Hello everybody and welcome in to episode #218 of the Bible 2021 podcast. We are reading 1 Corinthians 5 today and our focus is on We are a daily 10 minute podcast, where we will dig in to the truth of the Word of God by reading one Bible chapter a day and discussing it. Welcome to new listeners in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, Sindh, Pakistan, Gujarat, India, Laguna, Philippines, London, England, New York, New York, San Francisco, California, Cincinnati, Ohio, San Luis Obispo, California, New Haven, Connecticut and…Nuuk, Greenland – WOW! I told my wife earlier that we had a new subscriber in Greenland, and she wasn’t impressed at all, but I will tell you I am VERY impressed – welcome aboard, my Greenlander friend. Tell your friends and neighbors in Nuuk – the largest city in Greenland at 23,000. Nuuk has some of the prettiest colored houses in the world, and August’s average high is 50 Fahrenheit. Thanks for listening! Our goal is to encourage DAILY Bible reading, so you can jump in at any time and join with us. We want to invite as many people as possible to join us in daily Bible reading, so help spread the word and share the podcast! Don’t forget about our web-page, Bible2021.com – contact page, show notes, transcript and more– Click here for our Bible 2021 reading plan\
First a short rabbit trail. In today’s passage, we find one of the top 25 most mysterious Bible passages, at least to me. The apostle Paul says to the Corinthian church:
3 Even though I am absent in the body, I am present in spirit. As one who is present with you in this way, I have already pronounced judgment on the one who has been doing such a thing. When you are assembled in the name of our Lord Jesus, and I am with you in spirit, with the power of our Lord Jesus, 1 Corinthians 5:3-4
Now, is Paul using figurative language – meaning something along the lines of, “I’m with you in spirit.” As in, “I’d love to be there, and I care, but I will not be there physically, or consciously in any way.” That’s usually what we moderns mean by, “I’m with you in spirit.” We mean we’d like to be there – but we won’t be there. I think it is possible that Paul is using figurative language here, but he says it multiple times and so matter of factly, I tend to think something more is meant than saying, “I’m thinking about you, so I’m sort of almost like being there.” Read as matter of fact as possible, it seems that Paul is saying that he is there among the Corinthians in a spiritual way. It reminds me of something Paul says in 2nd Corinthians 5:
6 So we are always confident and know that while we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord. 7 For we walk by faith, not by sight. 8 In fact, we are confident, and we would prefer to be away from the body and at home with the Lord.
This passage seems quite clear – Paul is saying that, during the intermediate time between death and Jesus’ return (when He will reunite the believer’s body and spirit.) that Paul’s spirit would be, in a very real and tangible way, with the Lord. He is not speaking figuratively in 2nd Corinthians 5:6-8 – he is speaking of tangibly being in the presence of the Lord, but in the spirit, not in the body. I can’t help but wonder if Paul is speaking in a similar way in 1 Corinthians 5. Most would assume figurative language here…but I do think it might just be more than that. Alas – let’s move on to more tangible and important matters.
The apostle Paul asks one of the most profound questions in the Bible in today’s chapter: “What business is it of mine to judge outsiders?” This is a question that I wish more Christians and Christian leaders had asked themselves over the last few hundred years. Christians have often have railed with anger against the practices of those who are not saved by Jesus. Decrying this or that sinful habit or lifestyle and expressing displeasure in various ways. It may be that we should take Paul’s question a bit more to heart – it sounds like we, as Christians, have absolutely no business judging those outside the church. This doesn’t mean we don’t proclaim the whole counsel of God’s Word, but it does seem to be a prohibition on judging those who are not Christians. But – what about Christians? Didn’t Jesus say NOT to judge?
Yes, He did. Both in Matthew 7:1, and in a more expanded way in Luke 6: “Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven.”
We see this rule repeated in various places throughout the Bible – generally speaking, we are NOT to judge. But, in today’s passage, we are given an exception by the apostle Paul. Surprisingly, there are times when a Christian should judge! Let’s read the passage and find out when.
Consider these scenarios:
A man physically assaults his wife, severely injuring her. The church leadership, in deciding what to do, is informed by somebody – we don’t need to do anything – we shouldn’t judge that man! Are they right?
Church denominational leaders become aware of a pattern of sexual abuse of children involving clergy, and the charges are proved beyond a shadow of a doubt. Should the church leadership sweep such charges under the rug, not judge the guilty, and let them go about their business? Or should they report such abuse to the criminal authorities and immediately expel the sexual assaulters from the church.
A business owned by a church member consistently and unrepentantly swindles people in the community. Should church leadership discipline that church member – even going so far as to disfellowship him if he refuses to stop swindling people -or should they look the other way in favor of not being judgmental?
I think the answer is clear in all three cases – according to God’s Word, the church should and MUST judge those in the church who are engaging in harmful, sinful behavior and they are unrepentant. It may seem harsh, but the church is told to expel such people from their midst when they are not repentant:
Don’t you judge those who are inside? 13 God judges outsiders. Remove the evil person from among you. 1 Corinthians 5:12-13
As I said, that may seem harsh, but I would argue that when the church covers up sexual abuse scandals, and fails to confront and discipline abusive husbands (and abusive people in general) and allows unrepentant thieves and swindlers to stay members of the church, we are being even more harsh and sending a dangerous message to the community. Those who refuse to follow Jesus and His teachings – those who are abusive, harmful, inveterate thieves, etc – must be judged and put out of the church. The church is indeed a place for sinners, sick people, wounded people and vulnerable people, but it must never be a place where predators are allowed to prey on people in the name of the Lord.
Bible Memory verses for the month of August: 4 Love is patient, love is kind. Love does not envy, is not boastful, is not arrogant, 5 is not rude, is not self-seeking, is not irritable, and does not keep a record of wrongs. 6 Love finds no joy in unrighteousness but rejoices in the truth. 7 It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. 1 Corinthians 13:4-6
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