Sin Worse than the Worst

Just added, a new message from 1 Corinthians chapter 5, preached by J Stewart Gillespie:

1 Corinthians chp 5 – Sin Worse than the Worst

Notes from this message:

1. The Report (v1)
2. The Response (v2)
3. The Recovery (v2-v8)

The Report

    V1 – “It is commonly reported”

    We notice the low spiritual and moral state of affairs at Corinth, which was surely disappointing for the apostle Paul, having been used to plant the church at Corinth.
    This seems a basic issue, basic moral issue to ere over.
    How can this transpire in a church?
    Corinth was such a:

    Popular church
    Progressive Church
    Prosperous church

    A church with a real buzz and plenty of gifts and social liberalism (chp 8)
    Yet this church fails at the most basic level!
    How did this come to be?

    They marginalised Christ.

    Certain core truths regarding Christ were forgotten:

    Unity of His body (chp1)
    Power of His Cross (chp1)
    Simplcity of His Gospel (chp2)
    Dependence on Christ for feeding and growth (chp3)
    Lordship of Christ over all service (chp4)
    The Moral implications of the sacrifice of Christ (chp5)

    Their devotion to Christ could not be rightly judged by:

    1 – The exercise of gifts
    2 – The size of their gathering

    But rather in:

    Unity with one another (chp1)
    Preaching of the Gospel (chp1+2)
    Feeding on Christ (chp3)
    Obedience and service of Christ (chp4)
    Practical holiness (chp5)

    and yet paradoxically it is perhaps a source of encouragement for us:
    Christians do fall and fail
    These deep and difficult situations are not beyond recovery
    Failure is not of necessity final!
    Paul writes with a view to dealing with these situations and with the expectation of recovery and restoration (2 Co2:5ff)
    Notice the effect of sin upon the church as a whole.
    This may have been the sin of only one or two but it had ramifications for the whole church.
    It may only have been the sin of 1 or 2 but it was 1 or 2 who were “among you” (5:1) and this had effects upon them all.
    The problem of testimony or reputation
    This was guilt by association and corruption by contamination.
    This has been a frequent problem over the years:

    Achans sin
    Solomons wives
    Moses wives
    Jonah on the boat

    There are those who are willing to sacrifice Christ and His Church on the altar of their own lust.
    Sadly at times Christians have been:

    1 – Complacent
    2 – Complicit
    3 – Compromising

    In this
    Sometimes under the pretext of:

    Love – for the person as a reason to ignore their sin
    Longsuffering – as a virtue that tolerates sin
    Loyalty to the person

    There is you see a hard core of people who are so self obsessed, so fallen into sin and sometimes self pity that they are willing to to sacrifice:

    1 – The Cause of Christ
    2 – The Church of Christ

    On the altar of their own lusts, with little or no concern or care for the consequences of their own actions.

    Beware that in our complacency that we do not fall prey to the carnal believer.
    We hand the testimony into the hands of people who care little or nothing for it, who refuse to see their responsibility to live up to that standard and who are quite willing for the whole work of God to be brought into disrepute and to be slandered, just so they can continue to do what they are doing.

    V1 – ‘fornication’ : 4202 : porneia : from ‘porneuo’ to commit fornication or any sexual sin, from a root word meaning to sell.

    Merchandising morality – the root issue is jettisoning what is right because of what we believe we stand to gain / profit.
    Not that our understanding of what is right and wrong fundamentally changes and not that we are genuinely blinded to the truth but we make merchandise of morality, morality is compromised for money, jettisoning right and wrong when it suits us.
    An appeal can be made to conscience in chapter 5 – this has not been lost.

    V1 – “should have” – note this is a present infinitive active indicating not a one off failure but a persistent and ongoing sin
    V1 – “fathers wife”
    An act of incest under the terms of Lev 18:8
    This kind of sin was not new, regrettably:

    1 – Abraham and Sarah – possibly, although it would appear to have been accepted in the culture of Ur of the Chaldees from which they came and was out in the open and above board.
    2 – Judah and Tamar
    3 – Lot and his 2 daughters
    4 – Ruben and his father’s concubine
    5 – Tamar and David’s son Amnon
    6 – Absalom and his father David’s concubines
    7 – Herod and Herodias
    This sin is not new, and in that sense the REALITY of it and the EXISTENCE of it, or that we find it, is not so shocking

    The Response (v2)
    What is truly showing and unique is the RESPONSE to it and Where we find it!
    Up until 1 Corinthians chapter 5, with the notable exception of Abraham and Sarah, incestuous relationships had always been a source of embarrassment, the object of judgement, of condemnation and reproach.
    Here in 1 Corinthians chapter 5, they are the source of PRIDE (1 Co5:2).
    This is surprising, shocking and unique!
    The Corinthians appear to have had little scruples over what they they would and would not accept, this is perhaps an important observation to bear in mind as we consider later on ministry that Paul would give regarding marriage in chapter 7 And some ministry interestingly which he did not give!
    They were “puffed up” : phubioo : 5448: from ‘phusao’ – to breath, inflate, blow, or puff up, spoke figuratively of pride or self conceit.
    They not only tolerated sin, they were proud that they tolerated the sin!
    It is part of our fallen humanity that in spite of our sin we continue to think well of ourselves, we attempt to hold on at least to our self esteem and dignity; so we become proud in our boasting.
    Corinth was the popular and all Inclusive church.
    What was the cause of this unique response?
    Why we’re they “puffed up” (5:2)?

    1. They were compromised morally – consider the compromise of some with prostitution in 6:12ff.
    2. They were confused Doctrinally – consider the possible / probable influence at Corinth of a teaching like that of Romans 6:1; “shall we continue in sin that grace may abound?”
    3. They were corrupted spiritually – cf. Chapter 8; 10:7-8 – the spiritual impact upon them of compromise with idols and fornication.

    If we compromise with a sin a small way you will find it difficult / unattractive to take a firm / bold / assertive / convincing stand against the practice of sin in a bigger way.
    One small compromise opens the flood gates to a bigger and broader compromise with sin.
    Very hard to take a consistent stand against sin if we have compromised with sin.
    Therein lies the root and the rot of the permissive society.
    Here is Paul and the permissive society.

    The Road to Recovery

    1. Mourning – Repentance (5:2)

    To move from:
    Self satisfaction to sorrow
    Rejoicing to regret
    High self esteem to reproach
    ‘mourned’: 3996: pentheo: to mourn, to lament – used in Matt 5:4
    This is not simply mourning:
    Consequences of sin – not just regret over the effect of this on the testimony (5:1)
    Condition of sin that prevails
    Conviction and commitment to see things really change – to see the problems dealt with

    2. Judgement and discernment (5:3)

    3. Decisive Action (5:5)

    4. Destruction of the Flesh (5:5) – we cannot hold on to selective bits of the flesh

    V5 – ‘ For the destruction of the flesh’
    Most commentators take this to refer to the physical destruction of the believers body, citing for example:
    Job
    Pauls thorn in the flesh
    I was pleased to discover however that at least 3 commentators get it right:

    FW Grosheide
    GD Fee
    John Heading
    Why isn’t this the physical destruction of the person?

    1. It is not our physical form that is the source of our sin, it is our fallen nature that is the source of our sin. Physical mortification is not a means to spiritual growth (1 Co 13:2; Gal 6:12; Col 2:20-23).
    2. The expectation of verse 5 is that of the salvation of the fallen believer and thus not their destruction. From 2 Co2:5ff we see that Paul also is looking for present restoration and repentance from them, something that is difficult for a destroyed believer!

    3. Biblical president – When God gives people over to chastening their is a consistent pattern. The inevitable consequence of the fulfilled desires of the flesh is that of destruction.

    4. Note the distinctions in the section: v3 – body vs Spirit and them in verse 5 – flesh vs spirit, what is the difference?

    5. Grammar – cf. GD Fee – for the relationship between ‘For destruction’ and ‘may be saved’ – that whilst the ‘destruction of the flesh’ is the anticipated result of the mans being put back out into Satans domain, while the express purpose of the action is his redemption.