The Pursuit of God

Serious Topics for Serious Christians

Applying 1 Corinthians 6: Stop with the Suing & the Sex


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This is a continuation of Applying 1 Corinthians 5.

Modern Americans love to sue each other over every little thing. No one wants to forgive and forget. No one wants to be gracious. It’s all about getting revenge and dramatizing our problems so that we can get a bunch of free money. Well, the ancient Corinthians would fit right in with modern Americans. They’re suing each other right and left and Paul is exasperated with them. He doesn’t expect them to never have disputes, but can they at least settle it within the church instead of running off to unbelievers?

When one of you has a dispute with another believer, how dare you file a lawsuit and ask a secular court to decide the matter instead of taking it to other believers! (1 Cor. 6:1)

Paul’s beef with the Corinthians is valid. It’s too bad he has to now make up a bunch of baloney about how things will work in eternity.

Don’t you realize that someday we believers will judge the world? And since you are going to judge the world, can’t you decide even these little things among yourselves? (1 Cor. 6:2)

When it comes to our lives in eternity, Paul has endless delusions of grandeur. He’s always trying to exalt us to ridiculous heights. If we’re not shoving our way onto Yahweh’s or Jesus’ throne, then we’re taking over the task of judging the world. Though Jesus clearly taught that He and Yahweh would be the Ones judging human beings in eternity, Paul has decided to ignore what Jesus said. Paul has instead decided that humans will get to judge other humans. In his fantasy world, Christians will get to condemn unbelievers on the other side. What a horrifying thought!

Don’t you realize that we will judge angels? So you should surely be able to resolve ordinary disputes in this life. (1 Cor. 6:3)

Here’s another delusion. No, we’re really not going to judge angels (see Angel Q&A). Can you hear Paul’s lust for power and glory coming through in these statements? First he shoves Jesus and Yahweh aside so he can cast eternal judgments down on the heads of unbelievers. Now he claims superiority over all the angels. Stop with the rank already. We humans are just powerless little dots. The fact that we’re even allowed into Heaven ought to drive us to our knees in gratitude. This attitude of “Who will I get to dominate in eternity?” is most unbecoming for a leader in the Church.

If you have legal disputes about such matters, why go to outside judges who are not respected by the church? I am saying this to shame you. Isn’t there anyone in all the church who is wise enough to decide these issues? But instead, one believer sues another—right in front of unbelievers! (1 Cor. 6:4-6)

It’s a pretty lousy witness to unbelievers when the Corinthian Christians are seen suing each other in court.

Even to have such lawsuits with one another is a defeat for you. Why not just accept the injustice and leave it at that? Why not let yourselves be cheated? Instead, you yourselves are the ones who do wrong and cheat even your fellow believers. (1 Cor. 6:7-8)

As is often the case with lawsuits, the Corinthians are getting greedy with their demands and intentionally cheating each other. But there wouldn’t be lawsuits in the first place if these people treated each other with basic respect. This church sounds like a chaotic mess.

Don’t you realize that those who do wrong will not inherit the Kingdom of Yahweh? 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 Yahweh. Some of you were once like that. But you were cleansed; you were made holy; you were made right with Yahweh by calling on the Name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God. (1 Cor. 6:9-11)

Be careful with this language. Paul’s theology about sin and salvation is warped due to his Old Covenant background. Notice how he suggests salvation must be earned by good behavior, therefore anyone who does wrong will be rejected by Yahweh. This is absolutely not true and it leads to the obnoxious claim that Christians don’t sin. Of course we sin—we sin constantly.

It’s a common misconception among Christians and even among the New Testament Jews that salvation under the Old Covenant was acquired through good works. You’ll find apostles like James, Paul, and John all demanding sinless behavior from Christians and then threatening that if they don’t come across with perfection, their salvation will be revoked. None of these men were grasping the concept of future atonement. This isn’t surprising because there was no such thing under the Old Covenant.

Before Christ, there was no concept of “being saved”, because salvation couldn’t be obtained ahead of time. Salvation was something that happened at death. If you died in a state of alignment with Yahweh, He would take you to Heaven. If you died in a state of rebellion, you ended up in Hell. Throughout the Old Testament, Yahweh harps on the fact that any believer who becomes rebellious and refuses to repent will be cut off by Him. The New Testament Jews had a strong grip on the fact that Yahweh would reject anyone who became rebellious, but they misunderstood how Yahweh defined rebellion. Yahweh has never judged us based on our actions, but rather on our soul attitudes. This is a theme He teaches throughout the Old Testament. We find many passages in the prophetic books in which Yahweh rails against Jews who are doing all kinds of righteous works because inwardly their heart attitudes are foul. Yahweh teaches over and over again that He judges us by our internal response to Him.

But then we come to the New Testament—a world in which pompous Pharisees are flashing their righteous acts in everyone’s face and declaring that they are going to Heaven because they are sinless. Everyone believed this gross mangling of how Yahweh judges us, thus we find non-Pharisees like James and John demanding that Christians act perfect. It is utterly ludicrous to suggest that human beings have the capacity to not sin, yet this is what the Pharisees brainwashed the Jews into believing. Just as the Church today brainwashes you into believing the Bible is inerrant and that every word is God-breathed, the New Testament Jews were brainwashed by the Pharisees into thinking salvation was acquired through perfect behavior and that it was possible to be sinless. The Pharisees all claimed to be sinless themselves. Paul was a Pharisee. Paul spent the first part of his life claiming to be sinless and even after coming to Christ, he doesn’t seem to realize how absurd his claim of moral perfection was. Here’s how Paul summarizes himself in his letter to the church in Philippi:

And as for righteousness, I obeyed the Law without fault. (Philip. 3:6)

When Jesus showed up on earth in the Gospels, He reamed the Pharisees out for being Satan loving hypocrites. Jesus taught that it was utterly impossible for any man to perfectly obey Yahweh’s Laws because Yahweh’s definition of sin was so far reaching. Instead of admitting how absurd he was to ever think he was actually succeeding at obeying Yahweh’s Laws, Paul says that he had an aha moment that salvation now comes through faith, not works, so he’s set his former “righteousness” aside and is now pursuing a new righteousness that comes through faith.

I no longer count on my own righteousness through obeying the Law; rather, I become righteous through faith in Christ. For Yahweh’s way of making us right with Himself depends on faith. (Philip. 3:9)

The problem with this statement is that Paul never obtained righteousness through obeying the Law. No one did. Yahweh’s definition of righteousness has always been a matter of soul attitude. Those who sincerely wanted to please Yahweh in their hearts were counted as righteous by Him. Those who didn’t were counted as wicked, no matter how many wonderful works they did. So when Paul, John, and James threaten believers that they’ll be cast out if they do bad works, these men are leading everyone astray and doing a fabulous job of helping demons terrorize sincere believers. Despite what the apostle John will try to tell you, it is impossible not to sin. The only way you can ever pretend it is possible not to sin is if you completely change Yahweh’s definition of sin. This is what the Pharisees did, and this was something Jesus was constantly reaming them out for.

Don’t you realize that those who do wrong will not inherit the Kingdom of Yahweh? 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 Yahweh. Some of you were once like that. But you were cleansed; you were made holy; you were made right with Yahweh by calling on the Name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God. (1 Cor. 6:9-11)

Salvation didn’t make you sinless, nor did it take away your desire to sin. Your earthsuit is the part of you that wants to sin. Your earthsuit couldn’t care less about pleasing God. Under the New Covenant, salvation is not about your earthsuit being drastically altered, but rather about your Creators changing Their attitude towards you and deciding to eternally accept you as Their child (see What happens to the soul at the moment of salvation?). When we misunderstand what happens at salvation, we fall prey to all kinds of condemnation. Once we think salvation took away our desire to sin, we can easily be persuaded by the apostle John that something is terribly wrong with us if we desire to sin again (see Salvation According to 1 John). It’s critical that you understand that your soul’s response to God is the only thing you’ll be judged by in eternity. Then you can keep your focus on desiring to please God instead of on striving to overcome your flesh. No one will be saved by works.

You say, “I am allowed to do anything”—but not everything is good for you. And even though “I am allowed to do anything,” I must not become a slave to anything. You say, “Food was made for the stomach, and the stomach for food.” (This is true, though someday God will do away with both of them.) But you can’t say that our bodies were made for sexual immorality. They were made for the Lord, and the Lord cares about our bodies. And Yahweh will raise us from the dead by His power, just as He raised our Lord from the dead. (1 Cor. 6:12-14)

The Corinthians are finding God’s moral code too restrictive. They want to wallow in the lusts of their flesh. Well, who doesn’t? But if we’re honest, we have to admit that our earthsuits aren’t exactly wise. So much of what they crave ends up destroying them. They lust after the thrill of some drug high even though that same drug will do permanent brain damage. They lust after foods that will strip them of nutrients and cause all sorts of health problems. If we let our bodies lead us in life, we’ll end up in a major mess. Our bodies are like amazingly complex cars which keep trying to drive themselves into brick walls.

First Paul argues that we shouldn’t allow our souls to become enslaved by our bodies. Then he points out that we ought to take care of our bodies out of respect for God. After all, our bodies are God’s property. Should you borrow your father’s sports car and drive it into a tree? No, if you borrow someone else’s stuff, you should be extra careful not to damage it. Our bodies belong to God, and we need to honor Him by taking care of them, even when that means refusing to give them what they want.

Our bodies love sensual arousal, and if they had their way, they’d jump in the sack with every sexy stranger who comes along. But Paul says that sexual immorality was clearly not what God designed our bodies for. Just because our bodies are physically able to do something doesn’t mean it is what God intended for them to do. A car is able to drive over a cliff, but that isn’t what it was built for.

Don’t you realize that your bodies are actually parts of Christ? Should a man take his body, which is part of Christ, and join it to a prostitute? Never! And don’t you realize that if a man joins himself to a prostitute, he becomes one body with her? For the Scriptures say, “The two are united into one.” [Gen. 2:24] But the person who is joined to the Lord is one spirit with Him. (1 Cor. 6:15-17)

Today many leaders in the Church are promoting the ridiculous concept of soul ties, and if you’ve been exposed to such rot, it’s easy to get confused by Paul’s wording here. In the first place, your body really isn’t an actual part of Christ. Christ is not a human. Christ is not bound to you in any way. Christ could uncreate us all tomorrow and He’d continue on just fine without us. We need to be careful not to blur the lines between the Creators and the created. We are not extensions of God.

A Christian man shouldn’t sleep with prostitutes because God says He doesn’t like this kind of activity. Once God tells us not to do something, that’s all the reason we need not to do it. Paul is making a mess by trying to invent a bunch of additional reasons for why the Corinthians shouldn’t sleep around. We’re not attachments of Christ and we’re not one with God in spirit. Simply being a Christian doesn’t create some mystical unity between us and God. Many Christians barely know who God is and they are really annoying Him with their constant defiance. So let’s not get carried away with New Age weirdness and start thinking salvation caused us to somehow merge into God. Salvation just means God has graciously decided not to throw us into Hell. It doesn’t mean He thinks we’re fabulous. We can’t damage God by sinning against Him, and God isn’t going to allow us to really know Him if we refuse to respect Him.

Now to encourage us to respect His moral code, God has fixed it so that we end up suffering consequences when we go beyond the limits He has set for us. God says that our legal spouse is the only one we should be having sex with. He then fixes it so that if we sleep around, we end up suffering all kinds of negative consequences. Not only has God invented a whole crop of nasty diseases which can only be spread through intercourse, but He’s also come up with psychological and emotional consequences for sleeping around. Why do we get that “used rag” feeling as we build up a history of one night stands? Why does sex become less and less pleasurable the more partners we have? These are all ways that God motivates us to get back in alignment with Him. We don’t get to just do whatever we want down here. God tells us what we ought to be doing, and if we blow Him off, He makes us sorry.

Run from sexual sin! No other sin so clearly affects the body as this one does. For sexual immorality is a sin against your own body. (1 Cor. 6:18)

There are actually many sins which do obvious damage to the body. It’s pretty obvious that boxing isn’t doing bodies any good, and beating the tar out of a complete stranger in order to glorify yourself certainly qualifies as sinning. Shooting up on drugs, getting plastered at parties, cutting ourselves—there are many sins which involve us intentionally harming our own bodies. Remember that Paul likes to exaggerate, so you can’t just take what he says literally.

Don’t you realize that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, who lives in you and was given to you by Yahweh? You do not belong to yourself, for Yahweh bought you with a high price. So you must honor Yahweh with your body. (1 Cor. 6:19-20)

Yahweh taught us to view Jesus’ death on a cross as a father sacrificing his only son on our behalf. Certainly this should add to our sense of indebtedness to both Yahweh and Jesus. But even without the cross and even without the Holy Spirit dwelling within us, we are not our own. We are the property of the Ones who created us. We aren’t doing God any favors by treating His property with respect—we’re doing the very least that we should do.

The church in Corinth sounds like a good place to avoid. Its members are divided into warring factions, they’re suing each other, they’re sleeping around, and they’ve got an “I want to so I ought to get to” attitude. Back in our first lesson, we learned that Paul received a letter from the Corinthians asking him for guidance on some specific moral issues. Paul will start to address those questions in the next chapter.

UP NEXT: Applying 1 Corinthians 7: Paul Talks Sex & Marriage

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