Immorality Must Be judged

A man on the staff of a large well known church got sexually involved with his secretary. The church chose not to handle it in public, but rather deal with this privately. The next year, 17 marriages of senior leadership people in that church broke up! Paul is clear that when a l … More

Church Discipline

A report came to Paul of a serious sin in the church at Corinth that was not being dealt with. The issue concerned a church member who was carrying on an incestuous affair with his stepmother. This kind of relationship was prohibited in the Old Testament (Lev. 18:8) and in Roman law. Paul gives them three specific instructions to follow when administering discipline as a church:


1.     Mourn over the sin (vv. 1-2). Paul states that even godless, unsaved Gentiles would turn in shame from such a sin. Instead of mourning, the church members at Corinth were boasting that their church was so “broad-minded” that even fornicators could still be members in good standing. The response should have been grief for this brother, confronting him with his sin.

2.     Judge the sin (vv. 3-5).  By the authority vested in him as an apostle, Paul passed judgment on the offender and asked that they take action by calling a meeting and expelling him from the church, according to divine instructions (Matt. 18:15-20). Of course, this was to be done in love and with the purpose of restoration.


3.   Purge the sin (vv. 6-13). Paul left no doubt that a church member committing open sin should be removed from the fellowship of the assembly. The sinning church member was like a piece of yeast; he was defiling the whole congregation. This should not be applied to those outside the church as such a stand would necessitate leaving this world.


You may be wondering how things worked out in Corinth. Let’s look to 2 Corinthians 2:4-8 for the answer. This whole matter of church discipline tells us something about the seriousness of sin. Sin in the church is so serious that Paul tells the Corinthians, “If this man will not repent of his sin, then deliver him unto Satan.” That’s pretty serious! 


The Bible instructs us not to criticize people by gossiping or making rash judgments but, at the same time, we are admonished to judge and deal with sin in our lives and the lives of others. Lord, help me to be more concerned about any sin that may be in my life than that in the lives of others.

I Corinthians 5:1-13 (English Standard Version)

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