Michael Youssef - Healthy Living in a Sick World - Part 8
1 Corinthians chapter 6 is all about suing and being sued and going to the courts and dealing with those issues for believers, particularly of those who are members of one church. The reason why the apostle Paul is taking time to deal with this issue about believers, particularly those who belong to one church, suing each other in the courts is because most of you would be astounded to know how litigious the Greek society was before Christ. It is amazing to me of how much we in America today are becoming like the Greek or Roman culture before Christ.
If you compare our time of the 21st century with the pre-Christ Greek or Roman culture, you will be amazed at the similarities. And I'm not only talking in terms of immorality and the acceptance and priding ourselves with the immorality, but in terms of the happy suing attitude. Today, like the pre-Christ Greek culture, people would sue for all kinds of stuff. I mean, you know, that somebody said they sue on a drop of a hat, and that is why eventually the Greek legal system literally collapsed. It became so cumbersome. It became so unruly that it collapsed under its own weight.
Every man in the Greek culture, every man, was more or less a lawyer. They spent a great deal of their time either deciding a case, or they are listening to a law case. When the Corinthians became believers, when they believed in Jesus, they brought all of this stuff with them into the church. They brought their love for disputes. They brought their love for litigation. They brought their love for argumentation. That brought their love for court drama. They brought it all into the church. Yes, they were saved. Yes, they were born again. Yes, they were believers in Jesus, and yet they brought their former life with them into the church.
They brought their past disputes. They brought their past arguments. They brought their past critical spirits. They brought their past taking advantage of each other. They brought all of the shenanigan into the church of Jesus Christ, and that is why Paul takes time to deal with it, and gives us a biblical way by which we must handle disputes, particularly in one body of Christ, in one church. Not only that, they took their disputes into the Greek courts. They were airing their dirty linen, as it were, on "Jerry Springer Show". Do they still have that? I don't know. I live in the past, but here is something you need to know.
All of this stuff, all of this stuff was totally alien and foreign to the Jewish community. In the Greek culture they were called Hellenist Jews. The word "hellenist" comes from that word in Greek. The Jews in the time of the pre-Christ, who lived in the Greek culture, they never took their disputes to the secular court, to the public court. They always settled disputes before the elders in the synagogues. To the Jews of those days, it was far better to settle disputes in a family spirit rather than in a legal spirit. To the Jews in the Greek culture, pre-Christ Greek culture, for them it was blasphemy to go in front of a pagan court.
The Jews in those days, it was far better to settle disputes according to the scriptural principle, the Old Testament principle, than to go to a pagan court. However, because these Jewish courts in the synagogues have no authority, they have authority to do whatever, to resolve disputes, except for one, and that's capital punishment. They could not do this. That was the prerogative of the proconsul in the Greco-Roman culture, and that is why, my beloved friends, when the Sanhedrin brought false accusation against the Lord Jesus Christ and they wanted to kill him, they want to crucify him, they had to go and coerce Pontius Pilate, because he's the only one who could issue a capital punishment and death. And they crucified Jesus.
Some did not like the ruling of the church leadership, and they went to secular court. Public litigation was yet another manifestation, if you haven't been following this series of messages, "Healthy Living in a Sick World," download it, because we are seeing example after example of the carnality of the church. And yet this litigations problem was another manifestation of the carnality of the believers in Corinth. Their refusal to settle disputes on biblical principles, preferring instead to go to a secular court, is another indication of their immaturity in Christ. There is nothing that weakens the testimony of believers more than their inability to resolve their own disputes biblically, to resolve their differences in the Spirit of Jesus.
Now, I'm gonna talk about dealing with nonbelievers, but this is believers as particularly who are members of the same church. There is nothing that lessens the impact of the church witness more than when it's being filled with gossip and squabbling and complaining and backbiting, and then let all of that spill out in the outside world. Listen, if I was an unbeliever and I see some of these people, the way, professing Christians and the way they behave, I don't want anything to do with their faith.
Sometimes, Christians deny their very faith by the way they handle disputes, and that is why the Apostle Paul gives the believers in Corinth three reasons why they must settle disputes within the church, inside the church by godly, biblically enlightened and biblically illuminated, believers, because not every church has some biblically illuminated believers. But he gives them three reasons. In verse 2 he says we're gonna reign and rule the whole world, the whole universe, with Jesus. And, secondly, if you look at verse 3, he says because we actually will be judging angels. And then, finally, he says a transformed Christian must live a transformed life. It's not enough to say, "Jesus is my Savior and Lord". You have to demonstrate that, so let's look at these very, very quickly. Believers will be involved in adjudication of the affairs of the universe for all of eternity.
Now, I know. I know. Listen to me. I know. I know. I have a hard time comprehending that as much as you do. We have a hard time visualizing what actually ruling the universe with Jesus is like. Beloved, listen. We get so bogged down in the nickels and the dimes of this world that we would totally forget that we are actually destined for the throne. Can I get a witness? We get so involved in this world system that we forget that we have been given all the resources of the truth and of wisdom, of justice, of love, of equity, of understanding, of kindness and generosity so we can resolve our own disputes.
When believers take each other to court, they are confessing that they do not have the Spirit of God to guide them to resolve the disputes. When believers, particularly members of one church, take each other to court, they are more preoccupied with revenge or gain or both than with the unity of the body for the glory of God. When believers take each other to court, they are confessing that the Word of God not adequate to judge between them. Beloved, if we believers are going to reign and rule with Christ, we're gonna reign and rule the whole universe, surely we can rule ourselves. The Corinthians were not only unable to rule themselves. They were making a spectacle of themselves in front of the unbelieving world. They were airing their pride and their bitterness and their greed and their carnality to the whole world to see, and what kind of a witness is that?
Secondly, we should resolve our disputes because we'll be judging angels. Verse 3. Look at it carefully. Like so many believers today... and I'm choosing my words very carefully. Like so many believers today... I'm not talking about professing Christians. I'm talking about believers. The Corinthian believers did not fully comprehend their position in Christ. I wanna repeat this. Like believers today, many believers today, the Corinthian Christians did not comprehend their position in Christ. That we will actually have authority over angels. Think about this, because that really boggles the mind, and take time to think about it a lot. Not just today because you're hearing it in the message.
I hope and pray that you will think about this every single day, maybe many times a day. It is hard to comprehend. I know, because the Bible said that we are made little lower than angels, but because of our relationship with Jesus, because of our position in Jesus, because of our justification in Jesus, because of our sanctification in Jesus, we will be so exalted up high into fellowship, place of fellowship with God, which is higher than angels. Think with me. Right now, here and now, God commands angels. He commands them to take charge of us, to protect us, to defend us, to surround us.
God is the one who orders them, but listen to me. In heaven, we're going to rule and judge angels. In heaven, we're gonna command angels. In heaven, they will hear us, and they will obey us. And if that is the case, which I believe it is the case, then any disputing parties ought to keep the ruling of biblically enlightened church leadership and not reject it. And by settling our disputes among ourselves, we give testimony to our unity in Christ. We give testimony to our harmony in Christ. We give testimony of our humility before God. By the same token, the opposite happens when we drag each other to court.
Listen very carefully, please. There are some incidents... let me repeat this until you all get it. There are some incidents... I repeat it again. There are some incidents... I wanna make sure you got it, that Christian believers are forced to go before a secular court. We're forced many times. I've seen it, and the apostle, I believe with all my heart, deliberately leaves that wide open, this whole question of dispute with nonbelievers. Sometimes, we have to go to courts to defend ourselves against nonbelievers, and when that happens, you should not feel guilty. This teaching here is specifically directed to two believers, more specifically, who are members of the same church. You got to understand that, because otherwise you're gonna be filled with guilt, false guilt, that has nothing to do with what the Scripture is teaching.
Ah! But when it comes to divorce, the church sometimes has no authority to enforce the ruling, especially if one of the spouses is not a believer. Jesus said if your brother ask you for a shirt, give him your cloak also. What does that mean? It means that if you trust in God, he will provide for you more than you have sacrificed. That if you have put your faith in God as your provider, he will bless you with much more than what you gave away. If you seek to glorify the Lord, he will never leave you nor forsake you. If you desire to honor the Lord, he will honor you back. Sooner or later, he will honor you back. If your heart beats with obedience to the Lord and his Word, he will see to it that you will be blessed sooner or later. That's how the Spirit of God works.
When you take your brother or sister to court, you lose spiritually before even the case was heard. Why? Because you have lost it in God's sight. You have already suffered spiritual defeat. You have discredited the power and the wisdom and the work of God, so what is the right attitude? Again, I don't have the answers. The Word of God does. I would rather be wronged or defrauded than sue my brother in Christ. I would rather lose financially than lose spiritually. I would rather give up some of my rights than lose my spiritual assets, even when I'm clearly and legally in the right. For even if my brother wrongs me and refuses Christian arbitration, I forgive him, and I leave the ultimate outcome to God. I leave it in his hand. Paul said because spiritually it is impossible for the believer to sue his brother or sister and win. It's in the book. I have no answers.
Therefore, my beloved friend, ask yourself the question that I would ask myself. What is more important to me, to protect my possessions or my intimacy with God? What is more important for me, for a pagan judge to direct me or for God to bless me? What is more important for me, that the world justice system impose a verdict or have God's favor upon me? That's the question. Let me emphasize this one more time, because some will misunderstand me. The Word of God here speaks about initiating a lawsuit against your fellow member of your church. Nothing about the nonbelievers. Nothing about the nonbelievers.
Paul says nothing about being dragged into the court by nonbelievers, where we need to honestly, fairly defend ourselves. Why? Because the nonbelievers are not under the authority of God. Therefore, the courts will resolve our disputes with nonbelievers. Also, thankfully, thankfully, we still have a court system, a law system that is built on biblical principle in this country. Thirdly and finally, a transformed believer must live a transformed life. I know some will say, "Well, Michael, this is self-explanatory". It is. Look at verses 9 and 10. The reason we live, we must, we have to live the transformed life, not just talk about it but we must live it, is because the non-believing world, those who habitually sin without any qualms, are not gonna inherit the kingdom of God, but you will.
They're not gonna reign and rule with Christ, but you will. And that is why Paul said those habitual fornicators and adulterers and idolaters and effeminate and swindlers and homosexuals and thieves and coveters and drunkards and rebels, they will not inherit the kingdom of God, but you will. The Corinthian church or any church should not be made up of membership from this list, who habitually not only sin but take pride in their sin, and that is why Paul puts that little verse 11 there. It's very significant. Underline it. He says you once were. In the past. In the past. And what happened in the past must stay in the past.
A true church of Jesus Christ should be made up of ex-fornicators and ex-adulterers and ex-idolaters and ex-homosexuals and ex-swindlers and the list goes on. Beloved, whatever your past before Christ came into your life must stay in the past. The Bible said that he buries our sins into the deepest sea, and it's like Corrie ten Boom used to say, "Don't you go fishing for them". And when Satan comes to remind you of your past, you remind him of his future. Paul is saying, finally, do not live like you have lived before Christ came into your life. You have been transformed by Christ. Therefore, live the transformed life.