Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Do We Hold Ourselves Accountable For the Way We Live?

1Co 5:1  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. 1Co 5:2  And you are arrogant! Ought you not rather to mourn? Let him who has done this be removed from among you.

In Ch. 5 of 1 Corinthians Paul address the need for church discipline due to gross sin that was going on within the church.  Church discipline is not a pleasant subject and for this reason and others it is usually ignored or greatly modified today.  When sin is not dealt with biblically it is many times excused by saying something like, “Who are we to cast the first stone” or “We want to be tolerant of people’s problems and not cast them out and leave them to fend for themselves” and many more excuses.  But there are a couple of important problems with this kind of thinking.

First of all it basically suggests that we are more holy than God when we disobey under the assumption that we know better than he does.  If he tells us that there are certain sinful lifestyles and actions that cannot be tolerated within the church then that is the end of the conversation.  It would seem that we are indeed capable of understanding that there are times in which we must judge certain sins and sinners as in need of censorship even by other sinners.  In the next chapter when addressing taking each other to court Paul says that Christians are going to be judging the world and angels and so suggests that we have enough light and wisdom to be able to recognize sin and sin’s destructive power and do something about it even in this life.  Only those with light have the ability and right to make judgments on moral issues.

Then we have the idea that we are just as bad as the offender and so shouldn't point the finger.  This sounds humble and spiritual but it is full of problems.  Church discipline as it is set forth in the NT is to be used for gross public, divisive and damaging sins that must be dealt with for the good of the church and the reputation of the Lord.  The problem with such a pseudo-humble attitude is that it fails to take into consideration that all saints have been given a new nature that loves righteousness and hates evil. 

Yes it is easy for us to be self-righteous and to see everyone’s sin but our own, but we are not speaking of merely finding faults with others.  Paul is addressing public, obvious, divisive sins that are demeaning the name of Christ and dangerous to the life and reputation of the church.  Putting all this together Paul is saying that Christians should have enough spiritual sense to recognize activity that cannot be tolerated from the everyday remaining sin in our lives and to love Christ enough to do the hard thing and remove those who will not repent from the church lest we all become party to the same sins.  The Bible teaches that all saints have been changed and that this will lead to a different kind of life than they led before.

If we don’t hold ourselves accountable to the Word and hold each other accountable on serious issues either because we are too lazy (and by that I mean our love for the Lord is so shallow) or with the excuse that we are no better than they are, then two options are available to us.  Either we had better get right with the Lord and get our lives under his control as we are commanded in Scripture or we need to quit pretending that we are saved and disband the church. 

Either we have been transformed and are capable of living lives that honor Christ and can be held accountable by the church to do so or everything the Bible teaches about the Holy Spirit is a lie.  But if God’s power can change us and produce some level of purity in the church then we need to pursue that and not make excuses for lives that offer little to no evidence of salvation.  

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