- Love and Liberty
Discipline in the Church
One of the most necessary and important subjects concerning the Christian faith, is the exercising of discipline in the local church. Discipline is a vital part of the government of the church. It is not left up to the opinions of men – the Lord’s Word is the administration, power, and protection of the church. God does not condemn sin in the world and then condone it in the churches. We are reminded that: “Judgment begins in the house of God.”
In 1 Corinthians 5 the Lord’s apostle used some strong language. There were two problems in this church. There was the sin of the individual and there was the neglect of the church to address it. Paul told the church to meet, and if the man would not forsake his sin, they were to deliver him over to Satan. This is not the only time Paul used these words. It is written again in 1 Timothy 1:20: “Of whom is Hymenaeus and Alexander; whom I have delivered unto Satan, that they may learn not to blaspheme.” Many believe this to be referring to excommunication from the church fellowship, which exposes individuals to the evil onslaught of the powers of darkness.
Here is a situation where some pastors and churches allow a permissive attitude toward sin, or perhaps fear, keep them from obeying the Lord. Situations like this is where our faith in God is tested. There are people in churches that are defiling their respective body of believers and God, through the ministry of his church, wants to deliver them over to Satan. He does so with the hopes they will forsake their sin and be restored to the fellowship, and for the purpose of keeping the local church free from immorality.
In verse number six, Paul said: “Your glorying is not good. Know ye not that a little leaven leaveneth the whole lump?” They were bragging about their church yet at the same time they were deliberately ignoring sin in their midst. One can imagine them saying: “Oh come and fellowship with us, we have such a good church! Everybody gets along! We are like a family here! Paul said they were hypocrites. A little leaven will leaven the whole lump - a little immorality will defile the whole body - therefore according to God’s Word it must be purged out. The Corinthians were pretending they were telling the truth and living the truth, but they were not.
Paul had previously written to them and had condemned the sin of fornication (9-11). Yet they were permitting this immoral man to be a part of their fellowship. Because of bad theology and a lack of holiness, many churches tolerate and accept immorality and yet think they have a good standing with the Lord. It is one thing to allow people to attend the meetings of the church so they can hear the preaching of the Word, it is another thing to allow a person who is living in sin to be a part of the fellowship and the ministry of the church. Many pastors and churches cave into the pressure of allowing everyone to be involved, whether they are holy or not. We are to show them love, but God’s love is a holy and a righteousness love, not a permissive love. Pastors and churches that allow sinners to feel comfortable in their sins are at enmity with God.