Monday, September 14th, 2015
Deliverance (Part 36)
It is actually reported that there is immorality among you, and immorality of such a kind as does not exist even among the Gentiles... You have become arrogant and have not mourned...
With the power of our Lord Jesus, I have decided to deliver such a one to Satan for the destruction of his flesh, so that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus. Your boasting is not good. Do you not know that a little leaven leavens the whole lump of dough?...
I wrote you in my letter not to associate with immoral people; I did not at all mean with the immoral people of this world, or with the covetous and swindlers, or with idolaters, for then you would have to go out of the world. But actually, I wrote to you not to associate with any so-called brother if he is an immoral person, or covetous, or an idolater, or a reviler, or a drunkard, or a swindler - not even to eat with such a one.
For what have I to do with judging outsiders? Do you not judge those who are within the church? But those who are outside, God judges. Remove the wicked man from among yourselves.
1 Corinthians 5:1-13 (NASB)*
Consider another controversial subject: the removal of misbehaving brethren from church. Formal indictments of fellow believers are rare. On one hand, I understand this reticence to judge, because all of us sin and fall short of God's glory.
We don't want to be hypocritical rule barons: pointing at others when our own fingers are dirty. Unmerciful religion was condemned by Jesus.** I've heard stories where hateful expulsions still happen.
But if God inspired Paul's writings (I believe He did), then churches are called to fight evil within themselves. Jesus gave us a detailed action plan to follow.*** I believe the deal-breaker is not a sinful act, but the refusal to confess and repent the act.
Perhaps the bigger deal breaker is bad leadership: back-patting elders who do not practice what they preach, and/or cover up the corruption of a pastor. Teachers are held to the highest standard of conduct.
They and we must 'Walk in the same manner as He walked' (1 John 2:6). Here's the thing: How we 'walk' is what we choose to practice. We must choose to practice righteousness, not lawlessness.**** If we continue the same sins without repentance, then we become the bad leaven that spoils the whole loaf.
One more thing: As spankings help children learn right from wrong, tough love allows adults to learn before it's too late.***** Other than Bible instruction in deliverance, church leaders can help best by keeping their houses clean.
To Be Continued...
* Entire Chapter: https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=1+cor+5&version=NASB
** Matthew 23, arguably one of the most indicting Chapters in the New Testament, is geared specifically to religious hypocrites. Jesus did not condemn outsiders, but only insiders who should know better. https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Matthew+23&version=NKJV
*** 'Moreover if your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault between you and him alone. If he hears you, you have gained your brother. But if he will not hear, take with you one or two more, that 'by the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established.' And if he refuses to hear them, tell it to the church. But if he refuses even to hear the church, let him be to you like a heathen and a tax collector' (Matthew 18:15-17).
**** 'By this the children of God and the children of the devil are obvious: anyone who does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor the one who does not love his brother' (1 John 3:10).
**** 'And then I will declare to them, 'I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness' ' (Matthew 7:23).
***** 'You shall beat him with a rod, and deliver his soul from hell' (Proverbs 23:14).
***** Love without mercy isn't love. Churches must give a member who has been exposed as 'An immoral person, or covetous, or an idolater, or a reviler, or a drunkard, or a swindler' (1 Corinthians 5:11) merciful correction and a chance to repent before expulsion.
P.S. To read the other devotions in this series, please see the Deliverance series.