1 Corinthians 6:1-11

Big Idea: You have been washed so live like you are clean.

When one of you has a grievance against another, does he dare go to law before the unrighteous instead of the saints? 2 Or do you not know that the saints will judge the world? And if the world is to be judged by you, are you incompetent to try trivial cases? 3 Do you not know that we are to judge angels? How much more, then, matters pertaining to this life! 4 So if you have such cases, why do you lay them before those who have no standing in the church? 5 I say this to your shame. Can it be that there is no one among you wise enough to settle a dispute between the brothers, 6 but brother goes to law against brother, and that before unbelievers? 7 To have lawsuits at all with one another is already a defeat for you. Why not rather suffer wrong? Why not rather be defrauded? 8 But you yourselves wrong and defraud–even your own brothers! 9 Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, 10 nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. 11 And such were some of you. 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. (1 Corinthians 6:1-11 ESV)

Christians do not wrong or defraud others because they have been cleansed by Christ.

  1. The Problem

There are times where people get mad at each other and they hit each other. Maybe they see something they want and they go and take it from them. You may see that particularly with kids and younger people. But when you get older you might not want to do that. Maybe your strong point is not your strength but your money. Then you might decide to take someone to court and sue them. This is what the Corinthians were doing. Adults have the same inclinations as kids, but are far more sophisticated in hiding the carnal desire. And they are not taking random people to court, but they are taking their own church family to court!

That would make church a little awkward when you come in and see the person you are suing. This shows you some of the divisions the church had. It is easier to take someone to court when you feel like they are less than you. Were baptized by a different person. This issue of law suits between those in the church is addressed here.

This passage has been used to say Christians should never go to court. I don’t believe that is the case. God establishes authorities and laws in society for the good of all, part of that authority is law. I think Christians can go to court. But the issue here is not just that they are going to court, but that they are wronging and defrauding each other (v5).

*They are not looking for justice, they are looking for advancement by putting others down.* Greed is the root problem!

Another issue is who they are having to decide the case for them. They are going to court with unbelievers, those outside the church. A possibility for this may be to maximize what they get, or to go where they can possibly manipulate the courts. Pay more money, get a better lawyer. In their time many cases were won by the lawyer’s aptitude for rhetoric. Making a case more compelling than it is. The Corinthians have claimed to be so wise but now there is no one capable of judging their cases in the court. incompetent v2, v 5 no one wise among you.

They are to find judges in the church. Not because unbelieving judges are no good. Not because unbelieving judges can’t interpret the Roman law. But because Christians should first and foremost be concerned with the law of Jesus, and this is something the unbelieving judges know nothing about.

To have lawsuits among you is already to have lost (v7). “Total Defeat.” The Corinthians are more concerned about worldly wealth and status than with the gospel of Jesus Christ. They show little concern for the good of the church.

Swindlers: robbers, ravenous wolves: v10

Greedy: as one who wants more than his share, especially of material possessions covetous, greedy or grasping person

The problem is greed. Aquinas “it is a sin directly against one’s neighbor, since one man cannot over-abound in external riches, without another man lacking them… it is a sin against God, just as all mortal sins, inasmuch as man contemns things eternal for the sake of temporal things.”

  1. Why not suffer wrong.

The key issue is about the motive of the heart. *sin of desire* “Why not suffer wrong? Why not be defrauded?” v7. Why do you find it so intolerable to let someone take something of yours.

If anyone hits you on the cheek, offer the other also. And if anyone takes away your coat, don’t hold back your shirt either. (Luke 6:29 CSB)

Fine line between wanting God’s kingdom and wanting our kingdom. We erroneously make God’s glory too closely connected to our prosperity. If I get that new game I will praise you all the time Lord. If that girl will go on a date with me I will serve you. If I get that deal I will… Converse is if I don’t get it I won’t praise you. You serve God to be prosperous. This can lead us to wound and hurt others in an effort to prosper ourselves.

Why not be wronged? Begin to see it’s about what we worship. It’s idolatry. When we worship money, it leads us to oppress others. It’s a cancer that needs to be cut out.

Greed is at the heart of so much in the world: racism (putting others down), riots where innocent people are hurt.

Asking the question (are you willing to be wronged) can put us in line to do things with the right attitude.

I am amazed at how much time in my ministry career I have spent talking with lawyers. I didn’t get a class on that in seminary. My last church had been there about a year when we got hit with an egregious civil lawsuit on an issue that happened 20+ years before. The accusations were bogus but they mixed enough history into it to stir up a bunch of people. We found out through the media that we were being sued. We didn’t understand it at the time, but now in retrospect they were just trying to get money from the church and willing to completely ruin people and their reputations to do it. But I was grateful to be a part of an elder team with some outstanding people. It’s a heavy thing when you are discussing how to handle a legal suit that could cost the church everything it has. We weighed these words as we thought about what to do. Some said let’s not go to court. We can be wronged for Christ. We weighed that and others said, “we can’t let lies and injustice prevail. We can’t give into these people.”

There were some tense meetings. We prayed and read the Scripture. I remember in a meeting where the weight of feeling like we have to fight for everything we have fell off. Feeling like it is all on us to protect and defend. To get even with these people. God simply loosened our fingers and opened our hands. We were willing to give everything up, but we didn’t want to see injustice prevail.

We decided to defend ourselves against their accusations, and we did it in a way that I was proud to be a part of that. It was an incredibly hard time. The legal process dragged on but it was quickly apparent they had no case. That attitude helped us to endure a hard season, and it helped us to remember we are not doing this to advance ourselves or our prosperity but the gospel itself. If you are not willing to suffer you will wear yourself out trying to protect yourself, your reputation, your image or you will wear out those around you. There is freedom in knowing Christ as your ultimate treasure.

Brothers, sisters, coworkers. Do you have to make sure that everyone respects you fully? Are you willing to put others down to elevate yourself?

They are fighting against brothers. Against people they should be allies with. When God’s kingdom is big, other things get much smaller. But if you don’t have a good understanding of God’s kingdom you are going to want to fight and sue for everything you can get in this life. You will be willing to treat people poorly just to get ahead of them. You will be willing to trade God’s kingdom for your kingdom.

V5 should have been ashamed. They are proud.

V7-8 unrighteous, they are acting like unbelievers.

Acts like one who will inherit the kingdom of God.

  1. Act Like One Who is Washed

Entering a ride and you have to be a certain height. Entering into God’s kingdom requires you to do certain things. A friend who almost went out of the slide because he was too tall.

This passage is about lawsuits and then in verse 9 he begins talking about all those who will not inherit the kingdom of God: “neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, 10 nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God”

~Why bring these things up now? I think to show them how bad greed is. Often in the church we can look down on sexual immorality, drunkenness, stealing, homosexuality, etc., and then live with unchecked greed (v9 words refer specifically to homosexual behavior). It is out of line for God’s people.

How many people confess their sins of greed? And yet churches are destroyed by people wanting their way. Wanting something in the church and causing a bunch of trouble to get it.

How many in the church allow their greed to keep them from generosity in the mission of God. We want the world to repent, but we are not willing to do that. We get rid of the obvious things, but never really give him the secret things, the deep things.

We are to live different. Committed to God. Committed to generosity.

You can be changed. He wants the Corinthians to grow up into what God has for them! It’s not just do this and this. It is you need to be amazed at what Christ has accomplished for you.

I was one too. When you get mad and you just want to injure people. When you realize the same problem that person has is the same problem you have then compassion will start to show. The “how could you?” of self-righteousness disappears.

V11. Washed… past tense. Definite event in the past, namely the conversion of the Christian he is addressing.

11 And such were some of you. 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.

Christ does everything you need. Do you ever mess up and wonder if you can ever be made whole again. Feel worthless and like you will never be anything good. That’s the devil. Christ offers healing, cleansing,

*God is trying to get this church to live in line with what he has done for them.*

We get dirty like dishes. Do you ever watch your little brother or sister do the dishes and it’s like he can’t get it right. Misses stuff so you pull out the cup and it’s still got milk on it.

Look we messed up and couldn’t get it right so our heavenly Father made a way. He sent his son to cleanse us of sins. Our cleansing is spiritual and a dishwasher can’t handle that. Only in Jesus can we find cleansing. We can be justified. Legal pronouncement saying you’re are right with God.

It’s amazing that a bunch of no good, greedy, swindlers can be made right with God. Tell me you’re not greedy, swindler, and I’ll tell you you’re a liar too. And it’s ok because Jesus died for that too. But surrender your all to him and not just the unimportant parts of life. That’s grace. And when you encounter that grace and understand it, then you want to share it with others, no matter the cost.

Are you amazed at Jesus? Do you marvel in what he has done for you? Are you willing to be wronged and defrauded in hopes that others would come to know him? Are you willing to lose or be held of little account that Christ might be exalted?

Greedy with time. Greedy with money.

So consumed with earth we are of no heavenly good.

Church this is our mission, but if we love the world more than what Christ has done for us, we are going to fall flat on our face. Will we love him more than our money, more than our careers, more than our dreams. Are we going to live in the newness of life he has for us?

What takes me out of fruitfulness more than anything else, greed. I want to wake up, get my breakfast, go work out, get all my to do done, come home relax by the tv; but then someone needs something at a time I want to do something else. Gospel opportunities never come at convenient times.

Discussion Questions

  1. What are the problems with the Corinthians that Paul is addressing here? What seems to be the main underlying issues?
  2. How does Paul address the issues? What is he trying to get them to see (v8-11)?
  3. What does this passage teach you about dealing with greed in your life? How does greed and arguments keep us from fruitfulness in the mission to reach others (6:7)?
  4. How has knowing Christ made you a more generous and forgiving person? What are some ways or areas you become more generous and forgiving?