Conduct Beyond Boundaries (1 Corinthians 5)

March 19, 2023

Series: 1 Corinthians

Scripture: 1 Corinthians 5:4-7

Amen. T hank you, singers. And thank you for all of you lending your voices and singing praise together. It’s great to see a full auditorium, as always. That’s one of a preacher’s delights is to have a full room. And I got to call out my dear friends who are back in town. I’m going to show you all stand up. Tara and Chandler are back in town. I think they came for a special event and that’s okay. We’ll take you in any way we can. So thank you for being here and it’s great to have all of you who are visiting with us. I see a few faces that I don’t know, for those that don’t know me and for you listening online, I’m Eddie Francis, and it’s my privilege to help lead this part of the church, along with my wife and the Overstreets and the Thorntons. We consider it a joy to be leading in this capacity. And let me just echo something Marcus said. The missions offering is coming up and I just want to commend you as a church. We have made this every single year. Not only have we made the goal, we have blown out the goal.

I mean, way over and above. And I thank God. I know we went through financial peace. I need to finish doing my taxes to see if I get anything back this year. But even if I don’t, the good news is that because of financial peace, I have the money saved. And so I may just go ahead and give it and it does go to a worthy cause. When I saw that photo of that crowd, the white gentleman, I believe his name is Dean Bump. They stayed at our house a while back when they were in here. And it was a joy to get to know him and his wife. And I learned something new through him that I didn’t know that there are watches that you can buy that cost millions of dollars. That’s my question. Why? But that’s what they cost. I mean, you can buy a watch. I mean, literally, I can’t remember the name. If I remember. Call me. I’ll give. It to you, but there are certain watches. I’m not talking rolex. Rolex doesn’t even come close to these watches. Nowhere close. But anyway, I digress. Is that okay? Every now and then we have a moment where we digress.

But listen, let’s go ahead and get in our message. One thing I want to say at the outset, and I say this for any parents who have small kids, today’s message is sort of going to be PG because we’re looking at First Corinthians, chapter five that talks about sexual immorality. We can’t shy away from any topic that the Bible talks about. And so we’re going to talk about First Corinthians five. And that being said, there is a class I’m told for ages three through seven. So if you have a kid in that age range, you want to take them there. I understand there is a class for them. So let’s go ahead and get into it. Our subject today is conduct beyond the boundaries. Conduct beyond the boundaries. We live in a very sex craved society. I mean sex comes at us in every form of media there is. But to be engaged in sexual activity nowadays is considered normal. It’s considered expected practice for everybody. It’s considered just a biological necessity. And it doesn’t amount to more than that. That’s how bad it is in our world. But that kind of thinking threatens the purity of the church because if we’re not careful, we can feel those forces kind of bearing down on us to try to conform us into the image of this world.

But God says, no, we need to be set apart. I say all that to say that’s the situation the church in Corinth had, it was really bad in Corinth to be told that you lived like a corinthian, that meant that you lived in drunken and immoral debauchery. That’s just the kind of person you were. If you were told you live like a corinthian, if a Corinthian was ever shown on stage in the theater, the public theaters, he was always shown drunk. That’s just the way the corinthians were looked at. And so the name Corinth became synonymous with debauchery. And what is debauchery? Debauchery is immoral behavior involving sex, alcohol or drugs. So it’s bad behavior. And now in Corinth there was one source of evil that was known throughout the civilized world. They had the temple of the goddess of love Aphrodite there in Corinth. They had 1000 priestesses. That’s what they were called. This is sort of the religion of the temple. They had 1000 priests that were simply temple prostitutes. And they would regularly go out into Corinth and they would ply their trade in the city. That’s the environment that the church here had. The sinful nature of that was just everywhere.

And there was a proverb that was said it’s not every man who can afford a journey to Corinth. Corinth had been infested by this sex crazed environment that they were in in that city. So we’re going to talk about that some a little bit because part of the problem they had is that not only were they affected by it, they had become tolerant of it as well. And so we have three divisions to the message today. We’re going to talk about the environment a little more. We’re going to look at what that environment was like for the church there and see what we can learn as a result. We’re going to look at the situation in particular that made the apostle Paul feel like he needed to address this. And then lastly we’ll look at the cure. So let’s start with the environment. The environment here you’ll remember the first four chapters. We’ve dealt with division. You have people saying, I follow Paul. I follow Apollos, I follow Cephas and all of this. And Paul’s trying to deal with that. He said, guys, you’re sinning, you’re messing up, you’re wordly, you got to stop that.

And so their sin was more intellectual and philosophical. They were not thinking right, they were not living the way God wanted them to live. But here in chapter five, he shifts his focus from the intellectual and the philosophical now to the fleshly and the physical. So he said, not only are you sinning in this way, but you are sinning physically as well. Sin should always shock us. It should always shock us. But when it comes to sexual matters, nothing is shocking anymore. And I couldn’t help but think that as I grew up and some of you older ones will remember this, you would never see nudity in any form. You would not see it on TV. If you saw nudity, you had to go to a store and buy a magazine. And some of you all remember those days. And I remember as a freshman at the University of Florida, I remember one of the first things I decided to do when I got there, and I don’t mind being honest with you, I went out and I bought a magazine. I bought one of those magazines from inside. Hey, I’m away from home, I’m on my own, I can do what I want to do.

And so I did that. And I remember I had just started getting more serious about the Bible and I felt so much guilt that I remember coming home to my dorm room and opening a trash chute and I threw it down the trash chute and by the grace of God, I never bought another magazine. I was done at that point, so I thank God for that. But that was the way you saw nudity. You had to go out and physically invest your money to buy something like that. Well, nowadays it’s everywhere. I have to watch it when my grandsons come over because on primetime TV you can see nudity. I mean, all of a sudden you got an image in front of you and if you’re like me, you feel guilt right away, like, oh, my, what’s happening here? That was how bad this situation was for the church there. You can see sex involved in movies, on the radio, television, advertisement, music, books. Everywhere you go. It goes on and on and on. It’s everywhere and it’s not good. But here in chapter five, we have an environment. We have a situation involving immorality that was even shocking to the people outside the church.

That’s how bad this was. So let’s go ahead. We’re going to read chapter five, only 13 verses, but there’s a lot here for us. Again, chapter five, verse one. It is actually reported that there is sexual immorality among you and of a kind that even pagans do not tolerate. A man is sleeping with his father’s, wife and you are proud. Shouldn’t you rather have gone into mourning and have put out of your fellowship the man who has been doing this? For my part, even though I am not physically present, I am with you in spirit. As one who is present with you in this way. I have already passed judgment in the name of our Lord Jesus on the one who has been doing this. So when you are assembled, and I am with you in spirit and the power of our Lord Jesus is present, hand this man over to Satan for the destruction of the flesh so that his spirit may be saved on the day of the Lord. Your boasting is not good. Don’t you know that a little yeast leavens the whole batch of dough? Get rid of the old yeast so that you may be a new unleavened batch, as you really are.

For Christ, our passover lamb, has been sacrificed. Therefore let us keep the festival, not with the old bread leavened with malice and wickedness, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth. I wrote you in my letter not to associate with sexually immoral people. Not at all meaning the people of this world who are immoral or the greedy and swindlers, or idolaters. In that case, you would have to leave this world. But now I am writing to you that you must not associate with anyone who claims to be a brother or sister, but is sexually immoral or greedy, an idolater or slanderer, a drunkard or swindler. Do not even eat with such people. 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 person from among you.

This is some strong stuff. This is really strong stuff. And you may not like it, but Paul is very clear here about what needs to be done to deal with this in the church. He’s very clear. Now, one thing I want to point out for you. In some of Paul’s areas, he will mention if there is a gray area or if there’s room for interpretation on something. I’m going to give you a couple of those.

And if you study it out and we’ll get to this at some point, chapters seven through ten and twelve through 14 of corinthians have some of those gray areas that you can look at. Let me give you a couple of them from chapter seven, verse in the first few verses, he’s talking about the sexual relationship between a man and a woman. And he talks about them not being sexual for a time so that they could pray. But in verse six, he says this, and I think it’s pretty powerful. He says, I say this as a concession, not a command. Okay? So he makes it clear, he said, this is what I advise, but I’m saying this as a concession, not a command. I’m not speaking to you giving you the commands of God about this. I’m speaking to you as a brother. I’m speaking to you as an apostle. I’m speaking to you as your church leader. I’m speaking to you as your friend. So he says, there’s some room here for you to look at this in more than one way. Verse 21 of the same chapter, he’s talking about slavery. And he says, okay, if you’re a slave, then it’s okay.

But almost in the same breath, he comes back and said, but if you can gain your freedom, do it. So he said, okay, you may be at this place in life, and that’s the way it is with all of our life. We have to learn to be content with where we are. He said, that’s your station in life. That may be your station for a time, but if you can gain your freedom, go for it. Then in chapter eight, verse three, he’s talking about food sacrificed to idols. Now, some of you are like me. You just love good barbecue. And I love good barbecue. If I were there, I’m thinking, I don’t care if it will sacrifice, the day gone. If it’s good barbecue, I’ll eat it. It’s good. But Paul says, he said, look, as you can eat meat, it’s okay. But if you’re eating meat causes your brother to stumble, then don’t eat meat. You see how he says, I’m trying to help you see that there’s more than one way you might be able to look at certain things. But here in chapter five, and this is why this is so important, he is very much hard hitting.

He starts off that, he says, it is actually reported. And then he gives a rest. He said, I want to get your attention. Here’s what I’m hearing, guys, and this is not good. He said, and you’re arrogant, you’re prideful about it. You actually feel good about yourself. He’s trying to help them to see that your thinking is really warped here. You really messed up. And then he goes on to say, deliver this man to Satan. Deliver him to Satan. And it may sound pretty rough, but what was going on was horrific. Paul knew it was horrific. Horrific. The people in the world knew it was horrific, and yet the church there was accepting of it. He said, there is something really, really wrong. And here’s the thing. I’m not clicking my clicker. There we go. Perfect. Thank you. When the sin of the church is shocking to the world, then we know we have a problem. We have a real problem. When the people outside these doors hear about something going on inside these doors and they’re shocked by it, we’re in a bad place. We’re in a really bad place. Now, if you look at verse nine, Paul talks about how he had instructed them about sexual morality.

And you remember, Paul was the one who led the church 18 months there. Apollos took over. So they had some great teaching. They knew about immorality. They knew Paul’s position. And yet, despite all that, they knew they were allowing immorality to continue in the church. And Paul says, we have got to deal with this. And you can’t help but have a little compassion for them because they grew up in Corinth. It’s a bad environment. It’s a horrible environment. Someone probably grew up with very loose living. They probably participated themselves in a lot of the stuff that was going outside the church doors. They brought it in. They were having a tough time shedding that influence and becoming what God wanted them to be. But if the church is to be pure, we have to say no to sexual immorality. We’ve got to do that. Next slide. In 1 Corinthians 6:18. I’ll read that for you. Paul says, flee from sexual immorality. He says run. Get out of there. Don’t get close. Don’t get messed up. And of course, we know one of the best example is Joseph with Potiphar’s wife. We know that story, how he had been a faithful servant taking care of Potiphar’s household.

He goes inside, she makes her advances at him, tells him, go to bed with me. Sleep with me. And Joseph response is how could I do such a thing and sin against God? And he tears out of there with his cloak in her hand. She was holding on to him. And he did the right thing. But do you realize that he got in trouble for doing the right thing? I mean, he ended up thrown in jail. And sometimes you can feel like, man, God, I did the right thing. But, boy, that sure didn’t turn out right. You think about John the Baptist. He talked to the king and said, wrong for you to have your brother’s wife. What happened to him? He got his head cut off, but his spirit was saved. And he was right with God. I had a brother just recently come to me and ask me. He said, Eddie, I’m I’m a little concerned about a situation where I could be tempted to go back and do some things I used to do. I said bro, don’t even get close. I said, don’t even get close. Run. Flee. Get out of there.

Don’t even give Satan a chance. And I’ve told my wife on more than one occasion, there are certain foods that I will fall if I eat them because I like them so much. I’m going to see if anybody knows me well. What’s my favorite cookie of all time? Now, peanut butter cookies is high. But there’s another one that’s my all time favorite. Anybody knows my favorite cookie? It’s walkers. Walkers shortbread cookies. Now, I’m not saying that because I’m dropping a subtle hint. I don’t want any walkers. I don’t need them. And you’ll know why? Because if I give Walkers Shortbread cookies, I’m going to eat them. I will eat them. If they’re in my house, I will eat them. Not even with milk. I can just shovel them. Have to drink water to make sure I don’t choke. But I love Walker’s Shortbread cookies. But I have learned over the years that the best way for me to not get messed up with Walker’s Shortbread Cookies is to not bring them in the house. And that’s the attitude we have to have where he says flee sexual morality, it comes from this Greek word pornia, from which we get the word pornography.

And what this refers to is any kind of sexual sin that we can be involved with, whether it’s immorality, fornication, unfaithfulness and marriage, prostitution, adultery, the whole nine yards. Paul knew that they had a problem there in this church. They lived in an environment where people outside knew nothing about chastity and purity. They didn’t care about that. But those things were affecting the church. And it’s like the church is this little island with all of these forces bearing down on it, and that’s where they had to live. They were having a tough time unlearning all of the bad practices they had grown up with. Some of them probably were totally involved in all of that. So I’m saying all that to say that’s the environment, it’s a tough environment to be a Christian. It’s equally bad today because we can have as much access to as simple sexual things and more so than even them. I remember when the Internet started to get big, because I’m old enough to know, watch the growth. But when the Internet started to get big, I said, God, I praise you that I didn’t grow up when I was younger with the Internet.

I really do. Because with a couple of clicks, you can be anywhere. And then once they know what you like to watch, then they kind of feed you more. And I see some of you nodding your heads because, you know, that’s how it works. They had a tough situation, but we have a tough situation as well. Tough environment. Now let’s talk situation. There was a specific situation going on in this church that caused Paul to feel like, okay, I got to address this. In 1 Corinthians five, verse one it says, it is actually reported that there is sexual morality among you and of a kind that even pagans do not tolerate. A man is sleeping with his father’s wife. In Corinth they have an especially shocking situation. A man is involved in incest with his father’s wife. This is probably his stepmother. He was likely a Christian, she was not. But he’s involved in an incestuous relationship with his father’s wife and it threatened the very identity of the church. It really made the church look pretty bad. And it’s the kind of thing where you say how can the church have something like this going on and not and be indifferent about it?

How could they do that? And I started really thinking about that because I think that’s, okay, gosh, if I were there, I would like to believe that I would say something. But we’re always tough on this side of the written word, aren’t we? See, we know how the story turns out. We can read it. Okay? It’s kind of like in Job. You can look at the book of Job and you can see how his friends were saying all this stuff to him to try to help him and all that. And you think, okay, if I were there, I wouldn’t be an idiot like them. I would let the man suffer in silence and I would encourage him. Yeah, we can say that. But when you don’t understand what’s going on you tend to think just like them. You must have done something wrong. That’s why this is happening to you. Or you look at Nehemiah and you see that they had enemies. They had Tobiah and Sam Ballad and Eliaship and these guys and they were trying to stop the rebuilding of the walls of Jerusalem. And then later on in Nehemiah they actually gave a room to tobiah among the people of God.

And you look at it and say, what are you guys thinking? How can you give a room to your enemy? That’s like me inviting an enemy to have a bedroom in my house. You would think, Eddie, what are you thinking? You see, we can be pretty tough with these situations. But let me give you a couple of scenarios that may at least worthy of consideration. There’s one thought among scholars that the reason why this happened. And let me just throw this in. Sometimes these situations don’t just overnight happen. You know what I mean? There’s usually a gradual progression of sin. It starts maybe innocently. It starts with a conversation. Over time it grows into something bigger and something worse. And then the next thing you know, you have drifted to a place. You see, we always drift, don’t we? We always drift. It starts innocently, it ends up a bad thing. But here’s the thing. One of the thoughts the scholars say about this is that it may have had something to do with inheritance laws, that maybe the young man, through his involvement with this stepmom, allowed some monies to stay within the church membership and the church family. And so the leaders could just sort of turn their head and say, well, we don’t feel good about this.

And guys, I’m telling you, I am blessed to know a few people in our movement who are very wealthy. And if any of those people decided, okay, I’m going to pull back my support, you don’t think leaders who are responsible could be tempted by that? Yeah, buddy, we sure can. Now, thankfully, I don’t think we’ve ever caved in a situation like that or even had one like that. But I’m just pointed out that that’s one of the things that said it could happen or let me bring it home for you students. What if your mom or your grandparents decide, okay, if you get involved with that church, that church is a cult. If you get involved with that church, then we’re going to pull back our support. We won’t help you get through school. Some of you may have been faced with that. I had a roommate some of you know the story, but I had a roommate in college my sophomore year whose parents say, if you get involved with that church because there’s nothing new under the sun, that’s why I’m telling you this. You think you go through it now. It’s been around a long time.

If you get involved with that church, we’re going to pull back your financial support. And he was looking at the Bible. He said, this is what the Bible teaches. I cannot deny what I’m reading. So he decided, I’m going to get right with God. He got right with God. They pulled back his support, and he dropped out of school because his family was wealthy. They had a lot of money. I’m just saying that to say you can see how wealth could be a temptation, and that’s the reason why I pointed out. But probably the more simple explanation has to do with Paul’s view of freedom. And you could write these verses down. First Corinthians 6:12 and 10:23. Those are places where Paul 1 Corinthians 6:12 and 10:23, those are places where Paul talks about the freedom we have in Christ. He said, I have the freedom to do certain things, but everything might not be beneficial. Okay, so there’s a thought that maybe they were taking advantage of Paul’s views about freedom, along with the Greeks, who had a view that the body was evil. And so if the body is evil, then you either treat it harshly or you treat it loosely.

You don’t care, because the body didn’t matter. So you combine the body being evil with Paul’s feelings about freedom in Christ. You say, hey, we’re free to do whatever we want. And since the body doesn’t matter, who cares? And that may be why they would decide that it’s not a big deal. Hey, we’re free in Christ. We don’t know for sure what made them get to that place, but somehow they got to a place where they allowed in the church, an illicit sexual relationship that even people in the world didn’t believe in. That’s how bad it was. And what did people in the world say? Listen, this guy Gaias, a Roman jurist, which is simply an expert in the law, he wrote, It is illegal to marry a father’s or a mother’s sister, nor can I marry her who was at one time my mother in law or stepmother. That’s what people in the world said. This man Cicero, who was a Roman statesman, he expressed disgust when a mother in law marries son in law. He said it is unbelievable. And we’re thinking, okay, that doesn’t happen nowadays, or whatever. But that was the situation that they had.

And Paul says, this is horrible in the world. It should be horrible in your eyes, but you don’t get it. So we got to talk about it. So let’s get on to the cure. What is the cure for this situation? First Corinthians five one and two. And I’ll read the last part of verse two. It says, Put out of your fellowship the man who has been doing this. Paul says, expel this guy. Get him out. Get him out of the church. I thought, man, wow, Paul, that’s a bit harsh, isn’t it? I mean, come on. What gives you the right, Paul, to put anybody out of the church? What gives you the right, Eddie, as an elder, to say, this person can’t come to this church? Are you without sin? You probably guess that one comes up. Are you saying that only certain people I don’t know what was going on, but Paul says, Deliver this guy to Satan. You’re hurting your fellowship by keeping him there. Let me give you four observations about that. The judgment that Paul meets out is to be communal. In verse four, it talks about when you are assembled in the name of the Lord Jesus.

When you come together as a community, as a church, take action, deal with this. If they didn’t do that, it would be a failure on the part of the church. Secondly, he says, a little yeast, leavens the whole batch of dough. Evil in the church that is not dealt with will permeate the church. It is so discouraging if you are trying to do the right thing. You’re trying to be righteous, you’re trying to be holy. You’re trying to follow Jesus. And you look over to your right or to your left, and you see other people not doing that. It is discouraging. And so Paul says, deal with it. You can’t have people in the church who are not living the kind of life that God calls us to live. Let me just say this. This is very important. This is not just for the leadership. This is for all of us. If you see something going on with a brother or a sister in Christ and you’re concerned if you see something and you suspect something, care enough to say something, care enough to say, look, bro, SIS, what’s going on? And what I’m about to tell you doesn’t involve anybody here. But let me just share this. I recall a situation where a sister was out late, right in downtown Orlando. And it just so happened on one night when she was out late with her friends, some brothers from the church were also out just having a fun time. They saw her and they questioned her. And what it turned out to be is that she was having affair with somebody from her job. And I’m grateful that they cared enough to say something. She’s doing great, by the way, today. I’m still good friends with her and her family. She’s doing great. But somebody cared enough to say something, you got to care enough to talk.

Third thing here, Paul is concerned about the church, not the world. He’s not talking about disciplining the outside world. He said if you got to deal with the world, then you just have to leave the world because there’s so much of this stuff going on. But he has in mind to discipline the church. We have a responsibility to keep Christ’s church pure. That’s what we are here to do. Now, what is our attitude to be towards the world? I’ll give you a couple of verses. You can study them later. Matthew 5:14 Jesus says you are the salt of the earth, the light of the world. We ought to be that leavening influence for good with people in the world. We’re that difference maker for them. Ephesians five, verse seven says have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them. That’s why we get persecuted, guys, is that we don’t just put up with stuff. We call it like it is. Now, downside of when you talk, it doesn’t always turn out well as it did for Joseph. And John the Baptist got his head cut off for speaking out against the king. But that’s what God calls us to do. Philippians 2:15 God wants us to become blameless and pure children of God without fault in a warped and crooked generation. In other words, God wants us to have an influence in the world. He wants us to make a difference. But the discipline he looks for is to be meted out in the church. And then lastly, here number four. Paul’s focus is holiness. What he’s talking about isn’t just limited to sexual immorality. He talks about greed and idolatry and slander and drunkenness and swindlers.

I don’t remember the last time we told somebody they couldn’t come to church because of their greed. But that’s in this list, people who are swindlers. That’s why I believe chapter six is in Corinthians because there were people in the church, guys. And I have been I have seen situation where deals have gone bad in the church where people were involved with each other and they had a business together. And I’ve seen brother who would commit a lot of dollars to the business. The business goes south and they would come to us and say Eddie, you got to fix this. My money’s in this. Some people really, I think, felt, hey, I was swindled in the church. Not supposed to be that way, but I’m just sharing. One thought that was expressed by one commentary that I looked at, is that all of these sins probably caused these guys to squirm a little bit, because the feeling is every sin he mentions is something that comes up in 1 Corinthians. And so you’re sitting there, you’re hearing this and think, OOH, that’s me. OOH, I’m guilty of this, I’m guilty of that. What does the Bible say?

First Corinthians five, verse twelve and 13. What business is in a mind to judge those outside the church? Are you not to judge those inside? God will judge those who are outside. Expel the wicked person from among you. Christians are to judge those inside while God judges those outside. We are our brother’s keeper. We are to be concerned for one another. Now, Paul says you got to be careful, though. First Corinthians four, verse six. He talks about how we can’t go beyond what is written. Okay, this is very important. You don’t expect the church to live under maybe all of your political views or your views about how you should do things with your money. You don’t go beyond what is written. Problem in chapter five is that they’re exercising zero judgment. They’re just letting this thing go on and they’re doing nothing. So you can’t go beyond what is written, but you can’t overlook what is written either. And that’s what we have to remember. Paul’s verdict here was that the man needed to be dealt with, he needed to be disfellowshipped. He says, give him over to Satan and it’s another good study.

I don’t know what all that means, but you remember when God removed his hand of protection from Job and gave him to Satan? What happened to Job? He got sores. He was having a really rough time. It talks about dealing with the flesh so that his spirit will be saved. There’s a thought out there that, yeah, you go through some physical stuff when you get turned over to Satan. Paul had that thorn in the flesh and he called it, what a messenger from Satan. We don’t know for sure all of what that means. That’s another good study. But what was done was not done to be vindictive. It was not done to shame the person. It was just done to help them, to get right with God. That’s why we do it. And guys, I will say on behalf of Barry Maddox and myself, the Overstreets something sure have been a part of this well in South Florida. It is never fun to disfellowship anybody. It is never fun. I never look forward to that. I have been in some very heavy talks in Barry Maddox’s living room. Not because we just had nothing else to do, but we had to do what the Bible said.

We had to call people to repent. And I praise God that those people are still here. You don’t even know about it because you don’t even know what their journey is. They just keep loving God. They’re grateful to God for the discipline that was meted out and it’s made a difference in their life. But it’s not something pleasant at all. It’s not something you look forward to. Okay, purposes of church discipline from this section only because there’s a lot more places to talk about discipline and how we go about it. But we want the spirit of the offender to be saved on the day of judgment. We want the person to make it. Secondly, we don’t want that little leaven to work its way through the whole church. We can’t let undet with sin go on because it does mess up the church. And thirdly, we clean out that old leaven so that we can remember our new identity in Christ. We are a new creation. With the passover that Josh referred to, they would get rid of all that old leaven. They would get rid of all of it. And that’s what God is saying. You got to get rid of all of that so that we can have what God wants it to be.

Great verse. Romans twelve, and I gave you the Philips version. Version has been around a long time. And I want to refer to just the last part. It says, don’t let the world around you, squeeze you into its own mold, but let God remold your minds from within. Now, some of you who are in the spelling will immediately say, wow, you misspelled mold. How many of you all like that? You all like me. Did you all notice that? Okay, good. I’m not the only one. But believe it or not, that is exactly the way it appears in this version of the Bible. But the point he’s saying here is that, yeah, you may be influenced by the world, but don’t let the world squeeze you into its mold. You’ve got to be set apart. And sometimes when people are studying the Bible, I don’t know about you, but I would feel like, especially if they’re not responsive, I think, man, maybe I should have studied something different, or maybe I should have taken a different approach, or maybe I need to work on just being a closer friend or whatever. You go through all this, but what I’ve learned over the years is that people don’t respond because they are counting the cost. They know what you’re calling them to. All right? If they’re involved in sexual immorality, they know that that’s got to change. And regardless of what else you say, they know that. Or if they’re involved in drug use, they know that, okay, this church doesn’t believe in letting that go. We have a cr ministry with Eric Rope Mill, and it’s still out there. But they know that, okay, I can’t come in here and keep doing this. Or if they’re involved with abusing alcohol, they know, okay, I got to change. We know that you knew that when you were making your decision, you were counting the cost or any relationship that, you know, God wouldn’t approve of. You know what it means. And he’s just saying, but don’t let the world make you think the way it wants you to think.

So let’s wrap it up here with your Living Water Challenge. They were tolerating sin in this church, and I think that complacency can come from either two directions. One, it can be what I call judgmentalism, where the judgment is so severe, is so strong, that you know that, man, I’m going to get squashed if I come forward and say that I’m struggling.

That’s not good. We want you to come forward and say you’re struggling. We’re the family. But sometimes that judgmentalism can make you feel like, okay, I better not say anything. I better not talk about it because I’m going to immediately be kicked out of the church. So the sin continues in the meantime. Or you can get it through intolerance where people sin, they are confessed, but, okay, you’re forgiven. Okay, you’re forgiven. No, we have to say, like Jesus with a woman called an adultery, he says, Go and leave your life of sin. We have to call people to repent. But the question is, how do you avoid those extremes? How do you avoid being too judgmental or too tolerant? Then the second one is, could we give deference to the wealthy or the influential? Yeah, we can. We already know that. Or people who have money, who have influence in your life. We know that as well. Bottom line of what I’m seeing today, guys, is God was calling the Corinthian Church to holiness. He said, I know you grew up in a tough environment. I know it’s hard. I know you have tons of influences all around you that make it tough to stay on the straight and narrow, but that is precisely what I’m calling you to.

In church, we have got to care enough to be there for each other, to help each other. If you see something, you got to say something. You got to want the church to be holy just as much as Jesus wants us holy. And, guys, you will be forever grateful for that person who came into your life and said, bro, let me help you. Let me help you. Let’s say a prayer. And we are done. Father, we are so grateful to be here today. Thank you for the things that we could learn from Your Word. I pray God that you will help us to have a church that is holy. You wanted the Corinthians to be set apart from the folks all around them. They have such a tough environment. But, Father, we know our environment is equally as tough today. And I really pray that you will help us to do all that we can to really make sure the church is holy, that it lifts you up, that the name of Jesus is glorified. I pray that whatever sins that we’re struggling with today, and I really mean this, I pray that we’ll be open, that we’ll be honest, that we’ll get with a friend and say, I could use some help in this area, or I see myself drifting here or there, and I want to be right with God.

And so can we get together? Can we talk? Can we pray, God? And I pray that you’ll help us to be grateful for those people who have been there and will be there again for each one of us. So thank you, God, for our time together today. Thank you for the church at Corinth. May we learn from this church what we need to learn for Your glory. We pray this in Jesus name. Amen.

 

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