Spiritual Body Shaming

March 27, 2017 at 1:15 pm | Posted in I Corinthians | Leave a comment
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I Corinthians 5 moves from an up-close view of a specific instance of church discipline to a big-picture view of how pride can infect an entire local church body.

Your glorying is not good. Know ye not that a little leaven leaveneth the whole lump?

I Corinthians 5:6

Leaven works secretly. It spreads through the whole lump. It puffs up. When Knows get puffy (and true Christians DO struggle with pride), they sometimes have to be purged. This is different from how the Know-Nots are to be treated. False professors do not just contain leaven; they themselves ARE leavened.

Purge out therefore the old leaven, that ye may be a new lump, as ye are unleavened. For even Christ our passover is sacrificed for us:

I Corinthians 5:7

And the only reason the Knows can have it purged is because our Passover was greater than the original Passover (Exodus 12). Our Passover has already been sacrificed, and His sacrifice was spiritual and actual, not partial and figurative.

I wrote unto you in an epistle not to company with fornicators:

I Corinthians 5:9

This verse does not teach us never to be in the presence of fornicators, but it does warn us not to form a bond of approval with them.

Yet not altogether with the fornicators of this world, or with the covetous, or extortioners, or with idolaters; for then must ye needs go out of the world.

I Corinthians 5:10

This is one of many of the Bible’s admonitions to Christians, telling us to separate ourselves from this world’s system, while remaining actively involved in hands-on ministry IN the world itself.

But now I have written unto you not to keep company, if any man that is called a brother be a fornicator, or covetous, or an idolator, or a railer, or a drunkard, or an extortioner; with such an one no not to eat.

I Corinthians 5:11

To “eat with” someone in Bible times had a connotation of forming a covenant-type relationship of trust, assistance, and approval. Those who openly and unrepentantly practice fornication, covteousness, idolatry, railing, drunkenness, and extortion must not have their behavior condoned by Christians, even if the people doing these things choose to identify themselves as fellow-Christians.

For what have I to do to judge them also that are without? do not ye judge them that are within? But them that are without God judgeth. Therefore put away from among yourselves that wicked person.

I Corinthians 5:12-13

The Corinthian believers were proud of being “nonjudgmental” when it came to those within their ranks who lived just like the open sinners without, while at the same time enthusiastically judging the Know-Nots who never claimed to be Knows. Such judgment is hypocritical and pointless. Sinners who sin egregiously are just doing their job, in a sense. They are powerless to stop their behavior. God is the One Who will judge them unless they repent and turn to Christ. When it comes to the Knows judging the other Knows within a church body, such judgment is not wrong IF:

1. It is done in love.
2. It is done in the hope of restoration.
3. It is based on the actions of the offenders, not suppositions or conjecture.

The Know-Bodies

March 13, 2017 at 11:06 am | Posted in I Corinthians | 2 Comments
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Paul had received the true report of gross sin being tolerated in the church at Corinth.

It is reported commonly that there is fornication among you, and such fornication as is not so much as named among the Gentiles, that one should have his father’s wife.

I Corinthians 5:1

This may or may not have been technically considered what we call “incest” (sexual relations between blood-relatives) if the “father’s wife” was not the son’s biological mother, but it was legally considered to be incest, and it was a violation of the law of God.

The nakedness of thy father, or the nakedness of thy mother, shalt thou not uncover: she is thy mother; thou shalt not uncover her nakedness. The nakedness of thy father’s wife shalt thou not uncover: it is thy father’s nakedness.

Leviticus 18:7-8

Most Bible commentators believe that this was a a step-mother/step-son relationship, but it was still considered wrong (sinful), even among the gentiles, and the worst thing about this behavior was not even that it was occurring (Paul was not shocked to hear of sinners sinning), nor even even that it was being allowed to go unchecked among the Knows (confusing the Knows and the Know-Nots), but that the church members were PROUD OF IT!

And ye are puffed up, and have not rather mourned, that he that hath done this deed might be taken away from among you.

I Corinthians 5:2

They were congratulating themselves on how nonjudgmental they were. They should have been grieved as though someone had died, but instead they were bragging about their liberality and tolerance!

Today’s pop culture Christianity would ask: “So, why is this such a big deal? Shouldn’t a Christian church be just the place for the very worst sinners? Isn’t it a hospital for sinners, not a showplace for saints? Who are we to judge? Jesus didn’t tell anyone to be mean – ever.”

The reason it is so serious is because open undisciplined sin practiced openly by members of a Christian church, and allowed to go unchecked by the leaders and the congregation, affects more than just the specific sinners involved. Consider some of our metaphors for the Church:

1. The body

a. An infected hand must be taken out of general service.
b. It must be especially tended to.
c. It must be watched closely.
d. If the infection can’t be cured quickly, it needs to be cut off to prevent the whole body from becoming infected.
e. Amputation is harsh – mean – no one wants to be the “ax-man.”
f. But it is sometimes necessary for the preservation of the rest of the body.

2. The family

a. A family member must be loved.
b. But also corrected
c. Sometimes not allowed to take part in every family activity
d. If you won’t set the table, you can’t eat with the rest of us.
e. If you are hurting the family, sometimes, for the good of the rest of the family and your own good, you must be kicked out of the house

3. A business enterprise

a. Like a bank teller whose drawer keeps coming up short
b. May have to be demoted to parking lot security guard for a while
c. And, ultimately, may have to be fired

Church discipline can be a tricky and a messy business, but these things are not to be done out of malice, spite, or joy. They are done with broken hearts and trepidation, but they are to be done decisively.

For I verily, as absent in body, but present in spirit, have judged already, as though I were present, concerning him that hath so done this deed, In the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, when ye are gathered together, and my spirit, with the power of our Lord Jesus Christ,

I Corinthians 5:3-4

The Corinthian church could administer discipline in this particular case by explicit Apostolic authority. Today, in a case like this, where the sin was being indulged openly and unrepentantly, we would have authority to administer the discipline publicly within the church – not hatefully, but harshly, and, yes, decisively: “taken away from you” (V. 2); “purged” (V. 7); “put away” (V. 13).

This is how extreme the matter was:

To deliver such an one unto Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that the spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus.

I Corinthians 5:5

This may sound, upon a superficial reading, like they were trying to take away his salvation, but it was just the opposite (notice the woman is not dealt with at all – because she was apparently not a Christian). This was an attempt to: (1) prove his salvation, for the Holy Spirit’s seal may never be broken; (2) aid in his sanctification by drastic means, knowing that the destruction of the flesh was the most loving thing they could do. The hope was that this man would learn the error of his ways, and it seems to have worked.

For out of much affliction and anguish of heart I wrote unto you with many tears; not that ye should be grieved, but that ye might know the love which I have more abundantly unto you. But if any have caused grief, he hath not grieved me, but in part: that I may not overcharge you all. Sufficient to such a man is this punishment, which was inflicted of many. So that contrariwise ye ought rather to forgive him, and comfort him, lest perhaps such a one should be swallowed up with overmuch sorrow. Wherefore I beseech you that ye would confirm your love toward him.

II Corinthians 2:4-8

Decrees on Discipline and Divorce

April 14, 2016 at 12:17 pm | Posted in Matthew | 2 Comments
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Moreover if thy brother shall trespass against thee, go and tell him his fault between thee and him alone: if he shall hear thee, thou hast gained thy brother. But if he will not hear thee, then take with thee one or two more, that in the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established. And if he shall neglect to hear them, tell it unto the church: but if he neglect to hear the church, let him be unto thee as an heathen man and a publican. Verily I say unto you, Whatsoever ye shall bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever ye shall loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven. Again I say unto you, That if two of you shall agree on earth as touching any thing that they shall ask, it shall be done for them of my Father which is in heaven. For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.

Matthew 18:15-20

This passage of Scripture deals with church discipline. It is not a fun procedure. Regardless if you are the one being disciplined or one of the ones involved in doing the disciplining, it is a serious matter and a daunting task. But it must not be neglected. Sometimes surgery is required on one part of the body to keep the whole body healthy.

Christians should exercise self-discipline first. There must be obedience to the Word and agreement in prayer. The goal is restoration in the body and the removal of sin.

Humility is an overriding theme in Matthew Chapter 18, and humility is the key to forgiveness.

Then the lord of that servant was moved with compassion, and loosed him, and forgave him the debt.

Matthew 18:27

This is what God did for us, and He wants us to do it for others.

In Matthew 19 the King returns to confront His enemies head on. There is another occurrence of the transitional phrase which Matthew uses:

And it came to pass, that when Jesus had finished these sayings, he departed from Galilee, and came into the coasts of Judaea beyond Jordan;

Matthew 19:1

Jesus’s enemies tried to ensnare him with questions about marriage, but Jesus taught what marriage really is. It is a covenant before God rather than merely a contract before the state.

The Pharisees also came unto him, tempting him, and saying unto him, Is it lawful for a man to put away his wife for every cause? And he answered and said unto them, Have ye not read, that he which made them at the beginning made them male and female, And said, For this cause shall a man leave father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife: and they twain shall be one flesh? Wherefore they are no more twain, but one flesh. What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder.

Matthew 19:3-6

Marriage is a God-ordained form of government, but the vows made at a wedding are vows made BEFORE GOD Himself. Neither the civil government nor the Church have any real rights to “make up” laws concerning marriage. These are ordained by God. Both the Church and the civil government are to be witnesses of the vows since both have an interest in disciplining or arbitrating binding agreements, but the Bible also has the authority to forbid marriage.

He saith unto them, Moses because of the hardness of your hearts suffered you to put away your wives: but from the beginning it was not so.

Matthew 19:8

The problem of divorce was never a problem with the King’s plan. It was and is a problem with man’s heart. Why did God allow Moses to make a concession in this matter? Because the union of marriage is physical, not spiritual.

Beware the Fight with the Flesh

September 9, 2013 at 12:30 pm | Posted in I Corinthians, The Fives | 2 Comments
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I know a number of Christians who have devoted the majority of their lives to the ministry of delivering their fellow human beings from the power of Satan. This is certainly a noble vocation. In fact, it was one of the chief objectives of the incarnate Lord.

He that committeth sin is of the devil; for the devil sinneth from the beginning. For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that he might destroy the works of the devil.

I John 3:8 (emphasis added)

Given the prevalence of “deliverance” ministries in the modern church, and the ubiquity of “seeker-sensitive” ecclesiology in recent years, the idea of delivering someone to Satan instead of from Satan probably sounds especially abhorrent to you. However, that is precisely what the Holy Spirit through the Apostle Paul adjured the church at Corinth to do.

To deliver such an one unto Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that the spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus.

I Corinthians 5:5

What was the offender’s crime? It was brazen sexual sin, practiced openly and unrepentantly.

It is reported commonly that there is fornication among you, and such fornication as is not so much as named among the Gentiles, that one should have his father’s wife.

I Corinthians 5:1

Church discipline can be a touchy subject, and we see precious little of it practiced these days. It is a grievous measure which must be done with mourning and severity, and not motivated by any sort of a personal grudge. The idea that a believer would be sent out to deal with Satan apart from the accountability, encouragement, and exhortation of the brothers and sisters of Christ which make up his local church family should definitely give us pause. True Christian fellowship is possible only when we are on the same page concerning the fight against our sinful flesh. If we can, through the conquering power of Christ, keep our sinful physical desires in subjection, we can stand together, unified in our desire to bring glory to God.

For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing: for to will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good I find not.

Romans 7:18

But I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway.

I Corinthians 9:27

Delivery and Birth

September 3, 2009 at 8:42 am | Posted in Eternity, I Corinthians | 3 Comments
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How often we pray for people to be delivered from the bondage of Satan, the evil one! However, there is at least one occasion in the Bible where the Lord commanded that a Christian be delivered to the devil.

In the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, when ye are gathered together, and my spirit, with the power of our Lord Jesus Christ, To deliver such an one unto Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that the spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus.

I Corinthians 5:4-5

This was an extreme measure spurred by one of the Corinthian believers’ extreme sin: He was openly committing brazen fornication with his father’s wife.

It is reported commonly that there is fornication among you, and such fornication as is not so much as named among the Gentiles, that one should have his father’s wife.

I Corinthians 5:1

There are times when God may allow Satan to have power over Christians in order to cause them financial devastation, severe trials, and physical illness. There can be little doubt that Satan would like to drag these believers down to the very pit of hell itself, which is the devil’s eternal destination. He may not do so, however.

The reason is that when someone is saved by God’s grace, through faith in Jesus Christ, he or she is “born” again. (I Peter 1:23) A person who has been truly born may struggle, suffer, fail to properly grow, and even die. But a person who has been TRULY BORN may never, ever be UNBORN.

We must be thankful that God loves His children enough to chasten them. A father who indulges his children, even in the things that harm them, cannot be said to truly love them. The love of God for His children, however, is a perfect love. The evidence of that love is both kindness and chastening.


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