The church at Corinth was rife with problems. Apparently one of the problems that had been reported to Paul was the division caused within the church by members suing each other in court. This practice was harmful to the church’s reputation in the community and hurtful to the parties involved in the lawsuits. Those on the winning side of the judgments in the courts of Corinth may have won money or revenge, but they did not win justice (v.8) and they did not win God’s approval: “To have lawsuits at all with one another is already a defeat for you.”
Paul’s God-inspired response in verses 1-8 reveals that disputes between believers should be handled within the church family and not aired in public or given over to unsaved judges. His line of reasoning is interesting here: a body of believers should be able to settle their own inner-church conflict because in the future they will judge the world and fallen angels (v.2-3). I can’t be sure exactly what that means, but as the bride of Christ we will evidently join the Lord Jesus in His role as Judge in the final judgment.
Those in the Corinthian church who were involved in these lawsuits needed a reminder of what God had saved them from. Verses 9-10 list some of their sins that had been carried to the cross and covered by grace. The key statement in this chapter is in verse 11: “And such were some of you.” The operative word is “were” — Jesus had transformed their lives when they turned to Him in faith. He had cleansed them from the filth of their sin, set them apart for holy purposes (sanctified), and made them right with God (justified).
But some of the believers in Corinth were returning to the sexual sins from which Christ had delivered them. Apparently they thought that if Jesus had saved their souls, and if spiritual things are more important than physical things, it didn’t matter what they did with their bodies. Paul was quick to correct that flawed theology, stating clearly that our bodies belong to the Lord and should bring glory to the Lord. It matters to Him what we do with our bodies, these living, breathing temples of His Spirit. He wants every body part to bring Him glory, including the stomach (v.13, with implications for our eating habits) and the sexual organs (v.15).
One of these days, our bodies are going to be raised in the great resurrection (v.14), and we will at last stand before the Lord face-to-face. On that day we will be able to thank Him as never before for the high price He paid to save us (v.20). What a day that will be!