June 1, 2011 Devotion Sharing

Submitted by Conrad C., Gracepoint Berkeley

Ephesians 5:5, 1 Corinthians 5:9–13

 

Ephesians 5:5

“Greed motivates all other sins, and J.A. Bengal has noted that it is the highest act of revolt away from God…  Both halves of the verse are intended to show how inappropriate sexual sin and greed are among those whom God has set aside for himself.”[1]

Why does it make sense that “idolaters” have no “inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God?”

 

Though in our current society, idolatry is an anachronistic term thought to be more medieval times, it simply is the blanket description that encompasses any worship of something besides God.  It is more than mere interest but placing divine qualities and expectations on an object or lifestyle.

When I think about idolatry, it is the epitome of rejection of God because worshipping an idol is just saying there is an object or thing that it worthy of your worship and devotion.  To this person, the kingdom of Christ and God has no attraction, nor great worth.  For one whose eyes are fixed here on earth, the heavenly realms of the kingdom of God is not very relevant for consideration.

I guess it’s not so much God is excluding “idolaters” from His presence, but through the act of idolatry, the individual has drawn themselves away already, and so God only concedes to this prior decision.

 

 

1 Corinthians 5:9-13

Note the distinction made in this passage between “people of this world” and the one “who calls himself a brother.”  What is the responsibility of Christian leaders with respect to someone who calls himself a Christian but is “sexually immoral or greedy, an idolater or a slanderer, a drunkard or a swindler?”

 

Apostle Paul’s call to the church is that they are to hold the brother to total moral accountability.  I think it’s really challenging when you look at the kind of list that Aposlte Paul assembles as to the kind of issues that a Christian is held accountable to.  The list ranges from sexual ethics to greed; from relational dynamics to finances; even things involving your reputation.  The kind of accountability that church leadership is to exercise is corrective, even through the act of disassociation.  Mitigating it or ignoring it is not an option.  The church is called to direct action to deal with sin among its members, putting the very fellowship on the line because of it.

 

 

Is it too harsh to say, “with such a man do not even eat?”  What values are being upheld by this instruction from Apostle Paul, and what are some results that flow from failing to uphold these values under the banner of tolerance or kindness?

 

I think what might be deemed as being harsh is just another way of putting an agenda of mediocrity onto the church.  Often one is very “tolerant” of direct, uncomfortable action because they themselves would be uncomfortable with it.  Or perhaps, it might seem harsh as long as moral principles that the church stands on are not that important or central to the fellowship of believers.  Invariably, the view of the church is very low.  In any significant organization, actions committed that undermine the very foundation the communally agreed-upon values are treated with upmost seriousness.  How much more when it is the God’s church and the violations are against His commands.  I think again and again, when the church fails to uphold the values it stands for, a message is sent to those within the church and those who observe it.  That it really doesn’t matter in the end, and it’s really about mutual social benefit. Time again, when this slips, other sins are swept under the rug, and an air of mediocrity descends upon the atmosphere of the group.  It becomes a social gathering, and the church is ever-distant from it’s Biblical mandate.

Apostle Paul in his exhortation to the church leadership in dealing with this immoral brother in the Corinth church paints a very different picture in terms of how a church operates its moral authority upon one who is part of the fellowship and claims to be a follower of Christ.

 

In v.11, what is the key point of the phrase “calls himself a brother but…?”  What damage and negative effects are caused by those who call themselves Christian but do not live according to the teachings of God’s Word?  Are there these kinds of hypocrisies in my life?

Apostle Paul stresses that his directive to the leadership to execute judgment is not to be applied those outside of the church.  It is when one claims to be a brother, is part of the fellowship, yet refuses to repent and continues as if nothing is wrong.  That is when the church, for the sake of the fellowship, must take stronger action.  When a person claims to be a Christian, carries on a pattern of conduct or lifestyle that is readily identified as unbiblical and unethical (by even worldly standards), a leadership that ignores it has vast negative effects on the entire body of Christ.  The leadership is immediately de-legimitized from having any real moral authority.  Also, the entire ethos of the church is dragged down.  Suddenly, it’s not so worth it to sacrifice so hard any more.  It’s not worth giving up stuff for God.  People hold back.  At worst, it encourages others to transgress beyond boundaries.  The whole body of Christ is robbed because of the undealt sin in their midst.

As a leader, Apostle Paul’s exhortation challenges me to make the holiness of those I lead my primary focus.  I myself need to examine my own life for inconsistencies that can cause others to stumble or if not stumble, to self-justify themselves to be a little more nominal or mediocre.  So in light of today’s passage, it is in my areas of finances, how I treat people, my speech to other or about others, and my hopes and ambitions that are all things that I need to be transparent with, to be readily correctible about and most importantly, that they are frequently held to accountability.


[1] Klyne Snodgrass, Ephesians, The NIV Application Commentary (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1996), 268.

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