Summary: We conclude our lesson about the discipline of immoral church members by looking at the extent of discipline.
We continue our study in The First Letter of Paul to the Corinthians in a series I am calling Challenges Christians Face.
One of the challenges that Christians face is the discipline of church members engaged in blatant and unrepentant sin. Let’s learn about this in a message I am calling, “Church Discipline.”
Let’s read 1 Corinthians 5:1-13, although my text is vv. 9-13:
1 It is actually reported that there is sexual immorality among you, and of a kind that is not tolerated even among pagans, for a man has his father’s wife. 2 And you are arrogant! Ought you not rather to mourn? Let him who has done this be removed from among you.
3 For though absent in body, I am present in spirit; and as if present, I have already pronounced judgment on the one who did such a thing. 4 When you are assembled in the name of the Lord Jesus and my spirit is present, with the power of our Lord Jesus, 5 you are to deliver this man to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, so that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord.
6 Your boasting is not good. Do you not know that a little leaven leavens the whole lump? 7 Cleanse out the old leaven that you may be a new lump, as you really are unleavened. For Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed. 8 Let us therefore celebrate the festival, not with the old leaven, the leaven of malice and evil, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.
9 I wrote to you in my letter not to associate with sexually immoral people— 10 not at all meaning the sexually immoral of this world, or the greedy and swindlers, or idolaters, since then you would need to go out of the world. 11 But now I am writing to you not to associate with anyone who bears the name of brother if he is guilty of sexual immorality or greed, or is an idolater, reviler, drunkard, or swindler—not even to eat with such a one. 12 For what have I to do with judging outsiders? Is it not those inside the church whom you are to judge? 13 God judges those outside. “Purge the evil person from among you.” (1 Corinthians 5:9-13)
The ancient city of Corinth was a very important city. It was an international city that was located on the crossroads of trade routes going east and west as well as north and south.
The most conspicuous landmark in Corinth was the Acro-corinth, a mountain to the south of the city. Reaching a height of 1,886 feet, it was an ideal situation for a fortress that could control all the trade routes in and out of Corinth. The temple of Aphrodite, the goddess of love and beauty, stood on its highest peak. The thousand female prostitutes who served there contributed to Corinth’s reputation for immorality. In fact, it is to this evil trade carried on in the name of religion that some ascribed the prosperity of the city. The degree to which Corinth was given over to sin is apparent by the coining of the word korinthiázomai (“Corinthianize”), meaning “practice immorality”; similarly “Corinthian girl” (Korinthia kórē) designated a prostitute. That the situation continued into Paul’s day is evidenced by the evils he attacked in his Corinthian letters.
In many ways Corinth was like any western city today. In fact, I was wondering how Tampa fared in this regard. So, I Googled and discovered that Tampa is sometimes referred to as the “strip club capital” of the United States. And not to be outdone, Pasco County is known as the “nudist capital of the world.” The sad thing is that as I looked at the websites, the people were proud of being number one in each category!
Our city and our community are just like Corinth! Sexual immorality is rampant in our community, just as it was at Corinth.
The apostle Paul heard of blatant and unrepentant sin in the church at Corinth. He was shocked by what he heard. He had written a letter to the Corinthians (which we do not possess) expressing his concern over the tolerance of sexual immorality in the church. Word came back to Paul that indicated the Corinthian believers thought that they were enlightened by allowing such sexual permissiveness. And so Paul responded with another letter, the one we now know as The First Letter of Paul to the Corinthians in which he addressed the discipline of church members engaged in blatant and unrepentant sin.
Let’s briefly review what Paul said in 1 Corinthians 5:1-8 regarding the discipline of immoral church members.
I. The Need for Discipline (5:1)
First, notice the need for discipline.