August 1, 2012 – Devotion Sharing (1 Corinthians 6)

Submitted by Gary C. from Gracepoint Davis Church

1 Corinthians 6:1-8

  • How should disputes be handled among believers according to this passage? 
  • How does having lawsuits at all among believers already represent “defeat”? 
  • How does the Gospel enable Christians to respond as Apostle Paul suggests–-to rather be wronged?
  • Are there grievances and disputes that I have against my fellow believers that I am taking to the wrong people for judgment, or in which I am seeking justice and to be proved right? 
  • In what current relationships do I need to apply the exhortation “why not rather suffer wrong?”

How should disputes be handled among believers?  Paul points out regarding the presence of lawsuits among believers in the Corinthian church that disputes among people of the church should be judged, adjudicated, resolved and settled within the church.  Paul points out that even those who have no standing in the church would be preferable to settling disputes in the church than to bring the matter to some non-believing arbiter to decide.  The reasons are twofold: (1) In v. 2-3 Paul tells the Corinthians that the saints will judge the world and even angels.  Given that, how much more matters pertaining to this life!  So the church should have people of sufficient spiritual maturity and wisdom who would be able to settle disputes without brothers and sisters having to resort to seek judgment from people outside the church.  (2) Paul points out, and the main reason for why he was so aghast, that to bring disputes to the people outside is a terrible testimony to the Gospel and to God.  From Paul’s perspective, every Christian’s goal in life and that of every church should be to glorify God and to advance the Gospel to people who do not know and have not heard, so that we can carry out the Great Commission and “make disciples of all nations.”  But when these people see that people of the church, those who have the Gospel are behaving no differently from the people of this world in their grievances toward each other, their bickering, disunity and lack of love and generosity for each other–what a turnoff that is to anybody who may be remotely interested in seeking God, hearing the Gospel or going to church!  So Paul says rather than through our self-centeredness and sins present such a terrible witness to the world, it would be better to have people of no standing in the church to settle such disputes (v.4), or even just be wronged or defrauded (v.7).  Why?  So that the Gospel and God’s name would not be tarnished to the people outside.

And so, Paul says in v. 7, having lawsuits with one another is already a defeat for the church, because as fellow Christ followers and brothers and sisters to each other we are supposed to love each other.  This was Jesus’ command to the church so that all men would know that we are his disciples (John 13:34-35).  So if we are to love each other as Jesus has loved us, then there ought to be grace and generosity in our midst for how we treat one another, there ought to be mutual forgiveness and forbearance, instead of the unloving, calculating, exacting spirit of who is right and who is wronged behind lawsuits.

Moreover, if the church is supposed to be the body of Christ, then the body of Christ having lawsuits among members of the body shows to the world that the body is already divided and therefore defeated, not to mention the terrible disservice to the Gospel and to God’s name this serves.

So Paul says in v. 7, “Why not rather suffer wrong?”  The Gospel enables Christians to rather be wronged because we are supposed to be the followers of our Lord who was wronged in the deepest of ways.  Jesus was rejected by everyone, betrayed by his disciples, and mistreated and crucified even though he had done nothing wrong.  So as followers of Christ, Christians should be people who can embrace in being wronged out of love and as an expression of our trust in God.  It is the better way than to seek retribution or sue one another.  Moreover, every Christian’s foundational confession is that I am somebody who has wronged God by my sins, and instead of having to pay the penalty of my sins God allowed Himself to be wronged so that I can be forgiven of my sins.  As people who have been forgiven much, I am obligated to forgive others for the lesser wrongs they do against me.

1 Corinthians 6:9-11

Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, 10 nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. 11 And such were some of you. 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.

 “Paul is not talking about isolated acts of unrighteousness, but about a whole way of life pursued persistently by those who thus indicate that they would be aliens in the kingdom of truth and light(cf. 1 John 3:4-10).” [Craig Blomberg, 1 Corinthians, The NIV Application Commentary Series (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1994) 118]

  • From v. 9, is there this kind of persistent sin in my life for which I need to repent?
  • Think about the words “and such were some of you.”  Apostle Paul lists very specifically what the Corinthians used to be. How might they have felt as they heard this list?  And, how might they have felt as they heard words like washed, sanctified, and justified, after hearing the list that described their previous life?
  • How does understanding the depth of my own sinfulness help me in my disputes with others?

When Paul reminded the Corinthians of their past lives, I wonder if hearing those words might not have caused them to cringe in their hearts and feel the shame and guilt as they recall the sins and the guilt in their lives.  But when they heard the words that they have been washed, sanctified and justified by Jesus Christ, they must have been reminded of their testimony and God’s amazing grace and mercy and their undeservedness.  They might have felt grateful, undeserving, humbled as they remember God’s goodness and mercy to them.  And as they recall their testimony of how they have been the recipients of God’s grace, they should likewise have compassion and forgiving hearts toward their fellow brothers and sisters, instead of being like the ungrateful servant in Matthew 18.

Prayer:

Dear Lord, as I stand before You as one who is forgiven of all my sins, please help me to daily have the clear perspective that I can be generous and merciful to forgive the lesser wrongs people do against me.  Instead of holding grudges or keeping people who wrong me as prisoners in my heart, please help me to be quick to forgive.  Please also help me to rather suffer being wronged than powering up and seeking to exact “justice” or revenge for the wrongs done against me. Please help me to in this way bear a powerful testimony of grace and mercy toward others as I am one who has undeservedly received grace and mercy from You.  In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Submitted by Sarah Y. from Gracepoint Davis Church

1 Corinthians 6:1-8

·      How should disputes be handled among believers according to this passage? 

According to this passage, disputes among believers should be handled before the saints, the fellow believers in the church.  We should be able to lay down our issues with each other before spiritual leaders who have standing in the church.  If we relate to each other as brothers and sisters in Christ, we should be able to deal with things in the church family with the purpose of reconciliation and unity.

·      How does having lawsuits at all among believers already represent “defeat”? 

I think that having any lawsuits at all among believers already represents “defeat” for us because we are relying on the worldly justice system as our authority over right and wrong rather than on the wisdom of God’s laws.  More than that, it shows that we aren’t able to forgive each other and reconcile because we’re stubbornly holding onto our own rights, our own desires, our own opinions on the matter.  God commands us to love one another (John 13:34) and he demonstrates that love for guilty sinners on the cross (Romans 5:8). But turning to lawsuits against each other shows that we are turning to people who are not considering godly values of love, forgiveness, mercy, grace so that we can push our own agenda.  John 13:35 says that the world will know that we are Jesus’ disciples if we love one another.  My example and witness to the world as a disciple of Christ is very weak whenever I want to hold a grudge against someone or deal with a conflict outside the boundaries of God’s love and forgiveness.

·      How does the Gospel enable Christians to respond as Apostle Paul suggests–-to rather be wronged?

The Gospel enables Christians to respond as Apostle Paul suggests—to rather be wronged—by the example we have in our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.  Jesus allowed himself to suffer wrong by taking my place on the cross and enduring the consequences of my sin.  I deserve to be dragged towards judgment for all the ways I have wronged God, but Jesus pleads on my behalf: “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing” (Luke 23:34).  Besides just choosing to forgive us, Jesus trusted the Father to make all things right in the end.  Instead of judging us, Jesus trusted that God would judge us all justly in the end.  All believers have this deep trust in the Father and are, therefore, able to love and forgive those who hurt us.  We can be wronged because of our trust that God will make all things right in the end.

Before I became a Christian eight years ago, my big issue with God was that I found it impossible to let go of my bitterness and unforgiving spirit towards those who hurt me during my childhood and at that present time.  There was no grace within me to offer to others.  It wasn’t until I was convinced by the truth of God’s word that I was a sinner who also deserved no mercy that I was able to receive God’s grace for me and learn how to forgive others.  There is great power in the Gospel to change our hearts.

I have also experienced the richness of relationships in the church through the godly commitment that others have towards me.  I have hurt people through offensive words and attitudes, but I have experienced grace and forgiveness again and again from my brothers and sisters in Christ.  In a worldly value system, my apologies would seem cheap and people would distance themselves from me in order to make me feel some pain of revenge.  However, in God’s value system, reconciliation is the goal (2 Corinthians 5:16-20) worth striving for, even at a high cost to ourselves.  I know that it is the Gospel that enables people to forgive me.

1 Corinthians 6:9-11

Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, 10 nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. 11 And such were some of you. 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.

  • Think about the words “and such were some of you.” Apostle Paul lists very specifically what the Corinthians used to be. How might they have felt as they heard this list? And, how might they have felt as they heard words like washed, sanctified, and justified, after hearing the list that described their previous life?

Apostle Paul laid it out in the open that the Corinthians were sexually immoral, idolaters, adulterers, male prostitutes, homosexual offenders, thieves, greedy, drunkards, slanderers, and swindlers. It’s one thing to just think about those words but to hear them from someone you know is very painful. I remember talking to someone I really respect and telling her about the things I wanted for my life, and she bluntly told me that I was really greedy. The words were very piercing and it stung my pride because I knew it was true and I couldn’t deny it. The Corinthians must have felt really ashamed and dirty as they heard this list of their sins from Apostle Paul.

But as they heard words like washed, sanctified, and justified after hearing the list that described their previous life, they must have felt relieved, grateful, set free amazed. Later, as I repented over my exposed greed, I also experienced a feeling of cleansing, freedom, and a weight lifted off of me.

  • How does understanding the depth of my own sinfulness help me in my disputes with others?

Understanding the depth of my own sinfulness helps me in my disputes with others because I’m no longer pinning all the blame on other people and viewing myself as the perennial victim. Instead, I’m actively looking to see how I am also at fault so that we can work together to resolve conflicts. Instead of thinking that I have the right to get revenge for the ways others hurt me, I pray for humility to acknowledge my wrongs. I see that I am also a sinner who needs a lot of mercy from others. I see that there are areas of brokenness in my life that I don’t fully understand and that others may also be reacting in ways that they don’t fully understand yet either.

Personal Prayer

Father, thank You for pouring out Your grace on me so that I can pass it on to others. If it were not for Your love demonstrated for me through Jesus Christ and through the church, my life would be filled with broken relationships because of my worldly values of protecting my pride and personal comfort. Thank You for filling my life with these rich relationships in the church based upon our shared experience of Your grace and our commitment to one another as brothers and sisters in Christ. Please help me to only grow deeper in my understanding of my sinfulness so that my understanding and appreciation of your grace grows and motivates the way I relate to others. In Jesus’ name,  Amen.

Be Sociable, Share!

Leave a Response