Summary: When it comes to church ethics God sets the standards. He calls us to proper behavior, right living and Godly conduct.
AN EDUCATION IN ETHICS
INTRODUCTION: The word “ethical” is foreign to some church people and some preachers! Ethics = conforming to the standards of conduct of a given profession or group. When it comes to church ethics God sets the standards. He calls us to proper behavior, right living and Godly conduct. It is quite evident that the Corinthians weren’t living up to God’s ethical standards. Consider three ideas here.
I. The Shameful Affair (Ch.5)
A. The Situation (v.1): This is not hearsay, gossip or speculation. This case is actual and factual. It’s the talk of the town. “Immorality” = a man is living with his stepmother! This was condemned by the O.T. (Lev.18, Deut. 22, 27). Roman law condemned it. Even pagans condemned it! Look at the modern day church and you will find all types of immorality. The tragedy is that many young people and even parents act as if it’s no big deal. It’s not uncommon today for a bride to have children out of wedlock and then be pregnant when she parades down the aisle all decked out in her long flowing white gown. Mom and Dad sit there as proud as peacocks. God forbid that a preacher raise his voice and refuse to ask God’s blessings on the ceremony.
B. The Toleration (v.2): Here’s a professing believer acting like an unbeliever and the church is showing apathy. This is not a questionable activity but a glaring sin. The church should have been grieving instead they were “puffed-up” (prideful).
C. The Obligation (v.2-5): “Put out of the fellowship.” “Hand over to Satan.” Be careful here. Discipline belongs to the whole church, not an individual or select few. At issue here is restoration not personal revenge. Remember how Jesus treated the woman at the well and the woman taken in adultery. See Gal. 6:1. The strong medicine may seem hard, harsh and hurtful but it’s meant to be helpful. Surgery is better than an autopsy. If someone is hurting the cause of Christ and the witness of the church the church must act. This is not simply to throw a stone but save a soul.
D. The Illustration (v.6-8): “Leaven/Yeast” = the principle of evil. Paul wanted the evil removed.
E. The Association (v.9-12): Here is strict discipline within and freedom of association without. Why? For the purpose of evangelism. We do just the opposite. We disassociate ourselves from those on the outside and associate with those inside doing the same thing. See 6:12-20. Does the discipline work? See II Cor. 2:6-8.
II. The Judicial Altercation (Ch. 6)
We go from morals to quarrels; from fornication to litigation. It’s just one problem after another.
A. The Blame (v.1): They resorted to pagan courts to settle Christian disputes. Paul wasn’t against courts – he used them. It was ironic. They wouldn’t judge an immoral brother but had no hesitation going to court. “Dare” = disgraceful, abominable, inexcusable.
B. The Claim (v.2-4): You claim superior wisdom; surely you can settle your personal disputes. The church should specialize in helping people settle differences.
C. The Shame (v.5-6): You’re not supposed to shame. Try telling Paul that! We should shame the world by our quality of life and behavior.
D. The Lame (v.7-8): “Defeated.” Why not turn the other cheek rather than hurt the cause of the gospel? No wonder the world considers the church irrelevant.
See v.9-11. A different nature should lead to a different lifestyle.
III. The Marriage Altar (Ch.7)
Note four things about marriage here.
A. Marriage is to be Monogamous (v.1-7): Paul rules out polygamy and same sex relationships. He also rules out extra-marital affairs and abstinence within marriage.
B. Marriage is Binding (v.10-16): Divorce was a serious problem in Corinth. Paul counseled them to stay in their marriage and work toward reconciliation.
C. Marriage Can Be Difficult (v.25-38): Paul seems to be against marriage but he’s not. He spoke to those divorced and widowed. He gives the reasons for not remarrying – difficulty.
D. Christians Should Marry Christians (v.39-40): What if one has married an unbeliever? Stay. You bring a spiritual dimension. Don’t nag. Don’t cram religion down their throat. Just be a good spouse.
CONCLUSION: Every church needs to be educated in ethics. Beware of fornication. Consider that litigation. Consider marital implications. Be ethical!