1st Corinthians – Wayne Barber/Part 38
By: Dr. Wayne Barber
|By: Dr. Wayne Barber; ©1998|
|You would think that when you join a church, surely you’re going to find a better bunch of people than you would find in the world. Well, hopefully, you do. But that doesn’t mean there are not going to be people who fight and grumble and that sort of thing. It doesn’t mean you’re not going to be offended. It doesn’t mean you’re not going to be harmed. It doesn’t mean that somebody’s not going to do you wrong. That’s not the issue. The issue is how you are going to respond to it.|
1 Corinthians 6:1-2
In chapter 6 we see the sin of demanding your own rights. But until we understand what the church is, we’re not going to understand why Paul says the things he says about the situation that takes place in chapter 6. The chances of somebody offending you, harming you, causing damage to your life in some way or another, emotionally, mentally or physically, in the church, is not only possible, but it’s very probable in the day that we live in.
So many people come in who say they’re believers. Maybe they’re not. We have all different levels of maturity within the body of Christ. We used to tell people at our church when they would join the church, “You will be offended when you join this church.” A lot of folks will say, “Thanks, that’s really what we’re looking for, a church in which we can be offended.” All we were trying to do was be honest.
Hey, if you’re going into the pastorate, can I go ahead and tell you, whatever church you’re going to pastor, you’re going to be offended? It’s just part of the turf. When you deal with people, you’re going to be offended. You’re going to be harmed. There are going to be things that happen to you. But, now listen to me. The things that happen to you are not the key. The key is, how are you going to respond to those people when that occurs?
Now, whatever degree, from somebody talking about you to something even much more serious, as we’ll see as we study through chapter 6, you’ve got to understand the principle that we’re going to introduce this chapter with. First Corinthians 1:11 shows us there can be conflict in the church. There can be difficult situations that occur within the body of Christ. Paul says, “For I have been informed concerning you, my brethren, by Chloe’s people, that there are quarrels among you.” That word “quarrel” isn’t a friendly little argument. That word “quarrel” is a very heated, difficult situation. He said, “I’ve already heard about this.”
If you will look over at 3:3 you see some other indications of it. Verse 3 of chapter 3 says, “for you are still fleshly. For since there is jealousy and strife.” And those two are always together. Jealousy is the inward something that’s just bothering you, and strife is the outward symptom of that: contention with one another, always fighting and grumbling and all this kind of thing. Then the word “division” is added, although not in the New American Standard translation. It’s in the Textus Receptus and in the King James. I think it’s important. The word “division” means to stand apart from somebody with your feet down and you’re ready to fight. That’s the idea. Paul says, “This is going on among you.”
Now, you would think that when you join a church, surely you’re going to find a better bunch of people than that. Well, hopefully, you do. But that doesn’t mean there are not going to be people like this in every church. It doesn’t mean you’re not going to be offended. It doesn’t mean you’re not going to be harmed. It doesn’t mean that somebody’s not going to do you wrong. That’s not the issue. The issue is how you are going to respond to it.
Before you determine your response let’s go back to chapter 1 and remind ourselves of a few things. When we first got into 1 Corinthians I told you something. I said in 1 Corinthians 1:2-9 you have a grid through which you are to look at this book. I said that this grid is going to keep coming up over and over and over again. You cannot understand this part without understanding this grid in verses 2-9 of chapter 1. Let me just show you a few things about it that will help you as we get into chapter 6.
In verse 2 he says, “To the church of God which is at Corinth.” Now remember, ekklesia means the called out ones. The moment you tell somebody you’re a believer, that you’re a part of God’s church down here on this earth, it means you have been called out of the world and their way of doing things and into Christ and His way of doing things.
I could stop right there and go into chapter 6 and maybe you’d understand: you don’t do the things like the world does it any more. We’re called out of that way of living. In John 14 Jesus said, “I am the… truth and the life.” But He says something else, “I’m the way.” When you’re called into Christ, you do it His way. We’re the called out ones.
One of the first things the world notices about our behavior is that we don’t act like them in any given situation of our life. We are a unique community of human beings. We’re in a class all by ourselves. We are human, but there’s something about us.
He goes on to say in verse 2, “To the church of God which is at Corinth, to those who have been sanctified in Christ Jesus, saints by calling.” He tells us right here what class we’ve been put into. We’ve been set apart by His grace, taken out of Adam and washed by His blood and put over here into Christ. So amongst all the human beings who live on this earth, all of the educated and intelligent people who are out there who don’t know Jesus Christ, we are in a class all by ourselves. We go out and mingle with them in the sense only of sharing the Gospel. We’re in the world but not of the world. We are different. We have been sanctified. The way we’ve been sanctified is He has come to live in our hearts and in our lives.
Look over in 1 Corinthians 6:19. Let’s just make sure we’ve got all these things down before we go into chapter 6. A lot of people will put their guns on when you get into controversial chapters and want to shoot at you. I want to tell you something. I’m going to disarm you with these Scriptures. We are not like the world. We don’t think like the world. We’ve been called out of the world. As a matter of fact, Peter said we’re a royal priesthood. We’re a royal people, a totally different group of folks amongst all humanity.
In 1 Corinthians 6:19 Paul says, “Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own?” How are we sanctified? We’re set apart and put in this place by the fact that God, the Holy Spirit, has come to live in us. God lives in us. Now He enables us to be and to do what He Himself would do.
As members of His body, we don’t have the right any more to do as we please. He says in verse 20, “For you have been bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body.” Do you know what it means to glorify God? To glorify means to make sure that all the recognition comes to Him. Show the proper esteem to Him by making sure that everything points to Him and never points to you. Let your body be a vessel through which He can work so all the glory will come back unto Him. That’s what kind of people we are.
You know, back before I became a believer, I was in the church, but I never did anything so that all the glory might go to God. I can remember planning things. I was in it for a long time before God got hold of my life and showed me what salvation really was. Everything I did somehow had a way of coming back and pleasing me or somehow benefiting me. But I’ll tell you. When Christ comes to live in you and He sets you apart, no longer is that your goal; no longer is that your purpose. Your purpose now is to only bring glory unto Him. You’ve been called out of the way of the world. You’ve been called into Christ. We just don’t act like the world acts.
I want to tell you something before I go any further. You’re going to have a war in your mind as we walk through chapter 6. Your mind is going to scream at you and say, “That just doesn’t make sense!” But, my friend, if you’ll put this in perspective, it makes all the sense in the world. And when you present your body as a living sacrifice to Christ, holy and acceptable unto Him, that becomes your reasonable service of worship. And what is not reasonable to your mind right now, once you’re surrendered to Him becomes very reasonable in your life. Then you begin to see He has a better way, and it’s not the way of the world. We don’t respond like the world. We have no right to respond like the world.
We even have the privilege of knowing how He thinks. Isn’t that incredible? We’ve been shifted from AM to FM. When I say that, I don’t mean to knock AM. There are some pretty good stations on AM. But FM just seems to be a better band or something. All I know is, in my car when I put the radio on AM and hit that little select button, it doesn’t hardly stop but maybe twice when it goes all the way through. But I can put it on FM and it just keeps stopping. There are stations everywhere, and they’re clear as a bell.
You see, when you’re lost, you’re on AM. Oh, you think you’re right. You think you’re so logical, and your common sense just blesses you. But when you get saved, He not only saves you, He saves your mind and flips you up on FM. Now you can think the way God wants you to think. That doesn’t mean you’re thinking that way, but it means you can.
Look in 1 Corinthians 2:16. “For who has known the mind of the Lord, that he should instruct Him?” He’s talking about the foolish people of the world. “But we have the mind of Christ.” I’ll tell you where it’s found. It’s found right here in the Holy Spirit of God taking it and renewing our minds with it. You may not be thinking that way, but you can think that way. So when it comes to understanding Scripture, you’re going to have to see it from His eyes, not from your eyes. You don’t come at it from your hurt. You don’t come at it from your circumstances. You don’t come at it from what’s happened to you. You come at it the way God says for you to come at it, and He’ll give you an understanding of Scripture if you allow Him to do that. No matter if the world says it is ridiculous, if it says it in God’s Word, that means it’s wisdom. That means it’s what God wants us to understand.
Go back to 1 Corinthians 1:9. We know that everything in our life, regardless of what it is, can work for us and not against us. Why? Because we serve a faithful God. God’s going to be faithful to us no matter how we’re treated. God’s going to be faithful for us no matter what happens in our life. We know that. We cling to that. In 1 Corinthians 1:9 it says, “God is faithful, through whom you were called into fellowship with His Son, [to participate in Him] Jesus Christ our Lord.” No matter what happens.
You see, right now it sounds easy. But as soon as something traumatic happens to any of us we tend to walk away from this truth. You can’t do that. You’re going to have to keep the truth right here.
I remember when our little baby girl was born dead. We prayed and prayed that she’d be alive. Sometimes in the latter stages of pregnancy they’ll turn a certain way and the doctors can’t pick up a heartbeat. We prayed maybe she was alive. But she wasn’t alive here on this earth. She went right on. She just bypassed this old, sorry world and right on into the presence of the Lord Jesus Christ. We’re going to get to see her one day, because David said in the Old Testament that “he can’t come to me but I can go to him.” I know where she is, so we didn’t lose anything. But I want to tell you something, folks. In that room, knowing every bit of truth that I’ve ever known in my life, it is one thing to preach it in a pulpit, but it’s another thing to be in the midst of a situation clinging to that truth and not walk away from it no matter how your mind screams at you and says, “That’s stupid! That’s ridiculous! You don’t deserve this.” But God says, “Trust Me. I’m faithful.”
Listen, if we’re going to be the church of Jesus Christ, we’re going to have to learn to act like the church of Jesus Christ. And when things don’t appear reasonable to the world’s way of thinking, so be it. It never has from God’s Word. Isaiah 55 says, “My ways are higher. My thoughts are higher.” They are not your ways. They are not your thoughts. “You’re going to have to be raised up to think the way I think. You’re going to have to be raised up to have the wisdom that I want you to have.”
That has to be the mindset of the believer or you’ll never understand the sixth chapter of 1 Corinthians. All believers are in a class all by themselves. Their behavior is dictated and enabled by Christ who lives in us through His Holy Spirit. We live, we literally live to preserve the unity of the body of Christ.
Turn over to Ephesians 4. I want you to see something here. Folks, we’ve got to understand this! It’s kind of like the apostle Paul said in Philippians 3, “You want to talk about pedigree? I’ll tell you about my pedigree. You want to talk about how people have hurt you? Do you have about three of four days? I’ll share with you a few things about being hurt.” But, folks, that’s not the issue. It’s not how people have treated us. It’s how we respond to them as the body of Christ.
You know there was a prayer there at the last part of Ephesians 3 that’s the hinge of the whole book of Ephesians. It sums up three chapters and sets up the next three chapters. Right after you come out of that prayer, look at the last two phrases of Ephesians 3, the last two verses, 20-21. “Now to Him who is able to do exceeding abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us, to Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations forever and ever. Amen.” That word “amen” means let it always be so. In other words, let all the recognition go to Christ within the church. So the church says, “God, You be seen in us. We don’t want to be seen. You be seen in us.”
How do you that? Verse 1 of chapter 4 says, “I, therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, entreat you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called.” I’ll not begin to probe that verse. But the word “worthy” is the word axios. It means if you put a weight on one side of the scale, you need a weight of the same measure to be on the other side of the scale so they’ll balance. For three chapters Paul tells you how you can be strengthened in the inner man. For three chapters he tells you how the Holy Spirit of God works within the life of a believer. Then he says, “That’s a heavy weight. Now, you need to learn to choose to let Him do the things that you know He can do so that your life will balance out what you have.” In other words, let your walk balance your talk. Since you have all of this, learn to live out of it so your life will be balanced and people can see the truth by watching you live.
So Paul says, “Walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called, with all humility.” The word “humility” there is the attitude one has with himself. I want to tell you something. If you don’t have this attitude and somebody does something to harm you, offend you, cost you or anything else, I guarantee you you’re not going to understand the word “humility.” The word means to get down as flat as you can, like laying a pancake down on something. You can’t see it at all. Tapeinos means to get down so far that if people looked they couldn’t see you. They could only see Jesus within you. It’s knowing what you’re not; a proper estimation of one’s self in light of who God is. That’s humility.
Then he says “with gentleness.” The word “gentleness” is really meekness or brokenness. It’s the word praotes. You still have strength; as a matter of fact, as the world goes, you have rights but your strength, your power, and your rights are under the control of the Holy Spirit of God. It’s like taking a wild horse and breaking it and putting it up under control. That’s the word for gentleness. It doesn’t mean weakness. But it’s meekness. That’s the word he uses there.
He goes on to say, “with patience.” Do you know what patience is? Patience is what I thank God He has for me every day. It’s makrothumia. That is not dealing with circumstances. That’s another word, hupomeno. This is makrothumia, which means the ability, now listen to this, to bear up under whatever it is you have to face in life, even in the church. As a matter of fact, especially in the church. That’s his context. To bear up under whatever comes your way. If you’re hurt, if you’re reviled, if you’re talked about, if you’re slandered, it doesn’t matter. Remember the example as Jesus in 1 Peter, “whom, when reviled, reviled not back but kept entrusting Himself to the ones who judges righteousness.” He lives in me. Then He enables me to live that way. So, therefore, I can be one with patience.
He says, “showing forbearance to one another in love.” Do you know what forbearance is? Let’s just say I had it out with someone. Let’s say I was in an elders’ meeting and just got upset with another elder. That would probably disqualify us both, but let’s just say that happened. All of a sudden, I realize that maybe the other person is wrong. Let’s just say that I’m right. As far as I know under God, I’m right. I want to tell you what I’m going to do. I want to show you what forbearance is. Most people when they have a rift with somebody, no matter what it is, are going to kick them out. Do you know what forbearance is? I love him, and I’m going to bear up against him no matter how far he kicks me and whatever he tries to do. That’s what forbearance is. I’m not going to walk away and talk about him. I’m not going to write letters to people or tell people and ruin his reputation. I’m not going to let it make me grow bitter. No, sir. I’m going to get right up against him, and by the power that God has placed within my life to protect the unity of the body, I’m going to bear up against him. We’re going to forbear together so God can bring him through and we can continue to walk as brothers in the Lord Jesus Christ. That’s what forbearance is.
I’m going to tell you where he’s headed. Look at Ephesians 4:3. This is one of the main things in Ephesians, the unity of the church. This is where our witness comes from. In 1 Corinthians 6 the unity’s not being restored. It’s being ripped apart by people who won’t live this way. Verse 3 says, “being diligent to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.” I want you to notice that verse very carefully. Do you see anywhere in that verse where it says to produce the unity of the Spirit? Do you think that somehow fighting with one another is going to produce anything? Listen, what we’ve got to realize is, if you’re a part of the body of Christ, you are in this special group of people who are in a class by themselves. This group of people have been called out of the way the world does it into the way that Christ does it. They even have the mind of Christ, can think like Christ, and have the Spirit of God so they can see Christ lived out in their own life. These people already have the Spirit of oneness and unity.
Now listen. If you sense that you’re disunified from a brother or a sister in Christ, no matter what’s happened to make you sense that, first of all, you’re not even believing the Word. You already have that unity. It doesn’t tell you to produce it; He says to preserve the unity of the Spirit.
Years ago we thought we could produce it. We tried to have fellowships to get to know each other. We did everything we could think off. It comes down to this. If I’m living under the power of the Holy Spirit of God and you’re living under the power of the Holy Spirit of God, we can experience and enjoy the unity that’s already there in Christ. If you’re not doing it, I can’t enjoy that with you. And if I’m not doing it, we can’t enjoy that together, because that destroys it right there.
So Paul says to preserve it. How do you preserve it? In the bonds of what? Of peace. I want to tell you what that means. I’m going to put it simply. It means a whole lot of things; let me just put it simply so that everyone of us can understand. If I can understand it, I know you can. That means, first of all with God. How do I preserve that unity with Him? I lay my sword down. “God, I’m not going to fight you anymore. Your Scripture goes against what the world tells me. But, God, I’m going to trust You, because You saved me. I’m going to believe what You say and lay my sword down. I’m not going to fight you. I’m not going to fight you at all. Even though I may not understand it all, I’m not going to fight you.”
But it not only means with God, it means with one another. If you’ve laid your sword down with God, you have to lay it down with your brother. If you pick it up with your brother, you’ve picked it up against God. Any time the sword is picked up the spiritual problems start. So we live to preserve the unity of the Spirit at all costs, at the bonds of peace.
If there’s somebody in the body of Christ you’ve got in a rift with, immediately deal with it in the bonds of peace. Drop your sword. Do whatever it costs you to ensure you that relationship is bonded back together.
These things are important to understand. It is in order that Christ is glorified in the church that we do these things, that Christ be recognized in a way we aren’t. Doctrine and deeds are hand in hand in Scripture. If I say I have the right doctrine and my deeds don’t show it, then I have the wrong doctrine. Right doctrine produces right deeds. They are going to work together and those deeds are going to call attention to Christ. They’re not going to call attention to ourselves. This is the normal Christian life, living in peace with God and at peace with man.
That sounds great as long as man is living in peace with you. It doesn’t say that he’s going to live in peace with you. It says you live at peace with him. That’s the key. Always establish it on your side of the fence.
Now, since that’s understood, we can enter into chapter 6 of 1 Corinthians. I know it took me a little while to do that. I had a lot more that I wanted to say. Just relax. We could spend more time going back and reclaiming what it really means to be a believer. The same people are in the church sometimes who are outside the church. That’s what was going on here. The immoral was outside, but the immoral was inside. The covetous were outside, but the covetous were inside. That’s why they had to deal with it in chapter 5. So if you think that you’re in a protective environment in church and nobody’s ever going to offend you, you don’t seem to understand there are a lot of people who come who aren’t walking right with God. The key here is how do you respond when you’re offended?
Well, the first thing we want to look at is the problem that has occurred at Corinth. Look at verse 1 of chapter 6. “Does any one of you, when he has a case against his neighbor, dare to go to law before the unrighteous, and not before the saints?” Wow! I mean, Paul doesn’t waste any time. Does he? He just jumps in with both feet. It is not in the fact that this person in Corinth has been wronged, it’s in the fact that he sought to go to the pagan court to solve his problem with a brother in Christ.
Now listen to me. The legal situations at Corinth probably were much like those of Athens of that day. If you don’t know the history of that time, perhaps this will help you a little bit to understand. Litigation was a part of everybody’s everyday life. It had become sort of a form of challenge, even entertainment. One ancient writer wrote the words, “Every Athenian is a lawyer of some kind.” It seemed like all of them had their opinion and were all somehow dealing with litigation in some way.
Let me tell you why he said that. In the secular world of Athens, when a problem arose between two parties that they could not settle between themselves, the first course was the private arbitration. That was the first thing, private arbitration. Each party was assigned a disinterested private citizen as an arbitrator, and the two arbitrators along with a neutral third person would attempt to resolve the problem. Now, if they failed, the case was turned over to a court of 40 people who assigned a public arbitrator to each party. Interestingly, every citizen had to serve as a public arbitrator during the 60th year of his life. That’s interesting. You had to be at least 60 before you could be an arbitrator because they wanted somebody wise and somebody who had been down the road for a while. If public arbitration failed, the case went to a jury court composed of from several hundred to several thousand jurors. Every citizen over 30 years of age was subject to serving as a juror, either as a party for a lawsuit, as an arbitrator, or as a juror. Most citizens regularly were involved in legal proceedings of one sort or another. This was their everyday life.
Corinth was only 45 minutes by car today, a little longer than that by foot back in that day from Athens. Probably, the same legal thing that was going on in Athens was going on in Corinth. The Corinthian believers were so used to arguing and disputing, suing one another for anything they could think of, that they drug that lifestyle right into the church. They thought, mistakenly, that the church had nothing to do with it. This is my social life over here; this is my religious life when I come to church. The apostle Paul is about to nail that one with a big old nail right to the wall. They’re wrong. It is a part of the church. It very much is. That course was not only spiritually wrong, it was practically unnecessary.
The Romans said to the Jews, “Listen, you can solve your own differences.” They never did quite understand the Jewish people. So they just let them do their own thing. Remember back during the days of Jesus when they wanted Him to be crucified, they had their own courts. They solved their own problems. Then they brought it to the Roman governors and officials. The Romans didn’t have enough discernment to know the difference between a Jew and a Christian. So the Christians were considered to be Jews to the Romans. They didn’t know the difference. And for that reason the Christians had the legal right to solve their problems within their own selves. But they chose not to. The Corinthians chose not to. “Let’s don’t go the means of the church. Let’s go the means of the public courts to solve our problems.”
Well, he says in verse 1, “Does any one of you, when he has a case against his neighbor.” That little phrase “does any one of you” is a little interesting Greek word that means “is there any single one of you.” Paul’s not pointing to somebody particular when he makes this statement. He’s really saying, “If there’s only one, we’ve got a huge problem we need to deal with. Just one, just one of you.” Remember the little leaven of chapter 5. If one of you has drug that leaven in here where you can demand your own rights and get the courts to legislate your affairs, if any one of you are in here, we’ve got a problem to deal with.
The word “case” is the word pragma. It’s translated matter. “If anybody has a matter against another,” it says in the King James. But when it’s used in this kind of context, it means a lawsuit. Does any one of you have a lawsuit they want to file against someone else. In their language, in their culture, when that word was used in a judicial sense it meant, “Is there any one of you who actually has a lawsuit against somebody else in the body of Christ?”
Now the word for “neighbor” there is the word heteros. That’s interesting. It’s really the word for “another.” There are two words for another. One is allos, another exactly like myself. Remember Jesus said, “I’ll go and send another comforter.” One exactly like me. He’s my Spirit. Then there’s the word heteros, another of a different kind. Now, here it doesn’t mean somebody who’s not a Christian, but somebody who has a difference of opinion than you have. That automatically begins to show you the little bit of contention here between two people.
As a matter of fact, you could tell how that was going to widen the gap between two people. They’ve got differences with one another. That word heteros establishes that very quickly. A believer has a case against his neighbor. He’s got a difference with him. Whatever it is, it’s so serious he’s thinking about taking this person to the courts to solve his problem. How do believers handle their differences? Are we to be in the world and act like they do, or do we have a better way? That’s what chapter 6 is all about. Remember, we’re in a class all by ourselves. We don’t do it the way the world does it.
How many times have you had something to happen in your life which has dealt with another Christian? I don’t mean in your church. I’m not talking about that. You went to somebody who represented the world and judicial system who did not know Christ and they gave you advice that just screamed at you that that’s not what God would say. Has that ever happened to you?
That’s what Paul is trying to understand. What’s reasonable to the world? He’s already covered that in chapters 1, 2, and 3. It’s not going to be reasonable to God and to the believer. The foolishness of the world, you see, is the wisdom of God. They look at Jesus’ dying on the cross as stupidity. That shows you the mindset of the intelligent world. So you have to be real careful here.
Well, without this understanding you won’t realize what Paul’s saying. “Does any one of you, when he has a case against his neighbor, dare to go to law before the unrighteous, and not before the saints?” The word “dare” is the word tolmao. It’s not like, “I dare you to jump off that cliff.” It’s not like that kind of dare. It’s somebody who has the audacity, somebody who dares do something to cross a line of authority that nobody would ever do. Do you mean you have the audacity that you would dare take this step in that direction? That’s the word for dare.
It says. “Does any one of you dare take your case before the unrighteous?” That’s any interesting phrase, isn’t it? He automatically throws the court system and calls them unrighteous. We know that in the world of Corinth that’s pretty much the way it was. They didn’t have any Christians, usually, in the judicial seats. If you found one, that’s a find. It’s not just a slam on their character. It’s not a slam on their intelligence. This is not a slam on their family. What it was saying was that they’re unrighteous people. They don’t know Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. For that reason they’ve never been taken out of the world and put into Him. For that reason they don’t have the mind of Christ.
Go back to 1 Corinthians 2:14. I want to show you something here. The next time you want the ungodly world to solve a case for you with another brother who is in the body of Christ, look at 1 Corinthians 2:14. It says, “But a natural man [a man who’s not saved] does not accept the things of the Spirit of God; for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually appraised.”
Over my years of ministry that I have experienced so many times people would come and seek counsel, and they’ll get it and not like it because it wasn’t what they wanted. So they’ll go and find somebody who will tell them what they want because that’s really what they wanted to do to begin with. They have their rights. Now, if you can show me where a Christian has rights, I’d love to see it. Show me where a slave has any rights whatsoever. All we have are privileges and an assignment to attach ourselves to Him and to what the Word of God has to say.
The apostle Paul is saying, “Would anybody dare go to the law before the unrighteous and not before the saints?” Think about the chapter we just came out of. Did he not just give you an illustration of how the authority of the church works and how God works through that authority? You know, you could take the man who was living with his father’s wife in chapter 5. You could take him before the court system. They can send him to jail, fine him a ton of money, but can that transform his life? But you take that same believer and remove him from the body of believers with grieving and mourning in the name of Jesus and the power of Jesus and turn him over to Satan. What do you think that’s going to do?
What he’s trying to show you is there’s a system within a system. Even though we live in the world and it has its system, God has His own system for believers. But what we’ve got to do is get the hurt out of our mind. What we’ve got to do is get all of our logic out of our mind and come back and say, “God, what are You saying? Does Your Word really work?” If you haven’t settled that, you’ll have problems in understanding 1 Corinthians 6.
Christian arbitration. Isn’t it amazing? These people in Corinth were going to pagan arbitration even before it went before the legislative arbitration, even before it went before a court trial. They would go to pagan arbitrators before they would go to Christian arbitrators. They wouldn’t go the Christian route. That’s telling you something about their attachment to Christ. It’s telling you something about whatever it is that they’re struggling with.
I want to tell you something, folks. This is not easy to study. We have been in some big situations in our church when we were being hurt in ways I can’t even describe to you. But does that change what the Word of God says? What we’ve got to remember is we’ve got to do it His way. A principle I learned early on in life was “Hinging on the unreasonable lies the unexpected.” What our minds tells us is ridiculous, what the world tells us is ridiculous, if God says it and even though it’s unreasonable to our natural mind, hinging on the other side of it are the unexpected blessings of God. It always has been that way and will never be any different. Remember, it’s by faith that we walk. He doesn’t show you what’s going to happen. He says, “You take the step.”
Wouldn’t you like to have been there when they crossed the Jordan River? It was the flood time in the spring time of the year. God told the priests to cross, and they said, “Excuse me, Lord, you’ve got the wrong season here. Could we wait about three months and try this thing again? It’s been 40 years. Why not?” And God says, “No, sir. You should tell the priests to put their foot in the water.” Can you imagine that first priest that walked out there? That water was just raging down that river. He touched it with his foot and when his foot touched that water, I’m telling you, they probably shouted for two hours. That river just backed up. They said a wall of water was created. It backed up for 17 miles to the city of Adam. They walked over on dry ground. I guarantee you all the skeptics were in the back and they couldn’t wait for the first ones to get drowned so they could yell, “Uh-huh! I told you! It doesn’t make any sense to do what God says. That’s stupid.”
I was in a deacon’s meeting one time at another church. Right in the middle of it we were talking about walking by faith and to make a move to step out on faith for what God has said. And one of the deacons looked over at me and said, “Come on, Wayne. Has anybody in here got any common sense?” Common sense, folks, is what’s ruined the church. God is very reasonable. He’s not ridiculous. But you don’t understand how reasonable He is until you’re willing to understand what He says in His Word and step out on it even though you cannot see what He’s going to do.
What do you think about Simon Peter when he was on the water that night when Jesus came walking out there? I love Simon Peter. The only time he ever opened his mouth was to change feet. Jesus was walking out on the water and Peter asked, “Lord, is it you?” You know Jesus knew that was Peter. He loved Simon Peter. He said, “Well, if it’s you, bid me come to you.” It’s like Jesus was saying, “Yes! Come on big boy!” Simon Peter stepped out. Did he step out on the water? No. He stepped out on the word, because God said to come. I want to tell you what he discovered. What was over his head was under God’s feet. That’s the key.
That’s the kind of respect we’ve got to have for God’s Word when it just rages in our mind and it doesn’t make any sense, when we can’t put it down on a sheet of paper. But God says it, therefore, we are to be obedient to it and do what He’s saying.
The apostle Paul, in verse 1 of chapter 6, is kind of saying, “Do you think you have a better way than God has of handling your conflicts within the church? Do you really think so? Who have you talked to?” “Oh, I called such and such and he told me such and such. But he doesn’t know Jesus. I called such and such and he told me such and such. He does know Jesus. What about him?” It doesn’t matter. What does God say first? We’ve got a lot of Christians who don’t even know what God’s saying. So the key is, do it.
The problem had developed in Corinth. Somebody had been wronged. Somebody had been hurt. Spiros Zodhiates thinks it was a money problem in the church. We don’t know that for a fact. But he goes on down in verse 4 and talks about the common things. Perhaps it was something to do with money between two believers within the church. Now I can’t say that for a fact. But that’s what he says he believes it is.
The second thing is the misunderstanding that’s obvious amongst the people. There’s a misunderstanding here. In verse 2 he says, “Or do you not know that the saints will judge the world? And if the world is judged by you, are you not competent to constitute the smallest law courts?” Isn’t that interesting? You’re going to judge the world. The argument by these arrogant believers in Corinth probably was, “Well, there’s nobody in the church who has had training in law. That’s why we went the route of the secular people. Because they could help us, you see.” What he’s saying is, “Wait a minute! Do you not know that you will judge the world?” He’s talking about their future rule and reign with Christ? His argument is, if you’re going to judge the world with Christ one day, don’t you think you can handle the simple problems between yourselves within the church? The worst Christian you can find is more qualified than a person out in the world who doesn’t know Christ in this sense.
By the way, when he says not to go to the pagan authorities, he doesn’t mean you won’t get a fair judgment. That’s not what he’s saying. That’s not the issue. Sometimes you can probably get a fairer judgment in the world than you can get in the church. That’s not his issue. His issue is, “You don’t seem to want to handle this the way God has set up for you to handle it. You don’t seem to want to use the church and let it be done within the church, thereby protecting the unity of believers.”
Don’t ever claim that I said that Scripture said that the world will not make a fair judgment. The laws have been given, and God even works through those. His problem was, they would not work it through the church. They’d rather go outside the church to settle their differences. That tells you something. That’s what he’s dealing with.
“Or do you not know that the saints will judge the world?” The word for “know” there is where I got the point of the misunderstanding. The word for know is the word eido. It’s a verb that comes from the word horao, which means to know that sometimes you can know something intelligently or academically and you don’t really understand it. It means to see something and to have a full grasp or perception of it. You can really see what it really means. That’s something that’s very important. When it says in the Scriptures, “Behold, behold,” it’s a form of horao. It means not just to look up, it means to look, to observe, and understand what’s going on spiritually in this situation.
So when Paul says to them, “Do you not know? Do you not have the spiritual perception to realize that you’re going to judge the world? If you’re going to judge the world, then you can deal with your own problems.”
Someone told me about a church down in Florida where a certain situation happened between a pastor and some money in the church. He did something a certain way, whether he thought it was right or wrong. Some people in the church got upset and sued him. He turned around and counter-sued the church. It made the newspapers down there, outside Orlando. It cost the church over $70, 000 in legal fees and completely destroyed their witness in the area.” Now he says he can drive by that church on a Sunday morning and there may be four cars in the parking lot because believers chose to go the pagan route to solve their problem. They probably got a fair judgment but in doing so did irreparable damage to the testimony of believers in the body of Christ.
Well, remember who you are. Remember whose you are and remember we are commanded to live according to what God says. We have no rights, so when you demand your rights, what rights are you demanding? That which the nation gave you? Well, you must have, because Christ didn’t give you any rights. He only gives you the privilege of being a part of His kingdom here on earth. That’s a tough one to swallow.