1 Corinthians 5:1
“It is actually reported that there is sexual immorality among you, and such sexual immorality as is not even named among the Gentiles—that a man has his father’s wife!”
God designed sexual intimacy as part of the marriage relationship. It is the most intimate of all acts and plays an important role in the love relationship between man and wife. In the book of Hebrews we are told, “Marriage is honorable among all, and the bed undefiled.”(Hebrews 13:4)
However, like so much of what God designed, men have distorted sex into sin. Today, a person that waits until marriage to be sexually active is ridiculed, women are treated as something to be conquered, and men revel in their vast number of sexual partners. Pornography is a multi-billion dollar enterprise, and with the advances in technology, is available at the touch of a button.
While we should expect the world to distort the ways of God, Paul is shocked to hear that the same sexual sins are happening within the church. We find the same problem today, the sexual misconduct that is rampant in the world is also running rampant within the church. Dating couples are involved sexually, married men are developing relationships with other women, rather than investing in their wives, a high percentage of people registered in singles dating sites are actually married, and pornographic sites are one of the most common searches on smart phones and other hand-held devices. Again, we should expect this behavior out of those who don’t know Christ, but tragically, it is almost as common among professing Christians as it is among the unbeliever. What has happened to us? Paul explains, a little leaven has leavened the whole lump.
Leaven is a form of yeast used to cause bread to rise. A small piece of old dough was set aside and used on the next loaf, this rotting dough, when mixed with the new, would corrupt the whole lump causing it to rise. Sin is like that. When we let a little into our lives, it will not remain dormant, it will grow, until it affects every area of our lives. While this is true of all sin, it is particularly true of sexual sin. Once the line is crossed, sin seems to almost have a power of its own, which drives us. If you have started investing in a relationship with someone who is not your spouse, or begun looking at things that you shouldn’t, or become physical with your boyfriend, girlfriend, or fiancé; it is time to STOP! Paul gave a radical remedy to the sin problem that the Corinthians were having, he told them to remove this man from fellowship until he repents. Radical sin must lead to radical repentance. It is time to confess what you are doing, both to God, and to someone who will hold you accountable. It is also time to put walls around your life, making it difficult to fail. Your life, marriage, and Christian witness are at stake.
One of the most encouraging things to me is that Paul writes again to the Corinthians regarding this man, who was involved in such grievous sin. After confronting him and removing him from the fellowship, he realized the folly of his ways and turned his life back to the Lord. No matter how strong a grip sin may have on your life, if you will confess, and take steps towards repentance, God will give you victory. Don’t run this race alone, and don’t wait another minute to alter the path that has led you to failure.
Questions for 1 Corinthians 5
- Paul confronts the Corinthians over a particularly ugly sin that has been going on in the Corinthian church. What is it?
- Their response is one that is puffed up; they think that they are being very spiritual and gracious by allowing this to go on. Read Romans 5:19-6:2, for the bible’s view on abusing grace. According to Paul, in 1Cor 5:2, what is the appropriate heart response to sin in Jesus’ church?
- In verses 3-5 we see Paul instruct the Corinthians to excommunicate this person from the church; to kick him out. This seems incredibly harsh, “to deliver him to Satan”, but according to this verse what is the reason for doing so? Paul uses this phrase in 1Tim 1:20 as well. What is his reason there?
- In verses 6-8, Paul warns the Corinthians to “purge out the old leaven”. Leaven is a substance added to dough to make it rise. This happens because it ferments and produces gas. Leaven 1) spreads through the whole lump. 2) At first appears to make something better 3) but ultimately causes it to rot. Read Matt 16:11-12 and Luke 12:1. What is leaven a picture of?
- In verse 9-11, Paul tells the Corinthians not to hang out with Christian who are in unrepentant sin. This would make those in sin think it was ok, and they should know better. However, he makes no such restriction on associating with unbelievers; they don’t know better, and someone must reach them with the gospel. What does Paul say is the only way to get away from sinners? Read Luke 15:1-2, and 7:34 to see how Jesus associated with sinners. Are your friendships Christ centered, whether with believers or unbelievers?
- In verses 12-13, Paul makes a plea for good judgment within the family of God. We are not to be judgmental, or pass final judgment on others, but we are to exercise discernment. We are not to judge the world around us, because they do not even know God; we should expect them to act the way they do (Read 1Peter 4:12, John 15:20, 1John 5:19). How can we judge rightly and wisely, yet not be critical and mean spirited?