Lesson 20

Paul's First Letter to the Corinthians

World English Bible translation

 Today's Scripture

6:9 Or don't you know that the unrighteous will not inherit the Kingdom of God? Don't be deceived. Neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor male prostitutes, nor homosexuals, 6:10 nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor slanderers, nor extortioners, will inherit the Kingdom of God. 6:11 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 in the Spirit of our God. 

Today's Lesson 

At first glance Today's Scripture seems oddly placed. Paul had just begun the discussion of the third major problem at Corinth. The first two problems had dealt with open divisions within the assemblies and a case of flagrant sexual immorality. Both of these problems were about open public sin that existed within the congregation. So was the third problem that Paul had just started to discuss with them. In this case, Paul was discussing that some of the Corinthians were bringing lawsuits in the city courts against one another.


On the matter of these lawsuits, Paul had argued that the Corinthians should have rather been defrauded and wronged by a brother or sister in Christ than to have brought a civil lawsuit before unbelievers. Then Paul produces this strange but beautiful argument. "Don't you know that the unrighteous will not inherit the Kingdom of God? ... Such were some of you, but you were washed." On the face of it one might ask, what has this to do with Paul's argument about Christian bringing lawsuit against Christian?


But the way that we look at other Christians and ourselves has everything to do with Paul's argument. What is our motivation to not seek a remedy in the civil courts for abuses done within the assemblies of God? We do so first because we know that God is the ultimate judge and has complete authority in our lives. But knowing that we are also already vindicated before our God is also a strong motivating factor as well. This is the one that Paul presents to us today.


Paul writes that the Corinthians used to be excluded from the family of God. As sinners, they once were separated from God's righteousness. They slandered and coveted. Some of them were caught up in sexual immorality and in idolatry. But when God accepted them, He cleaned them from all unrighteousness. Through the death of Jesus Christ our Lord, sinners are cleansed by the sacrifice of His blood and His life. Through His resurrection we are declared righteous before God. As Paul declares here, we are sanctified and justified in His name.


Paul's point is that being declared righteous in the court of God, we can forego what others in this world may declare us to be. If I understand what God has already accomplished, do I really care what some lesser judge here on earth decides about my case? Moreover, having access to the bar of God, would I wish to bring by suit against another to a lesser court? If I understand that God cares for me and has made me whole and taken me into His household, why not turn over any offense done to me to Him? God is the ultimate judge and dispenser of justice.


But Paul wants us to take this one step further and include other Christians in our perspective as well. Just as we used to be sinners separated from God, so did they. Just as we do not act always in accordance with the perfect deliverance that is found in Christ Jesus, neither do they. Even though we have been cleaned and sanctified, we still sin against God, against ourselves and against others. So do other Christians. Since we assemble with one another and interact with their lives, it is highly likely that a Christian sinning against another will likely sin against a brother or sister in Christ. How then are we to react when we are sinned against by one that has been cleansed and sanctified by the blood of Christ?


We are to react to them in the same way that we wish others to react to us. Just as we sin against others, we will be sinned against. But, in Christ we are cleansed and forgiven. That means being able to forgive others when we are sinned against as well. We cannot put ourselves and our sin on one standard and hold others to another. In fact, if anything, we are called by Christ to be more merciful to others than to seek mercy for ourselves. We are actually called to grant a higher measure of forgiveness to others.


That is where today's lesson fits into the problem at Corinth. Lawsuits are precluded because we have been forgiven of God. It is required that we extend that forgiveness to other brothers and sisters in Christ. Who are you allowing to be your judge? Is it Christ or others?


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