This can be a politically charged topic, especially during the ‘gay pride month’ but I’m not focusing on the politics of our society. Rather I am focusing solely within the church. This is not meant to pass judgement on any sort of sexual immorality (as the church would define) in the world. Our world is a broken and sinful place and to place a spiritual rule or test or judgement on it would be in error. On the other hand, we are absolutely called to hold the Church to a higher standard, the standard of Christ.
This is was Paul was doing in his letters to the Corinthians. They lived in a culture where the society saw certain acts (that the Church would consider immoral) as normal and accepted. In other words, the Corinthians lived in a world very much like our culture today. Never does Paul judge (or call the Church to judge) the pagans who practice such acts. Rather his focus is to call the Church out of that culture and to a higher standard. So as we see clearly in 1 Corinthians 5, Paul is focusing on those inside the Church performing sexually immoral acts.
It’s actually amazing how this passage goes so well with the passage from yesterday’s sermon (as you will see in a moment).
The opening to this chapter discusses someone inside the church performing immoral acts that “is not tolerated even among pagans” (1 Cor 5:1b) Paul’s rebuke of his acts ends with the instruction “to deliver this man to Satan for the destruction of the flesh” (v 5a). Most scholars believe this means to cast out of the church and into the worldly culture that is controlled by Satan. This instruction can also sound harsh if not followed up the the rest of the sentence, “so that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord.” (v 5b) Paul’s ultimate goal is not to ‘punish’ the sinner but to lead him to repentance.”
Here’s where we see the parallel with yesterday’s sermon from 2 Thes 3. Paul has just spent several pages seeking to clarify the apostles teaching as different from the false teaching that has sprung up in the church. These young followers are being lead astray by a false teacher and like the immoral man, Paul’s instruction is of casting him out or to have nothing to do with him.
As for you, brothers, do not grow weary in doing good. If anyone does not obey what we say in this letter, take note of that person, and have nothing to do with him, that he may be ashamed. Do not regard him as an enemy, but warn him as a brother.
2 Thes 3:13-15
However, note the critical end. Paul instructs us to not treat him as an enemy but as a brother. This same instruction exists for the Christian brother who has fallen into sexual immorality. We are not to make excuses for his actions, we are not to accept his actions, we are to rebuke his actions and even disassociate with him if he is unrepentant. But the end goal is that of repentance. With the love for one another, we still earnestly seek the goal of repentance and reunification
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