Remove the Immoral Brother: Part 1

It is actually reported that there is sexual immorality among you, and such sexual immorality as is not even named among the Gentiles—that a man has his father’s wife! 2 And you are puffed up, and have not rather mourned, that he who has done this deed might be taken away from among you. 3 For I indeed, as absent in body but present in spirit, have already judged (as though I were present) him who has so done this deed. 4 In the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, when you are gathered together, along with my spirit, with the power of our Lord Jesus Christ, 5 deliver such a one to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus.

 6 Your glorying is not good. Do you not know that a little leaven leavens the whole lump? 7 Therefore purge out the old leaven, that you may be a new lump, since you truly are unleavened. For indeed Christ, our Passover, was sacrificed for us. 8 Therefore let us keep the feast, not with old leaven, nor with the leaven of malice and wickedness, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.

9 I wrote to you in my epistle not to keep company with sexually immoral people. 10 Yet I certainly did not mean with the sexually immoral people of this world, or with the covetous, or extortioners, or idolaters, since then you would need to go out of the world. 11 But now I have written to you not to keep company with anyone named a brother, who is sexually immoral, or covetous, or an idolater, or a reviler, or a drunkard, or an extortioner— not even to eat with such a person. 

12 For what have I to do with judging those also who are outside? Do you not judge those who are inside? 13 But those who are outside God judges. Therefore ‘put away from yourselves the evil person.’”1st Corinthians 5

Does this instruction sound unloving to you?  How can a loving God instruct His children to carry out such a command?  I believe that this command is a command of love that should be rightly obeyed in faith.

AN EXAMPLE TODAY

Usually this command is altogether ignored and when it is practiced it is quite often abused by power-hungry men.  Consequently there are very few brothers in my generation that have personal witness of this command being rightly carried out.

I have personal knowledge of this command being practiced correctly in a small country-side church when I was a very young boy in a largely un-churched community.

One of their young men began living a life of sexual immorality.  The elders became aware of his immorality and the elders- not the membership- confronted him, but to no avail because he would not repent.

Eventually the eldership “expelled their immoral brother” and he was not allowed fellowship with the church.  There were no other churches in the community for him to go to (because churches now-a-days do not support each other in these decisions to remove the immoral brother) and so he was sent out into the world.  And this brother stayed out among the world for nearly 10 years.

Accordingly, this man was dealt with directly by God for 10 years and tasted the bitter brew that is the worlds life as he lived under the corruption of Satan.

When God had finished dealing with him, His grace returned the brother to the church in repentance, conviction, and testimony.  The church welcomed him back into fellowship with open arms and, today, he is serving as one of their faithful elders!

GOD’S COMMANDS ARE LOVE

The above passage from 1st Corinthians 5 is almost wholly rejected in the American church today, and I do not think we are any better off for having taken the easy way out of this command.  Is the church more Christ like today?  Is she purer today than she was when she implemented this command?  Sexual immorality, divorce, and abortion rates are actually on the increase in the church.

I believe the above commandment is a commandment of wisdom and love from God given to be carried out by the elders of the church for her benefit.

So what is the command?  If there are “evil persons” among you, such as those practicing sexual immorality, covetousness, extortion, or idolatry, the Church is told to judge (vv. 12, 13) and remove them, handing them over to Satan for the destruction of their flesh so that they may learn their lesson and be saved in the end (v. 5).

Paul did not commend the Corinthian church for their “glorying” that they “had not removed the leaven from the lump”, rather, he rebuked her for it!

I want to draw attention to something: “Therefore let us keep the feast, not with old leaven, nor with the leaven of malice and wickedness, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth” (v. 8).  This command from the Lord has to do with the leavening and un-leavening of the Lord’s communion!

If you’ll read the parable of the new wine and old wine in Luke 5:37ff, you’ll see this very same teaching regarding the exclusivity of the old and new creations.

The feast that we celebrate is the Lord’s Supper, and that is with the un-leavened bread of sincerity and truth; therefore, we cannot celebrate it if there remain some who are leavened.  And this, too, is love, for anyone who eats and drinks the Lord’s Supper in an improper manner is himself eating and drinking condemnation.

THE MINISTRY OF RECONCILIATION

18 Now all things are of God, who has reconciled us to Himself through Jesus Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation,”—2nd Corinthians 5:18

We’ve been given a ministry of reconciliation through which God is reconciling to Himself a holy people.  There are many things that comprise this ministry of reconciliation and it is our joy to learn how to carry them out properly.

For the protection of the church and the restoration of the individual member, there comes a time when the brethren can  no longer deal directly with a rebellious son and we must entrust him to the care of God and hand him over to Satan for the destruction of his flesh by dispelling him from our fellowship.

When churches welcome brothers that have been dispelled, thinking that they are showing compassion and godly-love, they are taking the place of a wife stepping between a father that is rightly disciplining his child for the good.  Rather than seeing the ministry of reconciliation being fulfilled, we are seeing it fall apart because it is not carrying out all the instructions of the Lord.

WHAT SHOULD OUR ANSWER BE?

Should the church be like the son who said, “yes, I will obey” and then did not go out and do the thing that his father told him to do?  Or should we be the one’s who are saying, “here I am, Lord send me”?

I believe that I sin and stumble, even to this day; I groan and I struggle in this manner because I know what is righteous through the revelation of the Holy Spirit and sin is contemptuous to me.  And I am constrained for my own benefit in the Holy Spirit.

Therefore, I repent and confess because the Lord is faithful to create a new heart in me, just as He promised He would do in times past!

FINAL CONSIDERATION

20Again, when a righteous man turns from his righteousness and commits iniquity, and I lay a stumbling block before him, he shall die; because you did not give him warning, he shall die in his sin, and his righteousness which he has done shall not be remembered; but his blood I will require at your hand. 21 Nevertheless if you warn the righteous man that the righteous should not sin, and he does not sin, he shall surely live because he took warning; also you will have delivered your soul.”—Ezekiel 3:20-21

God says that the righteous man who turns from his righteousness shall die.  But God says that He will lay the blood on the hand of His servant who did not warn Him.

Brethren, we are righteous in Christ Jesus alone- if I see one of you turning from Christ and committing iniquity (for it is written, “let the one who names the name of the Lord depart from iniquity”- 2nd Timothy 2:19) and I do not warn you, you surely will die, and that, my brothers, is not love!

However, if I warn you, and you do not sin, then you will live in Christ Jesus because you were wise in taking warning, and I will not be guilty of your blood.

Therefore, let us be careful how we judge God by what we say is or is not love in His holy word.  It is with wisdom and love that God works out all His will. 

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