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Supplying what is Missing

Lawsuits between Christians

1 Corinthians 6:1-6

Intro:

The culture in which we live treasures self-perceived personal rights. Sadly, many things that people believe are personal rights are really just desires, not rights. These self-perceived personal rights when violated, by another person, lead to conflict. Today, interpersonal conflict, more often than not, ends up in a United States courtroom. One or both of the offended parties refuse to reconcile their differences and as a result initiate a lawsuit. How many times have you heard the statement, “I’ll sue!” Family suing family, friend suing friend, and Christian suing Christian. This last example is where we will focus our attention this morning. Should Christians sue other Christians over non-criminal matters?

In 1982 Chief Justice Warren Burger made the following statement,

One reason our courts have become overburdened is that Americans are increasingly turning to the courts for relief from a range of personal distresses and anxieties. Remedies for personal wrongs that once were considered the responsibility of institutions other than the courts are now boldly asserted as legal ‘entitlements.’ The courts have been expected to fill the void created by the decline of church, family and neighborhood unity.”

Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia mad this observation,

I think that 1 Corinthians 6:1-8 has something to say about the proper Christian attitude toward civil litigation. Paul is making two points: first, he says that the mediation of a mutual friend, such as a Christian leader, should be sought before parties run off to the law courts…I think we are too ready today to seek vindication or vengeance through adversary proceedings rather than peace through mediation…Good Christians, just as they are slow to anger, should be slow to sue.”

Now that we have seen what two United States Justices have stated, let us look at what the Word of God teaches.

Message:

  1. Do you dare a lawsuit? (1)
    1. Don’t have unbelievers settle a dispute

      Paul was saying that he could not believe that the believers were settling their disputes before unbelievers. They had conflicts and were having Roman courts decide the outcome.

    2. Do have mature believers settle a dispute

      It appears that the disputes were over property. These disputes were not criminal cases (no Roman law had been broken – Rom. 13:3-4). During this time period the Romans allowed the Jews to settle their own property matters according to Jewish law. The Romans didn’t consider Christianity as distinct from Judaism at this point in history. Therefore, it appears that Rome allowed Christians to settle their own property matters.

      Paul makes his point through the manner in which he poses his question. He asks, “Does any of you dare to go to law somewhere other than before unbelievers?” The answer should be resounding no.

  2. You know believers will judge others in the future (2-3)
    1. Believers will judge the world (2)
      1. During the Millennial Kingdom

        This speaks of the time when believers rule with Christ during the Millennium. “Jesus said to them, “I assure you: In the Messianic Age,, when the •Son of Man sits on His glorious throne, you who have followed Me will also sit on 12 thrones, judging the 12 tribes of Israel. And everyone who has left houses, brothers or sisters, father or mother, children, or fields because of My name will receive 100 times more and will inherit eternal life. But many who are first will be last, and the last first. (Matthew 19:28-30 HCSB).” If believers will have such a privilege as reigning with Christ, they should be able to resolve disputes between believers in the church. Resolving present disagreements among believers pales in comparison to the responsibility of ruling with Christ. “Then I saw thrones, and people seated on them who were given authority to judge. ⌊I⌋ also ⌊saw⌋ the people, who had been beheaded because of their testimony about Jesus and because of God’s word, who had not worshiped the beast or his image, and who had not accepted the mark on their foreheads or their hands. They came to life and reigned with the •Messiah for 1,000 years. The rest of the dead did not come to life until the 1,000 years were completed. This is the first resurrection. Blessed and holy is the one who shares in the first resurrection! The second death has no power over them, but they will be priests of God and of the Messiah, and they will reign with Him for 1,000 years.” (Revelation 20:4-6 HCSB).

    2. Believers will judge angels (3)

      This speaks of the time when Christ will judge the demons at the Great White Throne. “For if God didn’t spare the angels who sinned but threw them down into Tartarus, and delivered them to be kept in chains of darkness until judgment; ⌊then⌋ the Lord knows how to rescue the godly from trials and to keep the unrighteous under punishment until the day of judgment,” (2 Peter 2:4, 9 HCSB). “and He has kept, with eternal chains in darkness for the judgment of the great day, the angels who did not keep their own position but deserted their proper dwelling.” (Jude 1:6 HCSB). The lost also receive their final judgment at the Great White Throne. “Then I saw a great white throne and One seated on it. Earth and heaven fled from His presence, and no place was found for them. I also saw the dead, the great and the small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Another book was opened, which is the book of life, and the dead were judged according to their works by what was written in the books. Then the sea gave up its dead, and Death and •Hades gave up their dead; all were judged according to their works. Death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire. And anyone not found written in the book of life was thrown into the lake of fire.” (Revelation 20:11-15 HCSB). According to Paul, believers will be present at the Great White Throne Judgment. It appears that believers show agreement with (or somehow share in Christ’s pronouncement) Christ’s righteous judgment of demons and the lost.

  3. Do you select unbelievers to settle a dispute? (4)

    Since believers will judge the world and judge angels in the future, why are they not resolving disputes among themselves? They are taking their disputes before unbelievers who have no authority (or standing) in the church. This makes no sense because in the future believers will reign with Christ, sitting in judgment over the world and demons. So, why would believers take an issue which is spiritual and let it be judged by un-spiritual people (unbelievers)? They should not do so. Mature believers should be able to resolve personal disputes between fellow believers.

  4. You must know one mature believer who is able to settle a dispute (5-6)

    They should be ashamed that they were taking their disputes to be resolved by unbelievers. I emphasize, that these were non-criminal cases (no violation of Roman law). Spiritually mature believers should be the ones to resolve disputes between fellow believers, not secular (5).

    There should have been at least one wise man in the church who could have resolved the disputes. Many claimed to be wise but none were using their self-proclaimed wisdom to resolve disputes in the church. They should be ashamed that unbelievers were resolving issues which should have been resolved by spiritual men (5).

    Since no wise existed (or failed to act), Christian brothers were settling their disputes in secular courts with unbelievers presiding. Mature Christians should know what the Word of God teaches and submit to it. Mature Christians should submit to Christ as Lord. Submission by Christians to the Word of God and to Christ as Lord would have resulted in a proper resolution of the disputes. The disputes would have been resolved by mature believers (6).

Conclusion:

  1. Do you dare a lawsuit? (1)
    1. Don’t have unbelievers settle a dispute
    2. Do have mature believers settle a dispute
  2. You know believers will judge others in the future (2-3)
    1. Believers will judge the world (2)
    2. Believers will judge angels (3)
  3. Do you select unbelievers to settle a dispute? (4)
  4. You must know one mature believer who is able to settle a dispute (5-6)

This is an important lesson for us in the church today. People in this world are “lawsuit happy” and they also attend churches. There are frequent lawsuits between professing Christians over non-criminal cases. The Word of God teaches us that if there is a dispute between fellow Christians, the dispute should be resolved by mature believers, not unbelievers. Let me repeat this one final time: these disputes should not go before secular courts. The non-criminal disputes should be resolved by mature Christians.

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