Today I have to look at a very tough verse. Too often church leadership is accused of being judgmental. As we continue to look at Paul’s first letter to the Corinthian church, we see the truth about this issue. Hopefully, by the end of this post, we’ll see the wisdom of God’s exhortation.
Please remember that the goal of an encounter with a rebellious believer is their ultimate restoration. Paul now gives his bottom line when dealing with carnal Christians.
What business is it of mine to judge those outside the church? Are you not to judge those inside? God will judge those outside. “Expel the wicked man from among you.”
1 Corinthians 5:12-13
There are so many issues that spring from this one verse. The first being, that Christians have no reason to judge those who are outside of the church.
Non-Christians are NOT going to act in a Christian way. To tell your unsaved co-worker that it’s “not right to get drunk” is counter-productive. He doesn’t need to clean up his act. He needs Jesus.
I’m going to stop there before I start preaching. The emphasis of this verse is not about evangelism, but the condition of the church.
What we need to see is that it’s a part of the job description of church leadership to judge the lives of believers. The reason should be clear. It’s to protect the purity of God’s church.
Having been in leadership for a long time, I’ve seen a lot. A drummer on the worship team trying to sleep around with different women of the church. Someone who wanted to work with our youth whose name was on the local sexual offender’s list. A person who wanted to counsel young married couples who was in the middle of an affair outside his marriage.
In all of these cases, the response of the offender was, “You have no right to judge me.” Paul’s statement is clear. I have no right to judge unbelievers, but as leadership, it’s my duty to judge those in the church. Then, those who are disqualified must be removed from their place of service.
In my opinion, it’s one of the toughest parts of the ministry. I wish it didn’t need to be done. But God’s people need to be protected to worship God in peace and safety.
I’ve been talking about this subject for the last four posts. If you review them, you’ll find that the last statement in this verse seems to go contrary to what I’ve taught. Expel the wicked man is a very powerful phrase.
The problem is that the words expel and man, are not in the original. They were used by the translators to make a point. But is that point an accurate view of what the Holy Spirit is trying to convey to us?
Bible scholars agree that Paul is quoting the Old Testament law here. This phrase is repeated a few times in the Law of Moses. How was it translated there?
Under the Old Covenant, the offender was put to death. Praise God for the Covenant of Grace. But I want you to look at the bottom line of this verse.
The hands of the witnesses must be the first in putting him to death, and then the hands of all the people. You must purge the evil from among you.
The last sentence is the one that Paul is directly quoting. It’s not about removing the person, but the sin. Paul is making the same case in his statement.
Why did the translators give us this quote in two very different ways? I don’t know. But under the new covenant, we’re to love the sinner and hate the sin. There’s a greater chance for restoration if we continue to work with someone.
I believe that 1 Corinthians, chapter 5, is a mandate for the supernatural handling of sin in the church. It needs to be done in the spirit for the good of all parties involved.
Question: How have you seen the power of the Holy Spirit change someone’s life?
© 2019 Nick Zaccardi