First Baptist Church at Corinth Harbors Sex Offenders could have been the headliner for the local paper, but I suspect it was hardly mentioned at all.
Obviously from today's Chronological Bible reading a sexual incident happened at FBC-Corinth and little, if anything, was said by anyone in the church or outside the church about the very public church member who had sexual relations with his stepmother. In fact, the church of Corinth prided themselves on their compassionate tolerance of sin in the life of a professing Christian. Which brings us to the question: "How does a church handle known sexual sin (or any publicly known sin) of its members?" of "Should a church say anything at all?"
The church "shows compassion" and practices "tolerance" toward this blatantly sinning man until Paul steps in. They were kinder than God. "Don't you know a little yeast works through the whole batch of dough? responds Paul to their tolerance. In fact, his severity is a bit astonishing: "hand this man over to Satan, so that the sinful nature may be destroyed and his spirit saved on the day of the Lord."
Jesus died to free guilty sinners, free them from the guilt of sin as well as the sin itself. People of this world are immoral, greedy, swindlers, and idolaters but "new creatures in Christ" ought to be different in lifestyle and behavior. Paul firmly establishes that no one who calls himself a brother practices sexual immorality or greed, etc. (Ephesians 5:3-7; I Corinthians 6:9-10) nor should they continue fellowshipping with the local church.
Lest you think Paul acts more harshly than Christ against professing Christians who habitually practice sin consider Jesus' words: "But the cowardly, unbelieving, abominable, murderers, sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars shall have their part in the lake of fire . . . " and "But outside are dogs and sorcerers and sexually immoral and murderers and idolaters, and whoever loves and practices a lie" (Revelation 21:7; 22:15).
As the Gospel becomes more watered down in our day, the church becomes kinder than God toward guilty church members. That's why sexual activity, greed, addictive behaviors, etc. abound in today's church. The church must lead the way in repentance and brokenness, in the disciplining its members for sinful practices, and in restoration. The goal and role of confrontation is reconciliation; repentance always precedes reconciliation.
Later on in Paul's second letter to the Corinthian church Paul admonishes the believers to "not be too severe" toward that very man who had repented and had returned to the Lord and to the church. Paul encourages them to "forgive and comfort him, lest perhaps such a one be swallowed up with too much sorrow . . . to reaffirm your love to him" (2 Corinthians 2:5-8). No one is kinder than God toward broken and repentant sinners.
Questions for today's Chronological Bible reading:
1 Corinthians 5:1-7:40
- What does "yeast" represent in Paul's analogy?
- How should the church respond to sin in her midst?
- How does public "fussing" and "disputes" affect the church's witness in the world?
- What distinguishes believers from those around them?
- How are believers to view and treat their bodies?
- What role does sex and the spiritual discipline of prayer serve within marriage?
- How should a woman view her body?
- How does following Christ affect marriage?
Pray for the purity of the church.