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Immoral Followers

I have heard terrible things about some of you. In fact, you are behaving worse than the Gentiles. A man is even sleeping with his own stepmother.[a] You are proud, when you ought to feel bad enough to chase away anyone who acts like that.

3-4 I am with you only in my thoughts. But in the name of our Lord Jesus I have already judged this man, as though I were with you in person. So when you meet together and the power of the Lord Jesus is with you, I will be there too. You must then hand that man over to Satan. His body will be destroyed, but his spirit will be saved when the Lord Jesus returns.

Stop being proud! Don’t you know how a little yeast can spread through the whole batch of dough? Get rid of the old yeast! Then you will be like fresh bread made without yeast, and that is what you are. Our Passover lamb is Christ, who has already been sacrificed. So don’t celebrate the festival by being evil and sinful, which is like serving bread made with yeast. Be pure and truthful and celebrate by using bread made without yeast.

In my other letter[b] I told you not to have anything to do with immoral people. 10 But I wasn’t talking about the people of this world. You would have to leave this world to get away from everyone who is immoral or greedy or who cheats or worships idols. 11 I was talking about your own people who are immoral or greedy or worship idols or curse others or get drunk or cheat. Don’t even eat with them! 12 Why should I judge outsiders? Aren’t we supposed to judge only church members? 13 God judges everyone else. The Scriptures say, “Chase away any of your own people who are evil.”

Taking Each Other to Court

When one of you has a complaint against another, do you take your complaint to a court of sinners? Or do you take it to God’s people? Don’t you know that God’s people will judge the world? And if you are going to judge the world, can’t you settle small problems? Don’t you know that we will judge angels? And if that is so, we can surely judge everyday matters. Why do you take everyday complaints to judges who are not respected by the church? I say this to your shame. Aren’t any of you wise enough to act as a judge between one follower and another? Why should one of you take another to be tried by unbelievers?

When one of you takes another to court, all of you lose. It would be better to let yourselves be cheated and robbed. But instead, you cheat and rob other followers.

Don’t you know that evil people won’t have a share in the blessings of God’s kingdom? Don’t fool yourselves! No one who is immoral or worships idols or is unfaithful in marriage or is a pervert or behaves like a homosexual 10 will share in God’s kingdom. Neither will any thief or greedy person or drunkard or anyone who curses and cheats others. 11 Some of you used to be like that. But now the name of our Lord Jesus Christ and the power of God’s Spirit have washed you and made you holy and acceptable to God.

Honor God with Your Body

12 Some of you say, “We can do anything we want to.” But I tell you that not everything is good for us. So I refuse to let anything have power over me. 13 You also say, “Food is meant for our bodies, and our bodies are meant for food.” But I tell you that God will destroy them both. We are not supposed to do indecent things with our bodies. We are to use them for the Lord who is in charge of our bodies. 14 God will raise us from death by the same power that he used when he raised our Lord to life.

15 Don’t you know that your bodies are part of the body of Christ? Is it right for me to join part of the body of Christ to a prostitute? No, it isn’t! 16 Don’t you know that a man who does that becomes part of her body? The Scriptures say, “The two of them will be like one person.” 17 But anyone who is joined to the Lord is one in spirit with him.

18 Don’t be immoral in matters of sex. That is a sin against your own body in a way that no other sin is. 19 You surely know that your body is a temple where the Holy Spirit lives. The Spirit is in you and is a gift from God. You are no longer your own. 20 God paid a great price for you. So use your body to honor God.

Questions about Marriage

Now I will answer the questions that you asked in your letter. You asked, “Is it best for people not to marry?”[c] Well, having your own husband or wife should keep you from doing something immoral. Husbands and wives should be fair with each other about having sex. A wife belongs to her husband instead of to herself, and a husband belongs to his wife instead of to himself. So don’t refuse sex to each other, unless you agree not to have sex for a little while, in order to spend time in prayer. Then Satan won’t be able to tempt you because of your lack of self-control. In my opinion that is what should be done, though I don’t know of anything the Lord said about this matter. I wish that all of you were like me, but God has given different gifts to each of us.

Here is my advice for people who have never been married and for widows. You should stay single, just as I am. But if you don’t have enough self-control, then go ahead and get married. After all, it is better to marry than to burn with desire.[d]

10 I instruct married couples to stay together, and this is exactly what the Lord himself taught. A wife who leaves her husband 11 should either stay single or go back to her husband. And a husband should not leave his wife.

12 I don’t know of anything else the Lord said about marriage. All I can do is to give you my own advice. If your wife isn’t a follower of the Lord, but is willing to stay with you, don’t divorce her. 13 If your husband isn’t a follower, but is willing to stay with you, don’t divorce him. 14 Your husband or wife who isn’t a follower is made holy by having you as a mate. This also makes your children holy and keeps them from being unclean in God’s sight.

15 If your husband or wife isn’t a follower of the Lord and decides to divorce you, then you should agree to it. You are no longer bound to that person. After all, God chose you and wants you to live at peace. 16 And besides, how do you know if you will be able to save your husband or wife who isn’t a follower?

Obeying the Lord at All Times

17 In every church I tell the people to stay as they were when the Lord Jesus chose them and God called them to be his own. Now I say the same thing to you. 18 If you are already circumcised, don’t try to change it. If you are not circumcised, don’t get circumcised. 19 Being circumcised or uncircumcised isn’t really what matters. The important thing is to obey God’s commands. 20 So don’t try to change what you were when God chose you. 21 Are you a slave? Don’t let that bother you. But if you can win your freedom, you should. 22 When the Lord chooses slaves, they become his free people. And when he chooses free people, they become slaves of Christ. 23 God paid a great price for you. So don’t become slaves of anyone else. 24 Stay what you were when God chose you.

Unmarried People

25 I don’t know of anything that the Lord said about people who have never been married.[e] But I will tell you what I think. And you can trust me, because the Lord has treated me with kindness. 26 We are now going through hard times, and I think it is best for you to stay as you are. 27 If you are married, stay married. If you are not married, don’t try to get married. 28 It isn’t wrong to marry, even if you have never been married before. But those who marry will have a lot of trouble, and I want to protect you from that.

29 My friends, what I mean is that the Lord will soon come,[f] and it won’t matter if you are married or not. 30 It will be all the same if you are crying or laughing, or if you are buying or are completely broke. 31 It won’t make any difference how much good you are getting from this world or how much you like it. This world as we know it is now passing away.

32 I want all of you to be free from worry. An unmarried man worries about how to please the Lord. 33 But a married man has more worries. He must worry about the things of this world, because he wants to please his wife. 34 So he is pulled in two directions. Unmarried women and women who have never been married[g] worry only about pleasing the Lord, and they keep their bodies and minds pure. But a married woman worries about the things of this world, because she wants to please her husband. 35 What I am saying is for your own good—it isn’t to limit your freedom. I want to help you to live right and to love the Lord above all else.

36 But suppose you are engaged to someone old enough to be married, and you want her so much that all you can think about is getting married. Then go ahead and marry.[h] There is nothing wrong with that. 37 But it is better to have self-control and to make up your mind not to marry. 38 It is perfectly all right to marry, but it is better not to get married at all.

39 A wife should stay married to her husband until he dies. Then she is free to marry again, but only to a man who is a follower of the Lord. 40 However, I think I am obeying God’s Spirit when I say she would be happier to stay single.

Food Offered to Idols

In your letter you asked me about food offered to idols. All of us know something about this subject. But knowledge makes us proud of ourselves, while love makes us helpful to others. In fact, people who think they know so much don’t know anything at all. But God has no doubts about who loves him.

Even though food is offered to idols, we know that none of the idols in this world are alive. After all, there is only one God. Many things in heaven and on earth are called gods and lords, but none of them really are gods or lords. We have only one God, and he is the Father. He created everything, and we live for him. Jesus Christ is our only Lord. Everything was made by him, and by him life was given to us.

Not everyone knows these things. In fact, many people have grown up with the belief that idols have life in them. So when they eat meat offered to idols, they are bothered by a weak conscience. But food doesn’t bring us any closer to God. We are no worse off if we don’t eat, and we are no better off if we do.

Don’t cause problems for someone with a weak conscience, just because you have the right to eat anything. 10 You know all this, and so it doesn’t bother you to eat in the temple of an idol. But suppose a person with a weak conscience sees you and decides to eat food that has been offered to idols. 11 Then what you know has destroyed someone Christ died for. 12 When you sin by hurting a follower with a weak conscience, you sin against Christ. 13 So if I hurt one of the Lord’s followers by what I eat, I will never eat meat as long as I live.

Footnotes

  1. 5.1 is even sleeping with his own stepmother: Or “has even married his own stepmother.”
  2. 5.9 other letter: An unknown letter that Paul wrote to the Christians at Corinth before he wrote this one.
  3. 7.1 people not to marry: Or “married couples not to have sex.”
  4. 7.9 with desire: Or “in the flames of hell.”
  5. 7.25 people who have never been married: Or “virgins.”
  6. 7.29 the Lord will soon come: Or “there’s not much time left” or “the time for decision comes quickly.”
  7. 7.34 women who have never been married: Or “virgins.”
  8. 7.36 But suppose you are engaged. . . go ahead and marry: Verses 36-38 may also be translated: 36 ”If you feel that you are not treating your grown daughter right by keeping her from getting married, then let her marry. You won’t be doing anything wrong. 37 But it is better to have self-control and make up your mind not to let your daughter get married. 38 It is all right for you to let her marry. But it is better if you don’t let her marry at all.”

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