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1 Corinthians

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Taking Action Against Unrepentance

1 Corinthians 5:1-5

One of the believers in Corinth was sleeping with his stepmother. That was bad enough but Paul points out that the church leaders had not taken any action. Indeed, they were proud of their liberal attitude and had allowed the man's behaviour to continue unchecked.

Hidden Infection

1 Corinthians 5:6-8

One of the great medical advances of the 19thC was the realisation that many diseases were caused by 'germs', which could be transmitted to spread the infection. Long before the discovery of antibiotics, disease was controlled by: thorough cleaning, sterilisation of surgical instruments, extra ventilation of wards and isolation of patients. But the principle of infection was known millennia before.

Withdrawing the Comfort of Companionship

1 Corinthians 5:9-13

Immorality was part of the culture of Corinth; it had come along with new believers when they came to Christ and became part of the church. The church leaders had been reluctant to interfere with the 'personal lives' of their members. But Paul had previously told them to deal with people who persisted in sinful behaviour by withdrawing from fellowship with them. The pain of spiritual isolation was designed to bring sinners to their senses and help them to see that they must repent.

Dealing With Disputes

1 Corinthians 6:1-6

Where there are sinners, disputes will always occur somewhere, even in the church. In the Old Testament, Moses acted as God's judge (Exodus 18:13); and He provided a succession of judge/deliverers of which Samuel was the last (1 Samuel 7:15), before David and Solomon (2 Chronicles 1:11). They were all given God's Spirit so that they could decide who was right and what was wrong. After all, God's children were all in one family and His honour was more important than that of any individual.

Willing To Be Wronged

1 Corinthians 6:7-8

The Kingdom of God does not work like worldly power regimes. God does not have to prove anything, trap people into serving Him, or frighten them to obey Him. He already has everything, and He wins people into His home by loving them. Along the way, however, He allows apparently unfair things to trouble His people; but He is weaving them into a pattern, which makes perfect sense to Him – and one day will make sense to us too (Romans 8:28).

Wrongdoers Welcomed

1 Corinthians 6:9-11

The gospel of Jesus Christ is unique. All other moral belief systems expect that good people should be rewarded and bad people excluded: the difference between them is determined by their piety, personal discipline and devotion to religious rites. But the gospel proclaims that dirty people can be washed clean; those who have lived unholy lives can be sanctified.

Satisfying Our Appetites

1 Corinthians 6:12-14

There are many differences between what the Bible says and the Greco-Roman culture, which continue to influence much of our contemporary world. How we think about, and manage, our deep inner desires is one example. God has implanted all of our appetites as natural instincts to enable us to regulate our energy levels, temperature, social interactions and reproduction. However sin has corrupted all of them in human beings.

United in Body and Spirit

1 Corinthians 6:15-18

God specialises in uniting the world; the flesh and the devil divide. Many who had been converted and joined the church in Corinth had previously indulged in the immoral practices associated with pagan temple worship. When they came to Christ some did not see why their habits should change and so Paul explained that intimacy of that kind was designed by God to strengthen the unity of a man and woman (Genesis 1:24).

Temples of the Holy Spirit

1 Corinthians 6:19-20

Corinth was well known for its pagan temples. Those buildings, with their deific effigies, were not only for sacrifice and worship but also social meeting places, bars, restaurants and dens of immorality. They believed that their 'god' inhabited the building and made everything that happened there sacred. When people became followers of Jesus Christ, where could they meet to worship the only true God? They left the pagan temple but the synagogue no longer welcomed them. As they had no dedicated building (Acts 18:7-11) they probably met in homes or lecture halls.

Intimacy and Marriage

1 Corinthians 7:1-7

The church leaders in Corinth had written to Paul asking for advice about how to guide the believers in their relationships. Their past background of immoral behaviour required specific guidance if the church was to please the Lord. It may be that they had asked if God wanted everybody to be celibate, as Paul was? His answer was that it is not essential to be married; celibacy is good if it is a gift from God. However, marriage is the Lord's provision for most people to contain and enjoy the God-given desire for intimacy.