Lesson 24: "A Fault Among You, Because Ye Go to Law One With Another." (I Corinthians 6:7)
I Corinthians 6:1-20
Paul's Missionary Journey Epistles. This is lesson #24. Welcome again! Let's read. "Dare any of you, having a matter against another, go to law before the unjust, and not before the saints? Do ye not know that the saints shall judge the world? And if the world shall be judged by you, are ye unworthy to judge the smallest matters? Know ye not that we shall judge angels? How much more things that pertain to this life? If then ye have judgments of things pertaining to this life, set them to judge who are least esteemed in the church. I speak to your shame. Is it so, that there is not a wise man among you? No, not one that shall be able to judge between his brethren? But brother goeth to law with brother, and that before the unbelievers."
Alright, I get the impression Corinth was like it is in America today; court is always in session. Somebody is always taking somebody. You'll remember Paul had been dragged before deputy Gallia by Smoothens and the Jews next door that claimed Paul was teaching an illegal religion in the Roman Empire. It is one thing; if outsiders, i.e. them that are "without," as Paul called non-Christians in the last verse of chapter five, to take Christians to court and drag them before the authorities, i.e. where no crimes are involved; but, it is quite something else for a member of the church to take another member of the church to court, i.e. brothers and sisters in Christ suing each other. Thus, Paul here condemns that practice and tries to get them to see the absurdity in it. Does this mean that Christians will never have any differences? Of course not! Christians are human beings and thus differences and disputes will arise among us. Paul rebuked the Corinthian Christians for the manner in which they were resolving such differences. Perhaps we should take a moment to discuss the proper way to resolve differences between Christians and then the text hopefully will be more meaningful. First of all, the citizens of Christ's kingdom are not to be brotherhood regulators, I.e. to say that each congregation is autonomous. Do you remember Jesus' meeting with the apostles in Galilee after returning from the trip to Caesarea Philippi? Matt. 18:15 beginning Jesus said: "if thy brother shall trespass against thee, go and tell him his fault between thee and him alone: if he shall hear thee, thou shalt gain thy brother. But if he will not hear thee, then take with thee one or two more, that in the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established. And if he shall neglect to hear them, tell it unto the church: but if he neglect to hear the church, let him be unto thee as a heathen man and a publican." Thus, Jesus gave the formula for resolving problems between brethren. However, they were not applying that formula at Corinth; instead they were using the heathen courts to settle their differences. Noticed that in Jesus' statement (Matt. 18:17) that if a brother is so contentious as to refuse to be reconciled under the instruction that Jesus gave; then he is to be considered as a heathen man and a publican. Isn't that in essence saying such a person should be disciplined in the same way Paul commanded for fornicators, for the covetous, for the idolaters, for the railers, for the drunkards and the extortioners back in chapter five? It's another way of saying disfellowship or excommunicate or cut off or put away that person from among you. You might notice also that Jesus said where two or three are gathered together in his name; Jesus promised to be in their midst and it therefore follows that these rules are to be applied even in such small groups (Matt. 18:20). Now, notice that verse one, here in I Cor. 6 is a question, Paul asked: "Dare any of you, having a matter against another, go to law before the unjust, and not before the saints?" When Paul said, "Dare any of you...?" he was saying in essence; would any of you be so bold as to flagrantly violate and disregard the instructions of King Jesus? The word "saints" as used here at the end of verse one means Christians, I'm sure you remember. Thus, the congregation under the direction of its eldership should handle such problems between brethren and not take each other to law and not air out our dirty laundry in the civil courts. On the other side of the coin, it implies also that we as Christians must submit ourselves to the counsel of the eldership so that reconciliation can be achieved. While we are at this point; it might be noted also that it was when Jesus gave the above rules for reconciling brethren that Peter spoke up and asked, "Lord, how oft shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? That Jesus answered (I'm sure you remember): "seventy times seven." Thus, this shows that one must make every sincere effort to be reconciled and if the matter comes up again it must be reconciled again in the same way. This again corroborates and confirms what Paul said to the Thessalonians; "Yet count him not as an enemy, but admonish him as a brother." Then at the beginning of verse two, Paul asked another question that starts off, "Do ye not know...?" This implies they did know. Paul had taught them this fact during his 18-month tenure with them at Corinth. What did Paul teach them? "The saints shall judge the world?" (v.2). It seems that everybody and his brother has a different explanation for how the saints shall judge the world in this verse as well as how saints shall judge angels down in verse three; but, I'm going to leave these with you untouched. There's no use in me taking five minutes of your time to tell you I don't understand that; so, if you don't understand it pronto, don't feel lonesome. Some think the "we" in verse three in judging angels has reference to the apostles and not Christians in general. However, if you follow the context closely, it definitely had reference to the Christians at Corinth, not the apostles. The question at the end of verse 2, "are ye unworthy to judge the smallest matters?" is another way of Paul making reference back to all that worldly wisdom some were flaunting. If they considered themselves so capable in reason and shrewdness and philosophy; couldn't they make a few simple determinations in reconciling their brethren? Paul's question was designed to show their inconsistency. Paul replays that record again down hi verse 5 in that short sentence; "I speak to your shame." The same thought is rephrased again in the two questions at the end of verse 5 and then mesmerized in verse 6.
Let's read verses 7-11. Beginning in verse seven, let's read: "Now therefore there is utterly a fault among you, because ye go to the law one with another. Why do ye not rather take wrong? Why do ye not rather suffer yourselves to be defrauded? Nay, ye do wrong, and defraud, and that your brethren. Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind, nor thieves, not covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you: but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God."
Alright, let's stop there for a moment. There's nothing in those verses very hard to understand, I'm sure you would agree. Paul made it very clear, "there is utterly a fault among you" and Paul summarized that fault one more time: "because ye go to law one with another." Today, preachers are counseled not to be so blunt and abrupt and curt; you might hurt their feelings. I don't believe Paul ever went to that school, do you? How could it be said more blunt and more pointed than Paul said it. He admits at the end of verse 7, that there may be times when justice is not served. You may have to grit your teeth and swallow your pride and take wrong, or simply suffer loss, in other words. It may be very humiliating and even unfair; but, don't let it wrinkle your Christianity. Remember, the Lord said, I will repay; so you're insured. He'll give it back to you a hundred times. Do you remember Mark 10:29-30? There's a copy of your insurance policy back there if you want to read it. Here in verse eight, why didn't they do it that way? They knew what to do, Paul said they did in (v. 2); so, why didn't they do it? I remember one day back in the late 1960's that I asked an old brother, above 90 years old, who had served as an elder most of his life; "Brother Correill, why is it that the church is not growing?" Without blinking an eye he said, "It's the almighty dollar!" Brother, you're going to have trouble putting it in a smaller capsule that that. He "split'er" right down the middle. Paul said to those Corinthians, "ye do wrong, and defraud, and that your brethren" (v.8). You see, Paul knew why they were going to court and why they were not doing it like Paul had taught them when he was with them. I could all be explained in the pocketbook and Paul told them so. Now, look at Paul's question at the beginning of verse nine, "Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God?" Some would consider that: preaching hell-fire and brimstone. Like I said, you don't have any trouble understanding Paul. The phrase "Know ye not" at the beginning of verse nine is merely a rearrangement of the phrase we talked about back at the beginning of verse 2. In the rest of verse 9 and also in verse 10; Paul lets loose with a whole list of sins that will certainly damn one's soul. Fornicators, idolaters, covetous, drunkards, revilers, and extortioners are all repeated from the list back in 5:10-11, which we have discussed. Paul here adds to that list: adulterers, effeminate, abusers of themselves with mankind. Three items that all have an illicit sexual flavor. The first, an adulterer of course, is one who engages in extra-marital sex. Effeminate means a womanish man or a man that does not have manly qualities. That last phrase: "abusers of themselves with mankind" is another way of saying homosexual, queer or "vile affections" as Paul called it in Rom. 1:26; so the old apostles didn't leave a stone unturned. One of the little things that you need to catch on to here is the Paul, all through his writings, keeps making little subtle references back to what he has previously said. In verse 11, Paul says in essence; you know what I'm talking about. Some of you fit into these sinful categories before you obeyed the gospel, i.e. before you believed in Jesus and were baptized into Christ and your sins were remitted. The word "washed" is a metaphorical reference to baptism. The word "sanctified" means set apart, i.e. you were purchased and paid for by the blood of Christ and now have become children of God. "Justified" has reference to faith, grace and works. In the book of Romans and Galatians, Paul uses the word "justify" and "justified" many times; so, you'll want to observe how that word is used there. And, of course, at the end of verse 9, the Holy Spirit consummated their spiritual birth process in becoming a Christian (John 3:5 and Acts 2:38). Thus, we learn that some in that congregation had been true Corinthians before they became Christians; thus, they were aware of all the immorality around them.
OK! Let's read verses 12-20. Got an eye on it? Here we go! "All things are lawful unto me, but all things are not expedient: all things are lawful for me, but I will not be brought under the power of any. Meats for the belly, and the belly for meats: but God shall destroy both it and them. Now the body is not for fornication, but for the Lord; and the Lord for the body. And God hath both raised up the Lord, and will also raise up us by his own power. Know ye not that your bodies are the members of Christ? Shall I then take the members of Christ, and make them the members of a harlot? God forbid. What! Know ye not that he which is joined to a harlot is one body? For two, saith he, shall be one flesh. But he that is joined unto the Lord is one spirit. Flee fornication. Every sin that a man doeth is without the body; but he that committeth fornication sinneth against his own body. What! Know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God's."
Back to verse 12! It seems that Paul here gives a rule that undoubtedly he had repeated often at Corinth. Why not memorize Paul's rule, "All things are lawful unto me, [I.e. within my power] but all things are not expedient." Say that two or three times; "All things are lawful unto me, but all things are not expedient." If you were going to Chicago, you wouldn't go by China, would you? It's lawful to go by China; you haven't violated any rules; but, it's not the expedient way, i.e. it's not a very suitable or practical route because you're taking a lot of unnecessary chances and wasting a lot of time. Why do you not go by China on the way to Chicago? Well you know that the shortest distance and the most efficient route is a straight line and China is not on that straight line between you and Chicago. Then in trying to go the shorter route you wouldn't go over every cliff that happens to be on that straight line either would you? Now, like every other rule, this one can be misapplied too. Paul shows this aspect in his restatement of that rule at the last of verse 12, "all things are lawful unto me, but I will not be brought under the power of any." Simply because it's there doesn't mean that you must indulge. It may NOT be a very smart thing to do. The apostle Peter gave essentially the same thought like this: "As free, and not using your liberty for a cloak of maliciousness, but as the servants of God." (I Pet. 2:16). You see, as you apply that rule; you must do so with the INTENT of serving God. If you leave the INTENT out of it; then the result may become absurd. In other words, since all things belong to God, they must be used to glorify God. Now, I read into this; that someone at Corinth was misapplying Paul's rule and hiding behind it to justify their evils. Is that familiar to you? Paul said drink a little wine for the stomach's sake! Someone at Corinth was using these words to justify drunkenness. Have you run into that one? Now, in verse 13, down through verse twenty, Paul illustrates his rule in three ways. The first (1) statement has to do with meat and the belly. Both meat and the belly are temporal things. So, that INTENT part seldom gets in the way. Second (2) "the body is not for fornication" (middle of verse 13). That is to say, that was not the INTENT; so if you try to apply Paul's rule here, it won't work because you applied his rule with the wrong intent. You see, intentions and attitude has all to do with obeying God. Finally (3), Paul said in verse 19, "your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own?" That was God's intended use. Then verse 20 explains why that is true. Thus, you can't use your body in just any old way. You must keep in mind God's INTENT if you intend to glorify God. You may have to go over this two or three times to get this one sorted out. Since our tune is up, we'll stop here. Chapter 7 has to do with marriage problems. I'll be back with you in less #25. Until then, have a good day.