The Spreading Of Evil

Tuesday, April 15, 2014, 10:00 a.m. – the Lord Jesus put the song in mind, “To Be Like Him.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read 1 Corinthians 5 (NIV).

And You Are Proud!

It is actually reported that there is sexual immorality among you, and of a kind that even pagans do not tolerate: A man is sleeping with his father’s wife. And you are proud! Shouldn’t you rather have gone into mourning and have put out of your fellowship the man who has been doing this? For my part, even though I am not physically present, I am with you in spirit. As one who is present with you in this way, I have already passed judgment in the name of our Lord Jesus on the one who has been doing this. So when you are assembled and I am with you in spirit, and the power of our Lord Jesus is present, hand this man over to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, so that his spirit may be saved on the day of the Lord.

There was known sexual immorality (incest) going on in the church, but it was allowed to go on unchecked. Even the unchristian world of that time would not tolerate such a thing, so for the church to basically wink an eye at it was disgusting, to say the least. It demonstrated, as well, the carnal mood or character of that particular congregation, or at least it was a severe blemish against its leadership. In fact, the church congregation appeared to not be the least disturbed by this man’s blatant sin, and instead they were proud.

I doubt this means they were proud of his sin, though, but rather than being ashamed of and mournful over this man’s grievous sin, they went on with business as usual, probably boasting of all their great accomplishments in winning souls for Christ, or in ministering to the needy in their community, or of their Sunday morning entertainment offerings called ‘worship services,’ or of their latest marketing schemes for drawing in large crowds of people; or boasting about how many people were coming to their meetings, or of their membership rolls, or of how many baptisms they had each month, and/or of how much they were taking in in offerings each week - you know, the usual kinds of things that today’s churches may tend to boast about.

I have seen this type of thing go on within churches firsthand. Sometimes it is because the guilty party gives a great deal of money to the church, or he or she is in a position of great influence and power, or the congregation and/or leadership has bought into the lie that says we are not to judge other believers and, instead, to show true love, we are to be tolerant and accepting of all people so that they feel welcome, and so they want to come back. After all, we don’t want to offend anyone, do we? After all, we would not want to risk losing them to a more liberal church congregation, would we? [Irony intended here.] And so we say nothing. We do nothing. And, silence gives approval, and approval leads to tolerance and acceptance, and acceptance leads to the spreading of evil within the congregation so that it ends up permeating, infusing, pervading, and transforming the entire congregation from spiritual to worldly. Oh, how wrong we are to just sit back and do nothing!

So, what are we to do in such situations as this? Well, first of all, in situations where a believer sins against another, the person should be confronted privately with his or her sin and given the opportunity to repent and to be reconciled. If that does not work, more people are to enter into the situation, and if that does not work, then the sin is to be announced before the whole congregation. If the person still refuses to listen even to the church, they should be treated as a pagan (See Mtt. 18:15-17). In other words, they were to no longer consider this person a fellow Christian, and he or she must be denied the normal privileges associated with church fellowship. The purpose of such action should always be therapeutic, i.e. for the purpose of transforming, healing and restoring.

Yet, in extreme cases where the sin is out in the open, blatant, known and even tolerated by the church congregation, it appears more severe steps are in order, since the entire congregation appears to be infected. Yet, I don’t know that Paul is advocating mercilessly ousting the man, for it would seem to me that if the congregation were truly grieving over this situation in prayer, that their first step would be to give the man the opportunity to repent and to be reconciled, and that they would only put him out of the fellowship in such cases as is described here in Matthew 18. Mercy should always triumph over judgment, yet it should never be allowed to be an excuse for tolerating blatant and rebellious sin within a church congregation. More is at stake than just the life of that one man or woman and the person with whom he or she is sleeping. An entire congregation is at risk of infection. Yet, again, the ousting of the person is for the good of the person and the entire congregation.

The Old Leaven

Your boasting is not good. Don’t you know that a little yeast leavens the whole batch of dough? Get rid of the old yeast, so that you may be a new unleavened batch—as you really are. For Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed. Therefore let us keep the Festival, not with the old bread leavened with malice and wickedness, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.

This person’s sin, unchecked, was like leaven within a whole batch of dough, i.e. it opened the door wide for the spreading of evil to go on unchecked within the whole church. The old leaven represented their old sinful natures and/or sinful lifestyles, i.e. it represented what their lives were like before they came to know Christ as Lord and Savior of their lives. The new batch (unleavened) is symbolic of their relationship with Jesus Christ, their sins paid for, put to death on the cross, forgiven, transformed and them having been made into new creations in Christ Jesus, “created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness” (See Eph. 4:17-24; cf. Ro. 6; Gal. 2:20; Tit. 2:11-14; and 1 Jn. 1-5), which is what they really were. Yet, they were not living like who they were in Christ Jesus, but they had reverted back to some of their old sinful ways. So, Paul was instructing them to remove from their congregation such blatant and rebellious sin as this so that they could be as they truly were in Christ – cleansed, made holy, righteous, purified, sanctified and free from sin’s hold.

Today marks the beginning of the celebration of Passover for Jewish people. The Passover took place many, many years ago when the Jewish nation was being enslaved in Egypt. God sent Moses to proclaim freedom for the captives and to announce to their captor that he was to let the people go. Moses was a prefiguring of Jesus Christ as our deliverer. The nation of Egypt fell underneath God’s judgment until they released the people of Israel and let them go. Yet, they did not let go of them easily. They endured much of God’s judgments against them without release of the captives until God sent the plague of death of the firstborn male. The Jews were to kill a lamb and to put its blood on their doors as a symbol that they were to be passed over and that they would not be subject to God’s judgment. After that, they were set free. Even though Pharaoh had second thoughts and he pursued them, still God delivered his people and cast judgment against their enemies.

Yet, this is not the Passover that God’s people, the church, are to celebrate today. We have another Passover to celebrate. Jesus Christ, God the Son, became our sacrificial (Passover) lamb for our sins by dying on the cross, taking upon himself the sins of the entire world. When he died, our sins died with him, and when he was resurrected from death, he rose victorious over sin and death. Hallelujah! So, the “Festival” that we are to keep is not an actual festival as we might think, but it is a joyous celebration of what Christ did for us in dying for our sins so that we could be liberated (passed over; set free) from both the ultimate punishment of sin (eternal damnation) and from our slavery to sin. So, the “keeping” of the “festival” is not just a big party, but it is the observance of our freedom from the control of sin over our lives through daily practice, in the Spirit of God, of not giving in to the flesh but instead walking in the Spirit in faithfulness and honesty.

Wrong Associations

I wrote to you in my letter not to associate with sexually immoral people— not at all meaning the people of this world who are immoral, or the greedy and swindlers, or idolaters. In that case you would have to leave this world. But now I am writing to you that you must not associate with anyone who claims to be a brother or sister but is sexually immoral or greedy, an idolater or slanderer, a drunkard or swindler. Do not even eat with such people.

This is where the “rubber meets the road,” i.e. it is the moment of truth where what we have been taught and have learned gets put to the test and we realize whether or not what we learned was just head knowledge or if the lessons actually got through to our hearts. It is one thing to have removed from our lives the sins that once enslaved us and to now be committed to our Savior in cooperating with his work of grace in our lives in transforming us in heart and mind away from sin and to living and walking in his righteousness. It is another thing to have to remove ourselves from the fellowship of other professing Christians who are knowingly and openly involved in grievous sins against God. We naturally do not want to offend. We don’t want to hurt others, and yet, sometimes, the most loving thing we can do is to exercise “tough love” with them. Often when we fail to exercise tough love appropriately it is because we are loving ourselves more than we love others. True love is willing to risk rejection, misunderstandings, criticism and the judgments of others in order to do what is right, loving and is best for those we love.

Right Judgment

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 person from among you.”

As I mentioned earlier, many are buying into the false notion that, as followers of Christ, we are never to judge other people. That is not what scripture teaches. We are not to judge with human thinking and reasoning or by the standards of this world. We are not to judge hypocritically while we ourselves are involved in the same kinds of sins. First we must remove the log from our own eyes before we can see clearly to take the speck out of our brothers’ eyes. We are not to judge harshly and unkindly or with pride thinking we are somehow superior, and/or with the intent of making others pay for their “crimes.” And, we are not to judge based upon gossip and rumor and join in with those who would be malicious in their attacks against others for the sole purpose of destroying another’s life and reputation.

Instead, we need to first of all make sure we are not involved in some type of known sin in our own lives, but we should put off the sins which easily entangle us and we should put to death the misdeeds of our own bodies. Then, humbly, prayerfully, kindly and lovingly we should confront our brother or sister with his sin, but always with the goal of forgiveness, repentance and restoration. And, we should never make judgments based upon culture, society, human regulations and traditions, or human thinking or reasoning, for these are faulty. We should always judge according to the word of God and according to truth, and always with the right motives and in gentleness of spirit. For this is the loving thing to do.

To Be Like Him / An Original Work

March 16, 2014 / Based off Scripture

Crucified you are with Jesus.
To be like Him, oh, you’ll be,
Because He died at Calv’ry,
So from sin you’d be free.
Oh, what joy He brings into your life,
Giving life with Him endlessly.

Oh, what plans He has for your life.
Share the gospel faithfully.
Show the people He loves them.
Now His witness you’ll be.
Tell the world of sin about Jesus,
How He died for them on a tree.

Purifying hearts, He saves them,
Who believe on Christ, God’s Son.
Turning now from their idols,
New lives they have begun.
Jesus saves from sin; we’re forgiven.
Over sin, the vict’ry He won!

When He comes again to take us
To be with Him evermore,
There will be no more crying.
Gladness will be in store.
Heavens joys will now overtake us:
We’ll be with our Lord evermore.