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New Testament Letters

1 Corinthians, Chapters 5and6 - Let God be honored in Your Body

INTRODUCTION: Paul addressed a specific case of immorality within the church at Corinth, and sternly warned that the continued acceptance of the offending man would have damaging effects on the whole assembly. He knew there were many believers who were still in the early stage of becoming mature in faith, and they might think keeping this man in the assembly of believers was appropriate kindness. He made it clear that believers were not to judge people outside the church, but within the local assembly it is necessary to deal with anyone whose blatant practices dishonor the Lord. Paul said the sin of this man was not even common with unbelievers, and he should have no association with the local church.

NOTE: All scripture is from the Bible in Basic English.


A - AN OPEN SEXUAL SIN AMONG BELIEVERS

1 Corinthians 5 "1 It is said, in fact, that there is among you a sin of the flesh, such as is not seen even among the Gentiles, that one of you has his father's wife. 2 And in place of feeling sorrow, you are pleased with yourselves, so that he who has done this thing has not been sent away from among you. 3 For I myself, being present in spirit though not in body, have come to a decision about him who has done this thing; 4 In the name of our Lord Jesus, when you have come together with my spirit, with the power of our Lord Jesus, 5 That this man is to be handed over to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, so that his spirit may have forgiveness in the day of the Lord Jesus. 6 This pride of yours is not good. Do you not see that a little leaven makes a change in all the mass? 7 Take away, then, the old leaven, so that you may be a new mass, even as you are without leaven. For Christ has been put to death as our Passover. 8 Let us then keep the feast, not with old leaven, and not with the leaven of evil thoughts and acts, but with the unleavened bread of true thoughts and right feelings."

COMMENTS: Paul wanted the local church to take immediate action to expel the one who has taken his father's wife as his own sexual partner. He heard about this while away from Corinth, and there was no indication in his response that he had personally dealt with such a situation during the eighteen months he had been teaching there. His instruction was that they put that man out of the assembly of believers to allow Satan to carry him on through his sin to the death of his body; that the man's spirit may have forgiveness in the day of the Lord Jesus. When this was read in the assembly, there may have been some very mixed reactions especially with the comment about Satan. Paul's further word were very firm as he told the assembly of believers they should not feel any pride by continuing to accept this man in their midst. Paul used the example familiar to Jews of even a little leaven spreading through the whole lump of dough. He continued his parallel stating that Christ has been put to death as the Passover for Christians. Therefore, in keeping the meaning of the feast, there must be no leaven of evil thoughts and acts, but only an atmosphere like unleavened bread. Within the assembly, there should be true thoughts and right feelings.


B - THIS WAS FOR THE CHURCH, NOT THE GENERAL COMMUNITY

1 Corinthians 5 "9 In my letter I said to you that you were not to keep company with those who go after the desires of the flesh; 10 But I had not in mind the sinners who are outside the church, or those who have a desire for and take the property of others, or those who give worship to images; for it is not possible to keep away from such people without going out of the world completely: 11 But the sense of my letter was that if a brother had the name of being one who went after the desires of the flesh, or had the desire for other people's property, or was in the way of using violent language, or being the worse for drink, or took by force what was not his, you might not keep company with such a one, or take food with him. 12 For it is no business of mine to be judging those who are outside; but it is yours to be judging those who are among you; 13 as for those who are outside, God is their judge. So put away the evil man from among you."

COMMENTS: Paul gave definite instruction by letter and he stressed the importance of not keeping company with those who are controlled by the desires that are present in the natural body. He made it clear that he was not speaking about believers isolating themselves from all people outside of the church, for that would be nearly impossible without going completely out from this fallen world. But believers who have been given the Holy Spirit, should not keep company with or share meals with those of the assembly who are characterized by the following traits: one who goes after the desires of the flesh or desires other people's property, one who readily uses violent language, one who is the worse for drinking, or one who forcefully takes things from others. Paul was primarily concern that this assembly carefully judge those in their midst to remove the "leaven" that will dishonor God. Believers don't need to judge sinful practices committed by those outside the church that do not have the Spirit of God, for God is their rightful judge.


C - SHOULD THE CHURCH SETTLED CIVIL CASES BETWEEN BELIEVERS?

1 Corinthians 6 "1 How is it, that if any one of you has a cause at law against another, he takes it before a Gentile judge and not before the saints? 2 Is it not certain that the saints will be the judges of the world? If then the world will be judged by you, are you unable to give a decision about the smallest things? 3 Is it not certain that we are to be the judges of angels? how much more then of the things of this life? 4 If then there are questions to be judged in connection with the things of this life, why do you put them in the hands of those who have no position in the church? 5 I say this to put you to shame. Is there not among you one wise man who may be able to give a decision between his brothers? 6 But a brother who has a cause at law against another takes it before Gentile judges. 7 More than this, it is not to your credit to have causes at law with one another at all. Why not put up with wrong? why not undergo loss? 8 So far from doing this, you yourselves do wrong and take your brothers' property."

COMMENTS: Disputes between believers involving matters of civil law may seem to be less serious than sexual sin, but Paul did not want such things to be readily taken before non-believers for settlement. This did not mean he had a disregard for civil authority. His first point was that saints will certainly judge the world; and therefore in this present world legal matters between believers are small by comparison. He wanted them to first consider allowing someone in the assembly to be their mediator, rather than to take the matter for formal settlement by a non-believer in the civil government. Paul's second point was that the better objective for a believer is to develop the ability to put up with being treated unfairly and to accept loss by unjust dealings from others even within the church. Open disputes when a believer does wrong and takes a brothers' property are a discredit to the local assembly, and thereby a discredit to the Lord.

Paul was putting quite a challenge before his readers, considering that he described his own struggles with the old nature in a letter he wrote some years later during a second visit in Corinth. Romans 7 "18 For I am conscious that in me, that is, in my flesh, there is nothing good: I have the mind but not the power to do what is right. 19 For the good which I have a mind to do, I do not: but the evil which I have no mind to do, that I do. 20 But if I do what I have no mind to do, it is no longer I who do it, but the sin living in me. 21 So I see a law that, though I have a mind to do good, evil is present in me. 22 In my heart I take pleasure in the law of God, 23 But I see another law in my body, working against the law of my mind, and making me the servant of the law of sin which is in my flesh. 24 How unhappy am I! who will make me free from the body of this death? 25 I give praise to God through Jesus Christ our Lord. So with my mind I am a servant to the law of God, but with my flesh to the law of sin." All praise belongs to the Lord whenever a believer is able to overcome any temptation of the old nature.


D - CAREFULLY CONSIDER THE TRUE MOTIVES FOR YOUR ACTIONS

1 Corinthians 5 "9 Have you not knowledge that evil-doers will have no part in the kingdom of God? Have no false ideas about this: no one who goes after the desires of the flesh, or gives worship to images, or is untrue when married, or is less than a man, or makes a wrong use of men, 10 Or is a thief, or the worse for drink, or makes use of strong language, or takes by force what is not his, will have any part in the kingdom of God. 11 And such were some of you; but you have been washed, you have been made holy, you have been given righteousness in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of our God."

COMMENTS: Paul wanted the believers to demonstrate that they know that those who live in evil ways have no part in the kingdom of God. He emphasized the importance by warning them not to have any false ideas about this. No one who pursues the immoral sexual desires of the body, or worships false gods, or is unfaithful when married, or is an effeminate man, or has sexual relations between men, Or is a thief, or is frequently drunk, or makes use of strong language, or takes by force what is not his, will have any part in the kingdom of God. Paul reminded them that some of them in their past had done such things as he described; but they had now been washed, they had been made holy and given righteousness in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of our God.


E - NO LONGER PART OF THE WORLD, NOW PART OF THE BODY OF CHRIST

1 Corinthians 6 "12 I am free to do all things; but not all things are wise. I am free to do all things; but I will not let myself come under the power of any. 13 Food is for the stomach and the stomach for food, and God will put an end to them together. But the body is not for the desires of the flesh, but for the Lord; and the Lord for the body: 14 And God who made the Lord Jesus come back from the dead will do the same for us by his power. 15 Do you not see that your bodies are part of the body of Christ? how then may I take what is a part of the body of Christ and make it a part of the body of a loose woman? such a thing may not be. 16 Or do you not see that he who is joined to a loose woman is one body with her? for God has said, The two of them will become one flesh. 17 But he who is united to the Lord is one spirit. 18 Keep away from the desires of the flesh. Every sin which a man does is outside of the body; but he who goes after the desires of the flesh does evil to his body. 19 Or are you not conscious that your body is a house for the Holy Spirit which is in you, and which has been given to you by God? And you are not the owners of yourselves; 20 For a payment has been made for you: let God be honoured in your body."

COMMENTS: If the Apostle Paul who was set apart uniquely by the Lord on the road to Damascus could state that he could still do all things, but not all things are wise; and he did not want to be controlled by the unwise things. Every believer needs to be aware that freedom in Christ, from the penalty of sin makes it imperative to keep from coming under the power of unwise choices. Every physical body has basic daily needs for health and well-being, but the Lord will bring and end to both the physical body, and its current necessities. The body of a Christian should no longer be used for the independent desires of the temporary flesh; but it should be surrendered to the Lord as his Spirit indwells the believer. When physical death comes to the natural body, each believer will be made new by the dame power that brought the Lord Jesus back from the dead!

Believers while still in their mortal bodies are already part of the body of Christ. Two people become one flesh when they are joined in sexual relations, so Christians should not be involved in any immoral relationships, and they should be careful to avoid divorce as much as it is possible. Matthew 19 "3 And certain Pharisees came to him, testing him, and saying, Is it right for a man to put away his wife for every cause? 4 And he said in answer, Have you not seen in the Writings, that he who made them at the first made them male and female, and said, 5 For this cause will a man go away from his father and mother, and be joined to his wife; and the two will become one flesh? 6 So that they are no longer two, but one flesh. Then let not that which has been joined by God be parted by man. 7 They say to him, Why then did Moses give orders that a husband might give her a statement in writing and be free from her? 8 He says to them, Moses, because of your hard hearts, let you put away your wives: but it has not been so from the first."

The closing statements Paul gave in this passage are so important for every believer to keep in mind. We are united to the Lord as one spirit, so it is crucial to avoid the sinful sexual desires of the flesh. In a sense, all other sins do not have the same magnitude of effect for the relationship of the believer with the Savior. Paul wanted every reader of his letter to be very conscious that our body is a house for the Holy Spirit which is in us as a precious gift from God. Therefore we are not the owners of our body and soul; For a priceless payment has been made for each Christian. We must let God be honored in our body!

--- REFLECTIONS IN PRAYER ---

Lord, I thank you for the strong emphasis Paul placed on the primary importance of avoiding sexual sin when you have given your holy Spirit to be within the physical body of each believer. This indwelling is a precious relationship to our Creator and Savior, with the only appropriate sexual parallel being marriage between one man and one woman. We need to seek your guidance to properly apply Paul's instructions to end our association with those who are in our assembly as Christians, but then engage in open immorality. We also need to examine our own motives when involved in any disputes with other believers in the church. Help me Lord, to use opportunities in any contact I have with non-believers not to judge them in their sin, but to consider how you might use me to reveal that your grace and forgiveness is the only way any person can be freed from the universal sin nature of mankind. I know that I have the same characteristic failings that are addressed in the Apostles letters to local churches. Lord, help me to be more willing each day to purposely surrender my will to you for every aspect of daily living. Amen.

Published 27 February 2018