Summary: We should not accommodate sin.


I Corinthians 5:1-13

S: Sin (church discipline)

Th: Live the Difference


?: How? How can we do it?

KW: Misses

TS: We will find in our study of I Corinthians 5:1-13 four “misses” we can make that enables us to accommodate sin.

The _____ miss is…





Version: ESV

RMBC 07 March 04 AM


ILL Notebook: Punishment

At breakfast one day, a newlywed wife eagerly waited for husband, John, to comment on her first attempt at homemade cinnamon rolls.

After several minutes with no reaction, she asked, "If I baked these commercially, how much do you think I could get for one of them?"

Without looking up from his newspaper John replied, "About 10 years."

Ouch, that hurt!

Have you ever wondered what you deserved?

Parents often wonder this.

When things go wrong with the kids, the thought is, “What did I do to deserve this?”

You know, it has been said…

ILL Notebook: Children (from 2-18)

You spend the first 2 years of their life teaching them to walk and talk. Then you spend the next 16 telling them to sit down and be quiet.

Somehow, the proportion of that doesn’t seem right.

It seems it should be different.


Well, for the regulars today, I hope you are remembering our theme for the year…“Live the Difference.”

Let me start out today by saying that…

1. Living the difference means that we seek God’s glory (10:31).

So…whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.

As believers in the Lord Jesus, we live differently than those that do not believe.

We live, not for our sakes or for our own needs, but for the Lord’s.

Living the difference means that we look beyond ourselves.

We look to how we might please God.

Not only that, but…

2. Living the difference means that we think differently about sin (Romans 6:11).

Paul will have much more to say about this when he pens the letter to the Romans.

But let us consider one thought he has there…

So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus.

Simply, Paul is saying that the issue of sin is to be dead one to us.

Sin no longer has a place in the Christian’s life.

We are to consider it in such a way that there is no room.

This means that it is to have no place in us.

This is how we are to think.

Yet, it is clear that there are a lot of us that don’t think this way, right?

For sin has a way of creeping into our lives, and we find that we are missing the mark of God’s standard, even as Christians.

He has directed us in one way to live, and we have chosen another.


3. When you have sin in your life, what choices are before you?

You know…

Sometimes, we ignore it.

We just go ahead and hope that the consequences won’t be all that bad.

Other times, we think that we are perfectly free to do what we want.

After all, God is a God of love and He wouldn’t condemn us for such things.

Sometimes, we just go for it.

It’s time for pleasure.

We will get right with the Lord later.

Or, we can shun it.

We can recognize that when we break God’s law, we also break His heart.

So, let me say this morning, without apology…


You see, we need to face the truth.

Sin has no place in our lives.

We may rationalize all we want, but the truth of the matter is, that the wages of sin is death.

Death is what sin deserves.

And this is the very reason why Jesus died.

Instead of us getting what we deserve, Jesus took it in our stead.

All the more, then, as believers we should give no room for sin.

But it does happen, doesn’t it?

We still miss the mark, don’t we?


5. We will find in our study of I Corinthians 5:1-13 four “misses” that enable us to accommodate sin.


I. The first miss is MISCONDUCT (1-2).

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. And you are arrogant! Ought you not rather to mourn? Let him who has done this be removed from among you.

The Corinthian culture of the day was a tough one for a Christian to live in.

The literal worship of sex dominated the city and permissiveness was the norm.

The temple prostitutes would make their way into town every night to ply their trade.

The philosophy of the day was…

“Mistresses we keep for the sake of pleasure, concubines for the daily care of the body, but wives to bear us legitimate children.”

The standards that Paul introduced to these Gentile Christians were a tremendous change and they were not so easily absorbed.

Nevertheless, as we have already heard from the text, they had gone way overboard.


1. We are not a proper place of grace if we tolerate sin.

Paul notes that there is an ongoing sexual relationship in the church that cannot be tolerated.

There is no option on this.

The church cannot close its eyes and hope it goes away.

It must be dealt with.

At first, Paul describes it as sexual immorality.

The Greek word is “porneia” from which we get our word pornography.

It was a word that referred to any illicit sexual activity, that is, anything that was outside God’s design of marriage.

So, one could say that…

“From God’s perspective, any sexual relationship outside the sanctity of marriage is pornographic.” (Goins)

Specifically, Paul points to the fact that a man has his father’s wife.

That is, a man is living with his stepmother.

This was incest.

It is what the book of Leviticus considers a sexual abomination.

Even the Romans considered this outrageous.

So when Christians were accepting it, a lot of people were left scratching their heads.


2. Something is radically wrong when the Christian yawns at sin.

There should have been utter shock that this was existing in the Corinthian church.

The proper reactions should have been deep anguish and the deepest grief.

They should have been aching.

Instead, they were complacent.

In fact, they were more than that.

They were smug over their newfound enlightened tolerance.

It was Alexander Pope, an 18th century poet, that described this process all too well:

Vice is a monster of so frightful mien,

As to be hated needs but to be seen;

Yet seen too oft, familiar with her face,

We first endure, then pity, then embrace.

The Corinthians had become more than complacent.

They had become proud and arrogant, embracing the sin, boasting in their open-mindedness.

Which leads us to…

II. The second miss is MISJUDGMENT (3-5).

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. When you are assembled in the name of the Lord Jesus and my spirit is present, with the power of our Lord Jesus, 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.

1. We are not to hesitate when the facts are established.

The church is not doing anything.

It had taken no action.

We don’t know why.

Perhaps the man was one of the faction leaders.

Perhaps he was one of the patrons of the church.

But we do know that they are not doing anything.

In fact, they are refusing to do anything.

Paul’s conclusion is much different.

He didn’t need a fact-finding mission, for in his mind, this is a no-brainer.

Even the pagans think this is disgusting.

So Paul speaks in the name of Jesus, for he is present with them in the Spirit.

The man needs to be out.

They were not to tolerate or embrace this situation any longer.

They were 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.

And here is the lesson in that…

2. Sin always chaotically turns on itself.

ILL Notebook: Sin (buy a verdict)

Schmitt, a dishonest lawyer, bribed a man on his client’s jury to hold out for a charge of manslaughter, as opposed to the charge of murder which was brought by the state.

The jury was out for several days before they returned with the manslaughter verdict.

When Schmitt paid the corrupt juror, he asked him if he had a very difficult time persuading the other jurors to see things his way.

"Sure did," the juror replied, "the other eleven wanted to acquit."

This is what sin does.

It never comes out the way we expect it to.

It is the opposite of order.

So when we sin, it leads to chaos.

This is why Paul says he must leave.

For his own good, the man needs to have the order, the covering, and the insulation of the church removed and let the true effects of his sin come out.

He is to be turned back into Satan’s sphere where he holds sway.

But before we think that Paul is some awful tyrant, remember that…

3. The ultimate goal is reclamation.

The purpose is remedial.

It is the hope of the church that the shock of the severity of disapproval will stimulate them to change behavior.

He needs to repent.

And if he does, he will be forgiven and restored in love.

You see, when someone sins, whether it seems small or big, whether once or habitual, the goal is always the same.

The goal is to lead someone back to Christ.

Now we come to…

III. The third miss is MISCONCEPTION (6-8).

Your boasting is not good. Do you not know that a little leaven leavens the whole lump? 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. 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.

1. We are not to take lightly the effect of sin.

Paul wants us to understand that the consequences of not disciplining are much worse.

We cannot allow sin to go unchecked.

For sin is like yeast in bread, it spreads so that it affects the whole.

In the same way, it is the nature of sin to ferment, to corrupt and to permeate the whole body.

You see, we are to remove everything from the old life that would taint the new.

So for their own sake, for the sake of the church, they cannot allow the sin to go unchallenged and unrestrained.

They were to be as unleavened bread.

They were, simply, to become what they were already.

But if they let the sin go, they become what they had already been, no different than the world, and thus, unable to live the difference the Spirit made in them.

You see…

2. We are to celebrate Christ, by rejoicing in forgiveness, not taking advantage of it.

Paul refers to the historic event of the Exodus and the establishing of the Passover feast.

It was at the Exodus that the Lord brought His people out of Egypt by His strong hand.

It was this historical event that would point to a future one – the one of Christ on the cross.

For it is at the cross that God once again comes to bring us out of this world’s bondage.

You see, Jesus’ atonement was not intended to free us to sin but to liberate us from sin.

This is where some of these Corinthians were mistaken.

They got the freedom thing all wrong.

It was freedom from sin.

Thus, we have a festival to celebrate.

It is this table…the Table of Grace.

But it is not a celebration that we should take lightly.

No, it is not a frivolous party.

It is a place of worship.

It is a place of gratitude.

It is a place of power.

It is a place that sincerity and truth are to reign.

So, now we come to…

IV. The fourth miss is MISMANAGEMENT (9-13).

I wrote to you in my letter not to associate with sexually immoral people — 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. 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. For what have I to do with judging outsiders? Is it not those inside the church whom you are to judge? God judges those outside. "Purge the evil person from among you."

You see, as the apostle John would say later…

1. We are to be in the world, not of it.

As we have noted before, Paul has written a previous letter, so what we are studying is not I Corinthians.

It is at least II, if not more…

But they misunderstood something in that previous letter, so he sets to straighten that out.

Paul had told them not to associate with people that were flagrantly immoral.

They somehow understood it to mean people outside the church, while he was talking about what was going on inside.

Those that had professed Christ, but then lived brazenly opposed to God’s Word as they had before, were not to be associated with.

Those that were sexually immoral…

Those that were continuing to cheat others…

Those that were controlled by their drinking and were making no attempts to amend their ways…

All of these were to be rejected from the church if they refused to live what they had become in Christ.

You see, we cannot avoid contact with the world and its sin, but we are to avoid contamination.

And when the contamination enters into the church…

2. We are to be firm about those that openly and persistently rebel against God.

The Christians of Corinth had failed to grasp God’s utter repugnance of sin.

They had also failed to understand His infinitely perfect standards for holiness.

They were being unsuccessful when it came to living the difference.

It is here that Paul refers to the priority of judgment.

Now, we may find this strange because he has just made a case against their judging him.

Not only that, we also have Jesus’ words of “Judge not, so that you will not be judged.”

Yet, what we learn here is that…

3. We have a responsibility to judge.

As a point of explanation, we must recognize that we are to be extra careful when it comes to criticism that is personal and that judges a person’s motives.

This is what Jesus was talking about.

We must exercise caution when it comes to God’s call and ministry.

This is what Paul was talking about in the previous chapter.

Now Paul wants to be clear here.

They are not to judge the world.

They were not to have their noses in the air and thank the Lord that they were not like them.

No, we are to witness to outsiders, not judge.

That is God’s job and He will take care of that in due time.

But, we are to have watch care in the church.

Whenever sin has the possibility of corrupting the congregation, it is like a cancer.

It must be removed.

For those that continually and defiantly sin are betraying the Lord and the community.

They must go.


For a fresh reading of this text, I am going to read it from Eugene Peterson’s The Message…

I also received a report of scandalous sex within your church family, a kind that wouldn’t be tolerated even outside the church: One of your men is sleeping with his stepmother. And you’re so above it all that it doesn’t even faze you! Shouldn’t this break your hearts? Shouldn’t it bring you to your knees in tears? Shouldn’t this person and his conduct be confronted and dealt with?

I’ll tell you what I would do. Even though I’m not there in person, consider me right there with you, because I can fully see what’s going on. I’m telling you that this is wrong. You must not simply look the other way and hope it goes away on its own. Bring it out in the open and deal with it in the authority of Jesus our Master. Assemble the community — I’ll be present in spirit with you and our Master Jesus will be present in power. Hold this man’s conduct up to public scrutiny. Let him defend it if he can! But if he can’t, then out with him! It will be totally devastating to him, of course, and embarrassing to you. But better devastation and embarrassment than damnation. You want him on his feet and forgiven before the Master on the Day of Judgment.

Your flip and callous arrogance in these things bothers me. You pass it off as a small thing, but it’s anything but that. Yeast, too, is a "small thing," but it works its way through a whole batch of bread dough pretty fast. So get rid of this "yeast." Our true identity is flat and plain, not puffed up with the wrong kind of ingredient. The Messiah, our Passover Lamb, has already been sacrificed for the Passover meal, and we are the Unraised Bread part of the Feast. So let’s live out our part in the Feast, not as raised bread swollen with the yeast of evil, but as flat bread — simple, genuine, unpretentious.

I wrote you in my earlier letter that you shouldn’t make yourselves at home among the sexually promiscuous. I didn’t mean that you should have nothing at all to do with outsiders of that sort. Or with crooks, whether blue- or white-collar. Or with spiritual phonies, for that matter. You’d have to leave the world entirely to do that! But I am saying that you shouldn’t act as if everything is just fine when one of your Christian companions is promiscuous or crooked, is flip with God or rude to friends, gets drunk or becomes greedy and predatory. You can’t just go along with this, treating it as acceptable behavior. I’m not responsible for what the outsiders do, but don’t we have some responsibility for those within our community of believers? God decides on the outsiders, but we need to decide when our brothers and sisters are out of line and, if necessary, clean house.

1. Church discipline is important because holiness is essential.

We must understand that our witness to the outsiders is only as strong as our purity.

If we are to make an impact for God’s kingdom, we cannot flirt with sin.

We are called on to live differently.

If we don’t, we don’t belong.

It is that simple.


2. Discipline begins with me.

I have to look within.

I have to be willing to be brutally honest and identify within me that which is notoriously and persistently wicked.

We must recognize that the heart is deceitfully wicked.

We must understand that the old man, as Paul calls it, still wants to have its way.

But we have been liberated from that way of life.

Before we had no choice.

Now we do.

And we are not to tolerate our former way of life.

We are not to allow sexual immorality in our lives.

We are not to give in to the pressure to gossip about others in the church.

We are not to give ourselves permission to speak lies.

We are not to let pride have its way and permit disunity into the church.

We must be determined not to look away, but instead, say…

3. “I will not tolerate sin in my life” (cf. Romans 6:11; II Corinthians 5:17).

I hated listening to the news this week.

I hate the fact that a man was murdered in Buffalo on Friday.

I hate political campaigns because of all the lies that are told, typically by both parties.

I hate the fact that abortions took place this week.

I hate the fact that people reject God’s design of marriage and get divorced because they are tired.

I hate the fact that people are attempting to redesign God’s pattern for marriage.

I hate it all.

Do you hate those things as well?

And do you want to do something about it?

Don’t tolerate sin in your life!

You see…

When Christians stop having abortions…

When Christians start telling the truth…

When Christians respect their vows…

When Christians begin acting with integrity…

When Christians stop accommodating sin…

Then we will make an impact.

Then we will have His kingdom come.

Then we will live the difference the Spirit makes in our lives.


Paul will write later on in this letter to the Corinthians these corresponding verses to today’s text…

(27) Whoever, therefore, eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of profaning the body and blood of the Lord. (28) Let a person examine himself, then, and so eat of the bread and drink of the cup. (29) For anyone who eats and drinks without discerning the body eats and drinks judgment on himself. (30) That is why many of you are weak and ill, and some have died. (31) But if we judged ourselves truly, we would not be judged. (32) But when we are judged by the Lord, we are disciplined so that we may not be condemned along with the world.

If you know you have sin in your life, don’t rush to this table.

This is a time, right now, to get right with the Lord.

This is a time, to pray the prayer on the front cover of the bulletin…

“Create in me a clean heart, O God, and put a new and right spirit within me.”

A few years ago, Sara Groves wrote a song called, “How Is It Between Us?”

When I wake up I am on my way,

Reinventing the wheel and saving the day.

I have learned this lesson a thousand times,

I am the branch, you are the vine.

Apart from you we are mice and men,

with our fancy dreams of grandeur

and no way to get there.

Oh I can think about you now and then,

Or I can make a mark on eternity.

Lord first of all, how is it, between you and me?

How is it between us?

How is it between us?

When did I talk to you last,

and what has happened since?

How is it between us?

How is it between us?

When did I talk to you last,

and what has happened since?

So, let us practice that question for a moment and keep the relationship going.

Pray silently for a moment and ask the Lord, “How is it between us?”

We practice “communion” because we are to remember the

death of the Lord Jesus.

We take the bread to remind us that it was by the body of our

Savior that our salvation came.

He died in our place.

He became our substitute.

We take the cup to remind us that it was by the blood of our

Savior that our salvation came.

He died for our sins.

He became our sacrifice.

Being led in prayer by , let us take a moment and thank Him for taking our place on the cross, taking upon Himself that which we deserved.

The apostle Paul writes, "The Lord Jesus, on the night he was betrayed, took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and said, This is my body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of me."

Let’s partake together.

will now come and lead us in prayer.

Again, the apostle Paul writes, "In the same way, after supper he took the cup saying, This cup is the new covenant in my blood; do this, whenever you drink it, in remembrance of me."

Let’s partake together.

Deacon Offering…

BENEDICTION: [Counselors are ]

Do not make any accommodation for sin in your life…

Don’t break the heart of God by disregarding His holiness…

Don’t betray His body, the church, by contaminating it with sin…


Do live the difference the Spirit makes in you…

Do live free from sin…

And do live in such a way that His body, the church, is able to live in harmony, doing Kingdom work.

Now to him who is able to keep you from falling and to present you before his glorious presence without fault and with great joy—to the only God our Savior be glory, majesty, power and authority, through Jesus Christ our Lord, before all ages, now and forevermore! Amen.


Blomberg, Craig, The NIV Application Commentary

Fee, Gordon, The New International Commentary on the New Testament

MacArthur, John, I Corinthians

Wiersbe, Warren, The Bible Exposition Commentary

Dealing with Sin, Tom Fuller

How to Handle Church Discipline, Jonathan McLeod

Somerset Is a Grace Place, A. Todd Coget

Fornication in the Church, James May

Freedom and Morality, Chris Appleby

Indifference toward Immorality, Doug Goins

Scandal in the Church, Ray C. Stedman