The benefit and blessing of preaching through books of the Bible is you cover all subjects, even ones that may be hard to talk about. Corinth was a populated port city where people came and went from around the world. It was known for sexual perversion and promiscuity. As we look at 1 Corinthians 5, we’ll read Paul’s message to the church regarding this; a message that is likely more needed that wanted.
The Report of Sin
Verse 1 says, “It is actually reported that there is sexual immorality among you, and such sexual immorality as is not even named among the Gentiles—that a man has his father’s wife!” The word for immorality is a junk-drawer, catch-all word for any and all sexual sin. It is also the Greek word from which we get the word pornography. Did you know that Americans spend $10-14 billion every year on pornography? That is more than the combined revenue of pro baseball, basketball, and football combined. Paul says the immorality going on in the Corinthian church was common knowledge. The example he gave was of incest. The reports we hear of sexual misconduct today are all too common. Just look at the news headlines in a week! We must address the problem. Awareness is necessary.
The Response of Action
Paul says the church was “puffed up” about what was going on instead of “mourning” over it (v. 2). We expect the world to boast about sin and be proud of sin, but the church should mourn over sin. We should not gloat or gossip when a believer falls, but we should mourn. In this passage, the Corinthians were boasting that their church was open-minded and tolerant. Maybe they rationalized it, “After all, they both were consenting adults. They love each other. The other person did not say stop.” You can rationalize anything and call evil good. All believers struggle with sin daily. Paul is talking about those claiming to be believers who feel no guilt, do not repent, and are proud and public with their sin. When he says he judges them and that they should be delivered to Satan (v. 3-5), he is calling on the church to carry out Jesus’ teaching in Matthew 18. When we find out a brother or sister is living in sin, we are to first talk to them privately. Stop talking about them and start talking to them. If that does not work, take some believers with you privately. If that does not work, have a family intervention and get the church involved. Finally, if that does not work, turn them over to Satan and sin. There is a certain protection from Satan and the world by being in the local church. You are under God’s protective umbrella. When you live in sin, you get out from under the Lordship of Jesus Christ and you are fair game for the enemy.
The Reason for Correction
In verses 6-8, we read that those who continue in sin should be separated out from the church. Family and home should be a safe place. The church should be a safe place. Leaven is a picture of sin. Sin spreads like yeast in bread. It is like cancer in the body. It spreads, and it kills. One bad apple can spoil the whole bunch. In verses 9-13, Paul makes it clear he is not talking about an unbeliever, but believers. We cannot avoid contact with sin, but we can avoid contamination. Don’t ever get mad or upset with the world for living like the world. Sinners are going to sin and be proud. We are never to isolate ourselves from the lost or judge them, but we are to confront sin in our own lives and in the family of God. The purpose is always to bring the sinner to repentance. The goal of church discipline is always restoration. It is never to punish or banish, but to comfort, reprove, correct, and restore.
Since our passage is on sexual sin, while it may not be pleasant to talk about, I wanted to share with you some staggering facts: 1 out of 4 girls and 1 out of 6 boys will be sexually abused before age 16. There are 730K sex offenders registered in the US. Of those convicted who prefer boys, they have an average of 150 victims before conviction. Of those who prefer girls, 52 victims before conviction. 90% of children are abused by someone they know and trust.* Paul says sexual sin was happening in the church. We hear the same reports today. If a child reports to you that they have been abused, report it immediately! Report it to your supervisor and to authorities. Jesus said that it would be better to put a millstone around the neck and drown in the sea than to hurt one of his little children (Mt. 18:6, Lk. 17:2). The church has to take action. I mentioned on Sunday steps Liberty has taken when it comes to preventing abuse. The church must show the world in a courageous and convincing way that we not only support the sanctity of human life but also the dignity of human life. We must show them that they can count on the church to be safe and to do what is right.
As your Pastor, I pray for you and I use spiritual weapons for you every day! We have to guard against sin in our own lives and we have to be aware of what is being reported around us. If it’s abuse, we must do all we can to prevent it and to report it. If it’s other sin, we must confront our brothers and sisters in love, the goal being their restoration, for the glory of God.
*Statistics from Ministry Safe