Monday, July 14, 2014

THE WAY WE WERE (1 Corinthians Chapter 6)

1 Corinthians 6:11, “And such were some of you…”

The context of this blessed proclamation was Paul’s corrective instruction to the Corinthian believers regarding their destructive practice of settling disputes between brethren in the courts of the unrighteous.  Motivated by selfish concerns, and seeking revenge or compensation, their practice worked both to cause division and bring dishonor to the cause of Christ.  Disputes between believers should be settled by believers (Cf. 1 Corinthians 6:1, 5).  It would be better “suffer wrong” or “be defrauded” than to attempt to settle such grievances before the lost (Cf. 1 Corinthians 6:7-8).

At the heart of the Corinthian problem was confusion regarding their true identity.  In salvation they had been born again.  Every believer is a “new creation” in Christ (Cf. 2 Corinthians 5:17), but the Corinthians weren’t acting like that.  Their lives, standards, and motives were no different than those of the lost.  They were called to a holy, separate manner of life, but were, by their actions, acknowledging no such distinction.  They were inclined to seek justice in the courts of the lost because they didn’t clearly understand that they had been called out of their old manner of life.

They were settling their disputes “before the unrighteous” (1 Corinthians 6:1), but the unrighteous have no relationship to “the kingdom of God” (1 Corinthians 6:9, 10).  The lives of the unrighteous are characterized by the practice of a laundry list of various vices—“neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers” (1 Corinthians 6:9-10).  The language used to describe each vice speaks not to the occasional sin, but the habitual practice which would then work to characterize a person.  The list of sinful identities is not exhaustive, but sufficient to encompass all.  Every son and daughter of Adam can find something here to relate to (Cf. Romans 5:12).  Paul emphatically affirmed the truth that the unrighteous are not destined to heaven (Cf. Galatians 5:19-21; Ephesians 5:5).  But “Christ Jesus came into the world to save” such folks (Cf. 1 Timothy 1:15).  None in that offensive list stand beyond the reach of God’s capacity in Christ to save (Cf. 1 Timothy 1:16).

“And such were some of you” (1 Corinthians 6:11).  How blessed is that word “were!”  An alteration has taken place in the life of the believer in Christ.  There is a “before” and “after.”  There is a way you “were!”  And there is a way you “are!”  Paul had previously identified his readers to be “saints” (1 Corinthians 1:2).  They possessed that identity not through religious self-improvement, but through a decisive one-for-all act.  God Himself had intervened on their behalf and caused that to happen (“And because of him you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, righteousness and sanctification and redemption”--1 Corinthians 1:30).  Ephesians 2:4 speaks to the same manner and expresses--succinctly in two words--the means by which the believer has been delivered—“But God.”  The believer is one who has had a “but God” experience.  That intervention itself was founded in the rich mercy and great love of God (Cf. Ephesians 2:4).

As a result of God’s intervention those believers had experienced (past tense) three wonderful realities—“you were washed, your were sanctified, you were justified” (1 Corinthians 1:11).  The word “washed” speaks to the cleansing of soul experienced in regeneration (Cf. Titus 3:5).  The precious blood of the lamb unblemished and spotless had worked to purify their souls.  “Sanctified” speaks to that work of God through which the believer has been set apart from the love and power of sin.  “Justified,” is the positive counterpart to the word “unrighteous.”  It speaks to judicious act whereby God has declared the believer righteous on the basis of Christ and His sacrifice (Cf. 1 Corinthians 1:30; 2 Corinthians 5:21; Romans 5:1).

In the name of the Lord Jesus and Christ, by the power of the Spirit of God, the believer in Christ has experienced a radical transformation and now possesses a new identity in Christ.  He is not now who he once was.  His new identity calls for an altogether new manner of life (Cf. Romans 6:3-4).

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