1st Corinthians – Wayne Barber/Part 35
By: Dr. Wayne Barber
|By: Dr. Wayne Barber; ©1998|
|In Corinth, we are dealing with an intentionally, willfully, deceived, immature people; people who will not get up under the doctrine and, therefore, it is beginning to show in the deeds that come forth from their life.|
1 Corinthians 5:16
The apostle Paul said something to the Corinthian church back in chapter 4 that ought to bless us all. He said, “I don’t write these things to shame you, I write them because I love you like a father loves a child.” You must remember this as we go through these chapters. Here is a man who loves a group of people, the church at Corinth, and he wants them to know that he is going to tell them the hard things because he loves them so much.
As a matter of fact, when he wrote those three little chapters in the book of Titus, he says something that is very important for us to understand. We see it exemplified and illustrated in Corinthians. He says in Titus 1:16, “They profess to know God [he is speaking of the ungodly people who are inside the church], but by their deeds they deny Him, being detestable and disobedient, and worthless for any good deed.” He is saying doctrine and deeds go together. By a person’s deeds, you can tell his doctrine. That is what he is saying. If you are living by faith and if you love the Word of God and if you love God, it is going to show forth in your life. You can talk about it a lot, but your deeds are going to tell and speak much louder than anything that you could ever say.
Paul was talking in Titus about ungodly, unbelievers. But, you know, it is tragic when Christians start to live that way, when they step apart from what the Word of God has to say in their life. We know the mindset of Corinth real well by now. In 3:14 he just pegs their whole problem. Remember he says in verse 1, “And I, brethren, could not speak to you as to spiritual men, but as to men of flesh, as to babes in Christ.” He points back to when they first got saved. Nothing wrong there. Verse 2 goes on, “I gave you milk to drink, not solid food [here comes the indictment], for you were not yet able to receive it. Indeed, even now you are not yet able.”
Here they are, years later, and they are still not able to receive the meat of the Word. He says in verse 3, “for you are still fleshly.” In other words, in their life situation, flesh was still winning the battle. And as a result of this, they had no testimony. He says the testimony of God has been confirmed within you. That is the problem. It had never been confirmed outside of them. They had never affected Corinth at all. Corinth had affected them. And this led to all kinds of things.
The symptom of this happening is in verse 3. He says, “for you are still fleshly. For since there is jealousy and strife among you, are you not fleshly, and are you not walking like mere men?” The King James Version adds a word in there: divisions. And the word “division” means to stand away from others as if to exclude yourselves from them and the jealousy and the strife.
He goes on to say, “You are attaching yourselves to preachers instead of the message the preachers are preaching.” He says in verse 4, “For when one says, ‘I am of Paul,’ and another, ‘I am of Apollos,’ are you not mere men?”
Then in chapter 4 we learn that they had become arrogant. So arrogant that they lived as if they are already there, have arrived. They don’t need the apostles or the Word of God. All of this is background before we go into chapter 5. I just want to remind you of that. We are dealing with an intentionally, willfully, deceived, immature people; people who will not get up under the doctrine and, therefore, it is beginning to show in the deeds that come forth from their life.
The immorality in the church
Well, let’s look at the consequences of fleshly living. And the first consequence we get into in chapter 5 and verse 1 is the immorality in the church. When the Word of God is not upheld and obeyed, there will be no spiritual standards among God’s people.
Remember Judges 17-21? That was the picture of the time. The key verse in the book of Judges said there was no king in Israel so everyone did what was right in their own eyes. When you get over in chapter 19 that priest’s wife commits adultery. This is Israel now. It is supposed to be God’s people in the Old Testament. This is how far they had come away from what the Word of God had to say. As a result of that, she leaves him and goes to her father.
Well, the man decides to go get his wife, so he goes to her father’s house and stays there several days upon the bidding of the father. Then they leave. Nightfall hits them so they go over to Gibea, which was a part of the tribe of Benjamin. The custom of the day was that when you would stay by the city square, somebody would come by and take you home. Nobody came by. That should have told them something.
Finally, an old man came by and said, “Listen, you can’t stay here. You need to come and stay at my house.” They went to his house and they began to celebrate and just have a good time together. There was a knock on the door and some of the men of Gibea had come. They wanted to have homosexual relations with the man, not the woman, who had gone in. As a result, he wouldn’t go out, but he threw his wife out. They raped her until she died.
The next morning when he finds her body, he takes her body, cuts it up into 12 different pieces and sends it to all the 12 tribes of Israel. I mean, just overnight the people got so upset about this. They began to move towards Benjamin. And the tribe of Benjamin, instead of disciplining this handful of men who did this awful act, defended them and went to war against the people there.
You see, the whole problem in the book of Judges was that there was no standard. When you walk away from the Word of God, this is what begins to happen. When it is not upheld, there are no standards among God’s people. This is the epitome of idolatry. And never forget this. When I am not living up under the Word and I am not honoring the Word that God is putting in my heart, then that is idolatry. Out of idolatry will always come immorality of some shape, form or fashion. It may not be the same in one person’s life as it is in another’s, but there will be some type of immorality. Idolatry and immorality hold hands together. When you find somebody who is immoral, you will find somebody who is committing the act of idolatry. All idolatry is putting something or someone in the place where Jesus Christ deserves.
Well, Paul is going to point to an open, immoral sin that is going on in the church of Corinth. Look at verse 1: “It is actually reported that there is immorality among you, and immorality of such a kind as does not exist even among the Gentiles, that someone has his father’s wife.” The very fact in that verse that says, “it has been reported,” means that this is known by a lot of people. This is not something hidden. People in the community know this to the point that somebody reports it to somebody else. This is a known, open case of immorality.
Now let’s make sure we comprehend and contemplate the word “immorality.” There are a lot of people who, when you start talking about immorality, raise up and say, “Uh huh, burn them. Get them. Those immoral people!” They don’t realize that immorality is just one of the manifestations of the flesh. Now understand this; when you point your finger at somebody who struggles with immorality, you may be pointing three right back at you in some other area of flesh. Flesh is flesh, and it is all sick. The sickest, perhaps, and most consequential is the sin of immorality; but let’s make sure we understand the word.
The word is porneia. It is the word that encompasses all sexual acts with somebody you are not married to, no matter what it is, whether it is adultery, sex before marriage or homosexuality. It is the big house that all those terrible sins live within. It is the word from which we get the word pornography.
Turn over to Galatians 5:16-17 and let’s be reminded of something. I am really preparing you for what Paul is going to do in this chapter. Don’t just jump. When you see that sin of immorality, many people struggle with that. That is a sign of the flesh. But now, folks, there are other signs of the flesh. Galatians 5:16-17 says, “But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh. For the flesh sets its desire against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; for these are in opposition to one another, so that you may not do the things that you please.”
How many of us, since we have been saved, have fallen to the lure of the flesh from time to time? If you haven’t, this would be a good time for you to get saved and get honest. Every one of us has fallen. There is a war going on. If anybody says they don’t have that battle in their life they don’t understand the Word of God. When the flesh wins, immorality is just one of the manifestations that come forth.
Look down in verses 19-21 of Galatians 5. Let’s just make sure we get this thing in mind and see the company that he keeps. Remember, the sin of the flesh is the key here. Immorality is just a consequence of that. It is just one of the ways.
Don’t ever forget the prodigal son. Remember the two brothers, goodytwoshoes out in the field and the prodigal? If I had been in that particular story, I would have been the one who rebelled and left. I have always been very open, what you see is what you get. But, you know, you always have your quiet ones over here who always look like they are the ones doing it all right. Finally the prodigal came back to his father, and his father was so excited he killed the fatted calf.
Listen to what the goodytwoshoes said out in the field. He says in Luke 15:30, “But when this son of yours came who has devoured your wealth with harlots [Now, do you notice something there? He has singled out one sin; that is all he singled out, as if that is all that the individual did. He says,] you killed the fatted calf for him.” He wouldn’t even go inside. I mean, he was so filled with flesh himself, he wouldn’t even go inside.
It is amazing how we categorize sin, folks. We have the big, bad sins like immorality, but then we have other sins that we don’t even deal with. We don’t realize they are just as much an evidence of the flesh as immorality is. That is what I am trying to get you to see. When you walk after the flesh and the flesh is winning, yes, there are other things that will accompany this kind of thing in your life. It may not be this in your life. It may be something else. Be careful. It has its manifestation.
Let’s look at them. First of all, in Galatians 5:19, the first category of sin there that comes when the flesh is winning is moral sin. “Now the deeds of the flesh are evident, which are…” Here we go. The King James includes “adultery,” but the New American Standard misses it. I think it ought to be there. It is in the Textus Receptus there. Moicheia is the word that means adultery. Then it says immorality. There is your word porneia, the word we are looking at right now: any sexual act with someone outside of marriage, whatever kind it is, whether it is homosexual, incest, whatever.
Then you have the word “impurity.” That word, akatharsia, means lustful behavior with or without somebody. You know, sometimes sexual acts are not committed with somebody else. You say, “Well, that is okay because it didn’t involve anybody.” Listen, you can defile yourself. It is covered under that one word right there.
The next word is “sensuality.” That is actually lasciviousness, the unbridled attitude that we can do what we want. Now that is the moral sin that comes as a manifestation of the flesh. If I am not going to live up under the authority of God’s Word, if I am not going to walk by faith and trust Him, this is probably going to be one of the manifestations of sin in my life.
There is also going to be spiritual sin. He says also in verse 20, “idolatry, sorcery.” We know what idolatry is. It is when anything takes the place of Jesus in our life. But also he says sorcery, pharmakeia. It is the word for drugs. We wonder where all this comes from. That is a manifestation of the flesh, needing something without to control rather than someone from within to control.
Then you see relational sin. This is what I wanted you to see. How many people love to walk over and point a finger at somebody who struggles with immorality, but they forget this right here, “enmities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, disputes, dissensions, factions, envying.”
You know, we never think about that. “That is okay, these sins are over here in the goody side, but the bad ones are over here – adultery, immorality.” Friend, flesh is flesh. I don’t care how you peg it. Flesh means you are not living up under the authority of the Word of God. Like the Corinthians, you have become arrogant. You don’t need God. You don’t need His Word. You are going to do it your way. It is going to come out. It is going to manifest itself in some way.
Paul then turns to social sin, “drunkenness, carousing.” Paul doesn’t finish the list. He just says, “and things like these.” Now just remember this as we go through chapter 5 of 1 Corinthians, because the first verse makes you think we are going to deal with immorality and that is all the chapter is going to talk about. No, not at all. As a matter of fact, he is just going to mention it in one verse and then walk away from it and talk about something else that is just as serious among the people.
Now, know what Paul says in identifying the specific type of immorality that was in the Corinthian church. He says back in our text in 1 Corinthians, “immorality of such a kind as does not exist even among the Gentiles.” That is a powerful statement. You are talking about Corinth, and what is Corinth made up of? One thousand temple prostitutes. I mean, immorality was the custom of their day. We haven’t gotten there yet, but I wonder if the women wearing coverings over their head didn’t have something to do with the cultural degradation that we are dealing with, the immoral society that we are dealing with. Perhaps it was used somehow to set the Christian women apart. I wonder if that is not part of what is going on here.
Why does Paul deal with certain things in Corinthians that he doesn’t deal with anywhere else? This is an immoral place. And he says, “There is immoral sin among you that is not even found among the Gentiles.” What in the world could this be? What kind of act of immorality could be in the church that is not even found among the Gentiles, in one of the most immoral cities in the world?
Well, he says, “that someone has his father’s wife.” Now that is the sin of incest. You say, “Wait a minute! Wouldn’t that be in the pagan society?” Perhaps, but not openly. We know from Cicero and others that Roman law forbade this particular sin. Therefore, in their culture, no matter how pagan they would be, it probably went on, but nobody really knew about it. It wasn’t open. People didn’t talk about it. Paul said, “Listen, they are talking about this sin which is against Roman law right in the church there at Corinth, far beyond what you even hear in the Gentile circles.”
Who was this woman?
There are several things you learn in verse 1; three things particularly that I want to point out. “It is actually reported that there is immorality among you, and immorality of such a kind as does not exist even among the Gentiles, that someone has his father’s wife.” First of all, does Paul mean that a son is having an intimate relationship with his mother? Well, I have a problem with that if he is. Why didn’t he say mother? He said the wife of the father, the father’s wife. Seems to me he is referring to a stepmother. That is the first thing that you have to look at. It is still incest. Incest, you know, is a sexual sin with members of the family, brother to a sister, or a sister and a father or whatever, however you want to mix it up. It happens within the family. Here it is a stepmother. I believe it is a stepmother, because he says the wife of the father.
As a matter of fact, in Leviticus 18:7 it says, “You shall not uncover the nakedness of your father;” that is, the nakedness of your mother. She is your mother; you are not to uncover her nakedness. But then in verse 8 it changes the term. It says, “You shall not uncover the nakedness of your father’s wife; it is your father’s nakedness.” What we have here is a divorce or whatever. Even if there is not a blood relationship there, it is a very heinous sin. In Leviticus 18:29 it says, “For whoever does any of these abominations, these persons who do so shall be cut off from among their people.” So it was a very serious thing. In Deuteronomy 22:30 it leaves it generic. It says, “A man shall not take his father’s wife.” Whether that be the natural mother or a stepmother, both are covered in that command.
So, actually it is not just incest we are dealing with here in 1 Corinthians 5, you have got a case for adultery if it is his father’s wife and it is not his natural mother. You have a heinous sin that is going on in the church of Corinth there. It is a very difficult thing that Paul has to address. It is a very difficult thing for me to have to address, but when you go verse by verse, this is the next passage. Let’s keep on moving.
This relationship is on-going
Secondly, the verb is in the present tense. You learn something about that. It appears that this is an ongoing relationship. I can’t prove it, but it suggests some things. First of all, it suggests that it has caused his father to divorce this wife and this man is living with her since it has been an ongoing relationship. If it had happened once or twice, you might think that he is still married to her, but it suggests that it possibly could be that it has caused the father to divorce her and now he is living with her and they are not married. That is the suggestion. You can’t prove it.
The woman is an unbeliever
Thirdly, it suggests that she is not a believer. Now why would I say that? Because when Paul addresses it, he only tells them to discipline the man. He doesn’t say to discipline the woman. That suggests that she is not a believer.
These are just some of the things it suggests, but I think you can understand the uncomfortable thing that Paul has to deal with. Thank God, back in chapter 4, Paul said, “I am not trying to shame you. I love you like a father loves a child, but we have got to deal with some things. One of them is, you have got open immorality within your congregation and in the form of incest which you don’t even see in the Gentile world, which is killing your testimony with everybody around you.”
It was open immorality, an incestuous, adulterous relationship within the congregation at Corinth. That is the consequence of fleshly living. It is the first one he brings up. They had become idolatrous in the sense that they are not worshiping God. They are worshiping men. They are not listening to the message. They are attaching themselves to the messenger. We have already seen that. Now the immorality comes in.
The indifference in the church
The second consequence of fleshly living is indifference to sin. Now, you can jump on the band wagon and say, “Uh huh, boy. Yeah, preach it, Brother. Immorality is wrong. It is sin. Yes, it is.” But look what he does. He only spends one verse talking about that. The rest of the chapter is not what that man is doing. The whole chapter is centered in on what the people aren’t doing to deal with that man. That is the problem. They have become insensitive to sin. They have become indifferent to sin. The flesh of the congregation of Corinth was just as bad as the flesh of this man who was engaging in this horrible sin because they weren’t at all honoring God in their lives, as he was not. They had apathy towards the habitual sin that was going on in their midst. They allowed it to remain open to the people of Corinth.
When you see churches with sin within that body, and that sin is known outside the body and it is marring the testimony, and that church will not deal with that sin, then you have a church that may preach about the Word, but they don’t believe the Word. They are showing by their deeds what their doctrine really is, you see. That is the whole point. If you don’t deal with it, then evidently it must not be important. You send a message that licentiousness and license can be a part of the believer’s life.
In verse 2 Paul says, “And you have become arrogant, and have not mourned instead, in order that the one who had done this deed might be removed from your midst.” “And you have become arrogant.” That actually should be, “you are arrogant.” It is in the present indicative there. This is your lifestyle. He has already told us that in chapter 4. This isn’t anything new. “You are arrogant. Your whole lifestyle is arrogant.”
What do we mean by arrogant? Well, we have seen that also. Paul had already identified this particular word. It is the word phusioo. It means you talk a big game, but you are a big bag of wind. There is nothing to back you up. You may know the teaching and teach the teaching, but you are not living the teaching. Therefore, you are just like that big bag of potato chips that we described back in chapter 4. You know, you get this big bag of potato chips, and you really think it is full until you let the air out of it and there is nothing left in it. That is the word phusioo. It means to blow up, to inflate. You are walking around as a big bag of air.
Now, the mindset of the world is what we are seeing has infiltrated the church there at Corinth. Look in verse 6 of chapter 4, and we will see what I think qualifies the whole thing about this word. It tells us exactly the mindset of the people. Paul tells us that a person who is phusioo, who is inflated, who is a bag of air, who has nothing to back up what he says, is a person who exceeds what is in scripture. The word “exceeds” there means goes above it, beyond it.
He says in verse 6 of chapter 4, “Now these things, brethren, I have figuratively applied to myself and Apollos for your sakes, that in us you might learn not to exceed what is written [that is the key] in order that no one of you might become arrogant in behalf of one against the other.” In other words, when you exceed what is in scripture, now you are on your own unchartered territory. You are going to do what you want to do. You have walked away from what God has said to do. Your idea is better than God’s. When a person is exceeding what is written, he or she does not respect the authority of what God says. And if they don’t respect God’s authority, then they don’t respect any authority. That is the bottom line understanding of a person who has grown arrogant. He won’t live up under the authority of the Word of God. These people have become their own authority and the effect of that is you become insensitive to sin.
“And you have become arrogant,” he says in verse 2, “and have not mourned instead.” The word for “mourn” is the word to grieve. You mourn, not only for the sin in your own lives, but for the sin in other people’s lives. That doesn’t mean you have to get out in public and wail and make all kinds of noise. But it means a grieving, a mourning inside when you see people who won’t repent, people who walk outside the boundaries of Scripture, who exceed what is written.
It says, “You as a people should at least grieve about this, but you don’t mourn. There is no grieving among you for the sin that is around you.” In Matthew 5:4, in the Beatitudes, we read, “Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.” The same word is used over in 2 Corinthians 12:21. He says, “I am afraid that when I come again my God may humiliate me before you and I may mourn over many of those who have sinned in the past and not repented of the impurity, immorality and sensuality which they have practiced.” In other words, when I get there, I am going to find out that you haven’t changed. There has not been a repentant attitude in your life and it is going to cause me to mourn and grieve because of that sin.
You see, sin is transgressing the authority of God; and if you have no respect for His authority and His Word, then you don’t have respect for any authority. You begin to live that way and you exceed what is written and are totally insensitive, whether it be yours or whether it be somebody else’s. It is no big deal to you. Sin is just not any big deal if you are not living up under the authority of God yourself. When we respect the authority of God’s Word, we take sin seriously.
I guess if I think back in my Christian journey, one of the people who got to me was Miss Bertha Smith. She could let you see the blackness of sin better than anybody I have ever heard speak in my entire life. When you heard her, you wanted to go put on sackcloth and ashes and crawl into some crack in the floor somewhere. She let you understand how ugly and how bad and how wicked sin really is.
I am grateful that later on in life I came to understand grace and the marvelous freedom that is in grace, because there are many people who understand grace but they never understand really the reason for grace and they don’t understand the seriousness of sin, the ugliness of sin. Therefore, they take license. “Hey, I am God’s child.” They pull Him down to a human level and they forget God is God. He is holy and sin is sin. It is ugly and bad and wrong.
You see, when you live up under the authority of God and understand that sin is transgressing what His Word has to say, then not only when you have transgressed it and God helps you to see the results of that, not only are you concerned for yourself, but you are concerned for other people. But when you are arrogant, you don’t respect God. You don’t respect any authority. Therefore, what is sin to you? No big deal, whether it is yours or whether it is somebody else’s.
Well, this attitude had permeated the congregation, and they had come to where they didn’t even deal with it. I heard a man say in the pulpit that he never wanted to be a man who would stand up and offend anybody with what he said. I thought to myself, “Dear God, when I get up under the Word of God, God convicts me.” How does He deal in your life? What is it like when God is convicting you of sin in your life? What do you feel like? Do you know what it is in my life? I have never been kicked by a horse, but it feels like somebody has kicked me in the chest. I don’t have any relief until I finally do what God has told me to do. I am hardheaded, and it takes me a while. I have paid a lot of prices because of that. I will fight. I am rebellious. When my mother would tell me when I was growing up, “You can’t do this,” I had already figured out 16 ways to do it. That is the Adam in me.
But I want to tell you something. It may take me a while, but I will get there. I can’t live until I have gotten out from under the pressure of conviction. Do you know what bothers me? There are people in churches all over the country, folks, who come and hear the Word of God and walk out and sin in a heartbeat. It never bothers them.
That is what Paul is saying. “You have developed an insensitivity to sin, not just yours, but those that are around you. You haven’t even mourned over this particular heinous sin that is in your midst.” So he says, “And you have become arrogant, and have not mourned instead, in order that the one who had done this deed might be removed from your midst.”
You know, disciplining sin in the midst of a congregation sends a signal that sin is not okay. Are all of us listening? Yeah, we ought to be listening. Sin is not okay. We all struggle with sin. We all struggle with the flesh. We deal with it and grieve over it, but when it becomes a pattern in our life and begins to mar our testimony, it is a picture of a body of people who maybe talk about the Word but they don’t live it. They have walked away from it because they tolerate known sin in their midst. That is what Paul is dealing with here.
He said, “You want to talk about the guy’s immorality, help yourself. Let me talk about your insensitivity to his immorality. That is just as much a reflection of flesh as his immorality is. It is a proof of the fact that you are not living the way you ought to live either.”
In verse 2 he says, “You have become arrogant, and have not mourned instead, in order that the one who had done this deed might be removed from your midst.” The word “removed” comes from two words, ek, out of, and the word airo, which means to take or remove. Some people say it means to excommunicate. I guess there would be an argument for that, but I am not so sure that is the heartbeat of what we are talking about here. Excommunicate is so final and cut off. Remember, anything you do in disciplining people in the church is always for reconciliation for them and God first, and, of course, them and others who have been affected.
They didn’t care enough to deal with this man’s sin. They wouldn’t discipline this sinner in the church. He was unrepentant, because it had been a lifestyle for a long period of time. Remember the present tense was used. The practice of church discipline is nonexistent when people become arrogant and do not deal with sin in their own lives.
So the first consequence is immorality. But the second one is indifference to sin, when you become insensitive to sin in your life. You know for years I could just talk to people one way or another, and say curt things. It didn’t bother me. But, boy, when I began to understand the authority of God in my life and the Lordship of Christ, overwhelming conviction would come. I want to tell you, that sensitivity is not there if you are not living up under the authority of God’s Word. As a matter of fact, I don’t know what you think sin is, but you are walking in that sin right now, whatever it is. Flesh is not what God is pleased with. Flesh is the culprit that causes sin. And when it wins in our life, it can produce a mess as a result.
Well, before we can go on to any more consequences, we are going to have to camp out in chapter 5 because Paul has a solution to it as he does each one of these things he deals with. Paul has a solution for it. Look at what he says in verse 3. He says, “For I, on my part, though absent in body but present in spirit, have already judged him who has so committed this, as though I were present.” Now you say, “Wait a minute, Paul. You are taking a lot of authority upon yourself.” No, God has already given it to him.
Remember, back in 1:1? Paul was called as an apostle. He has the authority. He is law in the church. Do we have those people around today? No, because we have the Word of God. But back in that day, as the New Testament was being put together, there were apostles. And those apostles had absolute authority over the churches that were there. The apostle Paul says, “Hey, you won’t do it, buddy, but I will do it.” The apostles had been designated authority over the churches. And since they wouldn’t discipline the man, Paul would and Paul did.
He says in verse 4, “In the name of our Lord Jesus, when you are assembled, and I with you in spirit, with the power of our Lord Jesus.” He tells them to carry it out when they are assembled. He said, “I have already pronounced the verdict. The man is guilty. However, the sentence cannot be carried out until you meet together.”
Did you notice something in there? He could make the decision for them, because the man was guilty and, as an apostle, he knew the Word of God and spoke in God’s power. But he said for him to be taken out of the midst; that is the congregation’s responsibility. “You must do it when you are assembled together.” I thought that was an interesting. So he says, “In the name of our Lord Jesus, when you are assembled.” He pronounced the verdict, and the sentence would be carried out when the people would come together.
Paul says he will be with them in spirit. He can’t be there with then, but he can be with them in spirit. But the important thing is that it be done and done correctly and done soon. Now how is it done correctly? How is this going to be carried out? They wouldn’t do it. Paul made the judgment and said, “Now you do it in the name of our Lord Jesus and in His power.” We are going to look at those two phrases.
He says, “In the name of our Lord Jesus,” first. When you go about disciplining somebody who has known sin within the body, you have to do it in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. What does it mean to do it in the name of our Lord? Well, it is totally associated with what has been revealed of His character and who He is. You cannot step outside of that. No one could use this teaching to hurt somebody intentionally if they did it in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ. That is not why we are disciplined. We are disciplined so that we might come to repentance and come back into fullness with Him.
“In the name of” means to be totally associated with what has been revealed by His character. All the character of Christ must be manifested. It must be the motive and method of this being done. This is so important to understand. It is not one of these Gestapo things where you try to get rid of people. No, sir. It has got to be done according to His character.
The second thing he says, “with the power of our Lord Jesus.” I am so glad he put that there because somebody might say, “Well, what human being who has been affected by somebody’s sin would come to an open meeting and do this with a true heart of wanting to see that man be reconciled and see that man come to repentance?” Well, no man apart from Christ can do that. So he says, “with the power of our Lord Jesus.”
The word “with” there is the word sun. It means that intimate together with; in other words, not only in the name, that is there, but together with the power of our Lord Jesus Christ. Anything God ever commands me to do is never really a demand on me. It is a demand on the life that He has placed within me. So if He has commanded me to do it, by grace He will enable me to do it. That is the power of God that He gives us to do this. A person has got to be surrendered, attached and making sure that it is God in him doing this and not him doing it just because man said it. There is a total difference there. Man does not have the compassion. God does have the compassion. It is God’s power within us that enables us to do it.
The word for “power” is the word dunamis, which means ability, that ability God gives to us. It is not something we have. It is something God gives. It also means the authority that God gives. You know, when you are attached to Him and you are honoring His word and doing what He said to do, enabled by His grace, there is authority that just wraps itself around it and seals, signs and delivers it. That is the only way it can take place. When a congregation assembles together, they can’t come to laugh and mock at somebody being taken and removed from their midst. They come with broken hearts. They come attached to Christ. They come in association with all of His character, made manifested by His Spirit enabling them to carry this out. It is God’s assignment and God has an eternal reason for it.
Do you realize that this kind of church discipline starts in the pew? When you see somebody in sin, go to him. It doesn’t come before the church until it has become so rampant that the person is unrepentant and will not turn to God. Then you bring it before the church.
You will never know how many people have been dealt with in our church because they repented before it ever had to come before the body. It happened because people were mourning and grieving over sin, people were living under the authority of the Word of God and they saw their brother in a sin. They got their own sins confessed and went to their brother. Then they went and got somebody else and took him to their brother. It never had to get to the church floor. You see, that is where it starts.
This had gone on in Corinth because nobody would take the responsibility; nobody would go to this individual. They kept waiting on each other. Now it has become such a pattern of sin that it has torn their whole witness down in the area of Corinth. So he says, “You do it in the name of our Lord Jesus, but you do it with the power of our Lord Jesus. You can’t do it apart from that. It is God’s enabling power that gives you the compassion and the burden and the understanding of what it is all about.”
Man doesn’t have the character nor the ability to do it right apart from Christ.
He goes on to explain what this decision is to do in the life of this one. He says in verse 5, “I have decided to deliver such a one to Satan for the destruction of his flesh, that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus.” The phrase, “I have decided” is not in the Textus Receptus. I like the Textus Receptus, because, to me, it clears up a lot of confusing passages. So I like to read it a different way. Leave out “I have decided,” okay? Go back to verse 4 and read them together. “In the name of our Lord Jesus, when you are assembled, and I wish you in spirit, with the power of our Lord Jesus to deliver such a one to Satan for the destruction of his flesh, that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus.” Paul says the church is to deliver this one to Satan for the destruction of his flesh.
Now here comes a huge question we are going to have to wrestle with. Does he mean the flesh that has so dominated him, the mindset of sin that is in this body of flesh and blood? Because he doesn’t use the word body. Or is he talking about the body of flesh and blood? What is he talking about? Is he talking about an Ananias and Saphira situation when Peter pronounced a judgment upon them for lying to the Holy Spirit and they dropped dead in their tracks? Is he saying Paul now is doing the same thing and he is pronouncing a terrible end to this man’s life so that his spirit might be saved in the day of Christ?
We will look at that next time. What is he saying here that will be the benefit for all of us? I want you to see when I choose not to live under the authority of God’s Word and I am not accustomed to the Word of righteousness, I become like the Corinthians. Even though I know the teaching, I would rather attach myself to the teacher. I am living with flesh ruling in my life. Look out, immorality is going to show up somewhere. Somewhere it is going to show up.
Welcome to the church of Corinth. Do you see the danger signs all over it? The moment you step out from the authority of God’s Word, there is a deception that sets in. You don’t see it. Others may see it before you do. Immediately the flesh takes over – idolatry, immorality, indifference to sin. We have a whole lot more we are going to deal with before we get out of Corinthians. The consequences of fleshly living.