Day 5

Church Discipline

from the reading plan

1 Corinthians 5:1-13, Proverbs 15:31-33, Galatians 6:1-10

My daughter had the flu recently. I have never seen her more miserable in her life. She ran a high fever for over a week and could not get out of bed. The only thing worse than the days were the nights. At night, her fever would spike; her whole body would ache, and the sleep she needed, she had a hard time getting. 

We did everything we knew to do to help her. We took her to the doctor. We got her medicine. We used cold rags to try and keep her fever down. We rented her favorite movies. We even broke one of our house rules and let the dog sleep with her on her bed to try and lift her spirits. 

You know what we didn’t do? We did not act like the flu was good for her. We did not tell her having the flu was fine and running a fever is no big deal. We did not treat her flu like it’s good to be sick.  

That is what was happening in 1 Corinthians 5. A man in the church was publicly and proudly involved in a kind of sexual sin that not even unbelievers participate in. Instead of confronting the man and calling him to repentance, the church was bragging about their tolerance.  

Your boasting is not good. Don’t you know that a little leaven, leavens the whole batch of dough?
—1 Corinthians 5:6

The issue is not the presence of sin in the church as much as it is the response to the sin. All Christians will struggle with sin and need grace until Jesus returns. This passage does not expect everyone in the church to be sinless; rather, it reminds Christians to not treat sin lightly. Boasting in the tolerance of sin is like telling the sick person their illness is a good thing. When that happens in a church, everyone is unhealthy. 

Paul’s instructions are sobering. He commanded the church to, “Remove the evil person from among you” (v.13). Their response to the sin needed to be as serious as the sin. However, the purpose is not punishment but restoration: “hand that one over to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, so that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord” (v.5). The aim behind the serious response to sin is the restoration and healing of the sinner. It is not good to be sick, but God has mercy and grace for sinners, and He invites all who have wandered from Him to return to Him and be made whole and healthy in Jesus. 

God has given us a church family that we might encourage one another to faithful obedience to Christ and, when necessary, confront the sin that exists in all of our lives. Loving each other means refusing to call good what God calls evil, that we might become increasingly more like our Savior who loves us and is changing us.

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