Monday after the Seventh Sunday after Trinity Sunday
Scripture: 1 Corinthians 5:9—6:20 (NKJV)
5:9 I wrote to you in my epistle not to keep company with sexually immoral people. 10 Yet I certainly did not mean with the sexually immoral people of this world, or with the covetous, or extortioners, or idolaters, since then you would need to go out of the world. 11 But now I have written to you not to keep company with anyone named a brother, who is sexually immoral, or covetous, or an idolater, or a reviler, or a drunkard, or an extortioner—not even to eat with such a person.
12 For what have I to do with judging those also who are outside? Do you not judge those who are inside? 13 But those who are outside God judges. Therefore “put away from yourselves the evil person.”
6:1 Dare any of you, having a matter against another, go to law before the unrighteous, and not before the saints? 2 Do you not know that the saints will judge the world? And if the world will be judged by you, are you unworthy to judge the smallest matters? 3 Do you not know that we shall judge angels? How much more, things that pertain to this life? 4 If then you have judgments concerning things pertaining to this life, do you appoint those who are least esteemed by the church to judge? 5 I say this to your shame. Is it so, that there is not a wise man among you, not even one, who will be able to judge between his brethren? 6 But brother goes to law against brother, and that before unbelievers!
7 Now therefore, it is already an utter failure for you that you go to law against one another. Why do you not rather accept wrong? Why do you not rather let yourselves be cheated? 8 No, you yourselves do wrong and cheat, and you do these things to your brethren! 9 Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites, 10 nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God. 11 And such were some of you. But you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God.
12 All things are lawful for me, but all things are not helpful. All things are lawful for me, but I will not be brought under the power of any. 13 Foods for the stomach and the stomach for foods, but God will destroy both it and them. Now the body is not for sexual immorality but for the Lord, and the Lord for the body. 14 And God both raised up the Lord and will also raise us up by His power. 15 Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ? Shall I then take the members of Christ and make them members of a harlot? Certainly not! 16 Or do you not know that he who is joined to a harlot is one body with her? For “the two,” He says, “shall become one flesh.” 17 But he who is joined to the Lord is one spirit with Him.
18 Flee sexual immorality. Every sin that a man does is outside the body, but he who commits sexual immorality sins against his own body. 19 Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own? 20 For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s.
The slogan “All things are lawful for me”—or alternately translated, “All things are in my power,” or “I am free to do anything”—seems to have arisen from pagan Greek philosophy. The Corinthians saw themselves as enlightened, and as such, not bound by the taboos of common people. Enlightened freedom was what they took pride in, and may have thought that what they did with their bodies did not affect their spiritual existence.
This seems like an almost proto-Gnostic concept. They may have also thought that St. Paul agreed with them in this attitude; after all, was he not the great apostle of freedom from the rules of the Jewish law? But, of course, Christian freedom from the law is not the same as freedom to sin.
“But all things are not helpful.” Not everything builds up the body of Christ, the Church. These Corinthians had a very individualistic outlook on life, not at all thinking about the good of the Church or the fact that they are causing offense and defaming the Lord. Instead of pushing the envelope of individual freedom, they should out of love discipline themselves for the Church’s sake.
“But I will not be brought under the power of any.” Sin is a tyrant. It has a way of gaining power over us when we give ourselves to it. 2 Peter 2:19 says, “For by whom a person is overcome, by him also he is brought into bondage.” Those who call Christ “Lord” are to serve Him, not their passions. While we are free from the law, we are not to make ourselves slaves to sin.
We pray: Lord, help us to be self-disciplined. Amen.
Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.