1 Corinthians 6:1–11 (NKJV)
6 Dare any of you, having a matter against another, go to law before the unrighteous, and not before the saints? 2 Do you not know that the saints will judge the world? And if the world will be judged by you, are you unworthy to judge the smallest matters? 3 Do you not know that we shall judge angels? How much more, things that pertain to this life? 4 If then you have judgments concerning things pertaining to this life, do you appoint those who are least esteemed by the church to judge? 5 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? 6 But brother goes to law against brother, and that before unbelievers!1 Corinthians 6:1-11
7 Now therefore, it is already an utter failure for you that you go to law against one another. Why do you not rather accept wrong? Why do you not rather let yourselves be cheated? 8 No, you yourselves do wrong and cheat, and you do these things to your brethren! 9 Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites, 10 nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God. 11 And such were some of you. But you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God.
There are three major streams of thought in this passage. Three ideas that should shape how Christians deal with one another emerge. First, the matter of suing a brother or sister in Christ. Paul contends that Christians should not sue one another in a civil court. Instead, Christians should settle their differences within the confines of personal discussion, and then ecclesiastical action if necessary. Taking a fellow member of the body of Christ to court means that the church cannot handle its own business, that the church is not wise enough to settle disputes within the family. Second, Paul goes even further and suggests that even if there is no resolution within the church, that the individual wronged should just accept the wrong and be okay with whatever loss they may have suffered. This is the gracious way to handle wrongs done that cannot be resolved. Third, Paul draws a line on certain lifestyles (fornicators, idolaters, adulterers, homosexuals, sodomites, 10 thieves, covetous, drunkards, revilers, extortioners), dooming those who habitually do these things to eternal destruction. This declaration is in part to help those who were wronged to know that one day their sin will be punished, and the wrong will be avenged. It also helps the wronged to understand that all Christians were at one time sinful and some even participated in these lifestyles, yet they were washed, sanctified, and justified by the grace of God. Therefore, we should not harshly criticize and condemn those who are sinful now.
In short, Paul helps people to understand the Godly way to handle disputes and contentions in the body of Christ: Handle your own business within the bounds of the church, take a hit (in the name of grace) if things don’t go your way in a dispute, and remember the sins you have committed before you rail against someone who is sinning. God’s grace covered you, so extend grace to others. This is God’s will and plan, and it works!
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