Bible Study from Calvary Chapel Newberg
with Tom Fuller
Lesson 10: Don\'t use the world to solve problems
In the last chapter Paul talked about how to deal with big problems in the church involving open, unrepentant sin. Now as we move into Chapter 6, he talks about handling smaller problems between believers. In a way, this is a continuation of the flow from Chapter 5. There he is telling the Corinthians that they ought to know better about blatant, unrepentant sin and should have the discernment to deal with the serious infection. In the same way, they ought to be mature enough to deal with disagreements without having to sue each other! The key here, as with much of what Paul talks about, is how your actions as a believer either positively or negatively affect the propagation of the gospel of Jesus Christ.
There are several possible reasons that it is unadvisable for Christians to take each other to court. 1) A secular judge doesn\'t understand kingdom values. 2. Often we go to court for revenge, not remedy. And 3) Christians fighting each other take the focus off of the gospel and put it on the church. Paul is basically saying that there is a distinction between someone who has been regenerated and someone how has not. This involves dealing with sin?we can\'t just go on being like (or worse than) the world and we also can\'t solve our problems when it is convenient by worldly means. You are different, so act like it! This theme continues on through Chapter 8.
This isn\'t to be confused with what Paul said in Chapter 5 vs 13. God will judge those in the world as to whether they receive Christ, but we will help Jesus judge, or rule the world upon his return.
Paul reminds the Corinthians that they will have a much larger role when Jesus comes back. 2 Timothy 2:12 \"if we endure, we will also reign with Him\". As Christians we will sit on thrones judging the world. We will help Jesus rule this planet. Doesn\'t that suggest a certain amount of discernment and maturity? Judges are not supposed to be swayed by opinion, emotion, or pressure. They are to apply the law fairly to all. We will be called upon to apply the Law fairly?adjudicating matters of great import.
So why not start now? If we get into squabbles with our brothers and sisters over small things, how can we hope to judge grave matters later on? We need to develop these skills now. So don\'t take matters to a secular judge, when we need to use kingdom principals first.
It\'s not clear what Paul means by this?whether we will take part in condemning Satan and his angels or that God\'s angels will somehow work for us as we help Christ reign over the earth. But his point is the same?in light of what you will be doing shouldn\'t you be able to handle average ordinary arguments?
4 ? 6
Outside judges have \"no standing\" in the church because they judge according to worldly standards and are not part of the body of Christ per se. They wouldn\'t understand or even be able to apply the character of Jesus to a situation. Paul means to shame the Corinthians because they couldn\'t seem to find even one respectable leader among them with enough wisdom to maneuver the dispute and help the parties to settle it. Or perhaps they worried that their lack of Christ-like character might be called out.
Worse yet, when they sued each other in court it became a terrible witness for Jesus Christ. And that\'s the most important thing. Everything should keep in mind whether or not our actions are pushing people towards or away from faith in Jesus.
7 ? 8
Often times the reason there are disputes in the first place is due to immaturity. We\'ve already learned how immature the Corinthians were, though they considered themselves very mature. That same immaturity led them to sue each other rather than working out their disputes. If they had really begun to reflect the character of Christ then they wouldn\'t be doing things that would lead to lawsuits in the first place. That\'s why it is already a defeat for them.
Philippians 2:3-4 Do nothing out of rivalry or conceit, but in humility consider others as more important than yourselves. 4 Everyone should look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others.
Paul says a mature believer would be patient and let many offenses pass. This reflects the character of Christ.
Matthew 5:38-42 \"You have heard that it was said, An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth. 39 But I tell you, don\'t resist an evildoer. On the contrary, if anyone slaps you on your right cheek, turn the other to him also. 40 As for the one who wants to sue you and take away your shirt, let him have your coat as well. 41 And if anyone forces you to go one mile, go with him two. 42 Give to the one who asks you, and don\'t turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you.\"
There\'s another point here too?why would one Christian EVER cheat another that would lead to the need for this kind of action anyway? I see in the church an attitude that says \"my freedom in Christ means I can let the flesh have its way and others will have to put up with it.\" In fact, we self-delude ourselves into thinking that acting in an un-Christlike way in the church is okay. It is not!
9 ? 10
The list from Paul is very sobering, not just for the obvious sins that are listed, but for those that are not so obvious. Would we consider alcoholism to be a sin that would exclude someone from God\'s kingdom? What about reviling? The word means \"to slander\". Or greediness? The idea is that those who have not repented and sought the forgiveness of Jesus as their Lord?but think that they can go to heaven, are going to be in for a very rude awakening.
Anything that is not like God cannot hope to exist in His presence. Remember: \"our God is a consuming fire.\" (Hebrews 12:29).
Notice too that homosexuality is on this list. I don\'t care what people say, God says it is a sin, a forgivable sin, but a sin none the less.
The point here, though, is to point out how once the Corinthians were somewhere on this or other lists (Revelation also includes lying ? ouch!). They too would be excluded but for one thing: Jesus.
Since we have had our sins washed away, are being transformed into his character and justified in His presence (no more separation), shouldn\'t we reflect this new character and not go back to the old ways of getting what we want no matter who we have to roll over? If our character is not changing, perhaps we need to question whether or not we even know the Lord.
Arguing can often be a sign of immaturity
If you find yourself in lots of disagreements with other Christians, it may be less a sign that you are a victim and more a sign that you are immature. Often it is pride?that sense of self-rightness?that leads us into quarrels. And again, I am NOT speaking about contending for the faith by reasoning from the Scriptures. These are more disagreements over style, opinion, personality?or quarrels over things that shouldn\'t really matter to Christians anyway like position, power, or property.
I want to conclude with a long passage from Romans, but it really typifies the way we should be relating to each other, instead of trying to solve the Lord\'s problems using the world\'s methods:
Romans 12:9-21 Love must be without hypocrisy. Detest evil; cling to what is good. 10 Show family affection to one another with brotherly love. Outdo one another in showing honor. 11 Do not lack diligence; be fervent in spirit; serve the Lord. 12 Rejoice in hope; be patient in affliction; be persistent in prayer. 13 Share with the saints in their needs; pursue hospitality. 14 Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. 15 Rejoice with those who rejoice; weep with those who weep. 16 Be in agreement with one another. Do not be proud; instead, associate with the humble. Do not be wise in your own estimation. 17 Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Try to do what is honorable in everyone\'s eyes. 18 If possible, on your part, live at peace with everyone. 19 Friends, do not avenge yourselves; instead, leave room for His wrath. For it is written: Vengeance belongs to Me; I will repay, says the Lord. 20 ButIf your enemy is hungry, feed him. If he is thirsty, give him something to drink. For in so doing you will be heaping fiery coals on his head. 21 Do not be conquered by evil, but conquer evil with good.
Can\'t you see how Paul was frustrated by the Corinthians? Not only were they going to secular judges to settle matters among believers but the fact that there were disputes in the first place shows how immature they were.
For our part we need to be people who are submitted to the Lordship of Jesus Christ in our lives, receiving from Him those things we need and not worrying about the rest and certainly not worrying over whether we\'ve been ripped off by another brother.
This kind of attitude would free us up to the real work we are called to: be prepared to work with the Lord to share His wonderful story of love in a world filled with those in desperate need of being washed!