I Cor. 6:9-11 - The Church As a Haven of Hope

Steve Viars September 24, 1991 1 Corinthians 6:9-11

- we're studying the book of I Corinthians and tonight we're
  going to be looking at chapter 6 verses 9-11
- if you've been with us in our last couple of studies you
  know that the first half of chapter 6 deals with believers
  taking other believers in the church to court
- Paul says that we ought not to do that - and he's given
  several reasons why that's true

- now in these next verses - Paul is going to give us the
  positive side of that argument
- he's already given the negative side - here's what you
  shouldn't do and here's why you shouldn't do it
- but now he's going to flip the coin over and say - if you
  don't do those kinds of things for the reasons I've stated,
  here's what the church can be like
    - here's God's desire for the church

- that should have been so important to the Corinthians
- we said in the very first message in this series that the
  Lord had placed the Corinthians in a very strategic place
  for ministry
- the sad thing was they weren't capitalizing on the great
  opportunities the Lord had given because they weren't
  nearly as concerned about becoming the kind of church God
  wanted them to be as they should have been

- I'm sure you've noticed this, but we have had a tremendous
  amount of newer individuals visiting our church
- many of those folks have moved here from a different area
  where they had a good church back home and have a lot of
  things in place
- but there's a lot of others who are coming who would
  readily say - "we're hurting - we're here because we need
  some help - and we need it now"
- and if you love people - your heart goes out to folks in
  that kind of situation -
     - and we also say, "Lord help us - help us to be all
       that you want us to be as a church so that we can
       minister most effectively to those You bring our way"

- that's why verses like I Cor. 6:9-11 are so important -
  because they give us additional important information on
  what God wants the church to be like

- I'd like to push that idea one step further before we read
  the verses.
- Last week we had the privilege of hearing Warren Wiersbe
  speak and one of the things he said was - the mind of man
  is not a debating ground - it's a picture gallery
- the point is - God often communicates truth to us through
    pictures or stories

- That’s especially true when the Lord tells us about what the
  church is to be like.
- INPUT - Can you think of some pictures the Lord uses? The
    church is like a ___________ (army, flock, body)

- tonight I'd like to present to you that these verses give
  us another way of looking at the church - and that is that
  it's a "Haven of Hope"
- Paul is giving us in verses 9-11, 3 truths about the church
    that if believed and practiced, will make the church a
    place of hope...
      - a place of hope for believers who are trying to grow
        and change and handle life in a way that pleases the
        Lord
      - and a place of hope for unbelievers who are looking
        for answers to the most important questions of life

- let's read verses 9-11 and look for three ways we can be a
  haven of hope

- read 9-11
   - (while reading - stop at "effeminate and abusers of
      selves with mankind)
       - by the way, this is one of the many clear verses in
         the Word of God that teach that homosexuality is sin
         before God.
       - one of the unique things about this passage is that
         it mentions both the passive partner (the one who's
         effeminate) and the aggressive partner (the one
         who's an abuser of mankind)
           - it doesn't matter how much the world wants to
             say that that’s just an alternate lifestyle - God
             says its wicked before Him
           - (keep reading)

- the first way we can be a "Haven of Hope" is:

I. By Being Distinct Corporately And Individually

    - under this point, I'd like us to think about the
      question, "Why did Paul write what he did?"
    - here's why that's so important
      - ultimately, as we study the Scriptures, what are we
        looking for?  What do we want to leave with?
          (application - white board - Bible - contemporary
            application)

    - one of the things that keep our applications on track
      is dealing with the question - "How did the writer want
      this truth to impact his original audience?"
        - or ****** "How does this fit in with the overall
          argument of the chapter or book?

    - INPUT - how would you answer that question?
          - Why did Paul write what he did in verses 9-10 and
            how does it fit in with everything else that's
            been said?

          1) Fits in with the lawsuit issue. The Corinthians
             weren't focusing on the differences between
             believers and unbelievers in terms of their
             ability to judge.

          2) They also weren't focusing on how their taking
             another believer to court might affect an
             unbeliever.

               - we talked about that last week
               - a good name is rather to be chosen than
                 great riches

          3) Fits in with the issue of the world's wisdom and
             the wisdom of God from earlier chapters.
              - they were so concerned about being thought of
                as wise by unbelievers
              - that proved they didn't recognize the
                important of being different

- we have mentioned this several times because it's come up
  several times in these chapters

- what I'd like to point out here is that failing to be
  distinct corporately and individually was robbing
  themselves and others of hope

- Paul brings it up again in a positive way to say - "this is
  how I want you to think"
    - "This is how I want you to behave as a result of right
       thinking...

    - unrighteous individuals won't inherit the kingdom of
      God
        - you've been hauling other believers before
          unrighteous judges in court
        - you've been wanting unrighteous people to think
          you're wise

- you need to know something different, think something
  different
     - the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God

     - you need to believe that and do all you can to be
       distinct individually and corporately

- letter to Ann Landers

  - do you hear the air of hopelessness in that letter?
  - wouldn't it have been great if a Christian young person
    would have gotten to know this girl, and showed her by a
    lifestyle that sought to please God that you don't have
    to go along with the crowd on sexual issues?
  - wouldn't it have been great if this young girl could have
    learned this lesson positively by the testimony of a
    believer instead of negatively through the pain of sin?

  - I wonder how many young people who go to that school are
    Christians?
  - I wonder how many of them are living for the Lord?
  - I wonder how many of them want to have the kind of life
    and the kind of church that dares to believe what Paul is
    teaching in these verses and live accordingly?

  - perhaps if they were doing a better job, this letter
    wouldn't have had to be written.  Perhaps a young woman
    today would have some hope.

  - Let's think for a minute about how we can do this
    corporately, as a church body.

  - Let's say that a person enters our building, and he/she
    is really wrestling with some things. (that happens every
    Sunday)
  - what can we do in an attempt to be distinct corporately?

    1) friendliness (results of last 2 visits)
    2) genuine caring
    3) calls during the week
    4) enthusiastic worship (if you can't get excited about
       singing when Doug Morrison or Pastor Lopez is leading
       singing - there's something wrong with you!)

- let's push this one step further - In order to emphasize
   this point - why is it important to have newer folks in
   our homes for meals and times of fellowship.
     - to demonstrate that God's Word affects the way we
       handle life at home.

- point is this - Paul says - "Don't you know?"
    - the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God
    - you ought not to be doing what you're doing, thinking
       what you're thinking, wanting what you're wanting
    - Instead, as a result of truly believing verses 9 and
      10, look for ways to be distinct both corporately and
      individually
        - it will give you and it will give others hope

- this fits in well with what Pastor was preaching on Sunday
  night from Eph. 1
- Paul is praying for us, that we might know the hope of his
   calling
        - and we could add from these verses - praying that
          our lives might help others know the hope of his
          calling as well

- one question we need to ask is - What impact does your life
   have on others when it comes to the issue of hope?
   - do folks at church, home, work, have more hope that God
     can help an individual to change, grow and handle life
       - do they more hope or less hope in God as a result of
         knowing and observing you

- Paul moves on in verse 11 and says, you can be a haven of
  hope:

II. By Having The Right Perspective on the Past

- verse 11 has great words of encouragement - "such were some
   of you"
- one of the greatest reasons why people today don't have
  hope is because of some unbiblical things that are being
  said about your past
- sad thing is - some of these things are being taught in
  Christian books, magazines, and from the pulpits of well-
  known preachers

- let's think about:

    A. 2 popular teachings today

        1. once you're an addict, you're an addict for life

- I'm an addict, and I'll always be an addict
- now I'm sure those groups do a lot of good things, I'm sure
  there are a lot of dedicated people in the groups
- We can also be glad that unbelievers are trying to do
  something to curb their drunkenness and other sinful habits
  because it makes our community a safer place to live
- Our first choice is that they'd be saved, but if they're
  not going to do that, the fact that they're trying to curb
   some of these sinful habits is better than nothing

- but we've always got to think biblically and it's not right
  for a person to go around the rest of their days saying,
  I'm an alcoholic, I'm a sexual addict, I'm a junk food
  addict
- people are taught to say "I've been that and I will always
   be that"
- what's especially alarming about this is that many
  Christian organizations are modeling the way they help
  people with the ten step approach, and what we're talking
  about is foundational to the approach
     - we'll talk more about that one in a minute

- another popular teaching about your past is:

        2. What you are today is primarily determined by your
           past (which is buried in your unconscious mind),
           especially the way others mistreated you

           - there was a contemporary example of this in the
             paper this week
           - Roseann Barr

- point is - many today, even Christians, are saying - Your
   past controls you - you can never get away from it, you
   are your past

- we need to ask:

    B. What does the Bible say?

        1. you have been forgiven of your past

            Psalm 103:12 - "As far as the east is from the
              west, so far hath he removed our transgressions
              from us."

        2. you have been freed from your past

            "Such were some of you..."

            - Rom. 6:11 - Reckon yourselves to be dead unto
                 sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ
                 our Lord

    - now let's put some balance on that
    - there's nothing wrong with a believer saying - I used
      to be caught up in that particular sin and now I have
      to be extremely cautious in that area

    - great difference between talking about being especially
      cautious because of something in my past as opposed to
      saying "I've got it, and I've got it forever"
    - for example - If my neighbors got together and had a
      summertime cookout, and then someone showed up with a
      beer in his hand, we wouldn't stomp away
    - we'd be sure that whatever we drank was in the kind of
       container so everyone would know we weren't drinking
       alcohol as well
          - but Kris or I wouldn't be tempted to go behind
            the person's garage and sneak a beer ourselves
          - that’s not something we've struggled with

    - but some folks who are believers might say - I'd
      wrestle with that one
        - I need to get some more time between me and that
          habit
        - I need to put some additional safeguards up
        - I want to be sure I'm cautiously guarding the
           commands

- that’s vastly different than attaching a label to a person
  for life
- Labels rob people of hope

- Jr. high - misbehaving on the bus - got called into the
    office with my parents, the principle, and the bus driver
      - he's the "ringleader"
         - I spent the rest of the year trying to live up to
           my label

- putting labels on people robs them of hope

- that’s why Paul says - "such were some of you"
     - guilty of the worst sins imaginable
     - but you don't have to be that way any more

- see, you can have hope by having the right perspective on
   the past
- You're not a slave to it
- you're not hopelessly bound to be a certain way or behave a
   certain way

- now, we're not saying a person's past has no bearing on
   their present behavior
- I think it'd be good to ask at this point:

    C. What should I do with my past?

        1. be sure you've confessed known sin

           - Psalm 66:18 - "If I regard iniquity in my heart,
               the Lord will not hear me."

           - Prov. 28:13 - "He that covers his sin..."

        - point is - our past can affect us dramatically if
             we have sin we knowingly have not dealt with

        2. exercise faith in God's forgiveness

            - now we're not saying "forgive yourself"
               - the Bible never tells us to do that
               - we forgive others, God forgives us

            - but when it comes to sins in the past, once I
              have confessed them, I have no right to go over
              and over

    - to do so is to minimize the effect of the blood of
      Christ
        - such were some of you - but you are washed

        3. use past as an opportunity to discern habits

            - there are times when it's appropriate to think
              back to instances when someone else wronged
              you, or someone else was abusive to you
                - but from this vantage point
                - "What sinful habits did I develop as a
                   result of not handling that trial
                   biblically that are still being manifested
                   today?"

     - it very well may be that a person struggling with
       authority could think back to a time when a teacher,
       parent, had been sinful to them - and that they had
       responded to that treatment in a sinful way
         - and that those habits of wrong thinking, speaking,
           behaving towards authority continued and continued
           to develop
         - in that sense, thinking back to the past could be
           very profitable, not to blame it on someone else,
           but to gain additional insight into how to change
           and grow

- the overall point we're making is this: - Having the right
    perspective on the past gives hope

- let's talk about how:

    D. How this gives hope

        - when I think of this point, I think of a couple I
          worked with from another city who had had marriage
          difficulties and were actually separated and had
          filed for divorce
        - when they came, they didn't have any hope
        - their past was riddled with problems and unresolved
           issues

        - what complicated this case was that this fellow
          was a body builder who had problems with his temper

        - but I can remember sharing some of these concepts
          with them and that big mountain of a man tearing up
            - realizing, that God is a God of hope

        - see, the church ought to be a haven of hope, and we
           must look for opportunities to help individuals
           get the right perspective on their pasts

         - such were some of you - you don't have to be that
            way the rest of your days

        - let's talk about how we can do this
        - hypothetical situation - you have a couple (cf.
          Pt I) and they comment that your kids are well
          behaved, and wonder how you do it

        - Before immediately moving in and sharing some child
          raising principles, what could you share about your
          child-raising that goes along with this point that
          could be a real encouragement?

             (we've struggled too - but thank the Lord - such
              were some of you - God's helped us to change)

III. By Understanding And Appreciating All That God Has Done
     In Salvation

    A. You are washed

        - Psalm 119:9 - "Wherewithall shall a young man
           cleanse his way - by taking heed thereto according
           to thy word."

    B.  You are sanctified

        - God has set us apart for a special purpose

    C. You are justified

Steve Viars

B.S. - Bible, Baptist Bible College
M.Div. - Grace Theological Seminary
D.Min. - Westminster Theological Seminary

Pastor Steve Viars has served at Faith Church since 1987. He and his wife Kris were married in 1982 and have two married daughters, a son, and two grandchildren. Pastor Viars’ gifted teaching ministry, enthusiasm for the Word of God, and organizational skills are instrumental in equipping Faith Church. He oversees the staff, deacons, and all Faith ministries and serves on the boards of the Association of Certified Biblical Counselors, Biblical Counseling Coalition, Vision of Hope, and the Faith Community Development Corporation.

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