1st Corinthians – Wayne Barber/Part 39
|By: Dr. Wayne Barber; ©1998|
|Paul is saying, If you’ll go to the cross and let Jesus get involved in the situation, then your witness is protected. Can’t you do that? You’re going to rule over the nations. Can’t you solve your own problem? Can’t you, yourself, die to that situation and let God handle it so that your witness can be protected in this awful insane world?|
I Cor. 6:3
The Sin of Demanding Your Own Rights – Part 2
In chapter 5 we saw the sin of immorality and the sin of indifference. The people would not even deal with the immorality that was in the church. Now, in chapter 6, we see the sin of demanding your own rights. You know, we get into a lot of trouble when we attach ourselves to the flesh. This is what’s going on in Corinth. We’ve covered all that background. Instead of being attached to Jesus, being vessels through which God can work, they’ve attached themselves to everything you can think of about the flesh. Now we’re seeing the consequences of that in chapters 5, 6 and 7. It just continues to go.
You know, a lot of people have said they want what God wants. But the problem is, they’re not willing to do what He says. They’re not willing to trust Him in the areas they don’t fully understand. And for that reason they miss out on all that He’s seeking to do. We only have two choices; the church of Corinth only had two choices. No man can serve two masters. He’ll love one and hate the other. Somebody says, “Oh, no, no. I don’t hate the Lord when I serve the flesh.” Hate is not an emotion. Hate is a choice. Just like we choose to love Him, we choose to hate Him when we choose to let our flesh rule in our life.
That’s exactly what’s going on in Corinth. Welcome to the church at Corinth. They have chosen to serve their flesh and as a result, as we’ve said, they’re paying for it. Be careful what you attach yourself to. Make sure you’re attached to Christ.
I heard the story the other day about two hunters. They were out on this man’s property who allowed them to hunt. As one of them was walking along he saw this big hole, the biggest hole he’d ever seen in his life. It was a huge hole. They took a rock and threw it over to see how deep it was. They didn’t hear a sound. They got a bigger rock and dropped it in the hole. It didn’t make a sound. They had never seen a hole like this. They went around looking for something else bigger they could drop into the hole. They found a railroad cross-tie. It took two of them to man-handle it over, but they got it up and dropped that railroad cross-tie into that hole. It just went out of sight. Suddenly out of nowhere came a goat. That goat was running as fast as they’d ever seen a goat run. It ran right between these two guys and just dove into that hole. One guy said, “Did you see that?” The other guy said, “Yeah. Where did that goat come from? He just dove in that hole.” The other guy said, “I’ve never seen anything like that.”
About that time the property owner drove up. They said, “Come here. Come here. Look at this hole. Have you ever seen this hole before?” He said, “No. I’ve never seen that hole before.” They said, “Well, we just saw the most unusual thing. A goat came out of nowhere and just dove into that hole. Could that be your goat?” He said, “Oh, no. I have mine tied to a cross-tie.”
Be real careful what you’re tied to. It will suck you right into the hole of sin. That’s exactly what’s going on in Corinth. Instead of being tied to Christ and attached to Christ, living focused on Him, they’ve attached themselves to the flesh and they’re reaping the terrible results of that.
Listen to the words of Psalm 1:1. He said, “How blessed is the man.” That word “blessed” in the Septuagint is the word makarios. It’s the same word used over in Matthew 5. The idea of the word is fully, spiritually satisfied. How fully satisfied is the man who does what? He said, “who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked, nor stand in the path of sinners.” The word “path” has the idea of the way of sinners, the characteristics of sinners who will not do the things that God wants. “Nor sit in the seat of scoffers! But his delight is in the law of the Lord.” Now, not in the promises of God; he didn’t go out and buy a promise book and claim one every day of his life. He didn’t wait for God to do something for him. No, no. He asks, “God, what can I do for You?” “His delight is in the law of the Lord, and in His law he meditates day and night.” The revealed will of God, that’s his delight. “God, what do You want me to do?”
That’s the blessed man. That’s the man who’s satisfied spiritually, no matter what his circumstances are, no matter how difficult things might be in his life. All he wants is the will of God. Certainly, the promises come into play, but his focus is the will of God. You see, folks, we’ve got to realize that the flesh is addicted to sin. Now Christ broke sin’s power when He came to live in us, and as long as we’re focused on Him, living and enabled by His grace, we can continue to walk free from the power of sin. Temptation is all around us, but we’re free from its power to pull us down into that hole. The moment we attach ourselves to flesh, however, shift it back into gear. That’s when sin takes over and the devastating results come into our life.
I want to tell you where it’s most deceptive. Flesh if so deceptive, folks, when it comes to looking out for one’s self. Now, listen to me. When we’ve been offended, especially by Christians, when we have been hurt, when we have been grieved, when we have been treated wrongly and particularly when it comes to money, look out. The flesh goes back into gear. In that moment we can start using the world’s way of thinking that says we have a right to defend ourselves. That’s what’s going on in Corinth. I want to tell you something. That’s just as deceptive as any other area of sin. I think it’s probably one of the unspoken areas. We don’t usually talk about this.
What do you do when a Christian offends you? What do you do when somebody who calls himself a believer takes advantage of you? What do you do when somebody cheats you in a business deal and you’re a Christian and he’s a Christian? How do you handle that? The world rears up and says, “You’ve got your rights, buddy. Demand your rights.” God’s Word says, “No, you don’t.” You can be just as easily deceived there as any other area of your life.
In our last study that’s exactly what was going on. Somebody in Corinth is suing somebody else. That’s the whole problem that Paul is dealing with here in 1 Corinthians. Last time we recalled the context of 1 Corinthians. Back in chapter 1 it says that we are the called out ones, ekklesia. In other words, we’ve been called out of the world’s way of doing things into God’s way of doing things. In fact, we’re not our own any more. We’ve been bought with a price. We’ve been sanctified. We’re called saints.
That word “saints” comes up in chapter 6. Do you know what a saint is? It’s somebody who’s been taken out of the mire of sin, washed by the blood, and put over here strictly and eternally for the purpose of God’s using him. He becomes a vessel through which God can be glorified. That’s our only purpose. That covers every purpose under my life, not just as a father and as a husband and as a pastor. That’s fine. There are purposes in life. But this covers every purpose in our life. We are to be set apart unto Him. You never retire, you just re-fire. As long as your heart is beating you are vessels through which God is to work. We never have rights. We only have privileges of being in the kingdom of God and being people who can be servants to Him.
That’s important. Over in Ephesians 4:1-3 we read that we’re to walk worthy of our calling. After three chapters of Paul telling them what they had in Jesus, who they are and whose they are, which, by the way, has to be balanced, and once they found that out he says, “Now, walk in a manner worthy.” The word “worthy” is the word picture of a set of scales. If you put a weight on one side, make sure you put the same weight on the other side so that it balances it out. If you’re going to tell people you’re a Christian, live like it. Put some walk to your talk. That’s what he’s telling them, to make sure that you’re walking worthy.
The second verse says how you treat one another. One of the words he uses in there is the word “forbear.” That’s when you stand up against somebody. Somebody’s hurt you; somebody’s grieved you; somebody’s cheated you in a business deal; somebody’s taken advantage of you, and they call themselves Christians and they’re in the body of Christ. The grace of God gives you such an ability—it’s the strength of the inner man, as chapter 3 of Ephesians talks about—you’re willing to bear up against this person, and you will not allow him to fall and you will not separate yourself from him. You’re going to pray for him, take his abuse, whatever else it takes because you want this person to stand before God one day and get every bit of the reward that could be given to him. That’s the unity of the body.
The third verse of chapter 4 of Ephesians says that the Christian who’s attached to Jesus realizes he doesn’t do things the way he used to. He does them God’s way. He says that he preserves the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. He lays his sword down and says, “God, I’m not going to fight You anymore. I’m going to do it Your way. My mind can’t understand everything you say but, God, I’m committed to do it. I have the shield of faith in front of me. My heart’s intention is to do what You tell me to do and when I fail I’ll come right back to this very place.”
I’ve not only laid my sword down with God, but I’ve also laid my sword down with my brother in the body of Christ. If he cheats me, if he tells rumors about me, if he does whatever he does, I’m not going to pick my sword up and fight him. I want God to be glorified in every action that I take. That’s the believer. The apostle Paul is trying to take something that’s upside down and turn it right side up. He’s bringing them back.
Now, folks, listen to me. There’s a war that goes on in your mind when these situations happen. This is easy to preach; this is easy to talk about in a study group; but as soon as somebody in the body of Christ offends you and hurts you and costs you financially, that’s when the war starts. The Spirit of God says, “Now, stay on track, son. Stay on track.” But the flesh says, “Come on, man. You had your rights. You’re an American. This is a democracy. Do what you know you can do. Burn the guy and get your money back.” That’s what the flesh says. The Spirit says, “Don’t you do it.” The flesh says, “I’m going to do it.” That war goes on in inside your mind.
I’m telling you, folks. It will happen. What the world tells you is one thing. But what the Word of God tells you is another. I’m trying to warn you. I think Paul’s doing the same thing. This is what divides God’s people all over and kills our testimony with other people. It’s important.
Paul says, “Is there any among you.” Paul usually doesn’t say, “Is there?” if there wasn’t. There’s somebody there who’s suing a brother there in the church. 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?” Any single one of you is the idea of that. And what he’s saying is, “If there’s only one, we’ve got a huge problem. You’ve just dragged the world’s way of doing things right back into the church.”
Now, you have to understand the culture of that time. If you don’t, this is very difficult. It doesn’t mean you can’t get the truth. We don’t always have the advantage of knowing the culture and the history. But it’s helpful. It kind of makes the black and white TV a colored set when you think of it that way. What is the culture? Well, you have to go to Athens. Now, today if you went from Athens to Corinth, it would take you about 45 minutes by car. How long is that back in that day? It was a little longer, but still close in proximity. So you can’t say adamantly this was what was going on in Corinth except that most cities of Greece always mimicked Athens. Athens sort of set the pace.
Here is what was going on in Athens. Everybody sued everybody. It became kind of a public game. “Oh, you got me. I’m going to sue you, buddy.” “Oh, no, you’re not. I’ve got a better lawyer than you do. I’m going to get you back.” Back and forth, back and forth. They were always doing it. One ancient writer claimed that, in a manner of speaking, every Athenian was a lawyer of some kind. Here’s why he said that. When a problem arose between two people that they could not settle between themselves, the first recourse was private arbitration. Each party was assigned a disinterested, private citizen as an arbitrator. The two arbitrators along with a neutral third person would attempt to resolve the problem.
Now, if they failed in private arbitration, it went to public arbitration. The case was turned over to a court of 40 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. I thought that was interesting. They didn’t want anybody under 60 to serve as one of these arbitrators. If public arbitration failed, the case went to a jury court composed 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 to a lawsuit, as an arbitrator, or as a juror. Most citizens regularly were involved in legal proceedings of one sort or another. That was their life. I mean, if you weren’t in a suit, you were just coming out of a suit or going into one. You constantly lived that way. That was Corinth. Just sue your brother. If you have difference, sue him. Take him to court. That’s the pagan mind-set of their day.
It kind of sounds like today. Doesn’t it? People will sue you for looking at you cross-eyed. That’s what was going on during that day. The Corinthian people had come out of the pagan world. In 6:9-11 we see they come out of all kinds of sin. This is all they knew. So they took the practice of the world and drug it right into the church as if they couldn’t see the difference.
The apostle Paul is addressing that situation head on. Paul tries to get them thinking straight. In verse 2 look at what 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?” We’re going to look at that even more in just a few moments. Basically, what Paul is saying to them is, “Hey! If you’re one day going to be a co-regent with Christ, don’t you think you can handle your own problems within the church?”
By the way, Roman law said that all Jews could have their own courts. They could solve their own problems. And the Romans looked at Christians as if they were Jews. Romans didn’t know the difference, so they gave the Christians the same rights. But the Christians chose not to use it. They said, “No, we don’t want to go inside the church body. We like this thing of suing one another. Let’s go before the court.” It’s always that idea of greed. It’s always that idea of what I can get out of my brother because he has offended me.
Well, the apostle Paul says that even the poorest equipped Christian, if he had the Word of God, is better equipped to solve problems between Christians than even the courts of the land of that day. Why is that? In 1 Corinthians 2:16 he said, “For who has known the mind of the Lord, that he should instruct Him? But we have the mind of Christ.” I want to make sure you understand something as we inch into this. He’s not saying that you can’t get a fair judgment by the courts. He’s not saying not to respect the integrity and education of people who are judges and lawyers, etc. That’s not what he’s saying. What he’s saying is if they don’t know the Lord Jesus Christ, they’re missing one precious ingredient here. And if you do know Him and know His Word, you can solve your own problem right where you are. In fact, not just as a collective group with Christian arbitration, but individually, before the problem ever gets that far. Die to self, attach yourself to Jesus, and let Jesus be the Lord of your life. That’s what he’s trying to help them to understand. So remember this. He’s not throwing a rock at the judicial system of the world. God even works through the judicial system of the world. What he’s saying is to solve the problem within your heart as you come before God and reattach yourself to Him and you can become even the smallest law courts of the land.
Let’s talk about that a little bit more. The first thing was the problem. The problem is somebody’s suing somebody. The misunderstanding was where we ended last time. Let me just kind of revisit that. We need to understand the misunderstanding in Corinth. They just didn’t have a perception. When you attach yourself to the cross-tie of the flesh, it will drag you right into the hole of being spiritually blind and no longer will you have any perception, whatsoever, to understand or to discern the things of God.
Again, look at verse 2. He says, “Or do you not know that the saints will judge the world?” The word for “know” there is the word eido. It comes from a form of horao, which means to perceive or understand. Many times in Scripture Jesus would say, “Behold!” That’s a form of that word. It means turn and look and see with deep understanding and perception of what’s really going on. Christians can have that. But when you detach yourself from Christ and reattach yourself to the flesh, you lose all that discernment. You don’t have it any more. You can’t see the big picture.
Somebody drew a real long line on a board and he put a little dot right in the middle of that line. He said, “Now this whole line is eternity. Let’s just look at it that way. This little tiny dot here is from the time you were born until the time you die. Isn’t it interesting the people who live their lives for this little dot and never see the whole perspective of what eternal life is all about?” That’s what happens. It narrows your perception. You can’t see the bigger picture.
Paul is saying, “Don’t you know? Don’t you understand that one day you will be a co-regent with Christ? You will rule and reign with Him.” He said, “Or do you not know that the saints will judge the world?” You see, what he’s referring to is what the Bible teaches us. Every saint, Old Testament saints, the apostle, each of us will have assignments. But we will be co-rulers along with the Lord Jesus Christ.
In Daniel 7:22 it says, “until the Ancient of Days came, and judgment was passed in favor of the saints of the Highest One and the time arrived when the saints took possession of the kingdom.” There’s going to come a day when we’re going to rule and reign on this earth with our Lord Jesus. He rules and reigns in us now. We will rule and reign with Him one day. The apostles will have a special assignment to rule over the twelve tribes of Israel. It says in Matthew 19:28, “And Jesus said to them, ‘Truly I say to you, that you who have followed Me, in the regeneration when the Son of Man will sit on His glorious throne, you also shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.’” But we also note from the book of Revelation and other places that the believer will participate in this, not just the apostles, not just the Old Testament saints.
It says in Revelation 2:26, “And he who overcomes, and he who keeps My deeds until the end, to him I will give authority over the nations.” That’s in his letter to the churches before he ever gets into the prophecy part of chapter 5. Revelation 2:27 says, “And he shall rule them with a rod or iron, as the vessels of the potter are broken to pieces, as I also have received authority from My Father.” Revelation 3:21-22 says, “He who overcomes, I will grant to him to sit down with Me on My throne, as I also overcame and sat down with My Father on His throne.” That’s as clear as you can see it. “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.” So there’s a day coming. We don’t know it now. But there’s a day coming when we will rule and reign with Him on this earth.
Now Paul says, if this is true, then why can’t you settle these things between yourselves? If the world is judged by you, are you not competent to constitute the smallest law courts. Let’s think about this for a minute. He’s not just talking about breaking into small groups of Christian arbitration. He’s going further than that. Do you know what he’s saying? He’s saying every single individual believer who is attached to Christ (which means God did attach you to Himself) is going to be a judge one day. That believer can become the smallest of law courts. Now, obviously, sometimes believers refuse to do that so you have to have others get involved and have arbitration. But, in other words, if we know the Word of God and the Spirit of God is in us, we can make our own judgments as to situations in life granted the wisdom that God gives us to us. We can stop a lot of this before it ever gets that far. It can stop right with the individual. We, ourselves, can become the smallest of law courts because the Spirit of God lives in us and the Word of God is what renews our mind.
Years ago I had an experience with this. My mom got a job as the head housekeeper for a certain motel chain. Well, mom came out of the old school, if you’re getting paid for eight hours, you ought to work eight hours. So she wouldn’t let the maids who worked for her watch any of the soap operas as they cleaned the rooms. She’d make them turn them it off and work. She’d go behind them with a white-gloved inspection. She’d run that white glove behind anything, and if any dust came out they redid that room.
One day the maids just got upset with my mother. Of course, they hated anybody who made them work. So they decided they were going to come up with a union. The executives said, “No. We don’t want a union. Whatever it takes, but let’s not have a union.” So the maids said, “Okay, we’ll tell you what we’ll do. We’ll barter with you.” They came to the table. “If we’re not going to do this, what can you do for us?” The first thing on their list was to get rid of Mrs. Barber.
They had a man who worked there as the manager of the hotel. My mom loved him like she’d loved me or one of the children. Well, he bowed down under pressure and was the one who had to tell my mother.
The day came. She came into work. She was always smiling. She just always was very pleasant, loved everybody, loved life, just had a great time. So she came to work one day and walked into the foyer, and he met her there and said, “Mrs. Barber, it’s a cold cruel world but you’ve been fired.” My mom who worked harder than anybody in that whole place trying to make it something that would be worthy and establish her testimony before the Lord. It just broke her.
Well, she went home, and it just broke her so much she just began to weep. For two weeks she didn’t eat anything, just drank something every now and then and pneumonia set in. They had to put her in the hospital. For the next two years she was in the hospital almost nineteen months.
One day I was in her room. She was so weak, I remember I tried to hand her a grape and she couldn’t even grasp it. The phone rang while I was in the room. I picked it up and had to listen in on the conversation because she couldn’t hold the phone. I was listening and a man said, “Mrs. Barber, I represent a law firm. We have heard what has happened to you. We now know the details and want you to know that you have the right to sue these people. We’re talking about several millions of dollars because of the way they did this. We’ll set your family up.”
Here I am, the minister, standing at her side saying, “Yes! Yes! Burn them! Just burn them!” That’s the way I felt. I was so angry at what they did to my mom. I remember them telling her all the details, and then they said, “All you have to do is tell us over the phone, we have a recorder running, that you agree with this and give us your testimony. We know you can’t get out of bed. We’ll handle it from this point out.” I remember my mom saying over the phone, “No. I’m sorry. You don’t have all the story.” They said, “Well, you can tell us that.” She said, “No, you don’t know me. I’m a Christian. I received Jesus many years ago.” She said, “I’ve been a Christian for years. You know, for nine years I’ve been witnessing to these precious people. I took it wrong. I didn’t honor my Lord. I grieved. Instead of going to Him, I just went and sulked and that’s why I’m in this situation. But I want you to know I would never sue them because I don’t want my testimony that I have spent all these years building in any way to be stopped. I want Jesus to be glorified. He will care for me.”
I remember listening to her and thinking, “Oh, no. They’ve got her on medication. She’s not thinking right.” I really did. I walked out of the room thinking, “I know a lawyer too. I think I’m going to call one. I can get them to step into this situation. She’s not in her right mind. We’ll burn these people. I can get hold of that lawyer.” That’s what I was thinking. But every time I’d try to pick up that phone to do that, God wouldn’t let me do that.
Well to make a long story short, she died. The thing that really has killed me is I wasn’t with her when she died. Isn’t it funny how little things bother you over the years? I was with her so many times expecting her to die. Then one day they told me and it hit me like a truck had just run over me because I wanted to be there. She was so close to me.
I got to preach her funeral. That was precious. All those people who had treated her bad were there. I didn’t think any of them would come. I really didn’t. I wasn’t even looking for anybody but family and friends, and she had a lot of them. The place was packed out. I didn’t even know they were on the back row until after the funeral was over. I preached that day on what you have when you have Jesus. I said, “All of you are here because you love my mom, but I want you to know something. She would never stand up and take any of your praise. She would want me to point you to the One Who made her into the person she was and that’s the Lord Jesus Christ.” I walked through what a person has when they have Christ. I’ll tell you what, folks. I did not know until just a few years ago the heritage my mom had left for me.
My mother in that hospital bed became the smallest court in the land. She was a judge. She could make the decision. She knew the Word of God. The Spirit of God lived in her, and she chose the route of the cross. That’s what Paul is saying, “If you’ll go to the cross and let Jesus get involved in the situation, then your witness is protected. Can’t you do that? You’re going to rule over the nations. Can’t you solve your own problem? Can’t you, yourself, die to that situation and let God handle it so that your witness can be protected in this awful insane world?”
Well, he goes on to say, “And if the world is judged by you, are you not competent to constitute the smallest law courts?” Then he goes on in verse 3 and carries it another step. That’s what we covered the last time but we’ve got to carry it right into verse 3, the same misunderstanding. He says in verse 3, “Do you not know that we shall judge angels?” Not only will you rule over the world. You’re going to rule over angels. Don’t shout and don’t say anything because this is a tough one. Nowhere in Scripture, hardly, does it talk about us ruling over angels. We don’t know that much about it. Paul brings it up and just kind of leaves you hanging. Where am I going to rule over angels? Well, we know that He will. It says it in Judges 1:6, “And angels who did not keep their own domain, but abandoned their proper abode, He has kept in eternal bonds under darkness for the judgment of the great day.” Peter also writes in one his epistles the very same thing. So we know that the fallen angels will be judged. Maybe he’s talking about the fact we’ll be alongside Christ when they’re judged. We, perhaps, will make those decisions over those angels. We just don’t know. You can’t be dogmatic about it. There’s not enough in Scripture to really help us. But the word “judge” can mean rule over or govern. Maybe he even means the holy angels, not just the unholy ones. Holy angels have no sin by which a judgment is made. But maybe we’ll even govern over the angels one day. We’ve been created higher than the angels. What is he saying? We just don’t know.
This thing we do know. In Ephesians 1:20-23, we know that Jesus has all control over angels. It says in verse 20, “which He brought about in Christ, when He raised Him from the dead, and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places, far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this age, but also in the one to come. And He put all things in subjection under His feet, and gave Him as head over all things to the church, which is His body, the fulness of Him who fills all in all.” Now we know we’re in Him. He is in us. We’re with Him. We’ll rule with Him, and He has authority over all His angels so somehow one day we’re going to rule over angels.
It’s interesting to me. Even down here when we live submissive to Him we have authority over the fallen angels, don’t we? There’s a lot of people running around talking about the devil all the time. I get so sick of it. Why in the world would you talk about a toothless wonder like the devil? Jesus rendered him powerless. Jesus has dominion over him. What do you mean you’re worried about the devil? One day Jesus is going to send one angel, just one measly angel. He is going to come down and pick up the devil and throw him in the pit for one thousand years. The church runs around saying, “Oh, what’s the devil doing? What’s the devil doing?” Good grief! One angel’s going to do it. He already has that authority over the angels, and we’re in Him. He’s in us and we will rule and reign with Him so if it’s the fallen angels, no problem. If it’s the holy angels, I can even see that. We’ve been created above them. He has charge over them. So somehow we will rule over angels.
But what’s his point? His point is that you’re going to rule over nations and you’re going to rule over the world, and you’re going to rule over angels, and you can’t even solve your own petty problems within the church. Why would you go to the pagan system and flaunt your testimony of your flesh in front of them which is ruining what the people are thinking about Christ in their life? Why would you do that? That’s what he’s saying.
I’ll tell you, folks. Before we got into chapter 6 of 1 Corinthians you could have possibly come up to me or I could have come up to you and asked, “Do you think it’s okay to sue folks in the church?” We’d say, “Well, there are certain situations it might just have to.” Ohhh, now we’re in the Word, aren’t we? You see how much we’ve been affected already by the way the world thinks. Folks, I want to tell you. If you’re not involved in it, thank God you’re not involved in it. But you become the smallest court in the land the next time something happens to you and that person who claims to be a Christian. Immediately take it to Christ because there’s a battle royal going to start in your mind as to what the world would do compared to what God would have you to do. That’s Paul’s point. “Do you not know that we shall judge angels? How much more, matters of this life?”
The shame of their behavior
Well, the problem, the misunderstanding, and the third thing is the shame of their behavior. Look at verse 4: “If then you have law courts dealing with matters of this life, do you appoint them as judges who are of no account in the church?” Now, if you’ve got any other translation, you’re saying, “Where did you read that from?” Folks, that’s one of the most difficult verses I suppose in all of 1 Corinthians to translate. You’ll see many different ways translators will tackle that. I like Dr. Zodhiates’ translation best. He translates this way. “If then you have standards pertaining to this life, sit them to judge who are least esteemed in the church.”
Let’s just walk through that for a second. “If then you have standards pertaining to this life.” The word for standard is kriterion. Guess what word we get from that—criteria. In other words, it’s the means of judging. It can mean that. It can mean the place of judgment or it can mean the judgment itself. Here it means the means of judgment. You have a certain criteria. What’s our criteria? It’s the Word of God. That’s what we have. So we have the Word of God. We have the mind of Christ in 1 Corinthians 2:16. We have the Holy Spirit to give us enlightenment and wisdom; so, therefore, we can do this.
Paul simply says if you have the proper standards to judge the material world, anybody in the church who has those standards and applies them could make that judgment. Why do you have to go outside the church? You can solve it right here. He says, “If then you have standards pertaining to this life.” There are two words for life in Greek. One is bios. I know that blesses you. The other word is zoe. Paul says over in Philippians 1:21, “For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain.” Zoe is the word for the essence of life. That’s not what he’s talking about here. Bios is the material things of life. It’s the matters of life. It’s what we deal with every day.
So he says, “Hey, do you have a standard to govern the material aspect of your life, the tangible part of it, that which you deal from daybreak to dark? Do you have a standard?” Certainly we do. He says, “If you do, then any one can deal with it.” I’ll tell you. Folks, listen. It’s the material, the bios, parts of life that do most of the dividing among God’s people. It’s those material things, if they have anything to do with money for sure. Most of the damage that can be done in the body can be done that way.
I believe we’re going to be raptured before the seven years that’s going to come on this earth. The last three and one half is the great tribulation. I have been that way for a long time and more so now than I ever have been from my personal study. But I meet people all over the country who are different, mid-trib, post-trib. I’m not going to break fellowship with you over your eschatology. You’re going to be surprised. But anyway, I’m not going to do that. I don’t think it’s worth doing that. I really don’t. Jesus is the One who unites us, not our view of eschatology.
But I want to tell you something, folks. You don’t know what’s on the other side. You say, “Yeah, Wayne, and you don’t know what’s on our side.” Let me tell you about some situations I’ve been in. Funerals and godly people who just love Jesus, for instance. They go to church, never miss a time, give their money every week. I mean they are a Christian who just loves Jesus. A person in their family died and what they thought was going to be willed to them was willed to another family member. I want to tell you something, folks. If you want to see Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde real quick, if you want to find out if you’re attached to material things in this world, which by the way in the kingdom of God are the least in the kingdom of God, just watch what happens. As a result, there was almost a fist fight. I was sitting in there thinking, “Uh-oh!” I didn’t know what to do. Two of them were going at each other. I mean, right there in front of me and the funeral director. They didn’t care about their testimony. They didn’t care about anything. They wanted that money that they thought was coming to them.
Folks, that’s what divides the church of Jesus Christ in this day. That’s what’s wrong with us. The apostle Paul says, “Yeah, when it comes to money, the Word doesn’t work anymore. Does it?” That’s when you jump over to the world and find their way. Because if it’s going to cost you, no sir, I’m not going to do it God’s way.
Well, folks, I’ll tell you what. It skinned me alive just studying this stuff. I hope it’s affected you just a little bit. Look how far Corinth had come from thinking the way God wanted them to think. They were so infected by the world they couldn’t even solve their own problems in the church. They had to go somewhere and sue somebody for it.
Do you know what we’re leaving out? There’s a piece if this equation that never seems to get involved when we think we’re right. Do you know what it is? It’s the miraculous power of God to step in and intervene in that situation. People say, “Oh, that’s just pie in the sky stuff.” I’m going to tell you something, friends. Hinging on the unreasonable things God’s Word has us to do lies the unexpected blessings of what God Himself can do. We’ll never know them until we do it the way God says to do it. You see, you never know what God may be doing on the other side. But when you leave Him out of the equation and sue just to sue, you are tied to the cross-tie of the flesh. You’re moving quickly toward that hole. That devastating lack of perception and discernment will drag you right into.
Well, Paul says, “If you have standards pertaining to this life, set them to judge who are least esteemed in the church.” What does “least esteemed in the church” mean? It doesn’t mean you pick the worse Christians in the group and have them do it. No, no. He’s talking about the fact that these people have come out of Corinth, businessmen, lawyers, whatever. They’ve come out of Corinth. Now they’re in the church. When they go back out in the world, they’re the least esteemed of all the people in Corinth. What he’s really saying is, “Let the people in the body, who the world esteems as least, solve it. Don’t go outside the body. You’re going to drag all your dirty laundry before the world.”
Be careful when you’re offended, especially when it involves money in the body of Christ. Your flesh is addicted to sin and will eat your lunch. Don’t attach yourself to the cross-tie of flesh. You know the rest of the story.