1 Corinthians 4 – 8

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F. THE SERVANTS OF CHRIST AND OF MAN

4:1-5

1. Over and above all, we serve the Lord with our worship, praise, love and obedience.
2. Secondly we serve mankind by revealing God’s hidden spiritual secrets to it.
3. The servant of God must be faithful to his Master.
4. Let us not judge ourselves and others by applying mere human wisdom, but when judging, depend on God that knows the secrets of the heart.

G. THE PRIDE OF THE CORINTHIANS CONTRASTED WITH THE LOWLY POSITION OF THE APOSTLES.

4:6-21

1. God’s road for a Christian through this life, is a lowly road.
2. In the life hereafter, the Lord will exalt each one according to the degree he was willing to humble himself in this life; the vessel will then be filled to the degree it has emptied itself down here below.
3. The Corinthians selected for themselves the high road of having everything desirable: riches, ruling and boasting about the things they received from God as if they had acquired it by their own ingenuity.
4. By submitting to God, Paul and Apollos were lead out by the Lord onto the lowly road which included being made a spectacle in the eyes of men and angels, hunger, thirst, nakedness, being despised, being beaten, working with their own hands, roaming around, sentenced to death, being falsely accused; yes they were treated like garbage, like trash, yet they responded to all this by returning blessing and goodwill.
5. Paul is writing these things not to shame them but because he is a loving father and they are his dear children for whose upbringing he is responsible.
6. He is affording them the opportunity of repenting and putting things right, before he visits them.
7. In God’s Kingdom, it is not the one that can boast the loudest about himself that is esteemed the greatest, but the one that does not mention himself but demonstrates the power of the Holy Spirit in his ministry. The effect of his ministry speaks for him.

H. SEXUAL SIN AND SPIRITUAL PRIDE

5:1-13
It has been reported that one of them is having a sexual relationship with his stepmother; something which even the heathen would not do, yet, they are so proud of themselves.
The way Paul would deal with that, is to remove the person from the congregation and hand him over to satan for destruction of the flesh so that his spirit may be saved.
This could mean:

  1. Physical disease inflicted by the devil that would lead the person to repentance.
  2. Spiritual torment by the devil that would cause the person to turn away from sin and find cleansing and peace in Christ.

The congregation must be purged of the old yeast of immorality, greed, idolatry, backbiting, drunkenness by removing those that are engaging in such vices, though they are seen as brothers in the Lord. Even a small amount of “bad yeast” will affect the whole congregation.

  1. In dealing with sin within a congregation, the well being of the whole congregation must be taken into account and not only that of the transgressor.
  2. Yes, the person must be dealt with in a loving way, not in revenge; the object must be to restore him to spiritual health.
  3. At the same time the moral and spiritual well being of the congregation must be preserved. Allowing sin to go unchecked, might cause members to lose sight of the holiness of God to which they are called, and will result in unbelievers despising the Church and the Lord of the Church. This calls for wise and strong leadership.

Removing a wayward brother or sister to the extent of not even eating with such, does not imply that they should have no contact with unbelievers engaging in these practices.
Be fully in the world to attract sinners to Christ, yet be not of the world by being defiled by it.
Boasting about their salvation while such heinous sin is not dealt with, is adding the sin of pride.
They should rather celebrate their salvation by eating the unleavened bread of purity and truth.
Celebrate, rejoice and dance when you observe that the Holy Spirit is causing you to shed your old carnal life and causing you to enter into the new life of purity, truth and humility.

I. LAWSUITS AMONGST CHRISTIANS

6:1-11

1. By becoming a Christian, a person rejects the sinful lifestyle of sexual sin, stealing, greed, drunkenness etc. for those that practice sin, will not inherit the Kingdom of God.
2. In life hereafter, it will be seen to what height Christ has exalted his followers when they are appointed as judges to judge the sin of fallen angels.
3. The life in Christ is therefore, morally, life on an exalted plane (higher level) and it permeates (penetrates) every area of our lives including our attitude to material things.
4. A future judge of angels must:

a. Not rob his brothers.
b. Rather be robbed than be disgraced by being involved in law suits against brothers.
c. If brothers in Christ do have a dispute, they should submit this to the arbitration of fellow Christians endued with the wisdom of the Spirit and not seek justice from unbelievers that are morally living on a lower plane and judging by lower standards.

J. THE BODY, A LIMB (MEMBER) AND TEMPLE OF CHRIST

6:12-20

1. You are free to use your body in any way you wish, but use it in a way that is most beneficial to yourself and to Christ.
2. You are free to eat what you want, for the stomach is made to receive food, but eat only that by which the body will benefit, refrain from eating what is harmful or enslaves and do not over indulge.
3. Do not live for food and for your stomach, for the day will come when God will bring both to an end.
4. The body is, apart from other things, also made for sex and sex for the body but use it in a way you will benefit and not be harmed.
5. On resurrection day, this body of flesh will be replaced by a new spiritual body, so use your present body in a way by which you will benefit on that day.
6. By having sex with a harlot, you are sinning against your body because your body becomes one flesh with that of the harlot – you become part of the harlot!
7. You are also involving Christ, for He lives within you and you have become one spirit with Him.
8. Living within you as his temple and part of his body, He is very intimately part of you and therefore present and involved when you are committing a sexual sin. Think of the pain, anger and revulsion it causes him.
9. Run away from sexual sin.
10. Christ has more right to your body than even you have, for He bought you with an excessively high price – his own life!
11. For these reasons, glorify him both in spirit and in body by flowing with the Holy Spirit that dwells within you.
12. (Paul hereby refutes the teaching that one can do with your body whatever you want to, for it is only a temporary shell. He shows that what we do with our bodies, counts both in this life and in the life hereafter.)
13. Sexual sin has caused many a Christian leader to be disgraced for life. Be vigilant and when you see it coming, run away as fast as you can! This is godly wisdom, not cowardice.
14. An immoral sexual lifestyle is the root cause of disease spread by sexual intercourse, but society concentrates most of its efforts on trying to destroy the bitter fruit (the disease), instead of digging down and remove the root which means remove the sin.
15. Presidents of state set a bad example by having many wives, thereby tempting citizens to likewise gratify their lust by having intercourse with as many partners as they wish.

K. THE CHRISTIAN MARRIAGE

7:1-40

1. Choose the kind of lifestyle best suited to devote yourself to serve Christ.
2. Responsibilities like that of a slave towards his master and a husband or wife towards one another, will take up much of your time and energy and add to your load of responsibilities, especially in difficult times, therefore do not willingly involve yourself in these.
3. This means that unmarried Christians (including widows) should seriously consider remaining in that unmarried state.
4. In pursuing the ideal of freedom from worldly responsibilities to better serve Christ, be realistic:

a. Do not force yourself into a lifestyle such as abstinence from sex when you know that you are not gifted to be able to cope with it and will burn with desire all day long.
b. When, on becoming a Christian, you are enslaved in someone’s service, continue to serve your owner in that capacity but, if the opportunity arises to be set free, avail yourself of it.
c. If you are married to an unbeliever and such is at peace to live with you, continue to do so wholeheartedly.
d. Do not be worried about your children if you are married to an unbeliever, for they are covered by your Christian influence until such time that they can make their own decision for Christ.
e. However if an unbelieving spouse seeks divorce, grant it, for you have no guarantee of his or her getting saved.
f. Do not keep an unmarried girl that is under your guardianship from marrying if she so desires.
g. If you are circumcised, you cannot change it, so remain so and if you are uncircumcised in the flesh, there is no need for such circumcision, for your heart has been circumcised; concentrate on living in obedience to God which is what circumcision is all about.

L. MEAT OFFERED TO IDOLS

8:1-13

1. There is but one God that created everything.
2. Those that worship idols by offering to them, worship things that do not exist.
3. Their offering has no meaning and is to be disregarded by those knowing this truth.
4. A Christian may therefore eat freely of any meat that is said to be offered to some or other god, for it is the same as if it had not been offered at all. (If an empty bucket is emptied over me, I will suffer nothing at all for nothing has come upon me.)
5. A Christian newly converted from paganism, may however still be very much aware of the idols he worshiped, and may feel guilty towards God by eating such meat.
6. By doing this which he believes to be wrong in the eyes of God, he is actually sinning against God.
7. When a more mature Christian eats such meat in a pagan temple, the weaker Christian may conclude that there is no harm in worshiping both the Christian’s God and the pagan so-called gods, and may be led astray to the extent of eventually renouncing Christ.
8. In so doing he will be sinning against Christ Who died also for the weaker brother.
9. Mature Christians, walking in love, will rather sacrifice their freedom of eating whatever they wish to, so as not to cause a weaker brother to stumble.
10. Knowledge not supported by love, causes a person to be inflated with pride.
11. Knowledge is to be sought, but love is to be exercised.
12. For some of the Corinthians, this could have entailed not eating meat at all, for they were living in a city and had to buy their meat from a butcher who probably got it via a heathen priest.

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