1 Corinthians 5:1-8 ESV
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.
Paul was frustrated with the Corinthians in chapter 4 because of their pride and arrogance but here in chapter 5 he seems to be even more at odds with them. Especially seeing that the church did nothing to discipline this person for committing a horrible sin. Paul says that this man, a Christian in the church, has been committing this sin and should be removed from the group. We often hear that we aren't to judge others but Paul makes it clear that as Christians, within the church, we are to judge our Christian brothers as long as in judging we aren't also guilty of being in sin.
In the early church it sounds like to be removed from the group would have been an effective way to cause someone to change. Today if a Christian was asked to leave because of a sin he was committing he most likely would be angry with whomever told him to leave and never change or return knowing he could just go somewhere else where he would be accepted for who he was and what He was doing.
These days it seems we are to tolerate whatever actions someone might do no matter what the Bible says about those actions. That is especially true for the world but should we in the church expect the same? Hopefully something like this would never come up but if it did I wonder how we would respond as a church. The main reason Paul was saying that a church should take this action is that it would be better for that person to, as he said, be delivered to Satan for the destruction of his flesh which I take to mean hit rock bottom, than to allow someone to go on sinning and lose their soul. I'm sure if asked to leave because of being caught In a sin, first, one would be embarrassed, then feel shame, and finally be angry and hurt because someone was acting as if they were better than them.
Still it would be better to have a chance at saving a soul even if it meant hurting feelings. This is how scripture says we are to respond to serious, un-repented sin, I'm sure in order that the church might remain healthy but as long as I've been going to church I have never heard of this being done nor could I imagine it being done. Should we be having this discussion so we know the consequences of doing wrong and to help be motivated to do what is right?
For me personally, and the best way to keep from putting the church through this, is to pray that the Holy Spirit be with me always and keep me strong and focused on what is going on around me and to stay away from anything that may cause me to trip and fall. Especially in these days we need to constantly be on alert for the schemes of the enemy.
by Ken Edgerly