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Lowell Brueckner

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1 Corinthians 6


 Chapter 6

Not living up to spiritual potential

1.      When one of you has a grievance against another, does he dare go to law before the unrighteous instead of the saints?
2.      Or do you not know that the saints will judge the world? And if the world is to be judged by you, are you incompetent to try trivial cases?
3.      Do you not know that we are to judge angels? How much more, then, matters pertaining to this life!
4.      So if you have such cases, why do you lay them before those who have no standing in the church?
5.      I say this to your shame. Can it be that there is no one among you wise enough to settle a dispute between the brothers,
6.      But brother goes to law against brother, and that before unbelievers?
7.      To have lawsuits at all with one another is already a defeat for you. Why not rather suffer wrong? Why not rather be defrauded?
8.      But you yourselves wrong and defraud – even you own brothers!

Our time on earth is short… that is for sure! “What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes” (Jm.4:14). Earthly life is a vapor, a gas, the most unstable of all forms of matter. You cannot grasp it; it is temporal and always changing.  Job made several statements about it (Job 7:6-7; 9:25-26; 14:1-2) and the Psalmist followed with still more verses on the theme. Here is one example: “Behold, you have made my days a few handbreadths, and my lifetime is as nothing before you. Surely all mankind stands as a mere breath!” (Ps.39:5; study also Ps.89:47; 90:5-7; and 102:3). I was not yet two-years-old, when I was taught this verse in Peter: “All flesh is like grass and all its glory like the flower of grass. The grass withers, and the flower falls” (1 P.1:24). Jonathan Edwards wrote:

Where will all of our worldly enjoyments be, when we are laid in the silent grave?
Resolved, to live as I shall wish I had done, when I come to die.
Resolved, to live as I shall wish I had done, ten thousand ages hence.
Lord, stamp eternity on my eyeballs!

Paul shames the Corinthian church for their shortsightedness. What would he say to us today? Study his passionate logic, as he points ahead to the millennium:  “Do you not know that the saints will judge the world?” He views the heavenly authority of the saints: “Do you not know that we are to judge angels?”

How much weight the Corinthians gave to the world’s experts, lawyers and judges in this case! Paul points to the wisdom of God, given to the church through the word. The Psalmist states it: “I have more understanding than all my teachers, for your testimonies are my meditation” (Ps.119:99). Paul has already said, “You have the mind of Christ” (2:16). Why don’t we live up to our potential in Christ? 

These verses are meant to honor Holy Spirit-given wisdom to the church. In verse 1, Paul states that that wisdom is greater than that of the unrighteous. In verse 2, he says that it is competent and in verse 3, it fully serves the church in this life. In verse 4, he asks, “Why do you go to those outside the church?” However, in verse 5, he raises a doubt, as to whether the Corinthians are at all living on the level, where they can carry out spiritual principle: “Can it be that there is no one among you wise enough to settle a dispute between the brothers.”  Of course, outside supernatural endowments, we are only left with man’s ability, which is no better, than what we find in the world. No one can recommend reliance on carnal means, no matter if we find it inside or outside the church.

Because of eternity, he also shows that earthly status is to be of little concern: “Why not rather be defrauded?” Because they focus on earthly life and because they fall short of perceiving their position in Christ, there is a grievance between two brothers in Corinth.  It is civil war! It is a family feud, an attempt to gain advantage over another member of Christ’s body.

They are already defeated by their selfish motivations. Someone in the crowd following Christ tried to bring Jesus into the matter of his personal inheritance. He would have nothing to do with it: “Man, who made me a judge or arbitrator over you?” (Lk.12:14). His mission was not to bring His followers to earthly success. Why not just take the loss for the short time upon earth? I beg of you, have nothing to do with teachers, who focus on prosperity in this life! Shut them off; they damage your soul! “Set your minds on things that are above, not  on things that are on earth” (Col.3:2). A teacher of the word is never on more sure biblical ground, than when he turns people’s vision off the earth and towards heaven. 

Once again, as in the last chapter, I remind you that New Testament teaching does not eliminate judging. I will say that it condemns the person, who judges another, while he is blind to his own faults and sins. However, even as Christ taught that principle in Matthew 7, He concluded by saying, "Then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother's eye" (Mt.7:5). That means that Jesus knew that there needs to be clear spiritual perception, in order to see and remove faults among brethren. Paul's teaching in chapters 5 and 6, is some of the clearest in Scripture about the need for spiritual judgment in the church. It is not only permitted: it is essential. Only the devil, the author of phony tolerance and false love, would have it otherwise.  

                                                   Powerful moral perversion in Corinth
9.      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, at least, suspects, if he is not convinced, that there are unregenerate participants in the church in Corinth and some have been teaching false doctrine. He actually states in 15:34, “For some have no knowledge of God. I say this to your shame.” He warned the elders in Ephesus, “From among your own selves will arise men speaking twisted things, to draw away the disciples after them” (Ac.20:30). Even if they are within the church, the spiritual principle in verse 9 stands true, “The unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God”.

It is an unpleasant, but indisputable fact that, within the church, there are false disciples, which Jesus illustrated as tares or weeds. In the Lord’s field, the Kingdom of God, these weeds are purposely sown by the enemy: “While his men were sleeping, his enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat” (Mt.13:25). The difference between the tares and the wheat was not evident until the fruit appeared: “So when the plants came up and bore grain, then the weeds appeared also” (Mt.13:26), but they were tares from the day that they were planted.

The apostle John wrote his first epistle to give proof of true Christianity, because he knew there were unconverted professors among the true believers: “They went out from us, but they were not of us” (1 Jn.2:19). Throughout the letter, he gives indisputable proof of real spiritual life. We will only notice one piece of evidence, because it confirms what Paul teaches in the verse we are considering: “You may be sure that everyone who practices righteousness has been born of him… Whoever practices righteousness is righteous, as he is righteous… whoever does not practice righteousness is not of God” (1 Jn.2:29; 3:7, 10).

Some of the unrighteous practices are named in verses 9 and 10. You will want to examine each item in the list. I want now to single out only one, due to the perverse days and teachings, to which we are exposed. It is necessary that real Christians continue to be absolutely certain that the Bible clearly forbids all homosexual and lesbian activity. This has been common knowledge, unquestioned throughout the history of the church. We see the perilous times, in which we live, when in the nominal church, such filth is tolerated, even among the leadership. Homosexuals are placed as pastors in various denominations.

Perversion is the misuse of God’s intentions in the creation of nature. We will go back to the beginning of time to learn His purpose in marriage: “Then the Lord God said, ‘It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him…’ Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh” (Ge.2:18 and 24). This is the one natural way, in which children can be conceived and by which a family can form. Where a civilized country proclaims freedom of religion as a human right, no one, whose religion is according to the Bible, should ever be forbidden to believe in biblical marriage, or for teaching against that, which the Bible declares to be perverse.

The cities of Sodom and Gomorrah were destroyed because of homosexual activity (Ge.19:1-11:24-29) and the tribe of Benjamin came close to eradication, not only for homosexual activity, but for tolerating it (Jdg.19:22-28; 20:12-14; 21:1-3). Throughout the Old Testament, God condemns it. There are two passages of the Levitical law, in which God forbids the practice, 18:22: "You shall not lie with a male as with a woman; it is an abomination" and 20:13: "If a man lies with a male as with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination; they shall surely be put to death; their blood is uponb them." In the New Testament, in the first chapter of Romans, Paul expressed that sexual activity between two men or two women is a curse upon mankind: “The wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men… women exchanged natural relations for those that are contrary to nature (perversion); and the men likewise gave up natural relations with women and were consumed with passion for one another, men committing shameless acts with men…” (Ro.1:18, 26, 27).

Parenthetically, I want to point to Paul’s mention of shameless acts. “It is shameful even to speak of the things that they do in secret,” he stated in Ephesians 5:12, so he didn’t describe these shameless acts. I’m also ashamed to directly state, exactly, what acts are performed among homosexuals. Revelation 22:15 states that “dogs and sorcerers and the sexually immoral and murderers and idolaters”, are outside the New Jerusalem. Dogs are a biblical term for homosexuals; in other words, theirs is animal behavior and not human. Let’s look at Deuteronomy 23:17-18: “None of the daughters of Israel shall be a cult prostitute, and none of the sons of Israel shall be a cult prostitute. You shall not bring the fee of a prostitute or the wages of a dog (Hebrew dictionary, keleb… a dog; by euphemism, a male prostitute) into the house of the Lord your God in payment for any vow, for both of these are an abomination to the Lord your God.”

Another term that translators use for a homosexual is sodomite (see 1 K.14:24; 15:12; 22:46; 2 K.23:7). Of course it refers to the awful behavior of the men of Sodom, which brought about their destruction. Today, the perverse crowd likes to term an anti-homosexual position as homophobia. However, it has nothing to do with phobia or fear: a better term would be homo-nausea. I was probably less than 20-years-old, watching a late night talk show, sometime in the early 1960s. A guest was a Methodist minister, who mentioned that he had gone to a homosexual dance, in an effort to understand the homosexual. The host asked him sarcastically, “And it didn’t make you sick?” He would probably be thrown in jail today for asking the question; certainly he would lose his job. The truth is, homosexuality should turn anyone’s stomach. In Leviticus 18:25, God said that even the "land vomited out its inhabitants", because of their perverse acts. 

There were sinners of all kinds in the immoral city of Corinth, where its multi-cultural population, many freed slaves, military veterans, and the poverty-stricken, led to lack of moral principle. Worse, perhaps, was the fact that Corinth had two harbors and entertained sailors from far and wide, providing them with all, for which they lusted, far away from home. Corinth needed a powerful gospel and that is what the apostle brought. The good news is that this gospel can transform any man or woman’s heart and thereby drastically change his or her behavior. For this reason, we must insist that supernatural power not be removed from 21st Century Christianity, because of the great spiritual darkness and immorality that surrounds on all sides.

They were washed, sanctified and justified perfectly, through the finished work of Christ and His cross, and through the agency of the Holy Spirit. God’s Spirit was in Corinth personally to apply the work of the cross to the lives of all, who would trust Christ.

Be dominated only by the Holy Spirit

12.  “All things are lawful for me,” but not all things are helpful. “All things are lawful for me,” but I will not be dominated by anything.
13.  “Food is meant for the stomach and the stomach for food”– and God will destroy both one and the other. The body is not meant for sexual immorality, but for the Lord, and the Lord for the body.
14.  And God raised the Lord and will also raise us up by his power.
15.  Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ? Shall I then take the members of Christ and make them members of a prostitute? Never!
16.  Or do you not know that he who is joined to a prostitute becomes one body with her? For, as it is written, “The two will become one flesh.”
17.  But he who is joined to the Lord becomes one spirit with him.
18.  Flee from sexual immorality. Every other sin a person commits is outside the body, but the sexually immoral person sins against his own body.
19.  Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own,
20.  for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.

Beginning in verse 12, the apostle changes directions somewhat, when he says that “all things are lawful”. He is certainly not referring to the list of practices in verse 9 and 10, which are contrary to the law of God. They are unlawful for everyone. Warren Wiersbe thinks that Paul may be using a popular term in Corinth, “based on a false view of Christian freedom. As Christians, we must ask ourselves, 'Will this enslave me? Is this activity really profitable for my spiritual life?’”

We have certain normal, lawful desires that must be carefully controlled. Paul said that he will not allow these desires to dominate him. “Food is meant for the stomach and the stomach for food”, may have been another maxim used in secular Corinth. It meant, if God gave the appetite, then the satisfaction of that appetite must be legitimate. It allowed for unhampered feasting. Paul added his own proverb to that: “God will destroy both one and the other.” His destruction may come through physical laws inherent in the body, which, if they are ignored, will destroy the one, who does not respect them. However, Paul is pointing, especially, to the mortal state of our present body and to the temporal condition of this planet and everything on it.

Should any believer miss the point Paul has made, he states plainly, “The body is not meant for sexual immorality.” The far higher and holy Christian purpose follows: The body has been created to give glory to its Creator. It shines as a light in this world for all to see and God gives strength to the body, in order to fulfill that purpose (13).

Paul makes a brief reference to the New Testament doctrine of the resurrection of the body. Christ died and was physically raised from the dead, as a first fruits, a guarantee to the believer that a general resurrection will follow. Just as the mighty power of God raised up Christ, in the same way, He will raise up the bodies of the members of His church. The bodies that are placed in the ground to rest, will be restored and given immortality. He is referring to the unlimited power of the Almighty; there is no room for doubt (14).

God holds Creator’s rights to our body, just as he does to our soul and spirit, and Christ holds redemptive rights. Those rights are expressed in the greatest commandment: “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength(Mk.12:30). Every part of your body, with the strength of its function, belongs to Christ. The members of our bodies are joined to Him. It is woefully disgraceful to take His possession and join it to a prostitute. Paul said that this should never happen even once! (15) The principle follows: Physical, sexual union makes two bodies become one in the eyes of God. This happens in marriage, but in a deeper sense, because there is a lifelong commitment, but it also happens outside of marriage (16), in a lesser sense, and it is a grievous insult to the Lord.

Other sins are external, but sexual sin is very personal and involves the entire personality, so that deep consequences will result. Solomon gives us more detail: “People do not despise a thief if he steals to satisfy his appetite when he is hungry, but if he is caught, he will pay sevenfold; he will give all the goods of his house. He who commits adultery lacks sense; he who does it destroys himself. He will get wounds and dishonor, and his disgrace will not be wiped away” (Pr.6:30-33).

To state an even more binding union, in yielding ourselves in submission to the Lord, our spirit is made perfectly one with Him. The spirit or the heart of man is the controlling factor of his life, which means that it should bring every part of his being under Christ. The union with Christ is more binding than a physical union (17). Obey the Lord through the newly-created heart. His command is to run in the opposite direction from fornication: “Flee from sexual immorality!” Running away is the only defense. (Potiphar’s wife) caught (Joseph) by his garment, saying, ‘Lie with me.’ But he left his garment in her hand and fled and got out of the house” (Ge.39:12). Joseph could not run away from the desire in his body, so he had to run away from the temptation. Solomon observed a young man lacking sense, who did otherwise: “Passing along the street near her corner, taking the road to her house” (Pr.7:8). He was looking for trouble and it came to him; it didn’t have to travel far (18).

Paul said it was a great mystery that God should come to live as a man in a human body (1 T.3:16). However, that body was prepared by God and it was sinless. Here is another great mystery: “The Spirit of truth… dwells with you and will be in you” (Jn.14:17). He has been sent by the Father and the Son to inhabit bodies, which have been tainted with sin. They are imperfect bodies, capable of falling (19). Nevertheless, Christ spoke the truth. It is the most magnificent privilege known to man that God, the Holy Spirit, should come into man and make his home there. It must be understood, however, that He has come to take control of a purchased possession. The Lord Jesus Christ bought us with the price of blood on an old, rugged cross, and we belong to Him (20).

Paul shared all these truths with the church. He does not want the Corinthians to be ignorant of them, and neither does the Holy Spirit, who inspired him, want us to be ignorant. There is power in the knowledge of spiritual truth, when it is studied, under the direction of the indwelling Holy Spirit, believed and received, so that it becomes a part of our lives.

Please notice with me the times in this chapter that Paul asks the question, “Do you not know?” “Do you not know that the saints will judge the world? (2) Or are you ignorant of the Millennium? “Do you not know that we are to judge angels?” (3). The fallen, accusing angels which cause us so much trouble, will one day stand before the saints to be judged. “Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God?” (9) Don’t you know that the believer is not only forgiven, put given power to live a righteous life? “Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ?” (15) Every part of your physical being belongs to Christ for His glory. “Do you not know that he who is joined to a prostitute becomes one body with her?” (16) Immorality is more than physical pleasure; it is a union, or as it is sometimes called, a relationship. “Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit?” (19) Make it a sanctuary, where everything within is for His pleasure.


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