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Essentially Paul is saying that God considers the church and it’s leadership to be watchmen. We are responsible for the lives and salvation of the Christians in church family. It IS our business to confront sin so that our brothers and sisters in Christ don’t go to hell.
If we don’t step up and meet our responsibility, God will hold us accountable for the blood of that lost man/woman.
ILLUS: Now, I’m not preaching this because we have a problem to be addressed. This issue of church discipline is a personal thing for me. I watched a congregation I cared very much for, dwindle from being a congregation of over 600 down to a little over 100 people rattling around in a big museum of a building.
What had they done? Years ago, they’d had a wealthy Elder who had a couple of girlfriends on the side… and they looked the other way.
And I watched as that once great congregation wasted away to nothing. All because they wanted the Elder’s money more than holiness.
This is a serious matter.
But then Paul goes beyond the effect this lack of concern with holiness would have on that sinful man and tells of how it would effect the congregation itself.
Paul wrote: “Don’t you know that a little yeast works through the whole batch of dough?” 1 Corinthians 5:6
In other words - if they didn’t confront and punish this sinful behavior NOT ONLY would this young man go to hell, BUT an attitude of sinfulness would spread like yeast thru the whole congregation. Others in the church would take it as a green light to live whatever sinful way they wanted to. I mean – if they’ll let that guy get away with that - why should I worry? Why should I change?
In short: a church that avoids disciplining unrepentant, sinful members risks 3 things:
1. The sinner’s eternal damnation
2. God’s wrath on their Church
3. AND the spread of sin and disobedience throughout the congregation.
This is serious stuff.
Now, does everybody agree that shunning is something a church should be willing to do?
And does everybody agree that they find this whole idea… very uncomfortable?
ILLUS: A couple of years ago, I had a conversation with a non-Christian woman who was upset about the “shunning” she had heard about. Now, the shunning was Biblical and it wasn’t “mean-spirited” or vindictive. It was a case of shutting somebody off who’d done something they shouldn’t have done.
But this non-Christian woman was very angry. She despised this idea of shunning and she couldn’t understand why the church would be so legalistic and unloving about this.
The conversation died down and we started talking about something else. But about 15 minutes later, she talked about how she was never going to allow a certain woman to come into her home.
This woman had done a dreadful thing and she didn’t trust her in the house.
NOW… did you catch what she’d done?
She was angry that a church would shun someone for sinning and being unrepentant. But she felt thoroughly justified in shunning someone else for their sins. (PAUSE)
In this world – just about everybody shuns somebody, sometime.
There are certain people I’ll not have in my house.
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