July 30, 2012 – Devotion Sharing (1 Corinthians 5)

Submitted by John L. from Gracepoint Davis Church

1 Corinthians 5:1-3

“‘Has’ suggests an ongoing sexual relationship; ‘father’s wife,’ that the woman is not the man’s mother but his stepmother. … The church’s reaction to this affair was as bad or worse than the affair it­self.” [Craig Blomberg, 1 Corinthians, The NIV Application Commentary Series (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1994) 104-105.]

·     Think about the difference between tolerance toward sin (v. 1) and mourning over it (v. 2).   It seems that in their response to this particular instance of open, unrepentant and ongoing sin, the Corinthians were arrogant, rather than mournful, and tolerant rather than taking disciplinary action.  Placing myself into that situation, what might have been my reaction?  What modern-day values are involved here?  Are there ways in which my tolerance of sin has dulled my sense of contrition before God?

Though I would like to think of myself as having a righteous response of anger and mourning over this egregious sin and situation, both towards the offender and this church for their lack of response, I know myself well enough in that there have been many times and places where I did not respond correctly to sin, whether it be my own or that of people around me.  To acknowledge that truth about myself is sobering knowing that now I have a much clearer understanding of sin and the swift response that is required in different occasions.  That means in the past there were many times I was just like the Corinthian church where due to my spiritual dullness I allowed sin to take place and remain until a more spiritual person finally brought things to light and dealt with it appropriately.  Because I had this kind of tolerance towards sin, clearly my sense of contrition was not where it should have been.  I realized as I was unable to recognize sin for what it was, consequently I wasn’t able to understand the depth of pain and hurt that the sin caused others, especially God.  So everything is linked together where my dullness towards sin hindered me from showing proper remorse towards God.

The modern day values that I see being involved here is that attitude of tolerance and “not taking everything so seriously.”  This is the mantra of today so that no one seems to be able to say anything to anyone, nor even care to, so things that are clearly wrong are painted as being alright even while there is a huge elephant in the room.  It is sad to see the consequences of how our society has almost entirely made the discussion of morality and right and wrong taboo, and all the while people have to make up excuses for how we now have a society that is now so broken and depressed, isolated and lost, empty and unfulfilled though we have made so many advancements in nearly every other area of life.  People are subject to addictions and deep wounds that takes years of counseling to heal.  If only people would own up to the sin that they find within themselves and seek forgiveness from God will there be hope that the consequences of sin may finally diminish.  As I am someone who has been restored by God despite the sins in my life, I hope that I can actively play the daunting role as a watchman who can quickly point others to the reality of sin (both outward and hidden) that they might seek to know the truth found in God and His word.  Though it is difficult and sometimes seems like I am fighting an uphill spiritual battle over people’s eternities, I have hope that as they come to know God that they will no longer be bound by sin and its consequences.

1 Corinthians 5:4-5

“‘Hand this man over to Satan’ referred to excommunication, not eternal destruction. Paul recommended excommunication with the aim that the man, desperate not to be shut out of the vital church community, would be shocked back to his senses.” [Quest Study Bible, study notes (Grand Rapids, MI:  Zondervan, 1994) 1636.]

·     What does the course of action Apostle Paul instructs the Corinthians to take reveal about what is ultimately most important?  What is the extent of the measures necessary to attain this end?

What was most important for this man’s life was that he repented and turned away from his life of sin.  Paul demonstrated such grace though this man was harming the church, except doing so as a member of the flock.  But though it would have seemed completely correct to excommunicate this person from the community, in the end Paul wanted to see this person be genuinely saved.  These are such words of mercy for someone who surely didn’t deserve them.  Perhaps it was because Paul remembered himself as someone who was persecuting the church because he had the wrong understanding of God’s salvation.  So though this person was doing something as terrible as one could imagine, there was hope that he might repent and turn back to God and be saved—that is the good news of the gospel.  But in terms of the things that need to be done, there is still a lot of prayer and wrestling with this person so that he would properly acknowledge the grave sin he has committed and own up to the fact that he lacked the fear of God that allowed him to do this.  This process must have also involved people who had to lead this person to a deeper understanding of sin and then repentance so it would no longer be something he could take so lightly in the future.  Though painful and hard, it is also what’s necessary so in the end this person would be restored by God.

·     What can we learn about what it takes to bring ourselves to repentance and what it takes to bring someone else to repentance?

To bring myself to repentance is certainly an intense task because of how much I have to fully die to myself, my pride, my unwillingness to be surrendered to God, and more.  David’s prayer in Psalm 51 describes just some of the things that have to be confronted ranging from transgressions (rebellion), iniquities (perversion) and sin (ways I am missing the mark).  For me to deeply understand those things as well as how much I’ve offended God means there is no room for me to casually approach such a thing as repentance.  While the ideal situation is where I quickly humble myself and repent and ask for God’s forgiveness, at least I know it’s something that I must do.  But being on the other end of trying to bring someone to repentance is not like that.  There is a lot of emotional anguish and prayer and pouring out whatever is necessary in order for the person to see his offense and to repent before God and be restored to God.

·     Notice that the church had the authority, and the responsibility, to excommunicate this man who was unrepentant in this sin.  How does this square with people’s view of the proper extent of spiritual authority in the church today?

Though people will accept the authority in many other contexts from sports to workplaces, most don’t have a proper view of God-ordained spiritual authority that exists within the church.  Due to people’s biblical illiteracy, they believe the church should be always accepting of people, not deal with sins harshly.  But the fact is that God has allowed for those in spiritual authority to exercise excommunication if a Christian refuses to repent.  It serves both as a warning and a wake-up call for those who might take sin lightly, even in this case where a sexual sin had defiled the church.  This also protects the integrity of the church as it needs to be a place where God’s standards of holiness are upheld.  As God has entrusted me with spiritual authority as a leader within our church, I need to be watchful and protective of God’s church that we not overlook sin of any sort because of humanism.  While there is definitely room for forgiveness and restoration, there are going to be occasions where I must exercise proper discipline to Christians who are not taking sin seriously, especially when many people are affected as a result.  It is a huge responsibility that I must steward well because the spiritual health of the church is at stake.

Personal Prayer

Dear Heavenly Father, please forgive me for the ways in which I have been unaware of my sins and have taken sin lightly.  I see once again the kind of real damage that it can do to my spiritual life as well as those around me, especially within the church.  I pray that each time I sin I will have a proper response to sin through repentance, but also to fight against it with greater intensity and zeal so that I will not easily give into it.  Also, as I have been given the responsibility of being a watchman for our church, I pray that I can take on that role with courage and fear knowing that how I respond to sin can contribute positively or negatively toward the spiritual health of God’s church.  Help me to be aware of the reality of sin so that I can provide yet another layer of protection from Satan’s attacks that seeks to destroy our community however possible so that in the end people can encounter You personally.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Submitted by Kit N. from Gracepoint Davis Church

1 Cor 5:1-3

Think about the difference between tolerance toward sin (v.1) and mourning
over it (v.2).  It seems that in their response to this particular instance
of open, unrepentant and ongoing sin, the Corinthians were arrogant, rather
than mournful, and tolerant rather than taking disciplinary action.
Placing myself into that situation, what might have been my reaction?
What modern-day values are involved here?  Are there ways in which my
tolerance of sin has dulled my sense of contrition before God?*

If I was a Corinthian, I would just avoid having to bring up the issue with
this person.  I would be hoping that this person’s leader would talk to
him, or maybe God would convict him so that he would repent,
or maybe just think that who am I to be given such authority to confront
this person.  Regardless of how I would justify it, these excuses promote
the rise of individualism in modern day culture, that being tolerant in the
wrong sense of the word (i.e. everyone is entitled to what he think is
right) is more important than upholding God’s honor and His holy standards.
I think one way I dull my sense of contrition is when I don’t struggle against
stubborn sins.  I remember a time when I was failing in a sin issue,
instead of being driven to depend on God more and to be
contrite before Him over my brokenness, sometimes twisted thoughts would arise:
everyone else is doing that without any qualms, why should I be so uptight?  Or
I was so tired of having to struggle that I rather rationalize why it would
be okay, or how God must have understood me, or how God would just let this
one slide.  When I thought that I have all these excuses to tolerate that
one sin in my life, it’s hard to be contrite before God because I could
still blame something else or have all these reasons instead of faulting
myself.  But when I finally have the proper view of God being the Holy God
and cannot tolerate any sin, it dawned on me that there was no one to
blame and I alone am responsible for my choices.  I had to admit that
despite knowing what’s right I chose what’s wrong and that I grew too
comfortable with sinning over the same thing.  However, when I saw that it is God, who is Holy, who has loved me so much but I had chosen to sin against him, that’s when I
finally experienced the heart-felt contriteness before God and be serious
about repenting.  Thus this whole dullness started when I forgot who God is.

1 Cor 5:4-5

What does the course of action Apostle Paul instructs the Corinthians to
take reveal about what is ultimately most important?  What is the extent of
the measures necessary to attain this end?

Most disciplinary actions that I know of aim to punish, whether it be
getting fired from a company or agency because of misconduct or the
judiciary system.  The point is to minimize damage to the organization and
to preserve its reputation by firing the one who is blamed.  These
disciplinary actions aimed to preserve the group at the expense of the
individual.
Yet what Apostle Paul was instructing in this letter was ultimately for the
good of this sinner—to bring him to repentance before God.  At first glance, excommunication might not be different from “getting fired”, but here in v.5 Paul was writing that this excommunication was severe so that the person’s spirit may be saved.  Paul’s foremost concern was for this person to finally wake up through this punishment and would thus be saved from eternal separation from God.  For Paul, the individual’s salvation was the most important issue, and it’s towards this goal that he took the measure he did.

What can we learn about what it takes to bring ourselves to repentance and
what it takes to bring someone else to repentance?

It takes a body of Christ who is willing to take responsibility over each other for an individual to repent, and it also takes a body of Christ who is more concerned about individual sins that grieve God above all else to bring someone to repentance.

Maybe from this unrepentant sinner, he knew what he was doing was wrong,
maybe he was having a guilty conscience, maybe he sensed that something
wasn’t right even though his sense of morality was so dull.  However
maybe what he needed was someone brave enough to confront him, someone from
the Corinthian church who would pull him aside and confront the sin in his life.

But sadly they just tolerated his sin.

And then maybe for the Corinthian church, they were just hoping that this
person would finally wake up and deal with his sins on his own.

Maybe some of them didn’t want to rock the boat and was looking to
the leaders to confront this person, while shaking their heads at his
sinful behavior.  And thus by allowing these excuses to foster, they
ended up tolerating this ongoing sin.

As I conjecture what might have happened from the two parties’ perspective,
I realized that those were a lot of the thoughts that go through my mind,
whether I was the one in sin or seeing someone else in sin.  However I am
blessed to be in a community that I have experienced accountability
when my actions were out of line and also received forgiveness when I

repented before God.  I had leaders who warned about the danger of sin, and

I experienced the sort of protective hedge my leaders placed around my life.
Because of these experiences, I had also on occasion confronted others
about their sins.  Thus when I thought about my experience, because sin
does not just affect an individual but the body of Christ, and likewise it takes the body of Christ to bring about repentance.

Notice that the church had the authority, and the responsibility, to
excommunicate this man who has unrepentant in this sin.  How does this
square with people’s view of the proper extent of spiritual authority in
the church today?

I think modern day culture of tolerance and individualism make such an
authority much more difficult.  Nowadays people don’t think that church
should have that kind of authority because they should exist just to make
people feel good or just to do nice things to people.  It goes without
saying that because truth is now relative, people become more hesitant
about exercising authority that hold people accountable to truth as well.
As I look at this passage and see the sort of example that was set by the early church fathers, I realize that’s the sort of standard I need to accept and guard so that the modern view of spiritual authority won’t dilute what church is supposed to be.

Please write out a brief prayer based on today’s DT.

Heavenly Father, despite knowing that out of your kindness Your boundaries
have fallen for me in pleasant places, despite knowing that You are a Holy
God who tolerates no sin, yet I find myself forgetting all these so easily
and become dull to being on guard against sins, and at times give in so
easily.  Please forgive me that in my brokenness I often forget that my
sins offend You, rationalizing and giving in to what I’d like to do.
Knowing how forgetful I am of who You are, I pray that You’d help me to
remember Your Holiness as I go about in my daily life.  I thank you also
that You have placed me in a church that would be willing to keep me
accountable so that collectively we could be a church that honors You above individualism.  In Jesus’ name I pray, amen.

Be Sociable, Share!

Leave a Response