The Eleveneth in a Series of Sermons on 1 Corinthians
No question, it was very difficult to be a Christian in First Century Corinth. No question, it is very difficult to be a Christian in Southern California. Corinth was a highly sexualized, promiscuous, and litigious society. So is ours. The Corinthians loved pagan wisdom, celebrity athletes, superstitiously sought the blessings of the “gods,” and were prone to depreciate the body because of a pagan conception of the soul. Pretty much the same is true in modern America. Apparently, the Corinthians were clear about how sinners were justified, but they weren’t very clear about the fact that Christians need to stop thinking and acting like pagans once they came to faith in Christ. That is probably true of our age as well. Paul’s solution to all of these matters is for Christians to think about all of these issues in light of the cross. If we are were bought with a price–the blood of Jesus–then we cannot do and think as we please. We now belong to a risen Savior, who not only purchased us, but will raise us bodily from the dead.
We return to our series on Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians. We have made our way as far as the closing section of chapter six wherein Paul is addressing a number of serious issues that had been reported to him by members of Chloe’s family (or others). These include a man who had taken his father’s wife creating a huge scandal (chapter 5), Christians suing each other in secular courts (chapter 6:1-11), as well the misuse of Christian liberty so as to indulge the flesh (chapter 6:12-20).
As we have seen throughout our series so far, Paul is writing to people whom he knows well. These are relatively new Christians struggling to learn how to think and act like Christians. In a city with many pagan temples and guild halls known for their prostitutes and partying, with graphic sexual imagery found in homes, in public buildings and baths, and in a culture steeped in Greek and Roman paganism, it was difficult for these new Christians to begin to leave pagan religion behind, adopt a life-style of chastity and moderation, and to serve as witnesses to the gospel of Jesus Christ. Paul has instructed them in many of these matters, but the Corinthians are not moving on to maturity, and many are still acting like the pagans they recently were. While staying in the city of Ephesus, Paul received word of this conduct going on back in Corinth–which is the reason Paul writes this letter.
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