Jump Start # 2443
1 Corinthians 5:13 “But those who are outside God judges. Remove the wicked man from among yourselves.”
Our verse today is a tough one. You won’t find this one cross-stitched on a pillow. You won’t see this as a stencil on a wall. It’s serious words about a serious problem. An immoral Christian was polluting the church. His disregard for the commands of God was insulting to all righteous people. He was living sexually with his father’s wife, which either meant his own mom or his step-mom. Either way, it was wrong. This woman belonged to his father and not him. So outlandish was this, that even the Gentiles knew this was inappropriate. And, to make matters worse, nothing was being done. Nothing.
An entire chapter is dedicated to this problem. The words are plain throughout this chapter:
- Removed from your midst (2)
- Deliver such a one to Satan (5)
- Clean out the old leaven (7)
- Remove the wicked man from among yourselves (13)
Do you think Paul made his point? Is the picture clear? This guy was not in fellowship with God, so why was the church fellowshipping him? Why were they acting like nothing was wrong? Were they afraid of him? Did his daddy start the church? Was he a big giver? Was there a threat of a lawsuit? Might the church split? Whatever the reason, the church accepted him like everyone else. Paul was livid. He was through with this. Remove him. Those words first come to us from Deuteronomy where ungodly people in Israel were cast out of the nation.
And, all of this leads us to this powerful point. God gave shepherds the responsibility to guard the flock. They need to protect us from immoral influences, false teaching, divisive attitudes and slanderous tongues. If a person is causing trouble, they need to be told to stop. If they won’t, they need to be shown the door.
It’s that last statement that causes most of us to raise our eyebrows. You mean a church can prohibit some of it’s own members from attending? Yes. You mean a church has the right to say to one of their own members, you have to leave? Yes. You mean I can’t say anything I feel like? That’s right. You can’t. If it hurts others, tears apart the unity, undermines the leadership, sows discord, then if one won’t stop and repent, it’s time to hit the road.
I don’t know how many stories I have heard, just this year, of brethren causing remarkable trouble in congregations and acting as if they are untouchable. It’s time for God’s leaders to once again start “guarding the flock” as Paul said in Acts to the Ephesian elders. Guard it. Protect it. Don’t allow trouble in. Don’t allow trouble to stay.
A lot of church problems would be eliminated if we removed troublemakers who do not want to follow the N.T. pattern. Maybe some congregations would have been spared a split had troublesome mouths been shown the door. The work of trouble much too often takes place behind the scenes. It’s emails and texts that are sent to certain people. It’s finding those of kindred spirits who are not content to follow Christ, and a rebel who has an agenda to change things. He spreads his poison, one by one. Word gets around and nothing is said. More and more are fed lies, distortions and half truths. Words are taken out of context. Passages abused. Brethren are stirred up. Confusion fills the air. Everyone knows about it, but nothing is done. This continues until the leaders resign, the preacher quits and the rebels take over. It’s nothing more than a mutiny and who is cast into the little row boat? It is Jesus. His way is cast overboard as radicals introduce new ways to worship and new ways to do things, none of which come from the Bible. Tragically, the church splinters. The faithful few try to hold on, but the rebels have the majority and the power. All the good that was done has been lost. Young people see the fighting and are so discouraged that they want nothing to do with Christianity.
And, to think, it didn’t have to happen that way. Had folks stuck with the Bible and “removed the wicked man from among them,” much of this would have died down. Truth would have prevailed. The Scriptures would have been followed.
We understand this at home. You come home and the kids have a movie on and there is a lot of bad language. Do you just ignore it and let them watch it? Never. You turn to something else, or you turn it off. You come home and there is a friend of one of your kids smoking, in your house, in front of your kids. Would you find him an ashtray and let him continue? Never. You’d tell him to put it out and you’d likely put him out. Suppose at Thanksgiving, an uncle wants to give one of your kids a taste of beer. You allow that? Never. You take the beer way, scold the uncle and if necessary, don’t invite him again. We do these things to protect our children.
Why is it that we don’t protect the church? Why is it we allow any goofball thing to be said, or any divisive attitude to exist and we walk away and ignore it?
I’ve been in all kinds of church buildings…big ones, little ones, old ones, and new ones. Some in the city and some way out in the country. One thing every church building has, a door. Maybe it’s time we started using it and showing those who are not interested in following Christ the way out. Protect our church. Keep them safe. If one won’t abide by the N.T., even though he be one of us, it’s time to show him the door.
Remove the wicked man from among you! Stop pretending he’s one of us, when his true colors show that he is not.