Summary: How do you handle sin in the church?
December 2, 2001
1I can hardly believe the report about the sexual immorality going on among you, something so evil that even the pagans don¡¦t do it. I am told that you have a man in your church who is living in sin with his father¡¦s wife. 2And you are so proud of yourselves! Why aren¡¦t you mourning in sorrow and shame? And why haven¡¦t you removed this man from your fellowship?
3Even though I am not there with you in person, I am with you in the Spirit. Concerning the one who has done this, I have already passed judgment 4in the name of the Lord Jesus. You are to call a meeting of the church, and I will be there in spirit, and the power of the Lord Jesus will be with you as you meet. 5Then you must cast this man out of the church and into Satan¡¦s hands, so that his sinful nature will be destroyed and he himself will be saved when the Lord returns.
6How terrible that you should boast about your spirituality, and yet you let this sort of thing go on. Don¡¦t you realize that if even one person is allowed to go on sinning, soon all will be affected? 7Remove this wicked person from among you so that you can stay pure.„T Christ, our Passover Lamb, has been sacrificed for us. 8So let us celebrate the festival, not by eating the old bread of wickedness and evil, but by eating the new bread of purity and truth.
9When I wrote to you before, I told you not to associate with people who indulge in sexual sin. 10But I wasn¡¦t talking about unbelievers who indulge in sexual sin, or who are greedy or are swindlers or idol worshipers. You would have to leave this world to avoid people like that. 11What I meant was that you are not to associate with anyone who claims to be a Christian yet indulges in sexual sin, or is greedy, or worships idols, or is abusive, or a drunkard, or a swindler. Don¡¦t even eat with such people.
12It isn¡¦t my responsibility to judge outsiders, but it certainly is your job to judge those inside the church who are sinning in these ways. 13God will judge those on the outside; but as the Scriptures say, ¡§You must remove the evil person from among you.¡¨ (New Living Translation)
Admittedly, this is a difficult passage of scripture. It is tempting to say: This is too hard to deal with ¡V besides, it¡¦s Christmas ¡V so let¡¦s just skip to chapter 6.
That would be easier for today, and it would also be death to the soul of any church or Christian in the long run. So, let¡¦s deal with the hard issue.
PAUL¡¦S REACTION TO REPORTS OF SEXUAL IMMORALITY
In the first two verses we find that Paul has received some reports that sexual immorality is being tolerated like it is today. Paul is horrified, even disgusted, that it is so blatant, even the pagans outside the church don¡¦t act that badly.
We need to remember that sexual immorality among Christians or pagans isn¡¦t cute or good gossip ¡V it is sin.
PAUL¡¦S INSTRUCTION ON HOW TO PROCEED 5.3-5
The chart below may give some help in seeing the flow of God¡¦s wonderful plan for restoring brothers and sisters in Christ, when they have ¡§blown it¡¨:
GOD¡¦S PLAN OF CHURCH DISCIPLINE
15Moreover if thy brother shall trespass against thee, go and tell him his fault between thee and him alone: if he shall hear thee, thou hast gained thy brother. 16But if he will not hear thee, then take with thee one or two more, that in the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established. 17And if he shall neglect to hear them, tell it unto the church: but if he neglect to hear the church, let him be unto thee as an heathen man and a publican. 18Verily I say unto you, Whatsoever ye shall bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever ye shall loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven. Mt 18.15-18
FIRST RESPONSE TO RUMOR OR PUBLIC DISPLAY OF SIN:
1. Individual is innocent -- Quench gossip by public meeting & restoration of fellowship. Side benefit is gossipers/rumor-passers are put to open shame & must ask forgiveness.
2. Individual is guilty, but repentant -- Help with public confession, restoration of fellowship.
3. Individual is guilty & not repentant -- Take additional spiritual brothers back with you for a second meeting.
POSSIBLE RESULTS OF SECOND MEETING
1. Individual is now convinced & repentant -- (See #2 above -- Help with public confession, restoration of fellowship).
2. Individula is still unrepentant -- Requires church leaders to have public meeting & excommunication of member. (This is only course left to the church by the unrepentant member -- which will hopefully precipitate reconciliation in the future.)