Judging Sinful Acts

1 Corinthians5

Jerry A Collins




*        Why should we judge one another?

*        What method of discipline is biblical?

*        Should we ever practice discipline of unbelievers?


I have had some concerns about the church, especially in America, for a long, long time. One concern is the preoccupation with the need to fix the sin & evils of our culture. This manifests itself in various radio & tv programs, where I am told things like contacting my congressman about partial birth abortion legislation, sanctity of marriage amendments, legalization of homosexual marriage, and support for any Bush nominated supreme court justices is my responsibility and duty to make and keep our culture Christian. Think about the unbelievable amount of money, energy, effort and resources that have been thrown at these and other cultural issues in the last 30 years? Does anyone believe that we have actually made any progress? I find the NT amazingly silent both implicitly and explicitly about this need to fix the evils of our culture. Jesus never tried and neither did Paul. Their cultures were sinful too. Another concern has been the subject of 1 Corinthians 5. That is the tolerance of sin within the church. Sin has become psychologized into genetic predisposition, or poor self-esteem, needing long-term therapeudic remedy. Church functions as a support group priding selves on being there no matter what the wayward has done or will do. The so-called church growth movement measures success in terms of numbers so not offending the crowd means making them feel comfortable with the church and the xian message by lifestyle messages that use the Bible rather than teach it. How do we make judgments about one another in the church? In the Bible, the diagnosis is simple and so is the prescription.


There was some common information available about immorality among the believers in Corinth vs 1. Actually this group had already been confronted by Paul in a previous letter about this kind of sin vs 9. So this immorality was not something new to them and their toleration of it was not either. The blatancy of this sin is obvious since it is one characterized as even a cultural taboo. This person was sexually involved with probably his step-mother. Xians are capable of any sin an unbeliever commits. But what is particularly disturbing is the arrogant indifference of the believers about this. Either they were excusing or rationalizing this sin vs 2. When we cease to be shocked we lose the ability for a strong defense against it. They should have mourned about this and then done something about it. When I mourn something then I am motivated to confront and change it (sin in my life). In this case that would mean removing this person from a relationship with them. It is not therapeutic time or support group time or comfortable timeit is exile time! When a believer blatantly sins and refuses to repent we should never tolerate it by saying I need to be his friend or something, but remove that person from our lives.


(1) Necessary for sinner 3-5 Interesting that Paul had already made this decisions and did not need to do so in an organizational way but in a personal way vs 3. The judgment was done not on basis of motive but on basis of actions. So we should judge actions but not motives. Believers who know this person and relate with this person should decide together to discipline vs 4. So,iIt is a group thing not just an individual thing even tho it may initiated by an individual. The discipline is allowing the sin to take its course and/or Satan to have his way in this persons life. It is letting the sinner have his way along with the consequences. It puts this believer back on his own into the world, apart from the care and support of xian friendship. By his lack of repentance, he has forfeited rite to participation as a believer. Hymenaous & Alexander were delivered over to Satan who had suffered shipwreck in regard to their faithso that they may be taught not to blaspheme 1 Tim 1:19-20. This may include personal affliction or even physical death as warned about in James 5:19-20. If this one is a believer his spirit belongs to Christ and he will be delivered on day of Christs judgment vs 5b. However, while on earth, he may suffer greatly physically or in other ways at will of Satan. We cant know when, what or how this may happen but we know it will. That is Gods business. Ours is to make proper judgment and discipline.

(2) Essential for xian fellowship 6-8 Discipline may be severe because the consequences of not doing so are much worse. Sin like malignancy will not stay isolated very long. So arrogant indifference is never good vs 6because it does not deal with the problem and jeopardizes purity. Compared to yeast, this sin will eventually consume others in its path and the impact and consequences will multiply. Every sin I commit, every curse I give, every rage I display, hurts the church. So the remedy in vs 7 is to purge it thoroughly. To remove its influence! It will only corrupt and contaminate others. This kind of judgment and discipline is consistent with our new standing in righteousness accomplished by Christs sacrificial death vs 7. The old lump is one of mailice producing wickedness. Our new position means making a clean break from our past in way we live our lives. We are part of this new batch. We are new creatures. And in vs 8 this is cause for great celebration. For xian everyday is Easter, everyday is xmas. This should be put on display sincerely and in truthfulness. So put away the indifference and pursue the purity of a sincere and truthful life and fellowship. Dont tolerate sin in the camp. Dont allow yourself to associate with believers who are cavalier about sin. And protect fellow believers from them.


Here is a footnote in 9-13. We are to judge the sin of believers not the world. It is not making the world a better place but the church a holy people. First, dont get me wrong, you have to live in the real world vs. 10. It is impossible to not associate with unbelievers. You would have to leave the planet! Sin in the world is not as dangerous as sin among believers. Second, we cannot know who is and is not a true believer but discipline is administered to any professing to be so vs 11. The list of sins to judge and discipline is extended here in case anyone thot it was just sexual sin. Our removal from them includes intimate things like going out to eat! Third, we must never judge unbelievers but give them the gospel vs 12. Never have a smug, superior attitude to outsiders. We have no rite to expect xian living from those who are not and every rite from those who are. Fourth, at great white throne God will judge them. For us, we must not associate with unrepentant xians. If no consequences to our sinful unrepentant behavior, why pursue godliness at all? Purity in the church. Penetration into the world.

(1) We discipline not because we do not want to associate but because we do. To motivate them to get on rite track.

(2) The point is that they would understand they have a problem with God. The sin is an offense and will bring consequences.

(3) We cannot bring about sanctification of others but responsible to not hinder it.