Evangelical Community Chapel at Liberal: a Molalla, Oregon Church

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1 Corinthians 5

August 12th, 2012 by Vic

1 Corinthians 5

“Sin in the Church”

August 5, 2012


We have become experts at relabeling sin so we don’t offend someone.  Sin is now an alternate lifestyle, a mistake of judgment, a mental snap, irresistible passion, upbringing, genetics, just a little thing.  Like us the Corinthians carried into the church some of the thinking of the world.  Like us they were not Christlike in all their thinking.  Sin in the church was not being confronted and dealt with.  When sin is not rooted out it grows and there is division and criticism.  We seem to forget that God hates sin so much that He sent Jesus to pay the price for our sin.  Paul gives us some guidelines on why and how we need to judge in the church.  The message of this chapter is not to ignore sin in you life.


In Corinth you were free to practice your religion as long as you worshiped the Caesar once a year.  You were also expected to be tolerant of the other person’s religion.  Sex was part of most pagan worship.  The Romans were proud of their freedom and tolerance and liberal attitude.  The Corinthians did not use the word sin.  They did not value chastity, purity, or deferred gratification.  Our media culture in Oregon avoids the word sin and does not value purity.  They say, “Don’t judge me.”  “Who do you think you are?”  “One little fault (sin) does not hurt anyone.”

5:1-2  Why do we need to judge others in the church?  The story of Achan in the Old Testament teaches us the whole group suffers if the sin is not dealt with.  Sin is a corrupting influence in an individual and in the church.  Sin messes up the family if it is not confronted, corrected, and cast out.  Sin leads to sorrow.  Holiness leads to happiness.


Paul was told that there was ‘porneia’ (fornication/immorality) in the church.  This is a broader term than our pornography.  ‘porneia’ is all sex outside of marriage.  This is a disgusting word describing illicit sex that even the heathens do not condone.  The church in Corinth had a member sexually involved with his step mother.  The woman was not mentioned probably because she did not claim to be Christian.


Paul says, “You are puffed up with no shame.  You are proud of your tolerance.  You claim to have the gift of superior knowledge.  As a church you should be grieving, not proud of your love and tolerance.”  Paul is shocked at their complacent acceptance.  Maybe this fellow was a very wealthy supporter of the church.  Maybe he had a lot of family in the church.  But an easy-going attitude toward sin is dangerous.  When we cease to be shocked by sin we are in trouble.  We need to remember it was to free us from the penalty of sin that Christ died.  Sin should break our heart.  If we have been forgiven, if we know what pleases God, why would we allow sin to continue in our lives or the church?


Jewish law required this sexual offender to be stoned.  Discipline in the church was not quite as drastic and unchangeable.  In the Christian church the focus is on restoration rather than death or destruction.  Paul is going to give us some guidelines for church discipline.  He shows us that we are to not be pious policemen, but broken hearted brothers.


5:3  There is a time to judge.  When you judge something you identify what is there.  At the county fair there are judges for all the craft and collections.  They identify what is there.  Like a good parent, Paul had already identified the sin.  He had imagined a church meeting and decided on a discipline to restore the sinner to fellowship.


5:4  Paul gives us 4 guidelines for judging the sinner in the church.

1. In the name of the Lord Jesus.  When you sign a legal document in the name of someone you are signing it knowing that it is in line with and in harmony with the other person’s will, way, and nature.  Our attitude must be, “not my will, but Your will be done.”

2. When you are assembled.  Discipline is not a Lone Ranger situation.  There should be unity and agreement in the congregation regarding the discipline.  This does not suggest that every member must be present.  It may be referring to the church leaders.  An assembly requires more than just the pastor.

3. The spirit of Paul should be reflected in the decision.  Paul came to the Corinthians with many tears and a broken heart.  They should also know Paul’s attitude through his writings and their decision should be in harmony with that heart and spirit of Paul.

4. With the power and authority of Jesus Christ.  God has gifted men in the church with leadership abilities.  They are responsible to do things decently and in order under the authority they have received.


Our attitude should cause us to mourn over the sin (2).  We need to be shocked by sin.  We need to identify the sin and judge with the right motive (4).  We need to clean out the sin (5-8).  The church is healthier when it does not condone sin.


5:5-8  Sin separates us from God.  The action to correct this sin was to isolate the sinner from the church fellowship.  Send him back into the world which is under the power of satan.  Hand him over to satan.  Satan does a good job of punishing sinners.  Don’t try to protect him.  Let him suffer the consequences of his sin.  Like the Prodigal Son let him wallow in the pig slop.  Let him experience isolation (2 Thes 3:14).  Let him experience loneliness.


The purpose of discipline is to purge, restore and reform.  Sinners are not saved by us condoning their sin.  After this Corinthian sinner repented (2 Cor 2:7) the church is to forgive, comfort and receive him back into the fellowship.


Tough love is sometimes necessary.  Tough love can be ‘kalon’ (beautiful).  Your tolerance is not beautiful (6).


The phrase “do you not know” is used 6 times in the next chapter.  They claimed to have received the gift of knowledge when they became Christians.  Their world view had changed.  They were starting to see reality from God’s point of view.  They could see the old Greek gods had no power.  Now the Holy Spirit must be directing their worship.  In the past, the epitome of worship for many Greeks had been a fantastic emotional experience.  Now the joy of the Lord was bringing a lot of emotion to their worship.  Paul commands them to use their heads.  Don’t administer punishment during an emotional high when your brain is in neutral.  There is no certainty of truth in the profundity of experience.


Think about leaven.  Sin is like leaven.  Leaven is left over, rotten, or fermenting dough.  The church is like the whole lump.  Before the Jewish Passover can be celebrated, before the joy of the Lord can fill your home all the leaven must be removed from the house.  This started 7 days before Passover.  Leaven represented uncleanness.  So now in Christ separate yourselves from the sin causing uncleanness.  Christ has already died for your sin.  You are kind of slow in disinfecting (ekkatharata) your life of sin.  Wash up right now!  Remove the contamination.


Like Peter tells the Christians, “After you have been born again (1 Pet 1:23) you must put off from your life all malice, deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and slander of every kind (1 Pet 2:1).”


Let’s keep on keeping the feast and keep the leaven out.  Let’s celebrate with joy our new abundant life in Christ without the leaven of malice and wickedness (8).  Keep the evil leaven out of your life and fellowship.  Enjoy the unleavened bread of sincerity (judged by the light of the sun) and truth (not hidden).


5:9-13  Paul wrote a letter before this letter.  He told them not to habitually fellowship with immoral people.  But they misunderstood him.  He did not intend for them to just talk with Christians and just buy and sell goods from Christians.  He did not intend for them to move out of Corinth or live in monasteries (10).  In this world you will have dealings with people who are:

1. immoral (controlled by lust).  The root cause of immorality is a wrong view of man.  In the end it views man as beasts whose passions and instincts are shamelessly satisfied.  This is a sin against man’s own self.  Christianity views man as a child of God with a spirit as well as a body.  Do you really believe you are a child of the Creator?  What evidence does your life demonstrate?

2. covetous (over-reachers always wanting more) and swindlers (extortionists, hijackers).  They dedicate their lives to the task of getting.  They measure the value of a thing by its value to themselves.  This is a sin against our neighbors.  But the Christian finds his joy in giving not getting.  He measures the value of possessions by the value to his neighbor and the plan of God.

3.  idolaters (devoted to anything but God).  Today’s idolatry takes many forms.  Idolatry is a sin against God.  It is the sin that allows persons, places, or things to usurp the place of God.  It is replacing the real God of Creation with a false god.  Christians honor only God as supreme and give Him thanks.


Be salt and light as you live in this world among immoral, covetous swindlers, and idolaters.  But if anyone claims to be a Christian and does these things, don’t associate (have intimacy) with him.  Don’t even eat with him.  If he continually practices sin, you need to separate yourself from him.  Avoid spending a lot of time with him.  He will be a bad influence on you.  His sin is like a cancer to the health of the church.


It is important to look at the example of Jesus.  He hung out with publicans and sinners.  He was a friend of sinners.  At the same time He was holy, blameless, pure, and separate from sinners (Heb 7:26).  He was with sinners but did not sin.  In his next letter Paul says, “Come out from among them and be separate” (2 Cor 6:16-17).  The idea of ‘separate’ carries the thought of a lonely little petunia in an onion patch.  You have a different nature than those around you.


It is not the job of the church to judge those outside the church.  The Lord has retained that responsibility (12-13).  We are to judge those who meet as the church, not to condemnation, but to identification.  The plan of God is that the church be spotless and pure as the bride of Christ.  This would be a very radical concept for the Greeks and Romans.  They did not value purity.  They knew the Jews were different.  They were not quite sure what the Christians meant when they talked about sin.  So Paul wants the Christians to demonstrate to the world that God is pleased with purity in the church and in our lives.  When we follow Paul’s 4 steps in verse 4, the sinner will repent or get bitter.


If the sinner repents the church is to reaffirm their love for him and forgive (2 Cor 2:8-10).  The goal of identifying sin in the church is the health of the church and the restoration of the prodigal brother.  We are not to be pious policemen, but broken hearted brothers.  Don’t ignore sin in your lives.

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