1 Corinthians 5

What do you do when someone does something that they shouldn’t do, something everyone knows is wrong. Do you sit back in silence? Do you do nothing? Do you tell him to go away and never talk to him?

Kids, this is a question to ask yourself. When you are playing on the playground and a person does something wrong, what do you do?

This is partly what has turned our country upside down over the last couple weeks. There are a lot of emotions on the problem of race in our country. A police officer handled a situation extremely grievously, and it cost a man his life. Other officers with him would not speak up. They failed to act and correct him. They have lost their jobs and stand trial.

Many people are troubled or confused at how to address issues in society. Church should be a place that leads society in how to handle things, but unfortunately it too can be a place that such confusion resides. The church is to be a place of love and acceptance. Many would agree with that statement, and so some would shun churches condemning people for certain actions. But what do you do when you find out someone that is a member of your church has killed someone? What if you find out they are involved in sexual abuse? Your love to that person would come across as acceptance of their behavior.

This is part of the reason that many people are calling for the majority culture to speak up against the racial injustices of our time. They feel silence is condoning the racist actions of some. We do not condone those actions, we believe they are wrong and out of line with God’s will for us to love others and to seek after justice.

So there is a time the church needs to stand up and and tell people in her midst that they are doing something wrong.

A problem arose in Corinth. The offense was that a man had his fathers wife, and rather than being grieved the Corinthians are proud. Not even the pagans do this. In this passage God teaches us how such things are to be addressed in the church. A true church is not to look away but to take necessary measures to bring redemptive change.

*The church is to be a redemptive community* When the church fails to correct wrong it fails to be a redemptive community.


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. 2 And you are arrogant! Ought you not rather to mourn? Let him who has done this be removed from among you. 3 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. 4 When you are assembled in the name of the Lord Jesus and my spirit is present, with the power of our Lord Jesus, 5 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. 6 Your boasting is not good. Do you not know that a little leaven leavens the whole lump? 7 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. 8 Let us therefore celebrate the festival, not with the old leaven, the leaven of malice and evil, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth. 9 I wrote to you in my letter not to associate with sexually immoral people– 10 not at all meaning the sexually immoral of this world, or the greedy and swindlers, or idolaters, since then you would need to go out of the world. 11 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. 12 For what have I to do with judging outsiders? Is it not those inside the church whom you are to judge? 13 God judges those outside. “Purge the evil person from among you.” (1 Corinthians 5:1-13 ESV)

Paul doesn’t tell them to tuck this under the rug. He doesn’t tell them to kick the guy out and never come back. The church is to be a redemptive community.

The church is a Gathering of Sinners.

This gets confused often. People think that if you go to church you should never do anything wrong. I wish that were true. But it’s not. And if you come in thinking that everyone in church is perfect you are going to be disappointed in the church.

People can also spin it the other way and say, yep, church is full of sinners and we just need to overlook things. Don’t excuse sin. We are in the church not because we are perfect, but because we are repentant.

It’s one thing to make mistakes; it’s another to not admit it.
It’s one thing to do wrong; it’s another to excuse it.

*Grace comforts us. Love compels us.*

God does not allow us to do this. He calls us to own wrongs and to change. By god’s grace that is possible.

The issue here is not, is this behavior wrong? It clearly was. This sexual immorality was forbidden in Lev 18:8. Even the pagans knew it was wrong. Everyone outside the church knew it wasn’t right.

The issue here is what to do when a person behaves in this manner. That is the issue. Paul is telling them how to handle this situation of grievous sin. All sin needs to be dealt with, but some sins are more serious than others.

“If anyone sees his brother commit a sin that does not lead to death, he should pray and God will give him life. I refer to those whose sin does not lead to death. There is a sin that leads to death.” (1Jo 5:16 NIV)

They are to put out of their fellowship the one who did this. V2. A sign of a church that has lost its way is when the church no longer upholds the standards of God. A church resigned to defeat. A church that does not see the way its people ought to conduct themselves. They are proud when they ought to be grieving.

Process in Matt 18.

“If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother. 16 But if he does not listen, take one or two others along with you, that every charge may be established by the evidence of two or three witnesses. 17 If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church. And if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector. (Matthew 18:15-17 ESV)

Your faith should cause you to see things in the church to challenge. Complacency means you are comfortable with people disobeying God.

The church is composed of sinners, but they should be repentant sinners. Those who have turned from sin and are bringing their lives into conformity to God.

The church is to Live in Newness

V7 “Get rid of the old yeast that you may be a new batch without yeast– as you really are.”

Paul is using the analogy of yeast with sin. Yeast when it is added to bread works through the whole batch. If it doesn’t you will get pockets that are light and fluffy, and parts that are dense. Here he is saying sin in the church is like yeast in bread, when there it can work through the entire body. We have to put aside the old and be the new that God has called us to.

You may feel like there is no way to do that. How do you leave a life of sin? How do you get out of old habits that don’t die easily?

V7 he tells us. “Christ our passover lamb, has been sacrificed. Therefore let us keep the Festival not with the old yeast, the yeast of malice and wickedness, but with bread without yeast, the bread of sincerity and truth.”

In the Old Testament God delivered the Israelites from slavery in Egypt with mighty Acts of deliverance. The passover lamb was slaughtered and its blood applied to the doors on the house, and that night all the doors that did not have the blood on their doors were killed, but those who applied the blood to their lives.

Think about them stuck in slavery in Egypt, and God delivers them through the blood of the lamb. They celebrate after that. How can you be delivered through wickedness, malice, lying, and falsehood. By the blood of the lamb. Jesus has been slaughtered so you can come out of slavery to sin. He has been sacrificed so you can rejoice.

Need to be a new community. No yeast. That means remove people who are not. Fail to do this you and you begin to support the wrong others are doing. Why churches stop being taken seriously by the world.

But let me tell you this church. The same yeast that causes you to get angry is the same yeast in another that wells up to murder. The same yeast that causes you to look at pornography is the same yeast that grows and causes a man to leave his wife. The yeast of sin in your life that causes you to not love your neighbor, is the same yeast that works through the batch and leads people to rage against others, to put their knees on an innocent man and not let up. That same yeast of anger that keeps you from apologizing to your spouse is the same yeast that when worked through …. Don’t be complacent just because your sin is not “big.” Rid your heart of that yeast before it gets big.

God has called you to something better than living that lifestyle. Push aside the pull to lie, steal, cheat, be angry. Christ has suffered and died so you can be set free of those things.

The passover lamb is what drives our distinctness. We are in the world but not of the world. In the world but worshipping the true and living God. Jesus has died so that we might be forgiven, cleansed, made new. If we have been set free then don’t go back to slavery.

The church judges matters inside the church. We cannot control the world, but we do work to maintain the distinction of our community. If we do not the church will look just like the world. We are to be holy. And our holiness does not come from being perfect but from dealing with sin. Dealing with failures. And we do it in a loving way. Look on social media and how people are treated in the world. Some people commit crimes, and those crimes were wrong, but society will not forgive them. The church should leave the world confused by its love and holiness. We give a strong voice to things that are wrong but we also do it with love in our hearts and tears in our eyes.

Immorality works through. Yeast of the pharisees. Unbelief. Complacency. Those no good self-righteous, graceless, missionless, pharisees of Jesus time have been reproduced in the church. It is what happens when Christians have the form of religion but not the heart.

V15 Purge the evil from among you. This is an Old Testament quote. It occurs five times in the book of Deuteronomy.

Corporate aspect of walk with Christ. Many people who are not a part of church so they can walk in darkness. The church is a mess but because they are together things are getting dealt with.

Membership is about being accountable and also being one to hold others accountable. As we build the church we want to build it on people being willing to join in membership. If you are a Christian, then you need to join a healthy church that practices discipline. If you do not practice discipline you are in danger of glossing over the immoral failings of false believers. Put this person out of your fellowship. V2. There are times that a person needs to be removed from your church.

Church Membership: a commitment to follow the Lord, a commitment to be held accountable. A commitment to enter into discipline if you should stray. This is part of the vision for our church, that we will love each other enough to tell them when they do something wrong.

The church is a Redemptive Community.

The church is to be different from the world. We have a higher standard in the church. Often churches condemn the world but then don’t see their own sins of hypocrisy and judgmentalism.

Discipline is not meant to be punitive but to be restorative. You correct with a tear in your eye. The world wants to hurt and injure and destroy. Christ redeems.

Not merely to get rid of but to change it. Make it whole. Jesus came so that what is broken can be fixed. We don’t want to be content to just kick people out of church. We want to love them so they are changed and healed. It’s easy to kick people out. It’s hard to love them like Christ loves us!

It’s not punitive. They are to treat this person as an unbeliever.

*V5 Hand him over to Satan so that the sinful nature may be destroyed and his spirit saved.” He probably has in mind here handing him back to the world, the sphere of Satan’s dominion, so that he might see the consequence of his actions, that he might miss the love and upbuilding of the church, and turn from his ways.

*And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God. (1Co 6:11 ESV)

Also, note, the purpose of discipline is not merely to punish, there is an element of that, but it is ultimately for the restoration of the person. Most believe this person in Corinth was restored. 2 Cor 2:5-11 mentions a situation where they need to forgive a man and bring him back into fellowship. It very likely could be this man who has now repented. That is what the church is about. Don’t sit back and say nothing. Don’t leave and find a church that won’t inconvenience you. Press into change!

This is what brings a distinctness to the Christian community. A place that is holy, set apart, sacred, but also loving and accepting. This reflects the character of our God.

This is not a pattern just for when things get really bad at church. It sets a pattern of how you correct your children. You have to speak into their lives. It sets a pattern for the little things that your spouse does to irritate you. Don’t ignore it. Talk about it, but don’t talk about it to get back at them, talk about it in a way that brings newness. This is powerful.

We have here a church in Corinth that was not conforming to God’s word and had become proud in their actions. I think a challenge for the church today is to go back to observing God’s word. A cry to be distinct from the world. One of the greatest threats to the church today is religious indifference. Our world is complacent with God and the things of God. I’m concerned the church reflects the world too much.We don’t read God’s word. We don’t talk about doing God’s word. We hear messages and never discuss it with others. We do not engage with others about God’s word. Church, I want to ask you about your commitment to the people of God. When you see things wrong in the church do you just turn around and walk away or do you long to see it right? Do you long for the spiritual fervency that the church ought to have?

My experience. A group that loves righteousness and mercy. It makes you scratch your head.

Recording sunday message today. I remember the days when you gave an average sermon and you would spend the rest of Sunday thinking through how you could have made it better. Now that happens on Wednesday, I rehearse for the next three days, and then have to watch myself redo the same average message in front of my family.

For the average pastor, Sunday can be hard, as you rehearse an average sermon and think of all you could have done differently. Now you record on Wednesday, spend three days wanting to refilm it and then sit down Sunday to watch it with your family, and then run through your Sunday routine while three days into your next sermon.

  1. Discussion Questions
    1. How does this passage help you understand the nature of the church (who comes, who is a part, how to handle situations, etc)?
    2. Why is it important to address sin and evil in the church?
    3. What is the ultimate goal in church discipline (v5, v13, 6:11)? How does this ultimate goal affect the whole process?
    4. How does this passage inform daily activities like parenting, work, marriage, classmates, where issues come up? How are you doing handling these in a Christ honoring way?
    5. Are there any issues of people doing wrong in or outside the church that you are unsure how to address or what to do? How does this passage inform that?
    6. How is this passage helpful for the current times we are in as a nation?