Summary: The Corinthians were Paul's favourite church, but what a mess! Sexual sin was rife, including one young man sleeping with his step mum. So Paul has a fight on his hands...
In the middle of what I think is Paul’s second most combative letter to one of his churches.
The first is Galatians – where he is tackling the issue of Judaizers who want to take the believers away from grace and back to the law.
The Corinthians were going the opposite way. They had begun to mix in Greek Wisdom and Philosophy into Christianity and reckoned they were wiser than Paul and Jesus. They also thought they were more spiritual than Paul. So spiritual that the physical didn’t matter and you could do what you like with your body.
So Paul starts the letter reminding them of who they really are in Christ – their identity before dealing with some of the false teaching that had crept in that was leading to some bad living.
They are the Church of God 1:2 – God’s new people
They are sanctified 1:2 – they have been made holy
They are saints – “holy ones” 1:2
They are not lacking any spiritual gift 1:7
God will sustain them to the end, guiltless when Christ comes back 1:8
Paul has a pattern of indicative and imperative.
He indicates who they are because of Jesus and then tells them to live in the good of it – the imperative.
Corinth was a really debauched city – it had two ports and those sailors were pretty immoral!
There was a temple to the Greek god of sex and thousands of Temple prostitutes.
It was such an immoral place – that there was a verb “To live like a Corinthian”
As you can imagine, the Corinthians were sex mad – as sex mad as our culture, if not more.
Yet the gospel had broken in – people were becoming Christians and God was washing them clean.
The devil hates a revival and sent in false teachers – so that they were beginning to think – hey we are spiritual, so our bodies don’t matter, so let’s do whatever with them. There’s nothing new under the sun – I’ve heard of some people twisting grace that way in this decade too.
In chapter 5 we find out that they Christians weren’t just living like a Corinthian, they had some who were living worse than a Corinthian. Let’s read the passage…
It’s like a bad episode of Jeremy Kyle…
Stop sleeping with your step mum
V1 sexual immorality – the word is porneia where we get pornography from. It’s the word used for any sexual activity outside of a husband and wife marriage. So it encompasses fornication – sex before marriage, adultery, homosexual sex – interestingly in 6:9 two words are used for homosexual activity one active and one passive.
In the church there was a man sleeping with his step mum. The church was tolerating it and was even arrogant about it happening. We are free! We are exercising our freedom. Paul flings back some of their slogans that they had twisted in 6:12 “All things are lawful for me.”
Paul is shocked at their tolerance of sin and their arrogance about it. They should be mourning – feeling the godly sorrow that leads to a change of mind and turning from such immorality – repentance in other words.
Deal with it
They have been made holy – and this man is definitely not living in the good of being made holy.
Paul tells them what to do in v3-5 – when they are gathered together in the Spirit, they need to act like he is there rather than just reading a distant letter – what he means by and “my spirit is present”. And kick him out so Satan can deal with him.
In the church there is the experience of the Spirit, the presence of Jesus, gifts are exercised to build each other up. There’s protection and favour. By putting him out and back into the world, he is vulnerable to attack. Paul’s hoping that will bring him to his senses and repentance so that he will come back.
Note the eternal security of v5 – be saved in the day of the Lord.
In 6:9 Paul elaborates further “the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God” – the context is this man and Christians suing each other. This man’s not dealt with persistent sin is causing a loss of inheritance, not a loss of salvation.
The good news is that kicking him out worked. By the time of the second letter it is clear the man has stopped, repented and somewhat sheepishly come back. 2 Corinthians 2:5-11 READ! He needed to be shown love, forgiveness and comfort.
Al this sounds quite harsh, but Paul now explains tolerating that kind of sin is a big deal.
Why deal with sexual sin in the church?
God is awesome! What He has done is awesome – wants us to shine like stars in the world Phil 2:15. That man’s behaviour was worse than the depraved behaviour of the Corinthians so they were not shining like stars, they were doing the opposite. Paul goes further though