Lawsuits just seem to be a way of life in the States. You can get sued by anybody for just about anything, no matter how ridiculous your claim might be.
Lawsuits are much less common in Japan, but we still see them here.
And they were apparently common in Corinth, even among the believers. And Paul was flummoxed by two things.
Number one, how badly one brother or sister could treat another. Number two, the reaction of the hurt brother or sister, namely dragging the one that hurt them into court.
More, the ones who were hurt started acting badly themselves, perhaps under the guise of fighting fire with fire. Paul tells them,
You yourselves cheat and do wrong, and you do this to your brothers. Do you not know that the wicked will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor male prostitutes nor homosexual offenders nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. (8-10)
In short, don’t fool yourself. You may call yourself a Christian, but if you are living this way, in unrepentant sin, you will not inherit the kingdom of God.
Some people say that this means you can lose your salvation, but I would tend to question if this person were really saved in the first place.
But Paul takes the assumption that they are truly saved and says,
And that is what some of you were. 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. (11)
In short, “You all have been washed cleaned and set apart for God. You’re supposed to be different now. How then can you treat your brothers and sister this way?” In this, I think he addresses both the offending party and the victim.
Then concerning the concept of lawsuits among believers itself, he says, “You guys are going to judge the world and even angels someday. And yet none of you are competent to handle these internal matters of the church between yourselves?” (2-5)
The other thing that really bothered Paul was that they were bringing their dirty laundry in front of unbelievers. Because of this, unbelievers were seeing the terrible things believers were doing to each other and saying, “Is this what a Christian is? They’re no different from us. They hurt each other and treat each other unfairly just like we do.”
In short, it was a stain on the church, which is why Paul said,
The very fact that you have lawsuits among you means you have been completely defeated already. Why not rather be wronged? Why not rather be cheated? (7)
The Corinthians were defeated in two ways. First, Satan was having his way in the church by having them fight each other instead of him. Second, their in-fighting was wrecking their reputation in the Corinthian community.
Jesus said that the world would know we are his disciples by the love we have for each other (John 13:34-35). But as we look at how we treat each other in the church today, are we living that way? Or are we being defeated by the enemy as he turns us against each other?