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1 Corinthians 6:1-11 | "Do Not Be Deceived"

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Sunday, July 11, 2021. 1 Corinthians 6:1-11 | “Do Not Be Deceived.” The Church of God belongs to God. This makes Her distinct from any other assemblies found in the world! For this reason, the apostle comes down hard on the church in Corinth when their shameful actions confuse this distinction among themselves, and especially in the eyes of unbelievers in the world. Simply put, the church was deceived and their witness for Jesus as a consequence was lost! This text returns to a recurring theme of the Church’s identity in Christ, and ends with a powerful whisper of Gospel transformation and hope.

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I. Reading of Scripture

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

1 Corinthians 6:1-11 “Do Not Be Deceived”

II. Introduction

Three of the most beautiful words in the letter of 1 Corinthians are found in the letter’s opening address.
1 Corinthians, Chapter 1, Verse 2 begins with this greeting: “To the Church.”
1 Corinthians 1:2 ESV
2 To the church of God that is in Corinth, to those sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints together with all those who in every place call upon the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, both their Lord and ours:
1 Corinthians is a letter written “To the Church.”
To the ἐκκλησίᾳ.
The word “Church” or ἐκκλησίᾳ was a familiar word for a summoned assembly in Greek culture. It was like what we know as a town council (GCM). A legislative body (BDAG).
But Paul is not addressing an ordinary [ ἐκκλησίᾳ ]. He is writing to a specific one. He is writing to the ἐκκλησίᾳ of God.
To the assembly that BELONGS to God!
If we miss this, we will miss the love that drives the instruction of this letter.
God loves His Church! Christ loves His Church!
Ephesians draws upon the marriage relationship to show this by saying:
Ephesians 5:25 ESV
25 Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her,
Ephesians 5:26 ESV
26 that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word,
Ephesians 5:27 ESV
27 so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish.
This is what Christ wants for His bride. What God wants for His Church, across all of time. To be presented to Himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, and to be holy, without blemish.
It is a beautiful and wonderful thing - the love God has for His Church, and what God Himself makes of Her by His holy name.
With this in mind, we can see the heart behind the instructions given to the church in Corinth, and to the church that we are today.
These instructions are invitations for the Church of Jesus Christ to be participators in what God has already made Her to be - His saints! His holy ones! His righteous ones! His people — in the world, but not of the world.

A. Introduction to Theme & Text

And for this reason, the main invitation today is for the Church in Christ to not be deceived.
[TITLE SLIDE]

1 Corinthians 6:1-11 “Do Not Be Deceived”

Chapter 6:1-11 continues under the umbrella of the need for Church Discipline.
Church Discipline is way of guarding against whatever threatens the Church’s witness. It is a way of staying on the right path.
Church Discipline is a process among the body of saints, for purging what is wordly - what is evil - what is sinful from among Her. Getting out what doesn’t belong within!
It is a necessary act of love by the Church, for the Church, to preserve the Church as pure and powerful, and to protect her identity and witness as an assembly that belongs to God!
An undisciplined church is a deceived church.
The title of today’s sermon is lifted from the command in verse 9:
[TITLE SLIDE]

1 Corinthians 6:1-11 “Do Not Be Deceived”

Deception is the enemy of discipline.
Deception convinces you that you are something you are not.
Deception renders discipline powerless.
Indeed, any local church that does not care for loving discipline is a deceived church.
Deception is a mistake in one’s judgement. It is a loss of direction and wandering astray (BDAG).
Being deceived means you do not know who you are, or what you are, or whose you are! Deception is a distinctive feature of a church that has lost its spiritual authority (TTC).
Because an undisciplined church is an undifferentiated church. Meaning, there is nothing that separates a deceived church from a deceived world.
Make no mistake - the enemy of Christ is a deceiver. The world is already deceived. The world wanders astray! But we, the saints, the sanctified, the called - we need not be deceived, we need not be like them, and are commanded in Scripture to not be deceived and to not be like them.

III. Exposition

The deception of the church in Corinth became very obvious in the shameful way that disputes among them were handled.
This is how the apostle words his opening statement:

6:1

1 Corinthians 6:1 ESV
1 When one of you has a grievance against another, does he dare go to law before the unrighteous instead of the saints?
Notice first, the word “grievance.”
A “grievance” is the word [ πρᾶγμα ]. It is a matter, or a thing.
Specifically, the apostle is speaking about a matter or thing that has become a point of contention or a dispute (BDAG). One brother or sister between another brother or sister.
Someone has been offended. Someone has been deceived. Someone has been treated wrongly, unrighteously, by another brother and sister and now wants righteousness to prevail.
So how will righteousness prevail? How will justice be done?
And here is the deception.
The church in Corinth was taking disputes among them, before the public courts of the unrighteous, among them, in hopes that righteousness would prevail.
The saints were suing each other in the civil courts of Corinth.
Think about how that endeavor might reflect upon their public witness for Jesus. As the testimony was shared, as the evidence was brought forth.
Why would anyone want what they have, in Christ? Why would anyone need what they have, in Christ? For it appears that there is nothing different among this church, this assembly?
And the apostle uses a very strong word to express his disbelief and disapproval.
Notice the word “dare” in verse 1.
1 Corinthians 6:1 ESV
1 When one of you has a grievance against another, does he dare go to law before the unrighteous instead of the saints?
This word “dare” is a very strong word. In the Greek language, it is the first word of this sentence in verse 1, bringing emphasis to it.
“How dare you!” “How dare you go to court before the unrighteous instead of the saints!
We are helped by understanding the context of civil courts.
History teaches us that the civil courts were fertile grounds for unrighteousness in and of themselves. They were easily corrupted through bribes.
The wealthy would sue the poor, and the wealthy would serve as jurors making it impossible for a person of lower standing to receive a just hearing — it was rigged.
And then there was the sport of it all. Taking someone to civil court wasn’t only about justice, but it was about winning the argument. Publicly humiliating another so as to receive glory and my rights. Making the other person pay (and often the loser paid dearly).
[All the above from various commentary readings].
The church in Corinth did not know what righteousness was. They were deceived. And so three times in this text, the apostle tells them what they apparently do not know.
First, at the end of verse 1, we are given a clue of what they did not know was possible.
It is possible to settle grievances before the saints.
Did you know that?
God has empowered us, by His Holy Spirit, as the body of Christ, the saints, with the wisdom and discernment we need to settle disputes among ourselves and to thereby preserve our identity as Christ’s people!
Preben Vang says it this way —
1 Corinthians Teaching the Text

Paul’s answer to the church is that when members seek means to resolve conflict that violate their identity as Christians, it reveals that the church as a community has lost its spiritual authority.

The church in Corinth lost what it had already been given - spiritual authority by taking their grievances and submitting them to an unrighteous, wordly authority.
And the apostle is disgusted by this, and reminds them that these are matters God empowers them to handle among themselves!
Not only is this possible, but our future in Christ assures it!

6:2-10

1 Corinthians 6:2 ESV
2 Or do you not know that the saints will judge the world? And if the world is to be judged by you, are you incompetent to try trivial cases?
This is the first of three “do you not know” statements in this text.
“Do you not know that the saints will judge the world?”
The apostle is looking at the grand example of future judgment, where the saints, in Christ, will participate in the judging of the world.
When the Kingdom of God comes in fullness, we who are in that kingdom will share in the judgment of the King.
This is taught in other places in the Scriptures.
Daniel saw this in a vision:
Daniel 7:21 ESV
21 As I looked, this horn made war with the saints and prevailed over them,
Daniel 7:22 ESV
22 until the Ancient of Days came, and judgment was given for the saints of the Most High, and the time came when the saints possessed the kingdom.
Judgement was given for the saints of the Most High.
And Revelation says:
Revelation 2:26 ESV
26 The one who conquers and who keeps my works until the end, to him I will give authority over the nations,
This is a big deal!
Why then, can the saints, empowered by the same eternal Spirit, not judge small deals?
1 Corinthians 6:2 ESV
2 Or do you not know that the saints will judge the world? And if the world is to be judged by you, are you incompetent to try trivial cases?
This reveals the nature of the church’s disputes. They were trivial. They were most insignificant (LEB). “Of very little importance” (LN).
These disputes did not matter much, yet the church was making a public matter out of them!
Here is a principle of deception:
Deception makes much of little, and little of much.
You may have heard it said this way: “Making mountains out of molehills.” “Majoring on the minors, and minoring on the majors.”
People who do these things are deceived. They are off-course. They’ve lost site of who they are, whose they are, and what is most important.
By application, this is very easy to see in any local church by just listening to the conversations being had among her membership.
Did you know that your phones are listening to you? Facebook is listening to you? Have you noticed how the advertisements that pop up on your newsfeed reflect the kind of things you talk about?
I’m asking, What advertisements pop up on your newsfeed? What kinds of conversations are you having?
If Facebook listened to the conversations you have while you are in the church building, if the unbelieving world were listening, what conversations would they hear?
Would they hear people praying to God for lost souls, lost neighbors, lost family members? Interceding for the eternal future of those who will die without Christ and spend eternity in a lake of fire? Would they hear appeals to God for their salvation?
Would they hear people praying for God to intervene in difficult challenges because we have faith in God who loves us and is able to deliver us and heal us?
Would they hear people asking how they can serve and build up the Church through ministry? Offering their gifts in service to the Lord?
Would they hear people finding ways to meet the needs of brothers and sisters who are in need?
Would they hear people brainstorming creative ways to be on mission as a church? Ways to die to self and pass on the faith to future generations?
Would they hear people praying for their pastor and teachers who feed the flock, ministering God’s Word, so that they might rightly divide the word of truth?
Would they hear conversations about how to most glorify God and exalt Jesus in the power of the Spirit through our worship gatherings?
These are major things. These matter in light of eternity. These are who and what we are about as Christ’s church!
Or, would they hear, as so often is the case, other conversations? Discussions, debates, disputes, about lesser things? Worldly things? About things that will pass away? Things that will create a great advertisement for something the world has to offer in abundant supply?
How easy is it, as a church, to get our feelings hurt over things that really don’t matter in light of eternity! To argue instead of pray. To act on what we feel rather than on faith. To follow our own way instead of God’s Word!
How easy it is to lose our guard and our identity and become deceived.
The apostle returns the gaze of the church in Corinth upon the eternal consequence of the future. Because their minds are consumed with the present hour only.
This is another principle of deception.
Deception is present minded, not future minded.
Deception hides the future consequences of decisions made in the present.
“Do you not know that the saints will judge the world?” If you knew this - you would act like it now!
So again, the apostle reminds them of what they don’t know, saying it in a different way.
1 Corinthians 6:3 ESV
3 Do you not know that we are to judge angels? How much more, then, matters pertaining to this life!
At the last judgement, there will be angels who will be judged too! And the saints will be part of that judging of angles.
So how much more then, are we saints to judge matters pertaining to this life? This ordinary life?
The Gospel of Jesus says that we do not have to earn our future. Praise God! There is nothing that we can do to earn a place in God’s Kingdom. There is no work we can perform to be saved. Salvation is not based on works. It is by grace through faith.
Jesus did all the work. I don’t decide my future - my future is decided in Christ! Our future is decided in Christ!
So Church — Jesus empowers to live in light of our future now! That is what it means to be a part of God’s coming Kingdom that is coming, and is already here!
That’s the point the apostle is raising.
Church in Corinth - what you will do, you may now do in Christ. The same Lord is with you, and empowering you now with all you need to judge these small, trivial matters.
So being perplexed, perhaps even confused by their actions, the apostle asks -
1 Corinthians 6:4 ESV
4 So if you have such cases, why do you lay them before those who have no standing in the church?
Why do you legitimize as judges those who “count for nothing” in the church? (Conzelmann).
Perhaps we could say it in these ways - Why do you count as a church member someone who is not?
Why do you allow someone to remain a member among you when they have abandoned you?
Why would you grant someone membership privileges when they do not attend for worship, pray, or give?
Why would you put someone on a committee in the church to decide issues in the church when they do not support the church or serve the church?
The apostle is appalled.
1 Corinthians 6:5 ESV
5 I say this to your shame. Can it be that there is no one among you wise enough to settle a dispute between the brothers,
Already the apostle has asked this question in Chapter 1:
1 Corinthians 1:20 ESV
20 Where is the one who is wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world?
And he went on to say:
1 Corinthians 1:26 ESV
26 For consider your calling, brothers: not many of you were wise according to worldly standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth.
1 Corinthians 1:27 ESV
27 But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong;
1 Corinthians 1:28 ESV
28 God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are,
1 Corinthians 1:29 ESV
29 so that no human being might boast in the presence of God.
1 Corinthians 1:30 ESV
30 And because of him you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, righteousness and sanctification and redemption,
1 Corinthians 1:31 ESV
31 so that, as it is written, “Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.”
1 Corinthians 6:5 ESV
5 I say this to your shame. Can it be that there is no one among you wise enough to settle a dispute between the brothers,
1 Corinthians 6:6 ESV
6 but brother goes to law against brother, and that before unbelievers?
Church - Your witness is at stake! In fact - Corinthians, your witness is blown. You go before unbelievers and do the exact opposite of what your Lord did for you!
Look at verse 7:
1 Corinthians 6:7 ESV
7 To have lawsuits at all with one another is already a defeat for you. Why not rather suffer wrong? Why not rather be defrauded?
If you were acting as the Christians you are, these trivial matters would not become lawsuits at all.
Why?
Because you would do what Christ did. You would rather suffer wrong. You would rather be wronged!
That would “rather” is important, because it communicates an alternative.
I would RATHER be wronged than the alternative - what is that alternative? To shame Christ in front of unbelievers through my actions.
To assert my rights before unbelievers as if I have any rights of my own anymore.
I would rather be wronged. I would rather be defrauded (that is, deprived of something through deception by a brother or sister), than to destroy my witness of my Lord before unbelievers.
Jesus suffered wrong. Jesus was deprived of his life through lies culminating in His death on the cross. And He willingly did that, rather than call upon legions of angels to show the world who was right.
Why?
Because He wanted to show the world His love.
1 Corinthians 13:4 ESV
4 Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant
1 Corinthians 13:5 ESV
5 or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful;
1 Corinthians 13:6 ESV
6 it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth.
1 Corinthians 13:7 ESV
7 Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
That’s the love of the Spirit. That’s the love of God!
Church - if we want to be witnesses of Christ’s love in the world, we must be willing to be wronged by one another and live with that tension of knowing we are right, but bearing the wrong.
The Kingdom teaching of Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount was this:
Matthew 5:39 ESV
39 But I say to you, Do not resist the one who is evil. But if anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also.
Matthew 5:40 ESV
40 And if anyone would sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well.
Matthew 5:41 ESV
41 And if anyone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles.
Matthew 5:42 ESV
42 Give to the one who begs from you, and do not refuse the one who would borrow from you.
If we are to act like this toward those who are evil and unbelievers, how much more are we to die to self in our relationships with believers?
But the apostle is not finished.
In verse 8 he reveals a sad reality: the Church in Corinth is so deceived, that they have become as the unbelievers.
1 Corinthians 6:8 ESV
8 But you yourselves wrong and defraud—even your own brothers!
They are no different in their actions than the ones that crucified the Lord. They are living as unregenerate people. And they don’t know it! They are so deceived they cannot see it.
The word “wrong” in verse 8 is the word for “unrighteous.” So now the apostle uses the same word applied to the outsiders against the Corinthians themselves (Herm.).

IV. Conclusion

1 Corinthians 6:9 ESV
9 Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality,
1 Corinthians 6:10 ESV
10 nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God.
Who are the unrighteous? This is one list.
And this is the command - Do not be deceived like them.
Do not think that you will inherit the kingdom of God if you practice these things. You will not! They will not!

A. Gospel Proclamation

But verse 11 whispers a truth the Church in Corinth needed to hear. A truth we need to hear every day in our gathering. The Gospel truth —
1 Corinthians 6:11 ESV
11 And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.
“And such were some of you.”
This text ends with a beautiful Gospel proclamation, and ends with God. Not with commands, but with statements of who they are - as Christ has made them to be.
They were washed.
They were sanctified.
They were justified.
Not because of their works. Because of Jesus and His work.
Who lived in complete obedience to God. Who never sinned, but was accused of blasphemy and bore it. Who suffered wrong. And endured it - all the way to the cross, where he died, unjustly, for sin he was not guilty of. To show us God’s love. To redeem us. To save us.
Christ was buried, and God had the final say. God raised Him from the dead!
Living as witnesses for Jesus means waiting on God to make the truth known in the right time.
God is waiting, because God is still saving.
Will you receive His grace of salvation today by faith?
Church, will you live by the faith He has graciously given you, today?
DO NOT BE DECEIVED! BE DIFFERENT! BE DISCIPLINED!
May God help us to be witnesses for Jesus in all we say and do!
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