A friend who has your best interests at heart may sometimes have to give you bad news, but you know it’s for your own good. At the opposite end of the spectrum, an enemy may whisper sweet nothings in your ear, and happily send you on your way to disaster. Many times the truth hurts! Let’s look at how this proverb mirrors something Paul says about the church in 1 Corinthians…
“It isn’t my responsibility to judge outsiders, but it certainly is your responsibility to judge those inside the church who are sinning. God will judge those on the outside; but as the Scriptures say, “You must remove the evil person from among you.” 1 Corinthians 5: 12-13
It’s all about speaking the truth IN LOVE. These verses are instructions for dealing with open sin in a church by a person who claims to be a Christian and yet who sins without remorse. The church is to confront and discipline such a person in love. The correction, however, should never be vengeful…it should be given to help bring about a cure. Sins that are left unchecked or ignored can polarize and paralyze a church; kind of like… one bad apple spoils the whole bunch!
Ever since I became a Christian these commands from Paul stick with me. Let me try to explain that… To me, God’s Word is more serious than a heart attack! He captured my heart. I adore Him and every Word coming from His mouth! Long story short… I met a woman at a Bible Study I had attended at my church. We quickly became friends, and it didn’t take long for her to start confiding in me. I found out she was having an affair. Adultery! You don’t have to be a genius to figure out adultery’s wrong. But again, I was a brand new Christian and didn’t have a clue as to how to handle it God’s way. I prayed and even went on my computer. I remember like it was yesterday; I Googled “adultery” and “Christians,” and to my surprise…1 Corinthians 5 appeared on the screen (With the heading: Disorder in the Church).
So I read and reread this chapter, taking Paul’s words to heart. I needed to confront this head on. Praying all the while, I sent my friend an email in love, confronting her sin. These scriptures tell us that there was a man in the Corinthian church having an affair. The church was ignoring the situation, and Paul was saying that this church had a responsibility to maintain the standards of morality found in God’s commandments.
“Then you must throw this man out and hand him over to Satan so that his sinful nature will be destroyed and he himself will be saved on the day the Lord returns. Your boasting about this is terrible. Don’t you realize that this sin is like a little yeast that spreads through the whole batch of dough? Get rid of the old “yeast” by removing this wicked person from among you.” 1 Corinthians 5: 5-7
My Bible says this kind of sin cannot be tolerated in the church because it affects others. We have a responsibility to other believers. Blatant sins, left uncovered, confuse and divide the congregation. While believers should encourage, pray for, and build up one another, they must always be intolerant of sin that jeopardizes the spiritual health of the church. To hand this man “over to Satan” means to exclude him from the fellowship of believers. Without the spiritual support of Christians, this man would be left alone with his sin and Satan, and perhaps this would drive him to repentance.
Anyway, remember in a past post I wrote…
“A dangerous mission requires sincere commitment?” To be a true follower of Christ takes guts and is risky; it’s risky as far as relationships…very risky. Sometimes speaking the truth in love is necessary. My friend denied everything, and told me to mind my own business. She was nasty and incredibly bitter. It even went as far as meeting with Church Elders—at her request, because she was certain I did a terrible thing. At the meeting it was made clear that I was following scripture. She refused to take responsibility of anything, and stormed out of the church office. I don’t see her anymore at church. I only wanted to be her friend.