1 Corinthians 5:9-13
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. 12 What business is it of mine to judge those outside the church? Are you not to judge those inside? 13 God will judge those outside. “Expel the wicked person from among you.”
Well, I’m sure that you will agree that this is a challenging passage to fully interpret Paul’s meaning here, as he writes to the church at Corinth on how to deal with certain people within their church.
However, one thing that Paul makes quite clear is that he is not referring to people outside the church when he exhorts the Corinthians to avoid associating with those who are practicing immorality.
It seems rather, that Paul is warning the church against hypocrisy within the church. People who claim to be Christians, but who are consistently, purposefully practicing all different types of immoral behaviours are to be avoided.
This idea is consistent with Jesus’ teaching and His practice of befriending sinners but calling out the religious hypocrites of his day and disassociating Himself from them.
As for me, I approach this area carefully, knowing that in the end only God can rightfully judge people’s hearts and lives. I do not want to sanction immorality within the church, but I also do not to want to be the one to cast stones.
May God give us the grace and wisdom to know when to speak and when to stay silent, when to reach out and when to step back.
Written by Shelley Witt