KNOW, LIVE, BE-LIVE AS THE CHURCH-1 CORINTHIANS: A World Like Corinth
1 Corinthians 5:1-7:40
Paul, we said, planted the Church in Corinth a city known for it’s anti-moralistic life. We said maybe not unlike the reputation of modern day Las Vegas. Where anything goes, and lots of it does go, prostitution is the norm, and what happens there - stays there that’s their tourism motto, we live in modern day Corinth.
And so Paul having planted the church in this port city now writes back to it and he’s writing about sex, marriage, setting disputes (in/out of court) and through all of that he’s talking about the Kingdom of God.
SO, that’s what we’re going to talk about today; sex, being married, lawsuits, being church people and how they all point to the Kingdom of God we’re going to see the life of the baptized!
When today is all over, some percentage of you will never feel comfortable coming back, some of you will email me saying (how could you say those things in church), but some of you I think will be encouraged to know what the Kingdom of God is like. Because remember while we may be talking through some issues like sex, being married, law suits and being church people - we’re doing so because they all point to the Kingdom of God and that’s amazing.
Why should you care?
I bought a house once, and it had this tree. It was a huge tree - and it had these flowers that fell all over my yard (annoying) then it started growing berries. And you know, being a kid who grew up near the woods you were always told “don’t just go eating junk in the woods, you’ll get sick, you’ll die”.
OK look, I’m simple, I hear don’t eats stuff in the woods and I listen. However, one day I came out side and all my kids were eating these berries, with kids from the neighborhood. I’m thinking, oh man - I’m about to have a pile of dead bodies in my yard, I’m going to have to explain this to the cops and all the neighbors who kids are piled up in my back yard this is going to be SUPER lame.
But, as I’m telling the kids (in a totally even keeled and polite way I’m sure) not to eat this strange fruit - one of the boys who lives part-time at our house says “these are cherries, we used to eat them off this tree all the time when the last family lived here”.
Now - we’ll get there in 1 Corinthians 6:9-11 (put a mental place marker there) but this letter does that for you. It points to the fruit of the kingdom of God. You can tell me I have an ash tree infected with Ash beetle and I have no way of validating your claim that this tree in my yard is an ash tree - or you can say John you have a Cherry tree in your yard - however until I taste of that cherry I don’t really know what I’ve got - that’s what’s going to happen for you today about the kingdom of God, you’ll see what the fruit of Christian life is and you’ll either a) see it in you and celebrate and be encouraged or b) you wont see it in you and you’ll repent and be saved THAT is how today is important to you.
As we jump in here we’re going straight to sex. Why - because it’s important to understanding the Kingdom of God - as we live on earth and so lets see why:
1 Corinthians 5:1–5 (ESV)
1 It is actually reported that there is sexual immorality among you, and of a kind that is not tolerated even among pagans, for a man has his father’s wife.
2 And you are arrogant! Ought you not rather to mourn? Let him who has done this be removed from among you.
3 For though absent in body, I am present in spirit; and as if present, I have already pronounced judgment on the one who did such a thing.
4 When you are assembled in the name of the Lord Jesus and my spirit is present, with the power of our Lord Jesus,
5 you are to deliver this man to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, so that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord.
Here IS what Paul is saying. He's writing to this church this body of believers, about issues that are coming up, remember he’s left the church and is hearing about issues, and this one was huge - a man is having sex with his fathers wife (mom/step-mom) Paul is like, for real guys, you’re turning into an old school episode of Jerry Springer - or a day with Mary Povich asking ‘who’s the baby’s daddy’, and it’s not OK, and here is why - Church, visible church you’re made up of those who’ve identified with Jesus. You have a public testimony that you’re not longer salves to sin, slaves to the world, no longer walking in patterns of sin (though you still sin) you’re not stuck in it or un aware of it, or un repentant of it, or un caring/convicted over it rather you seek alignment, and obedience - this kid, and his momma they didn't care - obviously. And so when even Vegas who says what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas looks at your life and says, whoa-dang man, that’s bad. And Paul is saying, lets stop pretending like that’s a Jesus following family, and wrapping our arms around them, and saying come on to worship with me. Because of what’s coming in 1 Corinthians 6:9-11 where we have that mental marker…
1 Corinthians 5:6 (ESV)
6 Your boasting is not good. Do you not know that a little leaven leavens the whole lump?
Leven is the element in bread that causes is to rise and take new shape and grow awkward and rise, this has been an image since exodus in their leaving with unleavened bread when escaping slavery, and pulled into the picture of the Passover feast and into the story and image so that we’d understand sin, and Christ's sacrifice to make us whole.
There may be some point in this message today that you think, well dang man, I’m messed up and sinful, I want you to remember this because it may hit you like a ton of bricks and - me too. Him too, her too - this is why God’s grace is so impactful, not because we’re good, rather because none is Good except for God who is the author of goodness and who makes you clean, follow with Paul here:
1 Corinthians 5:7 (ESV)
7 Cleanse out the old leaven that you may be a new lump, as you really are unleavened. For Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed.
He’s writing to believers, guys you really are unleavened if you’re a baptized believer who has repented of sin and trusted in Jesus - live like it, be more assured of your faith daily as you conquer sin, rather than rolling around in it like a dog in the lawn who’s found a fresh pile, walk by looking at the pile like, no no no I know what happens if I roll around in you!
1 Corinthians 5:8 (ESV)
8 Let us therefore celebrate the festival, not with the old leaven, the leaven of malice and evil, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.
What’s the festival? Passover, he already said it - celebrate that God has passed over your sins, why - because he’s cool with them, because they’re not a big deal, because your actually pretty good - NO. Because just like Passover said originally and continually, you were covered by the blood of the sacrificial lamb, who takes away sin, upon whom sins were transferred Jesus is that fulfillment
1 Corinthians 5:9-10 (ESV)
9 I wrote to you in my letter not to associate with sexually immoral people—
10 not at all meaning the sexually immoral of this world, or the greedy and swindlers, or idolaters, since then you would need to go out of the world.
Ok, we’re getting close to the list from 1 Corinthians 6 that were going to dive into but lets touch on it some. Sexually immoral - right we know they’re awful and going to hell. Greedy – ok; maybe them too but just the really greedy like Donald Trump and Hairy Reed. However, I’m going to tell you, you can be poor and greedy… and over half the world who lives on $2 a day sees you as rich and greedy - so…. moving on.
Idolater… people who worship something over God. That can be money (you cannot worship God AND money Luke 16:13, Matthew 6:24. But you know how you really find idolatry, when you know something is sinful, and you claim to love God but are consumed and captured by the sin over God’s goodness and love in telling you; that’s hurtful to me, Christ died for that very sin, and we go after it - we idolize the sin over God who is good and says, don’t roll around in that.
Reviler someone, who speaks abusively to people, who is mean, and angry and points all that to people by being verbally abusive. And/or Gossip, do you talk about people behind their back - that’s not a fruitful habit.
Drunkard - seeking to get steamrolled often, walking around tipping over - that’s not Godly, why because it gives control over to a spirit that isn’t the Holy spirit - it’s not good for you.
Swindler - what in the world is that. It’s someone who is maybe not participating in illegal business practices, but they’re rough
If someone is a brother in Christ is a baptized believer who claims to be repentant and is patterned this way here is what Paul’s says:
1 Corinthians 5:11–13 (ESV)
11 But now I am writing to you not to associate with anyone who bears the name of brother if he is guilty of sexual immorality or greed, or is an idolater, reviler, drunkard, or swindler—not even to eat with such a one.
12 For what have I to do with judging outsiders? Is it not those inside the church whom you are to judge?
13 God judges those outside. “Purge the evil person from among you.”
Wow - because a) it’s not good for that person who is not bearing the marks and fruit (think of my cherry tree) of a believer to continue being in daily-fellowship as a believer. They don’t have the fruit and so stepping or being stepped outside the body causes consideration and reflection.
Remember, Paul was careful to say - to one who is a brother. So that said, we have NO command to not be in fellowship and find fellowship with someone who does not claim Christ but who is those things… interesting isn’t it.
1 Corinthians 6:1–3 (ESV)
Lawsuits Against Believers
1 When one of you has a grievance against another, does he dare go to law before the unrighteous instead of the saints?
2 Or do you not know that the saints will judge the world? And if the world is to be judged by you, are you incompetent to try trivial cases?
3 Do you not know that we are to judge angels? How much more, then, matters pertaining to this life!
He goes on about this - but here is the long and short - Church we’re to be able to internally deal with stuff and issues. We’re not to avoid doing business together, but we’re to be able to be wise enough to handle this.
1 Corinthians 6:9–11 (ESV)
9 Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality,
10 nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God.
11 And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, and you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.
And so, this list as been abused, and used as a litmus test for heaven entry. People will preach that you should not be sexually immoral (then skip greed, talking bout people, rough business practices, being a thief or party animal) you don’t have the fullest of assurances of your salvation.
When you freely sin in these ways you put your sin, and your sinful desires over the community of God, over the kingdom of God and so it’s not great fruit.
Tell me I have a cherry tree - I’ll think neat, show me the cherries on my tree and I’m stoked.
In 12-20 of chapter 6 Paul is quoting someone and giving a presentation of cultural views of sex, and they’re not much different today.
1) Soul great, body bad - and so sex is like hunger. When you’re hungry you eat, when your sexual you have sex.
2) Sex is bad and we should avoid it, that’s in 7:1
1 Corinthians 7:1 (ESV)
Principles for Marriage
1 Now concerning the matters about which you wrote: “It is good for a man not to have sexual relations with a woman.”
Don’t we see those positions STILL in our world today - sex is bad avoid it, sex is great freely enjoy it. But Paul changes it up; it limits sex to marriage and celebrates it as great:
1 Corinthians 7:2-4 (ESV)
2 But because of the temptation to sexual immorality, each man should have his own wife and each woman her own husband.
3 The husband should give to his wife her conjugal rights, and likewise the wife to her husband.
4 For the wife does not have authority over her own body, but the husband does. Likewise the husband does not have authority over his own body, but the wife does.
In the following verses he continues talking about this unique marriage union - that sex is limited to and that sex transforms. Sexual union between a husband and a wife is giving a way a part of yourself - and joins on such a personal level, everything changes completely.
Sex is a giving away of yourself in a way that is binding - it’s a celebration and a marker that we’re together, we’re one, we’re for each other, we’re in covenant, we’re of one flesh living for the other.
And so saying those things when not married, sex becomes the complicator that makes life more difficult. Sex outside of marriage gives ones self away to someone who is not ready to fulfill it.
Now, people would have Paul be a chauvinist; but look here:
“For the wife does not have authority over her own body, but the husband does. Likewise the husband does not have authority over his own body, but the wife does”
Guys - be blown out of the water by this. Paul, looked into a culture who would have viewed women as property - and men had no duty to women or wives - they’re an idol, they’re to be used and disrespected but oh man, Christian life, Christian community sees each other as deeply valued by God and knows this truth is real and values this relationship.
Sex, and it’s joy and enjoyment - the closeness that it draws between people enjoyed in the context of God’s goodness… it’s a picture to the future union to God, the intimacy, the givenness, the joy, guys that’s what awaits us who are found in Christ!
So, where are you today - are you looking at that list and thinking, OK I’m good enough or not good enough to get in? Maybe you’re missing it - this is a list of the fruits of Christian living in the world. You’ll desire the best for your mate, sex will be shred in marriage, you’ll speak well to people and of people, your business practices will be fair and generous - this is the Christian community and this is how we’re to live; why a) because the holy spirit of God in us bears fruit and b) when it does the God is glorified and the kingdom of God grows, because people want to know more and we’re salt and light in a dark flavorless world:
Christian you’ll live this out imperfectly - but do you see previous patterns broken in your life after Christ invaded your heart? Do you see God working through you, awesome be encouraged?
Do you not? Maybe you need to be transformed by Jesus that lamb that was sacrificed for us and then celebrate the feast of Passover and enjoy the fruit of God’s work and then lets live a joyful Christ filled, God bless, Holy Spirit abundant life for all to see - lets live as the baptized!