Corinth: Clean Up the Church

by Skip Heitzig

1 Corinthians 6 – Skip Heitzig

Calvary Church is dedicated to doctrine, and we want you to experience the life change that comes from knowing God’s word and applying it to your life. So we explain the Bible verse by verse, every chapter, every book. This is Expound.

You’re my folks. I tell you this so often. I hope you have one of these. Did you bring one of these?

It could be that you don’t have one or you didn’t bring one. I hope you do have one. If you don’t, I think it’s good to actually get a real Bible that has real pages and real words written on it.

You’ll never lose it in the cloud. You may lose it– like, you might leave it somewhere, but somebody will find it and read it. But it’s good to have it, because unlike an electronic Bible– though, they’re fine. And if you have one, it’s fine.

But when you have a Bible that you carry with you, you’re able to visually remember where certain things are on certain pages, right. You know what that’s like? I know it’s on the left hand column right around there, and you have it marked.

And it’s like studying a map over time. You become very familiar with it, and it’s important to know the Bible well enough that you can turn to it when you need to pull out certain truths to remind others of or to remind ourselves of. So if you don’t have a Bible, we’d be happy to help out with that in some capacity.

We have them in our bookstore next door, a good selection of Bibles. If there’s a Bible close to you tonight, you could just maybe take your friends and just see if they’re a good Christian and take it from them and see what they do. Or better yet, there’s one probably in the seat in front of you. You could borrow that and follow along.

We’re in the book of 1 Corinthians, and we’re in chapter 6. And as we begin, I’m mindful that we are still in a very uncertain period in the world, a world filled with chaos, a world filled with mental distress, people facing all sorts of uncertainty in their own future with their jobs, with their health, et cetera. It’s a good time to remember those that we love, those in the church in our prayers as we begin tonight.

Father, we come before you and present ourselves before you as living sacrifices. That’s how Paul told us to do it. And so Father we give you us. We give you our bodies. We pray that as we live out our sacrifice for you in this world that you would use us for your purpose and your glory.

And we pray that you will minister to us tonight giving us answers, helping us to get a grasp of this letter that Paul wrote not only to the Corinthian church but that the Holy Spirit has given to this church. And so Father, it is for us. It is very contemporary, and I pray that we would learn its lessons.

Father, we want to pray for those that are loved of us, relatives or friends that are struggling in their health. They may be a part of our own family. They may be a part of our local church community. They may be outside this city and in various states or around the world, but we are remembering them just now before you’re throne.

And we pray that you will touch, and we pray that you will restore health. We pray that you will strengthen their physical body. We pray that you will speak to them in their very heart of hearts assuring them of your care and your love for them, reminding them of your great promise, promises in your word to keep them and to enact your plan perfectly in their lives.

I pray you give them that confidence. And as we begin, not only remember them and pray for them, but we also say we trust you. That you are good and that no matter what we are seeing or feeling around us, you never change. And as we approach your word tonight, I pray that we would have that confidence, and that confidence would be bolstered. We ask in Jesus’s name, amen.

In chapter 6 of 1 Corinthians, in the first verse it begins with the question. Paul writes to his beloved believers in Corinth saying dare any of you having a matter against another go to law before the unrighteous and not before the saints. Now I want to give you a little bit of context to what we’re reading in case you weren’t with us the last few weeks or you haven’t been a part of this book. Even if you have, it’s good to sort of get a running start into these texts.

The book, the letter of 1 Corinthians is addressing various issues, problems that the church of Corinth was facing. It happens to be a favorite book of mine, because it was a church filled with problems. I don’t say that because I like problem churches. I just know that every church is indeed a problem church.

Every congregation has its own issues, and I am glad that– and I’ve said this before many times that the New Testament portrays accurately just how lacking the New Testament church was. So when people say we need to get back to the New Testament church, I’m always wondering which one are you thinking of. Because Corinth was a New Testament church, and it’s very contemporary and applicational to us.

Chapters 1 and chapters 2, chapter 1 and 2 of 1 Corinthians is about congregational disunity. They were breaking up into various groups. They were playing favorites, one with another or one against another, some saying I’m of the group that loves the teachings of Paul or I’m of the group that loves the teachings of Apollos or I’m of the group that loves Cephas, Peter. And so they were– there was disunity among this one congregation preferring certain emphases of Bible teachers, one against the other.

That’s chapter 1 and 2, organizational disunity. Chapters 2 and 3 addresses spiritual immaturity. They thought they were so wise being Corinthians, being of Greek origin. They had the Greek writers as part of their heritage.

Paul says that they were immature. They were carnal. They were fleshly.

And he talked about the difference between the spiritual man and the fleshly person, and he says that you are carnal. So that’s chapters 1, 2, 3, and 4. Chapters 5 and 6– and we looked at chapter 5 last week, thought we would make it a chapter 6. We didn’t, so we will tonight– is about sexual impurity. So we have organizational disunity, we have spiritual immaturity, and now we have sexual impurity.

And it wasn’t that they were just struggling with what every human being struggles with as they are living in a world that is very loose in their morality. They were dealing with an issue that they actually prided themselves in their toleration of, and that is a case of incest in the Church of Corinth. Chapter 5, verse 1 addresses this it is actually reported that there is sexual immorality among you and such immorality as is not even named among the Gentiles that a man has his father’s wife.

So there is a man coming to church married to probably his stepmother and the church priding themselves and the fact that they were so filled with grace and love that they would just accept this person, no matter what his proclivity is or propensity might be or personal choice. Oh, he’s so brave to make that personal choice and come to church. And Paul said, well, I’m not even there, and I can tell you what you should do. Next time you get together, kick him out.

I gave– he said, I’ll give you that ruling from the Lord that you deliver him to Satan for the destruction of the flesh that his Spirit might be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus. A little leaven leavens the whole lump. He’s telling them to use some sanctified authority.

Now with that in mind, we get into chapter 6, because he is continuing on this theme that the church needs to take its authority and make certain kinds of judgment calls. Because they were having a problem in trusting themselves as a local group, a body of Christ to make good judgments, they weren’t even judging sin within the church when they should be judging sin within the church. Chapter 5, verse 12 says what have I to do with judging those who are outside. Do you not judge those who are inside?

So we looked at that last week, and we noted that the church has a responsibility, indeed a mandate to make certain discriminations against character by those who claim to be of Christ, who name the name of Christ. That’s just what a body does. A body, a human body, your body is marvelous. It’s amazing, amazing how it responds to problems that it encounters.

So if you get infected, you have blood cells that will surround the germ, sort of, just like mounting an attack against them, to glom onto them, to isolate the problem. If you cut yourself, red blood cells rush to an area and deposit a certain kind of a substance that will provide a sticky ability for new skin to grow on top of it later on. And then once the wound is fully developed, it will begin to shrink.

It’s just you’re fearfully and wonderfully made. The body is created to purge itself of problems. God did that. The body of Christ should have the same ability.

We are the body of Christ. When God wants to do something on the Earth, when Jesus wants to do something on the Earth, he does it through us. We are his hands. We’re his feet. We’re his mouthpieces.

If he’s going to work a work on the Earth, he does it through his body. Well, his body can sometimes get infected. The church can get infected. And the church at Corinth was infected with– well, we noted three things it was infected with.

And Paul said, you need to come in and do something about that. You need to extra extricate that person who calls himself a brother, put him into Satan’s domain that he may learn not to sin the way he’s sending so flagrantly. Do that. That’s what the body of Christ should do.

Now continuing with that thought, he now moves from immorality– though, he’s going to get back to it in chapter 6– but he includes now legality, the courtroom scene. We just sang a minute ago a beautiful statement of faith, and I know you believe it, because I just heard you singing it. You said– the words we all sang is I have the authority. Jesus has given me.

Well, in Corinth, it’s like they didn’t believe they had as the church the authority that Jesus had given them. You see one of the problems in the Greek culture was litigation. The Greeks were a very litigious culture, by and large. In fact, they even made fun of themselves.

There was a saying going on just 60 miles to the Northeast over in Athens that every Athenian is a lawyer, that everybody just– and people loved law cases, lawsuits back then. They loved to follow legal proceedings. In fact, people wanted to be called for jury duty, very different than today.

We do everything we can to get out of it even though it is a civic duty that we should all perform. But back in those days, people loved it. I mean, they were into Judge Judy before there was ever Judge Judy. It was like entertainment to them.

And the juries in those days were enormous, sometimes over 100 people on a single jury. So in that culture if there was a problem, you would usually go to an arbiter, somebody who would arbitrate the case, who wouldn’t be taken to court. You tried to settle that dispute through a private arbiter and then another private arbiter. They would try to get together and settle the deal.

If you couldn’t settle it, you would take it into the public Greek courts that had a typical jury of 40 people. Now the typical jury today is 12 people in our country, in those days, 40 people. Good luck trying to come up with a good outcome in that.

And if by the time you reach 60 years of age, you had to give yourself to a period of time to be on a jury. And so you had to have maturity. You had to have lived a while. So in your 60th year, you would then sign up for jury duty. And people were just– I don’t know if they just had time on their hands but, they love to do it.

Some juries were over 1,000, according to the ancient records. So they loved this. And here’s the problem with the church. Instead of believing I have the authority– we as the church have the authority to settle disputes between ourselves, they were taking the disputes of the church into the civic law courts before unbelievers to make an adjudication or a judgment.

So in chapter– chapter 6, verse 1, dare any of you or how dare that you do this as God’s people. Having a matter against another– and this is, in particular, a Christian brother against another Christian brother, because he’ll go on to say in the following verses brother against brother. So we know it’s talking about some internal dispute in the church between brothers and sisters or one party and another who are all part of that Christian group. Dare any of you having a matter against another go to law before the unrighteous and not before the Saints.

Now Paul has two concerns. Concern number one, you are not respecting the ability of the church and the authority given you by Christ himself to settle a matter of dispute from one Christian and another Christian. That’s one concern.

The other concern is by going to the unbelievers law courts, taking this out into the secular courts, you are airing the dirty laundry of the church before unbelievers. You are providing a terrible testimony to the unbelieving world. You’re showing them just how bad it is. You’re telling them that they should get saved and come to Christ and all of hope and peace and joy and all these great things, and they’re seeing you take your brother to court going I don’t need to be a part of that. There’s no difference between them and us.

So that is a concern of Paul. What are you doing taking this dispute into the law courts? Verse 2, do you not know that the saints will judge the world?

Now I just want that to fall on your hearts. This is your future we’re talking about. Do you know that one day you, all of you, all of us as the Saints of God, as the children of God are going to judge the world?

I just want you to hear that, because, again, like we said last week, some people say, the Bible says don’t judge. Really? Do you know that one day we’re going to actually judge the world. Now I’m going to describe what that means as we go on. And if the world will be judged by you, are you unworthy to judge in the smallest matters?

OK, Jesus left this Earth. He went away, and he said if I go I am coming to you again. Ever since he said that, we’re waiting for Jesus to come again. When Jesus comes again, Revelation chapter 19, the Saints are going to come with him at that second coming.

After that judgment at the second coming, Jesus is going to set up a kingdom on the Earth that will last 1,000 years, according to the book of Revelation. It is called also the Millennium or the kingdom age. It is a glorious international ruling and reigning of Jesus Christ on planet Earth for 1,000 years called the Kingdom age.

Jesus in Matthew 19 said to his 12 disciples even, he said you know, fellas, you guys are going to sit on 12 thrones judging the 12 tribes of Israel. Now he said that speaking yet future. You’re going to sit on 12 thrones judging the 12 tribes of Israel. So the apostles have an adjudicating position coming up.

Also you and I, I think are going to help them. Don’t you know that the Saints are going to judge the world. In Revelation chapter 2, Jesus addresses the church, one of the churches there, and he says to the over comers of the church, the true believers, he said, I have given you authority over all the nations. And you will rule with a rod of iron.

Now we know that Jesus will have an iron rod rule in the Millennium. He will rule and reign with absolute authority for 1,000 years. It will be the only time there will be a perfect government on the Earth.

Don’t care who you voted for, you’ll never get it on this Earth. We certainly don’t have it now. It’s far from perfect.

But you say, oh, yeah, but if so-and-so runs, still not going to be perfect. Be better than what we have but still not going to be perfect, perhaps, perhaps not. Never know. One never knows.

But one day when Jesus returns, he will set up his kingdom upon the Earth and give authority to the twelve apostles and to the saints, the body of Christ, God’s people to rule and reign with him to have some kind of co-rulership with him in the kingdom. He has given us authority over the nations to rule with him with a rod of iron. That

Is something that was talked about even in the Old Testament. It is alluded to many times and spoken about in the New Testament, but way back in the Old Testament in chapter 7 of Daniel, Daniel has a vision of the Son of Man. And the Son of Man is given a kingdom, and it says in that chapter I was watching in the night visions and, behold, one like the Son of Man coming with the clouds of heaven.

He came to the ancient of days, and they brought him near before him. Then to him was given dominion and glory and a kingdom. This is all on the Earth that all peoples, nations, and languages, all that context is earthly in scope should serve him. His Dominion is an everlasting Dominion, which shall not pass away, his kingdom the one which will not be destroyed.

Same chapter, it says then the kingdom and Dominion and the greatness of the kingdoms under the whole heaven shall be given to the people, the saints of the most high. And his kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and all dominions shall serve and obey him. So in the future, there’s some big stuff ahead for you.

In the future in some role, you’re going to help in the kingdom age with Jesus Christ as he rules and reigns. He’s going to let you help him adjudicate that perfect government with a rod of iron. A lot could be said in describing that. Someday I’ll preach a series just on the kingdom age. It would be a fun thing to study.

But we’re going to have some kind of rulership. So here’s Paul’s thinking, because he is thinking eschatological when he writes this in the ends times, don’t you know you’re going to judge the world. So if you’re going to have that kind of a role in the future, if God is going to allow you to be on his Supreme Court in the kingdom age, why do you think you’re unqualified to deal with issues between brother and brother in the church that you have to take it to a secular court to handle it?

And he’s writing that to their shame. They should be qualified. Now hear me out. When a Christian takes another Christian to court, nobody wins except the devil.

You are saying, number one, I don’t trust that this can be handled by God’s people. It’s a statement of faith against the church. And number two, it is allowing dirty laundry to be erred before the unbelieving world. Paul makes that point.

Do you think you’re unworthy to judge in the smallest matters? Verse 3 continues, chapter 6 1 Corinthians, do you not know that we shall judge angels? How much more the things that pertain to this life?

Now if I’m an angel and I look at that, I’m not stoked. I say wait, wait, wait, wait. Hold up, God. They’re going to judge us, those guys, right.

Remember the Angels are looking into things pertaining to salvation, Peter said. They marvel at the fact that God could extend such grace and love to us. They’re blown away at God’s grace toward mankind. And yet God says, yeah, my people, my Saints, the ones that aren’t getting along there on the Earth, they’re going to judge the Angels.

Now what does that mean exactly? Well, I don’t think it means that you’re going to find your guardian angel when you get to heaven to go, hey, I have a couple of questions for you. Remember that time I got in a car crash, where were you? What’s up with that?

I don’t think that’s the idea. I don’t think we’re going to be judging good angels. I think we’re going to have some kind of role in judging evil angels. You remember both in the book of 2 Peter and in the book of Jude, both of them right almost the identical truth that God did not spare the Angels that sinned but cast them into hell and has them in everlasting chains of darkness awaiting judgment.

Some kind of judgment call will be made that you and I are going to help administrate. That’s what I believe it’s a reference to, not the good angels, but the evil angels, the fallen angels. He’s going to let us help in some kind of a capacity.

So again, if you’re going to judge the world and if you’re going to judge angels to some degree in the future, you can’t handle a squabble between brother and sister in the church? Here’s Paul’s point. The most untrained believer, the least, the most untrained believer in legal matters but who believes and knows the word of God and is filled with the Holy Spirit is much better at handling a case like that than the most trained Harvard Law student or professor who doesn’t have the word of God or the Spirit of God. So Greeks put that in your pipe and smoke it.

Verse 4, if you then have judgments concerning things pertaining to this life, do you appoint those who are least esteemed by the church to judge? I say this to your shame. See he’s getting– he’s getting very pointed here.

It’s like he’s saying to the Corinthians, shame on you Corinthians. You should know better. I say this to your shame. Is it so that there is not a wise man among you, not even one who will be able to judge between his brethren? But brother goes to law against brother and that before unbelievers.

Now, therefore, it is already an utter failure for you that you should go to law against one another. Why do you not rather accept wrong? Why do you not rather let yourselves be defrauded? No, you yourselves do wrong and defraud, and you do these things to your brethren.

The whole idea here is an idea of love. So you know that Jesus said you’re to love one another. You’re to love each other. You’re to even love your enemies. Paul the apostle will say to the Corinthians, if you have great gifts but you don’t have love, you’re like a noisy gong. You’re like a clanging symbol– that the expression, especially brother to brother, sister to sister, brother and sister in the body of Christ.

The chief expression ought to be the expression of love. So what do you do if somebody wrongs you? Well, that was the question Peter had for Jesus. He said, hey, Jesus, you talk a lot about forgiveness. So how many times am I supposed to forgive my brother? Like, I don’t know, seven times? Because that’d be a lot. If somebody messed with Peter, like, seven times, for me to forgive him– that’s huge.

So I’m going to go big here, God– seven times? Jesus said, nope, not seven times– 70 times 7. So we talked about that kind of love, that kind of forgiveness, that kind of willingness to be defrauded– and even be wronged– by people. Just forgive. Just move on. Don’t hold a grudge.

But in that same chapter, Jesus gives a context. He says this– if your brother sins against you, go to him personally, privately. That’s how you handle it– one on one. Try to work it out. Go charge him with the wrong. And say, you know what? What you said was offensive to me. That really hurt. I took that as an offense. Oh, I’m so sorry. I’ll never do it again– or they say, I didn’t do anything wrong. You know, you’re the idiot.

So if you go and your brother that has sinned against you will not receive your admonition, your rebuke, your reconciliation, Jesus said, then you take with you two or three others– that by the mouth of two or three witnesses, every word would be established. Now you have arbitration. Now you have some impartial witnesses who can give their wisdom and help you settle the issue.

Jesus said, if that doesn’t work– do you remember what He said? He said, tell it to the church. Tell it to the church. Bring it within the context of church, the church environment, and the authority of the body of Christ. And let the church make that decision. It seems that Paul has this in mind when he writes that. Take it to the church. Isn’t there one wise person among you who can make this decision and help you out on these matters instead of going to the secular courts?

Now, here’s a question. Because we’re sharing this tonight. Maybe right now, you’re in the midst of a lawsuit. And you go, man, I didn’t know that verse was in there. But now I’ve got a lawsuit against a– well, once it’s in the courts, you have to let it– usually, you have to ride it out.

Although when you hire a lawyer– I’ve given this counsel before. And I won’t get into the detail. But the guy said, what do I do? I’ve already hired the lawyer. I said, well, that’s it. You hired the lawyer. You can fire the lawyer. You just call them up and say, I don’t need your services anymore. Bill me for whatever you’ve done. And then call it quits. Handle it a different way. But if it’s in the courts already, you have to ride it out. If it’s not in the courts already, number one– go to your brother. Try to handle it.

Number two, bring people with you. If they don’t want to listen, then bring it to the leadership of the church. And get elders and deacons and leaders involved in that. You know, fortunately, we live in a city that has seen great success with biblical reconciliation.

In fact, a national group was started in New Mexico by Christian lawyers some years ago, all for the purpose of fulfilling this passage as a biblical mandate– keeping things outside the courts, getting people who are skilled in law– but more than that, Spirit-filled believers, people who believe the word of God, to settle the issues, to settle the disputes outside of the secular courts in the context of the church. And because of their work, now around the country, the idea of independent arbitration or reconciliation before it goes to a judge is widely accepted because, largely, of the work that was done with that Christian group in town some years ago.

He says in verse 7– “Why do you not rather accept wrong? Why do you not rather let yourselves be defrauded?” That’s a novel concept. What am I going to do– like, let them walk all over me? Well? Well? Well, what did Jesus say? Jesus said, turn the other cheek. If somebody slaps you on the right cheek, turn to him the other cheek. Instead of, “Yeah, what am I supposed to do, let him slap my cheek?” No, both cheeks.

And He says, if he sues you to take away your tunic, give him your cloak also. What, well, just let them take my cloak? He has no right. Go buy another cloak. Let yourself be defrauded. Because yeah, you can go to court. And you can win the case and lose your brother and lose your testimony. It’s not worth it.

He says, “No, you yourselves do wrong and defraud. And you do these things to your brothers, your brethren. Do you not know–” verse 9– “do you not know that the unrighteous–” see, you’re bringing this before the unrighteous, the unbelieving world. You’re settling these court cases instead of playing the role of the judge, the arbiter, making adjudications, making discriminations when people have these behaviors, whether it’s for incest or whether it’s for legal cases.

He’s kind of tying these things together. If you’re willing to take it before the unrighteous– but He says, “Don’t you know that the unrighteous will not inherit the Kingdom of God?” You’re bringing kingdom matters before unrighteous judges. Don’t you know that the unrighteous will not inherit the Kingdom of God?

“Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators–” fornication is sexual sin. Usually, it is a sin described in the Bible before marriage, when a person is single. “Nor idolaters–” worshipping false gods, false religious systems– “nor adulterers–” usually a sin talked about as once a person is married– “nor homosexuals, nor sodomites–” it’s an unfortunate translation. Because you don’t really get the force of the Greek language.

Those two words, that homosexuals are sodomites, the Greek language is much more precise. And incidentally, the old King James version happens to be a more accurate translation than the New King James, or for that matter, most of the other translations of this particular verse. The old King James translates those last two sins by saying this way– “Nor the effeminate, nor the abusers of themselves with mankind.”

The effeminate– that word translated here, homosexuals– usually refers to in a homosexual relationship the person who takes the passive role. In a male homosexual relationship, it would be who would take the female role, the softer role. And then the second word, sodomites– or abusers of themselves with mankind, in the King James– is, in a homosexual relational context, somebody who takes the more dominant, aggressive role.

And he’s bringing that up because he’s speaking to Greeks. And highborn Greeks saw homosexuality, a couple thousand years ago, as the purest form of all love. Well, William Barclay says that Socrates was a homosexual– as was Plato. In fact, Plato’s writings– that famous writing, The Symposium of love was Plato writing about homosexual lovers. And in those days, it was an adult with an underaged male child. And that was accepted in that culture.

I think I mentioned last week that 14 of the first 15 Roman emperors were also homosexuals. So it was very, very common in those days. And in those days, the older male usually took the aggressive, dominant role. And the young boy in that culture took the passive role. That’s the reference of the word. Sorry to be so explicit. But I figured you should know that’s what he’s writing about.

So He says, “Do you not know that fornicators, idolaters, adulterers, homosexuals, nor sodomites–” whichever role they take– “nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the Kingdom of God.” Now I know. You read that. Some of you go, man, that messes with me. It’s not my problem. It doesn’t mess with me. Well, that really bothers me. It’s not my problem.

My only duty is to declare to you what God has said through His word. And you either accept it or you don’t. So in the book of Romans, chapter 1– which we already covered. I’ll just remind you of this. Paul writes about the gentile flow of sin throughout ancient culture– throughout, actually, all time.

“Therefore, God gave them up to uncleanness in the lusts of their hearts to dishonor their bodies among themselves who exchanged the truth of God for the lie and worshipped and serve the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever– amen. For this reason, God gave them up to vile passions, for even their women exchanged the natural use for what is against nature”– against nature.

“Likewise, also, the men leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust for one another, men with men, committing what is shameful and receiving in themselves the penalty of their error which was due.” Now you might say, well, you know, that was back then in that culture. But in today’s culture, things are different. And you can’t say those things. Because in this culture, that kind of stuff is acceptable. It was more acceptable in that culture.

The reason it’s becoming now acceptable after a long period of time is because of the rich Judeo-Christian heritage this country has had for so long to abate and stem the tide of that kind of stuff in modern history. It was the injection of Christianity in the world that put an end to that. Now you’re seeing a resurgence back to an ancient culture.

So understand when Paul wrote these things, it was like– when people read this, like– because if 14 of the 15 first Roman emperors were homosexuals and Paul is, like, talking smack pretty up-front, you know he got blowback for it. So here’s what I want you to see. Paul says in Romans 1– these things, they happen. They have happened. But it’s against nature.

And the word there in Greek is [GREEK], And it means, “against God’s natural created order”– God’s natural created order. God has set a created order from the beginning. And He’s the same yesterday, today, and forever. God does not change. And His word does not change. So if you tell me, well, God made me this way, I’m going to say, no, he did not.

You may be a product of your environment. You may be a product of some social conditioning. You may be a product of a lot of different messaging that is going on. You might even be the victim of some feelings that every human being has toward his or her own sexuality. But there is God’s [GREEK], and then there are those things that are against [GREEK], against the natural creative order.

And Paul says, “Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites.” But let’s not just stop with a few sins. Because you– oh, yeah, that’s right. Preach it, man. Well, keep going. “Nor thieves–” how are you doing on your income tax reporting? How are you doing with taking things home from the office that really don’t belong to you?

“Nor covetous–” that’s just wanting something that you don’t have and doing things you can to get what you don’t have. “Nor drunkards nor revilers–” people who are in your face and talk negative, talk smack about other people– “nor extortioners will inherit the Kingdom of God.” See, those are part of that same list.

So none of us can say, well, that sin is really bad. But these sins are OK. Why? Well, because I do them. Now look at verse 11. This is key. “And such were some of you.” Notice it’s past tense, not “and such are some of you.” Such were some of you. Hey, Corinthians, some of you were extortioners. Some of you were sodomites. Some of you were revilers. Some of you were adulterers.

But that’s in your past. That’s in your rear view mirror. You may struggle with those things. You may even fall into those things. But you don’t live in them. You hate them. You want to move on from them. You want to serve Christ. That’s your past tense. And if any man be in Christ, he is a new creation. 2 Corinthians 5 says, “All things are passed away. All things become brand new.”

God is in the business of fixing people, fixing broken things, adding the glue of His grace to fix the sin in our lives. “Such were some of you. But you were washed, cleansed by the blood. You were sanctified, set apart. You belong to God. You are justified.” God declared you forgiven. God declared you His son, His daughter in the name of our Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of God.

“All things are lawful for me. But all things are not helpful. All things are lawful for me. But I will not be brought under the power of any– foods for the stomach and the stomach for foods. But God will destroy both it and them. Now the body is not for sexual immorality but for the Lord, and the Lord for the body.”

It seems that Paul is using two slogans that were very popular around Corinth in those days, spoken by Corinthians or Corinthian Christians. Slogan number one– “All things are lawful for me.” In other words, I have complete liberty and freedom. Because I’m a Christian. I’ve been set free. I’m not under the law. “The law was the schoolmaster to lead me to Christ,” Galatians says.

Now that I belong to Christ, I’m not under that law any longer. I’m free. Paul said, “Indeed, all things are lawful for you.” That seems to be a slogan that they used, that the Corinthians loved. Now it is true. You are not under the law. But it doesn’t mean that you can act any way that you please. Because Paul then corrects that. And he says, “All things are lawful for me. But not all things are helpful.”

So if I do certain activities, if I drink certain things or smoke certain things, sure, I can do that. That’s not the issue. Are they helpful? Do they benefit? Are they expedient? That’s the old King James– “expedient.” Do they expedite me? Do they push me along my path, my journey, help me reach my goal? All things are lawful. But not everything’s helpful. So keep that in mind.

Look at the next. “All things are lawful for me. But I will not be brought under the power of any.” Now I want you to keep a marker here. Turn a few pages to the right. Go to chapter 10. Because he writes something very similar. And I want to put all these together, all these three. 1 Corinthians chapter 10, verse 23–

“All things are lawful for me. But all things are not helpful”– same thing he wrote back in chapter 6. But now he adds to that and changes something. “All things are lawful for me. But not all things edify.” All things do not edify. So there’s three principles. I want you to grab a hold of them tonight.

If you are ever wondering what to do when it comes to the gray areas where the Bible is not very explicit about certain behavioral– should I do this, can I do this, is it permissible for a Christian to do this or that– apply these three principles. Number one– is it helpful?

If I do this, if I drink this, if I smoke this, if I get involved in this activity, if I go visit this person or do this thing, will it help me? Will it expedite me? Is it good for me spiritually? That’s the first thing to sift it through.

Second, all things are lawful for me. But I will not be brought under the power of any. So if I get involved in this right now, will later on it make me addicted to it? Will it bring me under its power? Oh, I have the power. I can do anything I want to now. But will I come to a point where I can’t make that choice any longer?

Right now I can. But if I keep drinking this, or smoking this, or doing that, maybe I’m going to be brought under its power. And I’ll become a slave to it. Now it’s not helpful, certainly. And now I’ve become a slave to it.

Number three– all things are lawful for me. But not all things edify. So if I do this thing, what will it– what message will it say to other believers? Maybe it’ll stumble a Christian. Maybe a Christian will look at that and go, uh, well what’s he doing drinking that stuff? Or what are they doing smoking that? Well, I have the freedom. I have liberty. I’m a Christian. Right.

Is it helpful? Could it become addictive, bring you under its power? Does it edify the body of Christ, others who are watching? That’s the law of love– love for yourself, the temple of the Holy Spirit, love for others, love for God, ultimately. So those three things are important. So they were– that was slogan number one. All things are lawful. But Paul said they’re not helpful. And those things may bring you under its power. And then later on, is it edifying?

Second slogan– verse 13. “Foods for the stomach and the stomach for foods.” Now that seems to have been a slogan that was popular in Corinth in general– sort of like, no, I don’t eat to live. I live to eat. I’m a foodie, man. It’s all about the taste, the cuisine. So foods for the body and the body for foods was a common way of saying sort of the same thing. The body was meant to enjoy the pleasures of cuisine that is around me.

Paul corrects that by saying, “But God will destroy both it and them.” So your body is temporary. One day you’ll die. But notice this. “Now the body is not for sexual immorality but for the Lord, and the Lord for the body.” So just like they were saying the body for food and food for the body, they were saying, sex for the body and the body for sex– just like I eat a meal.

And that’s just simply a physiological choice that I make to grab that cheeseburger and eat it– no big deal. You got to eat, you got to eat. They were looking at sexuality the same way. Look at it. It’s a natural proclivity. It’s a natural desire that we all have. And Christians were saying, God gave that to us. So this is how I seek to fulfill that.

Paul corrects that and says, “The body is not for sexual immorality but for the Lord, and the Lord for the body. And God both raised up the Lord and will also raise us up by His power. Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ? Shall I then take the members of Christ and make them members of a harlot? Certainly not.”

Remember, there was that temple outside of Corinth– temple of Aphrodite. They were prostitutes, priestesses who were coming down into town at night. Men were indulging themselves. That was very common practice. Maybe some in the church thought they had the ability to do that. So foods for the body, body for foods– he’s equating that with sexuality and that, no, Jesus died for you. You belong to him. He’ll say He bought you with the price. So glorify God in your body.

Sex is God given. It’s a gift. It’s a good idea. It’s a great idea God gave us. But because it is God given, it must be God governed. Everything that is God given must also be God governed. God gives us things. But then He governs the use of those things.

He didn’t say, just have at it, man. You decide. No. God says, I’ve decided. And this is how I’ve made you. And this is how I’ve made them. And this is what I want. And this is my [GREEK], my order. And you do it for the Lord, especially as members of the body of Christ.

I remember having this conversation with a man who was struggling against my Christianity. He was a Cambridge graduate in advanced science. And I lived with him on a kibbutz in Israel. And I was sharing the gospel with him. And he goes, Skip, I will not become a Christian because of the sexual negatives that the New Testament pronounces. I mean, he was just up-front– if I do that, I can’t have all the fun that I’m used to having.

And I remember him saying, you know, I don’t know why God is so negative. I said, Tony, if you saw a sign that said “Keep Out,” what would you do? He said, I’d open the door and go in. I said, but keep reading the sign. What if the sign said, “Keep Out– Danger– Explosives”? Oh, well, that’s a different thing. Exactly. So when God says keep out, He does it because He doesn’t want you to blow yourself to smithereens– sexually, morally, relationally.

The negative command has a positive rationale attached to the negative command. Just like the sign that says, “Keep Out– Danger– Explosives,” all God’s commandments that are in the negative have a positive rationale. It’s because God loves you. And He made you. And that which has God given must be God governed. He goes, well, I never thought of it that way.

And about six months later, he gave me a call. He had read a book that I had given him. And he was very humble on the other end of the phone. He said, I just want you to know I’ve given my life to Christ. And it’s the best decision I’ve ever made.

“Do you not know–” verse 15– “your bodies are members of Christ? Shall I then take the members of Christ and make them members of a harlot? Certainly not. Or do you not know that he who is joined to a harlot is one body with her? For–” notice the quote from the Old Testament. “The two,” he says, “shall become one flesh. But he who is joined with the Lord is one spirit with Him.”

What is he doing? He’s quoting Genesis. He’s going back to the creation account, when God put man and woman on the Earth. And He said, “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother, be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.” So God established separation, permanence, unity, and then intimacy. “The man and his wife were naked. And they were not ashamed.”

That’s what he’s quoting from. He’s going all the way back to that. And he’s saying, look, when two people get involved sexually, they are actually becoming one with each other. And when a person goes out and is loose with somebody other than his permanent mate, he is giving a piece of his soul away to others. He’s diminishing himself. He’s not gaining anything by it.

So he says, verse 18– “Flee sexual immorality. Every sin that a man commits is outside the body. But he who commits sexual immorality sins against his own body. Do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you?” By the way, if you’re wondering, there’s only one reason that the New Testament allows for divorce. And that is adultery.

Because of this truth, the oneness bond is broken when a person has sexual relations with somebody other than husband or wife. When that happens, the oneness bond that was intended to be permanent is now broken. That person becomes one flesh with another person. And for that reason, that’s such a profound disruption that that becomes the only allowable biblical rationale for divorce.

“Do you not know–” verse 19– “your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God? You are not your own.” Here it is. “You were bought at a price. Therefore, glorify God in your body and your spirit, which are God’s.” Your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit. The priestesses were from the temple of Aphrodite. They were coming down into town.

Paul says, you join yourself to a harlot, you’re becoming one with that person. Don’t you know your body is a temple? And a temple is meant for worship. A temple is meant for the presentation of sacrifices. Romans 12:1– “Present your body a living sacrifice, wholly acceptable under God”– which is your reasonable service.

You have a guest living inside of you. I hope He feels at home in your heart. It talks about God dwelling in us, settling down, and making Himself feel at home in our hearts. I hope He does. I hope He’s in your life and not going, man, I don’t– I’m in this person. But boy, the trash this person looks at, and listens to, and gets involved in.

You have a guest living inside of your body. You belong to Him. “Therefore, glorify God in your body and your spirit.” How do you do that? By presenting yourself. By yielding yourself– Romans chapter 12, Romans chapter 6. We are to yield ourselves minute by minute to the Lord. Lord, I’m yours. Use me. Lord, I don’t belong to myself. You purchased me. Help me to glorify You.

Father, as we bring this chapter to a close and we consider this wide variety of truth that Paul the apostle addressed with his church, I pray that we who live in the age in which we live in– the things that we shared tonight seem so narrow, and so negative, and so old-fashioned and non-progressive to outsiders. We’re here, Lord, at the end of this message to say, we don’t care what they think. We really care what You think.

We want to honor You. We give You our bodies, our minds. We pray, Lord, that we would serve You and worship You in integrity, in purity. And Lord, then even in those other activities that we could get involved in, I pray that Your Spirit will bring this little grid back to our remembrance. Is it helpful, expedient, beneficial?

Is it something that will get me in its grip, under its power? Could I become addicted to it? And is it something that builds other people up or tears them down? I pray, Father, that we will live to glorify You since You bought us in Jesus’ name.

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