1 Corinthians 5
9 I wrote to you in my letter not to associate with sexually immoral people— 10 not at all meaning the people of this world who are immoral, or the greedy and swindlers, or idolaters. In that case you would have to leave this world. 11 But now I am writing to you that you must not associate with anyone who claims to be a brother or sister but is sexually immoral or greedy, an idolater or slanderer, a drunkard or swindler. Do not even eat with such people.
One of the major problems in the church in Corinth was sexually immorality. It was a culture that worshipped pagan goddesses and the city had a lot of cultic prostitution as well. So as the young church began to grow, there were incidents of sexual immorality happening in the church, and in this chapter incest! As Paul says in verse 9, he is referring to people mainly within the body of Christ. If they did not want to associate with sinful people, they would have to leave the world. But what Paul is concerned about is those in the body of Christ committing sexual immorality, and thinking that since they were forgiven it was okay.
What is the danger Paul is referring to in this chapter? Well let's just look at our society today, which is also rampant with sexual immorality of every form. If you don't believe me stats show every second $3000 is spent on pornography. Every 40 minutes a new pornographic video is being created. The pornographic business is a 14 billion dollar industry. So if you agree porn is a form of sexual immorailty then you would have to say our culture is completely saturated with it. And just imagine what problems that poses with parents who have teenagers. If you were Satan what better strategy than to make the internet, which every kids uses night and day filled with porn.
Paul's point in the passage is we don't have a right to judge those outside the church, as they are just doing what their nature inclines them to do. But things are different within the body as a Christian is a new creation in Christ. Paul says the "old is gone and the new has come!" And what is the new? The new person is we are no longer enslaved to the desires of the flesh. When someone develops a porn addiction they have become enslaved to the flesh. This happens to Christians and non-believers about equally. They no longer do what they want to do, but they now have no choice, they are addicted. But this is this the type of sin Jesus set us free from. We will still have sexual temptation, probably every day, but we don't have to give in to it. And when we do, we confess, repent, receive God's forgivness and move on. We commit to stopping the behavior with God's help and help from other brothers and sisters in Christ. I see these testimonies in our church all the time.
Paul is saying to this community, when you go back to sexual immorality, I have every right to judge you because you are going back to your old nature. In addition, it will effect others in the body too. A little bit of yeast works through the dough. If this isn't called out right away, pretty soon the church would be reflecting the culture around them. In fact, Paul is so stern he says that if you confront a brother and sister about this and they don't listen, then treat them as a outsider, don't even eat with them.
Wow that seems harsh! Well maybe not? First, this person is not only going have a negative impact on the body of Christ, but also it will tarnish the church's reputation in the community. When believers commit sexual immorality and think it is okay, the world says, "See you Christians are a bunch of hypocrites". Second, by confronting the person, the church is actually showing love for them. We call this "tough love". The reality is that this person is in trouble. Is the loving thing to watch them self destruct or warn them of where they are headed.
We have many challenges in our culture trying to be a church that honors God with our sexuality in the boundaries he has given us. We need to be aware how much sexual immorality is the ruling norm in our culture. But God has called us out of the world and called us to be holy. When someone falls we treat them with the same grace we would all want and deserve as a Christ follower. But if a person refuses to see what they are doing is wrong, and vows to continue to do this behavior it is a huge problem. It was a problem for Paul at Corinth and it is a problem for us today. Let's do our part to return the church to purity, and speak the truth in love and seasoned with grace. And before we get too judgmental, remember pride comes before a fall. None of us are immune to sexual temptation.