1 Corinthians 5:1-5
5 It is actually reported that there is sexual immorality among you, and such sexual immorality as is not even named among the Gentiles—that a man has his father’s wife! 2 And you are puffed up, and have not rather mourned, that he who has done this deed might be taken away from among you. 3 For I indeed, as absent in body but present in spirit, have already judged (as though I were present) him who has so done this deed. 4 In the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, when you are gathered together, along with my spirit, with the power of our Lord Jesus Christ, 5 deliver such a one to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus.
Church… I hope you still remember the message from two weeks ago, Church Discipline. When we learned about involving the church, when it comes to sin, and conflict, within the body. This afternoon, I have used the same title, so…look at it like a part two lesson on Church discipline.
From the message two weeks ago we learned from the book of Matthew 18:15-17….recap:
15 “Moreover if your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault between you and him alone. If he hears you, you have gained your brother. 16 But if he will not hear, take with you one or two more, that ‘by the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established.’ 17 And if he refuses to hear them, tell it to the church. But if he refuses even to hear the church, let him be to you like a heathen and a tax collector.
In the that study we saw a dispute amongst believer. One on one, if that doesn’t work, take along witnesses to judge between the two believers, if that still doesn’t work, bring it to the church. Involving the church is the last resort. The church…the whole body of believers, needs to be involved in judging between the two. And again, the goal is to win the believer back.
If you have done all that you can, you have gone through the process as the Lord instructs, and the guilty believer still CHOOSES, not to repent. Sadly, that member needs to be removed from the body, so that he or she cannot infect the whole church. Remember, “a little leaven, leavens the whole lump”.
Keep in mind that church discipline has to be the most hardest thing a church has to go through. Its not anything to be joyful about, it will involve one of our own. One who at one point fellowshipped with the whole church. One who was loved, involved in all the church activity, then all of a sudden, because of sin… will be removed from the body.
Its not easy, its not joyful, it hurts a lot, but we have to remember that the church is Gods church. Not one man should decide the fate of the fallen believer. If the church does not respond to the ways and will of the Lord, then He can easily take it away. The church is His, we are just part of His body, joined together through Jesus!
Now…lets look at our text, let break it down verse by verse, so we can get the full understanding of what the Apostle Paul is trying to teach…commanding the Corinth church of what to do.
1 Corinthians 5:1-2
5 It is actually reported that there is sexual immorality among you, and such sexual immorality as is not even named among the Gentiles--that a man has his father’s wife! 2 And you are puffed up, and have not rather mourned, that he who has done this deed might be taken away from among you.
The whole chapter is summed up in these two verses, there are three main points Paul makes.
“actually reported” is an unusual phrase for Paul, but it essentially means. “People are saying” “Everyone is talking about it”. The idea is that the story of what happened in Corinth had become front page news. It’s no longer an issue between two believers. When the news reached Paul that there was a Corinthian sexual scandal… only it wasn’t a scandal, but a story on how “tolerant” these Christians were being. They were allowing it to happen. Look at
“2 And you are puffed up, and have not rather mourned, that he who has done this deed might be taken away from among you”.
In other translations, “you are arrogant, you are proud”. The heart of that church should have been broken. Paul said, “and have not mourned”. What was happening was so widespread it had reached Paul in Ephesus.
We’re not just talking about cheating on your income taxes to Rome here – but on a kind of sin that even the pagans around would cringe at. This is a NO-NO, even to the times of the Old Testament. Here…
8 “‘Do not have sexual relations with your father’s wife; that would dishonor your father.
Paul was shocked, an acceptance of the sin, even pride in tolerating the sin. Far from tolerating it, the people should have dealt with the sin, and not fellowshipped with this guy until he repented.
The pride of the Corinthians is the same word for “arrogant”. They were proud of their divisions and proud of their tolerance for sin. It was news to everyone around that church. It brought shame to the Corinth church, and when that happens, who’s name is being ruined? JESUS!!!
That is why Paul was upset, it was ruing the name of Jesus, and Paul was not fine with it. The church should not be fine with it. It’s not ok!!!
One other thing you will notice, the focus was only with the man committing the sin. Why wasn’t the woman…the stepmom involved in this accusation? It was never mentioned or written, but most likely, this woman was not a member of the church or even a believer. So, this man has committed two sins. Incest, which is sexual immorality, and being yoked with an unbeliever.
Look…I get it, the whole dating game, I get it. The world says its ok, so the Christian listens to the world rather than God. You meet someone there’s a connection there, hopefully this is the one? Listen…as a pastor, a believer, I am not that strict when it comes to the whole dating thing. Because you’ll never know, you might be the one God uses to reach to this person. This person might just fall in love with Jesus the way you do.
But, I will not marry anyone who has a different belief than we do. If its not biblical, its not in accordance to Gods will, I will not do it. If that will upset the individual, so be it. But I will not upset my Lord by going against His will. Even if the world says, its ok.
If you are having a physical relationship, outside of marriage, you have fallen under the sin of sexual immorality. Living in, one-night stands, all that nonsense where the world says its ok. Its not ok with our Lord. Later, through this chapter God will explain His judgement on such things.
1 Corinthians 5:3
3 For I indeed, as absent in body but present in spirit, have already judged (as though I were present) him who has so done this deed.
An Easier translation:
1 Corinthians 5:3 (NIV)
3 For my part, even though I am not physically present, I am with you in spirit. As one who is present with you in this way, I have already passed judgment in the name of our Lord Jesus on the one who has been doing this.
Paul say’s “I don’t need to be there to know what to do, I don’t need a fact finding mission or to hear this guy’s side of the story, this should be a no-brainer.”
1 Corinthians 5:4-5
4 In the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, when you are gathered together, along with my spirit, with the power of our Lord Jesus Christ, 5 deliver such a one to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus.
Paul is not calling for a ceremony where someone would say “Okay, Satan, here he is, come get him”, and the Devil would arrive and carry the guy off kicking and screaming to be tortured until he confessed his sin.
But the body of Christ needs to agree that this guy is not to be fellowshipped with. It effectively removes the covering of the church… the insulation and puts this guy in an atmosphere where the true effects of his sin will come out.
That is why its important for a believer to part of a Body, to be a member of a church, because you will be protected. If you truly belong to Christ, you should belong to a body where, the rest of the members will care for your well-being.
“deliver such a one to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus”. If you think that Paul is being harsh, being hard on this church, on this believer, look at what he is saying, Paul cares about this mans salvation. Look… “that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus”.
Paul cares about this man. Sometimes when we do things that are in direct disobedience to God’s Word we don’t see the full impact because we are surrounded by other Christians and the atmosphere of the church, which is filled with love and acceptance.
But remove that influence (love, acceptance, fellowship within the church) and we begin to see just how depraved we are. We become all alone, no more fellowship, no more breaking bread in remembrance of our Lord. Paul wants the enemy to have more access to this guy, not so that he’ll be punished, but so that he’ll realize what he’s doing is wrong and to turn away from it. He’s not going to turn away, if the church not only doesn’t let him know that what he’s doing is wrong, he will actually accept it to be ok!
Listen very carefully church. If you belong to God, satan has no access to you unless its been commanded by our Lord. Satan CANNOT touch you without, Gods permission. If you want to know more insights on this matter, read the book of Job.
Sin, if not dealt with, does the same thing. We’re talking here about open sin, I know each one of us has things that the Lord is dealing with, failures that we have. I’m not suggesting that each of us stand up and admit every weakness we have. I’m talking about sin that everyone knows about.
If you fail to deal with it then the enemy can start working in a pattern of sin…“Hey, if this guy did this and everyone is okay with it, then what I want to do or are doing isn’t nearly that bad so why repent?” Pretty soon you have a church filled with sin, and the gospel, which represents a way of escaping sin becomes useless. If the wages of sin are in tolerance by the body, instead of death, why do we need salvation?
Now…we will come to the last few verses of this whole chapter. Gods judgement, and what is the church to do. How do we judge someone in accordance to Gods commands?
1 Corinthians 5:9-13
9 I wrote to you in my letter not to associate with sexually immoral people— 10 not at all meaning the people of this world who are immoral, or the greedy and swindlers, or idolaters. In that case you would have to leave this world. 11 But now I am writing to you that you must not associate with anyone who claims to be a brother or sister, but is sexually immoral or greedy, an idolater or slanderer, a drunkard or swindler. Do not even eat with such people.12 What business is it of mine to judge those outside the church? Are you not to judge those inside? 13 God will judge those outside. “Expel the wicked person from among you.”
Those of us who have heard God’s Word are also without excuse. If God is putting His finger on something in your life, you can’t just ignore it and say “Gee, I didn’t know.” If what you are reading today new to you, then you are now without excuse. YES!!! This is Gods words. Obey it, disobey it, God is your judge.
1 Corinthians 5:10-11
10 not at all meaning the people of this world who are immoral, or the greedy and swindlers, or idolaters. In that case you would have to leave this world. 11 But now I am writing to you that you must not associate with anyone who claims to be a brother or sister, but is sexually immoral or greedy, an idolater or slanderer, a drunkard or swindler. Do not even eat with such people.
The Christian life is not expected to be lived in a monastery. Like Jesus, we are expected to mix with those who are not saved, people who are still in sin. No, we shouldn’t say to them: “what you do is great, I’m so proud of you.” No, our message is “God loves you and doesn’t want you to suffer the consequences for your rebellion against Him, so He made a way to rescue you by His Son Jesus.” That’s not condemning, nor is it tolerant, it’s the gospel.
But if one of your brothers is openly sinning opening, rebelling against the revealed will of God in His word, then our actions should be different. This person should know better… we should avoid them and not partake in their sin. Lovingly confront them.
“Hey, I’m headed down to the bar to get really wasted after Bible Study, why don’t you invite a bunch of people from the Fellowship and we’ll go there together.” No. Again, its not saying that everyone has to be perfect, but that open rebellion against God will infect you if you let it.
1 Corinthians 5:12-13
12 What business is it of mine to judge those outside the church? Are you not to judge those inside? 13 God will judge those outside. “Expel the wicked person from among you.”
What Paul is saying here is very clear, the church, you and I, have no busyness judging outsiders. They will all face God one day, and the judgement has been set. What Paul is commanding here, of course it is guided by the Holy Spirit, is to judge those inside, those that are part of Gods body.
Witnesses are present, accusations are proven, then set proper judgement according to Gods word. But even as we don’t judge or condemn those on the outside of the church, there is a responsibility to judge what’s going on in the church. Another way to say this verse is “Its none of our business to judge what people do outside the church, but it is our responsibility to judge what goes on inside.
This type of judging was always mentioned in the Old Testament…
19 then you shall do to him as he thought to have done to his brother; so you shall put away the evil from among you. 20 And those who remain shall hear and fear, and hereafter they shall not again commit such evil among you.
The Lord told the Israel to purge the evil from Canaan or it would influence them. They didn’t purge and were influenced greatly by the culture. And that’s what happens in the church if open… unrepentant sin is allowed to fester or even worse is embraced.
So then how do we do this? How do you tell the difference between identifying and rooting out sin in the body and not behave like witch hunters and become divisive?
1. Differentiate between fleshly acts and sinful acts.
I know this is a bit of a fine line, but Paul seems to suggest that you treat the situation differently if someone is sincerely trying to serve God, but their fleshly nature is getting in the way and they are acting arrogantly or divisively.
In that case his encouragement is for us to complement each other, not compete against each other and to act humbly, knowing that it is the Lord’s work we are together trying to accomplish. But you don’t disfellowship. So first determine the nature of the problem.
2. Restore then Remove
Paul wrote to the Galatians: 6:1 Brothers, if someone is caught in a sin, you who are spiritual should restore him gently. But watch yourself, or you also may be tempted.
The word “restore” means to repair. When someone is caught in a sin… the more mature Christians should try to repair the brother or sister, talk with them, share lovingly with them, encourage them to seek help and seek God. That is always our first course.
In this case, though no one was seeking to “restore” the brother, they were almost celebrating the sin! “Living with” denotes a continual commission of sin, not a one time act. So, when someone is “caught up” in sin, its different than when they are embracing sin.
It doesn’t mean anyone’s being condemned to hell, Jesus paid for ALL our sins. But it may mean there is no benefit to the individual by staying, but the potential of great harm if they don’t go.
3. How do you identify and deal with sin your own life?
There is also application to our own personal lives. Ask yourself, what is reported about me? When people talk about me when I’m not around, especially non-Christians, what do they say about me? If it would be hard for someone to recognize you as a Christian without you telling them, perhaps it’s time to go on a “sin hunt.”
Keep in mind that whatever sin we do openly, doesn’t just ruin our reputation as Christians, its basically ruing the name of Jesus Christ.
23 Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. 24 See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.
And if you have asked God to search your heart, and sin has been revealed, what you do after will tell you how much you love your God. Will you obey and ask God to help you resist the sin, by His power. Or will you continue to do the sin, regardless of the consequence?
If you remember from our bible study, by handing this man over to satan, he ended up repenting from his sin, and was accepted back into the fellowship.
2 Corinthians 2:5-11
5 If anyone has caused grief, he has not so much grieved me as he has grieved all of you to some extent—not to put it too severely. 6 The punishment inflicted on him by the majority is sufficient. 7 Now instead, you ought to forgive and comfort him, so that he will not be overwhelmed by excessive sorrow. 8 I urge you, therefore, to reaffirm your love for him. 9 Another reason I wrote you was to see if you would stand the test and be obedient in everything. 10 Anyone you forgive, I also forgive. And what I have forgiven—if there was anything to forgive—I have forgiven in the sight of Christ for your sake, 11 in order that Satan might not outwit us. For we are not unaware of his schemes.
God knows those that are His. He will not let one of His own live a life of sin, or still be controlled by sin. If sin is still your god, then you have not been released from its bondage.
Then you really need to seek the Lord for forgiveness, and pray to be made new. God will judge the world one day, and that judgement will not be good. And you don’t want to be here when He does.
Pastor Richard Santos
Audio copies of previously delivered messages are now available in CD. Requests can be made on the 'Contacts' tab.