Paul addresses a situation in 1 Corinthians 5 in which a man was living in sin with his mother or with another of his father’s wives. Seems pretty bizarre! On a macro scale, Paul’s instruction on how to deal with the situation provides a scriptural basis for the process and procedure of church discipline. It is from 1) Paul’s instructions on this issue in 1 Corinthians 5:2-13, 2) from Jesus’ teachings in Matthew 18:15-17 about confronting one who sins, 3) from Paul’s later instructions in 2 Corinthians 2:5-8 concerning what to do when the sinner repents, 4) and from Paul’s letter to the Galatians (Galatians 6:1-3) about the spirit in which all this is to be conducted, that we know how God wants the church to deal with sin on the inside.
It’s not easy to be a redemptive community that brings the living Good News to sinful humanity, and to also be a holy people who live in the reality of righteousness before God. Our tendency (and the tendency of the church through the centuries) has been to swing to one extreme or the other (an either-or approach) or to just sort of ignore the sin issues that come up and hope they’ll go away!
God doesn’t want us to be redemptive OR righteous, but to be redemptive AND righteous—to live by his Spirit and to live in the truth. This means that we must be full of grace and truth—grace unlimited to those in the dark and truth uncompromising to those who claim to be in the light. And we must always be led by God’s Holy Spirit to hear the redemptive heartbeat of God in each situation.
Father, Your word says that Jesus was full of grace and truth. Help me to walk the pathway—help us to live in the boundaries of both grace and truth. We can’t do that only with rules and laws and we can’t do it without standards and guidelines. We can’t do it without the direction of your Spirit. Help us, Father, to be full of grace and truth—to be both redemptive and righteous. Amen.
Reading: 1 Corinthians 5; Psalm 126
12 It isn’t my responsibility to judge outsiders, but it certainly is your job to judge those inside the church who are sinning in these ways. 13 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 NLT)
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