The Serious Nature of Sin

1 Corinthians 5

It is actually reported that there is sexual immorality among you, and of a kind that is not tolerated even among pagans, for a man has his father’s wife. And you are arrogant! Ought you not rather to mourn? Let him who has done this be removed from among you. For though absent in body, I am present in spirit; and as if present, I have already pronounced judgment on the one who did such a thing. When you are assembled in the name of the Lord Jesus and my spirit is present, with the power of our Lord Jesus, you are to deliver this man to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, so that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord. 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. I wrote to you in my letter not to associate with sexually immoral people — not at all meaning the sexually immoral of this world, or the greedy and swindlers, or idolaters, since then you would need to go out of the world. But now I am writing to you not to associate with anyone who bears the name of brother if he is guilty of sexual immorality or greed, or is an idolater, reviler, drunkard, or swindler — not even to eat with such a one. For what have I to do with judging outsiders? Is it not those inside the church whom you are to judge? God judges those outside. “Purge the evil person from among you.” (1 Corinthians 5 ESV)

Apparently there were some serious problems being reported about someone in the Corinthian church. There was sexual immorality of a kind that is not tolerated even among pagans, for a man has his father’s wife. As to the extent of this sin we do not know, we don’t know whether this was his step-mom or his literal mother. We don’t know whether this man’s father had passed away or divorced her. What we do know is this was even considered intolerable among those outside the church. It was certainly intolerable by God and should have been the same for those in the Corinthians church. But, as Paul addresses, they were quite the opposite, he says they were arrogant, and boasting.

Paul’s response to this report demonstrates the seriousness of sin and how it effects the whole community of believers and not just the one who is or has committed the sin. Paul’s response: with the power of our Lord Jesus, you are to deliver this man to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, so that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord. This response, though strong in language, is not meant as punishment on the man but as a way to lead him to salvation.

Church discipline seeks to accomplish several things:

  1. Church discipline is meant to lead Christians to restoration. — You are to deliver this man to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, so that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord. The goal of all discipline is that the ones being disciplined would be disciplined. Or as Paul states it here that their flesh, which represents their sin nature, would be destroyed and so that they may be confirmed to who they truly are, so that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord.
  2. To protect the body. — 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. Paul is referencing the OT command that the Jews in Corinthians would understand very well and he’s making a connection between what we are called to be and how sin effects that calling. In this illustration we are called to be unleavened or pure. Leaven in this example is sin, a little sin effects the whole body not just the person or person’s in sin just as a little Leaven effects the whole lump of dough. Church disciplines second goal is to protect the body from sin. Sin has a tendency toward effecting the whole and Paul’s warning here is that their reaction to the sin of this one man will effect them as a whole toward more sin if they do not deal with it quickly.

How are we dealing with sin in our immediate circles of influence, among those we call our friends and brothers and sisters in Christ? What do we let slide for the sake of not wanting to sound judgemental? Are we approaching confrontation with our brothers and sisters with a desire to see them repent and become more like Christ? What little sin’s are we allowing to creep up into our own lives that we are arrogantly considering to be harmless to the church?

Father, help me to love my brothers and sisters well this week by repenting of my own sins quickly and seeing them in light of how they can and will effect the whole body. Help me see them not as harmless but as dangerous. Help me to love my brothers and sisters enough to confront sin in their lives and not ignore it