Read 1 Corinthians 5:1-13
Even though I am not with you in person, I am with you in the Spirit. And as though I were there, I have already passed judgment on this man in the name of the Lord Jesus. You must call a meeting of the church. I will be present with you in spirit, and so will the power of our Lord Jesus. Then you must throw this man out and hand him over to Satan so that his sinful nature will be destroyed and he himself will be saved on the day the Lord returns.
Your boasting about this is terrible. Don’t you realize that this sin is like a little yeast that spreads through the whole batch of dough? Get rid of the old “yeast” by removing this wicked person from among you. Then you will be like a fresh batch of dough made without yeast, which is what you really are. Christ, our Passover Lamb, has been sacrificed for us. So let us celebrate the festival, not with the old bread of wickedness and evil, but with the new bread of sincerity and truth.
(1 Corinthians 5:3-8)
The Corinthian believers had refused to deal with a specific sin in the church: A man was having an affair with his mother (or stepmother). The church was ignoring the situation, and Paul was saying that it had a responsibility to maintain the standards of morality found in God’s commandments.
To “hand [this individual] over to Satan” (1 Corinthians 5:5) means to exclude him from the fellowship of believers. Without the spiritual support of Christians, this man would be left alone with his sin and Satan, and perhaps this emptiness would drive him to repentance. “So that his sinful nature will be destroyed” (1 Corinthians 5:5) states the hope that the experience would bring him to God to destroy his sinful nature through repentance.
Putting someone out of the church should be a last resort in disciplinary action. It should not be done out of vengeance, but out of love, just as parents punish children to correct and restore them. The church’s role should be to help, not hurt, offenders, motivating them to repent of their sins and to return to the fellowship of the church.
God tells us not to judge others, but to accept them. Yet he also tells us not to tolerate flagrant sin because allowing such sin to go undisciplined will have a dangerous effect on other believers (1 Corinthians 5:6). Have you ever had to confront someone about sin? How do you motivate others to repent? Why is anger a danger when disciplining someone?
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