First Corinthians 6:1-11
Inheriting The Kingdom of God

Authored By Rev. Takao Kiyohiro, Tokyo, Japan

1. Last week we read chapter five.  The scriptures there take up an issue related to sexual immorality.  It says that a church member had made the wife of his father as his own.  But, the problem didn't remain just on the individual situation.  In spite of his sin's being exposed and worse his lack of repentance, the church was in approval of it all.  Paul harshly called them into account for how this church was supposed to be.

2.  Then, where we read today it takes up about how the church members were squabbling.  It was probably over money.  They weren't working on the problem within the church, but were fighting outside the church in court.

When Fighting Is Taken Outside The Church

3.  While they were completely indifferent about a sin and a problem of immorality, they were on the other hand ready to condemn the sin of another person even holding a trial against him.  What happened at the church at Corinth wasn't strange at all.  People can be tolerant toward a sin if it doesn't directly bring harm to them, no matter how immoral it is or how defiled it is.  But, once someone's sin affects their interests, they won't overlook the least bit sin.  They can't do without a full blown investigation into it.  We expect that in this world.

4.  But, should the same thing be practiced even in the church?  It shouldn't be.  The reason we must make it an issue is because of [the sinfulness of] the sin itself and not because it is unprofitable to us or it is damaging to us from its sinful effects.

5.  To begin with, people can't even state what they even think about sin itself.  Because within humans there is no absolute righteousness.  [In Japan currently] teenagers are involved in prostituting themselves calling it paid dates and ask worldly adults, "How is this bad?  It doesn't put any impositions on anyone else, does it?"  In response to this, worldly adults can only state the effects of their actions.  In talking about its unprofitable effects they can only speak in hesitation and at a mumble.  People can only get angry or saddened at the unprofitablility of sin's effects.

6.  When we think and speak about sin, we do so only based upon the word of God and upon a God who is absolute love and righteousness.  It is only based on the revelation of God as he has revealed himself in Israel and in Jesus Christ.  When it is illuminated by God's light, the real problem for us people becomes clear in that the pain and the sorrow of sin's effects do not lie in the critical circumstances around the sin, but in the very sin itself as God sees it.  Sin becomes clear to us as rebellion against a God, who is love and who is righteousness.  It is because the root is dying that the branch withers, the leaves fall and not the other way around.

7.  The church proclaims salvation from sin.  But, when we proclaim the salvation of God we are at the same time also to proclaim that this world is under the condemnation of God; for, God's salvation is a salvation for a world that is in rebellion against him.  In this sense, the church based on God's word is a judge of the world.  Even the Corinthian church had a place in this world for such a purpose.  Therefore, Paul says to them, "Don't you know?  The saints judge the world.  Even though the world is supposed to be judged by you, isn't there in you power [enough] to judge a trivial case?  Don't you know that we are judges of even angels?  To say nothing of the fact that we are judges in matters pertaining to daily life.  And yet, when fights over daily life arise, do you bring to the judgment seat persons who have been neglected by the church?," (verses two through four).

8.  Of course, we shouldn't read this alone and think that Paul is denying the civil justice system.  When Paul himself was arrested in Jerusalem and he had made an appeal, he followed the order of the system under Roman law.  He ultimately made a legal appeal to the Roman emperor, (Acts 25:11).  Status and meaning are given to the state system under the rule of God.  Provisional authority is given to the state by God.

9.  But, it doesn't have final authority.  Ultimately, God judges.  God will hold us accountable before Him as to what goes on.  The problem is that the Corinthian believers, who should have known better, had taken their arguing, which they ought to have resolved before God, out [of the church] as if the final authority was outside the church .

10.  What are your thoughts about it?  We're not saying there are never to be law suits around us, and it doesn't happen frequently much like that in churches.  In that sense it may not be a familiar story to us.  But, as far as taking it out and not resolving in-house church disagreements in church, I'd say it happens all too often.  At those times the one standing in as the judge may be family who is an unbeliever.  Or, it may be a friend who has never come to church.  It may be some children who have never been baptized yet.  Shouldn't we bring our problems out calmly, appeal to another church member, and make a claim for our righteousness?

11.  This can cause an unbeliever to stumble.  It shows off the stains of the church.  That's not the problem.  If there are stains in the church, I could care less that they are exposed.  The problem lies else where.  It's that when people appeal to outsiders they lose sight of what's important.  Any time believers fight, we forget that we are held accountable for the sin that God sees before him.  So, we keep bringing somewhere else the situation that we had better go to God for the answer.  But, even though someone says to us outside the church that "You're right, you know," nothing will have been solved by that.

As Cleansed, Sanctified, And Justified Persons

12.  Thus, Paul goes on to say to the Corinthians, "In the first place, it is a defeat against you already that there have been law suits among you.  Why not rather resign yourself to take the injustice?  Why not just let it be stolen?  Far be it that you commit the injustice and do the stealing.  Worse, you are doing it against your brothers," (verses seven and eight).

13.  After the judicial decision has come, there won't be any winners in this fight.  That's what Paul says.  They are still going to lose.  Even though one wins out over another, the winner loses out to sin and evil anyway.  Whenever we stand against each other, sue one another, and hate each other, the only one smiling and gloating over the victory is the devil!  Therefore, Paul says, "Why not rather resign yourself to take the injustice?  Why not just let it be stolen?"  For this is the way to not be the loser.

14.  But, in the real world, how difficult a thing this is!  We can't help but get all petrified automatically at these words.  But, Paul is not stating this here as some piece of worldly wisdom for success in life.  It's not just an ideal.  It is Christ whom he is seeing.  [He sees] that even though [Christ] walked this earth, was judged by others, and was a sinless being, he was crucified [as the] Christ.  What Paul preached among the Corinthians was nothing other than Christ crucified.  That's why he keeps pointing to Christ and speaks like this.  If we too can at least venture out in that direction one small step, we will only look up to the same Lord of the cross.

15.  When we don't put our eyes on Him and when we don't hold ourselves accountable before God, the one who has received the injustice will probably think I'll be the one to do the injustice the next time.  He will consider it his due rights.  The person who has been defrauded might want to defraud him back next chance.  She will consider it her due rights.  And so an endless chain of injustice begins.  It can even all be done in the name of justice.  For they might not want to consider how God sees it.  But, by practicing injustice like this and by being a defrauder one shuts oneself out from the kingdom of God.  Because the kingdom of God is the same as the rule of God [over you].

16.  Consequently, as Paul wrote in another epistle, he writes here as well as follows, "Don't you know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God?  Don't misunderstand.  The immoral, the worshipper of idols, the adulterer, the male prostitute, the homosexual, the thief, the greedy, the one given to wine, the one who talks evil of others, the stealer of other's things cannot inherit the kingdom of God at all ever.  Some among you were like that.  But, you have been cleansed, sanctified, and justified by the name of Lord Jesus Christ and the Spirit of our God," (verses nine through eleven).

17.  The last words of "you have been cleansed, sanctified, and justified" are an expression that is tied to the baptismal ceremony.  Through baptism, they are now made to think of what kind of person they are being made into.  At first they did not deserve to inherit the kingdom of God.  [Undeserving] as they were they were cleansed, sanctified, and justified.  But then, all that was visible to the human eye was that a person in the baptismal ceremony was submerged in water.  Yes, but the water itself did not wash away his or her sin.  It comes by the authority of the name of Jesus Christ and by the workings of the Spirit of God.  The transactions that took place in the Spirit are not visible to the human eye.  It is only God's eye that can see that.

18.  Yet, the visible baptismal ceremony connects the invisible transactions to the visible world.  Therefore, christians live in the visible world of every day reality as a holy people belonging to God, as a justified people.  Since they have been made inheritors of the kingdom of God, they must surely inherit the kingdom of God.

19.  In the church at Corinth, the people were suing each other and the church condoned it, but they were told again what kind of persons that they had been made into.  And we may need that too.

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