BOOK BY BOOK BIBLE STUDY
BIBLE STUDY LESSON
PAUL CONDEMNS SPIRITUAL PRIDE
1 Corinthians 5
The major responsibility of the Christian Church is to show the world, through our behavior, that Christianity really does produce the best men and women. In order to achieve this goal, everyone in the congregation must exercise a high level of “self-discipline” (“engrathia” in the Greek) at all times, and this is especially true for the leadership under CHRIST, who are the “watchmen” for the people of GOD, here on earth.
The only way a Christian can make the world a better place is through, his or her, own lifestyle and behavior before unsaved humanity. We must fashion our lives according to the way JESUS, the HEAD of the Church, fashioned HIS when HE lived as a 100% human being here on earth, and, we must also be able to focus on HIS instructions as to how we are to be rightly related to GOD and HIMSELF, to Christians, and, to the world at large (John 15:1-16:4).
In 1 Corinthians chapter 5, the Apostle Paul turns his focus to “Church discipline” and how we as Christians are expected by GOD to watch over, and help preserve and protect each other’s “spiritual well-being”, which is constantly under attack from satan. The very purpose of Church discipline is to preserve the moral purity of the congregation, and sometimes that may require cutting off the sinning believer from fellowship for a while (v.9).
Jeremiah 21, verses 8-10 kind of helps us to understand the concept of Paul’s belief as to how we have to maintain the purity of the Church by cleansing it of sin, and then, letting the guilty party’s sin run its course ( pay the consequences) before bringing them back into the fold.
In the Old Testament, concerning GOD’s handling of Israel regarding their sinful behavior, HE would have to, from time to time, remove them from the Holy Land (i.e. to Egypt, Assyria, and Babylon), so that their sins of disobedience could run its course, through various forms of oppression and servitude, before returning them back to their homeland.
While they were away, GOD would perform a “spiritual cleansing” of the land, freeing it from the curse of disobediences, such as giving worship to demonic idols that should have only been given to GOD, sexual sins, etc. . Once GOD had finished HIS redeeming work on the people and the land, HE would reunite the “purified repentant people” back into the “restored land”.
That is the same concept that Paul is stressing here to the Corinthians. In the Old Testament, the land of Israel was “set apart” for the people of GOD, and the people of GOD were responsible to keep it holy under GOD. In the New Testament “Church Age” the Christian Church is “set apart” for all those who choose to come to CHRIST and wish to maintain and live lives that are pleasing to GOD. The only way to please GOD is by showing that you have the faith that allows you to be obedient to HIM at all times. Without that faith and trust, it is impossible to please HIM, and when a person become too prideful to live in obedience, say, in the fashion that Lucifer did before he was expelled from Heaven, GOD expects that person to be removed from the congregation. Any and every person that is guilty of practicing ongoing sinful behavior in the Church, has to be removed from the congregation, before their behavior affects others, and so that the Church can be restored to purity, and remain pure.
Here Paul says that he could hardly believe the reports about the sexual immorality (incest – having sexual intercourse with a close relative) that was going on inside the Church at Corinth. A man who was a member of the Church was “shacking up” (living together while unmarried) with his father’s wife, who apparently wasn’t a member of the Church, because no recommendation of discipline was leveled at her by Paul, only the man in this situation.
“Incest” was something that wasn’t even tolerated in most of the pagan world in those days, for it was something that was illegal even in the Roman Empire. Yet, the Corinthian Church didn’t even seem to give it a second thought. In fact they were still strutting around, proud of themselves for the spiritual advancements they believed they had made in the LORD since the Church was established five years earlier. And so, while resting on their own laurels, satan was getting ready to take over the congregation with his initial application of “evil yeast” that would threatened to ruin the whole local Church at Corinth.
In Matthew 18:15-17 JESUS suggests a process by which we can approach a wrongdoing believer in the Church, for the purpose of correcting him or her, so that Christian relationships can get back on the right track following a sinful interruption. There JESUS states that, if another believer sins against you, you should meet privately with the wrongdoer to try and work it out to a GODly conclusion. If the wrongdoer listens, and confesses to his or her fault, the relationship can be restored.
However, if the first attempt at reconciliation is unsuccessful, then the next step should be to meet again with the wrongdoer, this time taking one or two others with you to act as witnesses to verify your earnest attempt at reconciling the relationship. If the person still refuses to listen and repent of their wrongdoing, then, the matter should be taken to Church. If the church rules in your favor in the matter, and yet, the wrongdoer still does not accept it, you should, from that point forward, treat that person as one who does not wish to conform to the Christian lifestyle, and disassociate yourself from them.
The rationale behind this process toward discipline and correction is to give a person who has made a mistake, every opportunity to repent of their wrongdoing. It serves as a way to establish whether or not a person’s wrongdoing is unintentional, intentional, or just a blatant disregard for what is right or wrong.
True believers in the body of CHRIST must be able to realize that even if one person in the Church violates the will of GOD, by showing blatant disrespect to GOD and his or her fellowman, and is not disciplined accordingly, then the door has been left opened for satan to overcome and affect everyone else in the congregation over time (v.6). Paul, who is acting under the authority of CHRIST says that a person of such wickedness must be immediately removed from the Church in order to preserve its purity (v.7).
Corinth, whose very name is derived from sexual misbehavior (“korinthiazomai” in the Greek, which means “fornication”), was a place that was particularly mired in sexual sin when Paul first arrived there to teach the Gospel five years earlier. He admonished those who chose to join the body of CHRIST, not to continue to indulge in their sexual promiscuity and sinful lifestyles. He reminded them that he was not talking to those who didn’t want to commit to the Church, but rather, he was speaking to those who did wish to commit to the Christian lifestyle.
Paul goes on to tell the Church at Corinth that it was not his responsibility to judge unbelievers (“krino” judge – judgment of condemnation), but rather, it is his responsibility was to judge believers (“diakrino” judge – judge using the Word of GOD as your guide) (Vs.9-11). And not only was it Paul’s job to judge believers in the Church, Paul says that it is the responsibility of everyone in the Church to do so (v.12). “Spiritual Pride” will cause a person to sin, and, it will also cause a person to ignore the sins of others, even inside the walls of the Church, of which we pledge to CHRIST, to preserve its purity.
A Sunday school lesson by,
Larry D. Alexander
LARRY D. ALEXANDER- Official Website