1 Corinthians (The Message Version unless otherwise noted)
1 Corinthians 6
1-4And how dare you take each other to court! When you think you have been wronged, does it make any sense to go before a court that knows nothing of God's ways instead of a family of Christians? The day is coming when the world is going to stand before a jury made up of followers of Jesus. If someday you are going to rule on the world's fate, wouldn't it be a good idea to practice on some of these smaller cases? Why, we're even going to judge angels! So why not these everyday affairs? As these disagreements and wrongs surface, why would you ever entrust them to the judgment of people you don't trust in any other way?
5-6I say this as bluntly as I can to wake you up to the stupidity of what you're doing. Is it possible that there isn't one levelheaded person among you who can make fair decisions when disagreements and disputes come up?
Jesus, my family has a lot of disputes, and that is putting it lightly. We need a level-headed person who can make fair judgments. Can that person be me? Not without Your help it can't. Jesus, when the next explosion happens, be there. Remind me to separate everyone, talk and pray with everyone, and then listen to You. We all need Your peace.
I don't believe it. And here you are taking each other to court before people who don't even believe in God! How can they render justice if they don't believe in the God of justice?
7-8These court cases are an ugly blot on your community. Wouldn't it be far better to just take it, to let yourselves be wronged and forget it? All you're doing is providing fuel for more wrong, more injustice, bringing more hurt to the people of your own spiritual family.
Jesus, I'm sure it would be better to just take a little injustice than to make things worse. After-all, what could possibly happen to me that You haven't already endured? Lord, don't let me be stubborn or self-centered. Let me endure some wrongs if that is what it takes to stop the bleeding around here. Give me You patience and kindness Jesus.
9-11Don't you realize that this is not the way to live? Unjust people who don't care about God will not be joining in his kingdom. Those who use and abuse each other, use and abuse sex, use and abuse the earth and everything in it, don't qualify as citizens in God's kingdom. A number of you know from experience what I'm talking about, for not so long ago you were on that list. Since then, you've been cleaned up and given a fresh start by Jesus, our Master, our Messiah, and by our God present in us, the Spirit.
12Just because something is technically legal doesn't mean that it's spiritually appropriate. If I went around doing whatever I thought I could get by with, I'd be a slave to my whims.
13You know the old saying, "First you eat to live, and then you live to eat"? Well, it may be true that the body is only a temporary thing, but that's no excuse for stuffing your body with food, or indulging it with sex. Since the Master honors you with a body, honor him with your body!
14-15God honored the Master's body by raising it from the grave. He'll treat yours with the same resurrection power. Until that time, remember that your bodies are created with the same dignity as the Master's body. You wouldn't take the Master's body off to a whorehouse, would you? I should hope not.
Jesus, I know I have not always honored You by how I have treated the body You gave me. I do not think of it as Your temple. I respect the building I call church more than I respect my body, but I guess that is backwards. Do You really live inside me? I eat too much, and I drink too much, and I sleep too little. I guess a far bigger problem is that if You really live inside this body of mine, why don't I realize You are with me everywhere I am and live like You are right there all the time? Wow, You never stop opening my eyes through Your word!
16-20There's more to sex than mere skin on skin. Sex is as much spiritual mystery as physical fact. As written in Scripture, "The two become one." Since we want to become spiritually one with the Master, we must not pursue the kind of sex that avoids commitment and intimacy, leaving us more lonely than ever—the kind of sex that can never "become one."
Jesus, we both know I have been down this path in the past. It is empty and it has cost me so much. Now I wish I could be truly one with my wife, and it is so difficult because sex has such a physical emphasis. In some ways we were more intimate when we were dating and not having sex than we are now when we are having sex.
Lord, can we find true intimacy? Help us to be one the way You intended a husband and wife to be intimate. Help me to stop emphasizing the physical so much and concentrate on loving my wife as the awesome woman she is. And help my wife forgive me and open up to intimacy and oneness to me, despite the pain I have caused her in the past. Amen.
There is a sense in which sexual sins are different from all others. In sexual sin we violate the sacredness of our own bodies, these bodies that were made for God-given and God-modeled love, for "becoming one" with another. Or didn't you realize that your body is a sacred place, the place of the Holy Spirit? Don't you see that you can't live however you please, squandering what God paid such a high price for? The physical part of you is not some piece of property belonging to the spiritual part of you. God owns the whole works. So let people see God in and through your body.
Jesus, You own it all, all of me. All my thoughts, and feelings, and hopes, and yes, even my body. I'm sorry for all I've done wrong. Help me to give all of me to You every day to use as You will. Help me to respect this body as I would respect the property of a good friend whom I love and honor. Help me to honor You with my body.