Defrauding the Saints

Thursday, December 29, 2016, 7:00 a.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “My Jesus, I Love Thee.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read 1 Corinthians 6 (ESV).

Grievances Against One Another (vv. 1-8)

When one of you has a grievance against another, does he dare go to law before the unrighteous instead of the saints? 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? Do you not know that we are to judge angels? How much more, then, matters pertaining to this life! So if you have such cases, why do you lay them before those who have no standing in the church? I say this to your shame. Can it be that there is no one among you wise enough to settle a dispute between the brothers, but brother goes to law against brother, and that before unbelievers? 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!

Why do so many Christians sue anyone, let alone their brothers and sisters in Christ? Lawsuits have become epidemic in our day and age, it would appear. It seems this has now become common practice, even within the church. And, not only do they sue others, but they often ask for exorbitant amounts of money in their lawsuits, which, probably, they don’t need, but is intended to make the other person(s) pay big time! In other words, in my opinion, which is based upon what I have observed, many lawsuits are more about revenge and punishment than they are about recovering actual damages, i.e. asking for recompense to pay doctor bills or to make repairs, et al. And, the many people bringing the lawsuits are often opportunists, using a tragic or a difficult situation as a get rich quick scheme, it seems.

Yet, this is not what the Bible teaches we are supposed to do. If a brother or a sister sins against us, we are to go to that person individually and confront him or her with their sin against us. Wisdom dictates, though, that if a man or a woman makes a sexual advance (or the like) against you, that you not confront this person alone, but that you have someone with you to serve as witness to the conversation for your own protection. Perhaps it is wise in all cases that women not confront men and men not confront women alone. The purpose of the confrontation, nonetheless, is to give the other person the opportunity to repent of his or her sin against you. If he or she does not, then you are to bring in others, and if there is still no repentance, then it is supposed to be taken before the church, not before public courts.

As well, the Bible teaches us that it is not our place to take revenge, but we are to leave that to God. Instead, we are to love our enemies, pray for them, desire what is best for them, and do good to them. Christians are not going to win the world to Christ if we go around suing everyone who does us harm. Instead, we are to rejoice in our sufferings, and we are to count it all joy whenever we face various trials, or we are treated unfairly (unjustly) and we are persecuted for righteousness’ sake. This does not mean that we don’t ever confront sin or expose the fruitless deeds of darkness, though. We do! But, we do so out of love for our brethren and out of love for the people of this world, because we want to see all people be delivered out of darkness and brought into God’s wonderful light, so that they, too, can be saved.

The Unrighteous (vv. 9-11; cf. Galatians 5:19-21; Colossians 3:5-7)

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, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.

So, to whom are these words addressed? They are addressed to the church, but more specifically to those within the church who are defrauding their brothers and sisters in Christ, and who are doing so before a public court (before the world), rather than following the appropriate steps (biblically) for how to settle such matters. And, what Paul is telling them is that, if they continue to live like this, they will be counted among the wicked (the unrighteous), and they will not have eternal life with God in heaven.

Now, I know this goes against (contrary to) the theology of some groups of people who profess to know Jesus as Savior, but this is what the Bible teaches consistently. We read in 1 Jn. 1:6 that if we say we have fellowship with God, but we walk (in lifestyle) in darkness (sin), we are liars, and we do not live by the truth. Paul said that if we walk (conduct our lives) according to our sinful nature, we will die (in our sins without God), but if by the Spirit we are putting to death the deeds of the flesh, we will live (with Christ for eternity). Jesus said the same thing. He said that if we hold on to our old lives (of living for sin and self), we will lose them for eternity, but if we lose our lives (die with Christ to sin), we will gain eternal life (See: Ro. 8:1-14; Lu. 9:23-25).

It all comes down to lifestyle. We are not condemned every time we commit a sin (See: 1 Jn. 2:1), but we are condemned for living sinful lifestyles (in unrepentant sin). In other words, being saved is not just a prayer we pray to receive Christ, nor is it merely an acknowledgment of who Jesus is and of what he did for us in dying on the cross for our sins, nor is it a mere recognition even of the fact that we are sinners in need of a Savior. When God saves us from our sins, by his grace, we are crucified with Christ in death to sin, and we are resurrected with Christ to newness of life, “created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.” We now walk (in lifestyle) according to (in agreement with) the Spirit of God, and no longer according to our sinful flesh, to satisfy its lustful cravings and desires (See: Eph. 4:17-24; Ro. 6:1-23; Ro. 8:1-14; Gal. 2:20; 1 Pet. 2:24).

Sexual Immorality (vv. 13b-20)

The body is not meant for sexual immorality, but for the Lord, and the Lord for the body. And God raised the Lord and will also raise us up by his power. Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ? Shall I then take the members of Christ and make them members of a prostitute? Never! Or do you not know that he who is joined to a prostitute becomes one body with her? For, as it is written, “The two will become one flesh.” But he who is joined to the Lord becomes one spirit with him. Flee from sexual immorality. Every other sin a person commits is outside the body, but the sexually immoral person sins against his own body. Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.

Sexual immorality is so prevalent in today’s church, perhaps more specifically within the institutional church, of which some (or most) of the body of Christ are still members. Pornography addiction is sky high among the saints, including among many pastors, deacons and elders (church leadership), so much so that it has emasculated (weakened, made spiritually impotent and ineffectual) the vast majority of the church today.

The saints of God are supposed to be gathering together to help strengthen and encourage one another in the faith, which includes speaking the truth in love, so that they can go out into the world and be lights to the world in sharing the gospel. Instead, the vast majority of congregations here in America appear to be marketing the church to the world, and planning their meetings around attracting the world to the “church,” using worldly means and methods. This should not be! It is barely distinguishable between the church and the world anymore. So, in order to attract the world, the church has diluted the gospel message, which has given free license for Christians to continue in unrepentant sin, and this is a matter of great concern.

But, God’s grace is not a free license to continue in unrepentant sin while claiming heaven as our eternal dwelling place. God’s grace, which brings salvation, teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives while we wait for Christ’s return (Tit. 2:11-14). Jesus said, “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free” (Jn. 8:31-32). “By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another” (Jn. 13:35). And, “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand” (Jn. 10:27-28).

You see, it is not enough to just profess that you know Jesus as your Savior. You have to live as though he truly is your Savior and your Lord (owner-master). Jesus died that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. He died that we might no longer live for ourselves, but for him who gave his life up for us. Paul’s commission was “to open their eyes, so that they may turn from darkness to light and from the power of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in me” (Acts 26:16-18). So, if you are still living for sin and self, expect to be counted among the unrighteous and that you will not inherit God’s eternal kingdom. These are not my words. They are God’s words!

Jesus said, “If anyone loves me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him. Whoever does not love me does not keep my words. And the word that you hear is not mine but the Father’s who sent me” (John 14:23-24).

My Jesus, I Love Thee
William R. Featherstone / Adoniram J. Gordon

My Jesus, I love thee, I know thou art mine;
For thee all the follies of sin I resign.
My gracious Redeemer, my Savior art thou;
If ever I loved thee, my Jesus, ’tis now.

I love thee because thou hast first loved me,
And purchased my pardon on Calvary’s tree;
I love thee for wearing the thorns on thy brow;
If ever I loved thee, my Jesus, ’tis now.

I’ll love Thee in life, I will love Thee in death,
And praise Thee as long as Thou lendest me breath;
And say, when the death-dew lies cold on my brow,
If ever I loved Thee, my Jesus, ‘tis now.

In mansions of glory and endless delight;
I’ll ever adore thee in heaven so bright;
I’ll sing with the glittering crown on my brow;
If ever I loved thee, my Jesus, ’tis now.

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