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Scripture reading – 1 Corinthians 6; 1 Corinthians 7

We continue our study of 1 Corinthians, and come to a passage that is extremely relevant to our day. The focus of the devotional is 1 Corinthians 6, and I begin with a brief overview of that chapter, before tackling the subject of today’s devotional: Is it right to sue a fellow believer in a secular court of law? (6:1-8)

1 Corinthians 6

The Believer’s Call to Purity (6:9-11)

The matter of one’s behavior or lifestyle is the subject Paul addressed in verses 9-11. Paul asked, “Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God?” (6:9). With that question, Paul then admonished: “Be not deceived” (6:9). Don’t believe a lie or be misled by the culture; “fornicators [sexually immoral], nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate [homosexuals], nor abusers of themselves with mankind [sodomites]” will not inherit eternal life (6:9). Sexual sins are not only a violation of God’s law and commandments, they are a violation of our relationship with Christ.

Moving from the sins of sexual depravity, Paul warned, “Nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God” (6:10). Paul reminded believers they were saved out of their sinful lifestyles, and “washed [forgiven]…sanctified [set apart to be holy]…[and] justified [declared righteous] in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God” (6:11)

The Believer’s Liberty in Christ (6:12-20)

While all sin is wrong and a violation of God’s Law, sexual sins were revealed to be especially egregious to God, and detrimental to the believer. Corinth was a wicked, immoral culture, and some professed to be followers of Christ, who continued in immoral conduct. Paul warned, “the body is not for fornication, but for the Lord” (6:13). The apostle taught, because a believer’s body is a “member of Christ” (6:15), we are not to defile our body with sexual sins (6:15-17).

Paul exhorted, “flee fornication” and warned: “Every sin that a man doeth is without the body; but he that committeth fornication sinneth against his own body” (6:18). While all sins are wrong, sexual sins are destructive to body, soul, and spirit. Because a believer’s body is the “temple of the Holy Ghost” (6:19), we are to keep our bodies holy and sexually pure. We have been redeemed, and “bought with a price” (the precious blood of Christ, 6:20; 1 Peter 1:18-19). Therefore, we are under obligation to glorify God in our body, and spirit (6:20).

Paul proposed five questions to address how legal disputes between believers are to be resolved. (6:1-8)

The first question was an insinuation: “Dare any of you, having a matter against another, go to law before the unjust, and not before the saints?” (6:1) In other words, when a believer comes before an “unjust” (unsaved) judge with a lawsuit of any kind, the unjust cannot rule justly, because he rules from an unjust or “Lawless” position.

The next question was a prophetic revelation: “Do ye not know that the saints shall judge the world?” (6:2a) When Christ comes and sits in judgment of the world, believers will not only witness His judgment, but will sit in judgment of the world (Revelation 3:21; Daniel 7:22). Paul continued, “if the world shall be judged by you, are ye unworthy to judge [i.e., among yourselves] the smallest matters?” (6:2b). Paul revealed how believers will sit in judgment of the fallen angels (6:3a; 2 Peter 2:4; Jude 6). Once again, the apostle asked, how is it you cannot pass judgment on matters in this life? (6:3b)

The implication was: Because believers will judge the world and the fallen angels in eternity, surely, we should find believers who are spiritually discerning, and humble enough to seek God’s guidance in judging matters between believers (6:4). Paul then declared, “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?” (6:5)

Paul was jealous for the reputation of Christ and the Gospel, and condemned those who took disagreements before secular, unbelieving judges (6:6-7a). In doing so, believers not only hurt the testimony of Christ, but proved they lacked faith to trust God to intercede, and render justice in His way and time. In other words, it is better to suffer wrong, than be bitter and vindictive (6:7b-8).

Closing thought – While believers should not take another believer before a secular judge, we should expect the church will address a sinning believer. Should they not repent and make whole the hurt or damage they caused, the church has the responsibility to discipline, and declare the unrepentant believer “a heathen man and a publican” (Matthew 18:17). Tragically, the failure of the church and its leadership to intercede, often precipitates lawsuits between believers.

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Copyright © 2022 – Travis D. Smith

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