(A Series on I Corinthians)
Westgate Chapel 5/24/98 a.m. I Corinthians 5:1-8
PROPOSITION: The call of the Spirit today is for sexual purity in the Church of Jesus, for grieving hearts when someone has fallen, for redeeming discipline to see them restored, and for a sanctifying community of faith.
- IN Genesis 1:3 God created light....and in verse 4, He said that the light was GOOD.
- IN Genesis 1:9 God separated the waters from the ground. The dry ground He called land and the waters He called seas....and in verse 10, He said the land and sea were GOOD.
- IN Genesis 1:11 God spoke vegetation, and seed, and fruit into the land....and in verse 12, He said that it was GOOD.
- IN Genesis 1:14-17 God spoke the sun, moon and stars into existence and lit up the sky by day and by night...and in verse 18, when He saw His work He said that it was GOOD.
- IN Genesis 1:21, God created the great creatures of the sea, and every winged bird according to its kind, and said that it was GOOD.
- IN Genesis 1:25, God created the wild animals and livestock....and said that it was GOOD.
- IN Genesis 1:31 it says, God saw all that he had made, and it was very GOOD.
- THE first time that God said something was NOT good, was in Genesis 2:18, where He said that it was NOT good for Adam to be alone.
- SO God took from Adam’s side and made him a wife...and verse 24 says that they were united and became one flesh.
- GOD have them desire for each other.....and it was GOOD.
- VERSE 25 says that they were both naked and felt no shame.
- THE reason that there was no shame was because sin had not yet entered the world.
- EVERYTHING that God had created was still GOOD.
- THERE was moral innocence between Adam and Eve before sin came into the world.....just a few short verses later in Genesis 3.
- IT is so important to start this message in Genesis 1 and 2, where God says everything is GOOD....including sexual intimacy between Adam and Eve.
- WHEN God created sexual desire and intimacy for expression of love between a husband and wife He created it full of His love and GOODNESS.
- BETWEEN a husband and wife this intimacy is a representation of the love and care and vulnerability that exist within the Godhead.
- IT is the highest expression that we will know in this world of....
- IN fact, when God uses metaphor in Scripture to describe our relationship with Him He frequently uses marriage and marital intimacy....because it is GOOD.
* Throughout the Old Testament God uses the analogy of marriage and marital intimacy as a metaphor for the relationship between Himself and His people.
* The Song of Solomon is rich with the language of sexual intimacy and is used to express the purity of God’s people betrothed to Him.
* Many preachers have used Ephesians 5 as a text for the marriage relationship. In fact when you count the number of references to Christ in Ephesians 5, you realize the passage is about Christ and the mystery of the Church’s union with Him.....illustrated by the husband/wife union.
* In Revelation 19, the wedding supper of the Lamb is about our final union with Christ.
- IT was when sin entered the world in the Garden of Eden that the things that God created as GOOD became distorted and perverted through misuse or abuse.
* Food is GOOD.....became gluttony.
* Strength is GOOD....power corrupts.
* Rest is GOOD.....laziness destroys.
* Work is GOOD....workaholism destroys.
* Sexual intimacy is GOOD....lust, immorality, adultery, homosexuality destroy lives.
- IT is so tragic that in our world 99.9% of the things related to sexuality have been perverted into lust, greed, power, or abuse.
- AND today we are saturated in it. Surrounded by it.
* Practically every magazine is filled with it.
* Our advertising industry couldn’t exist without it.
* If you removed it from today’s television programming, about all you would have left would be an hour every day of Lucy reruns and Mr. Rogers.
* The movie industry is incapable of telling a story without sexual perversion.
- AND I have to sound the warning, because the people of God are being seduced by Balaam’s strategy for destruction.
* In the Book of Numbers the people of God were enroute to the Promised Land.
* They were gaining strength, identity and numbers.
* Enemy nations along their route were intimidated and frightened.
* Balaak, king of the Moabites was troubled and called a fortuneteller in called Balaam....to curse the people of God and stop their progress to Canaan.
* Balaam tried several times to curse Israel....and God turned each curse into a blessing.
* King Baalak was furious.
* And then, since the cursing wasn’t working, Balaam came up with an alternative plan.
* He got the Moabites to throw a party within eye-shot of the Israelites.
* They catered the best food in the region, broke out the champagne, and got the best looking Moabite women to take their clothes off and dance.
* And before morning 24,000 Israelites had died in the plague because of the anger of the Lord against their immorality.
* In fact, it was only Phinehas’ zeal that turned the anger of the Lord away that day (Numbers 25:8).
- WHAT the enemy can’t do through intimidation and fear he often can accomplish in God’s people through sexual immorality and perversion.
- THAT was the case in Corinth.
- PLEASE turn with me to I Corinthians 5 (page 1131).
- CORINTH had a reputation for being a hard-drinking, sexually promiscuous city.
- EVERY evening 1,000 shrine prostitutes would come down from the Temple of Aphrodite, the Greek goddess of love, and ply their trade in the streets of Corinth.
- AND it was against the stream of this intoxicated, corrupt society that Jesus was building for Himself a Church.
- AND it is not surprising that after he had been gone for a few years, Paul had learned that things had gotten lax in the church in Corinth....in his absence.
- PAUL has received a report of sexual immorality in the church.
- AND it appears that the knowledge of the problem in the church there was quite widespread.
- NO ONE was particularly embarrassed by it.
- AND this pastor, Paul, cannot be silent.
ii. grieving hearts
- TURN with me to I Corinthians 5:1,
“It is actually reported that there is sexual immorality among you...” (5:1a)
- PAUL writes to the believers in Corinth with the love of a founding pastor.
- IN fact, in chapter 4 he talks about being their father in the Lord.
- AND in several places he calls them brethren....in warm affection for them.
- BUT the matter of sin is so serious to Paul, that he doesn’t hold back in his words.
- PAUL’S words, “actually reported,” let the Corinthians know that he can hardly believe what he has heard about them.
- WHAT has Paul heard?
- THAT there is sexual immorality in the church.
- THE Greek word used for sexual immorality, is the word, porneia, which covers all forms of sexual perversion.
* Pornography is an English word that we get from the Greek word, porneia.....and would include the Victoria Secret catalogue.
* Movies and/or television programs that portray illicit sexual conduct for entertainment qualify as porneia. Psalm 101:3 says,
“I will set before my eyes no vile thing.”
* Internet sexual intimacy, interactive, or any other sexually explicit material in cyberspace is porneia.
* Any sexual intimacy, touching, or fondling of a member of the opposite sex outside of marriage is porneia.
- IT is sin, not because sexual intimacy is dirty....but because porneia is a perversion of something God created as GOOD.
- IT is sin because it misses the mark of God’s best for us.
* “Each lover, or each encounter, or each perversion creates bonds that are not easily broken......and actually decreases the potential for true intimacy in the future.” says researcher, Audrey Beslow.
- IT is sin because the pleasure may last for a season, but the end is death.....in this life and for eternity.
- BUT things are worse than your run-of-the-mill immorality at Corinth.
- LOOK at verse 1b, speaking of the immorality....
“...of a kind that does not occur even among pagans: A man has his father's wife.”
- SEXUAL perversion is like all sin. It is crouching at your door and mine....but wants the whole house and will not be satisfied with just the entry way.
- THE porneia in Corinth had degenerated to incest, likely with the young man’s unsaved step-mother.....unsaved because she is not mentioned in the discipline to come.
- LOOK at the way the church handles this!
- VERSE 2,
“And you are proud! Shouldn't you rather have been filled with grief and have put out of your fellowship the man who did this?” (I Corinthians 5:1-2)
- THE believers in Corinth were not proud of the actual sin of this young man. They were proud of their broad-mindedness...their inclusiveness.
- THESE folks were politically correct and proud of it.
- REMEMBER, Corinth is an intellectual and cultural hub.
- NO narrow mindedness tolerated here!
- AND the church is impressed with the ways of the world...so they are going with the flow and proud of it.
- CALLOUS has formed on top of callous.
- PAUL says,
“...you should have been filled with grief.”
- THE Greek word used for “grief” is penthein, and is reserved for the deep grief over a lost loved one.
* Grief over the loss of the smile of Christ.
* Grief over the loss of this brother to the slavery of sin.
* Grief over the loss of the opportunity to win the step-mother with the Gospel.
* Grief over the loss of their witness to the community. The Church is supposed to be demonstrating a redeemed creation...not a fallen one.
- THIS first section of the outline of this message I have entitled, Grieving Hearts.
iii. redeeming discipline
- NOW let’s move into Paul’s recommended discipline in this matter.
- VERSES 3-4.
“Even though I am not physically present, I am with you in spirit. And I have already passed judgment on the one who did this, just as if I were present. (4) When you are assembled in the name of our Lord Jesus and I am with you in spirit, and the power of our Lord Jesus is present...”
- YOU need to know, before we get into the specifics of the discipline, that the motivation in Paul is not punitive, but redemptive....for the brother and for the fellowship.
- WHEN sin is coddled, we all end up the poorer for it.
- LOOK at the context of the redemptive discipline,
1. It is handled in the assembly.
• That way the discipline can be handled in the context of the love of the fellowship.
• That way the Body is there to do the follow-up needed.
• That way the seriousness of sin is communicated.
• That way the fear of the Lord can result in the church.
2. It is handled in the awareness of the presence of Jesus.
3. It is handled in the awareness that the Body of Christ is bigger than we are (Paul was with them in spirit).
4. It is handled in the power of Jesus’ presence.
- WHAT is done?
- VERSE 5,
“...hand this man over to Satan, so that the sinful nature may be destroyed and his spirit saved on the day of the Lord.”
- BIBLE scholars believe that this “handing over to Satan,” was excommunication....separation from the Body of Christ.
* Cut off from fellowship.
* Cut off from worship.
* Cut off from communion.
* Cut off from teaching of the Word.
- WHAT would that accomplish?
1. Leave him out there, vulnerable to the enemy’s attack.
2. Shock him into realizing the seriousness of his sin.
3. Pull all form of support out from under him.
4. Prepare him for genuine repentance.
- THE hope and prayer of the church would be that sooner or later he would come back in godly sorrow and repentance.....restored to the faith and the community of faith.
- REDEEMING discipline.
iv. sanctifying community
- AND the purpose of Paul’s emphasis on “grieving hearts” and “redeeming discipline” in the face of this sexual sin....is so that Corinth would be a “sanctified and sanctifying community.”
- VERSE 6,
“Your boasting is not good. Don't you know that a little yeast works through the whole batch of dough?”
- THERE is a threat to the spiritual health of the whole body if the sin is not dealt with.
- YEAST is a Biblical metaphor for sin....permeating, corrupting the whole batch of the dough.
- VERSE 7,
“Get rid of the old yeast that you may be a new batch without yeast-- as you really are.”
- THEIR identity is really a new creation in Christ. Paul wants to remind them of that.
- THAT is at the heart of your ability to resist sin....who you are in Christ.
- VERSE 7b holds the secret of our sanctification,
“ For Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed. (8) Therefore let us keep the Festival...”
- LIVING for and in Christ is a celebration!
“...not with the old yeast, the yeast of malice and wickedness, but with bread without yeast, the bread of sincerity and truth.” (I Corinthians 5:6-8)
- SINCERITY....don’t pretend to be someone you aren’t.
- TRUTH....the belt that holds your spiritual equipment close and at the ready.
- THIS is the alternative lifestyle....sincerity and truth.
- SEXUAL immorality is not something to play with....even though Hollywood and the networks do.
- GOD made sexual intimacy as something GOOD, something holy, something beautiful to be enjoyed within the context of the relationship HE provided for it....marriage.
- WHEN we distort and corrupt God’s plan we always end up on the losing end.
- THIS is serious stuff.
- TEN verses from the end of the Book, Jesus tells John,
“Behold, I am coming soon! My reward is with me, and I will give to everyone according to what he has done. (13) I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End. (14) Blessed are those who wash their robes, that they may have the right to the tree of life and may go through the gates into the city. (15) Outside are the dogs, those who practice magic arts, the sexually immoral, the murderers, the idolaters and everyone who loves and practices falsehood.” (Revelation 22:12-15)
- IT is time for the people of God to live in the opposite spirit of the world....in the power of the indwelling Holy Spirit.
- LET’S take a stand!