I Corinthians 6:1-11 #2

Dr. Steve Viars September 18, 1991 1 Corinthians 6:1-11

- tonight, we're looking at I Cor. 6 and the subject of
  believers and lawsuits
- you may remember that we started studying this subject a
  couple of weeks ago on a night where we also had several
  church business items we needed to dicuss, so we didn't get
  anywhere near finishing the notes
- In one sense I'm glad that happened because it gives us an
  opportunity to deal with a subject that comes up in this
  passage that I didn't think we'd have time to get to in the
  first message
- so our goal tonight is to finish the material we started in
  the last study and also deal with this additional issue
  that comes up in the passage

- let's get our minds going on this topic of lawsuits by
  thinking about a question we asked last time
    - INPUT - if you interviewed the average unsaved person
        entering a courtroom to sue someone else, how do you
        think he or she would respond to the following
    - What are you wanting to achieve in this suit?
    - What concerns you the most about this case?
    - What are your goals?
    - What kind of answers do you think you'd get?

       - I'm going to get a load of money
       - I'm going to get revenge - be vindicated
       - justice will prevail

- that’s what Paul is talking about in this passage -
    - there are some things about this subject that:
       - you are either not thinking about at all,
       - or that are not nearly as important in your thinking
         as they ought to be

- now, with those thoughts in mind - let's look at I Cor.
    6:1-11 (READ)

- last time we saw that the problem of lawsuits was an issue
  in the whole Roman culture
- one ancient writer said that "every Athenian is a lawyer"
- what he meant by that was that the system was so complex
  that practically everyone was involved in either suing
  someone, being sued, or serving on a jury in a civil case

- but Paul's not writing about civil society in chapter 6,
  he's writing about the church--and how individuals in the
  church were taking other believers from the church to court
- Paul makes that point in several places
    - you're doing this with fellow believers
    - you're doing this with brothers and sisters in Christ
    - you're doing this in the church

- a couple of other points we need to bring out is that Paul
  was talking about personal property issues
   - in both verses 3 and 4, he describes these suits as
      dealing with "things that pertain to life."

- we also know that Paul viewed this as a serious issue

             1) The placement of this passage.
                - man living in fornication (and the more
                  serious charge of the church not practicing
                  church discipline) in chapter 5
                - characteristics of individuals who are not
                  saved in verses 9-11
                - discussion of immorality and abuses of the
                  body - at the end of 6

             2) use of the word "dare". Even today, we
                reserve that word for serious situations.

             3) use of the phrase "do you not know?" He uses
                that phrase six times in this chapter, which
                would be strong words to anyone, but
                especially to the Corinthians who prided
                themselves on wisdom and knowledge.

I. The Principle

    A. If two believers in a local church have a problem they
       cannot solve, they should take the problem to their
       local church to be resolved.
     Paul makes that point in several ways:

        v. 1 - ...go to the law before the unjust and not
               before the saints
        v. 2 - are you unworthy to judge the smallest
        v. 5 - ...not one that shall be able to judge between
                his brethren
        v. 7 - there is utterly a fault among you, because
                ye go to law one with another

- it was at this point a couple of weeks ago that because of
  time, we jumped over and picked up one of the reasons Paul
  gave for obeying this principle

- tonight I'd like us to slow up and look at some:

    B. Implications of this principle

        1. The passage is speaking specifically to the issue
           of believers who are in the same church, but the
           principle can be applied to believers in other

           - if there was an unresolved problem between you
             and another Christian who was a member of
             another church in town, we would always try to
             work with that church if they were willing to
             get involved and do what this passage is saying
- churches working together in this way can be a very
      effective detering to sin

    - I know of a believer who had contracted with a builder
      to add a room on his house
    - they had a contract and the builder was way over his
      time limit and he wasn't showing up to do the work

    - so the Christian finally said - "listen, I don't want
        to do this, but I am willing to go to take you to
        court if that's what it's going to take to get you to
        live up to your end of the agreement we made."

      - builder said - "you can't do that..."


- another point we need to make about these verses is that:

    2. I Cor. 6 (about lawsuits) and I Cor. 5 (about church
       discipline) definitely fit together

        - sometimes when the church gets involved, the
          sinning party won't repent
        - that’s very seldom (less than 5%)
        - but when the sinning party won't repent, he/she is
           - in other words, the church is declaring that
             person to be functioning as an unbeliever
        - at the point, the person would be free to file a
          lawsuit without violating this passage because they
          are no longer taking a believer to court

        - we're not saying the person should go ahead and sue
          in every case, but the point is - no one has the
          right to skip over the church's responsibility in
          these cases and in so doing take away that sinning
          believer's best opportunity to repent, which is the
          church discipline process

        3. Each situation must be evaluated ona case by case

            - there are times when someone's physical safety
              is in question when the court may need to be
              brought in sooner

            - a good passage to add here is Rom. 14:23 -
              "whatever is not of faith is sin"
            - if you're not sure what to do in a particular
              situation - it's best to get some counsel from
              the Word of God before proceeding
- so the principle is - "If two believers in a local church
    have a problem that they cannot solve, they should take
    that problem to their local church to be resolved."
     - in other words, the church should judge, not the
       secular courts
- now, some might object to what we're saying by asking:

    B. What about Matt. 7:1?

        - (ask them to turn there)

        - some might object to what Paul is saying about the
          church being responsible to judge in unresolved
          matters between believers saying, "well, I thought
          we weren't supposed to judge each other?"

        - let's talk about this verse for a minute

        - INPUT - when we are seeking to understand a verse
           in the Bible, especially one that that is
           seemingly obscure, what do we always have to keep
           in mind?
             - (our interpretation must always bear the
                weight of the rest of the Scripture)

        - how do we know Matt. 7:1 can't mean that we never
          judge in any sense?

            - I Cor. 5 - church commanded to judge
            - Matt. 7:5 - "First, cast the beam out of thine
                own eye, and then thou shalt see clearly to
                cast the mote out of thy brother's eye.

        - Matthew 7:1, Judge not lest you be judged means -
           do not judge in an unjust way - in a way that you
           would not want to be judged by someone else.
        - That’s why later in this passage Jesus gives what we
          often refer to as the "golden rule" in verse 12
            - do to other men as you would them to do to you

            - don't judge in a way that is different than the
              way you would want to be judged by someone else

- so Paul's solution to this dilemma is: "If two believers in
       a local church have a problem they cannot solve, they
       should take the problem to their local church to be

- now let's move on and talk about the reasons Paul gives for
    this command:

II. The Reasons

    A. The church is able

       - we talked about this one pretty thoroughly the other

    B. It protects your testimony to the unsaved world

        - Paul makes this point in several ways

        - v. 1 - (you do this) before the unjust
        - v. 4 - you set them to judge who are least esteemed
                  in the church?
        - v. 6 - and that before the unbelievers!

        - this gets back to the question we asked at the
           beginning of the message
        - think of the kind of things that are important to
          the average person entering a court room to file
          suit against someone else
            - the things that concern him or her the most
            - the kind of things they really wanted to
              accomplish and get out of that situation

    - Paul says - what in the world are you thinking?
       - what ought to concern you
       - what ought to be right at the forefront of your mind
           is the impact this situation is going to have on
           the unsaved world

    - not only are unbelievers unequipped to give right
      judgments, but you're not getting them any closer to
      changing that by being saved - because you're not being
      a very good representation of the difference between a
      believer and an unbeliever

    - my mother and father-in-law recently bought us a
      devotional book that takes you through the whole Bible
      where it has you read a passage of Scripture and then
      it explains that passage and helps you identify ways to
      change and grow
    - So I just recently had the opportunity to read through
      Leviticus and it's amazing all the things God
      instituted in his law that were intended to accentuate
      the difference between those who worshipped Jehovah and
      those who didn't
    - and while those ceremonial laws are no longer in force
      for the NT believer, the principle is surely there that
      God wants believers who are different than the world

    - He wants individuals who are looking for opportunities
      to accentuate the difference between those who have
      have been saved and those who haven't

    - Paul is saying - by handling the way you've been
       wronged just like the unsaved world, you've missed a
       great opportunity for evangelism

    - let me ask you to think about this for a moment - when
         you are wronged - what things are you concerned
         about the most?
           - now I'm not saying you shouldn't be concerned at
             all about that other person making things right.
           - but what are you concerned about first? most?

    - when the attendant gives you the wrong amount of
    - when the contractor doesn't come thorugh when he
       promised he would?
    - when someone's child throws a rock and hits your car?
    - when someone made an appointment with you and they're

    - obviously the immediate context is talking about what
      you do when that happens with believers and the
      testimony that is to unsaved folks who might observe
        - but we could broaden this out and talk about any
          situation where you're wronged or you believe
          you're wronged
        - what kind of things are most important in your

    - Paul says - we ought to focus on how our response will
        impact those around who don't know Christ as Lord as

    - Proverbs 22:1 says it this way - "a good name is rather
        to be chosen than great riches"
    - see, some believers have gotten the riches - they've
       gotten their pound of flesh
          - but they marred any effective testimony for
            Christ with that person

- (Illus) - one summer in the pool business, our boss asked
     us to take an apartment on the north side of Chicago and
     try to break into a new market with our pools

    - I didn't really like that idea (develop - dating Kris
           long distance)
    - one thing I liked about the idea was - we would have
      the opportunity to witness in areas that churches would
      have a hard time breaking into - so we viewed ourselves
      as missionary pool builders

    - one of the things we found out when we got there was
      that many of the suppliers didn't trust pool-builders
    - had a terrible reputation for being dishonest and not
      paying their bills
        - the suppliers put us in that same category and
          treated us accordingly

    - one implication - had to pay cash for materials
       (had to carry over $1000 cash each week)

    - on the first job - poured the footing - ran short
        - there's really no way of knowing who's fault that
          was - because the depth of the footing varied, and
          our excavator hadn't dug the width consistently

        - so I had two choices
            - order more concrete and pay for the extra
            - call the company and try to prove they shorted us

        - to make a long story short - I took the second
          option - and after a heated phone call convinced
          the dispatcher that if he wanted to avoid a
          lawsuit, he'd better get another truck out there
          with enough concrete to finish the job at their

        - I made that phone call from the customer's house
          and when I was done, she said these words - "you
          should be an attorney"
             - she, as an unbeliever, was saying that in a
               complimentary way

- but do you see what was missing?
- "A good name is rather to be chosen than great riches"

    - see, in that situation, I wasn't sure whose fault the
      shortage was
    - but I argued the company into accepting liability but
      missed a great opportunity to witness

- now you understand, we're not talking about letting
  companies walk all over you
- it's true that we can't live at peace with all men

- but what is concerning Paul greatly in these verses is that
  the issue of how their behavior affects an unsaved world
  does not have the place it ought to have in the Corinthians

- now I'd like to pause here and turn this principle
  completely around
- in other words, let's think about-
    - what do we do if we do what this passage is saying, and
      a person who doesn't know Christ is attracted to the
      gospel because of a difference they see in us, and they
      come and ask us about that in some way - what do we do

- here's the picture - Paul says - one reason you ought not
  to take another believer to court is because of the impact
  that will have on person's who don't know Christ
- many of us would say - "OK, I know that - it's good to be
  reminded of it, I'm trying to live in a way that's
  consistent with that principle"

- that's great - but you can expect some evangelistic
    opportunities to grow out of that
- trying to live in a sinful world with sinful habits and
   sinful strategies is painful
- there are individuals around you who are hurting

- now, let's say that one of them comes to you, and tells you
    about a problem, and asks for some help

- question now is - what's the best way to help them

- obviously every situation is different, and therefore the
   gospel presentation is different, but let's talk about
   some principles to guide us in these situations

- Think about this - what do you have that that person
  desperately needs?

    - the ultimate answer to that question is - they need
      their relationship with God re-established by trusting
      Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord

- but we're not there yet

- I'd like to suggest to you that what you have that they
   desperately need is an explanation for why what they've
   been trying for so many years has not worked

    - you'll talk to individuals who are nice people in many
    - they may be folks who have tried to work at a marriage
    - they've tried to work things out
    - but things keep falling apart
    - its so painful and frustrating
       - folks get to a place where they say:
          "I'm tired of trying"
          "Nothing I do seems to work"
          "I'm afraid to do anything"

- that's a great evangelistic window
- I'd encourage you in that situation, to

    1) Establish their goals

        - ask - what have you been trying to get out of your
        - you mentioned you've finally resorted to yelling
           (crying, etc) - what did you want to accomplish
           from that?

        - critical question - What do you think God's goals
           are for you?
        - Why did He make you and put you here?

   2) Share God's goals

        - fellowship - Gen. 3:8
        - glorify Him - Isa. 43:7 - "Even every one who is
             called by my name - for I have created him for
             my glory", Rev.  4:11
        - praise Him-Psalm 139:14 (I will praise thee, for
             I am fearfully and wonderfully made)

- it's at this very point that you have the explanation for
   why what they've been trying and striving for has not worked
- bottom line - they've been pursuing goals that God can't

    - INPUT - can you think of anything from Pastor's
        messages on Sunday that fit in at this point?

        - illus - dropping a national from a foreign country
            into the loop

        - the illus of an unbeliever scorning the Bible -
          you've been reading someone else's mail

- the kind of situations we're talking about are great
   opportunities to explain to an individual why what he or
   she is doing will not work
- I like to use the illus of a locomotive here (develop)

- now, you can tell the person that what we're talking about
    here is positive, not negative

    - develop - God loves you too much to see you continue to

        - His desire was that you turn to Him because of His
        - but often times, we have to experience the pain of
          sin so that we're ready to repent, and to trust Him
          as Savior and Lord

- of course, from there, we can move into some of the more
   traditional parts of the gospel presentation, including:
     - sin, our inability to save ourselves, Christ's
         provision on the cross, our need to believe on Him
         as Lord and Savior

- I think we we're at the place where we need to ask
   ourselves some questions

    1) Paul is concerned about how a believer's actions
       affect individuals who don't know Christ.  Am I
       concerned about that and what evidence is there of
       that concern?

    2) Am I prepared to share the gospel in situations where,
        after obeying the principles in I Cor. 6, an
        evangelistic opportunity comes my way?

        - Peter said - "Be ready always to give an answer to
            every man that asks you a reason of the hope that
            is in you, with all meekness and fear."
        - Paul said - "How beautiful are the feet of those
             who proclaim the gospel."
        - Psalmist said - "Let the redeemed of the earth say

    C.  It gives you an opportunity to grow

        - verse 7 gives an option to this situation that
          apparently the Corinthians hadn't even considered
        - READ 7

        - Paul says - you could look at this as an
          opportunity to grow by taking the wrong - or
          absorbing the loss

        - INPUT - can you think of some other passages of
            Scripture that would teach this same idea or a
            related truth?

           - I Peter 4:8 - love covers a multitude of sins

           - Phil. 2:5-11 - Let this mind be in you which
                 also was in Christ Jesus...

           - Matt. 5:39-40 - "...whosoever shall smite thee
               on the right cheek, turn to him the other
               also.  And if any man will sue thee at the
               law, and take away thy coat, let him have thy
               cloak also."

           - I Peter 2:20 - what glory is it, when you are
              buffeted for your faults, ye take it patiently?
              But if, when you do well and suffer for it,
              this is acceptable with God.

- see, in these kinds of situations we can get so anxious
   about getting or way, making the other person make things
   right and all the rest
     - that we miss an opportunity to take a step of growth
       and become more like Christ

Dr. Steve Viars


Senior Pastor - Faith Church

Director - Faith Legacy Foundation


B.S.: Pre-Seminary & Bible, Baptist Bible College (Now Clarks Summit University)
M.Div.: Grace Theological Seminary
D.Min.: Biblical Counseling, Westminster Theological Seminary

Dr. Steve Viars has served at Faith Church in Lafayette, IN since 1987. Pastor Viars leads and equips Faith Church as Senior Pastor with a focus on preaching and teaching God’s Word and using his organizational skills in guiding the implementation of the Faith Church mission and vision. He oversees the staff, deacons, and all Faith Church ministries. Dr. Viars serves on the boards of the Association of Certified Biblical Counselors, Biblical Counseling Coalition, Vision of Hope, and the Faith Community Development Corporation. Steve is the author, co-author, or contributor to six books and numerous booklets. He and his wife, Kris, were married in 1982 and have two married daughters, a son, and three grandchildren.

Read Steve Viars’ Journey to Faith for the full account of how the Lord led Pastor Viars to Faith Church.

View Pastor Viars' Salvation Testimony Video