Grace and Peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
Today we’re going to look at the fifth chapter of Paul’s first letter to the church at Corinth. This was a church wracked with sin, and Paul has some very interesting advice for the church. This chapter is one of the sources from which we get the concept of “excommunication”.
Reading: I Corinthians 5
It is reported commonly that there is fornication among you, and such fornication as is not so much as named among the Gentiles, that one should have his father’s wife.
Even at this time, when Corinth was known for its obsession with sex and adultery (“Corinthian” was an insult not unlike “whore” or “slut”), there were things generally considered taboo. These acts were not yet named, because they were considered so vile that names were unnecessary.
Unfortunately, we live in a time where such things are not only named, but celebrated. This is abhorrent.
2 And ye are puffed up, and have not rather mourned, that he that hath done this deed might be taken away from among you.
Look at that – the early church had its share of deviants and “entryists”, too. They managed to convince themselves that such acts as are considered vile even by the unsaved Gentiles are good, right, and praiseworthy. That is invariably the mark of a sinful people.
3 For I verily, as absent in body, but present in spirit, have judged already, as though I were present, concerning him that hath so done this deed,
4 In the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, when ye are gathered together, and my spirit, with the power of our Lord Jesus Christ,
5 To deliver such an one unto Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that the spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus.
This is a hard teaching.
By whose authority does Paul call for the Corinthians to excommunicate (that is, cut off from the church) this fornicator? He passes judgment within the church, on the authority of Jesus Christ, through the Spirit.
Why does he pass this judgment? Because the sinner is not merely unrepentant, but celebrates his sin. In so doing, he has spread his sin among his brethren, causing them to share in his celebration of depravity and ill vice.
What is this judgment? Paul calls for the believers to remove the celebrating sinner from their midst. This protects the church from absorbing his acceptance of sin, and through social pressure perhaps the sinner might come to repent. This is the reason for the “shaming” that our culture abhors.
6 Your glorying is not good. Know ye not that a little leaven leaveneth the whole lump?
7 Purge out therefore the old leaven, that ye may be a new lump, as ye are unleavened. For even Christ our passover is sacrificed for us:
8 Therefore let us keep the feast, not with old leaven, neither with the leaven of malice and wickedness; but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.
It takes very little yeast to cause an entire loaf of bread to rise. As it works its way into the bread, the entire bread becomes “contaminated”. If you’re trying to make flatbread and use even a little yeast, it will cease to be flatbread.
This same is true of organizations, as we are seeing more and more in the US. Not only is the church corrupted with teachers preaching the “prosperity doctrine”, contemporary teachings (not derived from scripture), and all forms of pagan mystical practices, but other organizations are being corrupted by “entryists”. GitHub is hemorrhaging money on social causes that have demonstrated no value. Wikipedia has allowed itself to become as partisan a political entity as the DNC.
Let this be a warning: do not suffer the wicked to thrive in your midst, for they will corrupt you and your children.
This is why the Catholic church in particular has such waning attendance: centuries of corruption have produced an entity that drives many toward “atheism”. It is also why so many leave the church in their youth.
9 I wrote unto you in an epistle not to company with fornicators:
10 Yet not altogether with the fornicators of this world, or with the covetous, or extortioners, or with idolaters; for then must ye needs go out of the world.
11 But now I have written unto you not to keep company, if any man that is called a brother be a fornicator, or covetous, or an idolator, or a railer, or a drunkard, or an extortioner; with such an one no not to eat.
Jim Rohn popularized a saying: “You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.” As social creatures, we are driven to adapt and conform with those around us. However, we are called to “be not conformed to this world” (Romans 12:2). In order to do so, we must make preference to be with those who are of the Lord.
Generally, this saying is powerful for everyone – if you want to be like Joe, you should spend more time with Joe. If you want to be like Trump, spend time with Trump (or someone similar – not everyone can hang with Trump). So, too, if you wish to be like Christ, spend time with Christ.
12 For what have I to do to judge them also that are without? do not ye judge them that are within?
13 But them that are without God judgeth. Therefore put away from among yourselves that wicked person.
The Church must moderate its own, but it has no business moderating those without the church. This is a reasonable teaching – what business does California have telling Texas what it can and cannot do? Or what business does Saudi Arabia have telling Britain how its citizens should live?
Let God pass the final judgment on those who are not among the brethren. Instead, in this day of salvation, pray for them and seek their redemption.
Let us Pray
Lord, you are truly the One God. We thank you that you are with us, you who are sovereign over all things.
Help us to receive the hard teachings, Lord. We live in a world of sin and depravity, which has sought to spread its leaven through the Church. Give us the strength and wisdom to expel the wicked from our congregation, so that we may continue to serve You in a world of sin.
Bring all to repentance and salvation, in accordance with your will,
May the Lord make every path straight before you, and preserve you in the Word. Amen.