Jump Start #3315
Jump Start # 3315
1 Corinthians 5:13 “But those who are outside God judges. Remove the wicked man from among yourselves.”
I’ve been looking at 1 Corinthians 5. It is layered with many lessons. There is a moral argument that even the Gentiles understood that some things were out of bounds. It seems every person has a point that once that line is crossed, it is wrong. Even the pagans, the Gentiles, knew that one does not have sexual relations with the wife of your father. That’s wrong and just about everyone knew that. The Corinthians rather than having meetings to form a plan as to what action ought to be taken, they had boasted and even became arrogant about this. Was it because who this person was? Were they afraid to cross him? Was he one of their favorites and no matter what he did, he could never do wrong?
As the chapter ends, Paul refers to this man as “so called brother” (11), ”immoral” (10), and “wicked” (13). Paul is shaken by such bad news. He hits this hard. The man was to be removed, cleaned out and they were not to associate with him. Tough talk for troublesome times.
And, all of this leads to some thoughts about discipline.
First, no one likes to have to practice discipline. Whether we talk about what happens in the home, the church or in society, discipline involves someone who has done something wrong. Looking the other way is always the easiest thing to do. Just kicking the can down the road and hoping that things will get better is not God’s way of things.
The steps leading to discipline involve having those tough conversations. The guilty often denies. The guilty may lie. The guilty points fingers at others. The talk dad must have with one of his teenagers. The talk that must take place between the shepherds and a wayward sheep. Before those conversations ever take place one needs to think out what needs to be said. One needs to pray hard about all the hearts involved. One needs to enter the conversation calm. Shouting and screaming only shuts down the conversation.
The words of our verse are not directed towards the sinful man. They are directed towards the Corinthian church that had become sinful because they were not doing anything.
Second, the goal of discipline is to change behavior. Discipline is a teaching moment. Accountability has taken place. The guilty can promise to stop with the hopes that nothing further will be done. But has he learned anything? Has he learned why the behavior was wrong? Has he learned that there cannot be another time with this sin?
One disciplines not to cush the guilty, but rather to save the guilty. Many see discipline as “unloving.” The unloving thing to do would be nothing. Let the person remain in sin. Let the person continue the course of wrong. That shows no concern for their soul.
So, discipline without instruction often only makes the guilty person more mad and steadfast in their ways. Within this chapter Paul reminds the church of the unleavened sacrifice of Christ. That’s the goal. That’s where they need to be. To get there, something must be done with the leaven of sin among them.
Third, through the disciplinary process prayers for open hearts are essential. The major issue in Corinth was not about the relationship between the church and this sinful brother, but it was about Christ. How are we to walk in Jesus Christ? Being a disciple means that we have learned to be holy as He is holy. When discipline becomes a issue of “Us” and “Them,” things will not go well. The lines will be drawn. People will leave. But when the focus is placed upon what Christ would have us to do, it’s a matter between the guilty and God.
Fourth, one needs to reinforce love, even though discipline is taking place. This is very important in the home. It is easy for a child to conclude that mom and dad do not like me because they disciplined me. Reaffirming your love is important. Your feelings for the person has not changed. You do not tolerate wrong behavior, but you always will love the person.
It’s hard for one who has been disciplined by the church to believe that they are welcomed back. They may interpret what happened as a form of getting kicked out. Keeping the welcoming mat out and the light on the front porch allows prodigals to come back home. I wonder how many would love to come back but they are afraid of what people will whisper or think about them. The more bridges that can be built the more likely the guilty will cross one of them someday.
Remove the wicked man—tough words. Hard to stick with those words and do them. However, they are necessary if a church wants to continue walking with the Lord.