1 Corinthians 5:1-8
5 It is actually reported that there is sexual immorality among you, and of a kind that even pagans do not tolerate: A man is sleeping with his father’s wife. 2 And you are proud! Shouldn’t you rather have gone into mourning and have put out of your fellowship the man who has been doing this? 3 For my part, even though I am not physically present, I am with you in spirit. As one who is present with you in this way, I have already passed judgment in the name of our Lord Jesus on the one who has been doing this. 4 So when you are assembled and I am with you in spirit, and the power of our Lord Jesus is present, 5 hand this man over to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, so that his spirit may be saved on the day of the Lord. 6 Your boasting is not good. Don’t you know that a little yeast leavens the whole batch of dough? 7 Get rid of the old yeast, so that you may be a new unleavened batch—as you really are. For Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed. 8 Therefore let us keep the Festival, not with the old bread leavened with malice and wickedness, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.
Honour and shame were very important in the ancient near east, especially the honour of groups one belonged to. It is likely that the man involved in sexual immorality was of high status and therefore the group ( church) was proud of him belonging to them. They were essentially honouring his sin and unwilling to challenge his behaviour.
Paul says no – how we live is important – not how important we are in the world. Paul wants this man put out of the church ( cast out to Satan ie. the world) – so that he realises his behaviour is wrong and repents. Paul’s aim is repentance for the man and restoration of true honour for the church. This doesn’t mean that every sinner should be put out of the church ( or there’d be no-one left)! Elsewhere Paul says to privately challenge those in persistent sin. It was the honouring which made this one different – like the church today upholding and honouring a paedophilic leader.
Lord, help me to watch my behaviour and repent when I need to, so that I represent Christ and his church well.
Written by Megan Cornell