Observations from today’s readings and today’s S-WOD, Wednesday, 6 May 20:
1 Corinthians 5:11-13 — “But now I am writing to you not to associate with anyone who bears the name of brother if he is guilty of sexual immorality or greed, or is an idolater, reviler, drunkard, or swindler—not even to eat with such a one. For what have I to do with judging outsiders? Is it not those inside the church whom you are to judge? God judges those outside. ‘Purge the evil person from among you.’”
These verses seem pretty clear. “Is it not those inside the church who you are to judge?”
One of the reasons the Church in America has lost much of its influence is because it has lost much of its integrity. While Christians are to expect (not approve of or condone) sin from unbelievers, Christians are not to tolerate unrepentant sin from those who call themselves believers and claim to be Christ’s ambassadors. We are not even to associate with unrepentant Christians.
“For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age, waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works.” (Titus 2:11-14) “For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.” (Galatians 5:1) “By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples.” (John 15:8) “In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.” (Matthew 5:16) “For certain people have crept in unnoticed who long ago were designated for this condemnation, ungodly people, who pervert the grace of our God into sensuality and deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ.” (Jude 1:4) What is the church proclaiming to the world about the power of Christ when so called “carnal Christians” live much the same way the unbelieving world does? Does a worldly church bring honor and glory to our Savior? “The thing that you are doing is not good. Ought you not to walk in the fear of our God to prevent the taunts of the nations our enemies?” (Nehemiah 5:9)
The Bible offers clear guidance for the appropriate way to administer church admonishment and discipline, but it is practiced very, very rarely. The church today is very confused about how to respond to sin, hence the deafening silence from the church during this current sexual revolution. As a result of our confusion and syncretism, the church has largely lost its holiness, its power, and its witness. The problems we have in society reflect a church whose “light” has dimmed and whose “salt” has lost its saltiness. This incredible loss of power did not occur over night but rather occurred over decades as the church allowed sin to creep in – it wasn’t an explosion but rather an erosion. As Paul explains today, our response to sin within the church, with those who bear the name of Christ, is to be far different than our response to unbelievers who, by virtue of their unbelief, are trapped in sin. Today, not only does much of the church ignore internal sin, it is now starting to legitimize it.
We desperately need revival and renewal within the church. Jesus began his public ministry, not with the population of unbelievers but rather to the “lost sheep” among those called “God’s people,” and His message was “Repent.” He called the believers to return to God’s authority as KING. Yes, Jesus ate with the “tax collectors,” but a close examination of those verses reveals that these were tax collectors who had repented and who were ready and willing to make restitution for the sins that they had committed. Having repented, now they needed discipleship – “teach them to obey all that I have commanded.”
Review the Great Commission: “And Jesus came and said to them, ‘All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age (Matthew 28:18-20).” Many churches today are preaching to “all nations,” and baptizing, but they are not discipling – “teaching them to observe all that [God] has commanded.” Many within the church are lamenting over the state of our nation, but we need to be lamenting over the state of the church. How does your church deal with sin from within the congregation? How well does your church disciple to obedience?
A final note: The reader might find the above verses and comments shockingly harsh — “Purge the evil person from among you.” However, we must seek to understand that God ordains properly administered church discipline as and extension or instrument of the Father’s discipline within His family. (Hebrews 12:5-11, 27; Ephesians 6:4) Church discipline is one of the three primary responsibilities of the church – 1) proper preaching of the Word of God, 2) the proper administration of the sacraments, and 3) the proper administration of church discipline. Church discipline is essential for making disciples and “to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ.” (Ephesians 4:12) Church discipline is to be administered lovingly but firmly with the intent to “restore [the wayward] in a spirit of gentleness.” (Galatians 6:1) The last resort is to cast out the unrepentant sinner from among the congregation (Matthew 18:17), but this too is done in the prayerful hope that the unrepentant sinner might repent and return to unity in Christ like a prodigal son. (Luke 15:11-32) Love demands loving discipline.
“Cross” Fit S-WOD (Spiritual Workout of the Day) – 6 May 20: Today, pray for revival in the church – “If my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land.” (2 Chronicles 7:14)