Skip Heitzig - 1 Corinthians 5
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Welcome to our mid-week Bible study. We just sang a song that was a modern rendition of an old hymn. Or it was, sort of the idea was borrowed from an old hymn, "It is Well With My Soul." And I was thinking, some of us may know but some of us may not know that that original hymn was penned by a lawyer from Chicago, a believer. And he wrote that song after his wife, whom he sent over across the Atlantic in a ship with his family, and he would join them soon after for a family holiday. His wife and children were in an unfortunate accident. The ship went down, and they all died at sea.
He decided to get on a ship to go over to reclaim the bodies and do his duty. And when he was in the Atlantic on the ship he was aboard, and the captain informed him that this is approximately where the ship that his wife and children were on had gone down, it was on that spot that he penned the words to the hymn "It is Well With My Soul."
"When sorrows like sea billows roll, whatever my lot, Thou has taught me to say it is well, it is well with my soul." Quite a statement of faith. I say that because I think we, at this time, need to hear that. You are the fellowship of the unafraid. You're here in church, meeting where people meet, together.
You're obviously, it might not be well with your bank account. It might not be well with your relative's health. It might not be well with the government. In fact, I'll go on record as saying it is not well with the government. But I sure hope it's well with your soul. And God has not given us the spirit of fear but of love and of peace and of a sound mind. And you are, this is the wisest, smartest thing you could do, to gather together in obedience to the command of God to worship God as His church, unashamed, unafraid, saying, it is well with my soul.
We're going to do something as we begin that is sort of unorthodox for us to do. Not unorthodox in some circles but for us. But I thought, you know, I haven't seen you since last year. So since this is a new year, I thought it would be appropriate to begin on our knees, literally. So if you can make it to your knees, if you can't, I understand, but let's come before the Lord in prayer.
Father, we bow before you as the king of our hearts, the king of the universe. And we are here to say that, whatever my lot, whatever our lot, whatever befalls us, we are here to declare boldly, it is well with our soul. And, Father, I pray for those who may be here tonight that in the course of the evening, if it is not well with their soul, even though it might be well in so many other areas of their life, that they would get that right with you. We want to begin this year, Lord, in humility, asking you to bless this year. You said to your people in the Old Testament that your eyes would be upon them from the beginning of the year to the very end. So here at the beginning of the years, our eyes are on you. We know yours are on us. We pray that you would direct our steps. We pray that you would heal our land. We pray that you would heal those that we know and love who are ill, and pray, Lord, that you would strengthen us in faith, in Jesus's name. Amen. Amen.
All right. Let's turn in our Bibles now to the book of 1 Corinthians, chapter 5. It's been a while. In fact, I was asked by Kevin if I feel ready. And when you're out of doing this every week, it feels a little bit odd to be back doing it. I'm just so glad to be back doing it with you. And we left off in chapter 4. We kind of finished that with a hurried pace because we didn't have the time, which is always the problem that I face whenever I teach chapters of the Bible. So I'm going to go over just a few verses in chapter 4 as we get into chapter 5.
And I'm going to give you a little bit of background again, since we may forget where we are with the book of Corinthians. The Corinthian church was a new church in a worldly city. That's why it's so relevant, because we are God's people in a worldly environment. And so 1 Corinthians always and ever is a contemporary book. I often refer to 1 Corinthians as 1 Californians, because there are many similarities between the state of California, my home state, and this ancient city of Corinth. But the Corinthian church, God's people, were facing many problems.
They were a growing church, but they weren't a glowing church. They were more of a slowing church. They were sort of being dragged down and slowed down in their pace, in their witness, in their testimony by the value system of the city of Corinth and by the Greek culture. And we gave a little bit of that introduction in the very first chapter when we began.
We also told you that Paul spent a fairly long time in the city of Corinth. At least, by Pauline standards, it was a long time. He spent 18 months in the city of Corinth, plowing the ground, sharing the gospel, teaching the believers, discipling them, 18 months. That's long for Paul. He usually did not spend long in a city. He'd establish a church. After a few weeks, he would, he'd book it. He'd leave. But he spent a year and a half in Corinth, and that is the second longest place he stayed.
The first longest was a 3-year stint in the city of Ephesus, which we believe, when Paul wrote this book, he was in the city of Ephesus and getting reports about Corinth while he was living in that city. But he had spent 18 months there, then he moved on to the city of Ephesus. We also mentioned to you that Corinth was on the crossroads of very important trade routes. And they were just a few miles from a very important geographical place. We told you, if you remember, and you could certainly look at the map at the back of your Bible for a reference. But the city of Corinth was located on a piece of land that was more or less an island to itself. No, it wasn't really an island, but it was almost an island.
And when something is a large peninsula that is almost an island but still connected by a little piece of land, we call that in geography an isthmus, or a peninsula. And this Peninsula was called the Peloponnesian peninsula. And the Peloponneses, or the Peloponnesian peninsula, on one side had a body of water called the Adriatic Sea, and on the other side an entirely different body of water called the Aegean Sea. That little piece of land that connected the mainland of Greece with that Peninsula, the Peloponneses, was only 3 and 1/2 miles in diameter. So boats would go to one side, lift the boat if it was small enough, on wheels, and take it over land to the other port, and continue sailing.
Your alternative was to go 200 miles by sea around the Cape of Malea. The Cape of Malea was not an easy feat. The crosswinds and the tides was very dangerous for sailors. There was even a saying that said before you sail the Cape of Malea, make sure that you fill out your will. So it was dangerous. But because it had so much traffic, north and south, east and west, it was the center of a lot of activity, a lot of ideas, a lot of religious ideas, a lot of pleasure, because you have sailors and you have workmen going in and out. And so it was a very loose, wild kind of a riotous city.
And there, Paul the apostle ended up and spent 18 months after he had been in the city of Athens, and a work of God was established. By the time Paul writes this letter from Ephesus some time later, by this time, already this growing church is filled with all sorts of problems. By the way, I'm always happy to report that. I'm happy to report the churches in the Bible were not perfect but filled with problems. Because every now and then, I will meet an idealistic Christian who is looking for the perfect church. Stop looking. And if you find one, please don't join it. You'll ruin it. They don't exist. And if they did exist, you would ruin it because you're not perfect. Nor am I.
I love the fact that 1 Corinthians, and 2 Corinthians, and Galatians, and a number of other letters were written to churches that lacked, that we're growing, that had issues, had problems. And one of the problems, according to a family that lived in Corinth and reported back to Paul, a household by the name of Chloe's household, who Chloe was exactly, we don't know. But Chloe's household told Paul that there were some divisions going on in the church, that people were rallying around different spiritual teachers. Some were saying that they were of the school of Paul, others of Apollos, others of Peter, Cephas.
And the problem was it was ruining their unity. So they had their eyes on the servants of the Lord rather than having their eyes on the Lord of those servants. When you have your eyes on the Lord of the servants, you'll give servants a break. When you have your eyes on the servants of the Lord, you will begin comparing one servant to another servant. And yet Paul will say, who are you to judge another man's servant? If you're the Lord's servant, then let the Lord handle them.
So that was one of the problems. Another was just a number of issues that they had written Paul the apostle questions about, including the Resurrection, including marriage, including divorce, including a number of issues that essentially are all answered by this pretty lengthy letter of Paul called 1 Corinthians. Now, we call it 1 Corinthians, but in tonight's message, Lord willing, if we actually get to the chapter before us, Paul will mention that he had written to them previously. He said in the letter that I wrote to you before.
Now, when we read that, we go, wait a minute. This says 1 Corinthians. So if in 1 Corinthians he said I wrote you a letter before, that must make the first letter 1 Corinthians, and 1 Corinthians must be 2 Corinthians, which would make 2 Corinthians 3 Corinthians. Exactly. We don't have that first letter. We only have a reference to it.
But in terms of division, the first chapter, 1 Corinthians, chapter 1 and chapter 2 are about congregational disunity. That's the first problem Paul writes about, congregational disunity. That's chapters 1 and 2. Chapters 3 and 4 are about spiritual immaturity. I'm of Paul. I'm of Apollos. I'm of Cephas. Paul said, you're all immature. You're all carnal.
Now, in chapters 5 and 6, we have yet another issue, and that is sexual impurity. That's the problem he deals with in these two chapters. But before we do, I want to get the flow of thought. In chapter 4, if you recall, if you don't, you'll see a few verses, Paul takes a tone with them, a sarcastic kind of a tone. He knows that some of them in the Corinthian church felt superior because they were Greek. They had the wisdom of the Greeks. They consider themselves very wise and very important, and they had the right to sort of push Paul and his authority to the side.
So Paul writes in chapter 4, verse 8, in sarcastic tone, he says, "You are already full. You are already rich. You have reigned as kings without us. And, indeed, I could wish you did reign, that we would also reign with you. For I think that God has displayed us, the apostles, last, as men condemned to death, for we have been made a spectacle to the world, both to angels and to men."
That's sarcasm in case you didn't know it. It's irony. It's biting irony. And he's basically saying, look, you guys are acting as if you're already reigning in the millennial kingdom, the thousand-year reign of Christ on the Earth that I told you about. You act like we're already here, and that you are reigning as kings. You have all this incredible wisdom and incredible authority. That's how you act. He goes, I wish you were, because if you were, then we would be also. If you were in the Millennium, we'd be there with you.
But he said, I'm not there. I'm too busy preaching the gospel and getting beat up for it. I'm sort of last in the procession. And then he says, verse 10, "We are fools for Christ's sake, but you are wise in Christ. We are weak, but you are strong. You are distinguished, but we are dishonored. Even to the present hour, we both hunger and thirst. We are poorly clothed and beaten and homeless, and we labor working with our own hands. Being reviled, we bless. Being persecuted, we endure it. If you think about it, by human standards, by human standards, by a purely human measurement, Paul was a fool. Paul gave up a lot in his career to follow Christ, travel the world, get thrown out of synagogues, put in chains, thrown in jail, beaten up time and time again.
For him to leave what he left, and the status and the position he left, to follow this road, to follow Christ, by human standards it was dumb, man. It was stupid. It was foolish. If Paul the apostle would have stayed a rabbi, if he would have stayed a religious, legalistic zealot, no problem. He would not have gone through the persecution he went through. In fact, he was the persecutor. He was the guy who was hunting Christians. But something happened to Paul. On the road to Damascus, the Lord Jesus appeared to him. And Paul asked two very important questions, who are you, Lord? It's a question you must answer in your life, who is Jesus Christ? Who is he to you? Jesus said, you're either for me or against me.
The second question, once you get the first question answered and you realize Jesus is Lord, the second question logically must follow and be answered. Lord, what do you want me to do? What is your plan for my life? And the Lord told Saul of Tarsus, Paul the apostle, through a man by the name of Ananias, a believing Jew, in Damascus, tell Paul, tell Saul how many things he must suffer for my sake.
On that day, when he relinquished the rights of his future to the Lord, he stepped into ministry. And whenever you relinquish your life to the Lord, there are no guarantees of safety, or it being well with your health, or well with your relatives, or well with your school, or well with whatever. But there's a guarantee it will be well with your soul. So he said, Lord, what do you want me to do? A lot of times, we are reluctant to ask the question and give God carte blanche. Lord, I want to surrender my life to you, but first tell me what you have up your sleeve. And if it sounds good enough to me, then I'll surrender.
So if you are thinking, the Lord is telling me Hawaii, Maui, Fiji, yes, Lord, I hear your voice. By your spirit, I'm going. If it's Albuquerque, oh, Lord, Lord, it can't be you. I bind that spirit. Lord, speak to my heart. Hey, I had that conversation with the Lord. I was walking near my home in Huntington Beach, and I was saying, Lord, whatever you want me to do, just show me what it is. I had no clue. And I am so glad I surrendered to his will. Being in his will is better than being in Maui not in his will.
So Paul the apostle ended up in Corinth, then ended up in Ephesus, then ended up in Rome, then ended up getting beheaded by the will of God, for the glory of Christ and for the honor of His name. So he was persecuted. He said, we endure it. But now look at verse 14. "I do not write these things to shame you, but as my beloved children, I warn you." Now, all of this sarcasm is leading up to Paul kind of giving both barrels to another issue. And the issue is the church at Corinth was very tolerant of certain kinds of behavior, evil behavior. And instead of being ashamed over their tolerance of evil behavior in their midst, they were actually proud of it.
And he mentions that, verse 18 of chapter 4. "Now some are puffed up," or proud, "puffed up, as though I were not coming to you. But I will come to you shortly, if the Lord wills, and I will know not the word of those who are puffed up", again, prideful, "but of power."
Now, that leads us to the third problem that he addresses in the book of 1 Corinthians, and that's chapter 5 and 6, the problem of sexual immorality. So look at verse 1 of chapter 5. Now we begin the chapter. I had prepared to cover a couple of chapters tonight. Yeah, right? So this is short enough that we can cover one chapter. He said, "It is actually reported that there is sexual immorality among you", you being the Christian church at Corinth, "and such sexual immorality as is not even named among the Gentiles, that a man has his father's wife. And you are puffed up." There it is again. Third time he uses it.
Now he zeros in on what made them so prideful. He alluded to it in chapter 4, now he just spells it out. You're proud about this. You're puffed up. "And have not rather mourned, that he who has done this deed might be taken away from among you." I told you in our introduction to 1 Corinthians that the city of Corinth was a very permissive city in moral terms. Anything goes, any kind of sexuality, any kind of homosexuality, any kind of prostitution, and almost anything at all. It was so debauched that the reputation of the Corinthians was everywhere. There was even a term coined in Greek by a single Greek word, korinthiazesthai.
Korinthiazestai is a Greek word that means, literally, to play the Corinthian, or to act like a Corinthian. So if you really wanted to chop a person down, to really cut them down, to really slur them, you go, you, man, you act like a Corinthian. That's like saying you're like a sodomite, or you're from, like, Gomorrah. I mean, they just had such a bad reputation. And in the Greek plays, when anybody played a Corinthian in a Greek play, they always played a drunk. So it had quite a reputation that that phrase could be coined. And one of the problems was immorality that was part of a worship system. One of the goddesses that was worshipped was the goddess of love called Aphrodite.
And there at Corinth, just outside of the city, was a little hill called the Acrocorinth, or this little monument hill. On top was a walled enclosure, a temple to the goddess of Aphrodite. On top of that hill, a thousand, quote-unquote, "priestesses" lived. They were essentially prostitutes. They would come down in the evening to the city when there was a new group of sailors coming through town, new group of soldiers coming through town, people selling their wares and their ships coming around. And those women would ply their trade, collect the money to support the goddess Aphrodite and her temple.
Corinth was famous for that. And there was another saying that went around where people said, not every man can afford a trip to Corinth, because the prostitutes were, constantly, they come every night and solicit you, and these guys would pay for it. So not everybody could afford that was the going theme of that town.
Evidently, that kind of culture is influencing the church rather than the church being in that community to influence that community. Now, indeed, some of those people were influenced because they're Christians in that church. And though there were Christians in that church who were indeed truly saved people, after a while, because the culture was so strong, you get used to it. Instead of being salt and light, instead of being a strong witness, you start, it's just easier to go with the flow and to accommodate the thinking and the values of the world around you. And if they smoke, you smoke. If they drink, you drink. If they cuss, you cuss. If they say this is OK, you say that is OK.
So instead of exerting an influence in the culture, the culture was exerting its influence in the church, and it was becoming problematic. But now not only is there immorality, but it's next-level immorality. This is the case of incest. A man is having sexual relations with his father's wife, probably a reference to somebody's stepmother. And the church is saying, well, you know, you can't judge people. We're not supposed to do that. And, you know, we can't, like, be a policeman to everybody. Let them do what they want. Just love on them.
Paul said, you should be ashamed of yourself. You should be mourning that. Should drive you to tears. He says, you're proud about it. You're puffed up. Now, a couple of things to notice. Incest was forbidden by the Old Testament. I think that you know. But did you know that even according to Roman law, secular law, it was outlawed to have your stepmother in a physical relationship like this? According to Cicero, who is a Greek philosopher, statesman, and lawyer, it was against Roman law for this to happen.
So Paul is saying even pagan cultures don't allow this, and you guys are allowing this to happen in your church. You should be mourning this instead of being puffed up. Now, I want you to notice a word. "It's actually reported that there is sexual immorality among you, and such immorality as is not even named among the Gentiles, that a man has his father's wife."
The fact that it's put in the present tense shows that this is an ongoing relationship, not a one-time fling. It's not like, well, he fell into sin with his stepmother, but there's a relationship that is acknowledged as being official. It's being talked about. It's being reported all over town. That's what is meant by "It is actually reported," that there is sexual immorality.
So everybody knows about this. It's an ongoing relationship. And probably because the apostle Paul is indicting the church and this man for doing it but says nothing about the woman, I would infer that this woman is an unbeliever. Because he will say, we're, as the church, not called to judge the unbelieving world. God will do that. But we are called to judge Christians in the church, to make discriminatory callings and judgments of people who profess to be Christians.
The fact that Paul doesn't do that with the woman would lead me to believe that we have a man in the church claiming to be a Christian with a woman who is not a believer. So you have a twofold problem. He's hooking up, maybe even marrying, an unbeliever, which will become an issue later on in this book. And it's an incestuous relation that the church is winking their eye at. He said, "You're puffed up, and have not rather mourned, that he who has done this deed might be taken away from among you." They, the Corinthian church, patted themselves on the back for what is, I think, today considered to be the biggest, most important moral value in American culture, tolerance.
They were tolerant. They patted themselves in the, oh, we're so tolerant people. Really? You're proud about that? You're proud of being tolerant of this, of incest? He said, you should be mournful over this. Paul doesn't call it tolerance. He calls it pride. You're puffed up. Why does he call it pride? Because you are saying you're smarter than God. Even though God forbade it in his book, the Bible, and even pagans forbid it, you're above pagan theology, and even Old Testament theology. You're puffed up. You're proud.
Then, now he unleashes. Wait a minute. Before he unleashes, I want you to look at something with me. And if you want to, you can turn to the book of Revelation, chapter 2. That means turned to Revelation, chapter 2 in your Bibles. There, now I can hear those Bible pages. So watch this. Here's Jesus speaking to the church at Ephesus. Revelation 2. "To the angel of the church of Ephesus, write, these things says He who holds the seven stars in his right hand, who walks in the midst of the seven golden lamp stands," the churches. "'I know your works, your labor, your patience.'"
Now he's commending them. He's saying, I see you. I know what you're doing right. And what you're doing right is that you work hard, you're patient, now watch this, "'and that you cannot bear those who are evil.'" Jesus is commending the church at Ephesus not for their tolerance but for their intolerance. He's saying, the fact that you do not tolerate evil, I like. You can't bear those who are evil. "'And you have tested those who say they are apostles and are not, and have found them liars.'" So he gives that church, at first, straight As.
Now go down to verse 18, chapter 2, Revelation. "To the angel of the church in Thyatira, write, these things says the Son of God, who has eyes like a flame of fire, His feet like fine brass. 'I know your works, love, service, faith, your patience. And as for your works, the last are more than the first.'" So good marks on their report card, until now.
"'Nevertheless, I have a few things against you because you allow'", see that word? You could translate that, you tolerate. "'You allow that woman Jezebel, who calls herself a prophetess, to teach and beguile my servants to commit sexual immorality and to eat things sacrificed to idols.'" Paul said, you should have mourned. And it's a strong word, to grieve for somebody, to grieve for the dead. You should be weeping over this. Now back to our text, 1 Corinthians, chapter 5. Now he unloads. "For I indeed, as absent in body but present in spirit, have already judged as though I were present." I'm not even there. I'm writing you a letter, but my spirit is there. It says, you can count, this is my vote.
Concerning him who has so done this deed, "In the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, when you are gathered together" in your next church meeting, making an official church meeting, "along with my spirit, with the power of our Lord Jesus Christ, deliver such a one to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus."
Now, how many times have you heard people say, when you bring up something that is wrong, or something that you notice is false, in error, false doctrine, a position that is against scripture, a moral stance that is against a biblical value, how many times have you heard people say, well, Jesus said judge not, lest you be judged. And that verse is butchered by so many people. It's the only verse they know in the Sermon on the Mount. Don't judge. All that means is I'm going to memorize that verse, because I want to do whatever the heck I want to do. Don't tell me I can't. Judge not.
First of all, Jesus was talking about a spirit of censoriousness, that you are playing God and excluding people away from fellowship with God. You're being awfully censorious. He's not saying you can't think, you can't discern, you can't discriminate, or you can't judge at all. Later on, Jesus will give his disciples a command. He'll say this, "judge ye a righteous judgment." It's a command. "Judge ye a righteous judgment." By the way, in that passage, when he says judge not, lest you be judged, he says, if your brother has a speck in his eye, you don't go up to him and say, hey, take that speck out. First, remove the beam from your own. That's another one that's butchered.
So that you'll be able to see to remove the speck. He didn't say, take the beam out of your own eye so you can walk away, and say, to each man his own beam or his own speck. No. Remove it so that you can help remove the speck that is in his eye. That takes a judgment. You're still meddling in that person's life. You're still saying, you know what? I notice there's a speck in your eye. Yep, I had a huge old beam. Got rid of that. Got that taken care of. Now I can help you out. But that has been just far too maligned as a scripture.
If judge not, lest you be judged means never speak up against evil, never use discernment, never think discriminatorily, then Elijah the prophet was out of line when he confronted Ahab and Jezebel. Paul the Apostle was out of line when he confronted the Judaizers, who were legalistic in Jerusalem. And, for that matter, Jesus was out of line when he unloaded in Matthew 23 and said, "Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites!" Can you just picture some little Christian over in the side going, Jesus, judge not, lest you be judged?
So Paul says, count me in. I'm going to make an adjudication. I'm going to make a judgment. Kick him out. Somebody who is living immorally and unrepentant of it, kick him out. "Deliver such a one to Satan for the destruction of the flesh." Now go back to chapter 2 for just a moment. Chapter 2, I remind you of verse 14. "The natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God. They are foolishness to him. Neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned." But he who is spiritual, what does he do? Says it right there.
"He who is spiritual judges all things, yet he himself is judged by no one." Do you know there are times when a judgment is not only legitimate, it's mandated? It's mandated. Paul wrote to the Galatians and said, you know what? "Though we or an angel from heaven preach to you any other gospel than the one that you have received, let him be accursed." Well, that sounds pretty judgmental to me.
So what does Paul tell them to do? To excommunicate them when you're gathered together. "In the power of our Lord Jesus, deliver such a one to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus." What I think that means is cast the person out of the protective umbrella of Christian fellowship to the sphere of the world, the domain of Satan. Jesus called Satan the god or the prince of this world. Paul called Satan the God this world, or the God of this age. The world is His sphere.
There is a certain protection that happens to believers within the fold of the church to isolate somebody from the flock of God. Isolation is never good, never good. It's always against what Jesus had in mind for his church. So to take a person and say, you are no longer welcome within the protection of the body of Christ, all of the gifts that hold us accountable and strengthen us.
When you are living in that isolated realm, and sin has its, your choice in sin has made its full effect in your life in that realm, what we hope happens is that the flesh is destroyed. The flesh that controls you, the fleshly nature that dominates you, that you were given over to, that gets dealt with. And that grip on you gets destroyed so that you can be reunited in restoration with the body of Christ and with the Lord.
We call this church discipline. And, unfortunately, there have been times in our history when we've had to do this. We've actually had to write letters of this fellowship. When a person lives and decides upon a course of action that is blatantly immoral and decides to live in that no matter what, shunning all counsel and accountability, then we have to remove them from the fellowship.
Now, that would be, hopefully, something that would shake a person. And I've seen it shake a person. I've seen so many come back and say, I was wrong. I want to be reinstituted. I want to be right with God. I want to be right with you. That's the goal. It doesn't always work that way. Sometimes people harden their heart, and they say, well, I'll just find another church that lets me do whatever I want. And, unfortunately, there are plenty of churches that will let you do whatever you want. Yeah, we just want you to come to our church, man. More tithes for us. Come on in. We won't hold you accountable. We don't care what you do. We don't care what's your belief system. Do whatever you want.
Now, if we know what church that person has gone to to do that, we will contact the leadership and say, just so you know, here's the back story. You should hold them accountable. Well, sometimes they go, oh, I didn't know that. We will. They're not welcome here till they get right with you and right with God. But too many just say, we don't care what he's done or what she's done, or if they're living in sin. They're coming to our church now.
But back in those days, there was only one church at Corinth. There weren't 15. So Paul says, deliver one to the realm of Satan, to Satan for the destruction of the flesh. Now, there's another interpretation. I gave you what I believe is the right interpretation, but some believe that this could mean that he's saying that when you deliver a person to the realm of Satan, God might kill them, like he did with Ananias and Sapphira. They fell over on the spot for their hypocrisy.
That would be the exception rather than the rule. And it sounds here like Paul is sort of setting the tone for a rule rather than an exception. That it's deliver them to the realm of Satan, that the grip of the flesh would be destroyed in their life, and there would be a full restoration back into fellowship, that his spirit would be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus.
By the way, Paul practiced what he preached. He wrote a letter to Timothy, 1 Timothy, chapter 1, and he spoke about a couple of false apostles, one named Hymenaeus and the other Alexander. He said, "Of whom are Hymenaeus and Alexander, whom I have delivered to Satan, that they will learn not to blaspheme." So he, Paul, pushed them out of the Christian fellowship for their false doctrine.
Verse 6. "Your glorying is not good. Do you not know that a little leaven leavens the whole lump? Therefore, purge out the old leaven, that you may be a new lump." That's what God wants us to be, a new lump. Now, I want to explain that. "For, indeed, Christ, our Passover, was sacrificed for us. Therefore, let us keep the feast not with old leaven, nor with the leaven of malice and wickedness, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth."
Now, he is using a metaphor that is a Jewish metaphor. He's using a metaphor to the Corinthian church of the Jewish feast of Passover. And if you know anything about the Jewish feast of Passover. It takes place every spring, right around April. And Passover in the Jewish calendar was the 14th day of the Hebrew month of Nisan. And on the 15th day of Nissan, for 7 days after that, after Passover, was a feast, another feast called the feast of unleavened bread. So the feasts were always together, feast of Passover, followed by the 7-day feast of unleavened bread.
For those two joint feasts, there was a ritual in every Jewish home, still takes place to this day, called, in Hebrew, bedikat chametz. You will not be quizzed on that. Bedikat chametz, or the search for leaven, the search for leaven. So the idea is you go through the whole house, make sure there's no yeast, no leaven. Now, typically, mom hides a little piece of bread, or a little batch of leaven, so that the kids can find it. They have to go through everywhere, and whoever finds it gets a little prize.
But the idea is you want to rid the house of leaven. Because on Passover, remember, when the children of Israel were leaving Egypt, God said, get out. Get out of town now. You don't have time to pack your bags. You don't have time to let the bread rise. Just grab the flatbread, the unleavened bread. That will be your food. Get out the door. So because of that, they would always remember that Passover by 7 days of unleavened bread. There was no leaven in the house. You know that leaven is what causes your bread to rise. It is yeast. That, when you cook bread, if any of you bake, you use a little bit of starter, has yeast in it, from another batch.
And as the gases, or as the dough begins to ferment, or rot, literally, it emits gases. And the rising of the bread is the emission of those gases in the substance of the dough, that causes the bread to rise. So when the bread rises, the rot is spreading throughout the bread. That's what the rise of the bread is. That's what leaven is. So leaven, just a little bit of leaven goes a long way. It will cause the whole dough to rise, the whole leaven, the whole batch to be exposed. So in the Bible, leaven was often and typically a symbol of evil, or a symbol of sin.
So the metaphor he's using is just like the feast, when you search for leaven after the Passover. Which was, Passover was the feast where we celebrate the fact that we've been redeemed by the blood of the lamb. Lamb blood was on the door post and lintels of the house. We remember what happened with the lamb on Egypt on that night.
So too we Christians look back to our Passover, Christ. He died for us. His blood was shed. We have been set free. But even as we have been set free by his blood, just like the second feast of unleavened bread, let's live unleavened lives, pure lives, unadulterated lives. It's more than just I've been freed by the blood of the lamb. You've been set free to get rid of the old leaven, to purge the old lifestyle. So get rid of that.
By the way, you may not know this, our idea of spring cleaning comes from the idea of bedikat chametz, the search for leaven, getting rid of it. That's where that began. So we, as the church, we've been saved by Christ in Corinth. But let's take some spring cleaning to our assembly, and let's get rid of the old leaven in our hearts, in our congregation, and with the bread of sincerity and truth, verse 8.
And verse 9, "I wrote you in my epistle not to keep company with sexually immoral people." Now he's talking about the first letter that we don't have. He's writing in 1 Corinthians, "I wrote you in my epistle," the letter we don't have. So that was 1 Corinthians. This 1 Corinthians is 2 Corinthians. 2 Corinthians will be 3 Corinthians. You follow me.
So I wrote you that we should not keep company with sexually immoral people. Now he qualifies it. "Yet I certainly did not mean with the sexually immoral people of this world, or with the covetous, or extortioners, or idolaters, since then you would need to go out of the world." Imagine if the Corinthian Christian thought, when Paul said don't keep company with immoral people, that means I can never have a conversation with an immoral person. You couldn't live in Corinth. You couldn't shop at the 7-Eleven in Corinth, or a Target in Corinth. Or you couldn't work for the government of Corinth. It's all tainted.
He said, I didn't mean of this world. Otherwise, you'd need to go to the Dagobah system, where Yoda lives. You couldn't even live on this planet. "But", verse 11, "now I have written to you not to keep company with anyone named a brother who is a fornicator, or covetous, or an idolater, or a reviler, or a drunkard, or an extortioner, not even to eat with such a person."
Jesus never intended that we as Christians live cloistered lives away from the pagan world. He knew that we would be surrounded by people who have a different value system, and we would always be tempted to want to be as cool and hip, and fit in as they are, even though he said be holy, be different, don't be like them. But he never wanted us to remove ourselves and live in a monastery. He prayed in John 17, "Father, I pray not that you would take them out of the world but that you would keep them from the evil one."
So here is the church in Corinth. Not a problem. What is the problem? When Corinth is in the church. We're in the world. No problem with that. But when the world gets in the church, that's a problem. Sin in the world, I hope you by now realize that shouldn't be newsworthy to you. I can't believe it, a sinner sinned. OK, next. That's what they do. Sin in the world isn't our issue. Sin in the church is.
Sin in the church, unchecked, unmonitored, being loose, being tolerant of it, being prideful of all sorts of different sexual orientation. Don't be proud of that. That's problematic. Happens in the world. Sure it does. Always has, by the way. The idea of genders and sexuality goes back, we're not going forward. We're going backwards. It's been going on for thousands of years. 14 of the 15 Roman emperors were homosexuals. Most of them had young boys. Even if they were married to women, they had young boys, underage boys, that they were sleeping with. So today we go, we're moving forward in sexual, no, you're going way back to paganism. Nothing new about that.
But verse 11 is very important. He said, anybody who says, yeah, I'm a believer, man, I'm a brother in Christ, who is a fornicator that is unrepentant, sleeping around, or covetous, or an idolater, or a reviler, or a drunkard, or an extortioner, don't even eat with such a person. If somebody is living that flagrant of a lifestyle, doesn't say it's wrong, I'm struggling with it, just like, whatever. I kind of do whatever I want. I've got liberty. I've got freedom in Christ. I can live any way I want. Paul said don't even eat with them.
Now, what does that mean, don't eat with them? Probably a reference to the Lord's Supper. I don't think it necessarily means you can't discuss things with them over a cup of coffee and a biscuit. I don't think that's the idea. I think you don't share the Lord's Supper, because he's going to get to that in this book in a few chapters. You don't share that with them.
"For what have I to do", verse 12, "with judging those also who are outside? Do you not judge those who are inside?" Those outside the church, it's not my purview. That's why I really don't want to get sucked into mudslinging against secular leaders that I disagree with. And, believe me, I do disagree with them, a lot of them. But I don't want to spend my time, or my Instagram account, or my Twitter account mouthing what I think is wrong with the world. The world is unsaved, man. I don't expect much out of it. And that is not my purview nor my concern.
But they're taking away my freedoms. OK, you can deal with that on another level. I'm not saying that that's bad. But as a Christian pastor, I have much deeper concerns. That's for His people, His flock, those people who name the name of Christ. And so Paul says, look, I don't judge those who are outside, and I hope you guys are judging those who are inside.
In the parables, Jesus spoke about the tares and the weed. Remember that little parable? He said a man had weed, and somebody came in the middle of the night and sowed weeds. Darnel, it is called. It looks very much like wheat, so that in the next day, if you were to look at the field, you couldn't tell by looking which is true wheat and which is a weed. They look very identical, almost. You have to get really close.
So Jesus says to his disciples, leave them alone. Let God sort it out, basically, with his angels on the judgment. Don't go after unbelievers. Don't judge them. The Lord will judge them. Don't expect the world to act like Christians. But if somebody says, I'm a Christian. I name the name of Christ, great. We're going to hold you, though, now to a different standard. No, I know. I've heard all the slogans. I've heard all the rhetoric that the, and I believe the church is not a museum for saints. It's a hospital for sinners. I believe that. I've said that, and I believe it.
But at the same time, I'll say this, God loves you just the way you are. And he'll take you just the way you are. And if you're a filthy sinner who has committed every vile thing in the world, God loves you still, and He'll forgive you for everything you've done.
But, though God loves you the way you are, God loves you way too much to leave you the way you are. That's called sanctification. And anybody who names the name of Christ, that sanctification is given another term in the New Testament. We call it fruit. And every tree, Jesus said, is known by its fruit. And if you have a tree over there saying, I'm a fruit tree, but it's never bearing any fruit whatsoever, I hope somebody with discernment comes along and goes, hah, maybe not a fruit tree.
Verse 13. "But those who are outside God judges. Therefore, put away from yourselves that wicked person." So he's specifically dealing with the sexual immorality of incest in the church of a man who says he's a believer, has his stepmother. They're in some kind of relationship. They're coming into fellowship all the time, and Christians are greeting them, the elders, all the people handing them bulletins, hugging them. Yeah, man, come on in. No judgment here, bro.
Paul goes, uh, I'll judge, and I'm coming to judge. Kick them out. Put them out. Now, I did tell you, and I want to end on a good note, that the purpose of that, this fellowship, isn't to go, be all smug and self-righteous. The idea, the hope, is that it would provoke real repentance that leads to restoration. And do you know that is exactly what happened? In the book of 2 Corinthians, Paul writes this. Now I'm reading 2 Corinthians, and since we're not going to get to it for a while, I'll read it in advance.
He says in chapter 2, verse 3, "I wrote this very thing to you, lest, when I came, I should have sorrow over those from whom I ought to have joy, having confidence in you all that my joy is the joy of you all. For out of much affliction and anguish of heart, I wrote to you", speaking of the letter that we are now reading, "with many tears, not that you should be grieved but that you might know the love which I have so abundantly for you.
But if anyone has caused grief, he has not grieved me, but all of you to some extent, not to be too severe. This punishment, which was inflicted by the majority, is sufficient for such a man, so that, on the contrary, you ought rather to forgive and comfort him, lest perhaps such a one be swallowed up with too much sorrow. Therefore, I urge you, reaffirm your love to him."
Verse 10. "Now whom you forgive anything, I also forgive." So what is supposed by that, that that is the very man he wrote about in 1 Corinthians, chapter 5, saying, this fellowship came from the church. Do it officially, but there was repentance. And so because there is repentance, Paul says, OK, now come alongside him, man. Bolster him. Restore him. Don't let him be swallowed up by that sorrow. Bring him in and assure him. He's a brother. He's reinstated. He's in fellowship. There has been repentance.
That is so healthy when that happens. And that is a New Testament church. And I have to say, sadly, it's rare to find churches who will step up to the plate and say, we'll do that. We'll do that. We'll hold people that accountable. But it's so healthy. That's the church I want to be a part of. Jesus too.
Father, thank you for your church. It's your plan. It's your idea. You said to your men, your disciples, your followers, I will build my church. And you have. You have built in virtually every continent, every people group, every tribe, every nation, every language, all the way to the uttermost parts of the Earth in New Mexico. May we be your people, loving you, generous with the faults of others, but holding a level of accountability and holiness by our example and by our willingness to restore, that attracts people to the cause of Christ. It's in His name we pray. And God's people said amen.