Church Discipline – The Word of the Week
1 Corinthians 5:1-5 NASB 1 It is actually reported that there is immorality among you, and immorality of such a kind as does not exist even among the Gentiles, that someone has his father’s wife. 2 You have become arrogant and have not mourned instead, so that the one who had done this deed would be removed from your midst. 3 For I, on my part, though absent in body but present in spirit, have already judged him who has so committed this, as though I were present. 4 In the name of our Lord Jesus, when you are assembled, and I with you in spirit, with the power of our Lord Jesus, 5 I have decided to deliver such a one to Satan for the destruction of his flesh, so that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus.
In this chapter, the apostle Paul addresses the issue of church discipline. It seems that one of the members of the Corinthian church was having an illicit sexual relationship with his stepmother. Contrary to expectation, Paul does not primarily focus on rebuking the man for his gross sin but rather upon rebuking the church for refusing to discipline him. In verse 2 Paul writes, “You have become arrogant and have not mourned instead, so that the one who had done this deed would be removed from your midst.”
Failure to exercise church discipline is a grave sin. The practice is clearly seen in principle in the Old Testament but is explicitly introduced into the New Testament church by Jesus in Matthew 18:15-17 – Matthew 18:15-17 NASB “If your brother sins, go and show him his fault in private; if he listens to you, you have won your brother. 16 “But if he does not listen to you, take one or two more with you, so that BY THE MOUTH OF TWO OR THREE WITNESSES EVERY FACT MAY BE CONFIRMED. 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.
Are we exercising Biblical church discipline today?
Why should we?
- To protect the purity of the church – “…a little leaven leavens the whole lump…” 1 Corinthians 5:6
- To protect the witness of the church in the world – “It is actually reported that there is immorality among you, and immorality of such a kind as does not exist even among the Gentiles…” 1 Corinthians 5:1
- To protect the individual from having a false sense of salvation and bring them to true repentance/faith – “…so that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus.” 1 Corinthians 5:5
- To provide accountability amongst Christians – “Brethren, even if anyone is caught in any trespass, you who are spiritual, restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness; each one looking to yourself, so that you too will not be tempted.” Galatians 6:1
- To please the Lord by obeying His commands – “Why do you call Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ and do not do what I say?” Luke 6:46
In closing, church discipline must be exercised with great care, with great caution, and with great love. Nevertheless, it must be exercised if we are to pleasing in the sight of our Lord.
Dear dying Lamb, Thy precious blood shall never lose it power,
Till all the ransomed church of God be saved, to sin no more.
There is a Fountain William Cowper, 1731-1800
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