Judgment Starts With Ourselves

In 1 Corinthians 5 Paul clarifies the topic of judgment in the church, and to me, his message couldn’t be more clear. He was hearing reports of sexual immorality within the church. The church at Corinth was proud of their lack of judgment while this man’s willful sin continued on unaddressed.  Paul is frustrated that instead of being filled with grief over this man’s condition, they were actually prideful and boasting instead. Paul used an analogy of yeast when he warned them that sin spreads like yeast within the dough, and by allowing this man to continue among them would cause a culture of more sin to spread within the church. Paul advises them that they need to address this man and “turn him over to Satan for the destruction of his flesh so that his spirit may be saved”. This sounds so harsh and unloving, but Paul is actually concerned for the soul of this man who is willfully living in continued sin. He knows that if this man is removed from the church to go live out his sin, he will suffer some consequences that will change his heart and bring him into repentance. Paul continues in his clarification that when he was talking about not associating with people who are living in sin, he wasn’t talking about the world He was talking about the believers who claimed to be followers of Christ who were a part of the church but were living their lives in a duplicitous way. He was calling out the Christians within the church who were living out life together claiming to be Christ followers, but were also living without a conscience to their sin. Not just those in sexual sin but Paul was also calling out all of those within the church who those were living a regular lifestyle of being greedy, or abusive, drunk, or dishonest. Paul is warning them that they shouldn’t associate with believers that were acting this way. He further clarifies that he is not talking about the sinners of the world, and he says “what business is it of mine to judge outsiders? This is such an important point because the church seems to have things very backwards. Christians in our American culture are trying to treat our country as a whole, like it is the body of Christ, but this fight to change our country and judge the unsaved people in it should be happening within the actual church. Change is supposed to be with us and among us. We aren’t here to cleanse our country of sin. We are here to follow Christ and bring lost and broken people in with us so they can be reconciled to the father who loves them and is trying to reach out to them.  We can’t do this if we are tied up in our own sin issues. Our own sin makes us ineffective and completely unfruitful.  This is why judgment and accountability for sin belongs in the church, not in the world. If we can get this right as the body of Christ it would literally change the world because the world would actually see us living and loving our lives in full surrender to a God who loves and pursues people.

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