Do You Not Know?
Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed. (1 Cor. 5:7)
You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. (1 Cor. 6:19)
But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God. (1 Cor. 6:11)
Paul seems to be shaking the Corinthians by the shoulders. Do you not know who you are in Christ? In Christ, you are a new creature.
So why are you arrogant, condoning immorality, wronging and defrauding others, taking your grievances against a brother to court? In Christ, we are free, yet you are still enslaved by selfishness, immorality, greed, and your belly. Do not be deceived. Do you not know that, as believers, we are to lead radically free lives?
Do you not know? The Corinthians do know, but they have drifted from their moorings in the current of the culture. Paul himself had brought the good news of the gospel to them, established their church, and spent a year and a half teaching them. But in his absence, instead of mourning sin, they are arrogantly accepting of it. They have twisted the message of grace, come to see Christian liberty as license, and begun doing what was right in their own eyes.
I once found myself in the company of the Corinthians when it came to money. Although I knew what Scripture said about money, my attitude toward money was not formed by God’s Word. Money to me meant security and comfort. We gave to the church and were actually working our way to the tithe, but I was not a cheerful giver (2 Cor. 9:6-7). My heart was not glad and generous (Acts 2:46).
I knew all things belonged to God, but my money felt like it was, well, mine. So I gave but gave reluctantly. Under a thin veneer of generosity was a deep well of greed. But I did not see myself as sinful, at least not on the level of a murderer or an adulterer. Even if it was a sin, who did it hurt? I am forgiven, under grace, so what does it matter? There is no condemnation in Christ Jesus so I am free to do as I please, right?
But, what had felt like freedom was actually slavery. And the Lord, in his mercy, opened my eyes to how much money controlled me. The Lord gently but clearly showed me that I am sinful, selfish, arrogant, and greedy (which in a strange way was actually freeing). In the same moment, I more fully understood how deep his love was for me—that I was his, bought with the price of his blood, and that in his blood I was washed, sanctified, and justified. It is a process, and I still struggle with money; but to paraphrase C. S. Lewis, I now find my place in the Resistance and not the Vichy government.
God’s grace is not license to do what is right in our own eyes. What a deadly and destructive idea. And this is the real danger to which Paul is speaking with such passion. A true understanding of the good news brings about the grateful obedience of faith (Rom. 1:5, 16:26), not disobedience. God’s kindness is meant to lead us to repentance (Rom. 2:4) and a reorientation of our lives. We were bought with a price; we are not our own; we belong to the Lord Jesus Christ, whose service is perfect freedom.