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RCCG Miracle Land Dundalk
Thursday, March 16 2017

Contributor: Isekhua Evborokhai


In last week’s study, we concluded the topic “Servants of Christ”. In the study, we looked at Paul’s dealings with those in the wrong in the Corinthian church and learned from and took his example as instructions to us for handling problem people in the Church. In today’s study titled “Confronting sexual immorality in the church.” We will be learning from Paul’s letter how and why the church should confront sexual immorality in the church.

“Everyone is talking about the terrible thing that has happened there among you, something so evil that even the heathen don’t do it: you have a man in your church who is living in sin with his father’s wife (Step Mother). And are you still so conceited, so “spiritual”? Why aren’t you mourning in sorrow and shame and seeing to it that this man is removed from your membership? 3-4 Although I am not there with you, I have been thinking a lot about this, and in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ I have already decided what to do, just as though I were there. You are to call a meeting of the church—and the power of the Lord Jesus will be with you as you meet, and I will be there in spirit— 5 and cast out this man from the fellowship of the church and into Satan’s hands, to punish him, in the hope that his soul will be saved when our Lord Jesus Christ returns. 6 What a terrible thing it is that you are boasting about your purity and yet you let this sort of thing go on. Don’t you realize that if even one person is allowed to go on sinning, soon all will be affected? 7 Remove this evil cancer—this wicked person—from among you, so that you can stay pure. Christ, God’s Lamb, has been slain for us. 8 So let us feast upon him and grow strong in the Christian life, leaving entirely behind us the cancerous old life with all its hatreds and wickedness. Let us feast instead upon the pure bread of honor and sincerity and truth. Emphasis mine

In these first eight verses, Paul presents two problems. There is a problem with an immoral man. But secondly, and even more importantly, there is the failure of the church to take sin seriously. It was a matter of general knowledge, the talk of the town that a man was living (co habiting) with his step mother! And the church did nothing about it! Instead, verse 2 says they responded with pride and disobedience. It is likely that the Corinthians were boasting despite the immorality, rather than because of it. They were boasting in the social status of the man while ignoring his offense.

1. How Paul Handled it
It is important to note that in his letter Paul does not attack the man who is guilty of this atrocity directly. Instead, he rebukes the church for allowing the “immorality” to go on unchecked because they are supposed to be responsible. So, it was not only the man guilty of sin before God for the act of incest, but the church too for its failure to impose discipline.

2. What the Corinthian church should have done (Verse 2, 5)
Paul’s expectation was that they should have been so touched that they went into mourning in sorrow and shame and doing everything possible that this man is removed from their membership.
Paul expected them to grieve over the shame brought on the church by the incest. Instead of dismissing the sin or boasting in the person, God expects the church of Jesus Christ to deal with sin. God calls us to purge the church of sin for the church stands or falls together.
He also admonished that they cast him into Satan’s hands (means to dismiss that person from the church into the world (i.e., the realm of Satan) to punish him, in the hope that his soul will be saved.
What Paul was referring to here was the destruction of the flesh, and the salvation of the man. I would submit that what Paul meant here was the destruction of his fleshly appetites or carnal affections; and that he supposed that this would be effected by the act of excommunication. Although it is evident in scripture that the apostles back then were filled with the power of inflicting diseases or bodily calamities for crimes. See Acts 13:11. We don’t know if this was the case here but in 2 Corinthians 2:6-8 Paul referred to this same man and admonishes the Corinthian church to receive him again.
“The punishment inflicted on him by the majority is sufficient. Now instead, you ought to forgive and comfort him, so that he will not be overwhelmed by excessive sorrow. I urge you, therefore, to reaffirm your love for him.”

Many people believe that the notion of church discipline is “old fashioned”; some even play the “grace card” What about grace and compassion they ask? Verses 6-13 explains.
Paul says: “Your boasting is not good. Do you not know that a little leaven leavens the whole lump of dough?” He informs the Corinthian church that the primary problem is not the sin of the immoral man; rather, it is the pride of the church. He uses the illustration of a piece of leaven. Leaven is a little lump of bread dough that is saved out of the batch. It is allowed to ferment or sour, and then it’s used in the next batch of bread so that it will rise. A little bit of yeast can make a whole loaf rise. The Jews associated fermenting with rotting, so leaven became a symbol of corrosive evil.

3. Why should a church practice church discipline?
• It brings God glory (1 Pet 1:16, Heb. 12:5-11, 1 Cor 5:12-13; 2 Cor 2:6).
• It gets rid of the cancer and purifies the church. (1 Corinthians 5:7-8)
• It restores the sinning believer. (Matt 18:15; 2 Cor 2:5-8, Gal 6:1).
• It deters the church from sin. (Acts 5:1-11, 1 Tim 5:20).
• To maintain a credible witness before the world. (1 Pet 2:11-18; 3:8-16; 4:1-4

So, let’s ask ourselves a tough question (only for self-examination purposes): Are you involved in some sin that, if revealed, would devastate your loved ones and destroy any ministry you have? Okay, maybe you haven’t done what this man did, but are you involved in Internet pornography, or an emotional affair at work, or abuse of prescriptions drugs, or the greedy pursuit of wealth. Whatever it is, stop today! Because sin is spiritual cancer! Get into an accountability relationship. Begin practicing the spiritual disciplines of prayer and Bible study. God will grant you plenty of grace if you come clean with Him and others.

"When I wrote to you before I said not to mix with evil people. 10 But when I said that I wasn’t talking about unbelievers who live in sexual sin or are greedy cheats and thieves and idol worshipers. For you can’t live in this world without being with people like that. 11 What I meant was that you are not to keep company with anyone who claims to be a brother Christian but indulges in sexual sins, or is greedy, or is a swindler, or worships idols, or is a drunkard, or abusive. Don’t even eat lunch with such a person.
12 It isn’t our job to judge outsiders. But it certainly is our job to judge and deal strongly with those who are members of the church and who are sinning in these ways. 13 God alone is the Judge of those on the outside. But you yourselves must deal with this man and put him out of your church."

In this section, Paul informs us that church discipline is for believers. It is widely accepted that Paul wrote four different letters to the church at Corinth. In one of his previous letters, the Corinthians apparently misunderstood Paul. They thought he didn’t want them to have any association with any immoral person. Paul clarifies and explains that this ban only pertained to Christians. When sinners sin, they are merely doing what they are supposed to do. Sin is a part of a sinner’s job description! The difference between a sinner and a saint is that a saint doesn’t have to sin anymore.
This means that our ministry is not to spend our time judging the world. That’s left to God. It’s none of our business. Don’t ever get mad at the world for acting like the world. What else are they going to do? We need to confront the sin that is within the walls of our churches, within the lives of our people. That is our ministry.

Paul concludes chapter 5 with two pointed verses: “For what have I to do with judging outsiders? Do you not judge those who are within the church? But those who are outside, God judges. remove the wicked man from among yourselves” (5:12-13). Christians have no jurisdiction over outsiders and have no business usurping a task that belongs to God alone. Those outside are left in God’s hands, and the church has the responsibility to seek to win them over, not to nag, intimidate, or seek to control them. Many of us are trying to clean up the world’s fishbowl when all God asks us to do is fish. Jesus says, “Follow Me and I will make you fishers of men” (Matt 4:19). If you’ve been spending your time trying to scour the world, put down your scrub brush, pick up your fishing pole, and go for the fish!
Although we see sometimes around us that when many people are removed from the church, they just move down the street to another church. Or worse yet, they don’t even care!
The truth is that for those who have come to experience the church as their true home—a haven in the storm, a sanctuary of rest, a source of life and strength—exclusion would bring terrible pain. To exclude a Christian from this circle of fellowship would have made a strong statement.

Parts of this study was culled from How to Handle a Scandal by Keith R. Krell.

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