This past week I was asked if I would write a blog post for our women’s ministry doing a sort of recap of what we had learned the week before from 1 Corinthians chapter 5. I was excited because I love to write, but I was nervous because it is a hard topic to discuss. You will see why when you read ahead. So I ended up writing 2 different blogs on the same topic but in different styles. I just couldn’t make up my mind about how I wanted to share God command for us, written by the apostle Paul.
I am posting the one here that was not submitted for our women. This one is not as soft as the other but has biblical references for those of you who may be unfamiliar with Paul and his letters to Corinth. If you want to read the other please feel free to do so. It can be found here: https://thegrovewomen.com/2016/11/07/a-powerful-walk-not-just-talk/
I was trying to decide whether or not to share this writing with you since it was not originally for this blog but I find it to be important information for those of us who are believers as well as insight for those who are not. I have never read nor heard a sermon preached on 1 Corinthians chapter 5 but I wish that I had. There are times in our lives that we as Christian make mistakes. Can you believe it? We aren’t perfect, shocking. In these moments God calls us not to judge one another, or to place ourselves as more valuable than our brother or sister in Christ. Only God knows the intentions in our hearts and is worthy of being our judge. Then there are times that we as Christians are living in sin that is ongoing. This is where things change and God calls us to take action for the sake of the ones we love through him.
Here it is:
As we continue to read and learn through the letters Paul wrote to the Corinthians, I am seeing a lot more about who we are supposed to be in Christ than I may have ever realized before. He begins in 1 Corinthians chapter 1 reminding us all that Christ is the only way to salvation. There is nothing we can do or any amount of wisdom that can get us to him. The cross and the belief that Jesus died and rose again for us is the only way.
In Chapter 2 He teaches us about the Spirit which is from God. We are reminded that non-Christians do not have the Spirit and cannot understand God; this is why they find us foolish and silly. When we become Christians we have the mind of the Christ. 1 Corinthians 2:16 says, “ For who has known the mind of the Lord that he may instruct him?” But we have the mind of Christ.
Paul speaks about the division of the church in Chapter 3. He talks to the Corinthians about comparing and judging each other. He instructs them to turn from these behaviors. In essence he is saying, it doesn’t matter whose music is better, whose pastor in more popular or who’s church has the most attendees. God sends leaders and pastors to plant seeds, and then some to water but Christ is the one that makes things grow. (1 Corinthians 3:7) Stop quarreling and looking at things through the worlds eyes and start maturing, seeing things through Christ’s eyes.
In Chapter 4 Paul warns us about being judgmental towards other Christians. He says that to judge a fellow believer in their walk with Christ is to think of yourself as better than that person. This leads to arrogance. He even went as far as to say that we are not even to judge ourselves. (1 Corinthians 4:3) Only God knows the full extent of our heart and can be a worthy judge.
I wanted to lead off with some back history of what we have been learning because I think the lesson that Paul has for us in 1 Corinthians chapter 5 is by far the hardest thing he has asked us to do so far. I also wanted you to see the place of care and love that Paul is coming from. Paul was the founder of the church in Corinth. He was the one who brought Jesus into the lives of the Corinthians and he felt that they had been in a good place when he left. Now we are reading the letters that he wrote to them 5 years later and you can tell from his words and the way the sentences are formed that he is not only concerned for what is happening but heartbroken at the same time. He says to them, “I am coming to you as your father not to shame you but to warn you, as my dear children.” (1 Corinthians 4:14) The Corinthians are not living as Christians should have been living. They were quarreling over who’s pastor was better, who’s music was better, who’s service was the largest. They were drinking milk like babies rather than eating solid food. In this Paul means that they were not growing in Christ, they had become stagnant and unchanged. They were more worried about following Paul or Apollos rather than following Christ. Paul wrote to remind them that Christ is in them. They have everything that they could possibly need. All things were theirs as all things are ours. Paul talked to them about the Holy Spirit dwelling in them, guiding them, helping them to understand the things of Christ which non-Christians can’t understand alone. Paul wrote to remind them that they are not to judge one another. They are not to compare where they are with Christ and where they think someone else is. It is simply not our job to analyze someone else’s walk with Christ. Christ knows the deepest secrets of our hearts; he is the only one who can be our judge. Paul then goes on to say, “imitate me”. I have not lived a life different than what I am asking of you. I have a clear conscience; this does not mean that I am perfect. But I have lived a life for Christ, imitate me. I am your Father, who can be trusted. I have founded this church and I am invested in you. He leaves chapter 4 saying, “I am going to come to you, God willing. I will find out not only how these arrogant people are talking, but what power they have. For the Kingdom of God is not a matter of talk but of power. What do you prefer? Shall I come to you with a whip, or in love with a gentle spirit? You decide.”
We come to chapter 5 and Paul doesn’t waste any time getting to his point. He calls out the sexual immorality that is taking place and says this, “ a kind that doesn’t even occur among pagans (non believers), a man is sleeping with his fathers wife” (or new wife, meaning his step mother). And you are proud!” (1 Corinthians 5:1)
Ok so, Paul goes on to ask them how they are not saddened by this and why the man has not been removed from fellowship with them. He is upset that the members of the church have not brought this mans sin to his attention and asked him to leave.
Hold up? What did he just say? Hang on, I am so confused? Is Paul now asking us to judge others after he just told us that God was to be the only judge?
No, that is not what is happening here. Imagine it were not a letter that Paul had written but he was standing before us after being told that such sin was happening among us. Our brother in Christ had not only sinned but was continuing to do so even though he claims to have the mind of Christ. He didn’t feel any guilt or see a reason to stop what he was doing, repent and ask forgiveness; instead he sat with his stepmother in church while his father sat in the back. The members of the church could do nothing but stare and talk about what it must be like, or how he could do such a thing. Others are sitting back saying, wow look what he is getting away with and no one even cares. If he can do whatever he wants, then I should be doing whatever I please as well. Do you see where this could lead? Do you see the attention that is being taken away from Christ in his own house, the domino effect that could start? When a Christian is refusing to see the wrong they are doing, or accept that wrong, they are crippling the entire body. Paul isn’t saying that when one of us sins that we should be asked to leave, that would ludicrous and the church would be empty. Only in Heaven will we see perfection. Paul also isn’t saying that we should separate ourselves from sinners. Again we would have to leave the entire world. Paul isn’t even saying that we should remove ourselves from non-Christians; on the contrary we are encouraged to spend time with non-believers, to talk with them about Christ and love them as Jesus did here on Earth. Paul is asking that when one of our own brothers or sisters in Christ is living a repeated sin and seeing no wrong in doing so, that we disconnect them from the body. This is to be a last resort, there are biblical steps that are to be taken place before a brother or sister is asked to step away from the church until they are again right with God.
- A private meeting with the person from the witness of the sin. We are not to act on he said, she said. We are to act on knowledge. Christ asks us to pray before the meeting is to take place. It shouldn’t be a meeting to condemn but to bring light to the situation and to bring them back to Christ.
- A Private conference. God says that when we can not get through to someone on our won to meet with 2 or 3 so that the person may see the severity of the situation with a goal again of bringing the person back to Christ.
- A public announcement to the church. Scripture doesn’t say for sure but it is assumed that this step is to be taken by the church leader. The leader or pastor is to warn the person that his sin will be made public if there is refusal of repentance.
- Along with the public announcement the church is then versed in how they should disconnect from this brother or sister in Christ.
- Public re-acceptance when there is genuine repentance. When the brother or sister in Christ returns to the church in repentance there is to be a welcoming back ( a celebration of sorts). It is advised that there also be some sort of follow up such as counseling or discipleship to help the believer stay clear of falling back into the same perpetual sin.
These are obviously very serious steps to be taken and are to be taken only when these requirements of the sin are met.
- The person is a professing believer
- The person is associated with the church that is taking these measures
- The person must be knowingly disobedient out of rebellion
- The person must be disobeying clear commands from scripture
We all have different opinions of how much of something or what types of things are counted as sinful. It must be a clear violation of Gods commands. Here is an example of what could be wrongly accused. Alcohol. The bible does not say that you can not drink alcohol and so this would not be appropriate grounds for action, however it does say that drunkeness is forbidden and so then the situation changes. The bible does not say that watching movies is a sin, but it does say that watching pornographic movies is. Do you see what I am getting at? In order to take action against a fellow Christian they must be a professing Christian who is associated at the church, knowingly disobeying out of rebellion, performing a sin that is clearly forbidden by our Lord.
You must see that this is to preserve the body from decay. Like a cavity that doesn’t receive proper treatment and spreads to other teeth and eventually the mouth, so it will also be with the ignored habitual sins of one brother to another, soon destroying the entire body. Can you see that Christ is protecting his children in this?
Whew! Heavy, I know. Please don’t let this be a deterrent from Christ’s love. All of what Christ offers and has to say to us is out of a love that is greater than we will ever understand. He is a Dad who has to protect his flock, and sometimes when a sheep wonders to far without fear or remorse he needs to be left alone to call on the Lord to find his way back. I encourage you sisters to be encouraged, to speak to one another in this subject that is hard and scary. Paul encourages you to speak to the ones who need reminding of who their God is, in love. If we love each other as Christ is calling us to, then it would be unloving to know another is living in the same sin again and again and again and ignore it. How can someone find repentance and peace if what they are doing is being ignored or hidden? Love one another with a love that is willing to cause a hurt in order to bring healing. Let our body not be surviving with a growing tumor, but rather full functioning as the heart, hands, mind and feet of Jesus!
Thank you friends and fellow bloggers of bearing with me on this one. I know that sometimes it is so hard to understand what we are called to and this was hard to take in. Hard to read that we ourselves and some fellow believers that we know are living lives that require these actions to be taken. I had to pray on this one for a long time. I had to study and look deep within myself, I had to have a serious conversation with God and ask that he send the Holy Spirit to me to provide me with help in understanding. I can see his love in all of this! I get it now, I see that one mans sin can lead to another mans sin. I see that when are watching Christians lead lives that are full of habitual sin and having what looks like a good time, it is enticing. I see that the body as a whole is more important than one part. I can now see that God is looking out for all of his children, trying to reach the ones that are lost and protect that ones that are walking with him and not just talking about him. I hope that you can see that too. I pray that you too can see the love that is pouring out from our Dad, and that he would do anything to protect us, even if it means protecting us from one another. He is protecting his children with love and honor. Pray for one another, guard, protect, and speak to one another. Be willing to cause a little bit of hurt in order to bring healing.