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 5:2
When it comes to the issue of confronting sin in the church, churches tend to go to one of two extremes. There are some churches that have the “live and let live” motto. They say, “Who are we to judge if somebody is in sin? That is between the individual and God.” Then there are other churches that want to confront every sin in the church. Every sin becomes a federal issue.
Neither model is good to follow. The fact is, all sin in our lives and in the church should be confronted, but not all sin in the church demands to be confronted publicly. There are three categories of sin that must be dealt with publicly if the sinner does not repent:
- Sins that threaten the moral health of the church. That is what the Corinthians were dealing with. They had a member whose sin was well-known inside and outside the church, and it was staining the reputation of Christ.
- Sins that threaten the doctrinal health of the church. God’s Word demands that we deal with anybody who is teaching false doctrine.
- Sins that threaten the emotional health of the church. Romans 16:17 says we have to deal with people “who cause dissensions and hindrances.” Somebody who is sowing discord or engaging in gossip, back-biting, or slander is threatening the health of the church.
Instead of dealing with the brazen sin of immorality in their church, the Corinthians ignored it. Look at 1 Corinthians 5:2: “You have become arrogant and have not mourned instead, so that the one who had done this deed would be removed from your midst.” The Corinthians were priding themselves on the fact that they did not deal with this sin. Perhaps they said, “In our church, we do not judge people. We are a church that teaches grace.” Paul said that was the wrong response; instead, they should have mourned this sinner as if they had lost a loved one.
Years ago, I had a friend who abandoned his family and fell into immorality. And every time I talked to him, it was like I was talking to a blank wall. It was as if the person I had known had died and somebody else was living inside his body. That is exactly what Paul was talking about. He said when a Christian falls into sin and will not repent, we ought to mourn as if we have lost a loved one. And if that sin is threatening the health of the church, we need to take action.
Today’s devotion is excerpted from “Caring Enough to Confront” by Dr. Robert Jeffress, 2010.
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.