1 Corinthians 6.
F. A. Hughes.
How dark the conditions depicted in this chapter! Conditions of moral evil indeed. Disputing among believers, corruption in the world. Dare we say that the principles of the "present evil world" are not invading the very portals of professing christendom? The chapter must however be read. It is part of God's word — every detail of which is marked by purity — yea "very pure" (Psalm 119:140).
Against this sombre background the Holy Spirit has graciously illumined the scene with the most precious rays of divine glory; divine love and compassion, expressive of the deep concern and earnest desires of the heart of the blessed God. Let us seek beloved brethren, to savour the preciousness of these divine beams of eternal purpose, let the sweetness of them refresh our spiritual palates! "How sweet are Thy words unto my taste! more than honey to my mouth" (Psalm 119:103). Words replete indeed with heavenly peace and love and purity, words to charm and encourage and fortify the heart in the darkest days. Meditate upon the precious content of verse 11! "Ye are washed … ye are sanctified … ye are justified".
"Washed", the word suggests a complete cleansing, a total reversal from one's previous condition. David in Psalm 51 desired to be fully washed (v.2) and says again in verse 7 — "wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow." How great the contrast — the brilliant pure whiteness of the snow against the dark uncleanness of iniquity and sin, but nothing less would satisfy the heart of eternal love. Many references to washing are found in Scripture, some perhaps a little outside the context of the chapter in view. The gracious service of the "Lord and Teacher" in John 13, in view of His own having part with himself; the "washing of water by the word" (Ephesians 5) in view of the church being presented to Christ without one spot of defilement; the "washing of regeneration" (Titus 3) which would suggest our recognising the error of that in which we once lived, and the being brought to entirely new ground through the kindness and love of our Saviour God. The theme persists to Revelation chapter 1 where John the Apostle moves our hearts in his outburst of praise — "To Him who loves us, and has washed us from our sins in His blood — to Him be the glory and the might to the ages of ages. Amen." The source — eternal love! The result — eternal praise! Precious ray of divine purpose — the joy of which even now dissipates the darkest days. "We shall be like Him", conformed to the image of that glorious heavenly Man! "Every man that hath this hope in Him (Christ) purifieth himself even as He is pure." How blessed the hope! How challenging the response!
"Sanctified" — set apart for God. Beloved brethren, how much has been involved from the divine side that this might be accomplished. "Wherefore Jesus also, that He might sanctify the people with His own blood, suffered without the gate." Access to heaven itself — moral separation from the elements of man's world. May we know more the practical blessedness of going forth "unto Him" — and the immense privilege of offering "the sacrifice of praise to God continually." "Sanctify them through Thy truth; Thy word is truth." How precious the content of this desire of our blessed Lord! What resources we have to garrison our hearts and minds against the evil and untruth of a scene which lies in the lap of he who is a liar from the onset! The profound depths of verse 17 in this chapter (John 17) engage our affections and promote a sustained spirit of holy worship — every thought and word and movement of the Son in complete accord with the God of truth. The content of verse 19 is beyond the writer's pen — we quote the words of one now with Christ — "He sanctified Himself. He set Himself apart as a heavenly Man in the Glory, in order that all truth might shine forth in Him, in His Person, raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father" (J.N.D.). What practical separation in heart and walk as we allow the truth subsisting in that glorified Man to engage us! In Ephesians chapter 5 sanctification of believers is viewed in relation to the past, present and future service of the Lord Jesus in his love to us. "He gave Himself" in love to His church; He is presently engaged in His service of cleansing and washing "by the word;" He will soon present her to Himself — "a glorious church, not having spot." Finally, in 1 Thessalonians 5 God Himself is the Sanctifier. "And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly … your whole spirit, soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ." Responsive to these movements and desires of divine love shall we not readily obey the Holy Spirit's word through the Apostle — "Sanctify the Lord the Christ in your hearts" (1 Peter 3:15).
"Justified" — every stain removed; every charge refuted; peace with God, "We boast in hope of the glory of God" itself. "It is God that justifies," no one can condemn, for what God does is for ever. Blessed indeed to be thus set free before God. But, beloved, how great the cost! "Justified by His blood" (Romans 5:9). How familiar we are with the words, but how much more we would seek to be affected by their import! The price of our redemption — the basis of our justification before a holy God. "Being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus." We have before noticed the importance of parentheses in Scripture — and with grateful hearts we read the words of the sons of Korah in Psalm 49 — "For the redemption of their soul is costly, and must be given up forever" (cf. Luke 24:39). What infinite grace! Love in its precious movements — divine love the motive of every attribute of God.
Washed, sanctified, justified — unfailingly secure for time and eternity as related to "the Name of the Lord Jesus," and made good in our hearts now "by the Spirit of our God."
What shall be our response? The chapter is intensely practical in its references to the believers body (the words "And in your spirit", verse 20, are probably extraneous). Says the Apostle to the Corinthians, and thus to us, "Your bodies are the members of Christ;" "Your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you." Marvellous truths, speaking of an intimacy with divine Persons unique in its bearing! but, beloved brethren, how searching the challenge, and how great the cost at which such glorious nearness has been secured. "Ye are bought with a price". How great is that price! The assembly has been "purchased with the blood of His own" (Acts 20). Redeemed, Peter says, "By precious blood … of Christ." Bought with Christ's own precious blood, indwelt by the Holy Spirit of God. What powerful motives for holy living — what an incentive indeed to "glorify God in our bodies, which are God's."
Dear brethren, as we thus take account with grateful hearts of the deep interest of the whole Godhead — the sacrificial love, the immensity of the cost at which we have been purchased and set free from the uncleanness and moral darkness of the world, in order that our bodies may be vessels for the glory of God, shall we not also heed the teaching of this chapter in regard of our conduct towards each other? Are our bodies — "the members of Christ" — to be used in carnal disputes and quarrellings? Material things may be in view in this chapter — but how quickly assembly difficulties and exercises could be settled if we were not anxious to maintain what we deemed to be our rights. "Why do ye not rather suffer wrong? Why are ye not rather defrauded?" (v.7). Acting to the contrary can it be said that "we glorify God in our bodies"? We are not our own, we are bondmen — slaves — it is incongruous for such to insist upon what they consider to be their rights.
Delivered at such infinite cost from a world of moral evil, may we also seek to be free in our actions one with another from its features of self-seeking. Our joy and blessing will increase and God's glory in His people secured.
Thus may we abide in union,
With each other and the Lord,
And possess in sweet communion,
Joys which earth can ne'er afford.