The opening language used by the apostle to address this error of the Corinthian believers going to law with one-another before unbelieving magistrates/judges/rulers is noteworthy. Said he, “so you have such (reckless/sinful) boldness to go to law before the unjust? (1Cor. 6:1).
The Lord considers that His house (the church) is self-sufficient to settle all matters that arise within it, hence the apostle’s argument as to whether there was not a single wise man among them, who could resolve matters between one and the other (1Cor. 6:5).
By the mouth of the Lord Jesus, God stipulated the approach to the solution of misunderstandings that might arise in the church (cons. Matt. 18:15-17). By the hand of the apostles He has shown this other matters (cp. Acts. 6:1-6; 1Cor. 6:4-6). In the O. T., It was still these methods that were adopted (cp. 1Sam. 7:15-16; Ex. 18:13-22).
It must be noted that, the apostle’s recommendation of setting “the least esteemed” in the church to settle matters (1Cor. 6:4) does not conflict with the tradition as seen in the passages above. This is because, “the least esteemed in the church” does not imply” ignorant and foolish people”, but people full of wisdom, the Holy Spirit, God-fearing people and people of honest report, though they be not apostles and the like (cp. Acts. 6:3-5).
Apart from the reason of the church being self-sufficient for the settlement of matters arising between the members, believers going to law before the unjust is prohibited because of the following additional reasons:-
(a) it smacks of lack of love that covers a multitude of sins (cp. Pro. 10:12; 1Pet. 4:8);
(b) it constitutes “a kingdom rising against itself” (cp. Matt. 12:25);
(c) scandalizes and hinders those without (cp. Matt. 17:27; 1Cor. 10:32);
(d) it constitutes a reproach to the Lord and His house (cons. 2Sam. 12:14; Neh. 5:9; Ezek. 36:20; Rom. 2:23,24; 2Pet. 2:2).
NB: Going to law before the unbelievers does not only mean going to the established law courts. It also implies saints reporting matters arising between themselves to their relatives for judgment.
As for going to law with the unbelievers, believers are enjoined to refrain and to live peaceably (as much as possible) with the unbelieving world around them (Rom. 12:18; Heb. 12:14). They must avoid situations that will result in going to law with the unbelievers. However, there are situations that warrant reporting to the law officers. Situations should be reported, so as to obtain the right counsel (Pro. 11:14; 24:6).