The Whole Batch

Friday, October 18, 2013, 7:58 a.m. – the Lord Jesus woke me with the song “Jesus is All the World to Me” playing in my mind. Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read 1 Corinthians 5 (NIV).

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. ~ 5:1-5

Paul was addressing the church. A man within the church was involved in an incestuous relationship with his mother or with his step-mother. Even the non-Christian world did not tolerate such a thing, to the church’s shame. And, yet the church was proud. Most likely they were not proud of the sin, but were rather proud of their own sense of spirituality or standing in the community, or of their own religious heritage or forms of worship. The main situation I see here is that the church was evidently unaffected by this man’s sin, and so they went on ahead with their religious meetings and ceremonies as though this sin did not exist among them, and so they did not address the sin.

I believe this is a HUGE problem in today’s church. Tolerance rules over loving confrontation. The teaching and philosophy of many of today’s churches in the USA is one of non-judgmentalism, so as to make people comfortable, so they will want to come back. Certainly we are not to judge people falsely, condemningly, or hypocritically, but it is the church’s responsibility to judge unchecked and unrepentant sin within the church in order to turn the sinner from the error of his or her ways, and to bring him or her back into fellowship with the Lord. Yet so many churches practice tolerance instead, and they are proud of their meetings, their “worship” services and their religious activities. And, this only serves to hurt the testimony of the church and its effective witness for Jesus Christ.

The loving and Biblical method for confronting willful, continuous and unrepentant sin within the church body is first of all to confront the individual with his sin and to give him, or her, the opportunity to repent. If that proves ineffective, then others should be brought along, and if the person sinning still does not respond to correction, then it is to be taken before the whole church. If the individual still refuses to listen, then he or she is to be put out of the church (See Matt. 18:15-17). Yet, very few congregations follow this Biblical model. Many ignore it all together. Others misuse it for their own purposes. Either way the church is hurt. Rather than ignoring known sin within the church, we should follow this Biblical method for dealing with unrepentant sin, not hypocritically, not falsely, and not condemningly, but always with a humble spirit, grieving in our spirits over the sin and over those being led astray by the sin, and always for the purpose of spiritual restoration and renewal.

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. ~ 5:6-8

The reason this Biblical model for dealing with unrepentant and willful sin within the church should be followed is not just for the spiritual restoration of the ones sinning, but it is also for the spiritual well-being of the church congregation as a whole. Jesus Christ died on the cross for our sins, not just so we would be positionally saved and given the hope of eternal life in heaven, but so we would be free from slavery to sin while we still live on this earth. He died to free us from the control of sin over our lives, and to free us to walk in obedience; in the Spirit; and in loving fellowship with our Lord day-by-day. Our old lives of living in slavery to sin is the old yeast. Yet, he bought us with a price and thus freed us from this old yeast, and he made us a new batch of dough, so we need to walk in the freedom he provided for us, stop believing Satan’s lies, and be the people of God that we are in Christ Jesus.

If we allow this old yeast to remain within the body and we do nothing to remove it, then it works its way through the whole batch of dough, i.e. if the church allows known and willful sin and rebellion against God to go on within the church unchecked and not dealt with, then eventually it works its way through the congregation, and then the church, as a whole, begins to be on a spiritual decline and people get the idea that God’s grace is a license to continue in willful sin. The church begins to adopt the ways of the world, and more and more sin is accepted and tolerated, all in the name of “grace” and “love.” But, this is not how Jesus loves. He does not teach tolerance of sin. If we don’t address sin, and we allow it to go unchecked, then it will impact the spiritual growth and maturity of the church, as a whole, and it will affect their witness for Christ to the negative. So, instead of ignoring sin, we should practice speaking the truth in love, for the benefit of the whole church.

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.

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.” ~ 5:9-13

I believe this is one of the most difficult of directives for believers in Christ to follow. This is speaking to the congregation as a whole. We, as the body of Christ, should not remain in fellowship with those professing Christians we know are willingly living in sin. Why? I believe it is for two reasons: 1) Bad company corrupts good character, i.e. it goes back to the issue of the old yeast working its way through the batch of dough; and 2) It gives the persons sinning the idea that we are ok with what they are doing, i.e. it gives the message that we are somehow approving of their sin. Yet, I believe we should follow the Biblical model of Matthew 18 first. In other words, many will just ignore someone they think is caught in sin rather than lovingly confronting the individuals, or else they will still hang out with them. Either way, they are not addressing the sin, or they are not helping their brothers and sisters in Christ to turn from sin and thus to be renewed. So, whether we just reject the person sinning or we show acceptance and approval, we are not acting in love.

The main issue here, I believe, is whether the church is being led by the flesh of man or by the Spirit of God; whether they are following the word of God, or they are following humanistic teachings and philosophies; whether they are more concerned with being liked or whether they are willing to be hated in order to speak the truth in love to a brother or sister in Christ caught in sin. Is Christ truly on the throne, or is the flesh of man? We are the body of Christ, therefore our goal should be to honor our Lord, not the flesh of man.

Jesus is All the World to Me / Will Thompson

Jesus is all the world to me,
My life, my joy, my all;
He is my strength from day to day,
Without Him I would fall.
When I am sad, to Him I go,
No other one can cheer me so;
When I am sad, He makes me glad,
He’s my Friend.

Jesus is all the world to me,
My Friend in trials sore;
I go to Him for blessings, and
He gives them o’er and o’er.
He sends the sunshine and the rain,
He sends the harvest’s golden grain;
Sunshine and rain, harvest of grain,
He’s my Friend.

Jesus is all the world to me,
And true to Him I’ll be;
Oh, how could I this Friend deny,
When He’s so true to me?
Following Him I know I’m right,
He watches o’er me day and night;
Following Him by day and night,
He’s my Friend.

Jesus is all the world to me,
I want no better Friend;
I trust Him now, I’ll trust Him when
Life’s fleeting days shall end.
Beautiful life with such a Friend,
Beautiful life that has no end;
Eternal life, eternal joy,
He’s my Friend.