This is what God gave me today in his word:
It is actually reported that there is sexual immorality among you, and of a kind that is not tolerated even among pagans, for a man has his father’s wife. And you are arrogant! Ought you not rather to mourn? Let him who has done this be removed from among you. For though absent in body, I am present in spirit; and as if present, I have already pronounced judgment on the one who did such a thing. (1 Corinthians 5:1-3)
Paul doesn’t waste any time, he gets right to the problem and the solution. But surely, isn’t actually removing him from the congregation somewhat… Harsh? I mean, Paul hasn’t even seen the situation with his own eyes, yet he’s already passed judgment? This is bad, yes, but with a little help couldn’t he improve and still remain in Church?
First, why doesn’t Paul give this man a simple little 7 step system? … Instead of putting him out!
Your boasting is not good. Do you not know that a little leaven leavens the whole lump? Cleanse out the old leaven that you may be a new lump, as you really are unleavened. For Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed. (1 Corinthians 5:6-7)
This guy is bragging about what he did; he’s putting leaven into the “lump”. This is one of the reasons why he must be put out now. Sin spreads, it doesn’t remain dormant any more than the Devil does. In this case Paul was afraid that this man’s sin and more than that, his bragging about it, would corrupt the rest of the Church in Corinth. Paul point is that, since Christ has already died for you, you should not live in sin any longer. Instead, you should put it out from among you. But he’s also trying to help the man who sinned in this, along with the church.
When you are assembled in the name of the Lord Jesus and my spirit is present, with the power of our Lord Jesus, you are to deliver this man to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, so that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord. (1 Corinthians 5:4-5)
In other words, they were to cast him out of the Church. Have you ever heard the expression, “You never know how much you love something until it’s gone.” That’s the sort of thing that’s going on here. Paul want’s the man to be, “delivered to Satan,” so that he’ll realize how much being free in Christ really meant to him. We see later in Paul’s second letter to the Corinthians that in fact this worked and that the man repented and was let back into the Church. But this isn’t the point of the passage.
Second, what exactly is the point of the passage? …
Cleanse out the old leaven that you may be a new lump, as you really are unleavened. For Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed. (1 Corinthians 5:7)
It’s relatively easy to mistake Paul’s addressing the problem as the point of the passage. To some extent, it is too. But really, that is something of a sub-point, a detail, that points to his main point. Which is that, simply put, we’re a new lump. That may sound a little crazy, but really it’s not. Paul’s point is that we should cleanse out the, “leaven,” because Christ died for us, making us a new creation, or as Paul puts it, “A new lump”.
But Paul in that verse that we should cleanse out the leaven, for we are unleavened. How is it that, if we’re having to clean out the leaven, that we’re unleavened? – I’m going to stop using bread examples now and just say what it actually means. – To answer that question, let’s look at 2 Corinthians:
1 For we know that if the earthly tent we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God, an eternal house in heaven, not built by human hands. (2 Corinthians 5:1)
Christ through dying for us on the cross, has freed us from bondage to sin, but we still live in a tent, “built” by human hands.
You say, “I am allowed to do anything”–but not everything is good for you. And even though “I am allowed to do anything,” I must not become a slave to anything. (1 Corinthians 6:12)
But we’ve gotten slightly off topic now… The point is that we’re saved us, cleansed of sin, a new creation in Christ; through his death for us. We’re supposed to cleanse the sin from among us… But how does this apply to us today? Should if someone somehow sins, should we cast them out? Is that what Paul is saying? Yes and no. Yes, if someone is causing problems in the church somehow, or is sinning and causing other people to fall, the issue should be publicly addressed. However if it’s a private issue it should be privately addressed (Matthew 18:15), so Yes, if they refuse to stop doing whatever it is they are doing we should cast them out. And also no, if they repent we shouldn’t case them out.
However, this can also apply to our own personal lives. Christ has made new, but we still struggle with sin, because we have not yet been, “glorified”. However by the power of the Spirit we can, “put to death the misdeeds of the body” (Romans 8:13). Or as Paul might would put it, “cleanse out the old leaven,”.
You are Loved!