1 Corinthians Chapter 5: The Long Road Back

 
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1 Corinthians Series
The Long Road Back


Introduction:
  • Everything needs to grow, and everyone. Whether a plant, a child or even a city, the human race is characterized, unified really, by its desire to see things grow. Most people what to be more then they are.
  • When I was a kid, I fell in love with history, with understanding the human race as a whole. I loved looking at different civilizations, cultures and languages. Honestly part of it was just that I wanted to be Indiana Jones. As I got older I realized I had a gift for academics and I was sure that I wanted to get a PHD in history. I wanted to know more then anyone else about human civilization. So I spent all of my time growing my academic abilities. Well others joined sports or bands I spent my weekends wandering through the libraries of Edmonton.
  • But then, something changed. As I started to go to church and find out who Jesus is I felt something in my heart. A calling, a command. As I prayed I felt that God was telling me to become a pastor, something I had no desire to do. I didn’t want to preach, or run a youth group. I had a dream! I wanted to learn history!
  • All of a sudden, the growth I was experiencing stopped. The opportunities I might have to fast track into a history program fell through. My weekends at the library became less and less interesting. I was like a car running out of gas, just coasting on fumes. No more grow. It left me feeling frustrated and terrified in equal measure.
  • Today were going to look at another lack of growth, this time within the Corinthian Church. As this multicultural church was fighting amongst itself, divided over preacher-factions and other issues; sin had crept inside. One of the young men in the church was in a sexual relationship with his own step mother. Not only that but the church was proud of this. Paul wastes no time giving a harsh correction to this young man.
  • Chapter 5 shows us the final measures of Church Discipline when all other solutions have failed, Excommunication. Excommunication still happens in our churches today, even in this very province. Well excommunication is a complex issue, we are going to look at 3 important truths about excommunication that every believer needs to know.
Section 1: Excommuncation is Rare
  • First of all, 1 Cor. 5:9 tells us that Paul has already sent a letter to the Corinthians. 1 Corinthians isn’t actually the first. This issue of sexual sin has been an ongoing problem for the Corinthians. Paul isn’t flying of the handle. The Corinthian’s have already ignored his advice on the matter!
  • I wrote to you in my letter not to associate with sexually immoral people— 10 not at all meaning the sexually immoral of this world, or the greedy and swindlers, or idolaters, since then you would need to go out of the world. 11 But now I am writing to you not to associate with anyone who bears the name of brother if he is guilty of sexual immorality or greed, or is an idolater, reviler, drunkard, or swindler—not even to eat with such a one.
  • It’s also important to remember that this young man is committing a sin that isn’t just heinous to Believers but to the world outside the church. It is widely reported that there is sexual immorality among you, and the kind of sexual immorality that is not even tolerated among the Gentiles. Not even Romans or Greeks thought a man sleeping with his step mother was ok. The world does have some boundries, some things that are just too far. It was unthinkable. In our world today it would be like if someone came to our church claiming to be a Christian well claiming that pedophilia was acceptable. Everyone knows that is vile. No-one, not even the people furthest from the church would argue that what that person was doing was wrong. A church wouldn’t even have to have a conversation about distancing themselves from someone like that.
  • That was the level of shamefulness this young Christian was bringing to Corinth. And he was proud of it. Not just him, but his church as well. They wanted to praise him for sleeping with his step mother. In the Corinthians mind, they were “free” in Christ so they could do whatever they wanted. “Everything is permissible” that was their motto. Paul says “you are arrogant! Ought you not rather to mourn? Let him who has done this be removed from among you.”
  • Phussio, pride, again. I can do it my way, I know what’s right, you have no authority over me! Here’s our first Truth:Excommunication is rare
  • If you read Chapter 5 in isolation it seems really cut and dry. This young man is living in sexual sin, cut him out now until he repents. It seems like Paul is saying that this is how we should treat people living in sexual sin. cast them out immediately. Yet you have to understand that that not quite the case.
  • Well its true that this kind of can sin destroys church, it very often doesn’t get that far. That’s because often when confronted with sin, people just leave. They pack their bags and go somewhere where they are wanted. Most people won’t sit around and listen to how they need to change if they want to follow Jesus .
  • Paul is showing that this man has had time, and chances, to repent and grow. Yet the problem is not just that he is living in sin, it’s that he’s proud. not only is he sinning, but he things he is right to do so! He wants to share this belief. He’s not going to back down and go away. Who is Paul to tell him what to do. He’s saying Look, I’m just as good of a follower of Jesus. You can’t judge me.
  • Yet the truth is we can For what have I to do with judging outsiders? Is it not those inside the church whom you are to judge? 13 God judges those outside. “Purge the evil person from among you.”
Section 2: Excommunication is Necessary
  • So, the excommunication of this young man is rare. Other steps have been taken and they have all failed. Paul has tried talking to him, getting others invovled, getting the whole church involved hand this man still doesn’t see the error of his ways. He’s proud of his new found “freedom” to do what he pleases when he pleases. He doesn’t believe he needs to grow. excommunication is the last resort.
  • But… why? I’ll admit, this one had me scratching my head for a bit. Many pastors are fearful to excommunicate members. Excommunication can cause church splits and division. Not all situations are as black and white as this young man. Sometimes its hard to tell who’s wrong and who’s right. Pastor’s fear destroying the church’s we love.
  • Yet here is our second truth: Excommunication is Necessary. When someone is unrepentant and proud, the only way for them to come back to Christ is to be broken down by the world. “When you are assembled in the name of the Lord Jesus and my spirit is present, with the power of our Lord Jesus, 5 you are to deliver this man to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, so that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord.”
  • This may seem strange, but it’s actually a pattern that weaves throughout the entirety of human history. When people in service of God sin, they are thrown to the wilderness, back into the world, until they repent. This happens to Moses as he’s sent back into the desert for 40 years, it happens to Jonah with his hate towards Nineveh, it happens to King Hezikiah when he sins in making a deal with Babylon. When Servant of God sin everything going on in us stops.
  • In fact, if you only pay attention to one thing I say today please listen to me know. You can never grow past the last time you said no to God. x2
  • Listen, if you call yourself a Christian and you have ignored a command from God. You will not grow, you’ll stall out. God may still use you for good, but your personal growth won’t go anywhere. I’ve seen this again and again and again. We can’t pick and choose which commands we follow and which ones we ignore. We are called to serve in all ways.
  • When I was a teen and I was called to pastor I didn’t want to do it. I wanted to do what I wanted. I want to study and learn, not be shouldered with responsibility. Yet when I ignored god’s command my growth stopped. It didn’t matter if i worshipped or prayer or went to youth group, I wasn’t growing because I was living in rebellion. You can never grow past the last time you said no to God. Eventually I listened to God. I trusted him and went to Vanguard instead of the UofA. I met Beth and became more then I would have ever been if I’d done what I wanted.
  • It’d funny, when we finished vanguard beth and I actually had plans to travel. Wer were going to go and see the world, take a break from ministry. But we felt God calling us, commanding us to this church. I wasn’t going to make the same mistake twice.
Section 3: Excommunication is circumstantial
  • Now understand something, I’m not saying that we kick out everyone who’s been unrepentant. Especially in this church. I think it’s fair to say that our church has been through a lot in the past 10 years and that we are, slowly but surely, heading back to a healthy place.
  • One of the things we often miss about this excommunication is that this man in Corinth wasn’t growing at all. He had no desire to see the errors of his ways. He wanted to get other’s to bend to his ideals.
  • We forget that “God gave the growth”. We focus so much on one sin, well ignoring the growth in other areas. Sometimes we need to be patient and give people time to grow. A man may have issues of greed, but be growing in being a better father. So long as there’s growth, a continuing submission to be an imitator of Christ, then there is little worry of excommunication. I’m not saying we allow people to sin, but that we give them time to work through there sin. who of us dealt with lust, or anger or pride in a matter of days.
  • That being said, there is one thing to remember, but I think it’s something we need to know. The risk of excommunication, and the weight of church discipline increase with authority. The more leadership we have over others, the more we are a figure of influence then the more judgement we incur. Listen pastor’s, board members or key ministry leaders fail morally, the response needs to be harder. Not because their sin is greater, but because there sin effects so many people.
  • If a young man, new to the church comes to me with the sin of a porn addiction. I’m going to walk him through that with very gentle correction. If a pastor has a porn addiction, that’s an entirely different matter. They are under increased judgement and the issue needs to be dealt with in a different way.
  • What I’m trying to say is this, Excommunication is circumstantial. There isn’t a hard and fast rule. It is done out of love for the sake of the person who has gone astray. All we can do is pray and follow God’s command.
Conclusion

  • You can never grow past the last time you said no to God. When we say no to god and focus only on what we want, we run the risk of becoming stuck. Like a car that’s run out of gas. It’s only when we say yes and resubmit ourselves that we can being the Long Road Back to a holy life.

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