“Dealing with Unrepentant Sin in the Church” Holiness: Week 1 (1 Corinthians 5:1-:13)
The danger of unchecked sin is that it can spread through the whole church so for the glory of Christ we must remove it.
1. The Situation (1 Cor. 5:1-3)
2. Biblical Discipline is Loving and Restorative (1 Cor. 5:4-5)
3. Deal with Unchecked Sin Before it Spreads to the Whole Church (1 Cor. 5:6-8)
4. Be in the World but not of the World (1 Cor. 5:9-13)
If you have your Bibles this morning, let’s open them together to the book of I Corinthians. I Corinthians 5. Now, we’re just coming out of an on time series we labeled, Beyond Sunday. Living your faith in Christ and for Christ beyond the Sunday morning hour. Now, when we come back to the book of Corinthians, and we land in Chapter five, we start to see some of the consequences of not truly living our life, loving God and loving others beyond Sunday. The consequences of being selfish, the consequences of choosing sin, instead of choosing God. This is what the church in Corinth was doing.
Now, in 2018, we looked at the first four chapters; I Corinthians 1, 2, 3 and 4. Our main idea was dealing with confrontation in the church or division in the church. What’s interesting when God allows us to come back now to I Corinthians 5, we land in a passage of scripture that actually causes a lot of division amongst the Christian culture in America today. It’s the concept or the idea of church discipline.
Now, soon as I say church discipline, some of you are like, “Okay, great. I came to church on the discipline day, and why could I not have picked another Sunday. But don’t be afraid of that word. Sometimes we skip over this subject of church discipline because we don’t understand it. Sometimes we want to not talk about sin or discipline in the church because we’ve seen discipline done wrong in other churches or even done wrong in our own lives personally.
I would ask you this morning, don’t bring that baggage with you. If you did bring it, just push it to the side. Let go of that suitcase. Don’t bring your baggage into the text, because what God has for us is good. Though your ears may hear it as bad, this is good for the purity of his bride, and it’s good for the purity of your heart. We need this.
The series is called Holiness, and we’re going to be looking as Paul is instructing the church in Corinth to live in holiness, to live holy and separate lives. It doesn’t mean perfect. Well, it does mean perfect, but it doesn’t expect perfection from you. But one of the things if we’re going to be a holy church for God’s glory is that we have to deal with sin.
Sometimes in my heart, I just want to brush it under the rug. In fact, I was tempted to just skip right over I Corinthians 5, but you know me better than that. And God wouldn’t let me do that. I know some churches that just skip over this chapter all together. They don’t want to talk about church discipline, they don’t want to talk about sin. They don’t want to talk about anything that makes anybody uncomfortable who might come to their church. Although that’s tempting, that’s not good. Although that’s tempting, that’s not Godly. And although that’s tempting, that’s not what God says in His word. We have to deal with issues like sin in the church even though we want to pretend it’s not there. Even though it’s messy. People’s feelings are … We have to deal with it because God commands us to, and it’s actually, don’t forget again as I began the message, it’s for our good.
Some people in the name of versus like it is or God is love, they’ll just skip over anything that’s tough in the scriptures. I do agree, yes, God is love but just because it’s true that God is love, it’s not loving to ignore unrepentant, and unchecked sin in your own heart or in the church. In fact, I would say it’s the opposite of love. Think about your children in your family. We’re a church family. So, I want to use this illustration. In your home, if you walked into the laundry room and you saw your little son or your daughter with the bottle of bleach and somehow in their ingenuity, they figured out how to get that impossible cap off. Sometimes I can’t do it. They’re just struggling, struggling and if the smell does it cause them to stop alone, you walk in right when they’re about to chug it down. What would you do? I would hope that you would run over there your child to grab the bottle or slap it out of their hand before they drink it. Why? Because drinking bleach is dangerous. Raise your hand if you agree with that.
Okay good. We all agree on something this morning. Drinking bleach is dangerous and you want to explain to your child, that is dangerous, it will kill you know. Now a modern approach to dealing with sin or discipline in the church today is say, “You know what? That’s between them and God.” But you know what, that’s sin, and they’re like, “That’s between them and God.” That’s not loving and it’s not even true. What if you told your child or would you tell your child as they’re about to chug a bottle of bleach, well, that’s just between them and God. Honey, go right ahead, that’s just between you and God. Not only will that child be sick and might even die, that’s called child abuse by the way. Neglect is a form of child abuse.
But then the other children. Now, we’re talking about the church a little bit too, follow me. The other children in your home might see that and be like, “I guess I can do it too.” Now, who’s in danger? The whole family, and you because CPS is coming to call. No, we take the bottle of bleach out of their hand and tell them how dangerous it is.
I know that you can’t stop every child in America from drinking bleach or from doing dumb things that harm them. But listen to me, you can stop it when you see your child do it, can’t you? When you walk in your laundry room and you see your child about the drink the bleach in your cabinet, you can do something about it. I know that the church is not going to be able to deal with all of the sin in the world, in every person’s heart. Not even all of the sin in every Christian’s heart. But we can deal with sin in our family for the protection of us, God’s children who have chosen to worship together. That’s all that Paul’s doing. He’s not being hateful, he’s not being angry, he’s being loving for the protection of the children in God’s family in Corinth. He uses all of his apostolic authority to help them see the danger that they’re in.
I know there’s lots of sin out there, and we talk about that. This is not the only sermon I ever preach. We talk a lot about sin out there, it’s okay. But what we’re talking about today is sin in here. If we’re going to make an influence with the sin out there, we have to protect the purity of Christ’s bride in here. So, let’s stand together and read these 13 verses. I know it’s a lot. But stretch out your legs, it’s going to be good for you.
I Corinthians 5:1, Paul says, it is actually reported that there is immorality among you, and immorality of such a kind as does not even exist among the Gentiles or the pagans. That’s saying something if you know about the moral temperature of Corinth. That someone, here’s the issue, has his father’s wife. We’re going to talk about it. Verse two, “You had become arrogant and have not mourned so that the one who has done this deed would be removed from your midst. For I, on my part though absent in the body but present in spirit have already judged him.” This is episodic authority you cannot do this, but Paul can.
“Him who has so committed this as though I were present.” Verse four. “In the name of our Lord Jesus …” He’s working up to something here. “When you are assembled, and I’m with you in spirit and with the power of our Lord Jesus, I have decided, this is what your decision should be he says, to deliver such a one over to Satan for the destruction of his flesh. Why? So that his spirit might be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus.” You’re boasting. I guess there boasting about it. That’s weird. “You’re boasting is not good. Do you not know that a little leaven, leaven’s the whole lump of dough. Clean out the old leaven so that you may be a new lump just as you are in fact, unleavened. For Christ, our Passover also has been sacrificed. Therefore, let us celebrate the feast not with old leaven, nor with the leaven of malice or wickedness. But with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.
I wrote you in my letter, not to associate with immoral people, I did not at all mean with immoral people of this world, or with the covetous, or swindlers, or with idolaters. For then, you would have to go out of the world, but actually, I wrote to you not to associate with any so called brother if he is an immoral person, or covetous, or an idolater, or a [inaudible 00:08:50] or a drunkard or a swindler.” You get the idea. “Not even to eat with such a one.”
Verse 12, “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.” Here’s a tough thing for our ears to hear, “Remove the wicked man from among yourselves.” This is God’s word, please be seated.
Let me sum it up for you this morning. The danger of unchecked sin is that it will run its course like a virus in your home through the whole congregation. So, for the glory of God, hear me this morning, we must desire to remove it from among ourselves. Now, before you take the one for one application in this text and start wanting to point at each other. That’s not where I’m going to take you this morning. That may be a consequence at some point in time, but where I want you to go this morning is dealing with that in here.
Did you know that a virus before it affects other people, affects you? If you want to protect the other people around you from the flu virus this year, get your flu shot. Deal with the flu that might be in you. If you don’t first deal with it in you, then yes, it can spread to others. So, it starts with you this morning, church. That’s going to be the hardest thing to take this text of dealing with unchecked, unrepentant sin, and ask your own heart, is it here? Because if you deal with it in here, it’ll never move out there.
So, what was the Corinthian situation? Look at these first three verses. Paul makes it pretty clear that something wicked is going on here. This church was in division, he knows that. Their division has allowed them to be divided, but it’ll also allow them to be blinded from a sin that was growing within. So, Paul addresses it publicly in a letter. Why? For three reasons. Number one, common knowledge, number two, it was shocking, and number three, it was unchecked. This sin was a special kind of sin. Paul doesn’t just go to a gray area and start saying, okay, here’s what I want you to do. Church discipline and build all these fences that I don’t build.
No, no, we don’t need to do that. This sin was common knowledge. How do we know that? Paul says, “I heard about it.” Either he heard it from Chloe’s people, as we learn, that she brought a report back to him in chapter one, he tells us that. Or it was such a grievous sin that he just heard it through the rumor mill. It was common knowledge, so he addresses it. It was public knowledge, he addresses it publicly. Number two, it was a shocking sin, it was a depraved sin.
Here’s where we got to get into the context of the particular sin. Twice we hear the word immoral. There was an immorality among you and of such immorality that not even the pagans participate in it. That should be shocking for you to hear, because the pagans in Corinth were as bad as it gets, as bad as any pagan lifestyle that we live in America today. It’s on par, they were doing some pretty wicked things. We do some pretty wicked things. We allow for some pretty wicked things today.
For him to say, this kind of sin is worse, they don’t even allow it out there, it was shocking. It was sexual in nature. This word immoral, that’s used twice is the Greek word porneia. What does that sound like? Pornography. What is pornography? The visual consumption of sexual sin. Porneia means sexual sin. There was sexual sin in the church of such a kind that not even the pagans would let them get away with it. So, what was the sexual sin? Well, this is where it gets crazy. There was a man in the church who was living in sexual sin with his father’s wife, his mother.
Now, we don’t know for sure, we believe it was a stepmother. It could have been his mother, mother. That’s nasty. It doesn’t say that she was a widow, or that they were divorced. It seems as though that this family is living together. Father, mother, stepmother of the son and now the sun and the stepmother are in sexual sin together. That’s not even the worst thing in this text. That’s grievous. If that was going on with an individual in our church, I promise you if you’ve gone through the all in class, we have core values, we practice the church restoration process. That person would be in the church restoration process. But what gets Paul real fired up, the reason he’s speaking to them with such disdain is this third thing about the sin that makes them address it. Not only was it common knowledge, not only was it shocking, but it was unchecked.
He’s basically saying, “Are you kidding me? There’s a man in your church that sleeping with his stepmother and you’re not doing anything about it.” Paul would have rather the leaders in the church dealt with it. But because they didn’t, he says, “I must deal with it.” I don’t know why they weren’t dealing with it. But I can give you some common reasons why people don’t deal with sin in the church today. Maybe they’re saying things like, “Well, we just want them to be happy.” We laugh and we chuckle when we hear that, don’t we? But it rips my heart out every time I hear that in my office as an excuse for some kind of … Many times, it’s sexual sin. Sexual sin is common, and an excuse for sexual sin is it makes me happy, especially when dealing with adulterous relationships just like here.
Why are you leaving your wife for this woman that you work with? Because I believe it makes me happy, and I believe God wants me to be happy. I’m sure there were saying something like that. Or maybe they were saying something like I’ve heard before. “Well, who am I to say when one person finds love in another person?” I hear that all the time. “Who am I to be someone’s judge and to say, “You can’t find love here. If you want to find love there, find it there even if it means sleeping with your stepmother.” No, Paul that’s nonsense, it has to stop.”
Maybe they were proud of being that progressive church that has a diversity in their love relationships. I see that happening today. Let me help you. We should never be proud of being progressive if being progressive means being sinful. You understand what I’m saying? I’m proud that we’re a progressive church, and a lot of other biblical areas that are taking people into a deeper relationship with God. Like we heard this morning in the baptism, I almost broke out in tears almost this morning. That because of her connection to our congregation, Brittany said that she now knows what it means to have a deep personal relationship with God. I’m sure she knew what it meant before, but she really dove into that here. That’s what I’m talking about. If that’s what progressive means. Yes, I want to be progressive. I want to be progressive for equality and racial reconciliation. But we do not want to be progressive when it’s sinful.
Paul says, not only maybe proud about being progressive, you’re actually proud, listen to this, proud to say that you’re supporting this sin. That level of progressiveness, that level of diversity in love in the church is something they’re standing up for saying, “That’s happening here. Yeah, this is the kind of place where you can feel welcome and sleep with your stepmother.” That didn’t feel good does it, to say it out loud? “Oh, I don’t want to go here, but I’m going to anyway.” This is on time for our society today.
Church, that’s why God won’t let me escape this text because we need to hear it. They were proud of something that God abhorred. They were proud to maybe even link arms and stand there promoting something that they felt like society needed to be okay with, that God says, “That’s breaking my heart.” We would never do anything like that in our society today. Saying, “Pastor, I can’t even think of anything in any of our churches that happens like that today. Well, let me help you out.”
What about in our redefinition of a number of different things that have been clear in Scripture for thousands of years that we’re trying to redefine, and we’re saying as churches and church leaders, I see this happening. We’re proud of that redefinition. What about marriage itself? But what about gender identity? God says, “I create you male and female.” They say, “Maybe not.” We’re proud to say maybe not.
There’s a number of different issues you can link to this, and I’m not trying to beat up our society, I’m not trying to be political. I’ll be honest with you, I just want to be biblical. The latest one that I’ve seen is that we’re proud to link arms and to be associated with the murder of children, which is one thing, but recently, did you hear about New York? The murder of children up until the day before that they’re born.
This is happening in churches and church leaders on issues like this are stepping up, linking arms and saying, we’re proud to support that kind of issue. Paul says you’re proud of this sexual sin between this man and this woman, it is abhorred to God and you’ve got to stop it. Let’s not be proud of the things that breaks God’s heart. Why they allowed it, I don’t exactly know. Paul in other biblical texts like Romans 6 says, sometimes … 2000 years ago, maybe even sometimes today. After becoming a Christian. The church would say things like, “Well, after you become a Christian, you surrender to Jesus as your Lord and Savior. Then you can do anything and everything that you want.” Because the more that sin increases, the more that grace increases. So, sin all you want because in that, grace will abound all the more.
That’s nonsense, Paul says. Look at Romans 6:1. He talks about this exact issue that might be going on at I Corinthians. He says, “What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin so that grace may increase?” My translation of verse two is that, that’s the dumbest thing I’ve ever heard. this is, may it never be. How shall we who died to sin still live in it? Grace should not encourage you to sin all the more, Grace should encourage you, if you probably understand it to sin all the less. Grace means, God’s unearned favor. You can’t go to a Walmart and buy it, it was earned for you and given to you because of the sacrifice of Christ on the cross.
Rather than grace causing you to increase in your sin, grace should cause your sin to decrease because of your understanding of who God is and what was accomplished for you in the sacrifice of Christ. That’s their context. After Paul describes the gravity of this sin, he uses his apostolic authority through a letter to help them see how he thinks they should deal with it.
Look at verses four through five. What I want you to see in these two verses is that biblical discipline is not out of anger, and it’s not to embarrass or to shame. Biblical discipline is loving, don’t miss that, and restorative in nature.
The word discipline though when your ears hear it, you may have a negative view of it. It doesn’t have a negative view in Scripture. For example, if you go this week and read Hebrews 12, the word discipline there means loving instruction. Discipline is not what your father or your mother wrongly did to you, out of anger to embarrass you when you’re a child, that’s not biblical discipline. Again, don’t bring your baggage from your history into the text. Discipline, biblically, is loving instruction. In fact, in Hebrews 12, we learn because God loves you, he disciplines you, so that when you feel the pain of His discipline, you will see the error of your ways and do what? Come back to him.
Discipline should both be loving and restorative. This is what Paul says in verse five, “I have decided to deliver such a one, the guy who’s sleeping with the stepmother, to deliver him to Satan.” Why, “For the destruction of his flesh, so that his spirit might be saved.” Paul said, “This is good for him.”
Now, when we read, turn somebody over to Satan. We’re like, “What kind of weird séance Satan stuff are we preaching about this morning pastor?” Calm down. All that Paul is saying is that I’m going to give him headlong into the sin that he wants to live in. What should have happened in the church according to Matthew 18 in the words of Jesus, “Someone should have gone to him one on one and said, stop it.” Who, not only who, but really?
It’s not what God wants for me and plead with him. If that didn’t work, two should have gone to him. If that didn’t work, he should have been brought before the whole church, and everybody in the church plead with him, “Please stop. This is destructive to you and its destructive to us.” But because he didn’t either respond to those steps or those steps weren’t done, it was left unchecked to the point where Paul says, “Enough’s enough, I’m turning him over to Satan. Removing him from the love and the support of the Corinthian church.
Why? Not to embarrass him, though it may be embarrassing. Not even to “punish him.” But why, so that he’ll hit rock bottom. Like the parable of the prodigal son. When he hits rock bottom, he’ll look up and see the only hope he has, is in Christ and His Church. Then he’ll come back. That’s the goal. What did the dad do in the story of the prodigal son? He allowed his son to go away. He didn’t chase him away. He said, “Don’t you ever come back here again.” He let him go. After he went, and he was turned over to Satan, and he lived in sin apart from his father. Remember, he was in the pig slop. One day he woke up at rock bottom and said, “I can get better than this from my father, if he’ll take me back.”
It’s restorative because when he came back, what did his father say? “No, you stop right there. I don’t want to see you back here again. You’ve dishonored me. You’re dead to me.” Is that what the father said? No, he said, “Welcome home.” He threw a party, gave him new clothes. He put a ring on his finger, sandals on his feet. He said, “Welcome home.” When we do church discipline, this is the goal. Jesus shows us that in Matthew 18. When someone’s in sin, we plead with him one and two, and the church and we turn them over to Satan. We treat them as an unbeliever. Jesus says in Matthew 18. It’s not hateful, it’s loving. So that they’ll see at any point in the process, the error of their way, and they’ll come back to God and come back to the fold.
What do we say? “Welcome home.” There may be a process involved in that, we have a church restoration team here. There’s a process we follow, but we want them to come back. Go read Matthew 18. That’s the context of church discipline. That’s what Jesus says when one sheep leaves the 99, we don’t chase it with a whip to, “Get out of here you dirty, disgusting sheep in that sin.” No, we go after the one to bring it back to the 99.
You know what Jesus says, if you’re doing church discipline at the end of Matthew 18, an often misunderstood verse. I know you might be scared of it. But here’s what Jesus says. He says, “I’ll be with you while you’re doing it.” He says, “Where two or three are gathered to doing this, this idea of church restoration thing. He says, “I get behind that.” Just like he gets behind the Great Commission in Matthew 28. He says, “Go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to obey all that I’ve commanded them, and surely I will be with you always to the end of the age.” In that same mindset Jesus says, “I will be with you as you do church discipline because it’s for the purity of the individual heart, and it’s the purity of the bride of Christ.”
Church, we don’t have a choice. We must love each other enough to offer accountability. A church must love its members enough to help them be restored through the loving process of church discipline. Please hear me, I could say it 100 times, I don’t know if you’d hear it. It’s not hateful. It breaks my heart when I see someone go astray from where God is leading them. I don’t want to see anybody in the restoration process. I want everybody to catch it here before it goes out there.
I have no joy, no joy, only brokenness, when I see someone leave because they won’t repent. We’ve done that. But because we’ve done that, we’ve also seen some come back to recognize the error of their ways and to come back. It’s loving. If you had stage three cancer and I knew about it, would it be loving for me to say, “I don’t want to hurt their sensitive sensibilities, so I’m not going to tell them they have stage three cancer.” That’s going to be painful to hear. Is that loving? I wouldn’t describe that as love, I would describe that as cowardice. I’m too afraid to have a tough conversation with you. What’s loving? “Hey Brandon, you have cancer.” I don’t know that. I don’t think so. “hey Brandon, you have cancer and it’s bad. You need to go to the doctor.” Because then what? Then you can go to the doctor, they can do treatment and maybe even have a surgery to remove it.
What Paul’s doing here in turning this person over to Satan is loving, but he has a restoration in mind. Church restoration, that’s what we call our team, church discipline, however you hear it is what God wants us to do, and Paul is frustrated because this particular case is not black and white. There’s no wiggle room. He says it should have been open and shut. But instead of dealing with it, you ignored it. Because you ignored it, this is what he was going to talk about in verses six through eight, it’s going to spread to the whole congregation.
Church, we deal with unchecked sin before it spreads to the whole church. After Paul explains to them that you’re bleeding, there’s this sin that’s going on. It’s hurting that family. He goes, “It’s not only hurting that family, but through the illustration of leaven, he says, “It’s going to spread to the whole church. This is going to be a disease that affects everybody. Deal with it now.” He deals with it for them in fact. We can’t do that. But he wants us to do deal with it now.
Anybody know what leaven is? How many of you bake bread? Let’s go there first. [inaudible 00:28:10] big bread. What do you put in bread to make it rise? Yeast. That’s what Paul’s talking about here. You don’t have to use a whole lot of yeast. You put a little bit of yeast, you work it through the dough, it goes through the whole loaf and it all rises. Leaven is that yeast. It’s not bad, but it does, as an illustration work its way through the whole loaf of bread.
If you’re having a hard time understanding leaven and bread, just use a different illustration. In your home, you wash clothes, have you ever had a small object in the laundry cause a whole lot of damage with the whole load? If you happen to forget that ink pen, it’s worse if it’s a fountain pen. Don’t ever do that. Oh man, you put a fountain pen in your shirt, your pocket and you put it in the washer and then wash it really good. It spreads the water all around it, and spreading the ink around. After you pull the clothes out of the dryer, every single piece of clothing, not just the one that had the pen is affected by the ink. Lipstick does the same thing, ChapStick. Or what about when you’re washing whites? You know where I’m going, right? There’s that one little red rag that you miss. That one little red t-shirt. Next thing you know, everybody in the family is wearing pink socks, pink underwear and pink undershirts.
It’s what Paul’s talking about here. Something small like an unchecked sin, in fact, is not small at all. It’ll work itself through the whole congregation. So, he says, remove the sin, remove the leaven. That’s clear and simple.
Now, there’s some other things that are connected with leaven and the Passover I want to get to. Because Paul goes there, I want to go there. Leaven and unleavened bread is connected to the Passover celebration and Jesus, this is where it gets good, is also connected to the Passover celebration. Even today, Jewish families as they celebrate the Passover, do you know what they do the night before? They take a candle, and they light it, and they go look through every nook and cranny of their house. Some of them do it just as a demonstration, but when they first started doing it, what are they looking for? They’re looking for the leaven. They’re going to remove all the leaven as a symbol of the sin so that the next day when they make the unleavened bread, there’s no leaven that can get into that batch. And they’re going to eat that kind of cracker waffle, better probably than what we do at the Lord’s Supper. But to represent the removal of sin, they remove the leaven, and then they celebrate Passover.
But also with Passover, Paul says, not only is the leaven removed, not only is this figurative sin removed, but we should remove it today, because actually, we are unleavened through the power of Christ. Why? Because Christ, he says, was sacrificed as the past over lamb. What does that mean? Do you remember in Exodus when the Passover first happened? The Jews were under oppression, under the Egyptian Empire. That’s why it’s called Exodus, that’s when they escaped. What happened the night before the Exodus? Every family took that lamb, that Passover lamb, they slaughtered the lamb. They dipped the blood and they put it over the doorpost. When the angel of death came by, what did he do? He passed over those homes. In Christ, he was and is the Passover lamb. His blood was shed and spread so that God wouldn’t just ignore sin, but he would see our sin in the sacrifice of His son, and then he would pass over it.
Paul’s making the point, why are you allowing sin to run rampant when that’s not the picture that is actually the truth? If you are a Christian, you’re a new creation, actually, for all of eternity, not because of your goodness, but because you’ve been declared righteous by Christ, and because of his sacrifice, you’re actually unleavened. The penalty for your sin, you don’t have to bear it on your own. Christ bought it for you. He says, give the proper picture to the world. Stop living as if sin is allowed to run rampant among you. Remove the sin, because that’s what Christ really has already done in you.
It’s a beautiful illustration that He works through completely. But here’s the deal, before the church has to recognize the leaven in itself, which we have to do. We have a church restoration process. We follow Matthew 18, if we see it, and we hear about it, it’s public, it’s unchecked, we go one on one, we go to on one, we go three and four on one. We take that process all the way out. And then we’ll bring it before the church represented by the church restoration team, and we’ll deal with it.
But instead of doing all that, God says, “Deal with it in here.” Because if you deal with it in here in yourself, it won’t have to be dealt with out here. Now, this is money stuff church, listen to me. There’s no need for the church to deal with it if you do it. Save yourself and the church a lot of pain by taking that spiritual candle right now, if you want to. On your way home, or when you get home, take that spiritual candle, walk through all the dark and hidden places in your heart and your soul, find that unchecked sin of pride, bitterness, racism, discontent, greed, I could go on and on. There’s some things God deals with me in my heart, find your own candle and search your heart. Deal with that sin. Just give it to God now so it won’t have to be dealt with later.
Will we do it? Yeah. I won’t enjoy it. But even then, we have to before it spreads to the whole church. Paul urges them to do with the unchecked sin. But then there’s some confusion. Look at verses nine through 13. He’d already written them another letter. In that letter he says, “I want you to not deal with these immoral people.” Now, they took it to an extreme and they thought Paul was saying, what they understood he was saying, but how they applied is that we’re not going to deal with all the immoral people in the world. [inaudible 00:34:04] No, that’s not what I told you to do. I’m not talking about all the immoral people in the world. Why? Because the world is unholy. You are to be of the world, but not in the word. You’re supposed to be living as a holy Christian in an unholy world. You have to go to the world. How are you going to make disciples if you don’t go find them? How are you going to share the gospel with people who are unsafe if you don’t run into unsafe people?
He goes, stop being surprised when you find the unsaved people in the world acting like unregenerate people? Why are you mad at it? Why are you surprised by that? That’s the world. I called you to the world. But I didn’t say you need to act like it. He says, I’m talking about those pretend Christians in the church, or maybe those real Christians who call themselves followers of Christ but they live continually in an unrepentant sin abundant lifestyle.
Paul says, those are the people you need to watch out for. They’re the ones that are going to hurt the congregation. He says the world … What does it say in here in the last verse? Let’s just get to that. The world, God judges outside. You need to go to them and share the gospel with them. That’s your call. But He says, you deal with sin on the inside. When we hear these words, sometimes they’re hard for us to understand; remove the wicked man, meaning the unrepentant man or woman from among yourselves for the sake of the purity of the bride of Christ and for the benefit of their individual soul.
Because there’s some confusion with church discipline, and sometimes it’s hard to hear. I want to give you four summary statements on I Corinthians 5. Maybe you want to write them down, and I hope they help you. Number one, overlooking unrepentant, you can even put unchecked sin is not loving, it’s harmful. So, we need to stop doing that.
Number two, confronting unrepentant or unchecked sin is essential. This is not optional, and Jesus gave us a way to do it, Matthew 18. Praise God, we practice that here at Tabernacle. Number three, dealing with unrepentant sin, here’s where you really need to listen for a second, should be loving and restorative. Sometimes when we start talking about dealing with unchecked sin, the heart of some Christian goes right to their fingertips. They want to start doing this. Then they think we need Christian police at the door. Every time you walk in with their wand of purity they wave you, “I saw that Facebook post this week. I saw that Twitter feed. I saw this little thing you did in your life and that little glass of wine. That’s a matter of church discipline. Pastor, call them out.” No, calm down.
That’s not what he’s saying here. This is not one of those gray areas that Paul’s talking about. This is that open, unchecked sin, that everybody knows it is wrong and it’s evil. That’s why he uses a clear illustration. He doesn’t talk about the gray areas. Your job is not to take a gray area and turn it into a black line. Your job is not to put fences around people that God didn’t put in Scripture. That’s called legalism. You are not the morality police for the world.
I know some people that would take this overzealous approach to sexual immorality, that’s wrong. Adultery before marriage and sexual sin during marriage with someone other than your marriage covenant partner, that’s wrong. But there’s some people that are overzealous. They see a couple holding hands and kissing. They’re like, “Church discipline.” Here’s an application for that, mind your own business. Is that your kid? If it’s not your child, or someone in your family, back off, okay? If you’re worried about it, pray about it. But we take it too far.
Now, what does the Bible say about adultery? If you see the man sleeping with another woman, yes, go to him. If he remains unrepentant, we will deal with it as a congregation. But be careful about taking it too far. Again, how do you know you’re going too far? Is when you start putting up fences in other people’s lives that God has not put there. Pray about it long before you ever talk about it. That’s number three. It should be loving, and when we do deal with it, it’s not judgmental, it’s restorative in nature.
Galatians 6:1 says, “Brethren, brothers and sisters in Christ, even if anyone is caught in any trespass, you who are spiritual restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness. Each one looking to yourself.” In other words, check yourself before you go wreck somebody else so that you too will not be tempted.
Number four, correcting sin is an internal issue, not an external issue? Church discipline is for believers by believers. Where does it start? That’s my last question. Where does it start? I’ll tell you where God jumped all over me this week. He says, “Pastor, it starts with you. Literally, it starts with me.” What I mean by that, it starts in your heart. Just commit to do this today. I know passages like this aren’t popular, but if you walk away with one thing, walk away with this, ask God the light that candle in your heart. Not everybody else’s heart, just start with you. If the other stuff’s there to remain, we’ll deal with it. Ask God the light the candle for your heart. Say, what is it that is unchecked in my heart that I need to deal with? If you start there, it’ll be good, I promise. Let’s pray.
August 5, 2019