(Part 2) 2020 Holy Week Message:
Christ the Passover Lamb: The Motivation
for a Holy Life
By Pastor Robbie Casas
B. GRASPING THE NT APPLICATION
So the Passover event and its institution as a major Jewish feast was what Paul was alluding to in 1Cor 5:7. But he was also applying its timeless truth to the situation he was addressing, giving us instruction in 1Cor 5:1-7 also on how to deal with sin in the church today.
I see 3 instructions for dealing with sin in the church:
- Rebuke the Arrogant Attitude Toward Sin (1Cor 5:1-2)
- Discipline the Unrepentant Sinner (1Cor 5:3-5)
- Cleanse Yourself of Sin (1Cor 5:6-7)
1. Rebuke the Arrogant Attitude Toward Sin (1Cor 5:1-2)
Read 1Cor 5:1-2: “1 It is actually reported that there is immorality among you, and immorality of such a kind as does not exist even among the Gentiles, that someone has his father’s wife. 2 You have become arrogant and have not mourned instead, so that the one who had done this deed would be removed from your midst.”
As I mentioned earlier, there was scandalous immorality that was practically being ignored by the church. There was a man who was committing incest with “his father’s wife” (v. 1), most likely his stepmother. This sexual immorality, in all likelihood, led to his marrying this woman (the only way everyone knew of this immorality). This was scandalous even by pagan standards (“sexual immorality… of a kind that is not tolerated even among pagans” v. 1, ESV). Incest was punishable by death in the OT (Lev 18:7, 8, 29; cf. Deut 22:30) and was both uncommon (“a kind as does not exist even among the Gentiles”) and illegal under Roman law.
In v. 2, Paul rebukes them for being so arrogant in not even mourning over this scandalous sin in their midst, tolerating such a sinner in the congregation. They probably thought they were so spiritually sophisticated that what everyone else felt was wrong no longer applied to them. If they were truly grieved by this immorality for the sake of God’s holiness, they would have disfellowshipped this unrepentant man (“so that the one who had done this deed would be removed from your midst”, v. 2b). They did not realize that the whole congregation was also guilty of ignoring the man’s disobedience, therefore being participants in his sin.
Do we turn a blind eye to sin in the church that we know needs to be biblically dealt with? Is it because we simply don’t want to “rock the boat”? Or is it because we think, “It’s not so bad.”?
2. Discipline the Unrepentant Sinner (1Cor 5:3-5)
Read 1Cor 5:3-5:“3 For I, on my part, though absent in body but present in spirit, have already judged him who has so committed this, as though I were present. 4 In the name of our Lord Jesus, when you are assembled, and I with you in spirit, with the power of our Lord Jesus, 5 I have decided to deliver such a one to Satan for the destruction of his flesh, so that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus.”
As far as Paul was concerned, though he was absent from them, by the authority vested in him as an apostle, he had already judged this person (v. 3).
In fact in vv. 4-5, he expected the church to enforce this judgment the next time they assembled as a church, even though he would be with them only “in spirit”. They were to do this “in the name of our Lord Jesus” – consistent with His will and in accordance with His holiness, and “with the power of our Lord Jesus” – with His authority as they apply His word. (This describes the character of the discipline.)
The way this judgment would be implemented is by “deliver[ing] such a one to Satan” – referring to excommunication and being shut out of the vital church community and fellowship. (This describes the manner of the discipline.)
The next phrase, “for the destruction of his flesh”, speaks of a severe dealing from God possibly to the point of even being killed (cf. 1Cor 10:10; 11:30; 1Jn 5:16). This applied judgment is for the ultimate preservation of the person (“so that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus”, v. 5b). This seems to say that this person was a believer. (This describes the purpose of the discipline.)
There is an important truth for us here: when the church fails to recognize sin in her midst and therefore fails to implement biblical church discipline, it would give the sinning person the dangerously wrong impression that his sin is not a big deal with God. This then is worsened by the impact it will have on the church – the infection of sin and the callousness to it, or worse, the imitation of it can spread to the whole church! Sin within the church, and apparently allowed by the church, is far more likely to lead other believers astray than the sin of nonbelievers does. Leaving public sin unchecked in the church affects all its members.