and not before the saints?
2Or do you not know that the saints will judge the world? If the world is judged by you, are you not competent to constitute the smallest law courts?
3Do you not know that we will judge angels? How much more matters of this life?
4So if you have law courts dealing with matters of this life, do you appoint them as judges who are of no account in the church?
5I say this to your shame Is it so, that there is not among you one wise man who will be able to decide between his brethren,
6but brother goes to law with brother, and that before unbelievers?
7Actually, then, it is already a defeat for you, that you have lawsuits with one another. Why not rather be wronged? Why not rather be defrauded?
8On the contrary, you yourselves wrong and defraud. You do this even to your brethren.
Paul is adamant that believers do not go to court against one another. To do this communicates that God is not able to resolve the conflict or that the Bible doesn’t give the necessary information or resources to solve conflict and work out problems. It is a very poor testimony to the world, which as Paul has already communicated, doesn’t have the wisdom of God. Why does the church, which has access to God’s wisdom and the mind of Christ, have to go to the world which doesn’t have this wisdom in order to be reconciled? It doesn’t even make sense. There should be plenty of people with wisdom in the local church to be able to help rectify a conflict. The church will judge angels in the future, so it only makes sense that they can work out the disputes of life (2 Peter 1:3). They will rule with Christ in the future kingdom, so it only makes sense that they can figure things out now by the grace of God. Just because a person has a law degree does not mean they have the wisdom of God. There must be those within the church who can help resolve these conflicts, so there is no reason for brother to take brother to a secular court. If only those in the situation are humble, things can be worked out. Even if one is at wrong, it is worth the other being defrauded for the sake of not communicating to the world that the church is evil or incompetent. Yet the Corinthians were bringing lawsuits against one another, and they were indeed defrauding one another. This is the initial problem. If brother can’t be trusted by brother, the church is a wreck. This must be fixed, and if it is, then there will be no need for lawsuits, which is how it should be among brothers.
9Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor homosexuals,
10nor thieves, nor the covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers, will inherit the kingdom of God.
11Such 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.
Paul is shocked at the level of unrighteousness in the church which presents the possibility that some of those who profess to be saved may be deceiving themselves. The unrighteous will not inherit heaven, and some of these sure seem to fit the bill. Listed as examples of ungodliness and unrighteousness is idolatry, premarital sex or any kind of sex outside of the confines of love in marriage and according to the principles of Scripture, adultery, men taking on the role of women and rejecting their God-given masculinity, homosexuality, stealing, coveting, getting drunk, mockers, and con-men. When these kinds of things occur in the church, discipline must occur or else the church will evaporate into worldliness as the ungodly lead, deceive, and exploit the godly. Many of the Corinthians had been sinners according to Paul’s list, but they were saved, having been washed in the blood of Christ and purified from sin. They were justified, having been declared by God as saints rather than sinners. The ungodly can become godly by the grace of God, and this should be the overwhelming testimony of the church. Church discipline preserves godliness and a pure testimony.
12All things are lawful for me, but not all things are profitable. All things are lawful for me, but I will not be mastered by anything.
Just because we are under grace rather than under law (Romans 6:14) does not mean that grace is license to sin (Romans 6:2). Grace is the power and ability to fulfill the law of Christ which is love, selflessness, service, sacrifice, and surrender. It is not indulgence or arrogance. Two guidelines for choosing whether or not to engage in a certain behavior are whether or not it is profitable and whether or not it enslaves. Sin is destructive and enslaving, so it needs to be avoided at all costs. But if a behavior has some positive effect, drawing us closer to the Lord and keeping us from evil, then it is fine to engage in it. We must stay away, however, from anything that masters our hearts and souls, for we can’t serve God and something else (Matthew 6:24). The Christian life is a life of freedom (John 8:31-32), for we have been set free by the truth. Our freedom however is freedom from the bondage of sin, not freedom to not have to obey God. Obedience is the only way to remain free. The Corinthians clearly were abusing the idea of Christian freedom, and they needed to start obeying.
13Food is for the stomach and the stomach is for food, but God will do away with both of them Yet the body is not for immorality, but for the Lord, and the Lord is for the body.
14Now God has not only raised the Lord, but will also raise us up through His power.
It appears that the Corinthians were influenced by thinking that suggested that the body is disconnected from the spirit such that sin in the body might not affect the soul. This is dualism, and it is not Biblical. To sin with the body is serious, and it is a sin against God. The body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, so defrauding the body is the same as defrauding God. Even though the body is not going to inherit heaven, it is still attached to the spirit on earth such that committing immorality affects the whole person, not merely the flesh and bones. We will be given a new body one day (Romans 8:11), and it is important that our body glorifies God even now, as we know it will later. The body is given by God to serve the Lord and for the Lord to indwell. It is not for sin and attachment to the devil.
15Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ? Shall I then take away the members of Christ and make them members of a prostitute? May it never be!
16Or do you not know that the one who joins himself to a prostitute is one body with her? For He says, "THE TWO SHALL BECOME ONE FLESH."
17But the one who joins himself to the Lord is one spirit with Him.
Spiritually, being the church, we are the bride of Christ (Ephesians 5:32). We are also members of His body, He being the head (Colossians 1:18). Thus, corrupting ourselves in sexual immorality is highly offensive to the Lord. Members of Christ’s body should not be being joined with a prostitute. Sexual immorality leads one to be joined to another person in a deep physical and emotional bond. This bond is designed only for the covenant relationship of marriage. There is to be a one-flesh reality that is physical, emotional, and spiritual, as well as practical. Sexual immorality removes the commitment for a cheap physical thrill. Thus, this feeling of oneness is destructive because there is a pull to a person that has made not commitment of marriage faithfulness or relationship. This leads to frustration, destruction, discouragement, disappointment, and a feeling of internal division. The sexual union is a powerful thing, and it works properly only in the bond of marriage. The one who is in a saving relationship with Christ is one spirit with Him given that he is part of His body. It is evil to take what is Christ’s and join it to a prostitute. The destructive force is great.
18Flee immorality. Every other sin that a man commits is outside the body, but the immoral man sins against his own body.
19Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own?
20For you have been bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body.
Immorality must be fled from because of its severe consequences in addition to the mere fact that it is sin. Sin is always destructive, but sexual immorality is particularly destructive because of the effects it has on a person. Most sins are outside the body. There might be internal guilt and emotional struggle, but there is not a feeling of damage and carnage at the deepest heart and soul level. Sexual immorality, since sex targets the deepest needs, feelings, and longings of the human heart, also can corrupt a person at the deepest level, causing them to feel incurably dirty, used, divided, fragmented, and incomplete. Sex outside of marriage robs a person of his most priceless possession outside of Christ which is his wholeness as a person. To rip a marriage apart is to rip a person apart. To have sex outside of marriage is also to rip a person apart. Sexual immorality has devastating effects to the body, the mind, the heart, and the soul. Thus, we should live morally and in purity since the Spirit indwells our bodies. We don’t even own our bodies, but God owns us and rents space, so to speak, to Himself, namely the Holy Spirit. He purchased us through the blood of Christ to be His own possession, and that means He should be able to have His will done in our hearts and lives. In light of the fact that God indwells us, is one spirit with us, and owns us, we had better obey and glorify Him in our body. How we live in the body matters because it affects us and our Lord.