When was the last time you pointed out sin in a fellow Christian’s life and helped them to repent from it? As we continue our 1 Corinthians series with a look at 1 Corinthians 5, John Elmore shows us how the sinfulness of sin, the impact of grace, and the call to shepherd are essential to the health of the body of Christ.
Standing Firm In A Fallen World | 1 Corinthians 16
The Purpose of Spiritual Gifts | 1 Corinthians 14
A Church Marked by Love | 1 Corinthians 13
How To Build A Church | 1 Corinthians 12
God's Design for Men and Women | 1 Corinthians 11:1-16
Repentance, Allegiance, and Deference for the Glory of God | 1 Corinthians 10
Giving, Sharing, and Living for the Gospel | 1 Corinthians 9
Christians and Controversial Topics | 1 Corinthians 8
Being Single | 1 Corinthians 7:7-40
Fighting For Your Marriage | 1 Corinthians 7:1-16
Sex and Glorifying God | 1 Corinthians 6:12-20
Conflict: An Inevitable Opportunity | 1 Corinthians 6:1-11
Church Discipline: Sin, Grace, and Shepherding | 1 Corinthians 5
The Resurrection Is the Remedy to Our Hypocrisy | 1 Corinthians 15
The Purpose, Plot Twists, and Power of Christ | 1 Corinthians 4
Being a Healthy Church | 1 Corinthians 3:1-23
The Miracle of Spiritual Maturity | 1 Corinthians 2:1-16
The Miracle of Salvation | 1 Corinthians 1:18-31
Priority, Preference, and Power | 1 Corinthians 1:10-17
Called, Gifted, and Kept by Jesus | 1 Corinthians 1:1-9
When was the last time you pointed out sin in a fellow Christian’s life and helped them to repent from it? As we continue our 1 Corinthians series with a look at 1 Corinthians 5, John Elmore shows us how the sinfulness of sin, the impact of grace, and the call to shepherd are essential to the health of the body of Christ.
Good morning, Watermark, brothers and sisters in Christ. It's good to be with you on Sundays. I mentioned a couple of weeks ago that Laura went in for her checkup following a bout with breast cancer and they found what they thought might be an early indicator of cancer. She went and had that biopsied, and everything came back benign. She's all clear, all good. Thank you for your prayers and concern and also for celebrating. That may not always be the case, but for right now it is. Regardless of whatever diagnosis we get on whatever day, the Lord reigns, and he is sovereign.
In a very different way, I have had cancer as well. Very different. You maybe can't tell this by looking at me, but I'm actually prone to skin cancer. Despite my incredible tan, I'm so prone to having skin issues, so I'm a frequent flier at the dermatologist. One time they found basal cell carcinoma on me, so with a glowing hot, red surgical tool and local anesthesia, they carved it out of my back.
Here's how this went down. There was nothing pleasant about it. I wasn't like, "Oh, great. Cancer? I can't wait, Doc. Thank you so much." And she wasn't thrilled when she found it, but out of a concern for me and my well being and a commitment to caring for me under the Hippocratic Oath… "Hey, I have a moral obligation, as a doctor, to care for my patient. I will see this through." So there we were, me in submission to my doctor, her with a glowing red tool. I was trying not to sneeze or cough. She'd slice my ear off.
She did what she needed to do, and I was thankful for that doctor, because that cancer, unchecked… I asked her, because I needed a sermon illustration. I was like, "Hey, what happens if I don't do that?" She was like, "What are you talking about?" I was like, "If I don't do it, what happens?" She was like, "It spreads." I was like, "And then what?" She was like, "You die." I was like, "Thank you. Okay. Go ahead." Because it's what cancer is.
Spiritually speaking, sin is cancer, and it's within every single one of us. It's 1 John 1:8 where it says, "If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us." We all have sin, but oftentimes, it's in a place that we can't see it. We need the body of Christ to see it, and then we need the Great Physician, Jesus, to remove it. If not, the Word says sin leads to death. That sin will spread through us, and its aim, if unchecked, is death.
Today we're going to be walking through 1 Corinthians 5, which is a passage about sin. It's a heavy passage, just so you know. Everybody buckle up, because it starts with "Turn this man over to Satan for the destruction of his flesh," and then it ends with, "Purge the evil person from among you." So, this is a ride, y'all. There is sin. It is church discipline, but God in his kindness… Right in the middle is this infusion of grace.
We need this, as a body, because just like the doctor is going to remove cancer from my body, and the doctors did for Laura and her cancer, we, as brothers and sisters in Christ, are the body of Christ. Spiritually speaking, we are the body and bride of Christ. We are to be without wrinkle, stain, or blemish at his coming.
Because of the holiness of God, we also are called to be holy, so we can't enable sin or allow sin to remain in this body, individually or corporately. There must be this daily repentance and shepherding of each other. So, where we're going to be today in 1 Corinthians 5 (here's your road map) is the sinfulness of sin, the impact of grace by Jesus Christ, and then the call to shepherd. The sinfulness of sin, the impact of grace, and the call that all of us would shepherd each other through sin.
So, first, here in 1 Corinthians 5:1-5, the sinfulness of sin. "It is actually reported that there is sexual immorality among you, and of a kind that even pagans do not tolerate…" They were living in Corinth, which was thoroughly pagan, and he's like, "This doesn't even happen in Corinth, and it's within the church of Corinth." "A man is sleeping with his father's wife." Likely his stepmother. "And you are proud!" They were boasting in the grace, like, "Oh, we're so grace filled this even happens in our church."
"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." He's not talking about soul transporting. He's like, "You have my authority." "As one who is present with you in this way, I have already passed judgment in the name of our Lord Jesus…" He's calling on utmost authority and priority.
"…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…" This is terrifying. "…hand this man over to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, so that…" Not so that he may be condemned or run out of town or despised. It's not punitive; it's pastoring. Hear this: the result. "…so that his spirit may be saved on the day of the Lord." It wasn't punitive; it was pastoral.
So, the sinfulness of sin. Where we're going to begin, as a subpoint, is enabling sin. That's what the Corinthians were doing. There was this man within the church. When you look at the verb tense of "A man is sleeping with his father's wife," it's present active. Meaning, it was ongoing, continuous. This wasn't a past sin. All of us have a past that we really wish we didn't have. The people who say, "I have no regrets…" It's like, "Well, you're not aware."
Any sin I have in the past I hate and regret. This is not about a past but rather a present. That was the problem. Like, in Laura's radiation clinic… After she had surgery, she went to radiation. Cancer was always going into that clinic, but cancer would die in that clinic. So it is with the church. Sin should always be walking into the church. If you're living and breathing, you have sin in your life, and you walked into the church today.
That wasn't the problem. We're a spiritual emergency room for the city. Where else would people go? Of course they would come here for the remedy to the malady of sin. The problem is when unrepentant sin… That needs to be rejected in the church. So, sin should be expected; unrepentant sin should be rejected. It's unrepentance that is the issue.
We often make two errors with enabling sin. The first is we will overlook judgment of these socially acceptable or normalized sins…sins that we don't think are as egregious as sleeping with a father's wife. With that we're like, "Oh, yeah, we know that is," but we become conditioned to greed and materialism, particularly here in America. There's a version of American Christianity where it's like, "Well, Jesus and then some." Like, "I'm going to get mine."
We've become so focused on materialism and status and accumulation and safety by credit card and bank accounts that it's to the expense of furthering the kingdom of God. Here's a statistic: 4 out of 10 members at this church don't give to the church. Now, I don't say that because we want your money, but God wants your heart. Jesus said, "Where your money is there your heart will be also." So, that's a point of shepherding.
Now, we're not going through a roster and being like, "Oh, that's surprising. He doesn't. She does. Oh, cool." Nobody knows the names except the person who actually is taking checks to the bank. It's a statistic because of the number that we know, but that's between you and the Lord. He loves a cheerful giver. I think our greed crowds out our giving because it has just become a socially acceptable thing.
One for me is overeating or undereating. Because I'm a former addict, I'm all or nothing. That's how alcoholics roll. I haven't drank for 16 years, but my ditch is still to binge eat, which is sin. It's gluttony. Then I repent from it, but the way I repent from it is I starve myself. My team knows this. They're like, "Oh, you're having water for lunch? Terrific." Instead of just having enough, like daily bread. I'll vacillate between those two sins, which are American sins: overeating of gluttony, and then undereating because of body image and whatnot.
So we will overlook the judgment of certain sins. The other thing we'll do as an error of sin is we'll overextend grace to sin, just like the Corinthians, and we'll do it because we're boiled frogs. We've been around the person so much, and they've been doing it for so long, we don't even know or think there could be a reality otherwise. It's like, "Well, that's just how they are. They're a control freak. That's just kind of who they are. That's their wiring."
We no longer see it as sin; we see it as their identity. It's like, "Well, that's just how they are. They're just super type A, super confident. They'll run over people, but, man, they get stuff done." It's like, well, that's the sin of pride or that's the sin of control, where you're not even availing yourself to the Lord, like, "I'm the lord of my life, not the Lord." We are conditioned, so we overextend grace, and we enable sin in doing so.
The second way the sinfulness of sin comes into the church is through hubris, or pride, rather than humility…hubris versus humility. Paul writes about this sin and says, "And you're proud?" He's shocked about it. They're like, "Man, anybody and everybody, you know what? We are sin friendly." But it was unrepentant sin that Paul is like, "Don't be surprised about sin being within, but you should never be proud about unrepentance. That you're to be grieved over."
Humility is hard. It's hard because it's death to self. To lay yourself before a brother or sister in Christ or your Community Group or your spouse or your roommate and say, "Hey, here's the sin within…" It is so hard because it is the crucifixion of ego and self, but it's the gospel. That's where you get confession of sin, prayed for, and healed, so it's healthy. It's hard, but it's healthy, just like me going to the doctor to have them carve out cancer is hard. It's painful, but it's healthy.
The other thing it is is holy, because it's a removal of sin as you lay forth your sin and are prayed for and shepherded. It's so humbling, but it leads to holiness. As the Lord says, "Be holy as I am holy." My son is 8 years old, which is really noteworthy for what I'm about to tell you. The other day, he was telling someone, "Yeah, I'll eat anything. I'll eat black ants, red ants, carpenter ants. I even eat leaf cutter ants." I'm like, "You're a liar. Leaf cutter ants are in the Amazon. But why are you eating these ants? What are you doing?"
I was listening, and I'm like, "Oh my goodness." I go, "Hill, you won't even eat cauliflower." He gagged and went, "I hate cauliflower. I can't swallow it." He's proud about the lack of nutrition he has. He's eating ants, y'all. I'm like, "Eat some fire ants. You'll never do it again. Then you'll eat your cauliflower." Because of his low view of sin… These will rise and fall together. If you have a low view of sin, then you have a low view of holiness.
The sinfulness of sin… If you're like, "Eh, it's not actually that bad," then what that means is it's like, "Eh, God is not actually that holy; therefore, I don't need to be that holy. Will he really be offended?" So it rises and falls. Low view of nutrition; low view of eating habits. Low view of sin; low view of holiness. The only antidote is humility.
I confessed recently to… Well, here's how it went. It wasn't straight a confession. Laura was posting about her cancer update, and she was like, "You know, you probably ought to tell people too so that they know." I was like, "Oh, you're right." I was like, "But I have to download the app." She was like, "You don't have Instagram?" I was like, "No, I deleted it." She was like, "Why?" I was like, "Because it is a colossal waste of time." I have thumb cramps, and I'll look up and be like, "Oh, where did Sunday go?" because I get into this black hole of scrolling.
I go, "But you know what also? There's so much trash on there that is not good for me to see." She was like, "You're not seeking that out, are you?" which is a really valid question for a spouse to ask. That's a fair question. I was like, "I'm not seeking it out, but it does come up, and it's before me. So I deleted it, because that's not good for me." I've told my Community Group guys as well. Jon Abel is sitting right there. I've confessed it to him.
I had to remove that because it was leading me into sin. That's humbling. Right? Like, you're a grown man. You can't even have Instagram? It's like, well, it didn't prove good for me, either from a time standpoint or my eyes standpoint, so, no, I don't. And it's humbling to say it before you, but it's hard and it's healthy and it leads to holiness so that we don't enable the sinfulness of sin.
The third is the severe mercy of separation. Paul says, "Shouldn't you rather be grieved? Put this man out of your fellowship." Then he goes further and says, "Turn him over to Satan." Wow. That escalated quickly. Turn him over to Satan? Paul, isn't there some step in between? He's so concerned for the holiness of God and so concerned for the holiness of the church that he's like, "For someone who's unrepentant, that's between them, their sin, and the Lord, and the only way that's going to get well is that they would know the sinfulness of sin, so turn them over to it."
There's a parallel passage from the teaching of Jesus. It's in Luke 15. It's the story of the prodigal son. We all love the story of the prodigal son, because it's like, "Oh, the father was there watching, and he saw his son. He ran to him, and the robe and the ring and the sandals and the fatted calf." Well, the son would have never, never come back to the father except for the fact that no one gave him anything. I think it's the most often overlooked part of the prodigal son story.
When he was in the distant land, he was looking at the pods the pigs were eating. He hired himself out to be a pig herder. He was feeding the pigs, and he wanted to eat the pig food. We're all like, "We know that part." He would have remained in the distant land except it says no one gave him anything. They wouldn't even let him eat the slop. Because of that, he was like, "Well, I guess it's better that I go back."
That's the principle Paul puts in place in this pastoring, where he's like, "Then don't give them anything. If they don't repent, turn them over to it. Don't give them anything." We'll see later, "Don't even share a meal with them," so that, as the Prodigal Son, in that nothingness that all they have is their sin, their cancer that's devouring them, they're like, "Okay. Enough. Enough! It's better to be back with the Father's covering and my brothers and sisters that I would be cared for. I thought I didn't want their care. I am running back to the Lord."
There's the sinfulness of sin, but with Christ alone, with Christianity alone, there is the impact of grace. This is an impact from above, and it's an impact in your life. There is a cause of Christ, and there's an effect that happened in your life. It's the impact of grace following the sinfulness of sin. Hear me say this. Every other religion and cult will tell you, "If you have sin (and you do, because no one can deny that), then you'd better good work your way out of it, because one day you will stand in judgment.
One day, you'll be reincarnated into a better life or a worse life. One day, if you're good enough, you might reach nirvana or be assimilated into Brahman. One day, you might inherit your own kingdom if you do enough good works to outweigh your bad." In Christianity alone there is sin, and then there's lavish grace through Jesus Christ. It is the only offering of grace on this planet found in this book because of Jesus Christ our Lord. The impact of grace.
Here it is. Like I told you, there's the sinfulness of sin that's so serious, and then God is like, "And here is the way out." First Corinthians 5:6-8: "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." It's not wishful thinking. It's not aspirational. It's actual. You're new.
"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." Sin spreads. The impact of grace. Before we get to the impact of grace, he talks about the yeast leavening. So, there is a spreading of sin. It spreads personally within you, and then, if not checked, it spreads corporately throughout the whole body. That's why Paul has this urgency to remove this one individual.
This is nuts, y'all. Queen Elizabeth I, in the 1500s: She repelled the Spanish Armada. She established the Protestant church within England. She unified a divided England. She did some great things. Do you know what else she did? She brushed her teeth with honey mixed with a sugar paste. What? So much so that, at the age of 65, a German ambassador was meeting with her, and his report that we have in historical data says that her breath was horrid. She had black teeth, only of the ones remaining, and the rest were out. Like, just a gnarly mouth, because she was brushing her teeth with honey mixed with sugar to create a paste, I guess to erode the enamel off further. That's crazy.
What's even more crazy is because of Queen Elizabeth, the entire nation followed suit. They were like, "Oh! That's what nobility does. That's what royalty does." So they all started brushing their teeth with honey and sugar paste and had, thus, yellow and blackened teeth. A little sin spreads personally and corporately. If you're a parent, you know this. If you're a parent, you know full well. When Laura and I go on a vacation, we leave the kids with the grandparents. We come back, and they are like wild beasts.
What happens is… Because we know. We're like, "Hill, why would you ever think to do that?" He's like, "Well, I did that because Penny did this." Penny is like, "Well, I did that because Judd did this." What happens is Judd sins, and then it becomes case law. They're all like, "Well, he did, and nothing happened to him." We're the only ones who spank. The grandparents don't spank. Mom and Dad spank. (If you have a problem with spanking, read Proverbs. Your problem is with the Word, not with me.)
They don't get spanked. So, when they don't get spanked, when there's no discipline, then they just see each other, and it just spreads throughout. It's what Paul says happens within the church. He says, "A little yeast leavens the whole lump." Y'all, I'm not big into baking, but I have some yeast. Do you know how small this stuff is? It's the tiniest… Look at this. It's like dust. But here's the terrifying thing. This yeast… You can't see this one speck I'm grabbing. That's a living organism. I don't know how. I don't know what state it's in powdered in a bag that it's alive, but it's alive. You have to trust me.
When you put that into a lump of bread… This is disgusting too. Every illustration I have today is disgusting, but it's because we're talking about sin. That little piece eats what is sweet. Yeast eats sugar. It eats what is sweet and excretes poison. Some of y'all are like, "I am never eating bread or drinking beer again." You're eating the excretions of little organisms. That's disgusting. It eats what is sweet and excretes poison, carbon dioxide, that at a 10 percent rate can actually kill. That's sin.
Paul says, "You know this tiny little thing that you think is so insignificant?" Like, "What could that do to me? That's harmless." A second glance at a woman or a man or a flirtation or a little extra… "It's just once. It's just a little. It's just while I'm on a business trip." Paul is like, "No, no, no. That will spread through you, and it'll spread through the entire body." It's what sin does. It spreads. But here's the good news: while sin spreads, Christ frees. This is where there is the cause of Christ upon us and the effect of Christ moving through us.
This is where it says, "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." Here's what happened. They are in Egypt in bondage, 430 years of slavery, and God says to Moses, "Each family, take a lamb, sacrifice it, put the blood over the door, and partake of the lamb. The angel of death is going to pass over and strike every firstborn, and you're going to walk out free."
When they did, on that very first Passover… In that moment, they went from slave to free. That's what the eating of the Passover lamb did: slave to free, and nothing in between. One day, they were a slave under the bondage of Egypt. They partook of the Passover, and they literally just walked out of Egypt without any restraint. It is what Jesus Christ does for us. The Bible is so clear. We were slaves to sin and Satan. Now he's exclaiming that Christ, our Passover Lamb, has been sacrificed, so now we're not slaves. Walk free!
Not only that. He goes on to say, "Let us keep the festival." You have to know, at that time of Passover, the Feast of Unleavened Bread… What happened was there was an eight-day period where they ate nothing with yeast in it. They ate unleavened bread because they were to eat it in haste. Like, "Hey, you don't have time for it to rise. Get out of there. You're no longer slaves. You're free."
Paul writes and says, "Let us keep the festival." Here you have a present active subjunctive. It's present, meaning, it's happening right now. "We're going to keep the feast." The feast of what? Of "unleaven," but now the leaven is sin, wickedness, and malice. He's saying, "Get rid of that leaven." But this feast is not eight days. This feast is this side of eternity, every single day, but it's subjective. That's important, because what it means is it may or may not happen, and that depends on us.
The cause of Christ… If you are in Christ, your sins are forgiven. You're no longer a slave. You're free. You're new. You're a new batch. Now let us keep the festival, and that festival is this daily repentance. So, sin spreads, Christ frees, and now we have saints repent daily. Spurgeon said it something like this: "I must often be repenting, for I fear I am often sinning."
There's a daily repentance that happens now. Yes, the Passover Lamb, Jesus Christ our Lord, has been sacrificed and raised from the dead. The Spirit indwells us. We're made new…not better, but new. We're walking in freedom, but every day these small sins creep back in, so every day we're to be repenting, which is to turn from sin by turning toward Christ by the power of Christ.
"By the power of Christ" is important, because you have no ability to cleanse yourself from your own sin. So for that (this is not a paid advertisement, not a paid sponsor), I brought the NoseFrida. If you're a parent, you're like, "Oh, dude, that thing is gold." If you're single and without kids, you're like, "That's why I'm never having kids." This is disgusting. Check this out.
My 4-year-old, in particular, doesn't know how to blow his nose. He's 4. I don't know. Maybe at some point developmentally you're like, "No, he's behind. He should know how to blow his nose." I'll be like, "Hey, Judd, blow your nose," and he'll do this. That's like cat furball. "No. Blow your nose." So we have this. Here's what happens. I put this in my mouth. I put this to his nose. Yeah, that's right. I told you. It's all gross. We're talking about sin.
I put it to his nose, and I suck, and I suck so hard… Literally, the other week he goes, "Dad, when you do the Snotsucker, why do you shake your head?" Because there's such a small hole to create the vacuum effect, it sucks the snot out of my boy. You're like, "I'm not going to hear anything else you will say the rest of today." I show you that because my boy has no ability. Everyone else can see it. Everybody else is like, "Hey, John and Laura, you need to get Judd a Kleenex." We get out the NoseFrida, and we do what he can't do.
It's the same with sin. At some point we're like, "Yeah, Jesus forgave me of my sin," and then we try to walk it out by our own strength. You can't. You have no ability to be saved from your sin or to be sanctified from your sin. Instead, like a child, you go to your Father, and you let him use a sin Snotsucker. But check this out. It's called NoseFrida. I'm curious, so I'm like, "What does Frida mean in Swedish?" It means beloved.
I was like, "Oh, that's so appropriate." We are his beloved, and he is ours. He lives to do that very disgusting thing of taking sin from us. In fact, just like I aspirate my 4-year-old's snot into my mouth (it doesn't actually hit your mouth; there's a small sponge), Jesus… It says in 2 Corinthians 5, "He made him who knew no sin to become sin that we might become the righteousness of God." All of our sins (Isaiah 53) were laid upon him.
This is actually a very close reality, except all the more disgusting, because all the sin of adultery and sexual sin and drunkenness and greed and everything else was laid upon him, but he delighted to take it, because otherwise, there's no other way. That's Jesus who saves you and sanctifies you. Thank you, Lord. Just like other people can see the snot rolling down my 4-year-old's nose, that is us, as our brothers and sisters in Christ. Judd can't really see it. It's on him. But others can.
Similarly, the body sees, and then Christ frees. Nobody is doing it in a punitive way. They care about my kid or my doctor cares about my cancer. They're not doing it to shame or to shun or to push us out, but rather like, "Hey, there's something there. You can't see it. You can't even get it, but I want to help you, and I need you to help me." This is all pastoring. It's not punitive. In 1 Corinthians 13, which we'll get to, it says if you don't have love, you're a resounding gong, a nuisance.
So, there's the impact of grace following the sinfulness of sin, and then there's the call to shepherd. We do have this call upon our lives. There's no Lone Ranger Christianity. We need each other. God has so ordained and wired this that this side, as we walk home, we walk together, and we shepherd each other. We care for each other. So here it is: the call to shepherd. This is from 1 Corinthians 5:9-13.
As I read this, I want you to know, too, Proverbs 24 talks about shepherding one another. Ezekiel 33 and 34 talks about shepherding one another. Matthew 18 says, "If your brother sins, show him his fault. If he doesn't hear you, take two or three others." That would be like roommates, Community Group, the sphere of influence that are Christians. If not then, to the church. Just a broadening, not for shame but for shepherding.
Here's one. This is crazy. In Titus 3:10 it says, "Warn a divisive person once or twice, and after that, have nothing to do with them." It's just all exclaiming the holiness of God, the holiness that he desires for his body, not for shame, that we might walk in the freedom and keep the feast of repentance.
So, it says this: "I wrote to 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…" He's going to put an asterisk on this. "…who claims to be a brother or sister…" A Christian, one who says they're a Christian and is in unrepentant sin.
"…but is sexually immoral or greedy, an idolater or slanderer, a drunkard or swindler." It's not limited to that. He's giving a list. There could be others. These are just examples. "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.'" That "Expel the wicked person from among you" is numbered six times in Deuteronomy.
Paul is borrowing from Old Testament language, bringing it into the church, like, "So it was then under the nation of Israel. Now here we have within the church that we can't tolerate unrepentant sin because it spreads." There is an impact of grace, and if there's not, then we let them go so that the flesh would be destroyed but their soul be saved, that they would realize the sinfulness of sin, this flesh and spirit that war against one another, and be like, "All right. Enough of that. I want to return that my soul might be saved."
So, here it is in a couple of phrases. We're to make fellowship with lost sheep, and we are to break fellowship with lax sheep. Lax, meaning, relaxed, unrestrained, uncontrolled. You're relaxed. So, make fellowship with lost sheep. If you don't reach them, who will? You're called to be salt and light among this world. We're to make fellowship with lost sheep, that they might see our lives and glorify Christ and know him, but we are to break fellowship with lax sheep.
That doesn't mean you're like, "Hey, I know what you did with your boyfriend last weekend, so we're done, sister." It's not that. When they're grieved over their sin and are confessing it… It's the unrepentance over a long course of time of shepherding, that they show an unrepentant, "unshepherdable" heart, where they're like, "I don't care what you say. Get out of my face. I can't hear you."
Then that's where it's like, "Okay. Then we're not even going to share meals together. We're not even going to fellowship, because you're no longer even wanting to be shepherded by me. So, if we're not going to shepherd each other, let's just call it what it is. When you're ready, I'm here. I'm not mad at you, but it's my commitment, just like a good doctor." So, there is to be shepherding within the church.
This is interesting. Within that passage where it says, "Swindler, slanderer, drunkard…" This is so crazy. Paul changes from verbs to nouns. He's saying, "This sin has so become your identity, it's who you are." Just for context, so that you don't go out here and start punching people in the chest, like, "I know what you did, and I'm done with you. No more meals…"
It's when a sin has become so ingrained in that person, and they're so unwilling to be shepherded it becomes their identity, where it's like, "You're such a worrywart." "You're so boy crazy." "You love your expensive toys, your boy toys." "Man, that guy loves a good time," which is code for "He gets drunk a lot."
It's those things, but it's not a one and done. It's like, "Out of love and concern, I'm going to come talk to you. I'm going to implore you. 'There's a better way. Remember who you are. Christ, your Passover Lamb…' If there's not listening, then I'm going to bring two or three others who love you also."
You don't get to be a jerk because they're in sin. It's Ephesians 4:15: "Speak the truth in love." I'm looking at some of my re:gen leaders right now who are such faithful shepherds and do this so well. But when that person rejects the correction, then it's like, "Okay. Then go your way." Not once, but in an unrepentant pattern.
Get a load of this. In Proverbs 12:1 it says, "He who hates correction is stupid." Y'all, that's not even The Message translation. That's ESV. The Lord is hilarious. He's like, "That's just dumb." They're there saying, "Hey, that thing is going to lead to death; I'm here to help you," and you're like, "Get out of my face." That's just stupid. So I can't shepherd you. We have to care for one another.
I discipline my children often, and I do so out of love. In fact, if I didn't discipline them… The Bible says, "He who spares the rod hates the child." If I don't discipline my kids, it's actually a sign that I don't care about them, I hate them. So it is with us and each other. If we don't shepherd each other, that's not a sign of overwhelming grace, like, "Oh, they're so loving they overlook my offense." It's a sign of indifference and hatred.
He who hates correction is stupid, but are we even willing to give the correction in love? "In love" is really important. Of all of the times of all the correction where I am most guilty, it's with my kids. When they're doing something unruly… This is where I need to repent, because my discipline is often not motivated by a place of… I need to wait. I'm just angry or dumbfounded that they would do such a thing. I'll move into discipline before I have love in check with truth. So it is with your brothers and sisters. If you're not doing it from a place of love, hold and pray, and y'all pray and hold for me in the disciplining of my children. But we are to discipline.
So, Watermark, as a church, for its members, because you've said, "This is where I want to be under spiritual authority…" Hebrews 13:17. "I want to be subject to my elders in glad submission for the care of my soul." So, for members, we do have church discipline, but, church, when I say that, you need to know… Right now, you're probably like, "Oh my goodness. Where's the side door? How do I get out of here?"
Hear me. It will never be a surprise. You will never be surprised, like, "Wow! Didn't see that coming." I'm sure it was the case here in Paul's letter. I think this probably happened over a long course of time. You will never be surprised by it, and thus, it will never be quick. You're never going to confess a sin and people be like, "That's it. Get out." In fact, the opposite. Confession is to be met with prayer. James 5:16. You confess, you're prayed for, so that God might heal, not for condemnation.
It's the lack of confession, lack of repentance, lack of willingness to be shepherded, where it's like, "All right. Let's just call a spade a spade. You don't want to be shepherded. You're unwilling to be shepherded. You don't want to turn from that, so be free." It will never be quick, never be a surprise, and hear me say this: it will never be final. This is the gospel of Jesus Christ. Paul rebukes Peter. It wasn't final for Peter. It's never final. That's the hope of the gospel: we can be forgiven and sanctified. There's always a path back. Never final, always a path back, and it's never because of a particular sin.
It's not like you're like, "Oh, I committed one of the big 10, so I'm probably out." It could be something so small in man's eyes, but if it's unrepentant and "unshepherdable," that might go, versus if someone did something that you might think is like "Whoa! That is outlier sin" but they're repentant from it. The one that we think might be small may experience church discipline while the one who did it once and is grieved over it… It's like, "Brother, welcome. You're forgiven." It's all about a condition of the heart. It reveals there's always a path back.
No matter how many exit ramps from the church someone might take, there's always an on-ramp back of grace when there's repentance and a desire, like, "I want to be back home with the Father," and it is always motivated by love. Just like this was pastoring, not punitive, shepherding is love, as I do with my children. It's loving for their discipline. Because I'm not a huge fan of being disciplined myself, I try to confess as often as I can. It's hard, it's humbling, but it leads to holiness.
So, you guys remember the sinfulness of sin, the impact of grace, and the call to shepherd one another. You remember the dermatologist I see. Do you know what I did at my last appointment? The night before, I took a Sharpie, and I literally was like, "That's a weird-looking freckle. That's a bump that didn't used to be there. That's probably not good. That may be something." I'm circling things on my body so I can say, "Hey, here it all is."
May we be a church that we're just circling things on ourselves and going to our Community Group, because you know what? When you confess sin, somebody else is going to also. That James 5:16 is this mutual confession. Your response when someone confesses sin is to confess also, and then you pray for each other, and God brings healing. That's God's design. There's no fear in that. It's to be cared for and loved, because that's what Jesus did for us so that we can be free. It's all about Christ, our Passover Lamb, and to walk out in freedom. So let's pray.
Father, thank you for your love for us. It is a love we can talk about, but we do not even fully partially understand, but we see such a glimpse of it, that Jesus Christ, the Son of God, took on flesh, and he who knew no sin became sin that we might become the righteousness of God. He died in our place that we might be forgiven and set free.
Lord, would the overwhelming reality of that hit our hearts, and thus may we, through daily repentance, keep the feast, to always feast on the goodness of Jesus and never on the wickedness and evil our flesh so longs for, but to remember Jesus Christ crucified and raised from the dead, and he's coming again. When he does, may he find the bride without wrinkle, stain, or blemish by the sanctifying power of the Spirit. In the mighty name of Jesus Christ, amen.
Challenges believers to examine every area of life through the lens of the Gospel. Paul addresses divisions among believers, food, sexual integrity, worship gatherings, and the resurrection.