It is actually reported that there is sexual immorality among you, and such sexual immorality as is not even named among the Gentiles — that a man has his father’s wife! And you are puffed up, and have not rather mourned, that he who has done this deed might be taken away from among you. For I indeed, as absent in body but present in spirit, have already judged (as though I were present) him who has so done this deed. In the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, when you are gathered together, along with my spirit, with the power of our Lord Jesus Christ, deliver such a one to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus. Your glorying is not good. Do you not know that a little leaven leavens the whole lump? Therefore purge out the old leaven, that you may be a new lump, since you truly are unleavened. For indeed Christ, our Passover, was sacrificed for us. Therefore, let us keep the feast, not with old leaven, nor with the leaven of malice and wickedness, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth. I wrote to you in my epistle not to keep company with sexually immoral people. Yet I certainly did not mean with the sexually immoral people of this world, or with the covetous, or extortioners, or idolaters, since then you would need to go out of the world. But now I have written to you not to keep company with anyone named a brother, who is sexually immoral, or covetous, or an idolater, or a reviler, or a drunkard, or an extortioners — not even to eat with such a person. For what have I to do with judging those also who are outside? Do you not judge those who are inside? But those who are outside God judges. Therefore “Put away from yourselves the evil person.” (1 Corinthians 5:1-13)
Helping Them Lose Their Souls
Love is an important part of the relationship children of God have with each other. We are bound by the same blood, the same sacrifice, the same Lord and the same Father. Entering a covenant with God in baptism, we put on Christ and become part of the body of Christ, the church. As fellow Christians, we help carry the burdens of life so we can all attain eternal life. We need one another. The church at Corinth needed to help one another and they were failing to show their love for a man who had his father’s wife.
It seems incredulous such a thing was being permitted within the church of God at Corinth. Paul decries the attitude of the brethren towards the man who was in sin because they were not concerned about his soul. The sexual immorality was of such a nature the Gentiles would not have condoned it. Why would the saints of God allow such a thing to continue? There can be many reasons but the conclusion drawn by Paul was the church continued to fellowship a man who was his own worst enemy standing condemned because of his sin. The apostle commands the church to take loving action against the man seeking his repentance and acknowledgement of sexual immorality. Their glorying or accepting this man into fellowship was not good. When a brother or sister in Christ turns away from the will of God refusing to repent; and the congregation continues to embrace the person in fellowship – sin will destroy both.
Accepting a person who is in sin is not seeking to save their soul but allowing them to believe they are saved in their sin. When a man and woman are in an unlawful marriage and fellowship continues to be engaged with the couple, who is being served? The marriage is unlawful according to the word of God. Turning a blind eye and continuing to act as if nothing is wrong allows the man and woman to believe their sin is justified. When a couple is disciplined by the church for an unlawful marriage and they leave to attend another congregation, keeping fellowship with them is rebellion against the will and word of God. The purpose of church discipline is to have the couple repent and change their lives. Brethren who continue to embrace the couple embrace their sin and help them lose their souls. Why would good-thinking brethren want to help someone miss Heaven?
Church discipline is hard. Punitive disciple is Biblical. It involves the pain of separation. What is forgotten in the process of church discipline is that sin lay at the root of the problem. These erring brethren are not enemies but we make them more the object of condemnation when we disobey the word of God and allow our emotions to embrace people who are going to lose their souls if they do not repent. Refusing to withdraw fellowship from disobedient brethren is sin and continuing to treat them as if nothing is wrong assures them of an eternity in Hell. This is not love. If we truly care for our brethren, we will do whatever it takes to help them see the error of their way and beg, plead, and admonish them to repent. Their eternal soul may depend on it.
We need a deeper and more tormenting sense of sin, a profounder consciousness of the eternal truth that a sin whether of indifference or intent against our brother or our sister is an offense against an outraged and indignant God. (C. S. Macfarland, Christian Service in the Modern World, 1912)