The Results of Selfishness – 1 Corinthians 6:1-11
The 9th message in the series on The Corinthians.
(Find the other messages from this series here)
Thank you so much for being here on a Holiday Weekend.
Hopefully your attitude isn’t “we have to go to church on a holiday weekend?” but instead your attitude is “We get to go to church on a holiday weekend!”
This holiday is for remembering those who sacrificed for our freedom, and one of the freedoms that they fought to protect was our freedom to gather and worship. By being here today, you are participating in one of the freedoms they protected.
So let’s look at 1 Corinthians 6 mindful of the fact that we are blessed with the freedom to do so openly.
Read 1 Corinthians 6:1-11
When I look at the footage that we showed earlier of those young men marching on or off of boats, jumping from airplanes, I see incredible unselfishness and sacrifice.
Sadly, I’m afraid our culture doesn’t really have a grasp on that type of selflessness. We’ve fought wars on terror in our recent history, but when we went to war with the great evils of Nazism, the entire country was in the fight.
People who weren’t in the fight were building planes and tanks, growing crops that would be used to feed the troops, rationing their own fuel and meat so that there would be plenty for the troops, collecting rubber and metal to that there would be enough to build the weapons, bullets, and planes.
I don’t think that anyone would argue with me that our culture has become more selfish, but if you were to disagree with me, I would point to how litigious we have become.
Just this past week at the Chandler Parks board I heard, we have to be extremely careful because people will sue you over any little thing anymore.
Right now there is a lawsuit against Starbucks for putting too much ice in their iced drinks.
This past Valentines Day an Oregon woman filed sued against an Italian restaurant. She had a reservation for two but her husband didn’t show up because “he was still full from lunch.” Because her entire party was not present they did not seat her. She sat at the bar had two glasses of wine, walked out without paying, and now demands $100,000 in emotional damages. (I think her real issue is probably with her husband.)
A litigious society is a symptom of the underlying problem of selfishness.
The Corinthians were being selfish and they were taking one another to court. Paul points out that they are doing so because they are selfish and they are acting selfishly because they have forgotten all that they have been given. Let’s break down this passage where Paul deals with this next issue on his list.
The Corinthian method of settling disputes was wrong.
There were believers in the Corinthian Church who had a dispute between the two of them and they had gone to the judicial system of Corinth to settle the issue. Paul says that this is utterly wrong. Listen to the way that Paul frames verse 1:
Dare any of you go to the magistrate with a dispute you have!?
To put it in today’s vernacular would be,
Really? Really!? You are going to take your personal conflict before the lost and corrupt courts of this city!?
Gordon Fee a scholar on Corinthians said there are 2 reasons that Paul was incredulous that they were taking their interpersonal issues to the courts of the unbelievers-
one was that it did damage to the Christian community’s testimony before the world.
What would have been the perception of the church that this court would have had as they listened to the disagreement between these two people that perhaps arose within the context of their church?
Jesus had told his disciples that the world would know them by their love for one another, what is on display here but their inability to get along with one another.
The second reason Fee points out is that they Corinthians apparently had no grasp of their standing in Christ.
There’s a danger of getting lost in the weeds here, so I want to briefly point this out as we head toward the main point- Paul says, don’t you know that we will judge the world? Don’t you know that we will judge angels?
Now what Paul is referring to is the New Heaven and New Earth after Christ returns.
God has promised that we will rule and reign with Him.
The afterlife is not going to be a really, really long church service.
We are going to build and run an incredible world free of sin, brokenness, corruption, and loss.
Now we could head down that direction and talk a lot about this, and but the way, it’s going to be awesome, but that’s an aside right now…
Paul says, that’s what we are headed toward, being judges and rulers of the beautiful new heaven and new earth but instead of handling these issues on your own, you’re turning to unbelieving and corrupt rulers and judges because you hope to gain something over or from your brother in Christ.
Paul says in verse 3, if we will judge over that, how much more should we be able to judge matters pertaining to this life!?
The translation is a little tricky here, but basically Paul said, you are taking your issues to judges of this world, whom you have been judging because you thought it was your place to judge unbelievers…
Paul is saying, you are judging unbelievers which you shouldn’t do and then turning to those same unbelievers which you have judged and asked them to make rulings in your affairs.
The Corinthian believers should not have been judging the world, but they were.
The Corinthian believers should have been governing themselves but they weren’t.
Then Paul says in verse 5, I speak this to your shame.
You should be ashamed of yourselves.
Remember that thing we used to do with our fingers in elementary school? Anyone else?
The origin of the gesture appears to be the combination of the point which calls someone out and a gesture communicating friction.
In other words, you are causing friction.
This would have been appropriate for Paul to use here because he is calling them out for causing friction among their brothers and sisters and Christ and running the testimony of the church before outsiders.
At the beginning of the letter in 1:23 Paul had said,
But we preach Christ crucified, unto the Jews a stumblingblock, and unto the Greeks foolishness;
The gospel is offensive all on it’s own.
It’s a stumbling block all on its own. We don’t need to give more reasons for people to struggle to come into the Kingdom of Christ.
If you’ve got a problem with someone in the church, deal with it.
If you have a problem with me, let’s talk about it.
Don’t complain about me or the church in front of your friends, and then expect them to accept your invitation to church.
Don’t complain about me or the church in front of your kids and then expect them to want to stay in the church when they’re old enough to make the decision for themselves…
So they were going about dealing with their disputes in the wrong way, but more importantly I want you to see that their motives in these disputes and their attempts to settle them in court were all wrong too.
Paul points out that
The Corinthian reason for settling disputes was selfishness.
7Why do ye not rather take wrong? why do ye not rather suffer yourselves to be defrauded?
8Nay, ye do wrong, and defraud, and that your brethren.
Paul says, wouldn’t you rather just suffer the wrong instead of taking your brother to court and damaging the testimony of the church before unbelievers?
No they wouldn’t.
Rather, they are actively wronging and defrauding their own brothers and sisters in Christ.
They weren’t worried about the testimony of the church.
They weren’t even worried about doing the right thing.
They were only worried about one thing, getting their way.
Getting what they want.
They weren’t settling the disputes so that they could put it behind them, they were going to court hoping that the court would force the other person to give them what they felt was owed to them.
The Corinthians were taking one another to court because they felt entitled. They were being selfish.
They were being selfish.
They were squabbling and they were fighting over what they wanted.
Paul’s perspective is wouldn’t it just be better to suffer the wrong, to absorb the loss and move on to keep the peace and protect the name of Christ in the city???
That wasn’t the perspective of the Corinthian church. They were focused on what they didn’t have but wanted.
Recently my kids wanted a snack so I had gotten them both something to eat and they were sitting at the table eating their snacks. Then Haven asked if she could also have some barbecue chips as I pulled them out Lincoln chimed in with “Me too! Me too!”
So I doled out some chips on each plate, trying the best I could to give equal amount because I knew if one portion looked bigger than the other it would be a fight.
In giving them both chips I managed to drop one chip on the table in between them.
They’ve both just gotten a decent helping of chips and it’s equal to to the helping that the other got- but I want you to guess what both of them locked in on. It was that chip that landed in between them.
Immediately they were fighting over the chip on the table.
In that moment, all they could see was the chip that they didn’t have. They didn’t see the chips they had, only the one that they didn’t have.
I was looking at them like, really guys? You are going to fight over this one chip?
Paul looks at the Corinthians and says, really you are going to fight and squabble and go to court over this, when you’ve been given so much?
Selfish people can not see past what they do not have to appreciate what they do have.
Some of you tell yourselves that you wouldn’t be so selfish if you just had that thing that so and so had.
Some of you tell yourselves that you would be generous if you just had the house, or the car, or the pay raise, or whatever it is that you currently are looking at that you don’t have…
However, the truth is that if you don’t give now you won’t give then because just as soon as you get the thing that you want, you’ll see something else that you don’t have.
There will be something else that you feel entitled to…
The problem isn’t what you don’t have,
the problem is that you are selfish.
No matter what you get, if you are selfish you will remain focused on what you do not have.
The solution for selfishness is not getting what you want. That just solidifies your selfish behavior.
You know what I did with that chip on the table that my kids were fighting over? I ate it!
Why would God give you what you want if all your going to do is then look for something else that you want?
So what’s the antidote to selfishness and greed?
The antidote to selfishness and greed is a good look at what you do have and others do not. So Paul gives the Corinthians a good look at what they do have and others don’t
9Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind,
10Nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God.
11And such were some of you: but
The point of this passage isn’t to once again tell them of all the people who are lost in their sin- it’s setting up what he’s about to say-
He’s saying remember that there are people who have not inherited the kingdom of God.
You were one of those people, but…
The Corinthians had lost sight of the incredible inheritance that is theirs in Jesus Christ.
Remember earlier I said Gordon Fee pointed out reasons Paul was frustrated, one was that the they didn’t understand or they had forgotten their standing in Christ.
The Corinthian perspective was short-sighted.
so what’s the rest of that verse-
such were some of you but-
but ye are washed,
but ye are sanctified,
but ye are justified
in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God.
As my kids were fighting over that chip I was standing there with a whole bag of chips looking at the mounds of chips on their plates-
It made no sense to me why they were fighting over that chip because I could see all that they had.
It made perfect sense to them because they could only see what they didn’t have.
This morning I’d be willing to wager that this week you’ve lost sight of what you have because all you can see is what you don’t have.
So, like Paul let me remind you of what you have.
Believers should remember:
You have been Washed.
This means exactly what it sounds like.
It means the washing away of dirt and grime.
It means that our sins are washed away.
Scripture says that our sins are removed from God’s sight.
If you’ve been washed, God doesn’t see your dishonesty, your lust, your immorality, your greed, your anger, those have all been washed away…
You know that feeling of working hard and coming home dirty and tired and it just feels amazing to get a nice hot shower and get into some comfortable clean clothes.
Christ has done this for our soul.
You have been Sanctified.
This word means to make holy.
When the priests would use some instrument or tool in the temple there would be a process of cleaning it and setting it aside for the work of the temple and it was no longer meant for common purposes but for the use of the worship and service of God.
Whether it was cup or plate or tongs, it wasn’t for the purpose of eating at your home, it was for the purpose of serving God.
God has taken your life and set it aside for the honor and glory of serving him and worshipping Him.
You’ve been made holy. You’ve been set aside for an extraordinary purpose in the kingdom of God.
You have been Justified.
All three of these are great, but this is my favorite and I think there was a reason that Paul saved for last in the list.
The word Justify means to make innocent.
Or to make the judgements against you null and void.
We teach kids that Justify means Just as if I never sinned.
It means that you are completely innocent.
You aren’t someone that was cleaned up and set aside, but in looking at you God only sees what you are-
He doesn’t see what you were.
God doesn’t look at you and see your past-
He only sees innocence.
Amy isn’t in here this morning because she is serving in the toddler class, but several years ago Amy was arrested. She went through Warrick Drunk Driving & Drug Court and was one of their first graduates.
God has done an incredible work of grace in her life.
Two years ago this week she was invited back to Drug Court to give the address at their graduation.
A couple of months ago she said,
“Pastor Daniel, because I’ve not reoffended and stayed out of trouble my record might be expunged. I’ll no longer have a record! If my application is approved the process starts and it ends with the record being deleted on the servers and after that it will be like it never existed.” This is what she said, isn’t that just a good lesson on what God does for us?
This past Sunday afternoon while I was still coming down from the awesome day we had on Friend Day, Amy texted me,
“By the way, I got the final paperwork in the mail yesterday! I’m felony free!”
So I responded with,
Now the records at the courthouse match the one in heaven.”
How wonderful is it that through the sacrifice of Jesus, we don’t have to live 6 years without reoffending before we can then apply and hope that someone in a courthouse will smile on us and remove our record-
We can be justified instantly by the grace of God.
Paul said to the Corinthians, I can’t understand why you are fighting over these small things when you’ve been given so much.
Let me remind you that,
You’ve been washed, you’ve been sanctified, you’ve been justified.
That’s why we must be regularly reminded of what Christ has given us. The Corinthians needed a fresh reminder of all Christ had given them, they needed to break their fixation on what they didn’t have and instead fix their eyes on Jesus and what He had done for them
It’s vital for our nation to celebrate memorial day to remember that what we have came at a great price. It’s vital that we recognize how blessed we are and how great of a price that was paid for our freedom…
It’s vital for believers to remember what has been given to us-
You’ve been washed, you’ve been sanctified, you’ve been justified.
This morning I hope that God has spoken to the hearts of some believers. You’ve been selfish.
You’ve played the martyr.
You’ve been focused on what you don’t have instead of what you’ve been given.
I pray that God has spoken to your heart and today that you as you remember what God has given you, you are simultaneously filled with gratitude for what you do have and conviction for your greed and selfishness, as the piano play I want to invite you to spend some time with Jesus this morning thanking him for all he has given you…
How about it this morning? Will you confess that you’ve been selfish? Will you confess that you’ve been focused on what you don’t have?
I also hope that there is someone here today who realizes,
I haven’t been washed, I haven’t been justified.
You can be today, you can call on Jesus Christ just like those Corinthians did and no matter where you fall on that list of sinners you too can be washed and justified today.