Cross Centered Morality (1Corinthians 5-6)


The greatest reason for atheism is not tolerant secularism but today’s Christianity. Much of what is labeled as Christianity is hypocrisy and therefore not worthy of such titling. True Christianity is sanctified by God – set apart with distinction to declare His holy honor. Christianity is a spectacle to the world (1Cor 4:9) and counter-cultural. Christians are exiles longing for a greater home (Php 3:20; Col 3:1-3; 1Peter 2:11-12).

The Corinthian church was failing to impact its world but was instead influenced by the world. The biblical city of Corinth was a secular and seductuous society. Self-seeking pleasure ruled many hearts. The city was filled with idolatry and most notably with ~1000 cult temples – one specifically was the Temple of Aphrodite (Greek goddess of love).

A sinful lifestyle is expected outside the church; they do not know any better. They act lost because they are lost. But the Corinthian church should have known and acted differently. Instead they tolerated sin and the next few chapters will be Paul’s admonishment.1cor_cross centered logo

EXAMINE 1Corinthians 5-6 Cross Centered Morality
Moral purity is determined by Lordship (1Cor 5:1)
The Corinthians were permissive and proud of sexual sin. Paul, as a spiritual leader should, addressed the sin and conflict as noted in previous lessons these conflicts are a result of spiritual immaturity that Paul was trying to correct. Any church with new believers is going to have similar discipleship issues. In this case, Paul was clear in calling for removal of the individual from the fellowship.
“It is actually reported” [heard everywhere, completely or widely known; “the talk of the town”]

“sexual immorality” [πορνεία = porneia: general term for sexual sin, harlotry, homosexuality, adultery, fornication]

The sin in the congregation was blatant, ongoing [“is among you”, “has (not had) his father’s wife”] and unrepentant. A man was having sexual relations with his “father’s wife” (not biological, step-mother). This was a form of incest which was both illegal in Jewish (Leviticus 18:8, 20:11; Deut 22:30, 27:20) and Roman law. Further, it was an unthinkable act even among secular society, which is noteworthy even in debauched city of Corinth.

God created sex as a gift for humanity to see the pleasures of His glory. Sex in itself is not sinful but sacred. It seems on the day God created sex He was having a pretty good day ! It was meant for enjoyment and enrichment between husband and wife. Adam & Eve walked naked without shame before their Creator. Therefore, sex was not a god to be worshiped but a gift to reverence in light of the Creator.

The biblical standard for sexual activity is limited to the boundaries of marriage that exists exclusively between one man and one woman (Genesis 2:24; Proverbs 5:15-20, 6:28-32; Malachi 2:14).

Sexual Violations
– Immorality (immodesty, fornication/co-habitation, lust, prostitution, masturbation, animals, incest, child abuse, rape) (Leviticus 18:23-24/20:15-16; Leviticus 18:6; Leviticus 19:29/Deuteronomy 23:18; Matthew 5:28-30;1Corinthians 6:9-10, 10:8; Ephesians 5:1-5; 2Timothy 2:22)
– Adultery (Ex 20:14; Leviticus 20:10; SOS 2:7, 3:5, 8:4; ; Matthew 19:17-18; Hebrews 13:4)
– Divorce (Leviticus 21:7; Deuteronomy 24:1-4; Malachi 2:16)
– Polygamy (Deuteronomy 17:17; Leviticus 18:18; Jeremiah 5:8; Malachi 2:14-15)
– Homosexuality (Leviticus 18:22-23/20:13; Romans 1:26-27; 1Corinthians 6:9-11; 1Timothy 1:9-10; Jude 1:6-7)
– Deprival (1Corinthians 7:3-5)

The reality is that most people understand this, even if one is not a Christian believer. The problem is that Christians, much less non-Christians, do not live by this standard. Our culture views the Christian ethic of sex as unfashionable and unreasonable. Sexual purity is old-fashioned; today everyone is doing it – literally. In a twisted way we have extended the boundaries of God’s design and defined new terminology for sex: “hooking up”, “making out”, “friends with benefits”… etc.

The other problem is that people will look at this brazen example of immorality (incest) and consider it foreign to their own immoral sin issue. People will defend their sinful actions as superior to those of another. Yet, these would be making the same mistake as the Corinthian church. Pride, arrogance and not taking sin seriously would be their downfall.

 Our moral behavior is determined by our spiritual beliefs. If Jesus is our God then we must submit every area of our life – including our sexual desires – to His Lordship.
 Is there unashamed or unconfessed sin in your life?
o Sin seldom stays silent, “your sin will find you out” Numbers 32:23
o Your actions do not merely relate to self but to others. God views membership in the body as accountable one to another. Therefore we are our “brother’s keeper” and we are responsible to each other (cf. sin of Achan in Joshua 7).
 Varieties of sexual sin will increase among churches. I believe this largely relates to homosexuality but also to other forms of immorality. We must understand how to relate and respond to each.
o Influencers in my life… J.R., D.M… even GT These were crushing but not conquering.
o Ministry to… Clara…K…K… These confessed and changed for God’s glory…

Moral failure must be addressed with dignity and discipline (1Corinthians 5:2-12)
As the sinful behavior was made known to Pau, he did not hesitate to address it. The Corinthians were arrogant [puffed up, prideful] rather than mourning the sadness of sin.

The essential emotional response to another’s sin should not be pride, accusatory, judgmental but rather grief. When a person is wandering away from the truth it is heartrending. Yet, following the emotional concern should lead to confrontation.

Paul commanded the Corinthians to confront the sinner and remove him from the body fellowship (5:2). Such removal or discipline would result in non-association (5:9) and not eating or fellowshipping together with the person (5:11). To be clearer, Paul noted that discipline is not for unbelievers for if we were to implement that we would have to leave the world (5:9)! In Paul’s view a judgment has already been pronounced (5:3) and the church should assemble in the name of the Lord Jesus and declare the discipline (5:4-5). Paul’s words are extremely stern – “deliver this man to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, so that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord.” The leaven of sin must be removed before it grows (5:6-8).

 What happens in a scandal? What does church discipline look like in today’s churches?
Church discipline is not taken lightly. It may be a bold action but it is a biblical action. God has called His Church and children to a holy lifestyle. Church discipline is not for those outside the church –
non-Christians or non-members – but for those who are believers and members of a local church. It is only applied against someone who is blatantly disobedient and carelessly disparaging the gospel of Jesus Christ; such person will be prideful and unrepentant. The proof of one’s pardon should be their passion for purity – if not, there is a price to pay.

Matthew 18:15-17 guides the process for seeking reconciliation, moving from personal to public confrontation. Paul’s instructions are in line with Jesus’ words of “telling it to the church” and “treating as a pagan”. In essence, church discipline acts on the authority of God’s Word. Pastor Mark Dever says, “If churches expect to have anything to say about how Christians do live, they will have to say something about how Christians do not live. Yet I worry that the way many churches approach discipleship is like pouring water into leading buckets – all the attention is given to what is poured in with no thought given to how it’s received and kept.”

In practice, church discipline notifies a person claiming to be a Christian with unrepentant behavior that their actions are inappropriate and in need of change. The consequences will be to view the person as an unbeliever – perhaps even as a stranger.

Viewing a person as an unbeliever (or even as a stranger) does not mean one is still not respectful, caring and compassionate to that individual. But it means the consequences are to not deem the person trustworthy. In practical example that means limiting the amount of exposure to the person, not allowing the person previous roles of service or benefits in that of a church member.

SPBC Church Covenant
Having been led, as we believe, by the Spirit of God to receive the Lord Jesus Christ as our Savior, and on profession of our faith, having been baptized in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, we do now in the presence of God, angels and this assembly, most solemnly and joyfully enter into covenant with one another, as one body in Christ.
We engage, therefore, by the aid of the Holy Spirit, to walk together in Christian love; to strive for the advancement of this church in knowledge, holiness, and comfort; to promote its prosperity and spirituality; to sustain its worship, ordinances, discipline and doctrines; to contribute cheerfully and regularly to the support of the ministry, the expenses of the church, and the relief of the poor, and the spread of the Gospel through all nations.
We also engage to maintain family and secret devotions, to religiously educate our children, to seek the salvation of our kindred and acquaintances; to walk circumspectly in the world; to be just in our dealings, faithful in our engagements, and exemplary in our deportment; to avoid sinful actions and attitudes; to abstain from substance abuse, and to be zealous in our efforts to advance the kingdom of our Savior.
We further engage to watch over one another in brotherly love; to remember each other in prayer; to aid each other in sickness and distress; to cultivate Christian sympathy in feeling and courtesy of speech; to be slow to take offense, but always ready for reconciliation, and mindful of the rules of our Savior to secure it without delay.
We moreover engage that when we remove from this place, we will, as soon as possible, unite with a like-minded church, where we can carry out the spirit of this covenant and the principles of God’s Word.

SPBC Constitution – Reconciliation of Members
It shall be the practice of SPBC to emphasize to the members that every reasonable measure will be taken to assist any troubled member. The Senior Pastor, other members of the Ministerial Staff, and Deacons are available for counsel and guidance. The attitude of members toward each other should be guided by a concern for redemption rather than punishment.
Should some serious condition exist which, could cause a member to become a hindrance to the welfare of the Church; the Senior Pastor, other members of the Ministerial Staff, and Deacons will take every reasonable measure to resolve the problem in accordance with Matthew 18:15-20. They shall then make an appropriate recommendation to the church. If it becomes necessary for the church to take action to exclude a member, such action may be taken at the same business meeting in which it is recommended. All such proceedings shall be entered into with a redemptive spirit of Christian love, kindness, and forgiveness.
SPBC may restore to membership any person previously excluded, upon request of the excluded person, evidence of their repentance and restoration, and by a majority vote of membership.

 Church discipline should not lead us to fear but to faithfulness. Our faithfulness validates our faith and credibility before a watching world who suspects hypocrisy.
 Church discipline is not to humiliate but to help the person correct and grow in grace. Paul said it was “for the destruction of the flesh so that his spirit may be saved” (5:5).
 Church discipline is to be done with dignity. The persons enforcing the discipline are to be humble and somewhat heartbroken in the necessary actions. These leaders must have thick skin but a tender heart.

Moral purity honors the magnificent price paid by Jesus (1Corinthians 5:7-8; 6:9-20)
Paul wanted the Corinthians to see that their behavior was not reflecting the grace provided for them through the gospel. Paul explains that all sinners will be judged but only some sinners will be justified. Those whom are justified will have their sins judged on the account of Jesus, whereas those who do not trust Jesus for salvation will have to bear their own judgment for sins (6:9-11).

Our bodies are spiritual.
6:13 “The body is not meant for sexual immorality, but for the Lord, and the Lord for the body.”
Paul is reminding believers that Christianity is not just a mere mental assent but a life affirmation involving the spirit but also the body. As Jesus became flesh and after His death His body was raised, so too our bodies are made for eternal life. Our bodies are either united in service to Jesus or to the world. Paul makes the radical point and command that believers should never unite their bodies in immorality or else it be like joining (κολλάω= kollao: glue together) Jesus to a prostitute (6:15-16).

The believer’s body is filled with God’s Holy Spirit and is therefore a temple. Our lives have been purchased and repurposed for God’s glory and not our own gratification (6:18-20). As marriage spouses are “one flesh” so is a reflection of Christ and the church.
Peter Kreeft, “Sex is like religion not only because it is objectively holy in itself but also because it gives us subjectively a foretaste of heaven, of the self-forgetting, self-transcending self-giving that is what our deepest hearts are designed for, long for and will not be satisfied until they have, because we are made in God’s own image and this self-giving constitutes the inner life of the Trinity” Kreeft, How to Win the Culture War: A Christian Battle Plan for a Society in Crisis, p.95

 Christianity impacts everything – glorify God in your body!
There is no such thing as casual sex, friends with benefits or hook-ups; it’s sex to the glory of God or sex to the pathway of consequence. Indeed, sex is to be for God’s glory (it’s not a dirty word, God created it). In fact, Paul will tell married couples that a consistent sex life is part of their sanctification (7:3-5)!

 Are you giving your body away to a prostitute? If you claim Christianity and you are having sex outside marriage then biblically you are. Christians are to flee [Present imperative shows habitual action] sexual immorality (6:18).
Ephesians 5:3,5 “But sexual immorality and all impurity or covetousness must not even be named among you, as is proper among saints…For you may be sure of this, that everyone who is sexually immoral or impure or who is covetous (that is, an idolater), has no inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God.”

1Thessalonians 4:3-5 “This is the will of God, your sanctification: that you abstain from sexual immorality; that each one of you know how to control his own body in holiness and honor, not in the passion of lust like those who do not know God.”

 Are you giving your body away to Christ? This includes proper eating, proper scheduling of your body between work & sleep, proper intake and not substance abuse.

 Is your temple (body) a mobile, living, walking place of worship that puts God on display from your church and in to communities? An impure church will never reach an impure world.
1Peter 1:18-19, 2:11-12 “knowing that you were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your forefathers, not with perishable things such as silver or gold, but with the precious blood of Christ…[so] abstain from the passions of the flesh, which wage war against your soul. Keep your conduct among unbelievers honorable, so that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day of visitation.”

 Are we a church that would be missed if the unrepentant person were disciplined from fellowship?
Our goal should be to cultivate a community of believers that model the example of holiness, magnify the grace of God in our failures and that meaningfully care for each other by speaking the truth in love – so that even the sinner will be drawn to the love of God in the gospel.

 What is the radical removal needed in your life? Matthew 5:29-30 “If your right eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away… right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body go into hell.”

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s