Tags: 1 Corinthians 6, commentary on 1 Corinthians, homosexuality, immorality, Justification, righteousness, sanctification, sexual sin, Sunday School lessons on 1 Corinthians, unrighteousness
Dare any of you, having a matter against another, go to law before the unjust, and not before the saints?
I Corinthians 6:1
This was another problem in the Corinthian church. The Knows were taking their legal disputes before the Know-Nots instead of resolving them within the church. This is one of the ways in which we can tell that the letter from Paul to the Corinthians that we call “I Corinthians” was not an instance of Paul simply giving out general information. He was responding to specific situations in Corinth. His reasons for rebuking them remind us, that as Knows, we must:
I. Know our future
Do ye not know that the saints shall judge the world? and if the world shall be judged by you, are ye unworthy to judge the smallest matters?
I Corinthians 6:2
If we know our future, we will know our privilege. In the regeneration the “saints” (the Knows) will “rule the world.” Having this tremendous privilege, how unworthy it seems of our calling not to be able to handle such relatively petty squabbles.
Know ye not that we shall judge angels? how much more things that pertain to this life?
I Corinthians 6:3
There is some disagreement about the statement that we will “judge angels,” but this is probably referring to ruling over angels, rather than sitting in judgment over the condemnation of the demons. These are eternal responsibilities, but we must demonstrate that we know our responsibility here and now.
If then ye have judgments of things pertaining to this life, set them to judge who are least esteemed in the church.
I Corinthians 6:4
This may be a somewhat sarcastic statement, because Paul was not saying that those with the least honor ought to be given this responsibility. He was saying that, in light of their boasting over spiritual gifts (highlighted both earlier and later in the letter), even the least of them should be competent to handle earthly matters.
I speak to your shame. Is it so, that there is not a wise man among you? no, not one that shall be able to judge between his brethren?
I Corinthians 6:5
Paul was trying to make them feel ashamed of hurting their testimony in front of the Know-Nots (the lost world) around them. They were acting as petty as the world acts, when they were supposed to be the ones with the true wisdom. Such behavior was the opposite of glorifying God – it brought shame to His name.
But brother goeth to law with brother, and that before the unbelievers. Now therefore there is utterly a fault among you, because ye go to law one with another. Why do ye not rather take wrong? why do ye not rather suffer yourselves to be defrauded?
I Corinthians 6:6-7
The Holy Spirit inspired Paul to use the term “utterly” because this was a clear, without-out-a-doubt, extreme fault. It would be better for them to give up their legal rights and to lose worldly possessions and prestige, than to drag their bickering and evidence of their lack of love out before the sight of those who ought to be impressed with Christians because of how different from this world’s system their attitudes are.
Knows, in addition to knowing our future, ought to:
II. Know our past
Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind,
I Corinthians 6:9
The “unrighteous” is a reference to the behavior listed in the preceding verses on lawsuits. The Knows were appealing to an unjust “justice” system and unjust judges by going before the heathen courts. It is also a reference to their own pre-Christian behavior, delineated in the latter part of the verse, which was “unrighteous” in the sense that it is the type of behavior which you would expect to see practiced by the those who are “unjustified,” theologically speaking. These sins prohibit anyone who commits them from inheriting the Kingdom of God unless the guilty sinners are justified by the receipt of a substituted alien righteousness.
As an aside, note that homosexual activity is explicitly condemned in this verse, both the “effeminate” (the person playing the role of the “woman” in a homosexual relationship) and “abusers of themselves with mankind” (the person playing the role of the “man” in a homosexual relationship).
Nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God.
I Corinthians 6:10
“Extortioners” included swindlers and coercers by intimidation or influence, as well as by force.
And such were some of you: but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God.
I Corinthians 6:11
Knows know their past. They know who they were and who they are; they do not kid themselves. They are new creatures with their sins forgiven, no longer condemned by their past deeds, but they are allowed to remember where they were without God, how that was working out for them, and where they were headed before He rescued them. These verses remind true believers of what kind of behavior they should not be doing. In fact, they should hate the sins listed in these verses both when they are tempted to engage in them, and when they stumble and find themselves involved in them again, as they are convicted and chastened by the Holy Spirit. This means that we have legitimate grounds for being suspicious about the sincerity of the professions of those who practice these delineated sinful behaviors without repentance.
III. Know our present
All things are lawful unto me, but all things are not expedient: all things are lawful for me, but I will not be brought under the power of any.
I Corinthians 6:12
This indicates that the doctrine of Christian liberty was also an issue in Corinth, or that, possibly, someone had asked a specific question about it. “All things” is an expression referring to non-sinful things. Paul was free in Christ from trying to work for his righteousness, but there were many things which were not at all helpful, convenient, or profitable for him in his walk with Christ, and it is the same for us – especially those things which prove to be addictive or have a propensity to be addictive.
Meats for the belly, and the belly for meats: but God shall destroy both it and them. Now the body is not for fornication, but for the Lord; and the Lord for the body.
I Corinthians 6:13
“Meats for the belly, and the belly for meats” was probably intended as mockery of one of the Corinthians’ common expressions as they used their “freedom” as an excuse for gluttony or hedonism. So, while it is true that food is given by God to feed the body (meats for the belly), and that He has designed our bodies not only to incorporate and use food, but to enjoy food (the belly for meats), it is likewise true that the human body was never intended by God to be used in the worship of any created thing (such as food). In fact, our bodies have both temporal and eternal purposes, so that, while we have some freedom to experience pleasure with them, they must never be used as tools or instruments of sin. See the distinction between flesh-body (“belly”) and the sanctified body (“body”). The Apostle was criticizing and condemning their faulty logic: “If eating is okay, and if eating feels good to the body, then fornication, which also feels good to the body, is likewise permissible.” He reminded them that:
And God hath both raised up the Lord, and will also raise up us by his own power.
I Corinthians 6:14
God has both temporal and eternal plans and uses for the body. We will receive glorified bodies, but they will be resurrected bodies, so they will be “our” bodies – the same ones we dragged through the physical trials, and, sadly, sins of this world. The Knows must know the present – the present importance of how we are living and how we are using our bodies. We are joined together as the body of Christ – not only with each other – but with Christ Himself.
Know ye not that your bodies are the members of Christ? shall I then take the members of Christ, and make them the members of an harlot? God forbid.
I Corinthians 6:15
When we join our bodies with other human beings in sinful sexual unions we are, in a sense, bringing part of Christ Himself into this union. This is a horrendous, defiling, blasphemous, sacrilegious, abomination before God. “God forbid” is the strongest rebuke and warning – it is like saying this must never happen.
Continuing in that vein of outrage or at least righteous indignation, Paul says:
What? know ye not that he which is joined to an harlot is one body? for two, saith he, shall be one flesh.
I Corinthians 6:16
Physical intercourse does not make a marriage, although this is sometimes erroneously taught, but it is true that the physical sexual union is only proper within the “one-flesh” joining-together by God in actual marriage.
Flee fornication. Every sin that a man doeth is without the body; but he that committeth fornication sinneth against his own body.
I Corinthians 6:18
“Flee fornication” describes a desperate flight of avoidance or separation. Sexual sin is a special category of sin in which the sinner sins against God, against one of God’s image-bearers, and even against himself – his own body.
What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s.
I Corinthians 6:19-20
We have been purchased – by an Owner and for a purpose. We do not “belong to ourselves.” This is a reminder that our bodies must be clean (kept from defilement as typified by the Old Testament Tabernacle and Temple), and must be viewed, in a sense, as the place where God lives as Owner and Ruler. My body is where God is to be served – not where I am to be served. I must not connect it to a pagan temple. I must not let pagans enter in and defile it with sin. The consequences are harsh – God does not lightly allow His temple be defiled with unholiness.