1 Corinthians 5
Paul has heard of sexual sin that is taking place in the Corinthian church. And not only that is taking place but is being blatantly overlooked and truthfully it seems they are in some ways boasting because of their tolerance of the people or person engaging, and he is not happy. Paul starts this chapter addressing the sexual sin and pointing out that what is going on is not only recognized as a sin to Christians but that even those who do not know Christ, the Pagans would not accept it in their midst. And yet they were being so proud of themselves for their tolerance of allowing this to take place in their midst. Paul, a couple of times in this chapter talks about the sinner being removed from their midst. I have to admit that bothered me a little at first. I have always been of the opinion that being in church was good even for the most horrific of sinners because they may hear something that they wouldn’t have heard otherwise that would lead them to repentance. I had to really pray over this chapter in order to make sure I handled it correctly. I hope I do.
It seems to me that Paul is upset this is taking place openly amongst the church, but also that the Christians in the church seem to be so accepting of it and that it seems to be happening among those who proclaim Christ. That they are simply taking this behavior lightly, with a wink wink or with a let’s sweep it under the rug. I think when Paul is telling them that they are to confront this man who is doing this what he is saying here is that they are not to be so accepting. I think from what I have learned about Paul thus far that Paul would always want someone confronted or admonished in love. His intent is always to bring someone to full repentance. We are in days where tolerance is not only preached, it is encouraged. We, as Christians are supposed to be tolerant and accepting of those whose lifestyles are outside the bible. But when it is a brother or sister in Christ it definitely is different than when you are dealing with the world. We as Christians are supposed to confront (in love) those who are proclaiming Christ yet are living in a lifestyle of sin. And we should never tolerate blatant disrespect for our churches and our fellowship. Oh these are some fine lines that we must be careful and deal with with much prayer. But deal we must so as to not allow certain lines to be crossed.
“Your boasting is not good. Do you not know that a little leaven leavens the whole lump? Cleanse out the old leaven that you may be a new lump, as you really are unleavened. For Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed. Let us therefore celebrate the festival, not with the old leaven, the leaven of malice and evil, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.” (1 Corinthians 5:6-8)
What Paul is saying here is don’t boast in your tolerance. But be careful for when you begin to turn your head at some sins and being tolerant of those sins, then it gets easier and easier to turn our heads at more and more sin. We must not do that. That is why we call out our brothers and sisters in love. Sin is an entrapment and when you start stepping over those lines it becomes a slippery slope. His illustration, a little leaven leavens the whole lump. If you had bread dough or a cake mix and you put a little of something bad in there and mixed it in, it spoils the whole batch. This is why you have to “cleanse out the old leaven” and your hope is always that the confrontation will lead to repentance. But we know that tolerance of sin never cleanses, it grows and festers.
Now to be clear, the points we have made so far is in dealing with our brothers and sisters in Christ who are living in sin. In the last few lines of this chapter Paul is making sure they understand that he is not talking about the people outside the church. Paul does mention judging here, but wait haven’t we talked about not being judgmental. Yes we have. And Paul is stating it here, that it is for God to judge those outsiders? That is left up to God alone. Our role with those outside the church is to love them where they are. Also even in the church, we are never to judge in hypocrisy but only to point out when Christian brothers and sisters are out of fellowship with the Lord and His people. We cannot isolate ourselves from the world, meaning we can never not come in contact with those who do not know Christ and we cannot judge how they are living. We cannot expect those who do not know Christ to live as if they do. However, we do have an expectation for those who proclaim Christ to walk in Christ.
Lord, please help us as we navigate this. Help us to recognize in our brothers and sisters when there may be something we need to correct but Lord, please help us to do it in love so as to bring repentance. Lord, help us to find those lines and to know how to stay on the side of right!
Please pray for your government leaders. The President, the Governor and all those in between making decisions.