1 Corinthians 5:1-5 It is actually reported that there is sexual immorality among you, and of a kind that even pagans do not tolerate: A man is sleeping with his father’s wife. 2And you are proud! Shouldn’t you rather have gone into mourning and have put out of your fellowship the man who has been doing this? 3For my part, even though I am not physically present, I am with you in spirit. As one who is present with you in this way, I have already passed judgment in the name of our Lord Jesus on the one who has been doing this. 4So when you are assembled and I am with you in spirit, and the power of our Lord Jesus is present, 5hand this man over to Satan for the destruction of the flesh,a b so that his spirit may be saved on the day of the Lord.
We live in the age of tolerance. But this isn’t the first time we’ve dealt with this. Throughout history, the church has fallen prey to the Spirit of Tolerance time and time again. Paul writes to the church of Corinth with strict instructions regarding how to deal with sexually perverse church members who refuse to change. Before you get all crazy, we aren’t talking about homosexuality, although that’s all anyone wants to talk about these days, we are talking about incest. Even though we are talking about a man sleeping with his mother (or step-mother) this teaching can be carried over to any sin found within the word of God.
The Body of Christ is called to be Holy. In first Peter, the author quotes Leviticus (thus making it New Testament for all those who think there’s a difference) by saying “Be holy as I am holy”. Of course the “I” in this scripture is Jehovah God. Holy means to be dedicated or consecrated to God or a religious purpose; sacred. We are to be set apart from everyone else. How are we to be set apart if we act like everyone else?
Paul goes on to say this in 1 Corinthians 5:9-12
9I wrote to you in my letter not to associate with sexually immoral people— 10not 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. 11But now I am writing to you that you must not associate with anyone who claims to be a brother or sisterc but is sexually immoral or greedy, an idolater or slanderer, a drunkard or swindler. Do not even eat with such people.
How vastly different is this to the way we do church today? He calls out the “brother or sister” who claims Christ but is instead sexually immoral, greedy, an idolater, slanderer, a drunk or a cheater. He commands us to not even eat with those people. That’s crazy! We often do LIFE with these people and think nothing of it. Tolerance and grace has superseded the Word of God. I would hate to discount grace, because I don’t believe we are referring to people who are making a genuine effort to repent of these things. Paul is clearly talking about those who know that what they are doing is sin and simply decide to continue in it.
Have you ever been in a church where someone was thrown out? We’ve been forced into a business-model-church which causes us to be concerned for losing members or congregants. Maybe it’s because of a fear of losing their tithes, or maybe we are afraid they will slander us to other churches or people groups. But either way, we are living in a fear that God hasn’t called us to.
And if anyone does not obey our word in this epistle, note that person and do not keep company with him, that he may be ashamed. Yet do not count him as an enemy, but admonish him as a brother. (2 Thessalonians 3:14-15)
Paul teaches in both Corinthians and in Thessalonians that not only will the discipline be good for the individual but it will be good for the church as well. He tells us to be rid of the person so that his spirit might be saved. He knows that true, loving discipline will lead to salvation, not to destruction.
Note: I believe this kind of discipline is up to the church leaders, not individual congregants. Leadership will be aware of any counseling or steps that are being made toward restoration.
We are also living in an age where people don’t take Paul’s teachings as scripture… what a shame. For those of you who would say, “But what would Jesus do?” Let’s find out…
You can read in John 18 that Jesus was confronted by his would-be captors when Peter drew his sword and struck one of the guards. Jesus heals the man and rebukes Peter for his actions. Peter begins to fall away from Jesus due to the correction. He follows behind Jesus instead of with Jesus and he waits outside the doors instead of going inside. Soon after we find him denying Jesus three times and ultimately returning to being a fisherman instead of continuing his pursuit of Jesus. Also, remember this is already after Peter confesses Jesus as the Christ.
If we experienced this today Jesus would have been accused of “pushing Peter away from salvation”. Peter would not be seen as the transgressor, he would be the victim. Instead of coddling Peter, Jesus set him straight. What came next was true discipleship. Jesus, after his resurrection, pursued Peter.
Jesus goes and visits his disciples but finds some of them missing. He didn’t just write them off… he went and found them. It was just as he taught “leave the 99 to find the 1”.
I believe we need to be more willing to lovingly discipline those of us who claim to be our brothers and sisters. Might they get offended? Yes, but it’s your job to pursue them with the same love that Jesus pursued us.
Got thoughts or comments? Talk to me down below.