“WORLD, BROTHER, CHURCH”
(A Series on I Corinthians)
Westgate Chapel 8/8/04 I Corinthians 5:9-13
PROPOSITION: As a redeemed community of faith, God has called us into a Biblical relationship with the world, with our brother, and with the church.
- I AM deeply concerned today about...
* The war in Iraq and the threat all over the world today of Islamic terrorism.
• The reality is that wars come and go, and nations rise and fall....but one thing remains throughout all time and eternity.
* I am concerned about the economy, the job market, and the impact of the price of gasoline.
• The reality is that money is made and lost, national economies rise and fall.... but one thing remains throughout all time and eternity.
* I am concerned about the unpredictability of the stock market.
• The reality is that the stock market has crashed here before, and fortunes have been made and lost before.... but one thing remains throughout all time and eternity.
* I am concerned about peace in the Middle East.
• The reality is that Arabs and Jews have been fighting for thousands of years, and peace has been won and lost before....but one thing remains throughout all time and eternity.
* I am concerned about the coming election, and the impact of the election on matters of righteousness like abortion and same sex marriage.
• The reality is that politicians and political issues come and go, nations like America rise and fall (abortions per capita were about the same as they are now in this country before the great awakening of the 1700’s)....but only one thing remains throughout all time and eternity.
* I am concerned about turmoil in our inner cities. Drug addiction amongst our young people, and teen gang violence.
• The reality is that young people have been the focus of social concern for generations since Cain killed his brother.....but one thing remains throughout all time and eternity.
- AND that one thing is the Church of Jesus....called out of this world, redeemed by the blood of Jesus, filled with the Holy Spirit, and made into the people of God, the community of faith.
- GOD gave His Son as a sacrifice, because He wanted to purchase for Himself a bride, a holy nation, a royal priesthood from out of the world that would be to the praise of His glorious grace.
- SO, this thing called Church is not a nice idea....wooden pews, an organ, and a steeple.
- NO, the Church of Jesus is the MAIN THING that God is doing in the world today.
- LISTEN for this priority in the Scriptures.
- PETER the apostle writes,
“As you come to him, the living Stone--rejected by men but chosen by God and precious to him--(5) you also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.” (I Peter 2:4-5)
- VERSES 9&10 of the same chapter say,
“But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. (10) Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.”
- LISTEN to the writer of Hebrews explain the priority of the Church of Jesus in God’s dealings in the world.
“But you have come to Mount Zion, to the heavenly Jerusalem, the city of the living God. You have come to thousands upon thousands of angels in joyful assembly, (23) to the church of the firstborn, whose names are written in heaven. You have come to God, the judge of all men, to the spirits of righteous men made perfect, (24) to Jesus the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood that speaks a better word than the blood of Abel.” (Hebrews 12:22-24)
- WHEN you and I were born again, we were saved into His Church, as members together of that Church, expressed uniquely in every local fellowship.
- YOU were not called by God into some isolated, private religious experience.
- NO, when you come to God through Jesus Christ, you belong...to God and to all of us.
“...in Christ we who are many form one body, and each member belongs to all the others.” (Romans 12:5)
- TOGETHER we are the body of Christ for this generation, and this locality.
- NO wonder the New Testament is full of appeals for us to live a life worthy of the calling....that phrase is used ten times in the New Testament by Paul and the apostle John.
- THIS is at the heart of what Paul is calling for in the last five verses of I Corinthians 5.
- HE examines the quality of our relationship as believers in three areas:
1. The world
2. Our brothers and sisters
3. Our local church
ii. the world
- FIRST Paul refers to the nature of our relationship with the people of the world.
- REMEMBER Corinth is a hedonistic place to live....much more so than the world we live in today.
- SIN was a widely accepted way of life, much like it is becoming in our world today.
- THE people of Corinth were...
* Proud of their fine city and cultured lifestyle.
* Into pleasure wherever they could find it.
* Greedy, never satisfied and always wanting more.
* Separated between the haves and the have-nots.
* Saturated in sex.
* Totally into their trade and business ventures, cheating whenever necessary to get ahead.
* Worshipping the false gods of the Greek pantheon.
- AND out of this hedonistic population, God called for Himself a people, a holy nation, a royal priesthood....a Church.
- AND this brand new church of believers in Corinth...
* Worshipped together
* Listened to preaching together.
* Ate at each other’s homes.
* Played together.
* Took communion together.
* Shared the Gospel with their friends.
- BUT they still worked side-by-side with the pagans of Corinth at Boeing, and Microsoft, and Bank of America, and Bon Marche.
- AND they still lived next door to the sinners of Corinth.
- AND they still attended little league with the pagans...and the occasional chariot race or two.
- AND they bought groceries at Albertsons together with the sinners of Corinth.
- AND this became a little bit of a problem....because some of them seemed to remember Paul saying that they shouldn’t be related at all to obvious sinners.
- SO, to straighten things out, Paul writes to them about their relationship with the sinful world in I Corinthians 5:9 (page 1131).
“I have written you in my letter not to associate with sexually immoral people (10) not at all meaning the people of this world who are immoral, or the greedy and swindlers, or idolaters. In that case you would have to leave this world.” (I Corinthians 5:9-10)
- AS believers, bonded together by the Life of Christ into the Church of Jesus, we are not called to leave this world.
- JESUS said that we are to be salt and light in this rotting, dark world.
* Salt is a preservative, keeping meat from rotting and being useless....as well as adding taste.
* Light shines, eliminating darkness and fear.
- YOU can’t be salt if you stay in the shaker. You can’t be light if you hide under your bed.
- JESUS moved about freely amongst the unhypocritical sinners....in fact that is what He was criticized for doing.
- WELL, what is our relationship with the world to be?
- THE word of Jesus are clear in all of the Gospels that we are to be IN the world, but not OF the world.
* We are not to be conformed, shaped to the patterns of the world (Romans 12:2)
* We are not to be dazzled by the wisdom of the world (I Corinthians 3:19)
* We are not to have our interests divided by making the world our goal (I Corinthians 7:34).
* We are to reject the things that the world holds up as priorities (2 Corinthians 10:2)
* We are not to follow the ways of the world (Epesians 2:2)
* We are not to be taken in by the philosophies of the world (Colossians 2:8)
- WE are to live in the world as the foretaste of the kingdom of God.
- WE move about with our eyes open and our armor on....on full alert because we are in enemy territory.
- WE are not perfect, but we reject the ways of the world because the love of Jesus and His life and power are within.....moving us to righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Ghost.
- THAT is our relationship to the world.
iii. the brother
- WELL, Paul moves on to our relationship to the brothers and sisters in the family of God.
- THE Bible is pretty clear that when you and I are placed in the Body of Christ that we are related to each other, dependent on each other, supportive of each other.
* Ecclesiastes 4:12 says,
“Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.”
* Deuteronomy 32:30 says that if the Lord is with us,
“...one man chase a thousand, or two put ten thousand to flight.”
* Matthew 18:20 says,
“For where two or three come together in my name, there am I with them.”
* Matthew 18:19 says,
“Again, I tell you that if two of you on earth agree about anything you ask for, it will be done for you by my Father in heaven.”
- SO our attitude towards our brothers and sisters in Christ is one of love, or respect, of care, acceptance, and of need....we really do need each other.
- BUT what do you do when a brother or sister is walking in unrepentant sin....and you have followed Matthew 18 about going to them one on one.....taking another with you....and there has been no change?
- I AM talking about clear, obvious, willful sin....not he said, she said.
- WHEN you are in the world, you expect certain sinful behavior.
- WE shouldn’t get all self-righteous and judgmental with the sinners in our world. They are doing what sinners do.
- GIVE them a break.
- WHAT they need is your love, not your condemnation.
- WHAT they need is a life close by that has peace in all circumstances, love, joy....and a sense of belonging. That is what they are missing.
- SO, it is not the sinners in the world that Paul is writing about in the next verse of I Corinthians 5...it is sinners in the church.
- AND, before we get to Paul’s list, we need to realize that we are all sinners saved by grace.
- WE all are going to stumble and require the grace of Jesus and the grace of our brothers and sisters.
- BUT the sinning that Paul and Peter and John address inside the church is the willful kind...that resists repentance.
- WHAT is our relationship to someone who calls himself/herself a believer but persists in willful sin?
- VERSE 11,
“But now I am writing you that you must not associate with anyone who calls himself a brother but is sexually immoral or greedy, an idolater or a slanderer, a drunkard or a swindler. With such a man do not even eat.” (I Corinthians 5:11)
- YOU and I are born again and placed in the Church of Jesus in order to have His life within, flowing like a refreshing stream to provide living water to a thirsty world.
- ALL of this in order to bring glory to God for saving us.
- HOW can we reflect His glory...how can we provide refreshing water to others when the stream is polluted?
* The sexually immoral....this word encompasses it all.
• Sexual immorality makes a god out of self.
• This is the life lived to gratify self.
• It is the wrong view of yourself....the Bible says that it is the kind of sin that is against your own body.
• It is the wrong view of the other person, seeing them purely as an object of ones own gratification.
• The unrepentant immoral person is so out of place in the Church of Jesus.
* The greedy.
• Greed makes a god out of things....small quantity or large.
• This is a constant dissatisfaction with what God has given you, and the constant drive for more and more and more.
• Greed puts things ahead of people....even though Jesus said that our life does not consist in the abundance of things.
• Greed is so inappropriate in the Church of Jesus.
* The idolater.
• This is the believer who makes a god out of anything....a car, a person, a house, a career, an education, a heritage or nationality, sports, recreation or leisure...anything that is worshipped besides the One true God.
• This is the believer who professes God, but serves another. His/her heart is elsewhere.
• The unrepentant idolater is out of place in the Church of Jesus.
* The slanderer.
• Those who profess a clean heart but have a dirty mouth.
• These are the believers who run down another believer without them being present.
• It doesn’t matter whether the slander is true or false...if it assassinates the character of another outside of their presence it qualifies.
• The unrepentant slanderer is out of place in the Church of Jesus.
* The drunkard.
• Those whose excessive drinking takes them out of their own self-control, the Holy Spirit’s control and under the control of the enemy.
• They are destructive of themselves and others near to them.
• The unrepentant drunkard is out of place in the family of God.
* The swindler.
• This is the person who cheats to further his own interests.
• It could be cheating his employer, his employee, his clients, his customers, or Uncle Sam....it is all the same.
• God makes it clear in His Word that He hates dishonest scales....and the moving of the boundary stones.
• The unrepentant swindler is out of place in the Church of Jesus.
- WELL, what is our attitude to be towards people who say they are believers and live openly and unrepentantly in these sins?
- WE are not to associate with them and not have them in our homes receiving our hospitality.
1. We run the risk of being deceived ourselves by constant exposure to such disregard for the Body of Christ and eventually risk being drawn into the sin ourselves.
2. By keeping company with a brother or sister like this we tell the world that it doesn’t matter how we live....the Christian life is a joke.
3. By keeping company with such a believer we risk convincing them that they are OK and no repentance is necessary.
- SO, Paul tell the Corinthians, this is how you relate to an unrepentant believer, brother or sister in Christ.
- THIS is what Dr. Dobson calls tough love.
- BUT, remember, Paul says in Galatians that this is done with gentleness and love.
iv. the church
- NOW, lastly in this passage, Paul comes to the subject of the Church itself...the local expression of the Body of Christ in Corinth.
- WHAT is to be the believer’s relationship with the Church?
- IT should be one of submission....because the church represents Jesus’ authority.
- NOW, for those of you who have been through the season of recent church history where church discipline has been abused....don’t panic.
- BUT at the same time, we can’t throw truth out because some have abused it.
- LOOK at I Corinthians 5:12,
“What business is it of mine to judge those outside the church? Are you not to judge those inside? (13) God will judge those outside. ‘Expel the wicked man from among you.’” (I Corinthians 5:12-13)
- THESE verses speak of the role of discipline in the Church of Jesus.
- IT is NOT our responsibility to sit in judgment on those outside of the Church of Jesus....God will take care of that.
- IT is however, the job of the Church to judge those inside.
- PAUL is referring back in these verses to the man who was sleeping with his step-mother...and the church was ignoring it and proud of their tolerance.
- I REALIZE that church discipline has been abused.
- I REALIZE that church discipline is not a popular subject.
- BUT let us never forget that church discipline is...
* Necessary for us to grow in Christ.
* A grace.
- IT is a grace, because when the sinner is left to himself/herself....there is a point where the judgment of God is to “give them over to their own sinful desires.” How do you get back from there?
- IT is a grace because when the sinning believer submits to church discipline, it is to them grace and mercy, forgiveness, and restoration.
- IT is a warning to the believer to spare them the eventual judgment of God.
- IT is to your benefit and mine to submit to the discipline of the Church of Jesus.
- IF we do nothing...
* The discipline of the whole church is weakened.
* The sinner goes on in his/her sin.
* Sin appears to be taken lightly.
* Other members of the church are placed in danger.
- SO, Paul encourages you and me to relate to our local Body in such a way as to be submissive to its discipline.
- BUT what if the church is wrong?
- IF you submit as unto the Lord, you cannot go wrong and you will never come out on the short end.
- REGARDING the world....in it but not of it.
- REGARDING the unrepentant brother or sister....no association, no hospitality, with tears.
- REGARDING the church....submitted to each other and to its discipline as unto the Lord.
- WE really do need each other.
- WE are in this together.
- THE life of Christ within each believer is also corporate.
- OUR ministry is corporate.
- OUR testimony is corporate.
- LORD, make us holy even as you are holy....so that together we can be to the praise of your glorious grace.