Dealing with immorality in the Church!
Scripture reading for August 9th: 1st Corinthians 5:1-13
The Corinthian church had been formed by people getting saved out of a pagan culture. Immorality was rampant along with idolatry. Sexual promiscuity and perversion were everywhere. Paul had a report of an incident in the church among those who were believers that caused him alarm. His letter now addressed this difficult problem.
“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! Shouldn’t you rather have been filled with grief and have put out of your fellowship the man who did this?” (1st Corinthians 5:1-2) When the church tolerates immorality and even boasts about it, the pagan world is confused. They know that we claim to be forgiven and live a life of righteousness. They are quick to point out when what we claim to believe is contradicted by how we live. This sin was obvious to pagans and should have been as well in the church.
Paul’s instructions to them in this matter were simple. “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, hand this man over to Satan, so that the sinful nature may be destroyed and his spirit saved on the day of the Lord.” (1st Corinthians 5:4-5) This church was not to tolerate evil in the members. This man was to be put out of the fellowship of believers and the body should prayerfully worship and seek God. As they came together and prayed for this man, they were to give him over to Satan. This was not to see him destroyed, but that through judgment on this sin by withdrawal from Christ’s body, this man might repent and be saved!
Paul reminded them that they were not to associate with immoral people but this did not mean withdrawal from the world where these people were everywhere. Paul’s instruction was not to associate with anyone who calls himself a brother but is sexually immoral, or greedy, or an idolater or a drunkard or swindler. (1st Corinthians 5:11-13) They must not even eat with such persons, but must expel them from fellowship. The punishment was meant to be redemptive and ultimately hoped for restoration.