Good morning everyone. We are turning to 1 Corinthians 5. Here Paul is getting to some very difficult things that are happening in the Corinthian church:
"It is actually reported that there is sexual immorality among you, and of a kind that does not occur even among pagans: A man has his father's wife. And you are proud!" (v. 1- 2a)
Things haven't changed much. There are still difficult situations that arise due to the choice we make to listen to our flesh instead of the Spirit. For Paul there were two problems. There was the sin and then there was the lack of action from the Church:
"Shouldn't you rather have been filled with grief and have put out of your fellowship the man who did this?" (v. 2b)
What? Aren't we suppose to be loving and forgiving, even tolerant? Not according to these instructions. We are to be tolerant of our differences not tolerant of unrepentant sin. We may forgive the offender but if he does not repent of his sin how can he remain among the believers? But I thought we are not suppose to judge? Paul clarifies that but remember it is thought he was writing this to the leadership of the church:
"I have written you in my letter not to associate with sexually immoral people— not at all meaning the people of this world who are immoral, or the greedy and swindlers, or idolaters. In that case you would have to leave this world. But now I am writing you that you must not associate with anyone who calls himself a brother but is sexually immoral or greedy, an idolater or a slanderer, a drunkard or a swindler. With such a man do not even eat." (v.9-11)
Allow me to clarify again; this is an unrepentant believer who continues in his sin. This has always been God's attitude toward the unhealthy things among his people. They have to be put outside of the assembly until they have been cleaned (healed). Sin is a disease that spreads. These are Paul's very difficult instructions:
When you are assembled in the name of our Lord Jesus and I am with you in spirit, and the power of our Lord Jesus is present, 5hand this man over to Satan, so that the sinful nature may be destroyed and his spirit saved on the day of the Lord. (v. 4)
What could Paul possibly mean by this? My interpretation is that we have to allow that person to hit bottom. It is only when they realize their condition that the Spirit is able to bring in conviction. It is only with conviction that a person can turn to the Lord and be saved. If they remain in the assembly of believers they will continue to live in denial of their sin and will be lost on the day of judgment. In our flesh this is a hard thing to do to someone whom we love but consider an alcoholic. For the sake of the family a spouse will often remove the alcoholic from the family for a period of time. Until that person confesses they have a problem they cannot be helped. It is the removal from the family, the removal of the support for the alcoholism, that can be a "wake up" call. Once the person realizes their condition, confesses it and seeks help, all that family support comes back in and surrounds that person and encourages them in their recovery.
A hard lesson but remember what is being said. We all sin because we have not all been made perfect yet. We are flawed material and thus we need Jesus. When we sin we confess it, seek forgiveness, receive forgiveness and continue in our walk. The problem comes with unconfessed sin which is not being dealt with. When a person is confronted about this sin they are living with and they refuse to deal with it and stop, then there is a problem and the church must make a decision.
Let's make sure we never put our leaders in the position of needing to take such a course of action. Let us seek to live holy lives with humble and repentant hearts and when conviction comes in let us deal with it immediately. Let us be contributors to the Body not a diseased part of it that must be removed for the health of the body. May this be a God honouring and joyful day for you as you serve the Lord.