Paul says we Christians are running a race. Here's what I'm looking at on my run toward Christ.

Monday, October 7, 2013

When a Church Gets a Yeast Infection

How many of you clicked on this because of the title?  I want to first apologize to those of you offended by this title, but I'm just trying to add a little humor to a serious topic.  Please take time to read 1 Corinthians chapter 5.

The church at Corinth had a nasty problem.  A man in the church was sleeping with his dad's wife.  Now, whether that's his mom or step-mom we don't know.  What we do know is that this situation makes all of us scream "YUCK!!!"

The church at Corinth had another problem.  No one did anything about this man sleeping with his dad's wife.  The man was unrepentant and proud, yet the church didn't address the issue or disassociate themselves from this wickedness.

Paul said that the church at Corinth should expel this man.  That they should hand him over to Satan, which means they should allow him to be in the world without the support of the church.  They should have done this for a couple of reasons.

First, this man should have been expelled from the church for his own good.  If they "handed him over to Satan" he could be crushed and hopefully left with no option but to run back to the refuge of the cross.  Sometimes tough love means letting someone hit rock bottom.  This is hard but it is for the ultimate best even if it's not for the immediate best.

Second, this man should have been expelled from the church for the good of the church.

"Don't you know that a little yeast works through the whole batch of dough?  Get rid of the yeast that you may be a new batch without yeast... as you really are.  For Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed.  Therefore let us keep the Festival, not with the old yeast of malice wickedness, but with the bread without yeast, the bread of sincerity and truth."  1 Corinthians 5:6-8

Paul is using a compound of analogies here.  He's drawing from the Passover meal during which the Jews were required to clean their home of all the yeast in the house.  Then they were to eat unleavened bread all week.  Paul's also drawing from the Last Supper, which was a Passover meal.  In the Last Supper Jesus said that the bread was His body.  Finally, Paul is hoping the reader remembers that the Church is called the body of Christ.

The church at Corinth, in order to best represent Christ as His body, needed to remove the yeast.  In this case, the yeast was this immoral man who was sleeping with his dad's wife.

In this letter from Paul we can see that a little yeast ruins the whole batch.  It only takes a little yeast to make a whole loaf rise.  It only takes a little immorality to make the whole church misrepresent Christ.  So, the local church must practice church discipline for the sake of the immoral members, the sake of the congregation as a whole and the glory of Christ.

Before we go nuts here, I must point out that church discipline only applies to those who claim to be Christian and are part of your local church.

"What business is it of mine to judge those outside the church?  Are you not to judge those inside?  God will judge those outside.  'Expel the wicked man from among you.'"  1 Corinthians 5:12-13

We are not to pass this kind of judgement on those outside the church as if we are God.   We need to welcome all kinds of "sinners" into our fellowship.   That being said we are to practice church discipline regarding the members of the church.

You may also ask, "Where do we draw the line with keeping the immoral brothers outside of the church?  If we removed all those who are immoral we'd have an empty building on Sunday."  To this I'll say, "I don't know."  All I know is the line is somewhere before sleeping with your dad's wife.  I write that half-jokingly, but also truthfully.  I believe this chapter of 1 Corinthians not to be a template for church discipline, but an example.  I don't know where to draw the line of immorality, but I would suggest this is why you prayfully choose leaders who can wrestle with these kinds of decisions and make wise judgements.

This chapter is tough.  It is often skipped, but I believe it to be important.  Bottom line, take morality seriously within the local church, don't let a little yeast spoil the whole batch.  And secondly, don't be the immoral brother because what you do affects all those that have pledged to represent the body of Christ with you.

Strive for purity within your church and work to dissociate your church from  blatantly, hypocritical "christians" today.

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