Summary: In 1 Corinthians 5, Paul severely admonishes the church for it’s failure to discipline an erring brother. The lesson we need to take from the Corinthian problem is: Don’t Forsake Christ’s Plan of Discipline.
Purposed Discipline Series: Studies from
1 Corinthians 5:1–13 1 Corinthians
UCLA sociologist, James Wilson, has observed an interesting fact about city life: The crime rate escalates on those streets where broken windows are not repaired. His study showed that the failure to replace windows makes an announcement to the public by saying the standards have been lowered and authority has been abandoned. Wilson sees such practices of disrepair as an invitation for further crime without the threat of adverse consequences. What is true on the street is also true in the church. If we allow sin and unscriptural practices to go unchecked, we are be inviting destruction into the Lord’s church. When we exercise the discipline needed to stop and change our damaging behavior, we will erect a fence of protection that will prevent further erosion.
Adapted from Reader’s Digest, Oct. 1995, p. 157
In 1 Corinthians 5, Paul severely admonishes the church for it’s failure to discipline an erring brother. Paul deals with an urgent problem in Corinth that arose from a failure to follow the teachings of Christ. This problem had gotten out of hand because the Corinthians had failed to follow Jesus’ command in Matthew 18. Paul’s ability to deal with this problem is beyond our reach today. Paul can pass judgement on this man, though he was not physically there, because of the power of the Holy Spirit within him as an apostle. (vs. 3–4)
The lesson we need to take from the Corinthian problem is: Don’t Forsake Christ’s Plan of Discipline.
I. The Purpose of Christ’s Plan of Discipline
A. To Remove Sin from the Body of Christ.
1. Notice the Notoriousness of the sin. (5:1a)
2. Notice the Nature of the sin. (5:1b)
B. To Restore an Erring Brother. 1 Cor. 5:5
1. Spiritual men must accept responsibility for each other. Gal. 6:1–2
2. Did you know that you can leave the lid off of a tank full of crabs and not one will ever escape? That’s because if one crab starts to crawl out, the others will grab onto him and pull him back in. In this sense, we should be "crabby" as Christians. We are all "in Christ," when we see a fellow Christian about to climb out of the tank we should make the effort to pull him back in.
Adapted from Working Well, July 1995, p. 3
3. Matthew 18:12–15
II. The Practice of Christ’s Plan of Discipline
A. The Corinthians had forsaken Christ’s Plan of Discipline. 1 Cor. 5:2
1. Instead of going to the man, hoping to restore him, they were proud.
2. Paul was forced to take drastic measures for the sake of this man’s soul.
B. Christ’s Plan of Discipline Matthew 18:15–17
1. Go to your brother privately, not to condemn but to restore.
2. Go to your brother with one or two others.
a. Spiritually Minded Brothers. Gal. 6:1
b. Purpose is not to condemn but to restore.
3. Make the matter known publicly.
a. Only to the church (ekklesia).
b. Purpose is so that everyone may plead for restoration.
4. Withdraw from the offender.
C. The Responsibility of Discipline.
1. Involves ONLY members of the Church. 1 Cor. 5:9–11
2. Involves ALL members of the Church. 1 Cor. 5:12–13
III. The Pay–Off of following Christ’s Plan of Discipline
A. Christ’s Plan of Discipline results in restoration. 2 Cor. 2:5–8
B. Discipline keeps sin from spreading. 1 Cor. 5:6–7
C. Discipline keeps the celebration of Christ Pure. 1 Cor. 5:8
Correction and discipline are certainly not topics anyone delights in discussing much less having to carry them out. As Christians we must be ready and willing to practice discipline when necessary. Contrary to some peoples ideas, Church discipline is not simply withdrawing fellowship. With God’s help and the right attitude Church discipline will never proceed to that point. Church discipline is practiced every day in the Lord’s Church without most of us knowing that it is happening and that is the way Christ meant for it to take place!
Mitchell Skelton, Minister–Midway church of Christ