Read 1 Corinthians 5
Dealing With a Case of Incest
1 It is actually reported that there is sexual immorality among you, and of a kind that even pagans do not tolerate: A man is sleeping with his father’s wife. 2 And you are proud! Shouldn’t you rather have gone into mourning and have put out of your fellowship the man who has been doing this? 3 For my part, even though I am not physically present, I am with you in spirit. As one who is present with you in this way, I have already passed judgment in the name of our Lord Jesus on the one who has been doing this. 4 So when you are assembled and I am with you in spirit, and the power of our Lord Jesus is present, 5 hand this man over to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, so that his spirit may be saved on the day of the Lord.
6 Your boasting is not good. Don’t you know that a little yeast leavens the whole batch of dough? 7 Get rid of the old yeast, so that you may be a new unleavened batch—as you really are. For Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed. 8 Therefore let us keep the Festival, not with the old bread leavened with malice and wickedness, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.
9 I wrote to you in my letter not to associate with sexually immoral people—10 not at all meaning the people of this world who are immoral, or the greedy and swindlers, or idolaters. In that case you would have to leave this world.11 But now I am writing to you that you must not associate with anyone who claims to be a brother or sister but is sexually immoral or greedy, an idolater or slanderer, a drunkard or swindler. Do not even eat with such people.
12 What business is it of mine to judge those outside the church? Are you not to judge those inside? 13 God will judge those outside. “Expel the wicked person from among you.”
A quick reading of 1 Corinthians 5 can send a shiver down your spine. Paul minces no words in this passage as he lays out the seriousness of sin found in the Corinthian church. Their church was placed in the middle of a morally bankrupt society, and it began to look like the culture around them. Their language was prideful, their actions were demeaning, and their repentance was nowhere to be found. All the while, this church didn’t realize the problems within their midst. If we didn’t know any better, Paul could be using this passage to address the American church. Just like the Corinthians, we are prone to diminish the weight of our sin. We’re forgiven, so why does it really matter if we keep on sinning? Paul writes here that when we disregard our sin, we also disregard our Passover Lamb. Jesus didn’t just die so that He could forgive us from sin; He rose again so that He could ultimately free us from sin.
The goal is not for the church to look a little bit better than the world. It is an easy task to spot the brokenness in our own culture. We can look to Hollywood and find many reasons to blame them for the moral decay in our culture. However, it’s a much more painful task to see the ways in which the Church has failed to live up to her holy purpose. We are made to stand out as a bright contrast from the world as we turn from our sin and pursue Jesus. All too often, though, we sit in our sin rather than turn from it. Paul makes it clear that one cannot both live in sin and live in Christ. We will be forced to forsake one or the other. May we be willing to take a cold, hard look at our own lives and examine whether we are honoring our Savior or worshipping our own desires.
What do you notice about what the Corinthian church did wrong?
Why do you think we do the opposite of what this passage asks of us–we judge those outside of the church and give a pass to those inside it?
Where is an area of your life in which you have lacked repentance? What keeps you from repenting more frequently?
Did You Know?
As the Hebrews were preparing for their exodus from slavery in Egypt, they were commanded to prepare bread without yeast because they didn’t have time to wait for it to rise. Because yeast was also a symbol of sin, they were also commanded to sweep all of it out of their house. In the same way, Paul is saying we must sweep out all of the old yeast, the sins of the past, so that God can do a new work in us.