Brothers taking brothers to court
Our sense of justice will not tolerate unfairness especially when directed toward ourselves.
Like King David we get indignant when we see the unrighteous person prosper and get away with wrong. Inside the church should be different than in the secular world. Excluding issues of breaking the law, there are two sides to any dilemma; both of which stem from brothers failing to yield personal rights and preferences to each other. Because we are selfish we will not voluntarily yield our rights to our brothers. Jesus told Peter to forgive a brother 70 X 7 times, meaning that we need to die to personal rights so as not to be offended in the first place. You only need to forgive someone when your personal rights have been stepped on. Get rid of personal rights and you get rid of the need to forgive. The Apostle John says that if we hate our brother (Greek meaning for not preferring them over us) we are not living like Christians. This is why Paul says in the verse above, “Why not rather be wronged – cheated”? Why do we always have to get our way? James approaches this same subject in his book when he asks what causes fights and quarrels among you (Jas 4:1-6). Within the church, standing up for personal rights rather than preferring others better than yourself is what causes people to sue and fight. The sooner you get rid of your need for personal rights, the more you can love others. What is required in the church is to live mercifully, not judgmentally and to prefer others better than ourselves.
Lawsuits Among Believers
1 Cor 6 If any of you has a dispute with another, dare he take it before the ungodly for judgment instead of before the saints? 2 Do you not know that the saints will judge the world? And if you are to judge the world, are you not competent to judge trivial cases? 3 Do you not know that we will judge angels? How much more the things of this life! 4 Therefore, if you have disputes about such matters, appoint as judges even men of little account in the church! 5 I say this to shame you. Is it possible that there is nobody among you wise enough to judge a dispute between believers? 6 But instead, one brother goes to law against another—and this in front of unbelievers!
7 The very fact that you have lawsuits among you means you have been completely defeated already. Why not rather be wronged? Why not rather be cheated? 8 Instead, you yourselves cheat and do wrong, and you do this to your brothers. 9 Do you not know that the wicked will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor male prostitutes nor homosexual offenders 10 nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. 11 And that is what some of you were. 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.
As we ponder God’s character from the above passage, I wonder if God would answer our signature question below in the following way…
Who are you Lord?
I AM the God who forgave you. Since I have freely forgiven your debts; freely forgive others of their debts to you. Forgiveness is choosing not to exercise your right to pass judgment on others and requires you to lay down your life for them. It takes my Spirit in you to give you that kind of eternal perspective whilst in the battles of this life. It takes giving over to God our desire for revenge and judgment to let him deal with the situation in his Righteous manner instead. I resist the proud but give grace to the humble.
I AM the God who will use my children to judge the living nations during my millennial reign on earth as well as the angels in the hereafter. So as you learn to live this life in my wisdom, righteous justice, mercy and forgiveness; you will be given more responsibility in the next age to come.
I AM the God who makes you holy by my Spirit in you. I AM the God who knit you in your mother’s womb and I know what makes you tick. I know your weaknesses and I see the choices you make as they are conceived in the secret places of your mind and how you allow them to play out in your actions. I AM the God who died for those sins, and ONLY I can give you freedom from their control over you. Your particular weakness in life will have particular temptations. The temptations of others are of no consequence to you as they do not have the sway over you that yours does. This is why it takes faith to trust me to free you and give you new desires. Regardless of your particular weakness in life, everyone still must come to me for forgiveness and freedom from theirs in the same way.
“I was born that way”
The list of wickedness in this passage is very descriptive of our western society today. But what I want to bring out is that all of this wicked characterizations listed here without exception, is forgivable by God and forsakeable by us as indicated by verse 11 which says that “that is what some of you were” (those listed things) until the Holy Spirit cleansed them from those things by salvation. The point is that we were all “born that way” with propensities to indulge our particular character traits, but God says that we can be saved from the penalty and controlling influence of being “born that way”. We were all “born with a sin nature” which manifests itself in many moral weaknesses (sins) as indicated by this list. Society through philosophy labels these sins with different names to mask what they truly are in order to make us feel better about ourselves so we can say “I’m OK, you’re OK”, or so that we can drown out the guilt; but God through the Apostle Paul is saying here that you don’t have to continue living under the control of these traits, nor to die and go to hell for them. He saved us as sinners, but his grace works in us to make us holy like God so that we don’t have to continue to live as such.
Every human has specific “buttons”, “pet sins”, or weaknesses to particular sins which Satan knows about in us and pushes them to tempt us. We will struggle with these weaknesses to the day we die as part of our sin nature. 1 Cor 10:13 says “No temptation has taken you but such is common to man but with the temptation will provide a way of escape so that you can bear up under it.” But the books of Romans chapters 5- 8 and Galatians 5:16, 17 are clear that we can have victory over these “pet sins” if we would desire it. God loves you so much and made you the way you are for a purpose, but that does not justify, give you the excuse or permission to continue in unrighteous behavior regarding your particular weaknesses. Rather he hates your sin so much that he died to free you of your sinful natures along with how you specifically practice it.
The good news is; (even though you are beset by your unique sin tendencies), if you receive his forgiveness, he will place his Spirit in you to make you holy as he is holy. Then He can use your uniqueness to contribute to meeting the needs of other hurting humanity who are just like you in a way that God can only do through you. The first step is to take by faith that yes you were made exactly the way you are and through Adam you are a sinner. You must also take by faith that God wants to wash/ justify/ sanctify you by his Holy Spirit as you receive the free gift of salvation from Christ. Only then can he free you from the control of your pet sin, change you from the inside out and make you a new creature to reflect his Righteousness. Not by the religious imposition of external rules, but by giving you a new divine nature which will desire him to make you holy as he is holy. My area of weakness “pet sins” are different than yours or everyone else’s, but we all have to let the Holy Spirit control us so that we can walk in freedom from sins control over our lives that Christ provided by his death and resurrection. Let Christ give you victory over the way you are through His new nature in you.
More to come,