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Bible Commentaries
1 Corinthians 6

Smith's Bible CommentarySmith's Commentary

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Verses 1-20

Chapter 6

Now Paul brings up another issue, and that was the taking of a brother before the pagan courts.

Dare any of you, having a matter against another, go to law before the unjust, and not before the saints? Do you not know that the saints shall judge the world? and if you are going to be judging the world, are you unworthy to judge in the smallest matters? ( 1 Corinthians 6:1-2 )

Now, there were those within the church of Corinth that were going to the pagan courts in Corinth with judgments against a brother within the church. And Paul is saying ideally your differences should be resolved within the church, by the church, for God has committed judgment to the church; the church will be judging the world.

Now, we know that Christ will be the one that judges the world, but we are one in Christ. And so in Him we will be participating in the judgment of the world. Now, if that awesome responsibility is to be placed upon the church in Christ, then surely we should be able to judge in these small matters that exist between brothers. And differences should be resolved, if possible, within the church.

Now Paul is not saying that, if necessary, that we should not take legal recourse. He is dealing, first of all, with a situation within the church itself. There are those that perhaps you have a legal problem with who are outside of the church and they would not submit to the authority of the church's decision. And thus, it is sometimes necessary to take legal recourse in order that you might obtain justice.

Paul himself, when he was getting the old political runaround before Festus, when Festus said, "Are you willing to go up to Jerusalem and face these charges?" And he'd already spent two years waiting for justice to be done there in the prison in Caesarea. And Paul realizing this is just one more little political go-round, and he said, "I appeal unto Caesar." And he exercised his right as a Roman citizen, made his appeal to Caesar.

So that Paul himself took a legal recourse to save himself further manipulating by the politicians. But as much as God has placed judgment within the church, we should be able to judge in the matters that deal with those within the church.

Know ye not that we shall judge angels? ( 1 Corinthians 6:3 )

Now, there are angels which did not keep their first estate. Who probably with Satan rebelled against the authority of God, for Revelation would indicate that as many as perhaps one third of the angels joined Satan's conspiracy against the authority of God. And Jude tells us that they are being reserved in chains awaiting the day of judgment.

Now again, Christ will be, no doubt, the one figure of judgment against the angels, but we are in Christ and we are associated with Christ. We are together with Him, joined with Him in the kingdom age as one with Him. And so we join in Him even in the judgment of angels.

Now, it doesn't mean that you're going to have a chance to say to your guardian angel, "Hey, where were you on the sixteenth of October when I ran into that guy? Why weren't you there to hold me back?"

But those angels which kept not their first principals are to be judged. They are awaiting the day of judgment in chains of darkness, awaiting the day of judgment. But if we're going to be judging in these spiritual issues,

how much more should we be able to judge in things that pertain to this life? If then you have judgment of things pertaining to this life, set those to judge who are least esteemed in the church ( 1 Corinthians 6:3-4 ).

You know, the least esteemed Christian is more capable of honest, true judgment than the smartest judge in the superior court, as far as able to render righteous judgment. Now, more and more as I read of some of the judgments coming out of the superior courts, I wonder concerning the competency to judge. I am alarmed; I'm shocked at how light a sentence or non-sentences some of those convicted of terrible crimes are receiving.

So the least esteemed. You see, the courts of the land know nothing of the laws of the Spirit. Paul was talking about the natural man does not know the things of the Spirit, or does not understand the things of the Spirit, neither can he know them; they are spiritually discerned. But he which is spiritual understands all things, though he is not understood by the world. So in dealing with issues within the church, especially issues that involve spiritual things, the least of the saints are more competent to judge than the wisest of the world. In the same token, you can learn more divine truth from an uneducated, simple, Spirit-filled believer, you can learn more spiritual truth from them than you can the wisest Ph.D. or Th.D. in the country who is not born again.

Scholarship has nothing to do with the understanding of things of the Spirit because the natural man cannot understand them, neither does he know them. And thus, they cannot be a guide to spiritual truth nor can they be competent to judge in spiritual matters. These issues should all be settled within the church. Paul said,

I'm speaking to your shame ( 1 Corinthians 6:5 ).

I'm hoping to shame you by your actions.

Is it so, that there is not a wise man among you? not one that shall be able to judge between his brethren? ( 1 Corinthians 6:5 )

Don't you have one person there who is wise enough to deal with these issues?

But a brother goes to law with a brother, and that before the pagans. Now therefore there is utterly a fault among you, because you go to law with one another. Why do you not rather take wrong? Why do you not rather allow yourselves to be defrauded? No, you do wrong, and you defraud, and that your own brethren ( 1 Corinthians 6:6-8 ).

Tragic, tragic that it hasn't stopped. There are still those who are within the church today who would defraud even their own brothers. It's a shame. And so Paul is speaking of the shameful condition. Now again, this does not at all dictate against going to court with a person who is not a brother; that is sometimes our only recourse. And it is not a prohibition, nor is it to my knowledge or understanding a prohibition of going to court with a brother if the brother is not willing to settle it within the church. You see, if he's unwilling to submit to the arbitration within the church, then you may have to take other recourse, but Paul said that's a shame. It would be better if you would just be defrauded. Allow it. If a man sues you to get your coat, give him your cloak also, Jesus said.

Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? ( 1 Corinthians 6:9 )

Now we're getting down to some very serious issues. Those who are going to inherit the kingdom of God. Paul declares, "Don't you realize that the unrighteous are not going to inherit the kingdom of God?

Don't be deceived: neither fornicators ( 1 Corinthians 6:9 ),

The word here in Greek is male prostitutes.

nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor the effeminate, nor [the homosexuals] the abusers of themselves with mankind [is the Greek word for homosexuals], nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revelers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God ( 1 Corinthians 6:9-10 ).

Paul, writing to the Galatians in chapter 5, declares, "For the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh. And these are contrary one to the other so that you cannot do the things that you would. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law. Now the works of the flesh which are manifest are these: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, idolatry, witchcraft [which is in the Greek pharmachia, the use of drugs], hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, heresies, envyings, murders, drunkenness, revelings, and such like, of the which I've told you before, as I've also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God" ( Galatians 5:17-21 ).

Is that plain? Paul said don't be deceived. A lot of people are deceived into thinking that they can live however they please and still inherit the kingdom of God. Not so. And thus, these words should come as a searchlight to our own hearts. If I desire to inherit the kingdom of God, these things should be searching my own soul. For the unrighteous are not going to inherit the kingdom of God, neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, not abusers of themselves with mankind, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God.

And such were some of you: but you have been washed, but you are sanctified [that is, set apart for God's use], you are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God ( 1 Corinthians 6:11 ).

Though that may have been a part of your past life, that's where it should be, in the past life. If any man is in Christ, he is a new creation, and the old things are passed away. But what do I say if the old things are not passed away? Then obviously you're not a new creation. Don't be deceived. Do not be deceived in taking the grace of God as a cloak for lasciviousness, thinking, "Because the grace of God is covering my life, I can live as I please after the flesh."

There is a lot of clamor today, even within the church, to broaden the road to eternal life, to open the doors to all kinds of lifestyles, to a toleration of ungodly lifestyles within the family of God. For are we not all seeking the same goal? Are we not all walking the same path? For all roads lead to God. And that endeavor to broaden the road.

But let me remind you that Jesus said, "Strive to enter in at the straight gate, for straight is the gate and narrow is the way that leads to eternal life and few there be that find it. But broad is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction and many go in thereat. Beware then," He said, "of false prophets." Right after warning about these two gates. "Beware of false prophets, who will be there as wolves in sheep's clothing" ( Matthew 7:13-15 ). The false prophets who say, "Hey, it doesn't matter. God loves everybody. It doesn't matter how you live." Beware of false prophets. They may have reversed collars. They may be there in ministerial garb, but many of them are wolves in sheep's clothing. "But, Grandma, what a big mouth you have."

I get so totally upset with men who purport themselves to be ministers of Jesus Christ. They seem to love to take the title of Reverend. And do you know that in a suit filed against President Reagan by the ACLU, that they have several ministers from the Southern California area here who have joined in the suit against President Reagan for declaring 1983 as the Year of the Bible? And they have filed a civil suit against the President, several ministers. They must be ministers because they have Reverends in front of their names. Hey, they are wolves in sheep's clothing. They're disguising themselves as servants of Christ, but as Satan is able to transform himself into an angel of light in order to deceive, so are his ministers.

And these are servants of Satan disguised as ministers of Jesus Christ, and they are working to destroy the body of Christ and the church. The communists have planted many men in places of position in some of the major denominations across the United States. The World Counsel of Churches is close to a communist front organization and espouses almost every communist cause and supports every crooked thing going. I could get carried away with this. I'll tell you, I would not give one dime to any church that is a part of the World Counsel of Churches or the National Counsel of Churches. When they support the guerrillas that are killing the missionaries in Zimbabwe and the little children over there, when these militant groups are supported by the World Counsel of Churches. Your money would be used when they support PLO, when they support Angela Davis.

Some of you were such, but thank God we've been washed. Washed, first of all, then sanctified, then justified. Oh, that glorious work of God in my heart through Jesus Christ by the power of the Holy Spirit. I have been changed. I no longer am what I was. My life has been changed through the power of the Holy Spirit and faith in Jesus Christ. And it is a new life and the old things have passed away and all things are become new. Now,

All things are lawful unto me ( 1 Corinthians 6:12 ),

That is a very, very broad statement. It is as about as broad an ethic as any man could ever express. The Epicurean philosophy came close to it; they said, "All things are lawful for me if they bring me pleasure." It doesn't matter what it is, as long as it brings me pleasure it's all right to do. So you talk to them about some horrible thing you did, "Well, did you enjoy it?" "Oh, yes." "Well, it's all right as long as it brought you pleasure."

Paul said,

All things are lawful for me, but all things are not expedient ( 1 Corinthians 6:12 ):

Again, as a child of God I'm a goal-oriented person. My goal is to be found in Him, not having my own righteousness which is by the law, but the righteousness which is of Christ through faith. My goal, one day I'm going to stand before Jesus Christ, and you are going to stand before Him. For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ to receive for the things that we have done while we are in these bodies, to receive the rewards for our faithfulness for our stewardship in our lives, what I have done for the Lord. Because I have only one life and it soon will be past, and only what I do for Jesus Christ is going to last.

And I'm going to stand before Him to receive the things done in my body. My works will be judged by fire, what sort they were. And my goal is that when I stand before Jesus in that day of judgment, He will look upon me and say, "Well done, thou good and faithful servant. You've been faithful in a few things, now enter into the joy of the Lord. I'll make you ruler over Kauai. Have thou rule over five cities, or ten cities, or whatever." I don't care what I've done in life, what I've accomplished, what I've gained for myself, none of that will matter when I stand before Jesus. At that point, to receive His words of approval and commendation are all important. That's what I'm living for; that's what I'm looking towards.

Now, there are things that I can do that would be all right. They're not going to damn me. I am saved because of my trust and faith in Jesus Christ. But there are things that I could get caught up in, very easily caught up in them, that would impede my progress towards my goal, that would rob my time and my energies so that I would not have time or energy to do the work of the Lord or the things for the Lord. I could become so involved, oh they're perfectly all right, there's nothing wrong with it. But yet, it takes me away from my primary goal. It's an impediment in my movement towards my desired end. And thus, though it is lawful, though it is all right, I don't do it because it's not expedient. It doesn't expedite my journey towards my goal.

So it is important as a Christian that I learn to prioritize my life lest I get caught up and I'm spending an inordinate amount of time in nonessentials. Because that's a very easy trap for people to fall in, where you get so involved in things that really don't count eternally. And you can spend months in these projects and then watch the whole thing go down the tube. And then, "Hey, what have you been doing for the last six months?" "Nothing, it all blew up last week." Six months of labor.

Yet, Paul tells us at the end of the epistle, "Know this, that your labor for the Lord is never in vain." One day we're going to stand before the judgment seat of Christ. Oh, to hear Him say, "Good job, well done. Enter into the joy of the Lord."

all things are lawful for me, but I will not be brought under the power of any ( 1 Corinthians 6:12 ).

Only a Christian knows what it is to be free. The man who is living in sin is not free at all. Paul, writing to Timothy, said, "That we might take them from the captivity of the enemy who has taken them captives against their will" ( 2 Timothy 2:26 ). Paul writes, "That the god of this world has blinded their eyes that they cannot see the truth." So he's holding them captive against their will, blinding their eyes, and you can't say he's really free.

Don't tell me that fellow snorting coke every weekend is free. Don't tell me the alcoholic is free. Or a person who is bound by any kind of a habit, "Oh I've just got to go out, man. I gotta have it," you know. That's not freedom; that's bondage. Only the child of God knows what it is to be free. I appreciate my freedom. I love my freedom.

You see, it isn't really the freedom to do those things that's so exciting to me, it's the freedom not to have to do them. That's the kind of freedom I enjoy. I have the freedom not to have to do them. I don't have to do those things to get kicks. I don't have to do those things to feel a sense of well being or get excitement, or whatever else. Thank God I don't have to do them. I'm free.

Now, being free, it is possible to exercise that freedom in such a way as to bring myself into bondage. Being free to drink if I so desire. By the exercising of that freedom, if I drink to the point that my mind is now influenced by the alcohol that I've ingested into my system, that my judgment is now fuzzy or impaired that I am no longer able to think clearly, then I am not free; I am under the power or the influence of the alcohol that is numbing a part of my brain cells. Free to snort coke. But what I am doing is putting an insulator between the synapse gaps so that in my thinking now I can't make those connections, the synapse gap doesn't snap across. And though it may prolong a pleasurable sensation, I cannot make the proper connection in the synapse gaps. And thus, I don't think rationally and I can get addicted where I have to have it, and then I am not free. I've been brought under the power of it.

So it is foolish to exercise your freedom in such a way as to bring you into bondage, because you're no longer free. And some people have unwisely exercised their freedom in such a way as to bring themselves into bondage. So, though all things are lawful for me, I will not be brought under the power of any, because of my love for freedom that I have received through the power of Jesus Christ, that glorious freedom not to do those things that are destructive.

Meats are for the belly, and the belly for meats ( 1 Corinthians 6:13 ):

That's a part of the body itself. So if I eat meat, it doesn't matter. That's not the issue that's being dealt with. The meat that I eat is going to be destroyed.

God will destroy both it and them. But the body is not for fornication ( 1 Corinthians 6:13 ),

God didn't give you this beautiful instrument, God didn't place that strong sex drive in you, nor the pleasurable delight that you might use the body for fornication.

Your body is not for fornication, but it is for the Lord; and the Lord is for the body. And God hath both raised up the Lord, and will also raise up us by his own power ( 1 Corinthians 6:13-14 ).

Now, I'm to have a new body. Even as God raised up Jesus Christ, so He's going to raise me up. And my body is not for living after the flesh or after the things of the flesh, after fornication. It isn't just to satisfy the desires of my body that I live in this body. But it becomes a beautiful, delicate instrument in the hands of God to do His will and to do His work.

Know you not that your bodies are the members of Christ? shall I then take the members of Christ [or the instruments of Christ], and make them members of a harlot [or a prostitute]? God forbid. Don't you realize that he which is joined to a prostitute is one body with her? for the scripture says the two shall become one ( 1 Corinthians 6:15-16 ).

Through the act of intercourse the two become one. Now, your body is a member of Christ, or an instrument of Jesus Christ. And if you use your body for fornication or to be joined with a prostitute, you are actually joining Christ together, if such could be the case, with that relationship.

But he that is joined unto the Lord is one spirit ( 1 Corinthians 6:17 ).

We are joined to Jesus Christ, one spirit with Him, and thus, we are not to take our bodies and use them in an animalistic way.

Flee fornication ( 1 Corinthians 6:18 ).

Paul, writing to Timothy, said, "Flee youthful lust. Run from them, Timothy."

Oh, God help us to run from temptation, to be like Joseph who, when Potiphar's wife grabbed hold of him and said, "You're going to go to bed with me," wriggled loose and ran naked out of the house rather than to succumb to her charms. God help us to flee fornication.

Every sin that a man does is without the body; but he that commits fornication sins against his own body ( 1 Corinthians 6:18 ).

Most of the rest of the sins are done without the body, outside of the body. But fornication is a sin done against your own body.

What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which you have of God, and you are not your own? ( 1 Corinthians 6:19 )

"Don't you realize this?" Paul said. Your body is the temple, and again, this is the Greek word naos, which is the Holy of Holies. It's the dwelling place of God. It's a place of divine activity. It's not the hieron, the whole temple precinct. It's the naos, the inner sanctuary. Your body is the inner sanctuary of the Holy Spirit, which you have of God. You are not your own.

For you have been bought with a price ( 1 Corinthians 6:20 ):

That's what redemption is all about. You see, I was a slave to sin. I was a slave to my own flesh. I did those things because I was bound by my flesh. But Jesus Christ set me free, free so that I don't have to do those things anymore. And my body, which I once abused, I now offer to Him as the instrument through which He might work, the temple in which He might dwell. And thus, it becomes a holy place, a sanctuary.

For you see, Jesus redeemed me. He paid the price. He purchased me from my slavery to sin in order that I now might be His servant. But as His servant, I must obey Him. I've been bought with a price. I belong not to me. He didn't redeem me so that I could be my own man. He redeemed me so that I would belong to Him. I've been bought with a price; I am not my own to do with as I please. My life now belongs to Him to do as He pleases.

therefore we are to glorify God both in our bodies, and our spirits, which are his ( 1 Corinthians 6:20 ).

Again, "If any man defiles the temple of God, him will God destroy" ( 1 Corinthians 3:17 ), Paul said. We need to respect our bodies. They are marvelous instruments created by God.

I was reading the other day that your brain in one day makes more connections than all of the telephone systems in the entire world. No wonder you're tired at night. The operator up there is putting all these lines together, all day long. More connections are made in your brain in a single day than in all of the telephone systems of the world.

As David said, "We are fearfully and wonderfully made." A beautiful instrument, my body, given to me by God that it might be the medium of expression for my spirit. That it might become the medium of expression for God. That God might express Himself through my body, and that's the divine ideal. God revealing Himself through you, through your body, as His instrument, revealing His love, revealing His work, revealing His plan.

And so we need to hold our bodies as instruments of God and respect them as such and not do that which would destroy or harm the temple of God. Oh yes, it may be lawful. You may be able to prove that it's all right, but that's not the question. Is it expedient? Does it bring you under its power? Does it build you up or tear you down?

Father, we thank You for Thy Word. May it be like a light shining in the dark recesses of our lives, illuminating, bringing to light those hidden things. That if there be in us, oh God, a wicked heart, an evil desire, a covetousness, an envy, bitterness, that these things, oh Lord, might be exposed by the light of Your Word and brought unto the cross and placed there. That we might renounce those hidden works of darkness and walk in the light as He is in the light. Knowing this beautiful union and fellowship with Him as our lives are being cleansed by the blood of Jesus Christ. Thank You, Lord, for Thy Word and for the privilege of fellowshipping together with your children. Thank You, Lord, for making us one together, to share in Thy kingdom and in the joy of Your kingdom forever. Bless us now. Help us now. In Jesus' name we pray. Amen.

May the blessing of the Lord rest upon your life and may you be enriched in all things in Christ Jesus as you grow in grace and in knowledge of His love and of His way and of His goodness. And may your body become truly an instrument through which God works as He seeks to reveal Himself to a lost world. God bless you and strengthen you in your walk with Him and give you discernment and help you in using your time well as you redeem the time in this present evil age. In Jesus' name. "

Bibliographical Information
Smith, Charles Ward. "Commentary on 1 Corinthians 6". "Smith's Bible Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/csc/1-corinthians-6.html. 2014.
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