It is actually reported that there is immorality among you. . . . You have become arrogant and have not mourned instead, so that the one who had done this deed would be removed from your midst.
—1 Corinthians 5:1–2
One important purpose of church discipline is to maintain the witness of the church. As the body of Christ, we are the visible representation of Christ to unbelievers in this world. People’s attitudes toward Christ are often shaped by their attitudes toward the church. When they see Christians who are just as entangled in sin as they are, they say, “Why would I bother to be a Christian?”
The idea of Christians being a poor witness for Christ because of their lifestyle is not a new problem. Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 5:1, “It is actually reported that there is immorality among you, and immorality of such a kind as does not exist even among the Gentiles, that someone has his father’s wife.” Apparently, there was a man in the church who was having an affair with his stepmother, and it had become the scandal of the entire community. Unbelievers were saying, “That church is doing things even we do not approve of.” So what did the church do about that sin? Absolutely nothing. In fact, they bragged about the fact that they did not intervene. That is why Paul said in verse 2, “You have become arrogant and have not mourned instead, so that the one who had done this deed would be removed from your midst.” They were perverting the doctrine of grace, and Paul chastised them for their unwillingness to get involved.
My previous church made a well-known moral stand against two children’s books in our local library. It was a controversy that generated national attention, and our entire city was caught up in it. While that was going on, it came to my attention that one of our staff members was having an affair with another man’s wife. I have to confess my first inclination was to sweep it under the rug. I thought, “With all this attention we are getting, if this scandal becomes public, we are going to lose our reputation and hurt the cause of Christ.” But some leaders in our church, to their credit, said, “Pastor, we cannot do that. The Bible says we have to deal with this.” So we went through the process outlined in Matthew 18, and that man was removed from the staff.
Some time after all that happened, I was walking through downtown, and a woman who was not a member of our church stopped me and said, “I heard what you did to so-and-so. We were all watching to see if you folks really practiced what you were preaching.” People were watching our church then, and they are watching the church right now. The church is the visible representation of Christ on earth, and that is why we have to deal with the problem of sin.
Today’s devotion is excerpted from “Good-Grace Confrontation” by Dr. Robert Jeffress, 2020.
Scripture quotations taken from the (NASB®) New American Standard Bible®, Copyright © 1960, 1971, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission. All rights reserved. www.lockman.org