- Sermon Notes
1 Corinthians 6:1-8
Paul writes to the church in Corinth, they were babes in Christ, they were spiritually immature, and so he writes to build and strengthen their faith,
but also to correct their course.
Their spiritual immaturity was already getting them off track and so there’s a strong sense of correction to what Paul writes. There was division and
strife and jealousy as they had little mini denominations within the church.
Now, in Chapter 6, Paul addresses another area where their spiritual immaturity caused them to get off course. Apparently, their division and strife
was not just limited to whether they aligned themselves with Paul, or Apollos, or Peter, or even Christ, they had many conflicts; to the point
that there were lawsuits going on between them, believer against believer. In other words, they were taking their conflicts to the unspiritual,
This isn’t right, Paul instructs them. He then shows them the way of maturity, the way of the Spirit. Do you not know, Paul is saying, that you’re
not what you used to be, you’ve been washed, you’ve been sanctified, you’ve been justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, and in the Spirit
of our God.
Therefore, walk in the light of who you are in Christ and not in the way you used to be when you were in the world. Otherwise, how is the church any
different than just a group of people in a gathering? We are in Christ, we have the Holy Spirit, and we are called to walk in a new life, transformed
by the renewing of our minds.
I. Be Mature in Conflicts
- It would be wonderful if we never had conflicts at all, but the truth of the matter is that this side of heaven, conflicts are a part of life.
- Are there principles that guide our maturity? Yes, absolutely, and Paul shows us those principles of God’s wisdom.
- The first principle is that we are not our own, we’ve been bought with a price, therefore, glorify God by being spiritually mature in conflicts.
- This is an important principle because many believers have the conviction that they should be forgiving and gracious, but as soon as conflict arises,
emotions kick in and they throw off all Christian constraints and all hell breaks loose; which is unfortunately an accurate word.
A. Resolve it in the church
- Paul first makes the point that brother should not bring a case against another brother before the secular courts. Instead, the matter should be
resolved by those who are mature in the church.
- “Do you not know?” Paul said, “that the saints will judge the world?” By this it suggests that they should have known. Perhaps Paul taught them
- Jesus Himself taught that those who are faithful in little things, will be put in charge of many things…
Luke 19:17, And he said to him, “Well done, good servant, because you have been faithful in a very little thing, you are to be in authority over ten cities.”
- Paul also said that we shall judge angels; and if that is true, how much more, then, should we be able to judge matters of this life.
- How shall we judge angels, or why, is not clear. We know that Jesus is much higher than the angels and that we shall rule and reign with him. We
also know that angels minister unto the saints.
Hebrews 1:14, Are [angels] not all ministering spirits, sent out to render service for the sake of those who will inherit salvation?
- Therefore, says Paul, shouldn’t the mature saints be able to judge between the brethren?
Illus – A single mother asked the church to help her seek justice from a Christian brother. We met with him and his pastor and resolved it peacefully.
- That being said, the disputes Paul is referring to include relationship and property issues, but criminal cases, for example, belong to the state.
- And in disputes with nonbelievers, the courts are your only recourse.
Illus – I worked in a small restaurant in my teens. I came in one day to find that the manager had taken off with the payroll. Eventually I found him and filed in small claims court against him. He wasn’t a believer, it’s all I could do.
- There is also the assumption here that brothers in a conflict respect the wisdom of spiritual leaders. If not, then it cannot be resolved in the
church at all. In other words, if a brother does not respect the church and will not submit to its leaders, then there may be no recourse other
Illus – I was once asked to help resolve a business issue between brothers in another city, but as it became clear that one side was in the wrong, he pulled away. The other let it go, saying, “God settles all accounts.”
B. Be willing to be wronged
- In verse 7 Paul says that the very fact there are lawsuits at all is a defeat for them. Love has not won the day. If they could resolve issues
between themselves, wouldn’t that be the result of maturity?
Illus – Raising our kids, we tried to let them settle their disputes first. If not, then we stepped in and helped them resolve it peacefully; a teaching opportunity.
- But there is a godly principle of maturity; “Why not rather be wrong? Why not rather be defrauded?”
- This is the principle of grace, of treating people better than they deserve. And it’s also the way of peace, and God has called us to have peace
in our relationships.
Illus – We often have a volleyball tournament at our church family picnic every summer and whatever team I’m on call I’ll huddle everyone together and say, “If there is any difference of opinion on how the ball lands, give it to the other team.” Winning is just not that important.
Illus – When King David was fleeing Jerusalem because his son Absalom was against him, a man named Shimei came, standing some distance from him, and continually shouted insults and cursing at him. David’s general, Abishai, wanted to go over and dispatch his head, but David refused, saying…
2 Samuel 16:12, “Perhaps the Lord will look on my affliction and return good to me instead of his cursing this day.”
- That’s actually a statement of faith. David believed that God is the one who settles all accounts. And God did settle the issues of both Absalom
- We live and move and have our being before the Lord and we need to trust that He is the one who orders our steps.
Illus – When I was in my early 20s I agreed to a particular business arrangement with a brother. However, some time later my attorney said that I could not legally agree to that arrangement. But I had given my word. I asked him to seek God’s peace in prayer and that I would abide by his decision. Peace prevailed.
II. Win the Person, not the Argument
- When you take the perspective of being willing to be wronged, you’re saying that the relationship is more important than being right.
- God is showing us through Paul that we are brothers, that relationship matters. We can’t take stuff with us to heaven, but we can take relationships.
They are eternal.
Matthew 5:9, “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.”
Romans 12:17-18, Respect what is right in the sight of all men. If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men.
- If you’re the kind of person who has to win every argument, then you’ve already lost because you’re going to have a hard time maintaining a relationship.
- Winning doesn’t actually resolve conflicts, it just postpones them for the next chapter. That chapter is called “getting even.”
A. Out grace and out love
- The problem with insisting on winning an argument is that it makes the other person a loser. But grace is more powerful because it may very well
bring resolve between you and you may very well also win your brother over.
Illus – Last year we had a leaders conference here at the church and one of the principles we abide by in our leadership is that if someone were to bring an issue against us, they would have to out grace and out love us in order to defeat us.
Proverbs 15:1, A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.
- Grace is a very powerful weapon because it may very well undo your enemy, but instead of defeating him, you make him a brother. That’s powerful.
- But grace is not just a stratagem; it’s a quality of character, one that God finds honorable and godly.
- Grace is also the quality of the spiritually mature. Mere men are divisive and contentious.
Proverbs 26:21, Like charcoal to hot embers and wood to fire, so is a contentious man to kindle strife.
2 Timothy 2:24-26, The Lord’s bondservant must not be quarrelsome, but be kind to all, able to teach, patient when wronged, with gentleness correcting those who are in opposition, if perhaps God may grant them repentance leading to the knowledge of the truth, and they may come to their senses and escape from the snare of the devil, having been held captive by him to do his will.
- Resolving issues and conflicts is a mark of spiritual maturity and those who are mature are called to be an example and lead those who are still growing in their faith.
- The problem is that many people struggle in knowing how to bring grace and love into a conflict so that the matter is settled.
- The key is to speak the truth, but speak the truth in love. Truth by itself can be very harsh, but truth spoken in love is very effective.
Ephesians 4:15, But speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in all aspects into Him who is the head, even Christ.
John 13:34-35, “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”
- This is actually a commandment of Jesus. Someone might say, “Did Jesus really give commandments? I mean like commandment like commandments? I knew
there were commandments in the Old Testament, but are there actually commandments in the New Testament? I don’t like to word commandment, it
sounds so command like, so definitive, so inconvenient.
- “By this,” Jesus said, “all men will know that you are My disciples.” It’s His character in us.
C. More of Him and less of me
- You know what the greatest obstacle is to resolving division and conflict? It’s when there’s too much of me, too much of my pride, too much of
my hurt feelings; they get in the way of peace.
- We need more of Him, more of His principles, more of His wisdom, more of His grace.
- The problem is that emotions from hurt pride can be very powerful. I’m convinced that emotions are a wonderful gift from God, but they were meant
to serve and not to master.
- I have a saying, “Emotions make great servants, but terrible masters.” As Paul says in the next section…
1 Corinthians 6:12, All things are lawful for me, but I will not be mastered by anything.
- It’s a question of faith. Godly results require godly ways. The principles of wisdom that Paul gives us in these chapters are powerful and effective,
but we need to stay out of the way and trust that His ways are higher than the way we used to be.
1 Corinthians 6:1-8 NASB
1 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? 2 Or do you not
know that the saints will judge the world? If the world is judged by you, are you not competent toconstitute the smallest law courts? 3 Do you
not know that we will judge angels? How much more matters of this life? 4 So if you have law courts dealing with matters of this life, do you appoint
them as judges who are of no account in the church? 5 I say this to your shame. Is it so, that there is not among you one wise man who will be
able to decide between his brethren, 6 but brother goes to law with brother, and that before unbelievers? 7 Actually, then, it is already a defeat
for you, that you have lawsuits with one another. Why not rather be wronged? Why not rather be defrauded? 8 On the contrary, you yourselves wrong
and defraud. You do this even to your brethren.