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Christians in Conflict

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INTRO:

Trans:
Context: The testimony of this church in the community was not good. Not only was there the sexual immorality we talked about last week but the believers were fighting with each other and in public asking nonbelievers to settle the matters for them.
The IVP Bible Background Commentary: New Testament 6:1–11—Christians in Secular Courts

It is possible that the litigants of 6:1–8 are the father and son of 5:1; if so, such litigation would clearly be displaying the church’s dirty laundry before the world. “Defraud” (6:7–8) favors this suggestion (cf. 1 Thess 4:4–6); “why not be wronged?” (6:7) may be against it.

The Bible Exposition Commentary Chapter Five: Be Wise about … Church Discipline (1 Corinthians 5–6)

Paul detected three tragedies in this situation. First, the believers were presenting a poor testimony to the lost. Even the unbelieving Jews dealt with their civil cases in their own synagogue courts. To take the problems of Christians and discuss them before the “unjust” and “unbelievers” was to weaken the testimony of the Gospel.

Second, the congregation had failed to live up to its full position in Christ. Since the saints will one day participate in the judgment of the world and even of fallen angels, they ought to be able to settle their differences here on earth. The Corinthians boasted of their great spiritual gifts. Why, then, did they not use them in solving their problems?

The Bible Exposition Commentary Chapter Five: Be Wise about … Church Discipline (1 Corinthians 5–6)

There was a third tragedy: the members suing each other had already lost. Even if some of them won their cases, they had incurred a far greater loss in their disobedience to the Word of God. “Now, therefore, there is utterly a fault among you” (1 Cor. 6:7) can be translated, “It is already a complete defeat for you.” Paul was certainly referring to our Lord’s teaching in Matthew 5:39–42. Better to lose money or possessions than to lose a brother and lose your testimony as well.

Preaching the Word: 1 Corinthians—The Word of the Cross Chapter 10: Grace and Grievances (1 Corinthians 6:1–11)

Throughout history churches have made the mistake of trying to handle issues in-house that require the intervention of the authorities. If this had been an issue like embezzlement, abuse, sexual misconduct—any matter with actual legal ramifications—Paul would have called for the intervention of the authorities. The scope of the passage is limited to intra-church disputes that don’t need to be elevated outside the community.

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The Bible Knowledge Commentary B. Failure to Resolve Personal Disputes (6:1–11)

The topic of judgment continued as Paul shifted to another disorder afflicting the Corinthian church. The same laxity in dealing with the immoral brother was found in cases of personal disputes between members which the church refused to adjudicate.

The Bible Knowledge Commentary B. Failure to Resolve Personal Disputes (6:1–11)

Do you not know,” Paul pointed toward certain truths which should have prevented the problem in the first place. The phrase recurs six times in this chapter alone. (Outside this letter this construction appears only three other times in the NT.) Paul had used it before (3:16; 5:6) and would subsequently use it again (9:13, 24) to the same effect. The implication that they should have known these things must have painfully hit home to a church enamored with its own wisdom and knowledge.

All the sins enumerated in verses 9–10 share the common traits of being self-indulgent and self-serving. From a spiritual perspective, they also become self-destructive.

Sometimes in our society a quarrel between Christians over rights and property cannot help coming before a secular court. When, for instance, a Christian is being divorced by his or her spouse, the law requires a secular court to be involved. Or, in the case of child abuse or neglect, a Christian parent may be forced to seek court protection from a backslidden former spouse. But even in those kinds of exceptions, when for some reason a Christian finds himself unavoidably in court with a fellow believer, his purpose should be to glorify God, and never to gain selfish advantage. The general rule is: Do not go to court with fellow Christians, but settle matters among yourselves.

REVEALS LIFE CHANGE

The right attitude of a Christian is to rather be wronged, to rather be defrauded, than to sue a fellow Christian. It is far better to lose financially than to lose spiritually. Even when we are clearly in the legal right, we do not have the moral and spiritual right to insist on our legal right in a public court. If the brother has wronged us in any way, our response should be to forgive him and to leave the outcome of the matter in God’s hands. The Lord may give or take away. He is sovereign and has His will and purpose both in what we gain and in what we lose. We should gratefully accept that.

In short, he makes two main points: (1) if disputes require intervention, it should occur within the Christian community; and (2) it is even better to accept being wronged than to demand recompense in either a secular or a Christian context.

The verb “cheat” in verse 8 means to “defraud,” so some sort of complaint concerning property or business dealings seems to have been the problem.

Their litigation incenses him even more than their factiousness, because it so fundamentally compromises their witness before a watching world quick to ridicule and reject the church on such occasions. “Is it possible that there is nobody among you wise enough …?” drips with irony, since the Corinthians had been claiming to be so wise (4:10). But Paul probably also believes quite seriously that among the godly (minority?) in the church, some bear the marks of true Christian wisdom (2:6) and perhaps also legal training, so that they might intervene constructively. “Believer” in verse 5 is literally “brother,” as in verse 6.

The Expositor’s Bible Commentary, Volume 10: Romans through Galatians 1. Christian Morality in Legal Matters (6:1–11)

1, 2 In speaking of Christians taking other Christians to court, Paul does not specify any criminal cases because he teaches elsewhere that these must be handled by the state (Rom 13:3, 4).

The Expositor’s Bible Commentary, Volume 10: Romans through Galatians 1. Christian Morality in Legal Matters (6:1–11)

In the expression pragma echōn (“having a lawsuit or dispute”), Paul means to include different kinds of property cases (v. 7). By “dare” (tolmā), he strongly admonishes rather than commands Christians to take their legal grievances for settlement before qualified Christians. In this way, he allows for the possibility that under some circumstances Christians might take cases to the secular civil court. Paul writes in the light of Roman law, which allowed Jews, for instance, to apply their own law in property matters; and Christians, who were not yet distinguished as a separate class, must have had the same privilege (Hodge, in loc.). According to rabbinic interpretation, it was unlawful to take cases before Gentile judges.

The Expositor’s Bible Commentary, Volume 10: Romans through Galatians 1. Christian Morality in Legal Matters (6:1–11)

If appeal was made to Roman law for the right of Jewish and Christian communities to try their own property cases, certainly it would be right to take some cases before the civil court. By analogy, Paul who had received his Roman citizenship according to Roman law, appealed to the civil courts—to the Roman commander (Acts 22:25–29), to the governor (Acts 23:27; 24:10–21), and to the emperor (Acts 25:4–12)—to establish his right to a proper trial and proper treatment as a Roman citizen (Acts 16:37–39).

The Expositor’s Bible Commentary, Volume 10: Romans through Galatians 1. Christian Morality in Legal Matters (6:1–11)

In cases now to be judged by Christians, decisions would be ministerial and declarative (Matt 16:18, 19; 18:18–20; John 20:19–23), and not punitive, penalties being reserved for the state (Rom 13:1–7).

The Expositor’s Bible Commentary, Volume 10: Romans through Galatians 1. Christian Morality in Legal Matters (6:1–11)

11 In describing their conversion, the apostle lists three transactions that occurred at the time when the Lord saved them: they were washed (apolousasthe), that is, they were spiritually cleansed by God, an act symbolized by baptism (cf. Matt 28:19); they were sanctified (hēgiasthēte), an expression either to be interpreted as an amplification of the concept “washed” (cf. Titus 3:5, 6) or meaning that they had been set apart as God’s people (cf. 1 Pet 2:9); and they were justified (edikaiōthēte), showing God’s act as judge in declaring the sinner righteous because of Christ (Rom 3:23–26; 5:1). This expression gives the legal basis for the cleansing mentioned above.

wronged. Suffer injustice. cheated. Defrauded, suggesting that the dispute is financial or about some other material matter. See 13:5; Matt 5:39–40; Rom 12:17–21.

Do not be deceived. Underlines the permanent need for self-examination. sexually immoral. Includes sexual relations with prostitutes, adultery, and homosexuality.

The New American Commentary: 1 Corinthians 2. The Shame of the Righteous Taking Disputes before the Unrighteous (6:1–11)

The phrase, “You were washed,” may include the imagery of baptism and its significance. It seems that Paul is speaking of one event using three terms in order to convey his primary concern, namely, the transforming power and renewal of the gospel that occurs by the authority of Jesus and by the Spirit of God. Baptism most certainly depicts this reality.

The New American Commentary: 1 Corinthians 2. The Shame of the Righteous Taking Disputes before the Unrighteous (6:1–11)

While the function of 6:11 is to draw out the contrast between the Corinthians and the unrighteous who will not inherit the kingdom and to remind them of their status in Christ, in and of itself the statement is a remarkable testimony to the power of the gospel in conversion. Barrett comments, “Paul is not writing in merely literary or in imaginary terms, but addressing the greatest of miracles, a church of redeemed sinners, won from their old lifestyle by the power of God.” Similarly Morris: “The tremendous revolution brought about by the preaching of the gospel comes out in the quiet words, And that is what some of you were.

The New American Commentary: 1 Corinthians 2. The Shame of the Righteous Taking Disputes before the Unrighteous (6:1–11)

Paul’s outrage has to do not with the fact of grievances but with the taking of a grievance before the “ungodly” and not before the “saints.” Some translations render “ungodly” as “unrighteous.” Barrett contends that this is an unfortunate translation, that Paul’s use of the term is religious rather than a moral appraisal of the secular judges.

The New American Commentary: 1 Corinthians 2. The Shame of the Righteous Taking Disputes before the Unrighteous (6:1–11)

Paul’s exhortation for the Corinthians to settle their disputes before the saints reflects his Jewish heritage, but his reasons will be new (6:2).

The New American Commentary: 1 Corinthians 2. The Shame of the Righteous Taking Disputes before the Unrighteous (6:1–11)

In 6:5, unlike 4:14 where he claimed his intent was to warn rather than shame, Paul says exactly the opposite, “I say this to shame you,”

The New American Commentary: 1 Corinthians 2. The Shame of the Righteous Taking Disputes before the Unrighteous (6:1–11)

In litigation, from a worldly point of view, one side wins and the other side loses. However, when one believer takes another believer to civil court over trivial matters, the guaranteed outcome is not only that nobody wins; even before the trial begins “you have been completely defeated already” (NIV).114

The New American Commentary: 1 Corinthians 2. The Shame of the Righteous Taking Disputes before the Unrighteous (6:1–11)

The adverb translated “completely” is the same adverb translated “actually’ in 5:1. Robertson and Plummer take the adverb in the sense of “under any circumstance.”116 BDAG suggests as a possible translation of the phrase, “believe me, it’s an utter disaster.” The defeat is “the very fact that you have lawsuits among you,” that one wise person in the church has not been able to adjudicate the matter (6:5). The parties involved (and the church) have failed to demonstrate the wisdom of God and have instead followed the course of the wisdom of the world. They have failed to live out the core principles of the gospel. The teaching of Jesus surely underlies Paul’s ethics. Paul asks, “Why not rather be wronged? Why not rather be cheated?” Instead, by having lawsuits among themselves they are the ones acting unjustly and defrauding their fellow believers. What Paul says, in essence, is that, even if you have been wronged, you wrong others by taking them to court. It is far better to suffer wrong, to be cheated, than to tarnish the reputation of the gospel before the unbelieving world and to wrong another believer. How believers act in relation to other believers is a major emphasis in chaps. 8–14.

The Bible Exposition Commentary Chapter Five: Be Wise about … Church Discipline (1 Corinthians 5–6)

“Ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified” (1 Cor. 6:11). The tenses of these verbs indicate a completed transaction. Now, because of all that God had done for them, they had an obligation to God to use their bodies for His service and His glory.

The New American Commentary: 1 Corinthians 2. The Shame of the Righteous Taking Disputes before the Unrighteous (6:1–11)

The NIV’s “If any of you has a dispute with another” translates a Greek idiom for civil litigation.89

The New American Commentary: 1 Corinthians 2. The Shame of the Righteous Taking Disputes before the Unrighteous (6:1–11)

Their actions damaged their witness to the world and demonstrated a failure to exercise the wisdom of God, which is far greater than the wisdom of this world.

The New American Commentary: 1 Corinthians 2. The Shame of the Righteous Taking Disputes before the Unrighteous (6:1–11)

The most recent critical editions of the Greek New Testament punctuate 6:1–11 with no less than ten questions. The question “Do you not know?” occurs three times in 6:1–11 and an additional three times in 6:12–20. The first word in Greek is “to dare,” thus, with no connecting conjunction or particle to the preceding section, Paul abruptly moves to this topic with strong rebuke, “How dare you!”87

The IVP Bible Background Commentary: New Testament 6:1–11—Christians in Secular Courts

Jewish communities throughout the Mediterranean world had their own courts in their synagogues. Bringing internal disputes of the Jewish or Christian communities before secular magistrates was a luxury these minority religions could ill afford; there was already too much slander against them in the broader society. See comment on Acts 18:12–17.

The IVP Bible Background Commentary: New Testament 6:1–11—Christians in Secular Courts

Like modern North American society, Roman society was extremely litigious. Cases began to be heard at dawn and sometimes could be argued as late as sunset. Judges were always chosen from among the well-to-do, and most legal disputes revolved around money.

Because their greed dishonored God, Paul concluded that the important issue was lost before the case had begun. He therefore said that mundane loss was preferable to the spiritual loss which the lawsuits produced. As it was, the Corinthian lawsuits seemed not to have been so much a matter of redressing wrong or seeing justice served as a means for personal gratification at the expense of fellow believers. This was “body life” at its worst!

washed. Refers to new life, through spiritual cleansing and regeneration (cf. John 3:3–8; 2 Cor. 5:17; Eph. 2:10; Titus 3:5). sanctified. This results in new behavior, which a transformed life always produces. Sin’s total domination is broken and replaced by a new pattern of obedience and holiness. Though not perfection, this is a new direction (see Rom. 6:17, 18, 22). justified. This refers to a new standing before God, in which the Christian is clothed in Christ’s righteousness. In His death, the believer’s sins were put to His account and He suffered for them, so that His righteousness might be put to an account, so that we might be blessed for it (Rom. 3:26; 4:22–25; 2 Cor. 5:21; Phil. 3:8, 9; 1 Pet. 3:18). by the Spirit. The Holy Spirit is the agent of salvation’s transformation (cf. John 3:3–5).

Paul concludes on a more hopeful note (v. 11). Such behavior characterized the pre-Christian lives of many of the Corinthians, but they have now generally abandoned such practices. Therefore, they ought to be able to give up suing each other also! To stress the new holiness of character God has imputed to them, and in which they are progressively but fitfully growing, Paul ends this section with a reminder that they have been washed (inwardly, but possibly thinking of the external rite of baptism as well), made holy (“sanctified”) and declared righteous (“justified”).

Paul concludes on a more hopeful note (v. 11). Such behavior characterized the pre-Christian lives of many of the Corinthians, but they have now generally abandoned such practices. Therefore, they ought to be able to give up suing each other also! To stress the new holiness of character God has imputed to them, and in which they are progressively but fitfully growing, Paul ends this section with a reminder that they have been washed (inwardly, but possibly thinking of the external rite of baptism as well), made holy (“sanctified”) and declared righteous (“justified”).

The Letters to the Corinthians The Folly of the Law Courts (1 Corinthians 6:1–8)

It is plain to see that, in a Greek city, every man was to some degree a lawyer and spent a very great part of his time either deciding or listening to law cases. The Greeks were in fact famous, or notorious, for their love of going to law. Not unnaturally, certain of the Greeks had brought their litigious tendencies into the Christian Church, and Paul was shocked

The Letters to the Corinthians Such Were Some of You (1 Corinthians 6:9–11)

There were idolaters. The greatest building in Corinth was the Temple of Aphrodite, the goddess of love, where idolatry and immorality flourished side by side.

The Letters to the Corinthians Such Were Some of You (1 Corinthians 6:9–11)

The proof of Christianity lay in its power. It could take the dregs of humanity and make them into new people. It could take those lost to shame and make them children of God. There were, in Corinth and all over the world, men and women who were living proof of the re-creating power of Christ.

He uses a strong word for dare (cf. Héring, ‘has the audacity’); it is far from the conduct looked for in believers. Dispute (pragma) is common in the papyri in the sense ‘lawsuit’ (MM). The ungodly (adikoi, the ‘unjust’ or ‘unjustified’) means those outside the church.

2. Paul’s Do you not know …? occurs six times in this chapter; it emphasizes that the Corinthians should know better than to do what they are doing.

We are not given any information on the grievance, but we are led to believe that it is not actually a serious matter that should have ended up in court. Paul views the plaintiff’s actions as “wrong[ing]” and “defraud[ing]”4 a brother in Christ (v. 8). The matter is an internal family dispute. Paul shames the parties by pointing out the fact that they are “brothers” (v. 8).

The associate Supreme Court justice Antonin Scalia has made this observation:

I think that this passage [1 Corinthians 6; I’m grateful that some Supreme Court Justices actually look at the Bible] has something to say about the proper Christian attitude toward civil litigation. Paul is making two points. Paul says that the mediation of a mutual friend, such as the parish priest, should be sought before parties run off to the law courts.… I think we are too ready today to see vindication or vengeance through adversary proceedings, rather than peace through mediation.… Good Christians, just as they are slow to anger, should be slow to sue.

Everyone can use the wonderful principles that Jesus has outlined for us in Matthew 18, namely, do not simply take somebody to court immediately, but rather engage in private discussions; speak the truth in love, maintain accountability, admonish with the spirit of gentleness because we’re seeking welfare and reconciliation. Isn’t it interesting that our legal system imitates what Jesus taught in Matthew 18—both mediation and arbitration?

Preaching the Word: 1 Corinthians—The Word of the Cross The Core Issue: Gospel Amnesia (or Gospel Forgetfulness)

Ultimately the Corinthians are conducting themselves as though their God-given identity is of no importance. They are forgetting the gospel. They are failing to be what they are. They are saints, but they are acting like non-saints. They are righteous, but they are living as though they were unrighteous. The result is that their community, which is to be a present glimpse of the future community that God intends for the world, has nothing to offer—they have no means of displaying the way a gospel shapes a community.

When we lapse in our identity, the answer is not to learn a new one, but to relearn who we already are. Our identity is not ours to form; it has already been formed for us and given to us as a gift. In what is our identity grounded? Our identity in Christ allows us to absorb the blows because Christ absorbed them on our behalf. Verse 7b says: “Why not rather suffer wrong? Why not rather be defrauded?” This only makes sense if you have nothing to lose, if “suffer[ing] wrong” is not an ultimate threat to you, if being “defrauded” is not a loss to you. Suffering wrong and being defrauded are not ultimate grievances because Christ bore the ultimate grievances in our place. He endured the wrong that we ought to have endured. He was defrauded of what was rightfully his in order to give us what we never deserved. If Christ absorbed all of our wrongs, if he absorbed all of our attacks, if he absorbed all of our rejection, then when others do the same to us, we can practice gospel memory in place of gospel amnesia, which will give us the resources to absorb the blows of others.

Christians have the essential fuel for honest reconciliation.

By Paul’s day homosexuality had been rampant in Greece and Rome for centuries. In his commentary on this passage, William Barclay reports that Socrates was a homosexual and Plato probably was. Plato’s Symposium on Love is a treatise glorifying homosexuality. It is likely that fourteen of the first fifteen Roman emperors were homosexuals. Nero, who reigned close to the time Paul wrote 1 Corinthians, had a boy named Sporis castrated in order for the boy to become the emperor’s “wife,” in addition to his natural wife. After Nero died, the boy was passed on to one of Nero’s successors, Otho, to use in the same way.

Though many Christians have never been guilty of the particular sins just discussed, every Christian was sinful before he was saved. Every Christian is an ex-sinner. Christ came for the purpose of saving sinners (Matt. 9:13). That is the great truth of Christianity: no person has sinned too deeply or too long to be saved. “Where sin increased, grace abounded all the more” (Rom. 5:20). But some had ceased to be like that for a while, and were reverting to their old behavior.

Paul uses but (alla, the strongest Greek adversative particle) three times to indicate the contrast of the Christian life with the worldly life he has just been describing. But you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified. It made no difference what they were before they were saved. God can save a sinner from any sin and all sin. But it makes a great deal of difference what a believer is like after salvation. He is to live a life that corresponds to his cleansing, his sanctification, and his justification. His Christian life is to be pure, holy, and righteous. The new life produces and requires a new kind of living.

Sanctified speaks of new behavior. To be sanctified is to be made holy inwardly and to be able, in the Spirit’s power, to live a righteous life outwardly. Before a person is saved he has no holy nature and no capacity for holy living. But in Christ we are given a new nature and can live out the new kind of life. Sin’s total domination is broken and is replaced by a life of holiness. By their fleshly sinfulness the Corinthians were interrupting that divine work.

A transformed life should produce transformed living. Paul is saying very strongly that it was unacceptable that some believers were behaving like those outside the kingdom. They were acting like their former selves. They were not saved for that, but from that.

2. REVEALS OUR CONFIDENCE

Whether inside or outside the church, the attitude of demanding one’s rights remains diametrically opposed to Christ’s teaching (Matt. 5:39–42) and example (1 Peter 2:23). If two Christians cannot resolve their disagreements short of both secular litigation and Christian arbitration, something is fundamentally amiss. Better to suffer wrong—God will one day vindicate all injustices—than to alienate a fellow believer by requiring redress.

Verses 7–8 stress a cardinal component of Christian living more generally—the voluntary relinquishing of one’s rights to serve others (cf. Phil. 2:1–11). Chapters 8–10 will develop this theme in great detail.

All the sins enumerated in verses 9–10 share the common traits of being self-indulgent and self-serving. From a spiritual perspective, they also become self-destructive.

Inherit, as often in the New Testament, is not used in the strict sense, but with the meaning ‘enter into full possession of’. Paul proceeds to list ten forms of evil that are incompatible with the kingdom, six being repeated from 5:11. He adds adulterers and two words denoting the passive and active partners in homosexuality. The inclusion of idolaters in a part of the list stressing sexual vice may point to the immorality of much of the heathen worship of the day. The second part of the list puts the emphasis on sins against others.

The injurious effects are implied in the expression ‘among yourselves’; the injury is to the body of Christ, not to outsiders. More biting questions drive home the point that a real victory might be obtained rather by choosing to be wronged, to be cheated. Jesus taught his followers to turn the other cheek, and, when sued at law for their tunic, to yield up their cloak as well (Matt. 5:39–40), and he set them an example (1 Pet. 2:23). But the Corinthians were far from basic Christian principles. Indeed, they were far behind the best Greek thought, for Plato can say that it is better to suffer wrong than to do wrong (Gorgias 509C).

, Paul warned, they were deceived (cf. 1 Cor. 5:11; Rev. 21:7–8; 22:14–15).

Nero, emperor at the time Paul wrote this letter, was about to marry the boy Sporus (Suetonius, Lives of the Caesars, 6. 28), an incident bizarre only in its formality, since 14 of the first 15 Roman emperors were homosexual or bisexual.

but God had intervened. They were washed … by the Spirit (cf. Titus 3:5), sanctified in the Son (cf. 1 Cor. 1:2), and justified before God (cf. Rom. 8:33). This fact of justification was an appropriate thought for those judicially carping Corinthians.

The New American Commentary: 1 Corinthians 2. The Shame of the Righteous Taking Disputes before the Unrighteous (6:1–11)

yet another appalling moral collapse that disparages the church’s witness before the world and demonstrates their failure to function properly as the people of God. As in 5:1–13, Paul has more to say about the failure of the church to settle disputes than he does about the actual offenders, and, as in previous sections of the letter

Whats the point of 6:9-11 in this context?
If you are different it makes a difference
Be who you are… makes a difference… how many Christians it makes no logical difference no meaningful difference?
Do you have conflict any different with spouse, friends, kids?
The New American Commentary: 1 Corinthians 2. The Shame of the Righteous Taking Disputes before the Unrighteous (6:1–11)

Here, however, Paul raises the stakes even higher. To the previous vice list of six sins in 5:10–11 Paul adds four more. The word translated “wicked” is the same word translated “ungodly” in 6:1. The cognate verb occurs in 6:8, “acting unrighteously.” Thus, the wrongdoing of 6:8 takes a wider scope. By engaging in litigation, they themselves are acting unrighteously, just like those who will not inherit the kingdom. Their behavior is no different from the world. Instead of “becoming what they are” the Corinthians are “behaving like they were” (6:11)

The New American Commentary: 1 Corinthians 2. The Shame of the Righteous Taking Disputes before the Unrighteous (6:1–11)

Those who persist in such behavior exclude themselves from the kingdom of God. The kingdom of God consists of righteousness, joy, and peace in the Holy Spirit (Rom 14:17). Believers have been rescued from the dominion of darkness and brought into the kingdom of God’s Son (Col 1:13). The actions of believers should be worthy of those who belong to the kingdom (1 Thess 2:12).

“You were washed”; that is, the filth of sin has been removed. “You were sanctified”; the grip of sin has been released. “You were justified”; the identity of sin has been replaced. So what does this mean? What are the implications for an individual who has been wronged? Forgiveness, even though this is not what Paul is emphasizing here, is costly. When somebody has wronged you, you can either choose to forgive or you can exclude. Whether it’s through elimination, abandonment, assimilation, rejection, or whatever, we can exclude, or we can embrace.

“seek first His kingdom and His righteousness; and all these things shall be added” (Matt. 6:33). A Christian’s primary concern should not be to protect his possessions or his rights but to protect his relationship with His Lord and with his fellow believers.

Willing to be wronged for sake of souls/cross/witness?
3. REVEALS OUR CARE
You care more about yourself than you do God or others if you get to this place

Why … not … accept wrong? The implied answer is because of the shameful sin (v. 5) and the moral defeat (v. 8) that result from selfishness, a willingness to discredit God, His wisdom, power, and sovereign purpose, and to harm the church and the testimony of Christ’s gospel.

And if we’re going to embrace, we can only embrace that person if we remind ourselves of the gospel—that those who ought to have been excluded were embraced by the saving work of Jesus Christ. Jesus forgave us and embraced us and brought us into the fold, into the family of God; even though we were children of wrath, he made us brothers and sisters and brought us into the presence of God the Father. That is what forgiveness is. Either we’re going to reject that person and make him pay, or we are going to forgive and we are going pay. Those are the only two options we have. We will either make that person pay, or we can forgive him. How do we make others pay? We slander them, gossip about them, shift blame onto them, we go to the court of public opinion and make our case there, or we end up being cold to them.

Preaching the Word: 1 Corinthians—The Word of the Cross Living out the Implications of the Gospel

We can absorb the cost when we’ve been wronged because a wrong done against us does not touch our identity unless we fail to believe the gospel. If we have been financially wronged, we need to know that our net worth doesn’t define us. If we have been relationally wronged, we need to know that our ultimate relationship is secure. Christ endured every imaginable wrong in order to win for us every imaginable right. Because of this, we can be the ones to absorb, to forgive, to pursue reconciliation, even when it’s counterintuitive. The wrongs that we commit against others become things that we freely confess and of which we sorrowfully repent. The extent to which God went in order to save us (the death of Christ) shows us the extent of our sin. If we believe the gospel, then our default position will not be one of being in the right. Instead we are open to the possibility that we may be wrong. We will not pursue self-protection and ignoble gain. Instead we will admit our weaknesses and our propensity to drop the ball.

Preaching the Word: 1 Corinthians—The Word of the Cross Living out the Implications of the Gospel

The Christian community takes sin seriously but handles it graciously. Also, we do not overlook when wrong is done. We are called to be a community that reflects God’s good, shalomic intentions for the world. This means that we never pass over wrongdoing in our midst. But we also do not crush people for wrong they’ve done.

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