William Barclay tells us in his commentary “(The Greeks) were characteristically a litigious people. The law courts were one of their chief entertainments… In a Greek city, every man was more or less a lawyer, & spent a very great part of his time either deciding or listening to law cases.”
Sounds like today, doesn’t it? People like Judge Judy have been lifted to celebrity status, and their shows are among the most watched on cable television. The national motto of our nation seems to have changed from “In God we trust” to “See you in court!”
Unfortunately, the statistics of Christians taking one another to court is not much better than the world. In his book Inappropriate Legal Actions, Doug Goins writes:
“Christian neighbors are suing each other. Christian faculty members are now filing suit against the administrations of Christian schools. Churches are suing one another. Churches are suing their pastors, and vice versa. Brothers and sisters in the family of God are actually pressing charges, demanding their rights, sometimes to the exclusion of any attempt to reconcile face-to-face. We are a culture gone mad.”
It is this kind of problem that Paul addresses here in our study today.
6.1 Dare any of you (Lit. How dare you? What are you thinking?), having a matter (case, dispute) against another, go to law before the unjust, and not before the saints?
Keep in mind that the kind of lawsuit Paul is talking about would have been handled before the public, in the open marketplace. When court was held in Corinth, the parties were obliged to appear that had a civil suit to bring. For the purpose of resolving matters, the contending parties could then select a number of men from the list of the nobles whose names were entered in the rolls as possible judges; for according to Roman custom the contending parties were granted this right in order that they might place full confidence in the integrity of the men who were to act as judges.
Paul is using this term unjust in a religious sense, not a moral sense. Unjust, in the sense of meaning, “not justified before God, not saved.” He is not suggesting that all of the judges in Corinth were evil. He is simply saying that they were not Christians.
Dare any of you? What a horrible witness for the body of Christ to be found wrangling and disputing before a Gentile court of unsaved judges and spectators, while at the same time confessing to be followers of the Prince of Peace Who has given unto us the ministry of reconciliation!
By their actions and bad attitudes towards one another, the unsaved concluded that those who professed to have new life in Jesus Christ were really no different than anyone else. Whether we want to hear it or not, the unsaved world in part determines the validity of the gospel of Jesus Christ by the evidence of His power working in and through our lives and how we treat one another.
The Spirit anointed counsel of Paul is this: when one of you has a dispute with another believer, how dare you file a lawsuit and ask a secular court to decide the matter instead of taking it to other believers. And he qualifies their ability to do that by the statements that we read in the next 2 verses.
6.2 Do ye not know that the saints shall judge the world? and if the world shall be judged by you, are ye unworthy (incompetent) to judge the smallest matters?
6.3 Know ye not that we shall judge angels? how much more things that pertain to this life?
Do you not know? 6 times in this chapter Paul is going to repeat this question. And the question is implying that they did know. They had the knowledge, but failed to apply it to their lives. The purpose of Scripture is that we might apply it’s truth to our lives.
We shall judge the world & angels. I do not have a clue as to exactly how or in what capacity we will judge the world and fallen angels. But this much I do know. Scriptures teach that we shall rule and reign with Him on the earth during the 1,000 year reign of Christ.
Psalm 149.5-9 Let the saints be joyful in glory: let them sing aloud upon their beds. Let the high praises of God be in their mouth, and a twoedged sword in their hand; To execute vengeance upon the heathen, and punishments upon the people; To bind their kings with chains, and their nobles with fetters of iron; To execute upon them the judgment written: this honour have all his saints. Praise ye the Lord
Matthew 19.28 And Jesus said unto them (the disciples), Verily I say unto you, That ye which have followed me, in the regeneration when the Son of man shall sit in the throne of his glory, ye also shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.
Revelation 20.4 And I saw thrones, and they sat upon them, and judgment was given unto them: and I saw the souls of them that were beheaded for the witness of Jesus, and for the word of God, and which had not worshipped the beast, neither his image, neither had received his mark upon their foreheads, or in their hands; and they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years.
Do you not know? Since they were taught that as saints (that is all who are in Christ), they were going to judge the world and angels, Paul tells the Corinthians, “Can’t you go before The Lord, seek His face and resolve these issues among yourselves? Shouldn’t you be able to settle these kinds of disputes within the church?”
Smallest matters- Many scholars believe that these small matters were disputes were over money or property issues. Things related to our day-to-day life on earth.
Please keep in mind, beloved, that Paul is not attacking the validity or necessity of secular courts. In Romans 13:3-4, Paul says that it is appropriate for the state to handle criminal cases. Christians should, however, be able to handle civil cases among themselves. Scripture reveals to us that Paul showed by his actions that he was not against all legal action. In Acts 22:25 and 25:10-11, he appealed to Roman courts for his rights. His concern was that followers of Jesus Christ were using the court system to air one another’s dirty laundry and a place to settle their personal monetary and property disputes instead of going to the body of Christ!
It is so sad to Christians air their dirty laundry on social media for the entire world to see. Out of the abundance of the heart Facebook posts! Too many saints spend far too much time of social media. Go visit an elderly saint or someone who is sick.
6.4 If then ye have judgments of things pertaining to this life, set them to judge who are least esteemed in the church. 6.5 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?
We learned last Sunday that Paul told them in the last chapter to purge out the old leaven. The old leaven is the old life or the old way of doing things. Granted, there may indeed have been some problems between these saints over issues of money and property. But the question that Paul repeats over and over is why are you insisting on handling these kinds of matters like you did before you were saved? Why are you going to the world to solve your disputes instead of the church? His intention of telling them this was not to condemn them, but to shame them. He then asks them, “Isn’t there anyone in all the church who is wise enough to decide these issues?”
What a blow to their pride! These are the ones who are so very wise. These are the ones so quick to judge Paul and find him wanting. These very saints can proudly follow one leader and condemn the rest. Where are these Corinthian “wise ones” and critics when they are needed?
6.6 But brother goeth to law with brother, and that before (in front of) the unbelievers.
Paul tells then that it is fundamentally and morally wrong when brother goes to law against brother.
6.7 Now therefore there is utterly a fault among you, because ye go to law one with another. ( the very fact that you have lawsuits among you means you have been completely defeated already) Why do ye not rather take wrong? why do ye not rather suffer yourselves to be defrauded? 6.8 Nay, ye do wrong, and defraud, and that your brethren.
For the carnal, competitive Corinthians, the old way of living was all about winning and losing. Lawsuits were about winning and losing. That old leaven had crept into the church.
Once again, I am absolutely certain that if there were crimes committed that revealed a threat to others; then these believers would be under moral responsibility to seek the authority of the human courts so that punishment and imprisonment would protect others. But by using the words defraud and defrauded, we understand that the legal issues these believers had with one another were related to financial or property business dealings.
Paul insists that going to court with a fellow-believer in such cases is a no-win situation—a “total defeat.” Their persistence and insisting on litigation in court instead of in the church was a demonstration of greed, animosity, and a desire for revenge or retaliation.
Reconciliation is the goal of the Christian gospel. Retribution or restitution is the goal of litigation. Reconciliation can be initiated immediately; litigation drags on endlessly.
Let me quote some Scripture that speaks directly to this matter.
Matthew 5.38,39 Ye have heard that it hath been said, An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth: But I say unto you, That ye resist not evil: but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also. And if any man will sue thee at the law, and take away thy coat, let him have thy cloke also
To let yourselves be cheated for the sake of Christ’s Name and honor is to turn the other cheek.
Take wrong (vs 7); wrong (vs 8). The word that is translated wrong is the same Greek verb that Paul used in verse 1 to describe the “unjust” judges. Once again, with fatherly love and apostolic authority, Paul is telling the Corinthians that by handling matters their own way instead of God’s way, they are acting more like unbelievers than followers of The Living God.
Why not suffer wrong? In other words, it is preferable for a follower of Jesus Christ to lose his money rather, than lose their testimony and bring shame to The Name of Jesus Christ.
Beloved, always seek to do what is right in the sight of The Lord and leave all of the results and consequences, good or bad, up to Him.
6.9 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, 6.10 Nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God.
Don’t be deceived- Paul seeks here to awaken these people to any false security they may have as being a Christian by simply attending the services of this church. Some may have embraced Christianity as a system of doctrine in their head, but not as a rule of life in their heart.
As we saw last Sunday, there were some in Corinth who were deceived into believing that even if they were unfaithful to Christ, abandoning their relationship with Him and defying Him through immoral or unjust behavior, their salvation and inheritance in God’s kingdom were still secure. Paul repeats this same sobering warning often (e. g., Gal 5:19-21 and Eph 5:5-6).
Who will not inherit the kingdom of God?
Fornicators- Gr. Pornos- it is translated fornicator 5x, whoremonger 5x. This refers to any form of sexual immorality.
Idolaters- Worshipper of false gods. This could be a guy who likes his electronics more than God; or a gal who likes her shoes more than God; or a pastor who loves his library and theology more than God.
Adulterers- A married person who engages is sex with anyone who is not their spouse. What did Jesus say adultery is for any Pharisees who may be in our midst today?
Effeminate- a male who submits his body to unnatural lewdness. Catamite, a male who submits to homosexuals.
Abusers of themselves with mankind- Sodomite: one who lies with a male as with a female, homosexual. Those who exchange and corrupt normal male- female sexual roles and relations.
Thieves- a stealer or embezzler
Covetous- Pleon is the basic word for more in quantity, quality, and number. Pleonazo means to do more, make more, or increase. Pleonekteo means to overreach. Pleonexia is avarice. Pleonektes means a greedy covetousness so eager for gain that it will defraud others. A person consumed with pleonektes will violate laws for unlawful gain. He will cunningly forge ahead at others’ expense. Eph. 5:3 tells us covetousness is idolatry. Idolatry is an aggravated form of self- love motivated by ego.
Drunkards- A person who repeatedly sits long at the drink and is intoxicated.
Revilers-People who use their words to destroy others with words.
Extortioners- Extortioners and embezzlers are individuals who steal indirectly, taking unfair advantage of others for their own financial gain.
Paul is not saying that a single transgression will cause a person to lose his salvation. What he is saying is that no one who can allow him or herself the indulgence of known sin in this life can be saved. Mere mental assent to doctrines or to the facts of the atonement or gospel of The Lordship of Jesus Christ is not sufficient for salvation.
Let me read to you 1 John 3.4-10 from the ESV
Everyone who makes a practice of sinning also practices lawlessness; sin is lawlessness. You know that he appeared in order to take away sins, and in him there is no sin. No one who abides in him keeps on sinning; no one who keeps on sinning has either seen him or known him. Little children, let no one deceive you. Whoever practices righteousness is righteous, as he is righteous. Whoever makes a practice of sinning is of the devil, for the devil has been sinning from the beginning. The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the works of the devil. No one born of God makes a practice of sinning, for God’s seed abides in him, and he cannot keep on sinning because he has been born of God. By this it is evident who are the children of God, and who are the children of the devil: whoever does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor is the one who does not love his brother
Persistence in wickedness and sinful behavior is an indication that a persons “faith” is false and that they have no place in the kingdom. People who live like this are lost.
6.11 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.
Such were some of you- Here Paul cites the fact that there were some in Corinth who were formerly described in the list of sins listed in verse 10.
The word but here is used by The Holy Spirit to reveal the stark contrast the old life and new life in Christ.
2 Corinthians 5.17 Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.
Washed – This refers to the regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit that purifies a person from their past sins (Titus 3:5).
Sanctified – This is a word for being set apart. It is our conversion to God that sets us apart for Him. We are sanctified or set apart from the world, the devil, and our sinful nature. We are set apart for The Masters use.
Justified – This is a term conveys the fact of a believer’s new standing before God as guiltless for our sin (Rom. 5:1). Just as if I’ve never sinned.
By The Spirit of our God- The Holy Spirit is the agent of salvation’s transformation (cf. John 3:3–5)
The gospel is about sinners who are turned from a lifestyle of sin to lifestyle of holiness and righteousness. The gospel is about turning away from the sins which once dominated us. It is one of the greatest comforts for the Christian. What we were as unbelievers, we are not now as Christians. Our sins of the past are not only forgiven, God forgets them.
These passages today gave us a clear censure and condemnation of a list of sinful lifestyles that will not inherit the kingdom of God. Paul repeats them in Galatians 5, Ephesians 5 and Colossians 3.
In light of the recent Supreme Court decision to legalize same sex marriage, it is clear that among those sins is homosexuality. Those who would like to justify the practice of homosexuality today want us to believe that Paul is speaking of homosexual prostitution, not a “loving, caring homosexual relationship.” But taken in context, there is no doubt God is speaking of homosexual acts of all kinds. This is not a new sin.
It was called sin in Sodom in the book of Genesis. It was called sin in the book of Judges 19. It was sin in the books of Leviticus and Deuteronomy. It is still sin today. That is not hate speech. That is agreeing with Scripture.
In the book of Romans 1.26-28 For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections: for even their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature: And likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another; men with men working that which is unseemly, and receiving in themselves that recompence of their error which was meet. And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient.
Reprobate does not mean beyond the power of God to save. If God’s Word exposed a sin this morning that would disqualify you from inheriting the kingdom of God. I have great news for you. Christ Jesus died for sinners. He died for the ungodly. He died to destroy the works of the devil, not man.
The gospel message is that God sent His Son Jesus Christ to die on the cross to taste death for every man. Some people think that adulterers, fornicators, homosexuals, drunkards and thieves are beyond the power of God to save or deliver from.
Keep in mind that some of the Corinthians were once these people. So were many of you, myself for sure. But the good news is that there is hope in The Lord Jesus Christ for every kind of sinner, and every kind of sin; and when that sinner repents of his sin and turns to Jesus Christ, he or she need never turn back. Will you trust Him today?
Psalm 86.5 For thou, Lord, art good, and ready to forgive; and plenteous in mercy unto all them that call upon thee