"Don't look for shortcuts to God. The market is flooded with surefire, easygoing formulas for a successful life that can be practiced in your spare time. Don't fall for that stuff, even though crowds of people do.” – Matthew 7:13
I’m going to share with you the secret to any marketing effort. What’s the secret? Sell solutions – not products. There you have it, folks – that’ll be $1,000 – you can pay on your way out. Not really. The fee is false but the secret isn’t – the key to successful marketing is to find a fast solution to a problem, or create a problem if none exists, then get someone to buy into your solution.
To be attractive a solution must do these things: save money, save time, save effort, avoid pain and increase success. The people that market products in our culture have this system down pat. Instead of telling about the metal alloys made to create the latest automobile, the manufacturer spins a tale of mystery or attraction of the opposite sex or adventure or power – things that attract people – suggesting that you can have these things today if you buy their car right now.
We like solutions – we like other people to provide a quick way to solve our perceived problems – and we don’t care much what the solution involves, as long as our problem gets solved quickly and easily.
While this may be a good way to market products, it is a terrible way to grow as a believer in Jesus Christ. And that’s the issue Paul addresses with the Corinthians in chapter 6. He deals with it in two ways – examples really – of what we shouldn’t do to solve our problems.
The first is found in verses 1 through 8 and involves letting the world solve relationship problems.
The second is in verses 9 through 20 and involves letting the world solve personal problems. We could also call them external shortcuts and internal shortcuts.
1 CORINTHIANS 6 - DO NOT SUE BRETHREN (NKJV)
"1 Dare any of you, having a matter against another, go to law before the unrighteous, and not before the saints?"
Now if I were a Corinthian I’d start to wonder if I was coming up for criticism just from the way he phrases verse 1. They might have said it: “if you have a dispute trounce the sucker in court till he’s ruined!” Apparently what was happening here was that well-to-do Christians were having property or business disputes with one another and suing each other in the secular court system. Of course this only happened in that ancient time and we see no parallel today – not!
Let’s walk through the section before I give you my opinion as to what Paul was and was not saying.
"2 Do you not know that the saints will judge the world? And if the world will be judged by you, are you unworthy to judge the smallest matters? 3 Do you not know that we shall judge angels? How much more, things that pertain to this life?"
Paul’s trying to get these people to think on a broader scale. They are all caught up in their dispute instead of realizing that their true purpose is so much higher and so much more important than wrangling over someone’s property line.
"4 If then you have judgments concerning things pertaining to this life, do you appoint those who are least esteemed by the church to judge? 5 I say this to your shame. Is it so, that there is not a wise man among you, not even one, who will be able to judge between his brethren? 6 But brother goes to law against brother, and that before unbelievers!"
In Chapter 4, Paul said he was not writing to shame the Corinthians around the issue of arrogance – but to warn them. But here Paul means to shame them – because it is one thing to strut about and act like babies between ourselves – and its another to bring that immature attitude before those who do not know the Lord.
We have a job to do – bring the love and salvation of Jesus Christ to the world. Our job is not to see that every wrong we suffer – imagined or real – be redressed no matter what. The Corinthians had the focus on the wrong place – themselves instead of the pre-Christians around them. It is a battle for the souls of men – but Paul says in that battle – this kind of behavior spells defeat.
"7 Now therefore, it is already an utter failure for you that you go to law against one another. Why do you not rather accept wrong? Why do you not rather let yourselves be cheated? 8 No, you yourselves do wrong and cheat, and you do these things to your brethren!"
That’s what the enemy does – he gets the soldiers in the opposing army to fight each other – instead of doing warfare by sharing the good news and defeating the real enemy. The way of Jesus is the way of turning the other cheek – not firing a SCUD missile at your brother. Jesus said if someone sues you for your coat, give him your coat too.
Pre-Christians see this kind of behavior and they say “why is this any different than what I live in now – why should I even consider Jesus Christ?” This is especially true when Christians cheat each other.
So there is a bridge here between the first and second set of shortcuts.
"9 Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites, 10 nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God."
He starts out this list and everyone says – “amen” to the sexually immoral or idolaters – but it’s the end of the list that is most fascinating – “slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God.” Isn’t that just what these Christians were doing to each other? Now I don’t think Paul is saying that they will lose their salvation – but it is a sharp indictment of their behavior – like dogs, they’ve returned to their own vomit – to the vile behavior before they were saved.
Paul is transitioning to talk about sexual immorality – and prostitution specifically, which was rampant in Corinth. Often sexual immorality comes from the need for intimacy, without the need for commitment. We all have the need to feel close to someone – and God created sexual intimacy as the ultimate expression of that closeness. But sexual immorality tries to shortcut by providing the feeling without the accountability. And it is massively destructive because it runs counter to how the Lord created us. And Paul says – that’s pre-Christian behavior.
"11 And such were some of you. But you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God."
As Christians we should be different than the world – not by some external fake show – but when the pressure is on, the character of Christ should come out, not the character of the world. We’ve been washed, sanctified and justified by Him – so we should act differently.
But here’s what happens – when things don’t go right we go the place where we think we can make them right for us as quickly as possible. In this case it was the court system – but maybe in your life it is something different. We want to get into graduate school – and the only way to do that is to get really good grades – but we’ve been saying up too late and so our grades aren’t going to be too good so we buy a term paper from someone in order to bolster our grade.
We choose the cause over character – expedience over righteousness. Listen to this next part:
"12 All things are lawful for me, but all things are not helpful. All things are lawful for me, but I will not be brought under the power of any."
Remember our key verse to this letter? Everything is yours – and you are Christ’s and Christ is God’s. We can do anything – as long as we are in submission to the Lordship of Jesus. This is why – ya, we can get into grad school and become the greatest teacher or missionary ever – but what about the guy we bought it from – is what we’ve done beneficial for him? What about you – do you think you can bring God glory with sin?
You see, its tricky – we think we can sin and it’ll be okay – no one sees or it was just a little sin and God will forgive me anyway – that’s true – but sinning takes away benefits – like your witness – and it brings chains. Just because you are free from sin doesn’t mean it won’t have strong influence over you if you let it.
This works for the external shortcuts we take – and it works for internal ones too.
"13 Foods for the stomach and the stomach for foods, but God will destroy both it and them. Now the body is not for sexual immorality but for the Lord, and the Lord for the body. 14 And God both raised up the Lord and will also raise us up by His power. 15 Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ? Shall I then take the members of Christ and make them members of a harlot? Certainly not! 16 Or do you not know that he who is joined to a harlot is one body with her? For “the two,” He says, “shall become one flesh." 17 But he who is joined to the Lord is one spirit with Him.
Some people might argue – if it feels good – do it! Remember this one: “You only go ‘round once in life so you gotta grab for all the gusto you can.” We need to live by another motto – live for God and not your own pleasures.
That doesn’t mean we walk around like a sourpuss all the time – never having fun. What we forget is that we don’t belong to ourselves any more – read on:
"18 Flee sexual immorality. Every sin that a man does is outside the body, but he who commits sexual immorality sins against his own body. 19 Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own? 20 For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s."
Honor God with your actions, honor God with your body. But what happens to us is that this kind of sacrifice means we don’t get to go out and grab the pleasures set before us – if they are not beneficial to the One who bought us. “Anything that makes me feel good must be good.” Sexual immorality is the example Paul uses – and it’s a good one – something that is rampant in our society as well as in theirs. Sexual immorality is any sex outside of marriage. Paul doesn’t say “walk casually away from it” but “flee”.
So what are we learning here? In a way both of these things are related. An external shortcut is when we focus on our wants so much that we forget the harm we do to others by our selfishness and the harm we do to our witness. An internal shortcut is when we focus so much on our wants that we forget the harm that sin does us, and to our ability to be used by the Lord.
Now let me say that I don’t think Paul is making a blanket statement here – never go to court. He is saying that we should settle disputes among Christians in the church if possible – but there is a larger value being expressed here – “you are not your own – therefore honor God.”
• Be a servant, not a suer
Jesus said “He who would be the greatest among you should be your servant. (Matthew 23:11)” Most lawsuits arise because you have something I want. Or you did something bad to me and I want you to pay. Even before disputes arise we should be saying to ourselves – is this attitude one of a servant?
Paul said in Philippians 2:3 Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves.
This leads to the second point:
• Maybe it’s a solution in search of a problem
Is the dispute really that important? What’s the real problem? Maybe the problem is you and you aren’t even aware of it. Maybe we’re angry at our brother over some little thing – but what’s really going on is that we’re angry that we lost a friend, or angry at ourselves for failing God once again but we take it out on someone else.
• The world’s solutions are false solutions
Sin always has strings. And often what Satan presents as a quick fix – is often a long term mess.
• Good solutions take time, patience, and pain – there really are no shortcuts
1 Peter 1:6-7 In this (hope of an inheritance) you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. 7 These have come so that your faith-of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire-may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed.
James 1:4 Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.
I’ll use a real example of someone I know – something didn’t happen that they wanted – instead of just throwing a pity party they used it as an opportunity to examine themselves – they learned of something deep seated that they needed to be free from – and after they weren’t worried about getting that thing – God gave it to them anyway. But if they had taken the shortcut, God wouldn’t have been able to do a marvelous healing in their life.
• Find satisfaction in knowing God instead of knowing sin
David said in “Psalm 84:10 Better is one day in your courts than a thousand elsewhere; I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God than dwell in the tents of the wicked.”
Paul later wrote: Philippians 4:12-13 I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. 13 I can do everything through him who gives me strength.
Don’t let the temptation of the quick shortcut to happiness fool you. If you can’t find satisfaction in knowing Him, then you can’t find it anywhere else. It’s as simple as that.
Nothing else will bring eternal joy or present contentment. The secret to a contented life, Paul says, is to realize that our strength doesn’t come by what we have or can get – but through our relationship with Him we have strength to face whatever lies ahead – even if that means not getting what we want or waiting for it.
So bottom line: how you act in front of others, and how you act in front of God are important. It may not determine your salvation, but it might influence someone else’s – and it sure influences your ability to live a victorious, useful life for the Lord who bought you.
I said at the beginning: “the key to successful marketing is to find a fast solution to a problem, or create a problem if none exists, then get someone to buy into your solution.” There is a spiritual corollary to that: “the key to successful living in Christ is don’t buy into fast shortcuts, but let the Lord provide solutions to your problem, no matter how it takes – and avoid creating problems where they don’t exist – then buy into His program.”
If you have problems with any of the steps in this article, please ask a question for more help, or post in the comments section below. God bless you.