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1 Corinthians 5:7-13 by Robert Dean
Series:1st Corinthians (2002)
Duration:1 hr 2 mins 7 secs

Evaluation in the Church; 1 Corinthians 5:7-13

 

The believer is to be living a life where he is dealing on the basis of the filling of the Holy Spirit and the Word of God with his own sin nature, and the church is not to condone, legitimize, or treat lightly overt sin that is taking place in the lives of members of the congregation. On the other had we have to recognize that everybody has a sin nature and everybody is going to continue to sin throughout their spiritual life and it is not the responsibility of other believers to be the sanctifying agent in the life of other believers. That is the role of God the Holy Spirit. We are not supposed to be engaged in the process of personal criticism and personally trying to straighten out their life; that is also illegitimate. The truth lies in an understanding balance of the issues as they are explained in this particular passage. So we have to watch out for the polar extremes.

The problem that is brought forth in the church at Corinth is a problem of a man who is living his step-mother, considered to be an extremely egregious breech of morality in the ancient world. It was forbidden in the Mosaic, law but it was also illegal in Roman law. That is probably a clue to understanding what is going on in this passage in terms of church discipline. It is not just that the person commits an act, or has committed an act of immorality. It is not simply living with somebody without benefit of marriage, it is that his particular sin is one that shocks and appals the unbeliever. It is not the fact that it shocks and appals other believers. So Paul comes along and addresses the issue from the vantage point of his apostolic authority. There are two issues of discipline here. One is that which uniquely flows from Paul's apostolic authority here, and this is involved in turning such a one over to Satan for the destruction of his flesh in verse 5, means that he is to be taken out of the congregation and is not to be exposed to the teaching of the Word of God so that he can reap the consequences of his own sin nature, not his physical flesh. This is so that he can change his mind, and we know from 2 Corinthians that this is exactly what happened.

As Paul develops from his instruction to them he is going to move from his own apostolic judgment, mentioned in v. 3, to their responsibility not to associate with certain types of sinners. That is not only a corporate recognition but it also has a point of wisdom in the individual life. Cf. 1 Corinthians 15:33 NASB "Bad company corrupts good morals." That is something that we often forget but it is a biblical point Paul makes, and that is the principle that underlies the whole issue of church discipline. Once you let someone get involved closely in your life who is licentious and treats sin lightly it has an effect of contaminating other believers and it also causes, before long, other believers to begin rationalising sin and treating sin lightly.  That is why Paul says, v.7, "Clean out the old leaven so that you may be a new lump, just as you are {in fact} unleavened [positional truth]." The last part of the verse, "For Christ our Passover also has been sacrificed," is an explanation of the reality of our being unleavened. That relates to the positional reality that we have in Christ. 

1 Corinthians 5:8 NASB "Therefore let us celebrate the feast, not with old leaven, nor with the leaven of malice and wickedness, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth." Here he brings in four adjectives—malice and wickedness, sincerity and truth—and he juxtaposes these two. So that is terms of sin, in terms of leaven, he picks two categories, malice and wickedness. Malice is the Greek word KAKIA [kakia]which represents the range of mental attitude sins. In some passages it is translated bitterness and it represents the mental attitude sins that would often be represent. The second word translated "wickedness" is PONERIA [ponhria], a general word describing the general operation of the sin nature and its production of overt sins. The fact that both of these nouns are left without an article, and they are both modified by one noun, leaven—what we have is a noun, leaven is in the dative case followed by two genitives, malice and wickedness—these are viewed synonymously, they are linked together as a representation of an entire production of the sin nature. These two are picked out as a general category describing sin. In contrast to this we are to celebrate the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth. "Sincerity" is not the best translation of this particular word. It is the Greek word EILIKRINEIAS [e)ilikrineiaj]. The root here is from KRINO [krinw] meaning to judge or to make a decision, and the prefix here, EILI, describes the warmth or brilliance of the sun and together these came to mean purity, because you are judged in the light of something brilliant that exposes corruption, evil and wrongdoing, and in this sense this word is a synonym for KATHARIZO [kaqarizw] or being cleansed. So therefore it is a synonym for the believer who is living a life in fellowship, cleansed from personal sin through the use of 1 John 1:9. It has to do with that which has been purified and is cleansed of sin. So rather than having sin in the life it is contrasted with having confessed sin and being purified and cleansed, along with truth which is the Word of God. In John 3:21 Jesus said, "He who practices the truth comes to the light." So when as believers our life is exposed to the truth of God's Word and sin is revealed, then we confess that sin because we know what the Word of God teaches, and then we are in a position where we can apply the Word of God and can advance in our spiritual growth.

Starting in verse 9 down to the end of the chapter Paul is going to give some clarification and application of the doctrine that he has already discussed.

1 Corinthians 5:9 NASB "I wrote you in my letter not to associate with [sexually] immoral people." The first thing we have to address is this reference to a letter. This in to the present letter, it is a previous letter. We know about the letter because of this reference, we don't know what the letter contained, it is not an extant letter or one that was inspired by God the Holy Spirit and was not to be part of Scripture. That is indicative of the fact that just because a man was an apostle does not mean that everything he said or did was correct, or that everything he wrote was inspired by God. Only certain things were inspired by God the Holy Spirit and only certain of his writings were to be contained in the Scripture. We know that he wrote four letters to the Corinthians church, he may have written moire, but there is a reference in this epistle to a previous letter, and there is also an indication in 2 Corinthians that there was another letter written in between 1 and 2 Corinthians. So this is an on-going dialogue and in the previous letter he was explaining the same principle that as believers we need to be careful with whom we associated. Apparently what he said in that letter was being distorted by the arrogant people who were in Corinth.

The verb translated "not to associate" is SUNANAMIGNUSTHAI [sunanamignusqai], the present passive infinitive from a verb that means to mix different ingredients together, and it came to mean association or just basic social intercourse. So Paul is saying here, don't associate with immoral people, and the principle is the principle he is stating over in 1 Corinthians 15:33. People need to pay attention to who their friends are and who they socialize with and who they spend time with because we are all influenced to some degree by the people we associate with. So if we are running around associating with unbelievers who are operating on human viewpoint all the time, then before long you are going to watch your own values begin to shift and change as you begin to live in the same way they do as you are influenced by those people. This is especially true for adolescents. [10] "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." Paul is a realist. Every unbeliever has only one option and that is to follow the dictates of their sin nature. The dictates may involve overt sin, mental attitude sin, or they may have a trend toward legalism and self-righteousness and so they are dominated more by morality and human good with the Bible classifies as filthy rags type of good works, not good works that have any value in terms of the spiritual life. No matter who they are, how wonderful they are, no matter what personality they might have, if they are an unbeliever they live on the basis of the sin nature and are in perpetual carnality by definition. Only believers have an option under the power of the Holy Spirit. Paul recognizes the realities of living in a fallen world. Believers live in the midst of a fallen world, are surrounded by all kinds of paganism, human viewpoint thinking and immorality, but nevertheless we are not to be influenced by that. We are in the world but we are not of the world, there is to be a distinction between the way the believer thinks and the way the believer lives his life.

Paul mentions three specific sins in v. 10. He mentions being covetous, the Greek word PLEONEKTES [pleonekthj]. This is not just somebody who is materialistic or somebody who makes a good profit in their business. This is somebody who is obviously motivated by materialism lust and the lust for money, but someone who is motivated by that all of the time and is probably the kind of person who is always taking something that doesn't belong to them. The second category, "idolaters," is not simply someone who worshipped an idol but someone who was actively involved in the fertility religion in Corinth. That was the kind of idolatry that dominated. A "swindler," HARPAXIN [a(rpacin], was somebody who that was involved in illegal activities—robbery, thievery, any kind of activity where they were taking money or goods was not theirs.

[11] "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." Here the word SUNANAMIGNUSTHAI relates to a believer ["so-called brother" is not a good translation] who is living a lifestyle that is indistinct from the unbelievers around them. This is the same word that is used in 2 Thessalonians 3:14 where again Paul says, NASB "If anyone does not obey our instruction in this letter, take special note of that person and do not associate [SUNANAMIGNUSTHAI] with him, so that he will be put to shame." That is a recognition of the fact that if you are not attempting to apply doctrine in your life and you are living in clear overt sin that is obvious to one and all around then believers are not to associate with you. This is not legalism, it is a simple matter of wisdom. A "reviler" LOIDOROS [loidoroj] is not merely a slanderer but some body who is consistently and habitually engaged in abusive language and abusive speech, someone who is continuously quarrelsome and angry in their speech. A "drunkard" is not simply someone who is an alcoholic. An alcoholic is someone who has a particular genetic bent, and that is related to their sin nature. They are prone to becoming dependent on alcohol or some other drug. Alcoholism is not a disease. Drunkenness is continually classified as a sin in Scripture. The underlying problem is not psychological, it is spiritual. Some of these listed are not only sin but some of them also involve illegal activity. This is extreme overt behaviour that is obvious to everyone, believer and unbeliever, and these are people who are in violation not only of biblical norms and standards but the norms and standards of the surrounding culture. That is something that is so often lost in the whole process of church discipline in so many churches. Church discipline is not to try to straighten out every single problem that people may have in life, the purpose of church discipline is not to force everybody into some mould, but to deal with certain extreme overt behavioural sins that bring shame on a congregation (or should) because they bring shame to the unbelievers who recognize it is a problem.

[12] "For what have I to do with judging outsiders? Do you not judge those who are within {the church?}" This explains the fact that this doesn't relate to unbelievers because that is not the role of the believer to judge outsiders. Literally Paul says. "What is it to me to judge outsiders?" The "me" is in an unemphatic position, which means it could be applied to any believer. In other words, what role is it of any believer to be in a position of evaluating outsiders? All through this passage we have the same verb for judging, KRINO [krinw]. At this point we need to ask just exactly what KRINO means. It has several meanings. It has the idea of the legitimate use which relates to evaluation. "Judge not that you be not judged" in Matthew 7, was Jesus talking about personal criticism. That is one meaning of KRINO. It also means to evaluate, and believers are expected to evaluate other believers in certain contexts. You are to evaluate a man who is going to be a deacon, whether or not he meets the qualification of 1Timothy 3. If you are not supposed to evaluate a man in accordance with those criteria, then why are they listed? That is not judging, you are not being critical or trying to run him down, it is the application of doctrine. Another concept is legitimate judging in the sense of reaching some sort of decision related to church discipline. That is positive. Then you have the negative use of personal criticism that you find in Matthew chapter seven. We are prohibited from being involved in this negative personal criticism where we are running someone down in terms of gossip or slander or maligning, but there is a legitimate role of evaluation, which is what Paul is indicating in v. 12. "Do you not judge those who are within {the church?}" He uses the negative OU [o)u] in the text which implies a positive answer. He is expecting a positive answer: "Yes, we do judge those who are inside the church." There is a level of evaluation that should take place in relation to believers inside the church. That is what the whole issue of church discipline relates to and it has a function in terms of preparing us for our role in the Millennial kingdom.

[13] "But those who are outside, God judges. REMOVE THE WICKED MAN FROM AMONG YOURSELVES." That is a quote from Deuteronomy 13:5. He is applying the law and recognizing that there are certain sins, that when believers get involved in those sins, because they are an affront to the unbeliever around, because they are overt and the individual isn't willing to recognize it is a sin and is revelling in it, then it should be dealt with. Paul is not arguing for some sort of superficial legalistic separation here, i.e. separation from any believer who commits just about any sin from your list of "nasty nine" or "the terrible two" or whatever they are. Secondly, Paul is dealing with what is clearly seen and known and sin that has been rationalized and justified. It is a situation where the clear standards of Scripture are not only being ignored but reversed. This is a role of the church, and that role has to do with and is a preparation for a future role that believers will engage in during the Millennial kingdom. Cf. 1 Corinthians 6:3 NASB "Do you not know that we will judge angels? How much more matters of this life?" In the Millennial kingdom believers are going to be in a position where in our ruling and reigning with Jesus Christ we are going be judging angels. We will be judging the fallen angels and in executing judgment on believers, i.e. the believers who have mortal bodies and get involved in problems during the Millennial kingdom. Now what is it that prepares you and me to be able to function in that role in the Millennial kingdom? It is the doctrine that we learn and apply today. The point is, if you are not learning how to be a biblically qualified evaluator now, then you are not going to be prepared to judge the angels in eternity. That is the underlying rationale here, that this is part of our training for the future, and learning when not to judge is as important as learning that there are times when we should officially be involved in that judgment.