1 Corinthians 5:1-6:11 (ESV)
5:1 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, 5you 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.
6 Your boasting is not good. Do you not know that a little leaven leavens the whole lump? 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. 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.
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. 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.”
6:1 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! 4 So if you have such cases, why do you lay them before those who have no standing in the church? 5 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, 6 but brother goes to law against brother, and that before unbelievers? 7 To have lawsuits at all with one another is already a defeat for you. Why not rather suffer wrong? Why not rather be defrauded? 8 But you yourselves wrong and defraud—even your own brothers!
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, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.
Day 1: Loving God
Read: 1 Corinthians 5:1-13
Not only were the Corinthian believers tolerating an egregious sin in their midst, they were “arrogant” (5:2) while doing so and “boasting” (5:6). The Corinthians were “puffed-up” in their own spirituality and knowledge, and abused their spiritual freedom to in Christ at the expense of others (8:1; 6:12). Contrary to popular opinion, it’s not humility that refrains from judgment and tolerates sin, but arrogance that presumes upon God’s grace and tolerates sin. While it is true that those who are in Christ, because Christ fulfilled the law perfectly on our behalf, are no longer under the law, this does not mean that we could go on sinning. To do so would mean that we are slaves to sin, when, in fact, we are now slaves of God. Christian freedom in Christ was intended to be an opportunity to follow the Holy Spirit, not the flesh (Rom. 6:14-16; Gal. 5:13).
- In what ways have you been “arrogant” and “puffed up” in your spirituality? Do you think highly of yourself because of your spiritual pedigree or knowledge? Humble yourself before God in prayer.
- In what ways have you presumed upon God’s grace and nurtured a tolerant attitude toward sin in your life and that of other brothers and sisters in Christ? Repent and “mourn” for these sins in prayer.
- Make note of specific ways in which you would like to grow in your relationship with, and submission to, God. Pray for these things.
Day 2: Loving One Another
Read: 1 Corinthians 6:1-11
A Christian brother in Corinth was defrauded by another brother. This was not a hypothetical scenario. Nevertheless, Paul says that he should have rather suffered wrong than to sue. Our response is not dictated by whether we’re in the right or wrong, because we follow Jesus Christ, who Himself suffered unjustly so that we might be saved (1 Pet. 2:19-22). The Christian life is about humility, it’s about counting others better than ourselves, it’s about putting others’ interests before our own (Phil. 2:1-10). So our posture should instead be: “We would much rather be personally defrauded than defame Christ’s name and damage the church’s witness” (cf. Rom. 12:17-21). Instead of repaying evil for evil against our own Christian brother, and thereby perpetuating the cycle of sin, we ought to bear the loss ourselves out of forbearing love for one another. Are you willing to incur personal loss for the sake of Christ’s glory? Are you willing to incur personal loss for the sake of corporate harmony and unity?
- Pray that our church would grow in brotherly love as the family of God, in intimacy, commitment, and unity.
- Pray that our church would grow in humility, and in our willingness to forego our rights and forbear each other’s foibles and faults.
- Pray that our church would be able to resolve conflicts among ourselves with wisdom and grace.
Day 3: Sharing the Love of Christ with Others
Read: 1 Corinthians 6:1-11
“Brother goes to law against brother, and that before unbelievers” (v. 6)? Paul was indignant that the Corinthians took a matter between two brothers before the public tribunal in the marketplace. In other words, the Corinthians aired out the dirty laundry of their church family in front of unbelievers who were strangers to the family, thereby inviting their scorn and damaging the witness of the church (cf. 1 Cor. 10:32; 1 Thess. 4:11-12; Tit. 2:8; 1 Pet. 2:12). Do you live with an awareness that you are Christ’s witness and representative before unbelievers?
Paul also reminds us in no uncertain terms that “the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God” (6:9). The unbelievers who have not been clothed with the righteousness of Christ, are disinherited from the Kingdom of God for eternity. Does this reality impress upon your mind and heart a sense of urgency? Or are you indifferent to the fate of those who are perishing right beside you among your family, friends, and neighbors?
- Pray that God would break our hearts for those who do not share the promise of our heavenly inheritance in Christ.
- Pray for the salvation of specific friends and neighbors who do not yet know Christ.
- Pray that God would make us bold and winsome witnesses among our friends and neighbors.
- Pray for more conversions and baptisms in our church in 2018.