Where’s the Proof?
1 Corinthians 6:1-11
Some of you were once like that. But you were cleansed, you were made holy; you were made right with God by calling on the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God. – 1 Corinthians 6:11 NLT
Paul was looking for signs of life change. He expected to see true transformation in the lives of the believers in Corinth. But instead, their behavior would seem to indicate that nothing had changed at all. It was bad enough that they had been tolerating sexual immorality in their midst. But they were also taking one another to court over a variety of ordinary disputes. For one thing, this revealed that there were unresolved issues in the church. But rather than deal with them as a family, they were trying to settle them through the secular legal system. This was not an indictment on Paul’s part on the judicial system of his day, but a concern for the reputation of the name of Christ and the health of the church. Paul had started out his letter dealing with the issue of divisions in the church. He had told them, “I appeal to you, dear brothers and sisters, by the authority of our Lord Jesus Christ, to live in harmony with each other. Let there be no divisions in the church. Rather, be one one mind, united in thought and purpose” (1 Corinthians 1:10 NLT).
One of the distinctives of the Body of Christ is unity. It is the God-given, Spirit-empowered ability to love one another and to live in unity with one another. The fact that the believers in Corinth were having disputes was bad enough. That they were attempting to settle those disputes through the secular legal system was almost unbearable to Paul. As far as he was concerned, it would have been better for them to just accept whatever injustice had been done rather than demean the name of Christ by having two believers sue one another. Paul couldn’t understand why two believers couldn’t settle their differences on their own or with the help of someone in the church. Paul accused the Corinthians of cheating one another. Their actions and subsequent disputes were driven by wrong motives. They were evidence of unchanged lives and immoral behavior. He even linked their behavior with some other, rather serious sounding sins. “Don’t you realize that those who do wrong will not inherit the Kingdom of God? Don’t fool yourselves. Those who indulge in sexual sin, or who worship idols, or commit adultery, or are male prostitutes, or practice homosexuality, or are thieves, or greedy people, or drunkards, or are abusive or cheat people – none of these will inherit the Kingdom of God” (1 Corinthians 6:9-10 NLT). Do you notice what Paul has done? He has included cheating one another, his synonym for taking one another to court, with other worse-sounding sins. Our first reaction is to use these verses as an indictment against adultery and homosexuality, but Paul’s main point was to illustrate the danger of the seemingly more innocent behavior of the Corinthians. Their actions bore evidence of unchanged lives. He reminded them that they used to be like that, but they had undergone a change. They had been cleansed. They had been made holy. They had been made right with God. All because of they had placed their faith in Jesus Christ a their Savior. The Holy Spirit had indwelt them and had begun His transformative work in them. As a result, their lives should have evidenced by changed behavior.
Too often, we settle for so much less than what God has promised through Christ. He has given us the capacity to live transformed, radically changed lives, but instead we find ourselves living slightly improved versions of our old lives. We struggle with the same old attitudes and exhibit the same old actions that were part of our lives prior to coming to Christ. But we have been changed. Going to court was not the real issue for Paul. It was that they were having unresolved disputes that made it necessary for them to go there in the first place. Those disputes were driven by greed, jealousy, abuse and a variety of other un-Christlike attitudes. Where was the harmony? Where was the selfless, sacrificial love to which God had called them? Where was the transformed behavior that Christ had died to provide and the Spirit made possible? Paul expected to see changed behavior, not more of the same old thing. He expected to see transformed lives and a Spirit-empowered unity in the church that set it radically apart from the rest of society. We should expect the same thing today.
Father, too often we appear more like the world than we do like Christ. As believers we can exhibit the character of this world more than we do the character of Christ. Our lives are to be different. Our behavior is to be distinct and set apart. But we find ourselves driven by wrong motives. We struggle with selfish, sin-driven desires rather than by the power of the Spirit. Don’t let us forget that we have been cleansed, made holy, and made right with You. We have been given new natures and a capacity to live new lives because of the indwelling presence of Your Spirit. May our actions and attitudes reflect the reality of the fact that we have been transformed by You. Amen.
Grow Pastor & Minister to Men