Reading: 1 Corinthians 5
Summary: As Paul begins to wrap up this lengthy discussion of divisions in the church (begun back in 1:10), he now turns his attention to specific issues present in the congregation that further threaten it. Here in chapter 5 is a case of sexual immorality that should not be tolerated and steps they should take to deal with it.
Another Reason to Oppose Sin
Wrong is wrong because it’s wrong. But that’s not the only problem with wrong.
We may feel a sense of immunity because we’re not actively participating in a particular sin. We know it’s wrong, that’s why we’re not doing it, but still, we otherwise associate with it or with those who do. This is a spiritually precarious approach, to say the least.
Paul addressed a serious problem of sexual immorality in the church at Corinth (1 Cor. 5). This sin was to be opposed because it was wrong. That was not the only reason though. Not everyone in the church was engaged in this sin. But neither were they taking action to eradicate it from their presence.
Here’s what Paul says, “Do you no know that a little leaven leavens the whole lump?” (1 Cor. 5:6). So, it’s not just the overt sinfulness of sin that is at issue. It’s also the pervasive, insidious influence of unrighteousness on the righteous.
Paul’s instruction, in the context of the local congregation, was to “cleanse out the old leaven” (v. 7). We may not be able to “cleanse out” the sinfulness in our community, workplace, and so on, but we can be very careful about our associations with sinful behavior. “No active participation” is good, as far as it goes, but it’s not an effective strategy. Rather, recognizing the leavening influence of sin, an approach that seeks to limit our association with sin seems a much wiser stance.
The church at Corinth needed to take steps to eliminate both sin and its influence. Am I as concerned about sin’s influence as I am its presence?