x424.......Mourning for the fornicator
1* ¶ It is reported commonly that there is fornication among you, and such fornication as is not so much as named among the Gentiles, that one should have his father's wife. 2* And ye are puffed up, and have not rather mourned, that he that hath done this deed might be taken away from among you. 3* For I verily, as absent in body, but present in spirit, have judged already, as though I were present, concerning him that hath so done this deed, 4* In the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, when ye are gathered together, and my spirit, with the power of our Lord Jesus Christ, 5* To deliver such an one unto Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that the spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus. (1Corinthians 5: 1-5)
These verses of the Bible have been used supposedly as an example of the "authority" which church leaders are to exercise over their congregations. When we look at these verse quickly it seems to be saying that the church leaders have the right to "kick out" a person who is sinning.
But let's look carefully.......
first of all it is very clear that the scriptures do not say "use your authority over" the person who is sinning. Of course if the Bible did it would contradict itself with regard to behavior and authority amongst Christians--
25 And he said unto them, The kings of the Gentiles exercise lordship over them; and they that exercise authority upon them are called benefactors. 26 But ye shall not be so: but he that is greatest among you, let him be as the younger; and he that is chief, as he that doth serve. (Luke 22:25-26, KJV).
The Bible as always is perfectly consistent in it's doctrine. Authority--the "power to rule over" is not to be used amongst ourselves--but it is specifically commanded by scripture to be used to destroy the works of the devil. "Authority" is the power to rule over--and the church is supposed to use Gods authority to rule over the devil--commanded very specifically NOT to use authority one over another amongst ourselves. Jesus gave this commandment as the operationla principle of the church. Christians have largely ignored this, basing church government on old testament ideas and worldly government. (Wouldn't it be great to base a church upon this idea!!--Jesus did it this way--and so did the church which followed Him in the Bible.)
So it is clear that there is no "authority" commanded to be used here---yet it is so often taught by implication and supposed "examples" such as these verses in 1Corinthians--taken out of context and ignoring the word and command of the Lord.
Point 2: There is absolutely no mention of leadership in these verses. Most assuredly there is no mention of a pastor--yet of course when someone teaches this by implication, they will assume that the Bible is speaking here to pastors. the plain Biblical fact is that the pastoral anointing is simply one of the gifts which are "given unto every one of us"--gifts which any Christian can and should be able to function under as the Lord directs. "Pastor"--the "office of the pastor" as is so often misquoted is no where to be found in these verses. the NT Bible in no place links the pastoral anointing with church leadership. So if someone were to teach these verses as being directed "to pastors" they are definitely incorrect.
But, it is also clear that no mention is made here of other church leadership --the church of the Bible called its' leaders "bishops or elders" (not pastors)--and there are many areas of scripture which are directed to these leaders--however, there is no mention of this advice being directed at the leaders or bishops of the church. This advice is being directed at the entire church and to be enacted by the entire church--not a command or directive which is for leadership specifically. We must always bear in mind that they were building the "network" of apostolic operation--not the "empire" of pastoral authority which we are so familiar with. The "church" was the home of the Christian--many many homes were the operatiional place--not one central meeting place. the bishops and elders were simply people who were organizing these houses of God within an area--they were places of release, not rulership and authority.
Now, we must read these verses carefully in order to understand exactly what is begin said.
1* ¶ It is reported commonly that there is fornication among you, and such fornication as is not so much as named among the Gentiles, that one should have his father's wife. 2* And ye are puffed up, and have not rather mourned, that he that hath done this deed might be taken away from among you.
Verse 1 here says that there is someone who is sinning by fornication. Certainly a sin--and one which needs attention--but look at what is said the reaction--the incorrect reaction of this church has been--"And ye are puffed up"--What is being said is that the people in this church are reacting proud--they are acting vainly--they are not seeing this sin from God's perspective.--But then the most remarkable advice is given--
"and have not rather mourned, that he that hath done this deed might be taken away from among you."
It is saying here that in order for this man to be removed--the people should be mourning--repenting themselves. They should be saddened by the fact that this man is sinning in such a wrongful way. They are not told to judge the man--nor are they told to use authority over him--but in order for him to be removed--they are being told to "mourn"--to be in true repentance themselves. If they did this the Bible says he would be removed. If the entire church mourned and repented in honesty before God--this man would either repent himself or leave. If the powerful presence of God which repentance brings were ushered into the church--the sin in this man could not enter in--and he would be forced to leave if he did not repent himself.
What this church was rather doing was being proud--and not living in the kind of honest repentance which all Christians are called to (a number of times in previous chapter Paul calls this church "puffed up") they were acting and reacting legalistically and so through their own flesh--rather than through the Spirit and in repentance. Paul is saying that this is one of the consequences of the unrepentance of all the people in the church. Love and humbleness drives away sin. Love and humility are to be the operational plan of the church. These atributes will always bring the presence of God and true repentance--and God will remove the sin.
What is very often done in our churches today is a similar situation--when we know someone among us is in some type of sin, we get proud--we judge--and we gossip about it--we complain to the leaders--speaking against our own brothers and sisters. Do we mourn? Do we feel honest sadness when we hear of another person in our church who is sinning? Do we repent ourselves, and pray in honesty for God to help that person? Do we rather easily take on the worldly kingdom way of operating and expect the leadership to deal with it? Have you ever heard it taught in church to "mourn" when we find sin amongst ourselves? Or is the reaction of ourselves and leadership to "take matters into our own hands" and confront the person and perhaps kick them out of the church? Isn't this the "proud" way? Or perhaps our church simply ignores what God says is sin--and gets "puffed up" in another way--by believing that we are a better judge of sin than God and His word. Does your church simply allow people to live in things which God calls sin? Do we "know that they are there" and yet ignore it?
The Bible here is saying clearly that the correct way of dealing with this problem is by mourning. How often have you cried when you heard that another person in your church was caught up in sin? Maybe if we tried this God could work better in our churches.
3* For I verily, as absent in body, but present in spirit, have judged already, as though I were present, concerning him that hath so done this deed, 4* In the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, when ye are gathered together, and my spirit, with the power of our Lord Jesus Christ, 5* To deliver such an one unto Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that the spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus.
Now here Paul is saying this since they have not "mourned" and that they are "puffed up" they ought to then simply allow this man to be given over to the devil. The sin inside of him will destroy his flesh--and so he still might have the chance to be saved--if he understands--if he goes on to live out the consequences of his sin and eventually repent.
But let's read on--
9* ¶ I wrote unto you in an epistle not to company with fornicators: 10* Yet not altogether with the fornicators of this world, or with the covetous, or extortioners, or with idolaters; for then must ye needs go out of the world. 11* But now I have written unto you not to keep company, if any man that is called a brother be a fornicator, or covetous, or an idolater, or a railer, or a drunkard, or an extortioner; with such an one no not to eat. 12* For what have I to do to judge them also that are without? do not ye judge them that are within? 13 But them that are without God judgeth. Therefore put away from among yourselves that wicked person. (1Cor 5: 9-13)
This part is also very interesting in that it tells these "puffed up" Christians that they ought to put away the man among themselves who is sinning by fornication--and not to keep his company--and yet--
10* Yet not altogether with the fornicators of this world, or with the covetous, or extortioners, or with idolaters; for then must ye needs go out of the world.
WE as Christians are to keep company with sinners that are in the world! (It really says that we have no choice--that these sins are so common in the world we would have to leave the world in order to live without these things). We are here to help the world to Jesus and to repentance from these things--so we are called to not judge the world (whoa!! does the church ever need to repent of this!!)--and in fact to keep company with them--to live among them (as Jesus did--He also was criticised by legalistic Pharisees and priests for "keeping company with sinners"). The apostolic network of the Bible church was sprinkled like salt everywhere in a community. It had many contact points with the world, with the sick, the poor, the demon possesed, and with every kind of sin and sinner. This is why they were getting people saved on a daily basis. The "sanctuary" concept of our churches builds a church which isolates Christians from the world--minimizes ministry--and limits the amount of time we spend together. All these are rules that Roman emperors implanted into the church hundreds of years ago--rules which we faithfully keep with our once-a-week "holy day of obligation"--Sunday meeting.
Mt 9:10* And it came to pass, as Jesus sat at meat in the house, behold, many publicans and sinners came and sat down with him and his disciples.
Mt 9:11* And when the Pharisees saw it, they said unto his disciples, Why eateth your Master with publicans and sinners?
Jesus made it clear that we are all sinners in the same boat together--all of us --just like the world is. This commonality was the operational basis of the church in the Bible---all sinners saved by grace. Mingling with sin and sinners was vital---how else to get people saved?
1* ¶ There were present at that season some that told him of the Galilaeans, whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices. 2 And Jesus answering said unto them, Suppose ye that these Galilaeans were sinners above all the Galilaeans, because they suffered such things? 3 I tell you, Nay: but, except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish. 4* Or those eighteen, upon whom the tower in Siloam fell, and slew them, think ye that they were sinners above all men that dwelt in Jerusalem? 5* I tell you, Nay: but, except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish. (Luke 12: 1-5)
Jesus is here dealing with people talking about the sin of others --other Israelites--speaking against the sin of other Israelites. It is a similar situation to the one in the church at Corinth. And the advice is the same--we are all sinners--and ought not to condemn others for their sin. We should not allow sin in our churches--but the way to get rid of that sin is for all of us to be in repentance--for all of us to mourn the sin of our own brothers and sisters.
Commoness---NOT rule with authority.