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09.05.21 When Disagreements Happen 1 Cor. 6.1-11 Sermon Summary

by on September 7, 2021

Well, this is a concerning statement: Wrongdoers will not inherit the Kingdom of God. If this is true we had better pay attention. Paul is trying to warn us, to save us!

A situation of wrongdoing exists in the Corinthian church. What it is? Members are suing one another. Their justice system wasn’t like ours. Their culture was determined by “patronage.” Everything was sponsored by the wealthy who exerted unfair influence. (OK, there’s some of that today.)

Because the wealthy loaded the scales of justice, the hope of a “fair, unbiased, impartial” judgment was marginal. Paul had little confidence in worldly justice. And this is his first problem: In an unjust system two Christians in dispute will experience injustice.

Injustice is wrong. Injustice is contrary to God’s Kingdom. Such wrongdoers will not inherit the Kingdom of God. 

Paul has another problem: They didn’t even consider the church. “Is no one wise enough?” Paul asks. They had an abundance of spiritual gifts! So someone must be holding back. Or maybe there was too much segregation between their religious life and their “real” life.

Now Paul seems to acknowledge the complexity of some problems. Where there are major or extraordinary matters, maybe the courts are the best place. But Paul speaks of “trivial” and “ordinary” matters. These the wise elders should be able to arbitrate. 

Maybe the Corinthians, being Gentile, didn’t get this. But Paul the Jew understood it all too well. He would remember that Rabbi Jesus was asked about an inheritance issue. A man came and said to Jesus, “Tell my brother to share the inheritance with me.” (see Luke 12.13ff) I guess it depends on size of inheritance, but this seems like a pretty big deal to me. Still, it went to Jesus.

Paul knows members of faith communities do this. They ask leaders for help. He says the Corinthian church should be able to handle some matters. After all, he argues, saints will judge the world. Saints will even judge the angels! The church should be able to handle some matters. The Corinthians can’t. “I say this to your shame,” Paul writes.

Something’s wrong with the Corinthian church. And wrongdoers will not inherit the Kingdom of God.

A third problem Paul has is that believers are wronging each other. The kingdoms of this world use force, deception, and exploitation to rule. Jesus resisted the temptation of these kingdoms right after he was baptized. He chose the Kingdom of God over these worldly kingdoms. We’re to be different, too. How can we be wronging one another?

It is wrong for Christians to force, deceive, and exploit anyone. But it’s clearly wrong to force, deceive, and exploit other Christians. And wrongdoers will not inherit the Kingdom of God.

And Paul has a final problem. The wronged believer is defending himself. This is a tough one, because injustice is wrong. Yet Paul says, Why not just be wronged? Let the injustice go. But isn’t that wrong also?

Paul is remembering Jesus, his Lord and King, who allowed himself to be wronged. Paul also believes Jesus’ return is imminent. There may be other things in Paul’s mind, but these two are primary: Jesus was wronged; He’s coming back soon to right all wrongs.

After 2000 years we’ve had to revise our thinking about this, but it’s still worth asking: Is it really worth suing another Christian—whom God will surely judge—when he or she wrongs us?

“Oh, I can’t do that. I can’t let it go. I can’t look away, turn the other cheek. I can’t wait for God’s judgment.”

Anticipating such a response, Paul uses one final rhetorical argument. He uses it a lot. He writes a “vice list.” The vice list is a list of offenses Paul knows his audience will cheer: “Fornicators, idolaters, adulterers, male prostitutes, sodomites, thieves, the greedy, drunkards, revilers, robbers—none of these will inherit the kingdom of God.”

“Yeah!” the Corinthians say. “And this is what some of you used to be,” Paul goads. “Yeah!” the Corinthians say. “But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of our God,” Paul prods.

“Yeah!” the Corinthians say. “We USED to be wrongdoers. And wrongdoers will not inherit the kingdom of God!”

“All right, then,” Paul warns, “now consider carefully how you settle your disagreements.”

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