Gospel of Reconciliation
Lord, make me acutely aware of guarding the sanctity of Your name in the community.
Read 1 CORINTHIANS 6:1–11
If any of you has a dispute with another, do you dare to take it before the ungodly for judgment instead of before the Lord’s people? 2 Or do you not know that the Lord’s people will judge the world? And if you are to judge the world, are you not competent to judge trivial cases? 3 Do you not know that we will judge angels? How much more the things of this life! 4 Therefore, if you have disputes about such matters, do you ask for a ruling from those whose way of life is scorned in the church? 5 I say this to shame you. Is it possible that there is nobody among you wise enough to judge a dispute between believers? 6 But instead, one brother takes another to court—and this in front of unbelievers!
7 The very fact that you have lawsuits among you means you have been completely defeated already. Why not rather be wronged? Why not rather be cheated? 8 Instead, you yourselves cheat and do wrong, and you do this to your brothers and sisters. 9 Or do you not know that wrongdoers will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor men who have sex with men 10 nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. 11 And that is what some of you were. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.
New International Version (NIV)
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“Things are different now, something happened to me, since I gave my heart to Jesus. Things are different now, I was changed, it must be, since I gave my heart to him” (Stanton W. Gavitt, 1911–1985).
Paul may not be enamored over a church where people fall out with one another, but he is shocked that in Corinth believers are settling their disputes in the local secular courts. It seems outrageous to him that people destined to judge angels in eternity (3) cannot sort out their squabbles down here. There is an important challenge in verse 7: why not be cheated or wronged rather than take another Christian to a secular law court? This is Sermon-on-the-Mount stuff, where Jesus makes similar demands of his followers, urging them to turn the other cheek (Matt. 5:38–42). The Corinthian believers have forgotten that they are called to be different from their non-Christian neighbors.
Should these standards apply to us today? Well, maybe not in a prescriptive or an absolute way, but it surely makes sense for those in a local church at least to consult leadership when antagonism arises between members that may require conciliation or settlement. I read about a local garage that people trusted with their car repairs, but which lost its reputation when one of their mechanics was spotted taking his own car to another, non-registered garage (N. T. Wright, Paul for Everyone)! Potential customers were wondering why he did not trust his own operation. Believers really do need to “walk the walk” as well as “talk the talk.”
Verses 9–11 are some of the most encouraging in the New Testament. God reveals here that no matter how defiant we were in the past, we are now called to accept his son as Messiah so that our lives may be radically changed. Outside the door lie the rags of our former defiance, which Paul regards as
unacceptable behavior within the community of faith. To condone sin is to lose the power of those amazing words in verse 11, “And that is what some of you were…”
Give thanks that your chains are gone! Whatever bound you in the past, you are washed, justified and sanctified now in Christ.
Lord, thank You for washing me clean from my former life of sin and rebellion, having issued me a full pardon.