Covenant Words
Covenant Words

Episode · 9 months ago

Sin, Discipline, and Grace in the Church


Rev. Christopher Chelpka

... morning and preaching from this portion of God's word. So First Corinthians Five, Paul begins, and I sort of imagine him with shaking his head, his jaw open, his eyes unbelieving, as he reports the what he has heard to the Corinthians. First Corinthians Five. He says, it is actually reported that there is sexual immorality among you, and of a kind that is not even tolerated among pagans. For a man has his father's wife and you are arrogant bought you not rather to mourn, let him who has done this be removed from among you, for, though absent in body, I am present in spirit and as if present, I have already pronounced judgment on the one who did such a thing. When you are assembled in the name of the Lord Jesus, and my spirit is present, with the power of our Lord Jesus, you are to deliver this man to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, so that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord. You're boasting. It's not good. Do you not know that a little leaven Levin's the whole lump, cleanse out the old Levin that you may be a new lump, as you really are unleavened. for Christ, our Passover lamb has been sacrificed. Let us therefore celebrate the festival not with the old leaven, the leaven of malice and evil, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth. I wrote to you in my letter not to associate with sexually immoral people, not at all meaning the sexually immoral of this world or the GREEDIS and greedy and swindlers or idolater. Since then you would need to go out of the world. But now I am writing to you not to associate with anyone who bears the name of brother if he is guilty of sexual immorality or greed, or as an idolater, revil or, drunkard or Swin Lord, not even to eat with such a one. For what have I to do with judging outsiders? Is it not those inside the church whom you are to judge? God judges those outside. Purge the evil person from among you. May God bless his word to us. May Be seated. Paul speaks to us in First Corinthians five and very clear terms. There are few things here and there which you might find a little bit of confusion around, things that you're not exactly sure how to interpret, but the core of his message should be, I'm very clear. He says it at the beginning, he says it throughout and he says it at the end, that this gross, big, notorious and public sin that is among the church needs to be purged. The person who is doing this thing should be removed from among the people, excommunicated, set outside the boundaries of the fellowship of the Church and the people so that they might be saved. In our passage today we learn...

...that the church and Corinth had another big problem. We've been thinking about one through the first four chapters, and that was this arrogance over their understanding of the ministry, of the Gospel and other similar things related to that. Now Paul comes to another one. He's heard a report, and he says, it is actually report worded, that their sexual immorality among you and of a kind that is not even tolerated among the Pagans. For a man has his father's wife, and not only was that a problem, that sin in itself with this particular man, but there was a second problem, which is that the people in Corinth, the body of the church, was failing to do its job in removing this person from among its members, and they needed to. The Sin in particular was the sin of incest, and when way of describing that or putting it would be to say this incest is acting like you're married with someone in your family that you're not and shouldn't be married to. In this case it was a son acting like he was married to his stepmom, and that's what the phrase wife of his father probably refers to. That it's not that it is his stepmother, and if the father was still alive it, this sin may have been even worse, because then it would have been not only incest but adultery. To these are very big sins and everyone knew it. To give them a wakeup call and avoid certain wrong conclusions about the law and the old covenant, Paul doesn't quote Leviticus Eighteen or Leviticus twenty, which does forbid incest, but to make his point, and he's he instead he says this sin is a of a kind that's not even tolerated among the Pagans. I don't have to go to Moses to show you this. You don't need special revelation. Natural Law, God's Natural Law, teaches this plainly enough. The Pagans don't even accept this, and yet it's no big deal, it seems to be in your congregation. You're sitting on your hands instead of dealing with the sin that is among you, and indeed the Pagans did not tolerate this. In Rome, those who are found guilty of incest were guilty of a criminal charge. They could be banished out of the city to an island, exiled. You'd lose your citizenship if found guilty, potentially you could lose your property, your social status, common fellowship with friends and families and in cases where it was also adults, as may be the case here. One Historian, Bruce Winter, tells us that the charge of incest combined with adultery was so serious that is excluded from a five year statute of limitations under Roman law, which means even long after the crime had been committed, a person could be found guilty and sent into exile. This is how the Romans, who are not necessarily followers of God's moral law and all kinds of other ways, dealt with this particular sin. What does not. What is the implication, or what are some of the implications, of the church failing to deal with this in their own congregation? In Matthew Twenty Eight, Jesus tells us go make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the father, the son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. This work that he commands us to is...

...not the work of one individual, but the whole body of Christ, founded in Christ and his apostles. But when that body of Christ, when the church, when, as the church, we allow big, public, notorious sins that even pagans don't tolerate, we are not walking any longer in the name of the father, the son and the Holy Spirit. We are not observing and teaching others to observe all that Jesus commanded. We're not we're not following the Great Commission. We're doing the opposite, and this is dangerous not only to our not only to our witness, but even to our existence as a church. Why would I say that when, revelation to three, Jesus writes letters to seven churches, which represent the whole church throughout time and there he makes there. He says he that he will come against those people and those churches that do not repent. To the Church in Ephesus, he writes, and of revelation to five, I will come against you and remove your lampstand from its place unless you repent. He's essentially saying this congregation will itself be excommunicated out of the Church if they do not repent, and this also applies to individuals. Excommunication for refusing to repent of sin can also apply to congregations in a way, including refusing to excommunicate in an individual that needs to be excommunicated. Jesus writes to the Church and thire attire in revelation to eighteen through twenty nine. Actually, let's let me turn to that and read that that you might hear the weight of his words. Revelation to verse eighteen and to the Angel of the church and Thire Tire rite, the words of the son of God who has eyes like a flame of fire whose feed are like burnished Braunze. I know your works, your love and faith and service and patient endurance, and that your latter work succeed the first, but I have this against you, that you tolerate that woman Jezebel, who calls herself a prophetess and is teaching and seducing my servants to practice sexual immorality and to eat food sacrifice to idols. I gave her time to repent, but she refuses to repent of her sexual immorality. Behold, I will throw her onto a sick bed, and those who commit adultery with her I will throw into great tribulation unless they repent of her works and what I will strike her children dead, and all the churches will know that I am he who searches the mind and heart, and I will give to each of you according to your works. But to the rest of you, and Thiratirah, who do not hold this teaching, who have not learned what some call the deep things of Satan, to you I say I do not lay on you any other burden, only hold fast what you have have until I come, the one who conquers and who keeps my works until the end. To him I will give the authority over nations, and he will rule them with a rod of iron, as when the earth and pots are broken in pieces, even as I myself have received authority from my father, and I will give him the morning star, he who has in ear. Let him hear what the spirit says to the churches, to hear the problem. The church had a person who is exercising and doing things in it was could be considered gross sexual immorality. The Lord was calling her to repent, callowing those who are following her to repent, and they were not. They were refusing to repent and because of that...

...and because of the Church's unwillingness to repent, danger was at hand. Tribulation was coming and more would come soon. It's important, in other words, that when we read a passage like First Corinthians five, then we don't simply hear this crazy and gross sin and just passed by it like a video clip, some crazy thing on the internet and we shake our heads and scroll on to the next thing that has no bearing on our lives. No, this does have bearing on our lives. It warns us a way, of course, from gross sins and from sin of every kind and any kind, but it also tells us that these things apply to us, that we must take the word of the Lord seriously because, unless I missed something, sin is still a part of our lives as individuals and within the body of the Church and we need to understand the nature of that sin and we under need to understand the nature of our Lord and Savior that we might look to him for salvation from that sin. And so, for the remainder of my sermon I'd like to point out just a few things that we might notice from this passage and be reminded of that we might follow the word of the Lord here in First Corinthians Five. The first is we think about what the nature of sin is, is to notice that it is like leavin. That's how the Lord describes it to us here through his apostle. He says in verse six, do you not know that a little Levin Levin's the whole long and he's speaking about bread right. You add a little bit of Leavin to the bread and the whole thing is affected. It is systemic. It moves throughout the whole body. Sin Is not just in this one tiny little place and can be cordoned off and sanctioned off from every other little place. It has effects on the whole thing. This happens, of course, individually, doesn't it? We wet one little thing into our lives and it we allow it to be there and we sort of say it's not a big deal, until, of course it is a big deal. Perhaps you've had a dream or perhaps you've actually lived out this dream where you lie and then you lie to cover up your lie, and then you lie to cover up your lie and then it just builds and builds and builds until you are in this big tangled mess of a thing. Sin Doesn't just it's not just a thing in our minds or a thing in our hearts. It's all connected. It it, it intertwines with ourselves, it's it holds US captive. Sin Spreads, it affects us in our lives. It affects us not only in different parts of our of ourselves, but in our relationships. In our lives too, we allow sin to sort of have this one piece over here and then it starts showing up over here. Oh well, I just do that at work. I would never do that at home. Well, I just do that at home, I would never do that at church, and so on and so forth. It spreads, it moves, it in facts and a lot of times we think of sin is something that is a lot less than this. We think of is something that, because it's like manageable, like a like a little plant that we forget about and it's just sort of over there and it'll be fine. Sin Isn't like that, scriptures say. Sin Isn't like that, and it's not only true within our lives or in the within like ourselves,...

...or our relationships or areas of our lives, but it's even true in our relationships as a church. And that's in particular what Paul has in mind here. He speaks of this person, I'm as, being eleven as their sin. He says, you need to cleanse it out. This will affect you, and this is not right. When we see sin, wherever we see sin, we ought not to treat it lightly, we not ought to let it go. Sure there are it doesn't mean that we treat all sins exactly the same way. And things like church discipline can be abused. There are such things as overreacting, but thinking of sin as a minor thing, as an unimportant thing, as a thing that ought to be ignored or, worse, coddled and protected, should not be a part of our thinking, should not be a part of our acting. What should our response be, especially when there is a big problem within the body, within the church. We've seen this from time to time in local congregations and in denominations as a whole, where things are found out, discovered sometimes made open by the world, exposed in the news, shown to everybody to look at, to mock and to see. What should our response be to those kinds of things when we have when our sins have been discovered, or when we discover them ourselves? But Paul says, in light of this particular congregation, that their response should be public, it should be open, it should not be arrogant or boasted, boastful or hidden, but it should be mourning and in repentance. He says in verse three that though I'm not present at though I am absent in body, I am present in the spirit and as if present, I've already pronounced judgment on the one who did such a thing. And when you are assembled in the name of the Lord Jesus, and my spirit is present, with the power of our Lord Jesus, you are to deliver this man to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, so that a spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord. They aren't to say, Oh, that was bad, let's hide it. They are too openly, publicly as they assemble, acknowledge it and, collectively, in agreement with the discipline that is already been with the judgment that has already been rendered, set this person outside the bounds of the church. That would be a hard thing to be a right, and he says that. He doesn't say you should be arrogant about in the also doesn't say you should be proud about it or happy about he says you should mourn about this excommunication and these hard things of discipline should be accompanied by mourning and sadness, regret and repentance. And, as the one is set out, this is a a public response and it is a Christian response, because it's not just a sort of pointing of fingers. It's a looking to Christ and asking for the Lord's Mercy. It's seeing the sin that is present in US and in our body and calling out to him for our salvation. Because who is our Passover lamb, who is the one that Paul says, saves us from the day of Wrath, the judgments of the Lord, on the day of the Lord? Who is the one who allows us to not be judged for our sins but instead be forgiven in our repentance.

It's Christ church discipline is not just about pointing fingers angrily at other people. It's about looking to the Lord who has already cleansed us. Know this what he says? He says, yes, you need to separate this old loven you need to get it out that. You may be a new lump, but this is but, he says, as you really are unleavened. They already belong to Christ, they have already been made holy. This is walking. That is not in accord with that, and that's why they need to act. And when they act, they need to act not as those who are trying to prove themselves as better than each other or prove themselves as better than the world, but is those who need the salvation of Jesus. And that is what this person is called to, this particular cinner within the congregation. They're not called just to be sorry, they're not called just to mourn their sins. They're called to look to Christ and to repent, like the woman in revelation too, that we read of, and those who were following after her. The Lord says, I am calling her, I'm calling them, I'm calling to the Church to repentance. This is a great word of grace. We have a connection with the Old Testament and that the Lord cares about holiness. But we have a difference with the old covenant here. Under the old covenant, those who committed incense were to be put to death, and with no pity. That's what the Lord says. Under the new covenant it's different. Under the new covenant he calls them, yes, to cast them out of the church, but not to put them to death, to cast them out so that they might see that they are being separated from Christ, separated from his people, separated from those blessings in the refusal to repent, with the hope that he would return and he would come to the Lord in faith. And, as we read in Second Corinthians, that's what happened. And, beloved, this is what happens when the Lord disciplines us and when he does it in love. Sometimes it's so hard, it's so embarrassing, it's so scary, it's so difficult, but he does it because he loves us, because he does desire us to repent and to turn to him, because he does desire us to walk in the works that he is prepared for us. He is our savior. It is through him and through his blood that we have salvation. So yes, our response should be to exclude this person from Christian Fellowship, but we do so with the hope and the prayer that they would turn again to Christ. Should we be arrogant in these things? As we feel the sting of guilt and shame for our own sins, as we feel how easily we could fall into these things ourselves, as we look at our lives and see the ways in which we have fallen into these things, do we have any right to stand in judgment, in the kind of judgment that is filled with pride and arrogance, and say, you know, I've really got my life together, what's your problem? That's not church discipline. Church discipline is a humbly looking to Christ as the one who, the only one who can save us from our sins, the only one who can take us out of gross immorality of this and as he lists other...

...kinds, grieves swindling, idolatry and others, Jesus is the only one who can take us out of those things and save us, and he does it by his blood. Yes, the Rod of the Lord is strong, but he shed his own blood so that we might have life. And so as we consider a passage like this, as we've considered the nature of sins, we consider the nature of the church, the nature of the Apostolic Ministry, is the as we consider the work of Christ among his people, and all of these things, we need to see them all coming from the same place, which is Jesus. The apostles of thor already is not an authority that he has because of his own righteousness, it's an authority that he has because Christ has called him to speak the word of Christ. The identification of sin as sin, the recognition of sin, as it says is sin, comes from knowing the Lord and His Holiness, knowing that Jesus shed his own blood to make us holy and, as we read, an effusions five to cleanse us from our sin. The necessary, the necessity for our holiness is also grounded in Christ, who died so that we might be forgiven. The connection between the Leven and the oven, unloven bread in the Passover, Paul says, is to be played out in our lives, because Christ was their Passover lamb. They were to get out the Israelites, as they were fleeing Egypt or to get the leven out of their house. They were to celebrate in the future the feast of the unloved bread. That was their response to this work of God, this miraculous saving work of God, and our lives should be the same. We get the leven out, not so that we can achieve holiness, but because God has given it to us. We get the leven out of our lives. We fight the flesh. We repent of our sins. We come each Sunday and we confess our sins publicly, even sexual sins. Why? Because of what Christ has done for us. We think about the forgiveness of our sins in light of Christ. We drop our arrogance and we mourn our sins because of Christ. We come to him and all that he has done with total dependence, total humility and the strength to do what are sometimes very hard things. Sometimes it's repenting, sometimes it's forgiving beloved life in the world, and the fight against the flesh is difficult. The Lord never said it would be easy, he said it would be hard, but he promises to us the strength to fight, the strength to love, the strength to forgive, the strength to repent. And so the Lord calls you today to trust him, to trust him for everything you need for the fight against sin in yourself and in our church. And May the Lord Be Gracious and merciful to us, as he has promised to be. Let's go to him now in prayer and ask that he would fulfill his word among us.

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