Let us look further at this third problem in the church that Paul discusses in chapter 6. Apparently, Christians in Corinth were taking each other to court. We have to be careful not to get the idea that somehow the courts are utterly illegitimate, because they are not. All you have to do is read the Bible to discover the contrary. In Israel God himself established judges who were to hear cases that came from the people and to deal justly in those affairs. We are also reminded that the Apostle Paul, when arrested in Jerusalem and brought before the the Roman courts, did not hesitate at all to appeal to Caesar because he was a Roman citizen, and as a result had certain rights in a Roman court.

The word litigious is relatively new in common speech. It means "prone to litigation" or "prone to go to court." The reason this is somewhat of a new word is that a proneness to go to court is something relatively new, at least in American life. Generally, when there was a dispute between people several generations ago, it was settled in an informal way by neighbors helping the opposing parties work out their differences.

Continuing today in Paul’s letter to the Corinthians, we find that he makes two qualifications about expelling someone from the church. One qualification is disassociating from a believer who is living in open sin. He does not apply this to the world, to the people of the world in general, because, he says, if you do that, where could you live? He said you would have to go out of the world if you're going to live that way. He makes very clear, in verse 9 and following, that he is not talking about a kind of separatism.

Why does Paul insist that the Corinthian church expel this unrepentant person? The first reason is for the good of the individual involved. We find that hard to understand because our ideas of discipline are so lax. We think the worst possible thing we could do to somebody is embarrass them, or put them on the spot, or make a judgment that perhaps they are doing something wrong. But Paul says that isn’t true. Where there is open and flagrant sin, the sin must be confronted, and this must be done for the good of the individual involved. That is why he says, "I want you to hand this man over to Satan so that the sinful nature may be destroyed and his spirit saved on the day of the Lord."

As we continue to examine this situation in today’s lesson, the second thing we notice is the fact that this sinful relationship was public. It wasn’t even something that had happened in a quiet way, which perhaps, therefore, could be dealt with in a quiet way. There is a good principle here. If a wrong can be made right quietly without broadcasting it abroad, that is certainly the procedure to be followed. But, in this case, that was not possible. This was something that apparently was well known in Corinth. But not only was this situation known in Corinth, apparently it had spread throughout the Roman world, because Paul, writing this letter from Ephesus, had heard about it there.