Day 4: Church Judgment – Part 2
Situation #2—Flagrant, ongoing, unrepentant sin
“I can hardly believe the report about the sexual immorality going on among you—something that even pagans don’t do. I am told that a man in your church is living in sin with his stepmother. You are so proud of yourselves, but you should be mourning in sorrow and shame. And you should remove this man from your fellowship.
Even though I am not with you in person, I am with you in the Spirit. And as though I were there, I have already passed judgment on this man in the name of the Lord Jesus. You must call a meeting of the church. I will be present with you in spirit, and so will the power of our Lord Jesus. Then you must throw this man out and hand him over to Satan so that his sinful nature will be destroyed and he himself will be saved on the day the Lord returns.
Your boasting about this is terrible. Don’t you realize that this sin is like a little yeast that spreads through the whole batch of dough? Get rid of the old “yeast” by removing this wicked person from among you. Then you will be like a fresh batch of dough made without yeast, which is what you really are. Christ, our Passover Lamb, has been sacrificed for us. So let us celebrate the festival, not with the old bread of wickedness and evil, but with the new bread of sincerity and truth.
When I wrote to you before, I told you not to associate with people who indulge in sexual sin. But I wasn’t talking about unbelievers who indulge in sexual sin, or are greedy, or cheat people, or worship idols. You would have to leave this world to avoid people like that. I meant that you are not to associate with anyone who claims to be a believer yet indulges in sexual sin, or is greedy, or worships idols, or is abusive, or is a drunkard, or cheats people. Don’t even eat with such people.
It isn’t my responsibility to judge outsiders, but it certainly is your responsibility to judge those inside the church who are sinning. God will judge those on the outside; but as the Scriptures say, ‘You must remove the evil person from among you.’” (1 Corinthians 5)
This passage differs from the situation described in Matthew 18. Now we are looking at sins in the lives of individual church members that need dealt with regardless of the impact they have on other church members’ lives. According to the Apostle Paul, the sins mentioned in this passage are so damaging to the reputation and moral fiber of the local church that they must be judged even if no offended person comes forward to initiate an accusation.
There are two reasons for this:
The first reason for removing the individual from local church membership, according to Paul, was so that his sinful nature may be destroyed and his spirit saved on the day of the Lord (v. 5). His behavior was so contrary to the will and desire of God that Paul appears to question his faith.
Galatians 5:19-21 reads, “When you follow the desires of your sinful nature, the results are very clear: sexual immorality, impurity, lustful pleasures, idolatry, sorcery, hostility, quarreling, jealousy, outbursts of anger, selfish ambition, dissension, division, envy, drunkenness, wild parties, and other sins like these. Let me tell you again, as I have before, that anyone living that sort of life will not inherit the Kingdom of God.”
The purpose of church judgment, then, was to bring the individual to repentance so that he would ultimately be saved. In the case of this man, the course of church judgment worked as it should. The local church carried out Paul’s instruction and the man repented of his sin. In 2 Corinthians 2:5-8, Paul acknowledges the man’s repentance and instructs the church to “forgive and comfort him, or he may be overwhelmed with excessive sorrow.”
Church judgment is often rare, but 1 Corinthians 5 and other passages do outline that it is sometimes necessary. Situations #2 and #3 in today’s reading outlines appropriate steps to take if there is ongoing flagrant sin or continual divisive behavior.
Have you ever experienced actions such as these cause divisiveness in a church? What was the result?
In what ways may following the steps outlined in yesterday’s and today’s readings help maintain love and unity within a church?
F260 READING: (A Scripture Reading Plan for Busy Believers)
Read: Amos 1:1 & 9:1-15
Reflect: What did you H.E.A.R. from God today? HEAR Bible Study Method
PRAYER: On your own, take the opportunity to pray for the a friend or colleague. The following outline may be helpful.
Four Prayers for Your Friend:
- Thank God for the miracle of friendship.
- Thank God for any way in which your friend has changed your life.
- Commit your friend’s future to the Lord.
- Ask God for help in figuring out what your part in that future may be.
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