1 Corinthians 5:1-12
"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?"
Have you ever had a hard conversation coming with a person and you put it off and put it off and avoided them because you just had no idea what you were going to say? That as been me with this post. I'm sitting down to a conversation with my readers about church discipline. A conversation I have stayed away from because this passage really kicked me in the pants. Even now, as I begin to write, I'm not really sure where this is going to go. But it is getting in the way of moving on. So here we go:
I think that it is very hard to ignore the practical application of this passage in corporate worship. What I mean it that, though some churches do not touch this with a thirty-foot-pole, when you read this there is not doubt that a person who is unrepentant of their sin should no longer be allowed to worship as part of the family. Some churches, like the Corinthians, do not like this idea. They would rather love everyone. They would rather be accepting and not judge. They don't want to seem closed minded so they they close their eyes instead. But, I was reminded in a sermon by John Piper that, Christ is not divided. Titus 2:13-14 tell us that "[Jesus] gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works." You can not separate the pardoning of Christ from the His purifying.
Now for the hard part. Let's apply our personal life today. In a world of cell phones and social media. Where you don't have to see a person daily to call them friend. You don't have to attend church with them to be aware that they claim to know Christ. You don't have to take communion with them to be their brother. How does this play out? Do we personally cut off association with them, loving them enough to say may God open your eyes? Or do we love them from afar, preaching the gospel when possible as often as possible, hoping the Spirit moves? I don't know. I don't have an answer. I sit here and my heart is like a pendulum. Back and forth. Back and forth. I'm a part of the global church, but how do you carry this out without a local body? I will continue to be in prayer on this one. Maybe I'll have an encouraging update to it soon.... May the Lord reveal His will on this one. For our good and His glory.