Such Were Some of You | 1 Corinthians 6:9-11

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  • Such Were Some of You | 1 Corinthians 6:9-11
  • Is it right for Christians to sue one another?

    We live in a litigious society. If we suffer an actual or perceived wrong, we may not take matters into our own hands, but we will take you to court. Whether the opposing party is a fellow Christian is irrelevant. We feel we should not allow someone to take advantage of us if we can do something about it. To ask if it is right is a strange question to us. But just because a thing is legal does not mean it is moral. And it does not mean it is the Christian thing to do. 

    1 Corinthians 6 addresses the ethical dilemma of Christians suing one another. The disputes were civil, not criminal. No laws were broken. Interpersonal disputes were taken to be resolved by worldly judges and juries. Verse 1 asks, “When one of you has a grievance against another, does he dare go to law before the unrighteous instead of the saints?” Paul couldn’t believe the saints had the audacity to go to worldly courts to settle their grievances. 

    • Verse 2 says the saints will judge the world. 
    • Verse 3 says the saints will judge the angels. 

    We who Christ saves from judgment will join with Christ in the judgment of the world. Verse 5 says, “So if you have such cases, why do you lay them before those who have no standing in the church?” It is a shame when there are no wise people in the church to resolve conflicts, and believers ask unbelievers to settle their disputes.

    Verses 7-8 say, “To have lawsuits at all with one another is already a defeat for you. Why not rather suffer wrong? Why not rather be defrauded? But you yourselves wrong and defraud – even your own brothers!” In response to congregational conflict, Paul regenerate church membership. By this we mean two things: 

    • All saved people should be church members. 
    • Only saved people should be church members.  

    Professing Christians are “deconstructing” their faith. This process has resulted in some leaving the faith. More claim to be Christians but reject the church. But there is no such thing as an unchurched Christian. The New Testament does not command us to join a church. But it assumes genuine believers are participating members of a local church. Being a part of the church distinguishes the righteous from the unrighteous.

    Church membership is not having your name on the roll, being qualified to vote in meetings, or exercising rights and privileges. It is being a part of the redeemed community that reflects the character of God to the world. The church should welcome everyone to its services. It should only welcome true Christians into its membership. How is your relationship with God? Your relationship to sin reveals your relationship with God. 1 Corinthians 6:9-11 teaches two ways God deals with sinners. 

    God Condemns Guilty Sinners. 

    After hearing a sermon on guilt, a member told his pastor that he sinned and felt no guilt. The pastor asked, “If you place a crushing weight on a dead person, would he feel it?” That’s the point of verses 9-10. If you can sin without feeling anything, you are not a Christian.

    The Condemnation of the Unrighteous. Verse 9 begins with a rhetorical question: “Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God?” It is the third “do you not know” question in this chapter. 

      • Verse 2 asks, “Or do you not know that the saints will judge the world?”
      • Verse 3 asks, “Do you not know that we are to judge angels?”

      Sound doctrine is essential to godly living. You cannot do what you do not know. We learn the truth to live the truth. James 1:22 says, “But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves.”The gospel should not be assumed in the church. It should be explicitly stated in the songs, sermons, and supplications. The gospel is not an entry exam you take to move on to other subjects. It is the entry exam, pop quick, midterm, and final. We need to be taught the gospel and regularly reminded of it. 

      Here Paul reminds us of the destiny of the “unrighteous.” This is the word Paul uses in verse 1 to introduce this rebuke of lawsuits. It refers to the morally wicked. However, the legal implications should not be overlooked. Worldly people say, “Only God can judge me.” What about that makes you feel safe in your sins? 

      “The unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God.” “Kingdom of God” refers to God’s sovereign rule and reign over heaven and earth. The righteous are not morally perfect people. They are sinners who are declared righteous by God through faith in Christ. Matthew 5:3 says, “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” But know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God. 

      The Character of the Unrighteous. Verses 9-10 identify the unrighteous in no uncertain terms. It is a list of vices similar to 1 Corinthians 5:11 and Galatians 5:19-21. This roll call of the condemned begins with a warning: “Do not be deceived.” “Deceived” is to stray away from truth, virtue, or safety. 1 Corinthians 15:33 says, “Do not be deceived: ‘Bad company ruins good morals.’” Galatians 6:7 says, “Do not be deceived: “God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap.” 

      Our text warns us not to be deceived about the destiny of the wicked. We must not be self-deceived or deceived by others. Anyone who would have you think you can live any way you choose and be right with God is a liar who would deceive your soul to hell.

       After this stern warning, Paul lists ten vices that condemn the unrepentant. The “Sexually immoral” have sex with someone they are not married to. “Idolators” worship false gods. That the term sits between sexually immoral and adulterers implies immorality is idolatry. “Adulterers” have sex with someone other than their spouse. “Men who practice homosexuality” refers to passive and active participants in homosexual acts. “Thieves” take what does not belong to them. The “greedy” have a covetous desire for more. “Drunkards” are stubborn alcoholics. “Revilers” use slander to cancel others. “Swindlers” are embezzlers and extortioners who take advantage of others financially.

      This list of vices are acts that violate the Ten Commandments. None of these sins have been canceled, repealed, or overturned. 

      • Doctors may call these sins sicknesses. 
      • Judges may call these sins legal. 
      • Politicians may call these sins expedient. 
      • Therapists may call these sins natural.
      • Surveys may call these sins acceptable. 

      God calls them sins. The sexual sins of verse 9 and the social sins of verse 10 are acts of rebellion against God. Homosexuality, lesbianism, and transgenderism are grave sins. So are fornication, adultery, and pornography. Getting drunk, being materialistic, and slandering people are no less sinful. These sinful acts lead to eternal punishment. This list is representative, not exhaustive. Your unlisted pet sin will also send you to hell. The text does not mean a Christian who commits these sins loses their salvation. But anyone who practices these sinful acts and thinks they are going to heaven is deceived. 

      God Converts Forgiven Sinners. 

      A king dies. His ten-year-old prince succeeds him. The boy king’s attitude, behavior, and words contradict his identity. Years later, however, everything about him is royal and regal. Yet he is no less king as a man than he was as a child. This is an apt description of the Christian life. It is the ongoing process of becoming what you already are in Christ. We are converted by the sovereign grace of God that rescues and transforms us. 

      Rescuing Grace. Verse 11 says, “And such were some of you.” This transitional statement is spiritually potent. “And” connects this assurance of salvation to the previous warning about the condemnation of the wicked. “Such” indicates members of the church at Corinth had been sexually immoral, idolaters, adulterers, homosexuals, thieves, greedy, drunkards, revilers, and swindlers. “Were” asserts there had been a definite break from the sinful life. You are not what you were. “Some” acknowledges that not every member’s past life was characterized by these vices. But the list confronts every member with the fact that they have been saved from something. “You” declares that all true Christians are x-sinners.  

        Christianity is not about religious activity, moral conduct, and charitable service. It is about regeneration. John 3:6 says, “That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Do not marvel that I said to you, ‘You must be born again.’” Have you been born again? Church membership is meaningless if you are not born again.

        God created you to glorify and enjoy him forever. All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. We cannot save ourselves. But God sent his Son who lived righteously, died sacrificially, and arose triumphantly. If you repent of your sins and trust in Christ, you will receive free forgiveness, new life, and eternal hope. 2 Corinthians 5:17 says, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.”

        Transforming Grace. How can you know you have received God’s rescuing grace? Rescuing grace inevitably becomes transforming grace. 

        • God loves you enough to meet you where you are. 
        • God loves you too much to let you stay where you are.

        Saving-faith is more than a ticket to heaven. It is a radical transformation of life. 

        A Complete Transformation. Verse 11 says, “But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified.” “But” emphasizes the infinite gulf between the past and the present. The old life became a new life. How did we go from what we were to what we are? Verse 11 answers, “But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified.” 

         “Washed” is spiritual cleansing and moral purification. Isaiah 1:18 says, “Come now, let us reason together, says the Lord: though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall become like wool.” 

        “Sanctified” is the process of spiritual maturity. Here, it states what happened when God saved you. 1 Corinthians 1:2 says, “To the church of God that is in Corinth, to those sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints together with all those who in every place call upon the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, both their Lord and ours.” 

        “Justified” means to be declared righteous. Romans 4:4-5 says, “Now to the one who works, his wages are not counted as a gift but as his due. And to the one who does not work but believers in him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is counted as righteousness.”

         A Divine Transformation. How were you washed, sanctified, and justified? It did not happen by self-help, self-effort, or self-righteousness. This divine transformation occurred “in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ.” The full name emphasizes that Jesus is the only way of salvation. Acts 4:12 says, “And there is salvation I no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.” 

        Your cell phone rings. You ignore the call if you do not know or like the name on the caller I.D. When sinners call on God for salvation, if the caller I.D. is not the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, God ignores the call. Acts 10:43 says, “To him all the prophets bear witness that everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name.”

        • We are washed, sanctified, and justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ. 
        • We are washed, sanctified, and justified by the Spirit of our God. 

        Ephesians 1:13-14 says, “In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory.” Don’t miss the unobtrusive trinitarianism here. The three Persons of the Godhead work together for your regeneration, sanctification, and justification. There is bad news and good news. 

        • The bad news is you cannot be in the redeemed community and live like those who don’t know God. 
        • The good news is you cannot be in the redeemed community and live like those who don’t know God. 

         You can change! 

        A young man trusted Christ for salvation and sought to join a local church. The decision counselor asked him, “Were you a sinner before you received the Lord Jesus Christ? “Yes, sir,” he replied. “Are you still a sinner?” He answered, “To tell you the truth, I feel I’m a greater sinner than ever.” The counselor asked, “Then what real change have you experienced?” “I don’t how to quite explain it,” he said, “except I used to be a sinner running after sin. But now that I have been saved, I’m a sinner running from sin!” To run from sin, run to the cross!


        H.B. Charles Jr.

        Pastor-Teacher at the Shiloh Metropolitan Baptist Church of Jacksonville and Orange Park, Florida.