Corinthians – Belief and Behavior
You have heard it said from many Christians with a heart of love that we love the sinner but hate the sin. Why? Because we know God hates sin and cannot be in the same place as sin. God tells us to flee from the temptations of sin. But God loves. So we love. Just love. Let’s take hate out of the statement altogether and let our first thought be the love of God and what He wants for all of us.
Outside the community of believers there is much sin by those who don’t yet believe in Jesus Christ as their Savior, have not repented of sin yet, are after instant self gratification who are lonely and empty at the end of it all. When sin drives desires that satisfy only self, leaving God out of their lives completely it leads to a dead end. When sins of self gratification becomes acceptable or ignored within the community of believers, however, there will be trouble unless the “cancer” is lovingly confronted, sin forgiven, and restoration is provided.
Paul has strong words about sexual promiscuity within the Body of Christ. It breaks his heart because Paul knows it break the heart of God to see His people behave like the world instead of helping the world find Jesus, their way back to Him. When society affects the church Body more than the church Body affects the world around them there is trouble, unfulfilled lives, unrest, fighting and quarreling, competition against each other because of the sin of self within the community of believers. If we behave just like the world, then who are we? Really? Are we changing what we believe with the winds of change in the world so our behavior is less than what God expects?
The city of Corinth can be compared to our Las Vegas…”what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas”. What happens in Corinth stays in Corinth, apparently, but now it has seeped into the Body of Christ and that is unacceptable to God, causing great pain to believers because of their behavior with each other. We are created for a better life. We are loved by a God who want His best for us. The world’s best cannot compare and only leads to hurt, emotional scars, physical pain and eventually death. Understand this as we read Paul’s directness to a “church gone wild” in a city already gone wild.
1 Corinthians 5, The Message
The Mystery of Sex
1-2 I also received a report of scandalous sex within your church family, a kind that wouldn’t be tolerated even outside the church: One of your men is sleeping with his stepmother. And you’re so above it all that it doesn’t even faze you! Shouldn’t this break your hearts? Shouldn’t it bring you to your knees in tears? Shouldn’t this person and his conduct be confronted and dealt with?
3-5 I’ll tell you what I would do. Even though I’m not there in person, consider me right there with you, because I can fully see what’s going on. I’m telling you that this is wrong. You must not simply look the other way and hope it goes away on its own. Bring it out in the open and deal with it in the authority of Jesus our Master. Assemble the community—I’ll be present in spirit with you and our Master Jesus will be present in power. Hold this man’s conduct up to public scrutiny. Let him defend it if he can! But if he can’t, then out with him! It will be totally devastating to him, of course, and embarrassing to you. But better devastation and embarrassment than damnation. You want him on his feet and forgiven before the Master on the Day of Judgment.
6-8 Your flip and callous arrogance in these things bothers me. You pass it off as a small thing, but it’s anything but that. Yeast, too, is a “small thing,” but it works its way through a whole batch of bread dough pretty fast. So get rid of this “yeast.” Our true identity is flat and plain, not puffed up with the wrong kind of ingredient. The Messiah, our Passover Lamb, has already been sacrificed for the Passover meal, and we are the Unraised Bread part of the Feast. So let’s live out our part in the Feast, not as raised bread swollen with the yeast of evil, but as flat bread—simple, genuine, unpretentious.
9-13 I wrote you in my earlier letter that you shouldn’t make yourselves at home among the sexually promiscuous. I didn’t mean that you should have nothing at all to do with outsiders of that sort. Or with crooks, whether blue- or white-collar. Or with spiritual phonies, for that matter. You’d have to leave the world entirely to do that! But I am saying that you shouldn’t act as if everything is just fine when a friend who claims to be a Christian is promiscuous or crooked, is flip with God or rude to friends, gets drunk or becomes greedy and predatory. You can’t just go along with this, treating it as acceptable behavior. I’m not responsible for what the outsiders do, but don’t we have some responsibility for those within our community of believers? God decides on the outsiders, but we need to decide when our brothers and sisters are out of line and, if necessary, clean house.
Dear Heavenly Father,
Help us to fully focus on You, think and act like you have taught us, to love you first and then love others like you love us. Only then can our behaviors match our belief in You. By your power living in us, help us to help others back on the road to real life, Your best, in a forever growing relationship with you. Transform me. Transform Your church. Transform the world.
In Jesus Name, Amen