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Handling our Differences – 1 Corinthians 6:1-11

April 26th, 2010

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Paul is dealing with the issue of litigation in the church in Corinth, when there were rock star lawyers and suing people was a way of making money. Paul reserves his harshest words for this topic – he wants the church to feel ashamed for such behaviour. In our present day and culture, we may not be taking others to court but we do hold grudges and take vengeance on others.

Paul tells the Corinthian Christians that they have forgotten the following:

1. Themselves

  • They have forgotten their identity – who they are – and their destiny – where they are headed – as the people of God
  • All the saints (that is, anyone who has saving faith in Christ) will one day rule the whole world, including the angels
  • We are God’s ecclesia – His people – so we should be able to sort out our differences amongst ourselves
  • Paul is furious that they were making the Church look like any other organised religion that is just about ripping each other off. He is keenly aware that the world is watching, and so should we be
  • Jesus prayed that His people would be one, would be unified
  • We know better than to get revenge on each other
  • Paul is NOT advocating covering up sins within the church and keeping them secret. He wants the city to see the church as genuine, open and humble, shining for Jesus, and civic authorities have been put in place by God – so there are times when we need to bring issues out into the open for the sake of justice
  • However, this is about personal grievances and wanting money

2. Their Master

  • We follow the example of Jesus – He suffered, forgave, was merciful, took mistreatment without retaliating, was loving, and did not take vindication against others
  • We betray Jesus by not acting like Him and getting revenge
  • However, we can’t just try our hardest to be like Christ – we’ll never make it in our own strength. We are innately sinful – we long for personal vindication in our hearts. But Jesus took all this on the cross – our sin and also the sins committed against us
  • Jesus at the cross gave us a righteous standing with God and the power to live righteously. He was disempowered so that we could be empowered and reign with Him for all eternity
  • Although we as God’s people continually treat Jesus with contempt, He never once gets back at us even though He has every right to
  • Ch.3 – we have everything in Christ. This is why we can suffer losing money, personal grievances, etc
  • Dwell on the fact you have been forgiven – he who has been forgiven much, loves much
  • There’s an illusion that holy people just choose miserable, hard things for sake of it. But the truth is, it’s all done in faith and knowing that they have a destiny which cannot compare – e.g. Abraham
  • We’re not advocating being doormats – we do need to seek justice when necessary

3. Their story

  • If you spend your life grabbing and getting, you will not inherit the Kingdom of God. If you try to hold onto your life, you will lose it – but if you give it up for the sake of Jesus, you will find it
  • In this passage Paul lists any and every kind of person who lives to gratify their own pleasures. He is not picking on certain people, e.g. homosexuals – but having a go at everyone who lives for themselves
  • We have a new story, a different story to the rest of the world
  • You’ll live a joyless life if you live for yourself – everything you try to grab becomes cheap
  • Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called sons of God. True peace is always costly and God is the ultimate peacemaker – we are called to follow His example
  • None of this is easy but it becomes easier the more you grow in your relationship with Jesus