Summary: What a heartbreaking message! Christians can really do some amazingly un-Christlike things. Spiritual amnesia prevents many from living their identity.
What is the greatest commandment?
What is the second commandment?
Ok, with this in mind, after reading 1 Corinthians 6, what is wrong with this picture of the church here?
The answer: Where is the love?
We all know that this is the New Testament letter with the love chapter in it, right? Chapter 13 of 1 Corinthians is one of the most beautiful passages in the Bible. After reading chapter 6, you realize that this is the church that needs to apply chapter 13 as much as any church that we meet in the New Testament! Remember, the Bible says that the greatest thing of all is not faith or even hope, but the greatest is love. Without love, all else fails. So again, as we look at our text we have to ask, where is the love?
Looking at chapters 5-6 here is like watching Paul wade through an entire multi-sin pile up of a wrecked church and sort out the huge array of mangled morals and wrecked relationships. If all we knew of the Corinthian church of Christ was what we find here in these two chapters… well, what would be your picture of their condition?
Four things are clear, and they are all bad:
- They are proud of a man who has an immoral relationship with his father’s wife instead of putting him out of their fellowship, they are boasting about it.
- They are confused over how to distinguish between dealing with fellow Christians and dealing with those who are outside of Christ.
- They have legal battles between one another and are taking these to court.
- They don’t seem to understand the inconsistency with practicing sexual sin and being a Christian.
Earlier Paul has called them carnal because of their division, jealousy, immorality, etc. To be honest, it is a wonder this letter was ever written! I’m surprised that Paul didn’t throw in the towel and brush off the dust from his feet and go elsewhere. The real love here is in the heart of Paul for this church in the critical care unit of the Bible. He loves them. God’s love pours through Paul to a church on the ragged edges of carnal Christianity. So many things about this church are so wrong.
And do you know another thing that is amazing about this church in Corinth? This is the one church that practices speaking in tongues and miracles more than any other church mentioned in the entire Bible! But just look. Having and practicing and witnessing these signs didn’t make them mature. In fact, the very opposite seems to be the case. Even today, some of the most immoral issues arise among denominations that focus on present day miracles and works of the Holy Spirit instead of centering on the life, teaching, death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
Amazing isn’t it? Here they are, loaded with spiritual gifts, but undone with unspiritual immaturity.
In verses 1-11 there are three “do you not know” questions. Actually, there are 10 such questions in the first nine verses! It looks like Paul is flabbergasted. Picture him saying:
Hello? Is there anyone awake? Excuse me? Am I in the right place? Didn’t you hear anything that I told you about dealing with one another???
I want to read the text here the way he seems to be saying this. (My interpretation and take on these words).
(Read verses 1-11)
What do these words say? Can’t you just hear it?
Paul is practically shouting: Don’t you know who you really are in Christ? Don’t you know what that means???
In other words, please! Show me the changes God has made in you! You are ignoring who you are and whose you are!
It is tempting to me to look at this and say, “Well, obviously at least some of these are not real Christians!” “Real Christians don’t act like this! Real Christians love each other and treat each other with respect and live peacefully with one another. Real Christians don’t practice immorality. They have pure hearts and spiritual minds. They dress modestly and live honestly. Real Christians come to church all dressed up and they never leave a mess in the pew... Is that right?
Let me ask this question: Just what is a real Christian? Are not the people Paul is writing here “real Christians?”
Reading 1 Corinthians, it appears to me that what these real Christians ought to be and what they are acting like are not even on the same page. Now be careful here! This is not an excuse to anyone to lower your standards! If anything, this is a call from the word of God to reach out to people whose lives are wrecked and who have a long way to go. Nothing in this tells us to put up with sinful behaviors but instead to do just what Paul is doing here, get in there and go to work on it! Apply the power of Christ and the cross to it!