Friday, February 19, 2010

Question on 1Corinthians 5:9-13

I just wanted to get your opinion on a passage from scripture such as I Corinthians 5:9-13, in terms of the grace message. You're an intelligent theologian, so I thought I'd get your feedback on this. There are some passages in the Bible that seem harsh in terms of the grace message, and this is one of them.

My feeling is that Paul is not so much condemning those believers because of their sin, but because they're proclamation of being a follower of Christ gave a wrong impression to outsiders ... Is that how you see it? Or what are your thoughts, if you have time to comment?
The passage is below, for your convenience:

1 Corinthians 5:9-13 (New American Standard Bible)

9I wrote you in my letter (A)not to associate with immoral people;

10I did not at all mean with the immoral people of this world, or with the covetous and swindlers, or with (B)idolaters, for then you would have to go out of the world.

11But actually, I wrote to you not to associate with any so-called (C)brother if he is an immoral person, or covetous, or (D)an idolater, or a reviler, or a drunkard, or a swindler--not even to eat with such a one.

12For what have I to do with judging (E)outsiders? (F)Do you not judge those who are within the church?

13But those who are outside, God judges. (G)REMOVE THE WICKED MAN FROM AMONG YOURSELVES.

Here is my response

When someone is living in sin and it is open (as it was in the Church of Corinth) then we have a clear, grace filled mandate to restore that brother to his true is the most loving thing to do. Jesus gave us the specific steps to doing just that...

Mat 18:15 "If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother.

Mat 18:16 But if he does not listen, take one or two others along with you, that every charge may be established by the evidence of two or three witnesses.

Mat 18:17 If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church. And if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector.

Paul calls this man a "so-called" brother because of his lack of accountability to the other members of the body, the church. It would seem that the church was being pulled in all kinds of directions and seemed to be siding on the side of love without truth. Grace is a message of truth in love (Eph 4:15) so that each person will be who God has made them to be. Just a caveat on that though...we are not to go looking for hidden sin as that is God's role. But when sin and living a sinful lifestyle becomes a matter of personal (Mat 18:15) and then a matter of open sin we must confront it.

So many metaphors could be drawn with a father, son - son relationship. If you knew your brother was going in the wrong direction (using heroine) then would it be more loving to confront him in love and help him or to allow him to self-destruct. All confrontation in the body is always aimed at restoring that brother or sister to their true identity in Christ which gives them the opportunity to stop believing the lies that are stealing His abundant life in them (John 10:10)

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