Monday, March 17, 2014

365 Days with God - Day 87: The Wrong Idea

I'm giving myself a challenge. Read the Bible each day for a whole year, following the ESV Study Guide 1-year plan. Each day, I will post whatever God has revealed to me in His Word, and how it is changing me. A friend of mine once said that nothing has changed her life as much as reading the bible each day - and I'm excited for how this will change me. Join me on an adventure into the heart of God - and day by day, we can learn more about who He is and what that means to us!

- Andy Catts

Day 87, March 17, 2014
Readings: Psalm 87, Exodus 33, Nehemiah 13, 1 Corinthians 5

What does the Bible say about sin in the Church?

Oh, I just opened a can of worms.

For the casual reader, I will say this: These are my thoughts and observations. I do not claim to be the authority, or even an authority on this stuff. I'm just another person, doing his best to understand God's word. I'm going to have to stand before God and make an account of all the things I've done - and so do you. So your actions...are worthy of consideration.

It is actually reported that there is sexual immorality among you, and of a kind that is not tolerated even among pagans, for a man has his father's wife. And you are arrogant! Ought you not rather to mourn? Let him who has done this be removed from among you.
For though absent in body, I am present in spirit; and as if present, I have already pronounced judgement on the one who did such a thing. When you are assembled in the name of the Lord Jesus and my spirit is present, with the power of our Lord Jesus, you are to deliver this man to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, so that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord.
Your boasting is not good. Do you not know that a little leaven (yeast) leavens the whole lump?

I wrote to you in my letter not to associate with sexually immoral people - not at all meaning the sexually immoral of this world, or the greedy and swindlers, or idolaters, since then you would need to go out of the world. But now I am writing to you not to associate with anyone who bears the name of brother if he is guilty of sexual immorality or greed, or is an idolater, reviler, drunkard, or swindler, not even to eat with such a one. (1st Corinthians 5:1-6, 9-11)

There's a lot here - but I'll try to cover the important parts. One, I don't see anything that says to avoid, or shun, or antagonize sinners. In fact, it says we would have to remove ourselves from the Earth for that to be possible. So unless you're a one-man NASA program....

It does say, however, some things that seem difficult to decipher.  Delivering "Christian" sinners over to Satan? That sounds...strange. It echos some other things Paul has said though - relating to this very same issue. For someone that is completely ensnared in sin, in depravity, God will give them over to the lusts of their heart. I think these are one and the same. If someone is unwilling to give up their lifestyle of sin, it is going to destroy them. Sin does nothing but destroy.

I believe what Paul is saying is to not be an enabler. If someone won't give up their sin, don't continue to save them from their inevitable destruction. You can't! Your only hope is that they will hit rock bottom hard enough that they can see they need to change. If you let them continue to live in sin by postponing the consequences of sin, they won't ever see the need to be free from the sin.

But there is hope, even in this. For if there was no hope, why include "so that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord."? If that person was irredeemably doomed, what purpose would this passage have? I believe it exists because God wants to work in that person's life to rescue them. To restore them. To make them whole. God hasn't written them off - but their stubbornness, their sinful heart means they have to travel a harder path.

So where does this put the rest of us? It's pretty simple.

1.) Don't be an enabler. Sin is destructive. Rescuing people from the consequences of sin can't rescue them from sin itself.

2.) Take part in redemption and restoration. God does not desire that any should perish. We are His hands and feet on earth. In the way that Christ set an example for us, we must follow Him - loving others right where they're at - with truth (not enabling, acknowledging the destructive nature of sin) and grace (not rejecting, but loving the one who is sinning.)

As Jesus said to the prostitute: "Go forth, and sin no more." He knew her history, her sin. But he loved her and forgave her first. And then called her to something better. A life free from the shackles of sin and death. How can you be like Jesus in your relationships?

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