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26 August 2012

By September 2nd, 2012qanda

The passage we looked at tonight was 1 Corinthians 6:1-11. Here are the questions.

1 – If your emotions are very strong & you don’t trust what you might do/say, isn’t it sometimes wise to talk to someone else who is wise first to help you decide what to say before approaching the person you’re angry with?

This is a really helpful question. And covers an area of the talk that I skipped last night due to time. Convenient that, isn’t it – when you don’t say something just say you skipped it! Well, it happens to be true this time, so stop being so cynical. I just realised I’m talking to myself. Back to the question.

As the question really helpfully says, in the heat of the moment, when we’re really hurt or fired up, it can be good to bounce it off someone. My encouragement last night was to go God first. I stick by that – I reckon we need to use God as the person we turn to in situations like this.

But God gives us people to help us through these situations as well. And it can be really helpful to have someone to use as a sounding board to ensure you’re in the right headspace, and you’re reacting in a way that is going to be helpful for reconciliation, and God-honouring.

So it’s good to have people you go to. And it’s important that they’re the right people. Choose people who is wise, Godly, won’t just tell you what you want to hear, won’t hold a grudge against the person, and will drive you towards the things God is calling you towards – forgiveness, Godliness, reconciliation.

Great question – thanks for asking it and giving me the chance to fill in the blanks!

2 – In v.11 where it says you are not that kind of person anymore, what happens when people still struggle with that even when they’re Christians?

Yep, that’s a good question, and a question most Christians ask when they read these kinds of lists. Because the reality is we’re not perfect, and even while GOd is working in us we’re still going to struggle with sin. Let me give the short answer, and I’ll follow that by the theological one.

The short answer is this: Paul’s point here is not to say that Christians won’t struggle with this stuff, but that they won’t be defined by it or settle for it being the norm, because it’s not who we are anymore. We have been washed, sanctified (made holy), justified in the name of Jesus and by the Spirit of God (v.12). That is, we are who we are because of Jesus, and so the way in which we want to live should be consistent with who God has made us (our new self), not who we were and the sin that Jesus died for (our old self).

So if you’re a Christian, and you’re still struggling with sin – you’re perfectly normal. We’re always going to struggle within sin in this life. But God, through His Spirit, works in us to make us more like Jesus even through these struggles. We want to make sure that we work out what it looks like to be a Christian while God works these things out in our lives as well (Philippians 2:12-13).

Here’s the theological answer to go with that, so you’ve got some background. Theologians talk about sanctification in two ways, because the New Testament talks about sanctification in two ways.

1) Positional Sanctification. This is the idea that God sees us as Holy, because Jesus is Holy. When God looks at us, He see perfection, not because we are, but because we are In Christ, and therefore gain the benefit of His perfection. It’s positional in the sense that we are “positioned” with Christ.

2) Progressive Sanctification. At the same time, God knows we’re not perfect, so He actively works in us by His Spirit to shape us into the likeness of His Son. It’s progressive over our lifetime.

So sometimes the New Testament talks about God seeing us as perfect (Positional) and sometimes it talks about us being (progressively) sanctified, made Holy – and it sees no inconsistency in that. God knows we’re not perfect…but He chooses to include us In Christ, through faith, so that we can experience the benefits of what Christ has done, instead of the judgement that we deserve. Not a bad deal.

3 – In your talk there was a lot of discussion around conflict resolution however I understand it was largely direct at conflict between christians.

How does what was discussed play out when confronted with conflict between christian and non-christian, or alternatively where else in the bible is this discussed (also whether this passage is irrelevant due to it dealing with a seperate specific issue). I could see some of the principals are still valid however some of them are simply unviable (e.g. have a christian mediate). This could play out two ways as well I suppose, a Christian creating a civil case against a non-christian or vice versa.

Yep, Paul’s outrage in part at the church in Corinth was that they had infighting that spilled out into the wider community, bringing the Gospel into disrepute. But your asking about disputes between Christians & Non-Christians. Some thoughts.

1 – Paul wasn’t afraid to use the legal / political system. In Acts he appeals to Caesar, and pulls the “I’m a Roman citizen” card which afforded him certain rights (Acts 21:39, 22:22-40, 25:10-12). He also talks in Romans 13:1-7 about submitting to the government, as it’s an instrument of God. So there’s no problem with using the “system” in place – we just need to work out whether we’re using it for our benefit or God’s. Paul used the system not for his good, but for the good of the Gospel.

2 – In disputes with those who aren’t Christians, I’m not sure there are too many specific examples like 1 Cor 6 where we see it played out. But I think Romans 12:9-21 is a helpful passages to draw some principles from:
– Christians aren’t trying to “win” conflict. In response to curses, they bless, they love, they forgive. They never repay evil for evil.
– We aren’t driven by pride, or a need to protect our reputation (although this can be good for the gospel), but by a desire to see God glorified & people come to understand the Gospel.
– Christians don’t engage in revenge / retribution. God will take care of that. I don’t think this means not calling people to account for what they do, it’s about us not taking the law into our own hands.
– Our response to being wronged is to love. Never to respond in kind.

We have the balance in the bible of Jesus who submitted to evil for the sake of God. And we have Paul who used the system for the benefit of the Gospel while not abusing it. But the common theme we have in both is this – that their focus was not on themselves, but on what would bring glory to God.