I Corinthians 5 -1

Steve Viars August 20, 1991 1 Corinthians 5:

- Tonight we're going to be studying the subject of church
  discipline.

1) If you're visiting with us tonight or if you've just
   been attending a short while, I want to let you know how
   it came to be that we would be discussing this subject
   tonight.
   - At our church, the Word of God is our authority.
       - not church tradition
       - not what some person or group of persons think
       - we believe in biblical authority
   - As a result of that, our services always center on
     studying the Bible, and we often do that in a series,
     where we go through a book of the Bible verse by verse,
     and chapter by chapter.
   - We've been doing that in the Book of I Corinthians.
   - so the reason we're talking about church discipline
     tonight is literally because "it was the next subject
     that came up in the book."
   - so it's not because of something that’s about to happen
     in the life of our church, or something that happened in
     the past--we're just studying the Bible together.

2) Let me say a word to those who have been around here a
   while, and have heard this subject discussed before.  I
   think our attitude toward any subject that we have heard
   before ought to be:
     - Lord, help me grow in my appreciation for this
       doctrine.
     - help me to identify any thoughts or actions that may
       have "slipped" since I thought through this subject
       last time.
     - help me to rejoice in the fact that truth never
       changes.

- Read I Cor. 5:1-13

- let's talk first of all about the problem

I. The Problem

   - its important, when we think about this passage of
     Scripture, that Paul is addressing two different
     problems
   - one of them is bad - but the other one is worse, far
     worse
   - let's call it, "The problem...

    A. Stage one

        INPUT - what problem does Paul bring up in verse 1?

        1. fornication
            - "porneia" - from which we get "pornography"
                  - refers to any sinful sexual conduct
            - in this passage, he tells us specifically what
              kind of fornication
            - a man is living with his father's wife
            - so we're talking about:

        2. incest

            - INPUT - what's unusual about the phrase "his
               father's wife?" (normally you would say - his
               mother)
            - because Paul didn't say "his mother,"
              the father has been divorced or his wife has
              died, and now he has been remarried

            - Paul is saying that the man in question has
              taken his father's wife and is having sexual
              relations with her and probably living with her
              as well

- that's bad for a number of reasons

        3. reported commonly

            - let's not put that into our American mindsets
            - we're used to everybody knowing everything
            - when there's a problem in Russia, we know about
               it within the day
            - we're used to telephone, television,
              magazines, newspapers

            - but that wasn't true in this society - yet Paul
              says, everybody knows about this case of incest
            - it's reported commonly
            - another bad thing about this particular sin is:

        4. even forbidden by unbelievers

            - Paul says - the Gentiles don't even practice or
                condone this sin
            - of course the OT law forbid incest, but Paul is
              alluding to a fact that we know from history,
              and that is that even the secular Roman law
              forbid this practice
            - Paul is saying - things are getting pretty bad
              when the world has higher morals than the
              church

- probably the worst thing Paul brings up in verse 1 is:

        5. among you

            - Paul says - we're talking about someone from
                the church
            - they're "among you"
            - it’s common knowledge that a person from the
              First Church of Corinth is involved in sin that
              even unbelievers look down upon

- INPUT - now, let me ask you - just from verse one - I'm not
    yet thinking about what Paul factors in in verse two
    - but just from what we're talking about so far, why is
      that so bad?
- now, while stage one of the problem is bad--stage two is
  far worse

    B. stage two

        1. you have not done anything about it

            - verse 11 tells us that Paul had written a
              letter to them previously telling them what to
              do in these situations
            - that’s not a letter that was included in the
              Scriptures, but the Corinthians had been
              instructed what to do when a person in the
              church was caught up in sin and refused to
              repent
     - point is - what's most scandalous about I Cor. 5 is
          not the behavior of the man in sin - it's the
          failure of the church to do anything about it
     - we know that’s true because the rest of this passage is
       addressed to the church and what they're to do, not
       the man and what he was to do

- Paul also describes this problem by saying:

        2. you have been filled with pride

            - INPUT - in what sense is what the Corinthians
                      doing (or in this case - not doing) am
                      evidence of pride?
                        - they know more than the Lord
(develop - this is the Lord's church-anyone who takes away
from the what the Lord says ought to be done in His church is
in effect saying - we know how to run the church better than
the Lord does!)

        3. you have not mourned

            - Paul is saying - this situation should have
              driven you to your knees to pray for this
              person and pray for yourselves as you carry out
              the right steps
            - this situation grieves the Holy Spirit and they
              ought to grieve us as well

            - but they were carrying on "business as usual"

            - this is a sin that many churches are have been
              guilty of
                - cf. Rev. 2:18-20

- Paul says - this is a problem that has to be solved

- I'd like to take a moment here and talk about:

II. Some Objections To Church Discipline

    - many churches that believe the same way we do on a lot
      of other issues have long since stopped obeying the
      Scripture when it comes to church discipline
- I'd like to take a few minutes here and have us brainstorm
  some of the objections to church discipline and also talk
  about what's wrong with that objection.
INPUT - what are some of the objections that might be given?

    A. I have never seen it work

       - experience isn't our guide
       - we do what the Scripture says regardless of whether
          we think it will work
       - the example we're studying tonight is a clear
         biblical illus. of church discipline working

    B. It is not loving

        - one of the most unloving things a person can do is
          fail to obey the Bible
        - our loving Savior initiated this process

    C. It's too legalistic

        - Paul disagreed
        - in the book written to combat legalism, Paul told
          believers who were walking in the Spirit to go and
          restore sinning believers

    D. I've done all I can

        - If you haven't done what the Bible says, you
          haven't begun to do all you can.

    E. You shouldn't kick a person when he's down

        - that's a nice statement - but it doesn't apply
          here.
        - we're not talking about kicking.

    F. It has been abused

        - that's true  - that's why teaching these principles
          is so important so that we handle this area
          biblically and correctly

    - point is - Paul is saying - you've got a problem in the
      church because one of your members is caught up in sin,
      and you've got a bigger problem because the church
      hasn't done anything about it.

- Now let's talk about God's solution. Paul gives it at the
  end of verse 2 through verse 5.

III. The Solution

    - read 3-5

    A. Presupposes "steps" of Matt. 18

        - what Paul is describing here would normally be
          referred to as the third step of church discipline
        - Matt. 18 tells us that when a brother sins, the
          person that knows about it is to go privately to
          that person
        - they are not to tell someone else
        - they are not to ignore it

        - biblically they must go, asking questions, but when
          the facts are established and the sin is made known
            - the individual is to confront the person in sin
              and encourage them to repent

        - you can factor Gal. 6:1 in here as well
            - when a brother is overtaken in a fault, you who
              are spiritual restore such a one

        - INPUT - Matt. 18 tells us - if the person repents,
            What? (you have won the brother)

        - if the person doesn't repent, you are to go back
          with one or two more individuals who are mature
          believers, and confront again, still with the goal
          of that person repenting

        - if the person doesn't repent at that point, then
          Jesus said in Matt. 18 that it is to be brought to
          the whole church
        - that what I Cor. 5 is all about (the third step of
          church discipline)

    B. the action

        - verse 2 says - the person is to be "removed from
            your midst"

        - that's the same thing the Lord is talking about in
          Matt. 18 when He says "If He neglect to hear the
          church, let him be unto thee as a heathen man and a
          tax collector."

        - now, we're not going to have time to talk about
          this tonight, but Nancy has copied a page for you
          from this seminar guide on this subject which
          describes the "Matters for which church discipline
          should be exercised."
        - the bottom line is on the back of that sheet which
          points out that the third step of church
          discipline, which we are discussing here, only
          happens for one reason, and that is failure to
          repent.

        - when that happens, the church has to come down on
          the Lord's side and as a group declare that the
          person is not functioning as a believer
            - and that our contact with that person will
              always include a discussion of how they need to
              repent and get that area right with the Lord
              and the church.

- now some folks might say - "Well, we'll just quietly remove
  the person from leadership, even though he hasn't repented
  of this scandalous sin."
- what from verse 4 tells us it can't be done this way?

    C. The time

        - "when you are come together."
        - Jesus said in Matt. 18 - "What you bind on earth
          has already been bound in heaven."
       - the church body is a powerful force when it
         functions and serves together
       - our Lord wants all the love and authority of the
         body to be brought together in these situations,
         giving the person the best possible opportunity to
         repent and change

- now, Paul is very careful in these verses to explain why a
  church needs to act in this manner

IV. The Purposes

    A. For the person in sin

        - INPUT - what does verse 5 say is the desired result
           of the process?
        - the destruction of the flesh

        - this phrase primarily refers to:

        1. from this passage


        a. destruction of fleshly desires and habits

            - we studied the word "flesh" when we studied the
              Fruit of the Spirit in Gal. 5
            - Paul said - Don't walk in the flesh - instead
                walk in the Spirit
           - the flesh refers to those desires and habits
             that are sinful and do not please God
               - the same desires and habits that got the
                 person into this sin in the first place

           - a loving God doesn't want to see that person
             continue to hurt, and as a result has ordained a
             process that provides the greatest opportunity
             for those habits to be destroyed
           - "He that covers his sin shall not prosper" - and
              the Lord wants this person to change and get
              this area right so he/she can begin prospering
              spiritually again

           - INPUT - how might the process of church
              discipline result in the "destruction of the
              flesh?"

              - "delivered unto Satan" means "turn them lose
                 in this world" apart from the fellowship and
                 teaching of the body, so that the folly and
                 pain of the sin might become evident

         - point is - in I Cor. 5, Paul says that one of the
            reasons church discipline is to be exercised is
            for the benefit of the person in sin


           - I think we need to point out, this:

        2. may involve physical suffering

            - now, not all sickness and disease is the result
              of sin
            - INPUT - how do we know that? (Job, the man born
                blind)
            - but, the other side of that is that some
              sickness and disease clearly is the result of
              sin
            - later in this book, Paul is going to talk about
              the Lord's table
                - INPUT - what does he say in that discussion
                   that fits in here? (some are sickly among
                   you-some sleep)

        - James says in James 5 that if a person is seriously
          ill, the leaders of the church should be called -
          "and if he has committed sins, they shall be
           forgiven him."

        - point is - the church disciple process has the
           best interests of the person in sin in mind
        - God wants that person "restored", and this process
            gives the person the best opportunity for that to
            happen

    B. For the church

        1. from this passage

        - church discipline also has benefits for the church,
           and this passage tells us about some of those
           benefits
        -INPUT-what is the reason Paul gives in verse 7
            for obeying these principles?  (sin spreads)

        - when a person is diagnosed with cancer - their
            first and primary concern is to what?  (get it
            out as quickly as possible)
              - why? - because it spreads so rapidly.
              - that’s what Paul is saying about sinfulness

        - the purity of the church is at stake
        - that’s why it's so important for a church to
           maintain these principles throughout its history

        - I feel sorry for pastors who go into churches where
          these principles have been ignored for years
        - because sometimes they go into a situation where
          there may be 10-20 cases where discipline should
          have been exercised but it wasn't
        - and the church is so diseased and crippled that it
          can't possibly have a testimony for the Lord

        - I think of one situation where a leader in the
          church was having an affair with another person in
          the church
            - right in the morning service, he went up and
              sat with the lady he was having the affair with
              and listened to the sermon, sang, etc. with the
              "other woman"
        - churches that aren't concerned with obeying the
           Bible and living lives that are growing in purity
           are diseased, and infected - and will be
           ineffective for God
        - point is - while the church discipline process is
            designed to help the person in sin, it also has
            great benefits for the church

        - that point is also evident from what Paul later
           wrote in the book of II Cor.
         - the good news is that in this particular case, the
           church repented and did what was right
             - and then the man repented and did what was
               right
          - in discussing the repentance, Paul gives some
            additional reasons for the process that are
            important
          - so still under the idea of "the benefits to the
            church", let's see what these other verses say

        2. from what Paul later wrote

            a. II Cor. 2:3 - II Cor. 2:3: "...when I came...
                 that my joy is the joy of you all."

               - he wanted to be able to get these problems
                 handled so they could get about the business
                 of serving the Lord and rejoicing in Him

            b. II Cor. 2:4: "...that you might know the love
                 that which I have more abundantly unto you."

                - Paul says the fact that I am willing to get
                  involved is a proof of my love
                - We cringe when we see a news report of
                   someone in a big city neglecting to help
                   someone in trouble because they don't want
                   to "get involved."
                - yet that's exactly what people and churches
                  are doing when they fail to obey God's Word
                  in this area

            c. II Cor. 2:9: "...also did I write, that I
                might know the proof of you, whether ye be
                obedient in all things."

Steve Viars

B.S. - Bible, Baptist Bible College
M.Div. - Grace Theological Seminary
D.Min. - Westminster Theological Seminary

Pastor Steve Viars has served at Faith Church since 1987. He and his wife Kris were married in 1982 and have two married daughters, a son, and two grandchildren. Pastor Viars’ gifted teaching ministry, enthusiasm for the Word of God, and organizational skills are instrumental in equipping Faith Church. He oversees the staff, deacons, and all Faith ministries and serves on the boards of the Association of Certified Biblical Counselors, Biblical Counseling Coalition, Vision of Hope, and the Faith Community Development Corporation.

Read Steve Viars’ Journey to Faith for the full account of how the Lord led Pastor Viars to Faith Church.

View Pastor Viars' Salvation Testimony Video