Did you know that you are commanded to judge the church? If you have repented and believed in Jesus and joined with a local Body of Believers, then you are commanded to pass judgment on those within your fellowship who refuse to repent of their sin. Needless to say, in a culture that demands tolerance, such an idea is not popular. But is it biblical?
Paul writes: “For what have I to do with judging outsiders? Is it not those inside the church whom you are to judge? (1 Corinthians 5:12)
In this chapter, Paul is telling the Church at Corinth to remove a man from their fellowship because of his sexual relationship with his step-mother (his father’s wife, v. 1). Paul tells them to remove him (v. 2), to deliver this man to Satan (v. 5), to cleanse out old leaven (v. 7), to not associate with him (v. 11), and to purge the evil person from among you (v. 13). Paul commands them to take action in regards to this man’s sin no less than six times in this chapter. He tells them to remove him from their fellowship.
Paul might not get a lot of ‘likes’ on Facebook for this particular instruction. I mean we all know that such action is unloving and judgmental. And Jesus tells us not to judge, right? Maybe this is just one of those cultural situations that we never face. Or maybe Paul is just overly harsh toward this man.
Or maybe Paul understands how to truly love a man and the local church. Maybe tolerance is unloving and we are wrong to believe that it is an apporopriate response to destructive behavior, or what the Bible calls sin.
Why does Paul tell the Corinthians to remove this individual? He tells them to do it for the salvation of his soul and the sanctification of the church. They are to tak action so that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord. Paul loves this man greatly. So much so that he is willing to do the hard thing for the sake of his eternal salvation. Tolerance is easy, confronting sin that may lead to Hell is not. But how do you want to be treated in that situaton? Do you want someone to tolerate your sin at the expense of your soul? Or do you want them to do the hard thing and love you enough to fight for your repentance? I would hope you would want the latter.
Not only is removing the man hopefully good for his soul, it is also good for the souls of the other believers (and potential believers) in Corinth. When sin is tolerated in a community of faith, then repentance becomes unnecessary. When repentance becomes unnecessary, then Jesus’ death on the cross to pay for our sins becomes unnecessary. When the death and resurrection of our Savior becomes unneccassary, then the gospel has been lost. Tolerance of sin can destroy a local church because it distorts the good news of the gospel. By His grace we are not saved to sin, but from sin! We are not perfect while we await His return, but we are quick to repent when confronted by our brothers and sisters in Christ. Removing the man is best for him and the community of faith (as well as the watching world, consider v. 9-13).
If you are a part of a local Body of believers then I encourage you: judge the church and be judged by the church. Welcome your brothers and sisters into your life and invite them to, nay beg them, to confront any sin they see in you. Instead of tolerating that which destroys and calling it ‘love’, may we learn to love each other enough to do the hard things. May we say to one another as Christians, as blood bought followers of Jesus: ‘Will you love me like that?’
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