Summary: Did you know you can get banned from Facebook? And according to this text, you can get "banned" from church too. But why would God ask a church to do that to someone in church? That doesn't seem very loving or kind. What is God trying to accomlish in this
(We opened with an approximately 2 ½ minute video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t-CeW-5Do9o&feature=related).
They ban people from Facebook?
Did you know that?
Well, I knew it… I just didn’t know how common it was.
And – as we heard on that video - it’s shocking experience for those who get kicked off Facebook. They thought this was a free site… that they could say and do anything they wanted.
But that isn’t so.
Now, there is a Biblical equivalent of being kicked off of Facebook.
It’s called shunning or ex-communication.
Shunning is the practice of ostracizing an unrepentant sinful member of a congregation.
In essence – these folks are being banned from church.
The most famous Biblical example of “shunning” is the one found here in I Corinthians 5. From what we read here, it appears that one of the members of the church had decided to co-habitate with his stepmother (sleeping with his daddy’s wife).
AND it appears that the church knew about this and looked the other way.
Paul was amazed.
How could the church tolerate such sinful behavior?
Even the Pagans didn’t live like this.
Well – how could the church folks “tolerate such sinful behavior?” How could they just “look the other way” when a fellow Christian was so obviously immoral?
Well, apparently it seemed like a good idea at the time.
To their way of thinking, it was the “loving thing to do”.
If they could just be more patient and understanding, maybe he’d change.
I mean he was probably just sowing his wild oats.
And maybe they took into account problems he’d had earlier in life.
Besides… it wasn’t their problem.
Many would say: “It really isn’t any of my business.”
But Paul said: “Yes, it is your business. And you better understand – you need to step up and confront this sin.”
He wrote that they NEEDED to shun this man
And the reason they need to do it is “…so that the sinful nature may be destroyed and his spirit saved on the day of the Lord.” (Vs. 5)
Notice what he’s saying.
He saying that
1. Shunning would destroy/break down/cure this man’s sinful behavior
2. BUT IT MORE THAN THAT, it’s also going to save him from damnation.
Thus – if they didn’t punish this man… he could very well end up in hell.
And they would be responsible because they didn’t want to get involved.
God says something about this in Ezekiel 33:2-6. God says to Ezekiel
"Son of man, speak to your countrymen and say to them: ‘When I bring the sword against a land, and the people of the land choose one of their men and make him their watchman, and he sees the sword coming against the land and blows the trumpet to warn the people, then if anyone hears the trumpet but does not take warning and the sword comes and takes his life, his blood will be on his own head. Since he heard the sound of the trumpet but did not take warning, his blood will be on his own head. If he had taken warning, he would have saved himself.
But if the watchman sees the sword coming and does not blow the trumpet to warn the people and the sword comes and takes the life of one of them, that man will be taken away because of his sin, but I WILL HOLD THE WATCHMAN ACCOUNTABLE FOR HIS BLOOD.’
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