1 Corinthians 6

1 Corinthians 6  •  8 min. read  •  grade level: 7
THERE WAS ANOTHER very grievous scandal amongst these Corinthians, to which Paul alludes in chapter 6. It was less grave perhaps than the foregoing, but apparently it was more widespread. Some amongst them were quarrelsome, and dragging their disputes into the public law courts. Thus they launched their accusations and aired their wrongs, whether real or imaginary, before the unbelievers.
Here again spiritual instinct ought to have delivered them from such an error. It was virtually confessing that they had not one wise man in their midst with the ability to discriminate and judge in such matters. Thus they were noising abroad their own shame.
And further than this, they were proclaiming their own ignorance. Verse 2 Commences with, “Do ye not know?” and five times before the chapter is finished do we find the question, “Know ye not?” Like many other carnal believers the Corinthians did not know nearly as much as they thought they did. If truth governs us, we really know it. Mere intellectual knowledge does not count.
They ought to have really known that “the saints shall judge the world” (ch. 6:2). This fact had been stated in the Old Testament. “The Ancient of days came, and judgment was given to the saints of the Most High; and the time came that the saints possessed the kingdom” (Dan. 7:2222Until the Ancient of days came, and judgment was given to the saints of the most High; and the time came that the saints possessed the kingdom. (Daniel 7:22)). Had they really known it they would not have dragged one another into heathen law courts. If we really knew it, we perhaps should avoid certain things that we do. A still more astonishing fact confronts us in verse 3: though here the change from, “the saints,” to, “we,” may indicate that the judging of angels is confined to the apostles.
Be that as it may, these verses open up before us a vista of extraordinary authority and responsibility, in the light of which things pertaining to this life can only be spoken of as “the smallest matters” (ch. 6:2). In keeping with this estimate, is the instruction that if such questions are brought before the saints for judgment, those least esteemed in the church are to hear the case. We notice that it does not say that all the saints are going to judge in the coming age. Perhaps all are not, and so those least likely to be judges then are to be judges now. Such is the estimate which Scripture gives of the relative importance of the things of the coming age as compared with the things of this age.
It is quite evident, then, that if one Christian has an accusation of unrighteousness to lay against another, he must lay his case before the saints and not before the world. There is however something better than that, as indicated in verse 7. Better than all is it to meekly suffer the wrong, leaving the Lord to deal with it, and work repentance in the wrong-doer. Worst of all is it to do the wrong and defraud even the brethren.
If one called a Christian acts fraudulently, serious questions are raised in view of the fact that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God. The first question we ask is—Is he a true Christian after all? God alone knows. We stand in doubt of him. A true believer may fall into any of the terrible evils enumerated in verses 9 and 10, but he is not characterized by any of them, and through repentance he is eventually restored. Those characterized by these things have no part in the kingdom of God, either here or hereafter. They are consequently clean outside the fellowship of the assembly of God.
Some of the Corinthians had been sinners of this type, but their conversion had involved three things—washing, sanctification, justification. Washing signifies that deep and fundamental work of moral renovation which is accomplished by the new birth. Sanctification is a setting apart for God, now to be for His use and pleasure. Justification is a clearance from every count that otherwise would lie against us; a judicial setting right, so that we stand in righteousness before God. All three are ours in the Name of the Lord Jesus—that is, in virtue of His sacrificial work; and by the Spirit of our God—that is, by His effective work in our hearts. We might have been inclined to connect the washing with the work of the Spirit exclusively, and the justification exclusively with the work of Christ. But it is not so stated here. The objective and the subjective go hand in hand.
We might also have been inclined to have put justification in the first place. But washing comes first here, since the point of the passage is, that the believer manifests an altogether new character. The old filthy characteristics are washed away in the new birth. And if they are manifestly not washed away, then no matter what a man may profess he cannot be accepted as a true believer, or in God’s kingdom, Verse 12 Commences a fresh paragraph, and introduces another line of thought. Meats are mentioned in the next verse, and we shall have more concerning that matter in chapter 8. It was a burning question amongst the early Christians. In such matters as that Paul was not under law. Yet even so what is quite lawful may be by no means “expedient,” or “profitable” (see margin). Moreover even a lawful thing may have a tendency to enslave, and we are not to allow ourselves to be brought under the power of anything, but rather hold ourselves free to be the bondslave of our Lord and Saviour. How often one hears it said concerning a debated point—“But it is not forbidden. What is the harm of it?” And the reply has to be in the form of another question—Is it profitable? We want things which have not only the negative virtue of having no harm in them, but also the positive virtue of having profit in them.
This last paragraph of the chapter contains very important teaching as to the body of the believer. As yet our bodies are not redeemed, and consequently are the seat of various lusts, and they must be held as dead. Still we must not fall into the error of treating them lightly. Three great facts concerning them are stated in this passage.
First, they are “members of Christ” (ch. 6:15). (ver. 15). Though not yet redeemed, they are going to be redeemed, and the Lord claims them as His. So really are they His that it is possible for the life of Jesus to be made manifest in our bodies. (See 2 Cor. 4:1010Always bearing about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our body. (2 Corinthians 4:10)). They are members in which is to be displayed the life of Him who is our Head.
Second, the body of each believer is “the temple of the Holy Ghost” (ch. 6:19). (ver. 19). Our old life has been judged. Sin in the flesh, which formerly dominated us, has been condemned; and now the Spirit indwells us as the energy of that new life which we have in Christ. Every believer should regard his body as a shrine wherein dwells the Holy Spirit, which he has of God. God has taken possession of his body in this way: a fact of tremendous import.
Third, we have been bought with a price, (ver. 20) body as well as soul. The price that has been paid is beyond all our computation, as we know right well. The point we might overlook is that it covers the purchase of our bodies.
Now note the implications of these facts. How can we make the members of Christ the members of an harlot? Again, how can I treat my body as if it were exclusively my own? We are not our own. We are Another’s, spirit and soul and body. Hence, “glorify God in your body,” (ch. 6:20) is the word for us. The whole idea of the unconverted is to gratify and glorify themselves in and through their bodies. Be it ours to gratify and glorify God.
What a lofty standard is set before us in these things! We may feel that it is indeed high and that we do not attain unto it. Still we would not have it altered. A great present blessing lies here, and also a great pledge of future glory. If already our bodies are the temples of the Holy Ghost, how sure it must be that the redemption of our bodies is coming. Then the Holy Spirit will have a temple perfect in holiness. Meanwhile He promotes holiness in us, and that is for our highest blessing.
Finally, glance at verse 17. This verse flatly denies the idea that our union with Christ lies in the Incarnation, which idea lies at the root of much ritualistic error. The union lies not in flesh but in spirit. This is one of the cases where it is a question whether to begin the word spirit with a capital or not. The Spirit, who indwells us, is the Spirit of Christ; and by Him we are one spirit with the Lord. What a marvelous fact! Ponder it well.