1 Corinthians, 5
Sin in the church
1: It is reported commonly that there is fornication among you, and such fornication as is not so much as named among the Gentiles, that one should have his father's wife. 2: And ye are puffed up, and have not rather mourned, that he that hath done this deed might be taken away from among you. 3: For I verily, as absent in body, but present in spirit, have judged already, as though I were present, concerning him that hath so done this deed, 4: In the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, when ye are gathered together, and my spirit, with the power of our Lord Jesus Christ, 5: To deliver such an one unto Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that the spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus. 6: Your glorying is not good. Know ye not that a little leaven leaveneth the whole lump? 7: Purge out therefore the old leaven, that ye may be a new lump, as ye are unleavened. For even Christ our passover is sacrificed for us: 8: Therefore let us keep the feast, not with old leaven, neither with the leaven of malice and wickedness; but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth. 9: I wrote unto you in an epistle not to company with fornicators: 10: Yet not altogether with the fornicators of this world, or with the covetous, or extortioners, or with idolaters; for then must ye needs go out of the world. 11: But now I have written unto you not to keep company, if any man that is called a brother be a fornicator, or covetous, or an idolater, or a railer, or a drunkard, or an extortioner; with such an one no not to eat. 12: For what have I to do to judge them also that are without? do not ye judge them that are within? 13: But them that are without God judgeth. Therefore put away from among yourselves that wicked person.
Having dealt with division in the church – the greatest evil that the Corinthians face, Paul now turns his attention to the other things that need to be set in order. The first issue is fornication in the church. This is commonly reported in other words it is common knowledge not just among the christians but also among the common people. Whatever did they think of this church that has such an evil that is not addressed. Now this fornication is not the ordinary fornication but actually gross incest. Paul says you are too proud to deal with it and instead of mourning you have left it unchallenged. Paul says, Even though l am not present in the flesh yet l have dealt with it in the Spirit. Paul had judged this matter calling on the Lord to bring it to an end in Gods own way. Now he says this is how you are to deal with this matter. When you are gathered together in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, with me in spirit, and in the empowering of the Holy Spirit put those who do this thing out of your fellowship into the realm of Satan for the destruction of this fleshly thing so that the persons might be saved in the end when Christ comes. Then he says your boasting about how great you are is not good in this matter. Don’t you know that a little yeast permeates the whole dough. So purge out this yeast so that you might be like unleavened bread. Let us be like the Jews who keep the Passover not with old leavened bread and not with the corrupting yeast of malice and wickedness but with unleavened bread of sincerity and truth. I have written previously that you are not to have fellowship with fornicators. Now l don’t mean by this that you do not have anything to do with fornicators completely because you would never have anything to do with anyone in the world. What l am saying is that if a fellow believer is living in a sin like this, or indeed if he is covetous or an idolater or a railer or a drunkard or an extortioner, you are not to keep his company in the same way as before, as if fellowship with him is still perfectly acceptable. How can we possibly tell people outside the church about their sin if we do not deal with sin in the church. God will deal with those that are outside the Church but you are to put away that wicked person from your church fellowship. Of course this does not mean that this discipline is to be a permanent ban. The excommunication is for the purpose of bringing the sinning believer to his senses and to keep holiness as a main characteristic of the church. If the believer turns from his sin and is restored to the Lord then he is to be restored to the Church. Public sin needs to be dealt with publicly and private sin in private. It is never Gods intention that believers should be permanently excluded from fellowship with himself or of his church. Believers are to deal with each other in a spirit of grace and love and forgiveness is to be their constant attitude to one another.